Just as fast as technology progresses in our modern, fast-paced world, companies are devising new job titles, positions and styles of working.

However, this phenomenon isn’t just restricted to work done that is carried out in companies. The more we embrace technological progress, the easier it becomes to work remotely.

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Three often talked about work-related lifestyles that have popped up as a result are: the Digital Nomad, Location Independent Worker, and Freelancer.

The differences between the three are subtle, so let’s take a more detailed look at them, the differences between them, with the aim of helping you understand which one of the three you are, or pick which one you would like to be.

Digital Nomad

Digital nomads make their living using their laptops and an Internet connection, with no defined base. You could think of them as a modern-day travelling salesman, peddling their wares/services wherever they see fit, or the opportunity to make some cash dictates.

On paper, the idea of being a digital nomad looks to be an exciting one: you get a lot of flexibility, and get to make a living while seeing the world, using the beach or pool bar as your office. However, while you do get a lot of freedom being a digital nomad, there are lots of myths surrounding this way of working.

digital nomad

The fact that you aren’t tied to one place makes being a digital nomad popular with bloggers, and young, single people, although you will sometimes find families, and more experienced adults living the digital nomad lifestyle.

Being a digital nomad also offers up the opportunity to immerse yourself in different cultures, meet lots of different people, travel to the best unique cities and also learn new languages. Most digital nomads hop around between locations every few weeks or months.

In short: a digital nomad is a person who lives and works digitally from a foreign country, with no home base.

Location Independent Worker

Digital nomads and location independent workers are often rounded up together in one category. The reality is that they are not as similar as most people believe. Location independent workers are usually entrepreneurs, or freelancers that run established businesses which are able to function without their direct physical presence, or the businesses themselves don’t depend on functioning from a specific location.

location independent worker

The upside to this for the location independent worker is that they can live abroad for long periods of time, but it usually takes quite a lot of experience to get to this stage, and to be able to maintain it.

In short: a location independent worker is a person who lives anywhere they want, often managing operations/employees working elsewhere.

Freelancer

A freelancer is a self-employed person who is not bound to work for a single employer on a long-term basis. Freelancers are often represented by agencies, work independently, or use professional associations or websites to find work and secure their clients.

freelancer

Freelancers can work from wherever they want, but it isn’t a necessity. They are often workers who become tired of commuting, and decide to setup their own businesses, working from home.

In short: a freelancer is a person who offers their work or services at a per hour, day or job rate, rather than having a regular salary from one employer.

What’s the difference between them?

Basically, digital nomads tend to spend several months per year earning their living by working online while abroad, and frequently changing their locations.

Their lifestyle makes it possible for them to work from any place, and they are also usually well-equipped to navigate local cultures and customs.

Being location independent means that your line of work doesn’t require you to live in a specific place.

All digital nomads are location independent, but not all location independent people are digital nomads – location independent workers often have something that they would describe as a “home base”. In the long term, this is likely to be a far more sustainable approach.

Finally, freelancers can work from anywhere but aren’t necessarily always travelling somewhere. 

Freelancers often work from home, from the same place for a long amount of time. Their clients and routine often require them to be bound to one place, with strict working hours, this type of work lacks the flexibility had by digital nomads.

Finally…

Thanks to the ever-evolving tools, software, and special technical equipment at our disposal, we have the possibility to work from anywhere. If you are seriously considering jumping get first into the world of remote work, it might be wise to start out as a freelancer in your current location.

This way, you will get a taste of what it’s like, and whether or not it suits you, or you have the self-discipline to get your work done unsupervised.

Once you have established yourself as a freelancer, you will find the switch to being a digital nomad or location independent worker much easier. Whichever way you do it, there are sure to be many surprises, problems and adventures along the way!

Last but not least, don’t worry too much about the terms – they are just terms! Create and live your life the way you want it, no matter how you, or others decide to name it.

Good luck on your journey, and we’d be glad to hear you share some of your experiences in the comments section.

BONUS TIP:

Noise can have a drastic impact on productivity and concentration. Irrespective of which of these types of worker that you are, if you are regularly making calls over the Internet in noisy public spaces (or even in a busy household), then you should definitely check out Krisp.

This nifty noise cancelling app filters out pesky background noise at both ends, leading to a significant boost in the quality of your calls. Try it for yourself, and let us know how you get on in the comments!

Which one of the three do you think best describes you? Do you see yourself as more of a digital nomad, or a freelancer – a bit of both? What made you choose to become location independent? Let us know in the comments section below…