I get up in the morning when my iPhone alarm goes off, make coffee and start my routine. I catch up on email and the news, interact a little with my friends on Google+, then get to work. I'm glued to the same laptop and iPad I used in Silicon Valley (though I do miss my 27-inch iMac). I use the same software and web sites.
My personal life is similar, too. I'm not a tourist. I live here. I have a local library card and a membership at a local gym. I run into friends I know on the street. Most of the food I eat is made by my wife or me in the kitchen in our apartment. I do dishes and take out the trash. I recently saw Batman and Resident Evil at the local movie theater.
The difference is that when I look up from my laptop, I can see the breathtaking Taygetus mountains, where ancient Spartans used to hunt wild boar for their black soup, instead of my old apartment complex parking lot.
When I look up from my laptop, I see the Taygetus mountains, where ancient Spartans used to hunt. (Image: Mike Elgan)
When I have an occasional day off, I can visit other historic places like Olympia or Athens.
Man-made things are smaller outside America. Smaller cars, smaller houses, less water pressure in the shower, less air conditioning, less food variety and so on.
And things for digital nomads are smaller still: The screen on my MacBook Pro, which I use to watch downloaded iTunes movies, is much smaller than the giant flat-screen TV I've got packed up in storage. My wine opener, bottle opener, can opener and scissors are all attached to my Swiss Army Knife. All my possessions fit into two backpacks.
What's really great about being a digital nomad
The great thing about being a digital nomad isn't the ability to work on the beach (which is uncomfortable and annoying, by the way). Digital nomad living gives you two quality-of-life loopholes.
First is a financial loophole. Generally speaking, pay is higher in expensive places and lower in cheaper places. You get paid like you're in an expensive place, but you're actually in a cheap place.
The second is a psychology loophole. Our minds crave something new. And when you're a digital nomad, novelty is free. Let me explain.
As we live our lives, we get used to everything around us. It bores us. That's why we try a new restaurant or go to the movies or remodel the kitchen or buy new clothes - we want something new.
When you stay in one place, novelty is expensive. But when you're a digital nomad, novelty is free.
For example, I'm currently renting a small studio in Sparta. It's much smaller and simpler than any place I've owned or rented in America. Yet it's a perfect place to live for three months. Why? Because it's new to us!