Digital nomads refer to a group of people who use the digital realm to generate income. They can work from anywhere in the world as long as there is a good WiFi connection. They can be remote workers of an organization or freelancers.
The lifestyle of digital nomads has gained popularity in Western countries for some time. They usually work in cafés, bars or rental offices, giving rise to the concept of co-working space.
WeWork was established in the United States in 2010 to cater for startups as well as digital nomads. The company is now valued at US$50 billion, even higher than a number of property developers.
As part of its initiative to attract technically skilled foreigners, the Thai government introduced a smart visa program in 2018. The program is aimed at luring foreign talents and investors to work and invest in the nation for up to four years.
Chiang Mai has become a haven for digital nomads. Located in the mountains of northern Thailand, the city hosts a growing number of co-working cafés, which offer reliable internet connection with unlimited access.
Digital nomads can work in these cafés and enjoy all the amenities for several hours just by buying one cup of coffee. This is a very different lifestyle to working eight or nine hours in an office.
The emergence of digital nomads is also related to the changing values of the young generation.
A digital nomad usually does not have a permanent base and therefore doesn’t own a property. Such an arrangement is fine with Millennials, who put less value on assets and have a different definition of the family.
They may not want to have children and certainly don’t agree that one should spend all their savings in a home or a car. Instead, they regard a desirable lifestyle as more important.
Many traditional values are changing in the digital era. For many Millennials, for example, don’t equate success with owning a house or a car.
We should accept the fact that the world is becoming a village and get ready for it. The number of digital nomads is set to increase as technology continues to reshape the world we live in.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 12
Translation by Julie Zhu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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