BI Analyst Angel Chen Exclusive Interview | The Value of Digital Nomadism Lies in "Choosing" the Lifestyle You Want

March 12, 2024

商業智慧分析師 Angel Chen 專訪|數位遊牧的價值不在到處玩,而是「選擇」自己要的生活模樣

Photo from Angel Chen

When it comes to digital nomadism, many people often have a misconception that it's only suitable for those who "love to travel everywhere." But is that really the case? Nomad Angel will share her perspective and practical experiences with you!

"In my digital nomad journey, I've met many extraordinary people. For instance, when I was in Hainan, I had a friend from Beijing who only worked about half the year. During the winter, he did marketing at a ski resort, and the rest of the time, he surfed in Hainan." As I expressed my surprise, Angel on the other end of the video call continued, "Yes, I was also like, 'Wow, is that even possible?'"

Currently working as a Business Intelligence Analyst in a Singaporean company, Angel has been a digital nomad for about two years. Passionate about surfing, she has lived not only in Yilan and Taitung but also in cities such as Hainan in China, Chiang Mai in Thailand, and Bali in Indonesia.

A few weeks before the interview, she embarked on a long-awaited journey to Sri Lanka alone with her backpack. At the time of the interview, she had returned to her "nomadic hub" in Bali.

Talking about her nomadic life, she smiled and mentioned that she always loved traveling. Therefore, even with a nine-to-five job with demanding responsibilities, she found immense joy in the nomadic lifestyle.

However, as her travel experiences expanded and she met more people, she realized that her happiness didn't solely stem from traveling itself. Delving deeper, she discovered that digital nomadism created a larger space than before, enabling people to freely "choose" the kind of life they want.

Don't Let "Nomadism" Limit You; Life Can Be Diverse

When discussing "digital nomadism," many people often have a misconception that it means constantly moving from place to place.

But according to Angel, we don't need to be restricted by terminologies. The proclaimed freedom of the nomadic lifestyle offers various possibilities.

"Some people like frequent changes of location, finding it refreshing, while others, like me, prefer staying in one place for a longer period, maybe spending a few months deeply exploring a destination. Some people can travel, but they choose to stay in Taiwan and travel occasionally," she explained. For her, these are all valid options.

Some might wonder if being a digital nomad means a decrease in income. After all, the conventional perception of "success" often involves working in modern, tidy offices rather than traveling around. However, Angel suggests otherwise. With the right career strategies during nomadic life, it's entirely plausible to maintain or even increase one's income compared to before.

Understanding digital nomadism in this light, it's not difficult to comprehend: It doesn't signify one "ideal" way of living but rather prompts individuals to contemplate the kind of life they truly desire and make choices accordingly.

不只在海边生活,Angel 也在海边远距工作。
Angel working remotely by the beach. (Photo from Angel)

"Moreover, embarking on nomadic life has exposed me to various lifestyles, expanding my imagination about life," Angel added.

She elaborated that after graduating from university, she worked in Shanghai. In the fast-paced metropolitan city, her perception of what life should be like was similar to that of most people—working in tech giants or internet companies, earning a substantial income, and climbing up the career ladder.

However, after embracing the nomadic lifestyle, she met many new friends from different backgrounds and countries during her journeys. She mentioned a few examples: Friend A, who works only half the year, spending the winter working at a ski resort and the rest of the time surfing in Hainan; Friend B, who quit her job in the tourism industry to run a homestay in Taitung, Taiwan; and Friend C, who moved from Spain to Indonesia simply because they loved the lifestyle in Bali.

"I used to believe there was only one way to live life, but now I realize there are numerous possibilities. Whether one focuses on their career or pursues their interests, as long as their income supports the life they desire, it's the most important and fulfilling choice," Angel concluded.

Choices Always Come with "Costs"; Accept Reality and Find Solutions

Although Angel has gained a lot during her nomadic journey, she also acknowledges that every choice comes with its own set of costs. For her, there are two significant costs she feels in her current lifestyle:

1.It's challenging to establish stable new relationships because she typically stays in one place for only a few months.

2.Due to spending long periods away from Taiwan, she naturally has less contact with her old friends.

However, over the past two years, she has developed coping mechanisms for these challenges. Regarding building stable relationships, she gradually reduced engagement in social activities that she wasn't good at or fond of, such as parties where she had to chat with large groups of people at once. Instead, she focused on connecting with like-minded individuals through shared interests like surfing. This not only provided surfing companions but also fostered deeper interactions and friendships.

She also shared a memorable experience from her nomadic journey: "Last year, I celebrated my 30th birthday in Bali. I went diving with a Spanish roommate who brought a slate underwater with 'Happy Birthday Angel' written on it. Looking back, I was really touched. I never expected to make such close friends during my solo nomadic journey, let alone celebrate my birthday in such a surprising way."

The Spanish roommate surprises Angel with a "birthday message" underwater. (Photo from Angel)

Angel (front right) poses with roommates from Russia, Germany, New Zealand, and Australia in Bali. (Photo from Angel)

Regarding the second challenge—reduced contact with old friends—her approach is to make the most of opportunities to meet with friends when she returns to Taiwan. After all, as adults, everyone has their own lives, and actively inviting important friends to hang out is more practical than waiting for them to reach out.

Making "Choices" Rationally: Consider 5 Self-Assessment Aspects + 6 Nomadic Destination Considerations

After weighing the feasibility of your job conditions, if you have a nomadic plan similar to Angel's, she offers five aspects for further consideration:

  1. What kind of travel/lifestyle suits me: Do I prefer frequent movement? Staying in one city for a few months before moving? Or mostly staying in Taiwan and traveling occasionally?
  2. Am I capable of living independently: Can I handle everyday tasks (like laundry, cooking, etc.) by myself?
  3. How capable am I of traveling alone: Can I solve various problems during travel alone? Is my language
  4. Do I have the ability to be alone: Does being alone make me uncomfortable, or do I enjoy it?
  5. How can I make friends: Do I enjoy participating in social activities? Or how do I plan to make friends during my travels?

It's important to note that the implications of these five aspects are not "I can't do it, so I can't be a nomad"; rather, they help evaluate the corresponding skill requirements based on the type of nomadic lifestyle one is suited for or desires. If you currently don't meet the requirements, how can you enhance or adjust your travel/lifestyle?

If you're unsure about some aspects, such as solo travel experience, you can start with minimal endeavors (like short-term trips) to test the waters.

In addition to pre-departure assessments and improvements, when it comes to choosing the first nomadic destination, Angel shares her approach: "I think the priority is to determine whether I'm interested in this city and if there are places I want to explore here." Then, she evaluates factors such as internet stability, cost of living, safety, and visa requirements (including application difficulty and duration of stay).

You can find this information on nomadic websites like Nomad List, or you can search using keywords like "city" and "digital nomad."

"Besides, time zone differences are also crucial," Angel added. Although she wishes to nomad in Europe, she considers her current job requiring frequent collaboration with colleagues in Singapore, which might be inconvenient in different time zones. Therefore, she temporarily keeps this wish in mind, waiting for a time when it can be realized in the future.

Thinking about the future, Angel said, "Nomadic life has brought me immense happiness. I may not stay in my current job forever, but I will find ways to maintain this lifestyle that I love."

For friends who have been contemplating nomadism but haven't taken action yet, she encourages with a bright smile, "Just do it! After all, the happiness I currently enjoy also comes from the 'choice' I made two years ago, mixed with caution and a little impulsiveness."

If you're curious about Angel's digital nomad journey, you can also refer to "JB's Small Talk."


Follow the Digital Nomad Facebook fan page and stay updated with more recent articles on Instagram (!

This content is protected by copyright. Please respect the author's work and do not copy or distribute without permission.

Editor Group/鐘敏瑜

Editor Group/鐘敏瑜

Minyu is the editor of 'Digital Nomad' and simultaneously manages the content of 'Darencademy' and 'ProjectUp.' She worked as a reporter for the magazine 'MANAGER Today' and as an editor for the lifestyle channel of 'Storm Media'. Also, she had one year of experience in full-time freelancing. Through this platform, she looks forward to sharing essential knowledge and fascinating stories about the nomadic lifestyle.