slowmad

In a time when travel has been heavily restricted and it’s no longer quick and easy to get from one place to another, travelers are starting to create their own “slowmad” lifestyle, instead of quickly hopping from place to place in the typical life of a digital nomad.

So what exactly does that mean, and is it something you should consider?

What is a “Slowmad”?

what is slowmad

As you might have guessed, “slowmad” is a combination of “slow” and “nomad”, but what does that entail?

Well, slowmad can mean different things for different people. If you are a digital nomad who is used to moving from one country to the next in a matter of weeks, for you, becoming a slowmad could mean simply slowing it down to every few months. Some have slowed it down even further, choosing to stay in the same place for 6 months and more.

By staying longer in one place, you can start to get a real feel for the country or city, and immerse yourself in the local community and language, and there are so many advantages to living the slow life!

Great things about becoming a slowmad

Slowing down and spending more time in a country has a lot of benefits.

As a Slowmad, You Are No Longer a Tourist

For one thing, you can move on from that feeling of being a kind of tourist in each country. If you’re only spending a week or two there, the tendency is to visit some of the major landmarks, take a sample of the cuisine at some local restaurants, and then move on. By staying for longer, you can see sights you wouldn’t find in a travel booklet, and start to get involved in the local community by taking cooking or language classes, taking up a new sport, or even doing some volunteer work. You’d never have time for all that in just a week!

Less Stressful

You’ll also likely find that you are much less stressed. Although country-hopping sounds like a dream, as a regular nomad it can be hard to juggle work and travel in such a short timeframe. By spending longer as a slowmad, you can properly plan and organize your time in the country. You can have backup plans for when you get a sudden rush of work, and you can carve out time for self-care and exercise. That way, your mind stays fresh and at ease, instead of you burning out after a few months of non-stop travel.

It’s also much easier to make long-term friendships when you stick to one place for longer, and we all know how important friends are for reducing stress!   

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Slowmad – Budget Friendly

Frequent traveling can really burn a hole in your wallet. Not only can the flights start to rack up big bills, but short-term accommodation and eating out can take a toll on your budget without you realizing. As a slowmad, you can opt for the longer packages at coliving spaces, or even lease an apartment. That alone can save you a ton of money, but if they have good kitchen facilities too, you’ll be able to save up by cooking for yourself instead of eating out for every meal. Even with cheap restaurants, in most countries it’s still cheaper to cook.

With all that money saved up, you can keep traveling for longer, or visit places you might not have been able to otherwise!

What countries are good for slowmads?

Photo by Uno Raamat on Unsplash

In short, anywhere is good for a slowmad! But of course, some countries make the experience much easier than others, so here are a few things to consider before heading off.

Countries with Digital Nomad Visas are perfect for slowmads

Recently a lot of countries have started issuing digital nomad visas. This type of visa usually allows you to stay longer than the standard tourist visa, often for a year or more, while working remotely online and earning an income from abroad. Some countries that offer a nomad visa are:

  • Sri Lanka
  • Malta
  • Georgia
  • Estonia
  • Portugal
  • Croatia
  • Dubai
  • Iceland
  • Germany
  • Mexico
  • Bermuda
  • Barbados

Thailand and Bali are also considering rolling out nomad visas in the near future.

There are plenty more countries with similar visas. Some may not be called a “nomad visa”, but are perfectly suitable for certain remote workers. So, if there’s a country you really want to go to, check what visa would be right for your situation before making concrete plans.

Countries with a low cost of living

As we saw above, the slowmad lifestyle can be much easier on your wallet than the typical fast-paced nomad ways. However it’s still important to take budget into consideration.

Particularly if you’re just starting out on your freelance journey, you might not have figured out your burn-rate or how you like to spend your money just yet. By heading to a country with a low cost of living and having a good amount of back-up cash, you can figure out how to move forward without stretching your budget or stressing out.

Things to keep in mind as a slowmad

Photo by Agus Dietrich on Unsplash

Before heading out to start your life as a slowmad, there are a few things you’ll need to research and prepare.

Visa restrictions

As a regular nomad, a tourist visa is often enough; you’re only staying for a short period of time, and you earn your money from outside the country you are visiting so won’t run into problems. But as a slowmad, this type of visa may not be an option, as many countries don’t allow long stays on a tourist visa.

As we saw above, many countries are implementing nomad visas. Or, some have work visas that allow you to earn your salary in the country itself. Make sure to check what visa you need so that you don’t run into problems!

Where you get income from

Even with a nomad visa, you are not allowed to conduct business and receive a salary from within the country you’re staying in. As a slowmad, your money has to come from elsewhere. For a lot of nomads and slowmads, that’s fine, because you might have built a client base in your home country before traveling. But if you would like to work in the country you’re traveling to, you’ll have to look into work visas, which can be harder to obtain and often have stricter rules.

Some nationalities have access to working holiday visas in certain countries, which allow you to do a certain number of hours of work per week while traveling. This could be an option depending on where you’re traveling to and from.

Banking

As a slowmad in a foreign country, your income is likely to come from outside the country you’re staying in. So you need to make sure that you have a way to receive the money, as well as a card that allows you to withdraw cash at ATMs overseas.

You may also want to look into prepaid cards, or specialty debit and credit cards that are made to make life abroad easier, such as Monzo or Wise. Prepaid cards are great as a backup, or as a means of budgeting, while a Monzo or Wise credit or debit card will make it easy to transfer money around and take it out at ATMs.

Internet

This one is true for slowmads, nomads, and regular freelancers alike; a good internet connection is vital! This might seem obvious, but these days a stable internet connection is something a lot of us take for granted, despite the fact that it is simply not the norm in many places around the world. Make sure to find out about the internet connection situation beforehand, and get a local SIM card or pocket WiFi router if necessary.

Accommodation and lifestyle

Although many countries have great facilities for digital nomads, with plenty of options for coliving spaces, Airbnbs, and cheap apartments for lease, there are some things that may come as a surprise.

When renting or leasing an apartment, they might not always come fully furnished, and it makes no sense to buy everything if you intend to leave after a few months. Not all airbnbs are equipped with fully functioning kitchens either, and may only have a few plates and a microwave, or less. The best way around this is to make sure you fully understand what the accommodation provides, or to book a coliving space designed for nomads. Don’t forget to check the area as well, and find out where the nearest supermarket is!

Wrapping up

Photo by Ibrahim Rifath on Unsplash

If you want to see the world while still making money, being a digital nomad is a good idea. If you want to truly experience each country you visit, then living the slowmad life is an even better idea! Take the time to learn the language, cook the local food, and make new friends and relationships by taking it slow. Just remember to prepare for whatever comes your way!

Cassandra is a British writer and translator living in the suburbs of Japan. She loves trying out new food, whether that's on the road or at home!