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Who are they? And should we be worried?


Who are they? And should we be worried?

The short answer is no. We shouldn’t be worried. Yes, there’s a deluge of out-of-state license plates zipping around this once-sleepy (though not in most of our memories) town. But there are a few reasons why we should embrace them and see it as a sign that our growth is moving in the right direction.

BUT FIRST: What IS a Digital Nomad, anyway?

The name sounds like something out of a retro sci-fi film adapted from a William Gibson novel, while the real definition is slightly less glamorous. A Digital Nomad is simply anyone who can harness the power of technology to enable themselves to work anywhere. They’re different from remote workers in one essential way: they’re not just working from home in their pajamas, they’re often working from somewhere that ISN’T their home. They tend to try out a few different locations in a given year, finding monthly rentals and integrating into a place to see what it’s really like to live there.

With remote work suddenly becoming an option for a larger segment of the American population than ever before, many people have abandoned their big city lives in search of their own true North. Setting off on the blacktop like a refugee caravan of Sprinters and Teslas, they’ve gone off to find the same thing the pioneers were looking for, and the same thing many of us were looking for when we came to Bozeman.


The next question that comes to mind is: are they here to stay or will they voyage on to a final destination of Crested Butte, Colorado or Portland, Maine? We don’t have a definitive answer, but it’s safe to say that many will stay.

There’s the guy clomping into the coffee shop wearing his ski boots, grabbing an Americano, and clomping back out through the parking lot to his Model X with California plates to drive up Bridger Canyon long after lifts have closed for the season. That guy might stay. And a bunch of others like him, too. Which brings us to the original point of why we shouldn’t fear them.

The shiny, one-piece ski suit set with fur-lined everything, they have Aspen. And the ones who can’t take the cold have Sedona and Naples, Florida. The ones who fancy their seaside dreams, San Diego or Key West.

But the ones who’d rather buy a new climbing rope than a new blazer, the ones who care more about their two-wheeled objects than their four-wheeled, and even the ones who clomp around in their ski boots indoors, they might be ours to keep. And they’re here for the same reasons we are. Which makes them the ones we like better. Let’s keep keeping the good ones. But yes, it’s also still ok to tell Model X guy about the wool slip-ons that Schnee’s sells – because they make for a more comfortable (and safer) drive.