A hybrid nomad is a person earning money partially location independently and partially locally. It’s the freedom of a digital nomad’s lifstyle without the downsides of feeling disconneted or being lonely. Whether you’re a seasoned or a budding digital nomad, finding part-time local employment will solve a lot of your main challenges.
The Problems Of Life Online
We all know about the beauty of location independent living, and earning our money online. We all adore the flexibility it brings us, and the luxury of working wherever we want, whenever we want.
However, location independence also has a couple of disadvantages. We don’t always earn as much money as we want to. We often don’t know many local people, and feel disconnected. Sometimes, we stay at a place, but we feel like we don’t belong there.
With that comes the sensation of loneliness – unfortunately very common amongst digital nomads. It has made many famous digital nomads retire from traveling, including Nomadic Matt, Adventurous Kate, Mark Manson and even Pieter Levels.
Since many location independent startups begin as solopreneurs, they quickly turn into alonetrepreneurs. Even if you start up with a buddy or two, there is a very fair chance you do spend a lot of time on your laptop, and that makes getting to know new people and integrating with the locals quite a challenge.
Co-working spaces and cafes are often very cozy places to work at, but finding good company there isn’t as easy as one might expect. Everybody in the room is full of their own ideas, busy with their own projects, immersed into their own virtual world.
But as soon as the laptop lid closes, we feel lonely.
Hybrid Nomad For Over A Decade
Since I started traveling the globe in 2006, I have always earned (or tried to earn) money online. (Wanna check out my very first blog? It’s mostly in German… but the pictures are fun… haha.)
However, as back in 2006 the word ‘digital nomad’ hadn’t even been coined yet, and Tim Ferriss’ 4-hour-work-week was yet to be released, earning money online was a very different ball game. I never earned enough to sustain my extensive travels.
Hence, I had to find local jobs to finance my lifestyle. And, looking back, this necessity was an absolute blessing. So much so that I usually still work location dependent jobs. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I’m not filthy rich yet… but I don’t think any money in the world could buy me these real-life experiences.
Note: As apparently you love traveling, you will also love B’n’Tree. For every bed you book, at least one tree is planted – at absolutely no cost to you!
The Advantages Of Being A Hybrid Nomad
Having been a hybrid nomad for over 10 years now, I could easily enumerate a whole website full of advantages to this lifestyle. After all, if I wouldn’t love it to pieces, I would have changed course long time ago.
I haven’t. But I’m also confident you’re not in the mood to read a bible full or pro-hybrid-nomadism-arguments, so here are the most important ones only.
Routine And Community
The main advantage of being a hybrid nomad is preventing a digital nomad’s main problem: Loneliness. Thanks to working a couple of hours in a local job, it is a lot easier to make local friends and find a way into the local community.
Another big plus is that a local job offers you some sort of routine. If you score a morning job, say, in a café, you are forced to wake up early. Then you work a couple of hours, and afterwards have close to a full day left to make the most of. An excellent beginning for a perfectly productive day.
Besides community and routine, a local job can often pay the bills. Despite all prejudice that when living in a low-cost country local jobs only pay pennies, I have worked jobs that paid more than most Western bosses would offer – net-pay. Mainly because payroll related costs are a lot less, but also because Western expertise is often much sought-after in not-Western countries.
And since local jobs pay salaries, they often offer easy access to a local bank account and can include benefits such as free health care. Which may or may not be of interest for you – but I found it never hurts. (No pun intended.)
Talking about a hybrid nomad’s monetary benefits: Local employers often offer accommodation, food allowances and discounts at the place you work at (and occasionally at their buddies’ places as well). It can easily help you cut your expenses.
Learning (For The Future)
Apart from money, as a hybrid nomad you may also learn a whole lot of new things: I never knew how to brew proper coffee with a Starbucks machine (passed the barista test in two days – boom!), how to prepare a Domino’s pizza or how to cast animal sculptures in bronze.
As an animal and nature lover, I also learned how to take care of injured kangaroos in Australia before releasing them into the wild, organizing 5* cruises on the Galapagos islands and marketing and running jungle tours at Thailand’s most ethical elephant camp in the rain forest.
All this newly gained knowledge might come in handy one day. Should at some point you decide to ditch the digital nomad lifestyle and settle down somewhere, becoming an employee again for whichever reason, all these local jobs easily spice up your CV and show your experience in different fields.
And if not: You’ll have stories to tell, because you will make memories that will last a lifetime.
Stay Connected To The Real World
One further important point: Local jobs help you to stay connected to ‘real life’. When becoming location independent, you often start networking with other digital nomads, connecting via social media and in co-working spaces, meeting for sports activities and drinks. Soon you’ll begin to believe that the entire planet consists of location independent startups, freelancers and remote workers, which is clearly not the case.
Despite being a very quickly growing community, location independent entrepreneurs are still a tiny minority amongst the world population. Realizing this is highly valuable, since that vast majority out there is a huge bunch of potential clients for you! That’s where the money is! (Especially as location independent entrepreneurs now start to give away tons of stuff for free.)
Staying connected to that ‘real world’ out there, and seeing (and hopefully solving) these people’s problems is crucial for your business success. As freelancer, this is the easiest way to find new clients.
And it can help you to digitally detox – which feels fantastic!
Your Ticket To Local Culture
Last but not least, a local job is always the perfect entrance ticket to local culture. Understanding customs, learning the language and realizing why a country ticks the way it does is usually close to impossible without being employed locally. I sincerely hope this understanding is important to you.
What Jobs To Score
Assuming you do run a location independent business already, or are in the process of starting up, I recommend looking for part-time work. 10-20hrs a week are ideal to build up solid relationships with your co-workers, but still enjoy enough freedom to develop your own projects.
Which job to opt for certainly depends on your own expertise and preferences as well as the local laws. Many lower cost countries such as Thailand don’t allow foreigners to perform jobs that a Thai national could fulfill. At least not officially. (And no, it’s not nice to steal jobs from people who need them more dearly than we do.)
Generally there’s a wide variety of jobs available:
Classic job amongst foreigners is teaching in language or local schools. Presuming you live in a country where your native language isn’t theirs, you already possess a skill that many would love to acquire. Since you’re reading an English blog right now, chances are you can teach others a sentence or two.
Teaching also offers you the chance to make a difference as hybrid nomad. Everybody loves responsible digital nomads. Please handle this responsibility responsibly.
Hospitality And Tourism
The hospitality and tourism industry often offers interesting job opportunities for hybrid nomads. Whether it is a bar, restaurant or hotel, many businesses need bar tenders, supervisors, managers or want to delight their clients with Western cuisine, which can’t be more authentic than when crafted by a Westerner.
Depending on the laws you may even become a tour guide and show other travelers around the area. Guiding is one of my personal favorites, since you do learn a whole lot about the place you currently call home.
I still vividly recall my days as Gaudi guide in Barcelona and assistant jungle ranger in Southern Thailand. Funny enough I even was an archery guide in Northern Germany once – for one entire afternoon… (But hey – it paid!)
Note: In case you do score a job at a lodging establishment, please try introducing some green best practices for hotels. One step at a time we can make this planet a better place. (Better yet, introduce these green best practices at any accommodation you stay in, no matter whether you work there or just pass through.)
Marketing And Sales
Marketing and Sales are also good fields to look around in. Especially businesses targeting Western markets love Western employees for their natural understanding of their potential clients’ needs. Learn these 10 completely free marketing strategies for startups and SMEs to impress your next potential employer.
Call Centers always are interesting places to contact. Since outsourcing is so common these days, there is a very fair chance that a corporation from your home country subcontracts a call center close to wherever you live now. And not always is the local workforce skilled enough to deal with your country(wo)men.
The pay is also not bad. Two months in a Swiss call center paid for roughly four out of my 18 months in Australia. And I’m sure if I had pretended to be that close-to-naked Addison (“with double D, darling”) instead of selling telecommunication contracts I could have earned another two big cups full…
Where To Find Jobs
Finding jobs as hybrid nomad is easier today than ever before.
Yes, you guessed correctly: Take a look at Facebook. Places that have fast enough WiFi to attract hybrid nomads are also big enough to have a ‘Jobs’ group on Facebook.
While already online, check Gumtree, search Google, and connect with other digital or hybrid nomads.
You can of course also try some old school hacks: Read free newspapers. Check black boards and job offerings posted on lamp posts. Ask people. (Scary, I know. But that’s what hybrid nomads do: Engage in real life conversations!).
Or simply walk into whichever place you want to work at, exclaiming “Hello, folks, I’m here now. Where should I start?” (I did. It worked. I was officially employed as waiter on call and then cleaned dishes for three shifts. I once even had dinner with the boss. He then never called again… haha. Must be my amazing German humor.)
Jokes aside. Show people you’re there, and you’re willing to work. When seriously looking for a job I have nowhere on this planet been jobless for longer than one single week. You can, too. Just be serious.
Hybrid nomads working in an overseas country often need to obtain a work visa and a work permit. Whether your employer is willing to organize this for you or not is up to you to negotiate.
The other option is to opt for cash in hand jobs. While not completely legal, they are very (very) common. Make sure to ask for your payment regularly, at least every week. Be aware that you may not be ensured. And your employer never knew you in case law enforcement comes to check (and is not bribable).
I’m not sure whether legally I’m allowed to advocate illegal work. Hence let’s only state matter-of-factly that throughout my career as hybrid nomad I have worked without contract at times. And, so far, things went fine. Touch wood.
To level things out, let me also advise you to please be careful with black labor. Bangkok Hilton is not a place you want to spend a night at. (I heard.)
Do Local Jobs Endanger Location Independence?
To many location independent entrepreneurs finding local employment might sound dangerous to their location independence and freedom. I can wholeheartedly assure you that it isn’t.
When you are new to a job, you are never forced to sign a 5-year-contract with no hope of escape. On the contrary, most companies are smart enough to not have you sign a contract at all to start with. They also have no idea whether you are worth your money or not.
Since I discovered employment at the age of 13, I have never had a problem getting out of a contract. (Worst case I had to sacrifice one week’s wage in order to break free again. But that was worth it.)
I have found jobs that kept me captivated for a full five years (thanks to 70,000 included airmiles a year), and others that I left the same day I had begun. But even in the latter case I usually got paid for the few hours I had put in.
Overall, I always kept my freedom, even as a hybrid nomad, and of course my location independence. When it was time to move on, I moved on. Local job or not – your life is yours, and yours only. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.
Your Thoughts, Please
What do you think? Does all the above make sense? Have you tried living as hybrid nomad before? Would you give it a go? Or are you fully happy with your current lifestyle?
Leave a comment and join the Facebook conversation – hybrid nomad life is all about sharing and networking.
Love what you see?
Thursday Thoughts is my bi-weekly newsletter. It covers a topic range as wide as this website (and often even more), so it certainly won’t get boring.
It’s free, and your data is safe.
You should sign up.