Being a digital nomad means working remotely using your tech and a wi-fi connection. It also means that you have the personal and professional flexibility to change locations and work from anywhere.
From an apartment in Thailand to a remote beach in Guatemala, as long as you have a strong signal and the right electricity adapter, you’re good to go! All that working and moving can make building relationships — both platonic and romantic — a unique dance to learn. But, life goes on whether you’re nomadic or not, and social connections are the best part of travel. So how do you find those friends in a new place without a formal office base?
Making connections means being the one to reach out
As a digital nomad, you might try to blend into each new community as seamlessly as possible. You might feel awkward walking up to locals in hopes of friendship, or being vulnerable in expat forums about looking for people to hang out with — but that's exactly what you need to do!
As a frequent traveler, you'll find it in your best interests to put aside your introversion and be the one to take initiative. It's possible that you're only there for a limited amount of time, so it's most fair if you set the tone of the relationships you're looking for.
Taking advantage of the “digital” in digital nomads
Who better to have a relationship with than someone else who understands your lifestyle? Connecting with other digital nomads is relatively simple if you know where to look. My favorite online communities of expats are Facebook groups, MeetUp.com, Slack channels, and travel communities like Wanderful.
Coworking spaces can be a digital nomads' dream, and you should keep them top of mind while you work and roam. Sitting in a professional setting with other people buzzing away at their tasks can give your days a sense of structure and intention that can boost your productivity. But the best part about coworking space is having — you guessed it — coworkers! You know, people to grab lunch with, send notes to, hang out after work, and become friends with.
Having the commonality of working in the same space every day can make it so much easier to develop connections quickly, which is great for a digital nomad who might change destinations frequently. Sites like Coworker.com span 172 countries and are great for identifying these spaces, and WeWork is another popular, global organizer of coworking spaces. If all else fails, join a few digital nomad or travel Facebook groups and organize your own coworking space at a local library or park. Or if the pandemic continues to make in-person meet-ups difficult, organize a virtual co-working space on Zoom or Clubhouse.
Using dating apps
Dating apps are a great way to connect with people too, romantically and platonically! Think about who is on dating apps — people local to a 100-mile radius who are intentionally looking to connect with other people. If you’re in an area with a lot of expats, expect to also find them using apps to look for people to go on dates with, explore the city, and grab a meal.
Dating as a digital nomad can be equally fun as frustrating, so it’s good to know what to expect going into it. The first thing to accept is the nature of the lifestyle — depending on how often you change locations, you’ll be coming and going out of many people’s lives, And if you date other digital nomads, they’ll be coming and going out of yours as well! This can be a great thing for those of you looking for friendships and casual relationships.
Looking for love on the road? Good luck!
But if you’re looking for long-term love as a digital nomad, you might run into some roadblocks. Locals who might be interested could be wary of getting serious with someone with such a fluid and seemingly volatile lifestyle. Who knows how much money you may make next month or next year, or where you’ll be? Would you be willing to give up your nomadic lifestyle for love? And even if you find another digital nomad, that doesn’t assure compatibility! Us digital nomads tend to be self-sufficient, easily detached, and independent by necessity, and we may not be as bothered by a relationship fizzling out or ending (or worse, we may expect it to end anyway and self-sabotage!)
Of course, there are exceptions where those traits might bond you closer together and lead to a successful relationship. In those cases, you might find yourselves moving faster than the usual couple as well — going on vacations, perhaps collaborating on remote work business, or even moving in together quickly. I mean, split rent, right?
You need to know yourself
The most important thing you can do if you’re a remote worker looking to build connections in your globetrotting is to know what you want and be confident in it. There are great interactions both short- and long-term to be had as a digital nomad! Knowing what your work schedule, lifestyle, and personal boundaries are can help you make as many life-long positive memories as you can!
Remote work visas
If you're a digital nomad you've likely caught word of the remote work visas popping up from countries around the world — you get to stay an extended period (usually 3–12 months) in a foreign country usually without having to go through their traditional visa process or pay local taxes. The goal is that you work completely online and don’t interfere with small businesses, but support the local economy with your living expenses and tourism while you’re there. Sound intriguing? I have produced an ebook Go Remote Guide to 2021. It delves into the individual requirements for each visa program, as well as must-know facts like wifi-strength, average rent costs, and things to do in each destination.
You might also like:
How to manage your money as a digital nomad
10 reasons why you should become a digital nomad in 2021
Lonely Planet's ultimate digital nomad packing list