Today I want to talk about what I truly believe is a crucial aspect about successfully living as a digital nomad, and that is the concept of having a ‘base’, also known as a second home to many.
The best base for digital nomads is more complicated than you may initially think.
One of the biggest obstacles you will face when being location independent is exactly that: you can end up not having anywhere you naturally retreat to for home comforts. And while starting out this may seem like life is just like one long, prolonged adventure that is never dull and packed with excitement, the reality is much different.
Being on the road for too long is not only exhaustive and detrimental to your health, but it’s also not financially sustainable or even enjoyable. Short and even long-term travel is fun, but the longer you go on, the more arduous it becomes and the less time you have to focus on what really does keep you location independent after all: your work.
I’m not saying that it’s a huge disadvantage to being a digital nomad. After all, who doesn’t want a life shrouded in constant adventure, self-development and beautiful memories? I’m just making the case for having a basecamp where you can recalibrate after you’ve created those memories and to focus on your health and longevity, as well as what’s driving those intense moments while others are locked in the 9-5 rat race: your location-independent business!
Yes, we’re all vying for freedom in this new digital age, but we still need to be modest and sensible. Having a base you can retreat to where you have trustworthy friends, know the city / area and are familiar with the culture is important to fuelling those intense bursts perpetually.
With that being said, here are a few things to consider when choosing a Base as a digital nomad:
A no-brainer, but surprisingly misconstrued for a lot of people who make mistakes when considering where to plant their base.
Things you need to ask yourself: do you want to travel a lot from your current location? If so, what are the options to fly or travel overland from where you are?
Are you content to be away from your family for long periods of time? If not, then even having ‘home’ as your base, isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re content to still live there and have a good thing going on.
The location will ultimately, depend on what type of traveler you are; whether you’re looking for frequent getaways to other areas in a well-connected city such as Bangkok; or if you’re just content to laze around on your favourite beach and co-working space and not desperate to run off at every given opportunity.
The location is also important for something any long-term traveler needs to strongly consider: friends and social relationships. Big cities are arguably much better for this as they attract working professionals, but beaches are likely to have a highly transient crowd which while fun initially, may end up lonely in the long-term.
2: Cost of Living
How much you’re making will greatly determine where you’re able to stay and for how long. It’s not wise to start building a base in a city like New York or London if you’re only making £1,000 a month, as the economics will swiftly move you on before you get a chance to settle.
You have to be realistic with the income you’re making and also the projections for the near future as well. If you’re a frequent traveler like I am, you also need to take this into account as a major expense that will dig into your pockets, so choose this aspect wisely before deciding on a place to plant your flag.
3: Visa Stipulations
How long do you get to stay in your chosen base before having to do a visa-run? And how strict are the immigration authorities on people doing frequent visa-runs? These are serious considerations you need to investigate and be aware of before settling down into a second, location-independent home, especially if you are looking at staying for the long-term.
Do you prefer hot or cold weather? Do you like monsoon seasons, tropical storms and stifling humidity? Because the tropical paradise you visited may become more annoying and gross on a longer-term stay.
Perhaps you prefer snow, the four seasons, or a milder climate away from the equator? This also needs to be accounted for as well.
Many people gloss over climate like it’s not such an important issue, but it is. the weather greatly dictates your overall mood on a day-to-day basis as well as comfort and for many, social opportunities. Living in the UK or Northern Hemisphere during the Autumn & Winter seasons, for example, are vastly different than the Summer time which is more open with its people more gregarious.
5: Your Inner-Self
Ultimately, you have do be spiritually aware of the type of person you are.
Eventually, I left Hong Kong because I could not handle the incessant freneticism of the atmosphere there, as fun as it was to go wild. This may seem ironic given that I spend a lot of time in Bangkok these days, but for me Thailand is only ever a stones throw away from an idyllic beach getaway which soothes my needs for peace and quiet.
Do you value a pulsating city with vibrant nightlife, or do you prefer the waves of the ocean tousling into white sand in a serene paradise? Knowing your individual self as a person is imperative to choosing a base, and it’s something that will ultimately determine whether you settle into a place you call home or not.
What do you think of my list? Would you add any other considerations as well? And where do you choose to plant yourself as a location-independent worker?
For what it’s worth, I’m usually found working out of Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong or a Thai island, although I plan to integrate Bali into this mix in the near future!
Share your thoughts below.