Snowbirds are not digital nomads. At least, not usually. There are significant differences between the snowbird and the nomad.
Common Snowbird Characteristics
Simply stated, snowbirds divide their lives between one fixed location and one or more seasonal locations.
Usually, snowbirds are seeking hospitable weather year round.
In our case, we spend summers in Northern Michigan and winters in Central Florida. But we have snowbird friends from Michigan who winter in Arizona and California and various warm winter places around the globe. We also have snowbird friends in Florida who summer in Canada, North Dakota, Brussels and other delightful summer climates.
Snowbird lives are flexible, but not lacking. We enjoy all the delights of somewhat settled living in locations we prefer.
Snowbirds generally have a home base and a secondary location that can be anything from a rented apartment to a motor home or a home exchange or even an extended stay hotel. The point is that we do have a home base.
Snowbirds have a steady source of income. Many have jobs in physical locations.
In other words, snowbirds are not focused on the “location independent lifestyle.”
Digital Nomads are location independent
What is “location independence” anyway? The short version is explained simply on Wikipedia:
“Location independence is a growing trend …. Digital nomads … use new technology to design a lifestyle that allows them to live and work wherever they [travel].”
Digital nomads are all about sand in their shoes and enjoying a global lifestyle.
Digital nomads tend to be travelers, rarely settling in one place for very long. Maybe they live on a sail boat or bunk with friends or maybe they simply keep moving.
Digital nomads often have no real fixed “home,” unless it’s also their conveyance. A boat or some other recreational vehicle may serve the purpose.
Digital nomads generally support themselves by working online. Back in 1992, we’d only recently begun using desktop computers instead of typewriters. Laptops were ridiculously expensive and limited. Internet connections mainly consisted of dialing up on the phone line, which was both slow and pricey.
In short, when we first became snowbirds, “location independence” wasn’t a concept that applied to our lives. In many ways, it still doesn’t. And while we enjoy travel, we also enjoy hosting our traveling friends when they pass through the secondary location we’ve chosen.
We like our seasonal life. It suits us. We have two homes and we haven’t bought new winter gear in years. Which is just the way we like it.
What lifestyle appeals more to you? Snowbird? Or Digital Nomad? Why?