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Expats vs Digital Nomads

Expats and digital nomads. What’s the difference? These terms can be used interchangeably to describe people who live out of their home, usually for extended periods of time, who travel from place to place, or who switch their home location frequently. Whether you choose to travel as a digital nomad for work, or you follow your wanderlust to live in remote locales around the world, expat and digital nomad lifestyles are both pretty common these days.

For many of us, the idea of living and working abroad is an exciting one. We dream of relocating to Europe, Asia, or South America, where we can immerse ourselves in a different culture, learn to speak the language, and experience a whole different way of life. What you might not realize though, is that working abroad and living the expat life is different from living the digital nomad life.

Digital nomads and expats are two common terms used today to describe people who are location-independent and work online. But there is a lot of confusion between digital nomads and expats, which is understandable as it seems they are essentially the same. So, what’s the difference between an expat and a digital nomad?

What is expat?

An expat is a person who leaves their home country to live abroad, whether temporarily or for an extended period of time. Expats have a wide range of reasons for leaving their home country, including business, work, study, adventure, retirement, or military duty.

What is digital nomad?

A digital nomad is a person who travels the world and performs their job online. This may be done using a computer or mobile device. This means that the work is done in different places around the world. These places may be on cruise ships, festivals, or in offices located in various countries.

People choose to become digital nomads because it can be cheaper than traditional living. They also work from anywhere in the world. A digital nomad will typically work in a portable workplace like co-working space or co-living space. They often stay in hostels, guest houses, hotels, and Airbnb, using modern technology.

Expats vs Digital Nomads

Digital nomads and expats are both individuals who enjoy traveling and living a lifestyle that revolves around working remotely. They are both individuals whose families live abroad but are working back at home.

Travel Lifestyle

Digital nomads are people who travel while working remotely. They live primarily online and work from anywhere they’d like. They often have the choice to choose where they want to work as long as there is a reliable internet connection available, and they can just move whenever they want. An expat, on the other hand, is a foreign national who has relocated themselves to live in another country. Expats travel constantly, often for work.


Expats usually have jobs in the country in which they emigrate. They usually are paid in their new country’s currency, which depends on which country they moved to. If they move to the UK as an example, they usually get paid in the UK pound but not their home currency.

However, digital nomads are work completely 100% online. They usually get paid in the currencies they would like to get paid for. If their client is from their home country, they could get pay for their home currency. For international, usually getting pay with USD or some other currency they which to.

Travel Frequency

Expats generally travel less because they are more focused on securing a life and stability rather than moving around. Digital nomads travel more often because they don’t have to worry about going anywhere that will affect their work. As long as there is Internet access, you can go anywhere. Most would prefer to move from one place to another.

Work Purpose

Digital nomads are people who travel while working remotely. They live mostly online and can work anywhere they like. They often travel to places where they can have fun, having some sunshine on the beach with juice and so on. An expat, on the other hand, is a foreign national who has relocated themselves to live in another country. Expats also travel constantly, but it often for work.

Social Life

Most expats have hobbies and interests, and they usually share a bond with locals. Some expats attend activities organized by locals. Others join groups like sports clubs, book clubs, wine tasting events, or language classes.

Digital nomads have adapted their lifestyle to work and travel, to pursue their passions. These individuals have found a way to balance work, life, and their passions. Digital nomads are independent, confident, adaptable, and tech oriented. They truly enjoy traveling, exploring, meeting new people, and meeting new people.

A digital nomad social life includes people they meet while on the road. A digital nomad may meet a person in a hotel, café, or restaurant. A digital nomad may stay at a place for several days. A digital nomad may meet many people during his/her stay.


In summary, digital nomads are a lifestyle where individuals work from anywhere. Unlike traditional expats, digital nomads usually work on their own terms, rather than for an employer. They don’t necessarily travel to meet clients or attend networking events to make a living.

If you want to have a more stable life in a place called home, becoming an expat is for you. If you’re people who are more adventurous and want to travel anywhere you want, becomign a digital nomad probably for you.

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