Not All Nomads are Digital – Opt Out

Not All Nomads are Digital

6 years ago · 3 minute read

You’ve probably heard the term Digital Nomad. It’s a trendy word for a trendy business model…

Well, maybe I should say a trendy un-business model.

In 2018, thousands of people have opted out of the normal approach to freelancing and are location independent. They make a living from their phones and laptops. They call themselves Digital Nomads.

The Opt Out Life + Digital Nomads

I lived in Bali for a year, and I suppose I was a “Digital Nomad” for a season. I kept my business operations going with just one hour of morning email, and occasional Skype calls.

My office/Living Room in Bali


During that year, I met many other Digital Nomads: online gamers; web builders; SEO/SEM experts; article writers; ad arbitrageurs; and a dozen other titles that might make you cock your head.

But, not all nomads are digital.

Being location independent isn’t just about living in Bali, Latin America or Europe. There are so many other ways people do it.

Take my buddy Tanner. He moved to Bali as an English teacher. A local elementary school paid for his visa, and provided enough salary for him to live in a tiny apartment. He used that job to learn Indonesian, which gave him a lot of flexibility with what he could do to continue his life in Bali, even without the teaching job.

So he quit teaching, and started helping new expats who were moving to Bali that needed help settling in. He charged $75 for an hour of in-person consulting. A few of those meetings each week paid the same as he was paid by the elementary school.

As he met local property owners, he also realized he could do photography and make a little more money. He’s also been paid to write articles for other people’s blogs, mostly about Bali.

Tanner has now lived in Bali for over 6 years and he’s not a digital nomad. But, he’s location independent, with a home-base in Bali, and travels all over the world throughout the year.

Tanner loves to surf and has the time to surf whenever he wants.

Nomads in the Great Outdoors

What else do people do that lets them live the opt out life in this way?

I’ve met people who are professional divemasters. They live in cool places, and work for local dive training businesses. Others find seasonal gigs as guides, ski patrol, or work for river rafting and adventure companies throughout the U.S. and around the world.

Some of these non-digital nomads live in RV’s and work hard during the high-season to bankroll the rest of their year goofing off.

My friend Melayni lives in the mountains for three months, making money as a server at an expensive resort. Then she spends a few months in Bali, buying trinkets that she takes back to the US and sells at street fairs and retail shops while she has fun in San Diego and other coastal cities.

Melayni spends her time shopping for unique things she can resell in the U.S.


Here’s another one: I just heard about a guy who runs bicycle tours for distance riders in Italy. He’s got a non-digital business that puts him out and about in short stints helping amateur and professional road cyclists find riding routes through the Dolomites.

He can stop for a season and travel himself, and he can choose how much work and what type of clients he wants to work with.

How You “Nomad” is Up to You

Whether you are drawn to the outdoor life in the U.S., or the call of some distant destination, you don’t need to learn to program web pages to become a location independent nomad. Not all nomads are digital.

There are hundreds, maybe thousands of ways that people create freedom and outdoor lifestyles that free them of a normal job, and empower them to live the lives they want.

Here on the Opt Out Life, we feature their stories so you can find the way to your own personal freedom. These are two of my favorites so far:

[podcast] Adam Dailey
[podcast] Brian Kidwell

And, I just finished an interview with Todd Wente, an American author who generates income from self-publishing his fiction novels, and does marketing consultations from a house he calls his Beach Castle on Sweden’s Baltic coast.

Check our podcasts for the forthcoming interview to hear how this nomad lives the opt out life without the usual digital business model.

I love being a 'fly on the wall' of the podcast. I'm getting tidbits from each one that I can apply to my own life.



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Featured: Episode 40

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