Categories
Uncategorized

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.

Categories
Destination introduction Passive income Taiwan experiences

Digital nomad in Taiwan for about $1000US a month

TOP 5 LOCATIONS

 

Greg-working-at-grass-fields Subscribe to receive my 5 locations for Location Independent Videographers and Why

 

 

 

 

 

Powered by ConvertKit

 

 

 

It’s hard to imagine I’ve lived in Taipei for almost a year and 4 months. During this time I spent some time learning Chinese, teaching English, and building several businesses on the Internet. It wasn’t until I met a fellow Canadian that came to visit Taipei that I began to think of myself as a Digital nomad.

What is a digital nomad?

IMG_4517
Digital nomad lifestyle in Maui

A digital nomad is someone that earns money on the Internet. It is the idea that you can do work where you are free of the constraints of being in your office. In fact you can do it anywhere in the world. I spend most of my time working from home or the many cafe’s throughout Taipei.  The type of businesses can vary. There are developers and coders that have clients in other countries like South Africa, but they are able to do their work from a country like Taiwan. Usually it makes sense to live in a country that has lower costs, but where you can earn overseas money to maximize your situation. A digital nomad is not limited to a coder. I myself create video stock footage and sell them through stock agencies on the Internet like Pond5. Some people earn income from youtube, google adsense, and being an affiliate for different products. I also create courses that are in video format that are available and sold on learning platforms like Udemy.com and have also began publishing and selling Travel adventures on Amazon Kindle. I believe the idea of traveling and being able to work anywhere over an Internet connection was popularized by the book “the 4 hour work week” by Tim Ferris. There are different types of Digital nomads of course. I prefer to spend 3 months or longer before traveling to a nearby country. There are some digital nomads that travel more frequently.

 

IMG_5683
Working with a cafe in Taipei

What is passive income?

Again this idea I believe was also made popular my Tim Ferris. It is the idea that you can do work upfront that earns you can income while you sleep. While it’s not always while you sleep you can create a digital products like an e-book and then put it up for sale. The courses I create are in video format and once on the internet the sale of the course happens automatically through the platform. You can automate the sales transaction and the delivery of the product to the customer so you could be having dinner when  you can get an email from Paypal telling you that you have money. Another advantage of this type of income is that once you have created your product or service it can continue to bring in a regular income so you can move onto the next project. An example is that I built a course on making money with travel videos that sells every month. I am now free to build a new course that there is a cumulative effect.

The experience of being a Digital Nomad in Taiwan

Let’s start with basic needs. Shelter, connectivity, food, transport, and social life. Compared to Vancouver and other North American cities I found just about everything cheaper in Taipei. I traveled to many places around the world from Singapore, Australia, and South Africa. Taiwan is one of the most Internet Wifi friendly cities that I’ve traveled to. The Taiwanese love their wifi and their smartphones. Just look at the number of people looking at their phones with power banks attached to their phones. Rent is cheap compared to apartments in North America. You can get 3 or 6 month contracts ready to move in that are fully furnished and have fast Internet. I’ve observed directly and heard from many local Taiwanese friends that there are more foreigners now in Taipei in the past year or so. Taiwan is often overlooked, but I believe it is a gem in Asia and the word is getting out. Taiwan is a food paradise with local specialties like noodles, soup, and rice available at cheap prices. Food is cheap enough that I can eat out almost every meal giving me more time to work on my business. Transportation is convenient and cheap with numerous options from the MRT, bus, u-bike, or Taxi. There are also plenty of social and business events to meet new friends and fellow entrepreneurs around Taipei. There is a happening nightlife in Taipei if that is your thing. Because of convenient and cheap transportation you can have a good time without worrying about driving.

The bottom line is Taipei is a good choice for being a digital nomad. You can get connected, live and eat at a low cost. I’m not promoting this, but you can purchase a can of Taiwan beer for 35nt and drink it in a 7-11 or out on the street. Taiwan is a clean, safe, and modern city. Taiwan is also a foreign friendly city with low cost healthcare. It is easy and cheap to get around. However, to get the most out of Taiwan it definitely helps to speak Chinese Mandarin. You can get by on English though.

IMG_5684
Working with a cafe in Taipei

Costs of being a Digital Nomad in Taiwan

I’ve read about costs of being a digital nomad in techinasia.com’s article and the Digital nomad guide’s site. Techinasia has claimed a cost of $2121. I wanted to share with you a breakdown of my actual monthly costs of being a digital nomad in Taipei that is approximately $1071 US. Note that Taipei is the most expensive city in Taiwan. You could travel to Kaoshiung, the second largest city in Taiwan and reduce your accommodation costs by 40%. This is hearsay from a local friend, and I haven’t had a chance to look up the rental costs myself. Ok lets begin

IMG_4013
Local Taiwan breakfast

Digital nomad monthly budget in Taipei, Taiwan

Accommodation in the central Taipei – 16,000NT Food (based on a 400nt daily budget) –  12,000nt Transportation – 1500nt Entertainment – 2000nt Cafe – 2000NT Mobile monthly wifi 2gb 320nt Total 34,020 NT  US $1071 $1283 CDN 706 GBP There is no tax added on for most expenses for the customer. Most places don’t ask for tips except for nicer or western style restaurants. Of course you are probably wondering the assumptions behind the figures. I live near central Taipei, which is considered more on the high end. If you live in New Taipei City (20 minutes MRT across the river) you can expect to pay about 10,000nt a month. If you share a 2 bedroom apartment with a roomate you could pay 25,000nt in the Da-an area. Included in the the accommodation is High speed Internet, furniture, television, garbage service, and a small kitchen. It is normal to eat out every meal in Taiwan because it is good and cheap. Some apartments don’t have a kitchen area. I normally like to eat a healthy hot oat breakfast with fruit and then I’ll buy a noodle or rice dish for lunch and dinner. A bowl of beef noodles at a local shop goes for $130nt $4.11. You can go more expensive for western foods like a good burger and fries at Bravo Burger for 270nt $8.56Us or get a bbq chicken leg rice dish with vegetables, soup, and drink for 90nt $2.85. You can get around 1 way on the MRT to most locations in Taipei for 25nt one way .79 cents US. If you take the bus it is 15nt or .47 US. If you take the U-bike (free bike rental) to your destination in under 30 minutes it is free. The MRT is modern, fast, and has extensive coverage throughout the city. As I am central I save money on my transport as I don’t have to travel that far. I budgeted about 50nt per day to arrive at the that figure. If you need a taxi for those times on the weekend you can get to most locations from the Xinyi nightlife district  for 200nt or under $6.34.

IMG_9319
Taiwan tomatoe beef noodles – Taiwan offers great good and cheap prices

Starbucks cafe’s allow you to get a tall black coffee for 80nt and offer a good environment to work in. Note that not all Starbucks are equal. Some will be offer more space and offer plug outlets. If you buy a Starbucks card you get 2 hours daily free wifi. Local coffee shops like Mr. Brown you can get a coffee and unlimited daily Internet. If you go to the trendy cafe’s you’re looking to pay 130nt $4.11 US for an Americano. There are many choices with varying prices for Wifi. I heard that that 7-11 offers free wifi if you sign up and that’s completely free. If you’re heading for a night our you can expect to pay about $230nt for a pint of Heineken. $150nt for a small glass of wine. I use a mobile sim card on a 2gb plan which I think is super cheap. This isn’t your full-time connection for work, but good for communication with your friends or checking email when you don’t have coverage. Most cafe’s and restaurants will have wifi to converse your data, and when you have depleted you can always refill at different increments. 180nt $5.70Us will give you another 1GB. Do you have similar or different experiences in Taiwan. Please comment. Would you like to share your Digital nomad experience in another city that you live. Please comment.

Where to go for great cheap local food Where to go for good Western food in Taipei Where to go to relax and exercise ( Gyms, Pools, hotsprings) Current prices of food, shelter, food, clothing and more Where to meet new friends Which areas and neighbourhoods to stay and work Which bars and clubs to visit in Taipei’s nightlife How and where to find an apartment (without overpaying) How to meet other Entrepreneurs living in Taiwan How to stay safe in Taipei Where to get the the fastest and cheapest SIM-card plans with mobile data with the exact address Tips on hacking Chinese with technology Cultural differences and how to cope with them

IMG_9043
A wine event in Taipei. Taipei’s nightlife has a lot to offer

IMG_8931
A sample local restaurant menu

IMG_8940
A local cafe menu in Taipei