Time for some real talk. If you're in the 40+ bracket, you might have noticed a few changes in recent years. There's a persistent twinge in your lower back. Your knees creak when you go upstairs. Your favorite cat-eye reading glasses have become a necessity rather than a fashion statement. (Or is that just me?)
Look, aging is inevitable. But along with the nagging ailments of older bodies, age comes with a lot of benefits. More experience. More confidence. More stability.
More opportunity to abandon your 9-to-5 and travel the world as a digital nomad.
It's true. You may be under the misconception that being a digital nomad is a young person's game — an opportunity only available to fresh-faced college grads without a care (or a partner, a child or a pet) in the world.
Think again. Here, we're looking at why the age of new digital nomads is increasing and how you can live your work-from-anywhere dream, no matter how many candles are on your birthday cake.
Why Are Digital Nomads Getting Older?
Aside from the obvious (we all get older, right?), the digital nomad landscape is experiencing unprecedented growth, which means more opportunities for nomads of all ages.
While the pandemic proved challenging for many digital nomads due to lockdowns and travel restrictions, it hasn't slowed the field as a whole. If anything, it proved to employers and employees alike that working from anywhere is feasible and sometimes even preferred. And with a 112 percent increase over the last two years, we can see that digital nomadism is more than a trend or a buzzword — it's a lifestyle that's here to stay.
What Is the Average Age of a Digital Nomad?
If you think giving up your traditional office job to jet-set around the world sounds like a mid-life crisis, you might be right. The average age of the digital nomad is around 40 — right when much of society thinks so-called responsible adults should be "settled down."
But digital nomads aren't settling for societal norms. In fact, though most digital nomads are in the Millennial generation, a majority of them are considered "geriatric Millennials" (*shudder*).
Even more surprising, 39 percent of digital nomads are in the Gen X or Baby Boomer generation, with the oldest self-reported digital nomad active and thriving at the age of 72!
Breaking it down even further by decades, nearly half of digital nomads are in their 30s — not exactly a fresh-out-of-college free spirit.
In fact, the 40+ group makes up over 38 percent of all digital nomads, with 20-somethings only comprising around 14 percent.
Why Should I Become a Digital Nomad at an Advanced Age?
For one thing, being over 40 doesn't mean you've got one foot in the grave. Life doesn't stop in middle age. And being a card-carrying AARP member doesn't mean you can't still enjoy travel and work simultaneously (in fact, AARP offers some killer travel benefits, so if you or your spouse is over 50, check it out).
However, being an older nomad does come with certain considerations, depending on your lifestyle and family situation, so be sure to do your research and make a plan before you take that leap. Here are some of the most important things to consider:
Leveraging Your Experience and Education
Seventy percent of digital nomads have a higher-ed degree, with 37 percent holding a graduate degree. That makes for some pretty stiff competition, but older nomads have the benefit of additional years of professional and life experience. You may have learned about other cultures through previous travels or are familiar with languages that will prove useful. And if you're a seasoned traveler, you already know how to pack like a pro, find the best flights, and look for deals on accommodations.
Setting Your Travel Standards
Speaking of accommodations, our preconceptions of digital nomads is that they do everything on the cheap, staying in run-down hostels or couch surfing their way through Europe. While travel accommodations for younger nomads looking for a deal may not be what you're used to, there are plenty of ways to stay in style without busting into your 401(k). Check out countries that offer incentives to attract digital nomads and those that offer long-term stays in high-end resorts at a discounted rate. Latin America is an excellent place to start if you want luxury and affordability.
Traveling with Kids and Partners
More and more digital nomads are bringing their family along for the ride, and while it presents a lot of challenges, it also comes with numerous benefits as well. The children of digital nomads, often called "third-culture kids," gain experiences that serve them throughout their lives, including being more independent, resilient, and adaptable to change. Plus, they reap the rewards of being immersed in unique cultures and learning about the world first-hand. If you're traveling with family, there are a couple things to keep in mind.
First, you'll need to research the schools available in your location. Many countries offer international schools that host plenty of ex-pat kids. Homeschooling is another option, but that likely means you or your partner will have to be responsible for meeting their educational needs.
Next, whether you're flying solo or in a flock, you'll need to consider health insurance needs for you and your brood. Several companies cater exclusively to digital nomads and offer plans that cover the whole family.
Mode(s) of Transportation
You might think of digital nomads as globe-trotters with TSA PreCheck credentials and a full-to-bursting passport; in reality, many U.S.-based nomads stick a little closer to home ("home" being an expansive country from sea to shining sea). Domestic digital nomads prefer to say within U.S. borders but travel frequently to different states and regions. Some prefer to stay in Airbnb's, while others call an RV their home on wheels (and they may even be tax-deductible!). Staying stateside offers all of the adventure of the digital nomad life with less of the travel hassle and expense. Wondering where to start?
Also, if the RV life is the life for you, check out this Airstream the company designed exclusively for digital nomads.
Whether you're traveling with your family in tow or going solo, you're bound to experience some loneliness as a digital nomad. Younger nomads often have no problem finding like-minded travelers and support systems, but for older nomads, it can be harder to establish a social circle. Loneliness is the number one reason nomads give up the lifestyle and return home. We've got some tips on beating the work-from-anywhere (WFA) blues, plus ways to stay focused on self-care so you can take care of you, even through the hard times.
How/Where to Work
Digital nomads of all ages are on a quest for one thing and one thing only: free, reliable Wi-Fi. It's the holy grail of your life on the road (or in the air), and without it, your WFA dreams will stay just that: dreams. We'll skip all the not-funny stereotypes about older people not being good with technology because, at this point, even the 40+ crowd grew up with computers and were early adopters of cell phones, video games, and other evolving tech.
But there are a few considerations you (and nomads of any age) will have to make. That includes where to access the internet, how to use your mobile device as a hotspot, and how to use the Cloud to make sure your work is backed up and accessible at all times. Beyond that, you may want to look into coworking spaces around the globe, where the Wi-Fi is steady, the outlets are plentiful and the coffee is flowing. You might also look into hotdesking and hoteling, where you can grab temporary private offices and hotel rooms at discounted rates.
Too Old to Be a Digital Nomad? Nah.
They say you're only as old as you feel. But feeling older as a digital nomad may work in your favor as you use your professional background to gain an edge over all the whippersnappers in your field and your worldly experience to travel the globe like a pro. When it comes to living your digital nomad dream, there's no such thing as "too little, too late." In fact, we've got a great place to start your journey — with us! Check out First Page remote jobs and find the right fit, whether you're young...or just young at heart.