”When you earn enough money, go around the world.” The vast majority of people who have this illusion have not been able to make enough money until retirement, and finally responded to the lyrics – “The world is so big, I only go to through Southeast Asia”.
In 1997, Japanese semiconductor scholar Mu Benjixiong and British “Electronics Weekly” author David Manners first proposed the concept of “digital nomadic/electronic nomadic”. At that time, e-mail was subverting traditional letters, Nokia was still ruling the mobile phone world, and everything was on the eve of the Internet age. But everyone has seen what happened after that: the global deployment of 5G infrastructure, and Musk’s high-profile announcement of the Starlink plan.
If asked again, “Would you like to work or live?” This generation’s answer would be: Children make choices, adults do.
Neither need to be thrown
Using telecommunications equipment and the Internet to work remotely, you can go wherever you want to live.
“In the morning, find a coffee shop in the literary district next to the Milan Cathedral to write an article, pair it with croissants and cappuccinos, and in the afternoon stroll through the Milan Cathedral with gelato, or on the train to the Venice Mask Festival, in time for Submit the last manuscript before the deadline.” Such a description can be described as an ideal day for electronic nomads.
Unlike the average globetrotter, e-nomads must at least make ends meet on their journeys to be sustainable. This has led to the current differentiation characteristics of electronic nomads working and living: most of the electronic nomads come from developed regions in Europe and the United States with high labor costs, and after accumulating a certain amount of local customer resources, they migrate to live in areas with lower prices.
For example, the cost of living in the US can be as high as $3000/month, while in Thailand it is possible to live a similarly decent life for less than $1000. For young people, the remaining $2,000 means travel and study expenses, and also means that they can afford the failures and risks associated with exploring new possibilities in life to a certain extent.
In 2017, Estonia had more new e-residents than births.
On the other hand, e-nomads are also different from teleworkers, so you’ll also need a good passport in hand. If you hold an African passport, you will have more than 100 visa-free countries less than a German passport. Just filling out the application form can kill your romance.
In addition, those who “have a laptop in hand and do not worry about work” also need to consider the local Internet speed, safety index, medical care and inclusiveness, and even various very practical conditions such as nightlife and education when they venture into the world.
According to Nestpick, a company in Berlin, Germany, which provides destination recommendations for electronic nomads: Melbourne, Australia ranks first in the world’s most livable rankings for electronic nomads, showing that in addition to the excellent Internet infrastructure, sunshine, sand and coast are still human instincts yearning; United Arab Emirates And Dubai ranks second because of tax exemption.
In a word, for electronic nomads, it is necessary to enjoy nature, but also cannot give up the material welfare of modern civilization, but if it is for freedom, neither can be thrown away!
When the number of electronic nomads increased and showed huge consumption power and productivity, a series of niche industries serving them were also born. Some people’s hope for this is not just to reshape tourism, but to reverse the fortunes of the country and even the entire future world.
For example, Estonia, one of the three small Baltic states with a population of only 1.3 million and a serious aging population, intends to attract such high-income people from all over the world (the concept of “e-nomadism” was not yet born at that time).
In 2014, Estonia officially decided to become a country without borders and launched the “e-resident program”. Anyone can electronically sign documents, apply to start a company remotely in Estonia, access professional banking services and use international online payment systems, and obtain an electronic resident identity card. The whole process costs 100 euros and can be done in as little as 20 minutes.
Today, Estonia is already one of the most digitalized countries in the world. More than 90% of public services such as school admission, housing purchase, medical electronic prescription, and document signing can be handled directly on mobile phones. In other words, except for marriage, divorce, and land sales, which require in-person presence, everything else can be done through the Internet with the help of “digital ID cards”. In 2017, Estonia had more new e-residents than births.
In 2019, the e-resident program contributed 14 million euros to the Estonian economy and spawned more than 10,000 businesses, including thousands of start-ups and four unicorns, such as global messaging software Skype, online payment service provider TransferWise, Taxify, a ride-hailing service, and others.
new world new contradiction
If the “Electronic Resident Program” promotes global high-level talents to work for Estonia, then in June 2020, Estonia’s first “electronic nomad visa” specially designed for “electronic nomads” is to invite high-income electronic nomads from all over the world to live in Estonia.
High-rise buildings in Tallinn, Estonia
Bali, tourists in a street cafe
However, applicants need to prove that they have an income of more than 3,500 euros per month for the past six months, which is twice the average income of Estonian nationals. Those who have obtained the qualification can live in the local area for one year. This policy indirectly drives the local tourism industry. Barbados, Bermuda and Dubai followed suit with e-nomad visas.
How big is this market? There were 7.3 million e-nomads in the U.S. in 2019, and by 2020, this group will grow to 10.9 million. Before the outbreak of the new crown, most of these people were freelancers, and the new crown epidemic has become a catalyst. By 2035, there will be one billion electronic nomads worldwide.
The new world seems to have opened its doors, and young people are eager to jump into it, but is our society really ready?
For e-nomads, the first fact is that life doesn’t get easier with migration, the hardships are always there, it’s just different. For example, you might think that “nomadic” means playing and working without clocking in, but the truth may be that the premise that most companies are willing to adopt remote cooperation is an appropriate pay cut.
By 2035, there will be one billion electronic nomads worldwide.
So to make ends meet, you might have to work two jobs, sitting in a coffee shop on a corner of Florence 16 hours a day. For another example, if you do not have a strong ability to integrate, walking on a strange land also means derailing from the community organization and becoming an isolated island.
The second fact is like the angry voice of Balinese people facing a large number of electronic nomads: “Bali is regarded as paradise by the outside world, but for us, it is home.” For the local people, the relative A more intuitive feeling than economic benefits is that these foreign wealthy westerners earn high salaries and enjoy the local natural environment, but they are neither interested in nor respectful of the local culture. They only care about things on the Internet.
They are not tourists, they have rights; they are not citizens and have no obligations, so who are they? What’s more irritating is that “fashionably decorated cafes have replaced small local family-run coffee shops, and there are no places for locals to meet and socialize with their neighbors or friends.”
These specific complaints demonstrate just how much opportunity e-nomads present to communities, and how much challenge they present. Blindly imagining freedom, like blindly sketching the blue sky and white clouds in Bali, is illusory.
But what “e-residents” have shown the world, as former Estonian officials put it, is the country’s resilience. Whether a country or an individual, passive or active, it is always necessary to learn to find a new sense of meaning and belonging in the fragmented reality, and “electronic nomadism” is just one of the questions that the future world will ask this generation.