‘The Great Resignation’ Sees Explosion in Numbers of Digital Nomads

The amount of people ditching their desk-bound jobs and heading to foreign shores for a better work-life balance has skyrocketed in the last two years and shows no sign of slowing, according to research.

Triggered by the pandemic and a realisation that work was not everything, people have been throwing in the towel at work and announcing it on social media, with hashtags like #quittingmyjob declaring their part of the “Great Resignation” phenomenon.

Those who are able have been hitting the road with their laptops and becoming a digital nomad, using technology to work while they travel the world. It's a workplace change facilitated by employers’ lockdown realisation that some staff don’t need to be in the office at all to do their jobs. 

Digital nomadism soaring during and after pandemic

Top digital nomad destinations include Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, in Southeast Asia, and Portugal, Spain and Romania, in Europe - showing a preference for sun, sand and exotic culture. Among the top digital nomad jobs are graphic and web design, digital marketing, writing and teaching.

And while it may be difficult to track these wandering workers and know precisely how many among their tribe there are, workforce management firm MBO Partners has found a 112% rise in the numbers of American digital nomads since 2019. Its research reveals there were 7.3 million US digital nomads just before the coronavirus pandemic exploded, 10.9 million in 2020 and 15.5 million last year. 

Most (44%) are Millennials, followed by those in the Gen Z generational bracket (21%), Gen X (23%) and Baby Boomers (12%), the study says. 


Issues affecting the digital nomad lifestyle 

Among the many difficulties digital nomads can face when moving from country to country – visas, cultural and language difficulties, suitable accommodation, fast and reliable wifi – are banking and money. Nomads can suddenly find their cards are not working or not accepted, or that they can’t send and receive money and get paid, said Alon Rajic, managing director of Money Transfer Comparison.

“Because the numbers of digital nomads around the world has been shooting up, and the number of enquiries we get, we put together a money transfer guide for digital nomads,” said Rajic, whose website’s editors provide independent reviews of money transfer services.

The Digital Nomad Banking guide outlines the best services that digital nomads can use for cash transfers while avoiding high fees, complicated processes and slow payments. It provides alternatives to PayPal, which has fallen out of favour with many people due to expensive fees and poor exchange rates.  

Money Transfer Comparison’s recommendations for digital nomad banking and transfer services include Wise, WorldFirst and HSBC overseas banking – all services, it says, that meet the low-fee, high-speed transfer demands of digital nomads in countries around the globe.