The type of wandering traveler and location-independent worker we now refer to today as a “digital nomad” has existed as other iterations over the decades: think “backpacker” and “travel blogger,” or even “distributed worker,” before the pandemic made remote work more common. This nicely presented Rest of World feature by Stephen Witt explores the more recent phenomenon: Where are most digital nomads from, and where do they go? Neighborhoods in Medellín and Mexico City are experiencing radical changes — boosting local economies and improving city infrastructure while also pricing locals out. Come for the interesting facts, stay for the sometimes eye-rolling remarks from foreigners.
“Instead of building a life in Ohio, we were like, let’s just get out of our leases, sell our cars, and basically all of our possessions,” Ryan said. “We’re just gonna travel the world.” Wagner sipped coffee out of a mason jar through a striped straw. “When we started, we thought, ‘Oh well, we’ll try it for a couple months,’” she said. “But now it’s almost been a year, and we haven’t talked about stopping.”
Wagner and Ryan were halfway through the circuit. In 11 months, they’d visited 10 countries, including Croatia, Morocco, Romania, Portugal, and Turkey. Their remaining itinerary included Argentina and Chile, followed by Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and the U.K. Even as they traveled, they saved money, by arbitraging their first-world incomes against the low cost of living in their stopover destinations. “We will probably buy a house eventually,” Wagner said. “But the more you travel, the longer the list of places you want to go.”