Kathmandu, a base for Digital Nomads?

Features Issue 214 Sep, 2019
Text by Linda Ris

Travel, visit beautiful places, meet nice people and earn money at the same time. Sounds like a dream, right? Nowadays for many people this dream is becoming a reality and it’s called the digital nomad life. Nowadays more and more digital nomads are coming to Kathmandu and I would like to share with you how and why.

What are digital nomads?

First of all, you might wonder: what are digital nomads? Digital nomads are basically people who can make a living while working on their laptops. They work in fields such as marketing, programming, photography, the travel industry, virtual assistants or teaching English online. Digital nomads are a self-declared community, gathering in Facebook groups and physically in places around the world. Especially popular are places where there is affordable living and good Wi-Fi. Examples of places that are popular amongst the community are Chiang Mai, Tblisi and Bali.

The start of co-working and digital nomadism in Kathmandu

As many know, the Wi-Fi speed has significantly increased over the last couple of years and this gives opportunities to a city such as Kathmandu. More people got online and started working for companies abroad through their laptops and desktops. And since not all may have good internet access at home, and don’t need an office, co-working spaces started to pop up all over the city. Co-working places are open offices, where you pay a monthly fee to have access to the Internet, desks, printers, tea and coffee. You can come any time you like, get a desk and work. Nowadays there are many co-working places around the city: Bikalpa Art Café, Communitère, the Hub and Workaround are only a few of them. Places such as Bikalpa and Communitère also invite people to discover their more entrepreneurial and social skills. Bikalpa hosts movie nights, invites artists and volunteers to help grow their community. Communitère has so-called maker-spaces, where people can physically work on a new product, meet with each other and work on new ideas.

Cross-over and meet-ups

Co-working places are places where people meet each other, get to know their fellow co-workers and where knowledge is exchanged. Through these meetings, new projects and ideas can develop. For example, Fedor Ikelaar (writer) and Aayush Shrestha (programmer) met in a co-working place that organized an open mic in the evening. Now they are comedians and have set up a comedy club together!

Kathmandu’s digital nomads

Sufficient internet speeds, affordable living and access to a variety of cultural experiences, mountain sports and spirituality is what a digital nomad from abroad is often looking for. And nowadays, Kathmandu fits the bill. No wonder that more and more digital nomads are coming to Kathmandu, adding to the tourists and expats. They love good coffee shops, good co-working places and most of all, good Wi-Fi. The latter can sometimes be a problem in Kathmandu: glitches in the network or ups and downs in the Wi-Fi speed can still get in the way of a digital nomad’s work. However, those who are arriving clearly see more advantages than disadvantages in pursuing their lifestyle here A quick poll suggests that most digital nomads that are in Kathmandu are travel blog writers, photographers, website builders, content writers, programmers and travel agents.

Want to become a digital nomad?

The first thing to realize is that a digital nomad is not a profession in itself. It is a lifestyle. A lifestyle that comes with lots of insecurities: digital nomads are freelancing from one job to another, money comes and goes and is mainly spend on flight tickets and a good laptop. In every city you arrive you have to find a new place to live (Airbnb or Booking.com are a digital nomad’s best friend). When you have arrived you make new friends within the digital nomad community there. The work can be hard: work for little money. Or they are investing in a business, hoping it’s going to make profit one day. But when you have hit that niche in which you can do the work you love, you can have the best adventure of your life!

How do I do it?

I can imagine you want to become one of those travelers with a laptop and a cocktail on the beach. Just start Googling ‘How do I become a digital nomad’ and you will find many, many blogs, articles and courses. Some people even earn money by teaching others how to become a digital nomad! The main advice is to find something that you are good at and then try and transfer that skill to an online environment. Are you a good cook? Write blogs about cooking + make YouTube videos on how to cook certain foods. And maybe write a cookbook and sell it online. Are you a photographer? Try to take pictures while traveling and sell them online. Are you a comedian? Make instruction videos or an online course for your fellow comedians. You’ll have to do lots of research to make it work for you and invest time and money to make it happen. But isn’t that the case with everything in life?

Linda Ris is from the Netherlands and has started the Kathmandu Digital Nomad website and Facebook group.