What the heck is an urban nomad?

January 3rd, 2019

Ever seen those fancy pictures on Instagram showing remote workers lying in the grass or drinking some hipster drink called Soy-Latte-Something while working overly relaxed? Let’s be honest: that doesn’t quite reflect reality.

Why is this lifestyle so fascinating?

But it's not only those impressions spread by the internet why remotely working is getting more and more popular. What do you have in mind when you think about remote working or being a digital nomad? Exactly – you think of freedom and self-determination. The possibility to achieve whatever you want from wherever you want. No surprise regarding the circumstances of society: more and more pressure is being applied to employees every day. The only perspective: increased efficiency.

Needless to say, we start craving new working models which suggest a better work-life balance or even give us the feeling that work is not a job but a lifestyle. A perfect symbiosis of work and leisure to unlock the full potential of productivity and escape the 9-5. Even employers are starting to realize how much they actually can benefit from this trend and show growing acceptance of remote work contracts.

Besides, being an urban nomad has become easier than ever. One of the main reasons are the many possibilities that technology nowadays offers. The improvement of internet speed around the world, the abundance of apps designed for remote working or the growing number of supporters of the once believed to be irrational digital nomadism make you probably wonder why you still haven't joined the movement.

Nomadism? Isn’t that like an ancient term?

The fascination of being location independent isn't something new. Nomadism comes from the Greek word nomad and contains the meaning “one who wanders for pasture.” This kind of behavior goes way back to 4000 before Christ and those forefathers, who fought their ways through drought and cold, are still known as traditional nomads - people without a settled home who prefer moving from place to place. Usually, that kind of nomadism isn't aimless but follows an organized pattern to ensure maximum use of available natural resources. No wonder nomads usually tend to leave according to the seasons. That way their survival is ensured.

Our more modern urban nomad moves from place to place but his aim isn't just making a living in general by using different technical devices but also obtaining extraordinary experiences for life while being location-independent. Meeting people with equal or complementary interests, finding a beautiful secret place or just discovering the tastiest bagel shop can be seen as such experiences.

Urban Nomad vs. Digital Nomad

If we get into detail there are some tiny differences between modern types of nomadism. Unlike the urban nomad, the digital nomad has his focus on traveling while working remotely. He isn’t that present in urban locations but more likely to be found in a foreign country. He doesn’t own a settled home like the urban worker, instead, he prefers to change location every three to six months. Our urban nomad on the other hand still has his own home but prefers working from different spots in the city.

The juicy stuff about working remotely

Since you’re not here to become an expert in culture and history of nomadism, let’s fast forward to the more important things in life: the actual definition of being an urban nomad.

Remotely working means that you’re not bound to a traditional office. Consequently, you can choose your location all by yourself. Most people start off by simply working from home but of course, this comes with its own set of problems: You might not have any reason to leave your house for days so you might be lacking direct social interaction. Also, you might find it difficult to avoid distractions like searching for a snack every fifteen minutes or just quickly doing the laundry. Nothing to be ashamed of – we can totally relate. But we are not living somewhere on a lonely rock, right? So we can start taking advantage of the pulsating life and the many options that modern urban areas have to offer to us. Lots of people who choose this lifestyle prefer to work from co-working spaces, coffee shops or any other suitable places. Those places offer all you need to get work done: from power sources to internet over – probably most important of all – coffee or even conference rooms.

In the beginning of your remote working journey, you’ll be confronted with some difficulties. You might find yourself fighting against the heat in summer or looking for anything you could place down your laptop. There will be days you’ll be annoyed by all the noise or because that beautiful coffee-shop you hand picked didn’t have fast internet. But don’t worry! With time, things work themselves out and after adjusting perfectly to all the circumstances you’ll be rewarded with increased productivity, creativity, some unforgettable impressions but mostly lots of like-minded people. You’ll probably get to know yourself better and develop an efficient routine amplifying your strengths. Last but not least: prepare yourself to never wanting to go back to 9-5.

This article is part of the introduction to our upcoming Urban Nomad Fieldguide. You can download the first chapter for free by subscribing to our newsletter below!