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Is the Era of Being a Digital Nomad Over?

With the Corona Virus impacting all of our lives I can’t help but wonder if the era of being a Digital nomad is over for awhile at least. The allure of being a digital nomad is closely linked to Travel, which is the hardest hit industry. Countries have closed their borders to foreigners, and even transiting through an airport is not possible at the moment. Airlines and Airports have started to downsize staff, and operations making less flights available. I and some friends are currently in various parts of Asia went this pandemic suddenly accelerated into a full lockdown.

Era of Being a Digital Nomad Over
the stereotype of a digital nomad or freelancer working at a cafe

The last 7 years have been a bit of a roller coaster with ongoing travel and what seems non stop hustling and grinding to scale our businesses. It’s also a good time to reflect a bit on highlights of the digital nomad lifestyle.

I would like to share a bit of background before I continue. I have been a digital nomad since 2013 before I even heard of the term in Taiwan. I first heard of the term from a Canadian Digital nomad named Nigel while in Taipei in 2014. I’ve been able to earn an income regardless of location using my video and creative skills in freelancing and online business and sustain it for 7 years. I consider myself a veteran in this game due to my age and time in the game and share my creative, travel, and business knowledge in my Creator Academy School. I have digital nomad friends that are 10 years my senior as well as the younger group that are 10 – 15 years younger than I am. Although I don’t consider myself a digital nomad because I tend to stay in a location for 3 – 6 months I do identify most closely with this group.

Creator Academy
I share my knowledge through Video, Travel, and Business Courses at my Creator Academy https://phantom3.teachable.com/

Traveling itself was never an essential requirement of being a digital nomad although it has been one of the perks being able to travel primarily to lower cost countries with a good lifestyle. The term nomad implies not having a home base, and there are different flavors of the digital nomad from slow to binge traveler. The issue is that regulation and government visa’s haven’t adapted to technology and the new lifestyle possibilities that digital nomad’s have enjoyed in recent years using tourist or social visit visa’s. Digital nomads often use creative means like visa runs where they change location every 1 to 3 months to another country often returning to their home base country to reset the duration of their visa. If you spend any length of time in Thailand especially in Chiang Mai you’re bound to hear a visa run story.

Work hard play hard. Celebrating Thailand Songkran in Chiang Mai with long time friends

If the traveling lockdown does ever end and I think we may be looking at a very different environment for travelers and digital nomads. Travelers are already in the crosshairs of governments seen as the primary carriers of the coronavirus. In the future we may be looking at countries that make non essential travel a lot more restrictive than ever. Of course digital nomads are just a minority of the potential victims of a post corona fallout. We’ve already read stories of airlines, hotels, tourism operators, and travel companies like Lonely Planet take a hit.

Human’s are naturally curious and I think the rules will relax over time to allow travel again. I’m not sure how long this period could be. It could be 6 months, it could be a year or many years. By this time there will be a larger group of people with home base businesses with the ability to live a digital nomad lifestyle. There may come up a point where pent up demand meets a relaxation in traveling again potentially creating the next larger wave of digital nomads.

The original crew Chiang Mai, Thailand enjoying Beer o Clock outside Nimman Punspace. Rip Christian. This was my second night in Chiang Mai Thailand and the beginning of long friendships.

How are Digital Nomads coping with the lockdown?

For this year 2020 at least I think the established Digital Nomads are in good shape partly because most will benefit from the rest of the world spending more time online than ever. They had a period of 5 years to ramp up their knowledge and skills to make a sustainable living without the need to return back to their home countries. They are highly independent and it is normal for them to solo travel and work in isolation at home or from a co-work space or cafe.

I myself teach online courses and I have seen all-time highs of my teaching minutes as well as watch time on my Youtube Channel. Most established digital nomads are able to earn an income purely online so that they don’t have to be in physical contact with people. They have learned specialized skills in areas of affiliate marketing, online teaching, dropshipping, ecommerce, youtubing, video editing, teaching english, teaching online courses, translation, search engine optimization, stock trading, licensing video and templates and more. It’s true there has probably never been a better time for someone to make a living online due to the technology we have available and the number of people spending time online in isolation.

We are fortunate that technology is where it is today in 2020. Internet speeds, smartphones, laptops, and essentials apps and platforms have made this lifestyle possible. Starting in the period between 2013-2015 developing and lower cost countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia offered everything that a Digital nomad needed and then some. Things like good weather, safe environments, cowork spaces, fast wifi, nice places to stay, and the opportunity for new friendships and relationships. Established digital nomads are quite tech savy, adaptable, flexible, and can operating a business lot of overhead. My Videography production side of the business has been impacted, but I had build a business on the foundation of diverse income streams. For example, I have online course, license footage, and still freelance by video editing for clients.

Co-work spaces

Co-work spaces were also an important, but not an essential requirement of the digital nomad. In fact it was in 2019 that co-working spaces had reached the mainstream where giants like we-work had become the domain of team startups and even larger firms. In Thailand and Malaysia I had seen cowork spaces sprout up to serve Digital nomads, students, and businesses. Co-work spaces for some were essential to get the necessary environment to do their work, for some a place to get inspired and get out of the house, and for some it was a place to network and community. However many cowork spaces will likely loose a lot of money and business during the lockdown and may even shutdown and not reenter the market. I hope this is not the case.

Is the Era of Being a Digital Nomad Over?
the coco kala cowork space in Chiang Mai Jan 2020
The Hubba Discovery cowork space in Bangkok Thailand
A popular 24/7 Cowork space Camp in Chiang Mai Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand was considered the global capital for Digital nomads. In my opinion it reached it’s golden age in 2015 where there was peak interest and there was a strong organic international community. It was a great time to meet other like-minded people, exchange ideas, get inspiration, make friends, and attend business and social events. This year in 2020 the dreaded burning seasons started as early as January and still continues to plague Chiang mai even into April. Digital nomads value the basic essentials like fast wifi, good weather, but also value good air. I see digital nomads spending shorter periods of time here in the future unless this changes.

Enjoying a sunset with friends at the baristro cafe in Chiang Mai January 2020

When stripped down to the bare essentials needed to run my online business it is fairly basic. I need a power laptop, hdmi cable, fast internet, monitor, and comfortable desk and chair. If this is the last season for awhile to being able to enjoy this lifestyle I will have no regrets. I’ve had a lifetime of experiences being able to make good international friendships, relationships, scaling my business, and experiencing living in different cities around the world. Some digital nomads and travelers currently abroad including myself are currently in Asia anxiously awaiting to see what will unfold during the lockdown. There are many factors at play like government decisions on lockdown’s, visa length, airport closures, flight costs, and even health and safety being in a plane and airport with other travelers.

Chiang Mai House Party 2016
a vlog from my latest visit to Chiang mai Jan 2020

We may end up staying in our current destination longer than expected or our options may dwindle down to one, which is to return home. Whatever happens I will treasure the remaining time abroad. If travel is restricted, if cowork spaces close, if we have to return home it mark a different chapter for many digital nomads. 2013 to 2020 was a good run and I’m grateful for it. Thanks Thailand and Malaysia for the memories. If you have enjoyed any of these digital nomad vlog videos be sure to subscribe to my digital nomad Youtube Channel.

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Tips for Starting a Video Production Business

In this interview with a former client you will get tips for learning how to start a global video business. It was a first for me to have an interview with a former repeat Video client in Chiang Mai Thailand. Terry Masson of Raynor Massage and Youtube of the OSHITS channel had an interesting discussion with me about how he find my video business in Bangkok. He also had some interesting questions about the early stages of my business. This is a valuable discussion for young video production businesses or people thinking of starting their video business from anywhere.

If you’re interested in learning more about improving your video skills or how to start an online video business with passive income streams to give you the ability to travel anywhere using your skillset then check out my travel videographer school here.

tips for starting a video production business
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How to be a Digital Nomad using your Camera and Video Skills – Working Holiday

In 2011 I took a major risk. I sold my apartment in Vancouver Canada to fund my dream of starting a travel related business. I left a stable high paying IT manager job in Vancouver after getting my MBA degree. Why? I wasn’t happy. I knew it was time for the next chapter of my life. I discovered my passions for Travel, Video, and Business. After the travel venture didn’t work out I ended going on a tour of Asia for my friends wedding in Taiwan along with my SLR camera. It was eye opening, but I eventually ran out of money.

I went back to corporate life again in 2013 all the while I was experimenting with creating my first product. It started as a trip to Asia on vacation and then a working holiday to Taiwan in 2013. I sold my apartment, car, and packed a laptop and my camera with my dreams. 6 years later I found myself sharing my lessons learned with the next generation of travel videographers

After a 13 year career in IT in Vancouver Canada and a university and MBA degree from SFU I decided to needed a change. I went through a process of self discovery to determine what my values and passions were. (Travel, Business, Video).
It started as a trip to Asia on vacation and then a working holiday to Taiwan in 2013. I sold my apartment, car, and packed a laptop and my camera with my dreams. 6 years later I found myself sharing my lessons learned with the next generation of travel videographers in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Chiang Mai, was an important part of my Entreprenuarial journey and it’s great to be able to give back some knowledge to the community.

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How would you Spend 20k US on your business & Is the Golden Age of Chiang Mai Over?

The Gluten free Nomad and I explorer where we are on our entrepreneurial journey and how we would spend 20k on our business. It’s a fun exercise to go through to think how would you invest those funds back into your business. Would you spend it on office space, new software, new camera gear, or some assistant or interns? find out.We also explore a number of topics from the Golden Age of Chiang mai to co-working in Kuala Lumpur.

at the Colony cowork space Eco city in Kuala Lumpur
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Entrepreneur Journey

2018 Summary of my Travel Videographer and plans for 2019

Hello 2019

As a Travel Videographer 2018 turned about to be a great year in many aspects. As you’ll see there was plenty of travel and my camera came along for the ride. I brought my camera in each of these locations for my Stock Footage subscribers. I’m still playing a bit of catch up with too much content sitting on my hard-drives. Be sure to check out my Youtube Channel to see some of the videos.

hanoi vietnam ho kiem lake at night
hanoi vietnam ho kiem lake at night

2018 – (click on the links for exciting content)

Plans for 2019

I would like to slow down my travel and prioritize more time on getting more content online. 2018 was a wild ride, and somewhere in there I turned 40. I plan to spend more time in Malaysia instead of Thailand in 2019. I’m pretty sure I’ll be back and forth between the two. There is also a lot of places to explore in Malaysia such as Sabah, Ipoh, and Sarawak. My grandmother is in Singapore, and I may be be due for a visit there and refresh my footage as well. Kuala Lumpur has great flights to Cambodia, Shen Zhen, and Sri lanka so don’t be surprised if there are some side trips there. I also want to try to return to Canada in the summer. I want to check out Montreal, Toronto, New York and enjoy a summer in Vancouver with the family.

Resolutions for 2019

  • I would like to lose some weight from 181 lbs to 165 lbs through exercise and better nutrition
  • Double the earnings for the business
  • Visit my family and Canada twice during the year
  • Less travel and more quality content online and marketing
  • Master Adobe Premiere on the new laptop

If you’re wondering how I sustain this travel lifestyle throughout the years I offer Video services and have many online passive revenue streams. For example, I offer freelance Videos to client in the Asia region and in Canada.  I can also offer video editing services for clients that shoot footage on vacation and don’t have time to edit.  If you want to learn more about how I create an online passive income using my footage and other business skills you need please check out my online course “How to Start an Online Business from Anywhere using Video” using this sale price link.

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Greg

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Entrepreneur Journey

Is it time to Leave Chiang Mai and commit to Bangkok Thailand as a Digital Nomad?

Chiang Mai was my introduction to Thailand.  It was an easy introduction thanks to the entrepreneur community, low cost of living, helpful information, and ease of finding a place to stay. I never really gave Bangkok a chance. It wasn’t until I stayed in the residential area of Ekamai near the Hubba workspace that I started to think I could actually live in Bangkok. I’ve already flirted with Bangkok several times living there a month at a time expanding my comfort zone of the city.

Bangkok overall is a bit tougher than Chiang Mai. It’s larger, more crowded, and a bit more expensive. However, it offers more opportunities for business, dating, a better travel hub, better public transport, and better co-work spaces. Bangkok is a huge city and you need time to find the area that you can feel comfortable as your base.  It’s definitely a bit harder to find good short-term accommodation in Bangkok, but you can find somewhere good to live on a longer term contract.

I now have an opportunity to live in a good area of Rama 9 in Bangkok for 6 months at a similar if not cheaper cost than Chiang Mai at 14,000 baht ($446 US). Chiang mai has some of the lowest cost short-term accommodation (monthly) for fully furnished studios. Once you start to add 1 bedroom and a kitchen to the equation the average living costs in Chiang Mai jump to 14 – 17000 baht, which is comparable to Bangkok.

As someone who no longer wants to ride a motorbike I find Chiang Mai a bit limiting. After 2 motorbike accidents I no longer want to gamble and take the risks. I’d rather walk, take a taxi, uber, the MRT or BTS train system in Bangkok to get around.

I originally came to Chiang Mai for the digital nomad community. After diving in deep my first year attending events and meeting people I got fatigued of the scene. I found it was mostly new people coming in and out of Chiang Mai wanting to sample the digital nomad experience. The material in the talks started to become repetitive, and I stopped attending so many events.  I’m still grateful for these events for the good people I met, but I understand that people are at different stages in their entrepreneur journey.

In the end I found out there were videographers, but noone was truly making an online video business with their videography. I found I was the one doing most of the teaching when it came to monetization for videographers through stock footage or teaching online. I learned a bit about online marketing and cryptocurrency from my time in Chiang Mai. I’m thankful for that

I find that there is a strong scarcity and price sensitive mindset in Chiang Mai that I’m not fond of. I’m all for low cost living, but I like to enjoy life and would prefer to live comfortably instead of aiming to live within a $600 monthly budget. The people that are in Chiang Mai are friendly and down to earth, but I find that the low cost of living attracts people that don’t have an abundance mindset.  I find when I’m here too long I find that what I thought was cheap is not really cheap. There is always someone that knows where to stay and eat cheaper. When does it end? I think focusing too much on finding cheap things all the time takes away focus from earning and living a comfortable life.

Chiang Mai is an easy city to live and relax, but I get restless staying here for longer than 3 months. It feels too small, and yes I know i’m guilty of staying in the bubble of nimman.

After a chaotic year of traveling the world (Bali, South Africa, Penang, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Vancouver, Seoul, Koh Tao) I wanted to roam the world less and have more of a base and hopefully more of a normal lifestyle.

It’s another burning season and I will be leaving during the month of March. The question is do I go away for short-term and come back or is this my opportunity give Bangkok a chance?

In a perfect world I would be able to have a place in both Chiang Mai and Bangkok. I could escape the concrete jungle and enjoy the nature and peacefulness of Chiang Mai. One thing is for sure. Chiang Mai’s climate is a great place to be from November to February. It’s a place where I can definitely spend part of my year here. I’m just not sure if I want to spend the whole year here.

 

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Is the magic still in Chiang Mai Thailand?

Is the magic still in Chiang Mai Thailand leading into 2018?

Does Chiang Mai still have the charm and magic for digital nomads and location independents as we approach 2018? Was it overhyped? For many people Chiang Mai was the starting point or ground zero to bootstrap and get your business off the ground. I started my journey in Taiwan for 2 years on a working holiday before I came to Thailand. After spending more than 6 months in Chiang I got bored and the little cultural frustrations started to mount. I and other nomads started exploring many other destinations around the world from Bali, Budapest to Medillion. After living long term in other destinations it’s easier to see where a city excels or is lacking. Is Chiang mai still a top choice? After exploring Bangkok, Penang, Bali, and Vancouver I was wondering the same thing.

 

After enjoying the cheap craft beers and plentiful high quality marijuana in Vancouver, the great ocean vibes and food of Penang, and world class co-work spaces of Bangkok where does Chiang Mai stack up?

Cheap Accommodation

Basic needs come first and Chiang Mai is the top destination to find comfortable and affordable accommodation.  After the frustration I went through to find a good place in Vancouver Chiang mai is a nice relief.  Not only is the cost affordable, but the rent process and structure is so straightforward. Rent a week, month, 3 months or long no problem.

Low Costs

Chiang Mai is not the cheapest for everything. Co-work space memberships, western food, and craft beer are often pricier than other destinations. When you factor in your overall monthly costs Chiang Mai is probably one of the cheapest destinations I’ve lived in without compromising quality of life and safety. My estimated monthly budget for value comfort living is under $1000 US. You can go a lot lower than this if needed.

Safety

Aside for watching out for car traffic or if you choose to ride a motorbike I feel safer in Chiang Mai than in Vancouver or Capetown South Africa. The local thai people are in general not as aggressive as Canadians and when you leave your laptop at a cafe or your phone in your bike there is a good chance it will still be there. When I work from a cafe or library in Vancouver I constantly worry about theft. When I was living in Gastown Vancouver there are a lot of sketchy characters and areas around with a chip on their shoulder. Vancouver suburbs are a lot safer in general, but Vancouver downtown depending on your location and time of day there are times I do not feel safe. Yes I know Vancouver is ranked one of the most livable cities in the world.

Community

Nowhere I’ve been compares to Chiang Mai for meeting great digital nomads, expats, or just down to earth friendly foreign or local thai people.  The Chiang Mai sophmore’s or veterans can get meeting new people fatigue, but I found it interesting that these old faces migration patterns have been in synch with many familiar faces returning to Chiang Mai at the same time. The time with the best weather perhaps? Sure Canadians are known to be friendly. In my experience this means they are polite to you when you’re small talking. There are social walls when it comes to breaking the lines between working and hanging out. People in Chiang mai are open to meeting and if you’re a digital nomad there will be plenty of opportunities to meet them.

Weather

I arrived in December (winter), which is about high 20’s to low 20’s at night.  Compare that to 3 to 6 degrees celcius and rain from Vancouver, and people that appreciate the sun will appreciate Chiang Mai. December to February is a great time to be here. The burning season (Feb-March) is probably not the best time to be sure for air quality and extreme heart.

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Proximity to airport

The ride from the airport to Nimman is about 15 minutes. This is probably the shortest ride from the airport to your hotel or apartment of any destination. A great benefit after a long journey or experience for trips away.

Where does it fall short?

Just like I’ve found in most destinations it’s hard to find utopia. Chiang Mai is a bit rough around the edges, but that is part of the charm. Whether it’s receiving the wrong dish because of a server’s english, no ocean, a desk that is uneven, a rat running across your path at night, booze midnight curfew, no crosswalks, no public transit system, or lack of pavements I accept it for what is is. As Michael Jordan said we can choose to focus on the positive or negative of most things and for the most part I choose positive.

Who is Chiang Mai for?

Chiang mai’s slow place and affordable pricing are great for new digital nomads, returning digital nomads, people that want a holiday or time away from home in the west. Chiang mai internet speeds continue to increase, there is still a strong organic community, people are friendly, and plenty of places to work. Everything you need to ramp up your business to create more options. I encourage people to set up a base here, but not become a prisoner of Chiang Mai’s cheap prices. I found after staying here long term that I developed a bit of fear of expensive prices because almost everything becomes expensive once you leave Chiang Mai. There are many great places to live and explore.

 

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Destination introduction Passive income Podcast episodes

Alternatives to Chiang Mai for Online Entrepreneurs (Digital Nomads)

Chiang Mai, Thailand and Thailand in general is a great destination to start your journey as an online entrepreneur or digital nomad. However, it’s also good to have some alternatives or other options to base yourself for burning seasons, get tired of visa runs, or if you want a change. March is typically the bad time of year to be in Chiang Mai because of the burning season.Before moving to Chiang Mai I lived in countries like Singapore and Taiwan for an extended period. Since then I’ve scouted other locations on visa runs. In this episode I give my reasons for leaving and share some alternative destinations for your to try during the burning seasons or for a change. Check out the podcast episode to find out more

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Passive income Podcast episodes Taiwan experiences

GHS 20 Johnny FD (Taiwan) on food, business, & abundance mindset

Johnny FD is a prominent digital nomad who has built up the digital nomad community and openly shares business advice and earnings. He has been featured on articles like Forbes and Business insider. In part 2 of 3 from Taipei Taiwan we compare food and rent in Taiwan vs Chiang Mai, food airlines in Asia, banking, and his business. The real gem comes at the end of this epsiode when Johnny talks about the abundance mindset.

Johnny’s website

Johnny Forbes article

Antony’s dropship lifestyle

Johnny on Business Insider

Nomad Coffee club facebook group

My Taiwan Digital nomad Guide

Hosted By Greg Hung chicvoyagetravel.com
Produced and edited by Greg Hung chicvoyageproductions.com
filmed at Maker Bar Taipei

Chiang Mai, digital nomad, johnny fd, maker bar, Taipei, Taiwan

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Passive income Podcast episodes

GHS 19 Johnny FD on Taiwan vs Chiang Mai digital nomad lifestyle (PT 1 of 3)

Johnny FD is a prominent digital nomad building community and sharing business advice. He has been featured on articles on forbes and business insider. I discovered Johnny through his many youtube videos about Chiang Mai. Learn about Johnny and his journey, business, and thoughts on living in Taiwan Vs Chiang Mai as a digital nomad

Johnny’s website

Nomad Coffee club facebook group

My Taiwan Digital nomad guide
Hosted By Greg Hung chicvoyagetravel.com
Produced and edited by Greg Hung chicvoyageproductions.com
filmed at Maker Bar Taipei