Where Do Digital Nomads Sleep?

Michael and I are "digital nomads" -- folks who work online, but have no permanent address because we travel around. Because of changes in technology, we believe this is about to become the Next Big Thing.

But where do people like us live? Where do we sleep?

One option is temporary housing through AirBnB or other online rental outlets, but that can be pricey (though the general rule is: the more local the outlet, the better the price).

Unfortunately, if you're new to a city, and you're working online, AirBnB can be pretty isolating. By the time you meet a circle of friends in the new city, it can already be time to move onto the next city.

Hostels are more social, but they don't really work for most digital nomads, since most people are on holiday (and loud). They also rarely have real work-spaces.

Which brings us to co-living, which is what we prefer. There are facilities that cater specially to digital nomads. That means we have a private living space (usually a bedroom and bathroom, and sometimes also an attached office) while sharing kitchen, laundry, social, and workspace facilities with other digital nomads.

Right now, we're living in Roam Miami, a collection of four old houses around a central courtyard and pool. In two months in Malta, we'll be staying at CoCoHub.

The advantages to co-living are considerable:

  • Great wireless! For digital nomads, this really can't be stressed enough, and it's a high priority at any reputable co-living facility.
     
  • Affordable for long-term housing. Some places charge by the person, but most charge by the room. We've budgeted a total monthly "rent" of about $24,000 year (considerably cheaper than our mortgage in Seattle). Our plan is to alternate between cheaper locations (under $1000/month in Thailand, for example), mid-range options ($2000/month in Miami), and more expensive top-tier cities ($3000/month in London). (Needless to say, this doesn't include any of the "hidden" costs of owning a house or renting an apartment: utilities, cable, insurance, homeowner's dues, etc. In Seattle, this added about $700/month to our mortgage, more with home repairs.)
     
  • Instant friends! Here in Miami, we have our own private studio apartment, but we've been surprised by how much we enjoy the social aspect of co-living (despite our both being introverts). People who choose the digital nomad are a pretty fascinating bunch, and we've been pleasantly surprised by how quickly we've made new friends. We've also been very pleasantly surprised that there is no "cool kids group," and that everyone is friendly and open to everyone they meet. It's actually restoring my faith in humanity a little bit!

Here's a recent New York Times article (where we're mentioned -- those are our friends Mike and Miek in the first photo). It does a pretty good job of outlining the life of a digital nomad in a co-living facility.

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Photo credit: @ajstetson