Meet Gregory, a writer and the brains behind Face Dragons. He's the go-to guy for getting things done. Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.
Becoming a digital nomad couple wasn’t a choice; it was just the direction life took us. But, looking back at how our nomadic lifestyle panned out, I wouldn’t change it. Anyone who isn’t satisfied with their current job or lifestyle should consider traveling while working with their partner.
One thing that makes the start of a relationship so intoxicating is that everything is new. There’s a first kiss, a first date, a first time waking up together, and a first time living together.
After years of marriage, however, things can get a little stale; it’s to be expected. It’s hard to keep things fresh when you both repeat the same routines every day.
Becoming a digital nomad couple takes you back to that stage in the relationship when there were first-time experiences still to be had.
In this post, you can find out what it’s like to be a digital nomad couple from a couple that has been doing it for 15 years! Find out the good and the bad, the highs and lows, and what our average day looks like.
Table of Contents
- How we became Digital Nomads
- Our Pre-Pandemic Lifestyle vs. Now
- An Average Digital Nomad Day of a Nomadic Couple
- The Best Things About Being A Digital Nomad Couple
- The Problems of A Nomad Couple
- Final Thoughts
How we became Digital Nomads
Unlike most digital nomad couples I read about online, we aren’t a couple who later decided to become digital nomads; we were nomadic from the beginning.
When we met, I was an international student at University in China. We got married around the time I graduated, and I found a job that allowed us the freedom to travel.
It started as an extended honeymoon in Bali. While there, I realized that I could still work as long as I had an internet connection. This revelation began our lifestyles as permanent fixtures in the nomadic community.
Since then, we have been all over Asia, spending as long as the visas allowed in each country. This slomad style of living makes the digital nomad lifestyle sustainable for us.
Our Pre-Pandemic Lifestyle vs. Now
Like so many people around the world, the pandemic affected the way we lived our life. Traveling was put to rest with lockdowns, restrictions, and canceled flights. More importantly, however, the consulting company I worked for could not continue getting international clients, and I was out of a job.
We spent the pandemic in China, a country we know well and where I could get long-term visas easily. The cost of living is relatively low in China, even for a large apartment. We found a large two-story 300 sq m apartment, so we wouldn’t feel claustrophobic if we got locked in and had to stay inside for a while.
Luckily it never came to that!
The one problem for me was that I didn’t have a job; I was spending my savings every day but never making any back. Luckily my wife, who teaches English online, was still able to work.
Having nothing to work on for almost two years was a struggle for me. Of course, I threw myself into my son’s homeschooling and learning languages and some other side projects, but I was eager to find something I could do to start earning money again.
By the end of 2021, the pandemic was starting to end, and I started this site. Finally, the long tunnel, which at times had seemed endless, began to show signs of a light at the end. I realized that to protect myself from the unexpected events of the world (and the job market), I needed to create an income stream I owned and had control over.
Face Dragons was born!
An Average Digital Nomad Day of a Nomadic Couple
My wife and I are coffee addicts, no matter where we are in the world, the day starts with coffee! In Luang Prabang, Laos, we stayed a couple minutes from a small roastery – Saffron Coffee making beautiful coffee on the Mekong River bank. Our mornings involved walking along the Mekong watching the locals going off to work, ordering coffee and watching the boats drift passed as we caffeinated ourselves.
Here in Tianjin, the morning is essentially the same, my wife catches the morning rays through the window in our dining room while I make coffee in the kitchen.
Once were woken up we usually split up to get work done. Sometimes this means sitting at different tables or going to other parts of the city. My wife likes to find somewhere busy while she teaches online. She doesn’t’ want to be the only one talking in a silent cafe. For me, I embrace the silence, it helps me concentrate while I’m writing.
We work for the morning then meet for lunch, which could be Tibetan Mo Mos, Thai street food or a Tianjin style seafood restaurant. Making the most of all the different styles of food is super important to us, we love trying new food! We make sure to learn how to cook something from every place we go.
Usually, this means returning to the same restaurant a few times and talking to the chef to learn the secrets! We’ve never known a chef to refuse. After 15 years of traveling we both have an extensive repertoire of delicious food we make regularly. It’s the best way to make travel memories because the flavor takes you straight back to that spot all those years before.
The Best Things About Being A Digital Nomad Couple
One of the lesser talked about benefits of the digital nomad lifestyle is how much money you can save each month, especially if you earn a wage equivalent to what you’d get back home. When both of you are earning the amount you can save can be staggering.
It seems so intuitive because most people go on holiday and spend so much more than they usually would but remember the digital nomad lifestyle is not a vacation. We rarely stay in five-star hotels or fancy resorts. Instead, we typically choose places outside the usual tourist spots where we can find a good-sized apartment, villa, or house at a reasonable price.
The second reason saving money is so easy as a digital nomad couple is that most digital nomads aren’t spending most of their time in first world countries. The reason that Chiang Mai, Bali and Medellin are so popular with the digital nomad community isn’t just because of the amazing food and wonderful people, it’s also the cost of living!
For the cost of an average monthly mortgage payment back home I can pay all my expenses for a month in Thailand.
This makes it easy to build up a retirement fund or investment portfolio while living the nomadic dream traveling the world.
We Always Have Something New To Talk About
Whether it’s the next place we’re going or the last place we went, one of the benefits of always being on the road is there’s never nothing to talk about.
Being in a place for a limited amount of time gives you a sense of urgency to see and do everything you can before you leave. Sometimes that means a compromise and sometimes we want to do the same things anyway.
Either way we never have the problem so many couples face of having nothing to talk about al meal times!
Having Fun Is Built Into The Nomadic Lifestyle
After years of marriage and with the stress of work, dealing with kids and everything else life throws at you, it’s easy to realize you can’t remember the last time you had a fun day out with your partner.
Some couples try to enforce a mandatory date night each week to make up for it while others put all their hopes on a long vacation each year.
For digital nomad couples however, the fun is unavoidable. Every new place you visit feels like a new adventure you’re taking together. New places to see, fresh food to try and new experiences to have together.
Try not regaining the spark in your relationship your first time in Bali or being amazed together walking through Angkor Wat.
The Problems of A Nomad Couple
“When are you going to settle down?”
The one thing we hear from our family and friends is “when are you two going to finally settle down?” Listening to this question time and time again can be hard. Sometimes it feels like they really don’t understand that this isn’t an avoidance of ‘real life’ this is real life for us.
We have jobs, we have responsibilities, and we are enjoying ourselves, why would we trade that for a house that always has the same view?
Visas and Bureaucracy
One of the biggest challenges with the digital nomad lifestyle is the dependence on visas. Once that visa runs out, it’s time to go!
This means we need to constantly plan ahead, we need to know where we’re going next and when to apply for the visa. This can cause stress, especially when things don’t go smoothly. A lost passport, a missed flight can ruin a week real quick. It’s hard to explore a fantastic temple in the jungle when you’re worrying about a lost passport.
They say wisdom comes with experience and over the years, we’ve realized that regardless what problems we have, it all works out in the end.
Family and Friends
The most significant challenge we both have is missing our family and friends. Daisy is from China and I’m from the UK so there’s just no way we can see our family and friends as much as we’d like. So even if we settled down, it would mean choosing one place or the other.
Inviting them to come meet us is a really great solution. We had an unforgettable time with my Mom in Hong Kong when they met us there. Then, my in-laws came to meet us in Phuket and we got to explore the Big Buddha and pig out on Thai food with them.
Some of our best travel memories are when family and friends come out to meet us.
Since the birth of our son nearly 10 years ago, some things have changed but I think our experiences as a digital nomad family have only made us stronger.