The Value of Internet Speed to Location Independence


To some it might appear obvious that a digital nomad needs great, quick internet. It may not.

I was among those who understood internet speed was critical, but I did not fully comprehend until I experienced genuinely slow internet for myself.

In this chapter, I exemplify what it is like to get a digital nomad in my experience, and I will detail how it is possible to select a destination based on internet rate and how to check internet speed in your lodging before getting there.

How I Realized Internet Rate Makes a Difference

Once I lived in rural Peru, I had internet courtesy of a 3G USB stick that plugged in my pc (or a wifi router) and cost about $50/month for unlimited internet.

(It was one of these who-you-know deals, because unlimited internet on sticks like these are not commercially offered any more; it is only grandfathered on some precious USB sticks which are like gold if you’re able to get your hands on one).

So I was blessed.

The internet rate of course wasn’t good (nor reliable); Skype calls frequently dropped, streaming movie was seldom possible, independence career and sometimes for whatever reason — clouds, wind, electromagnetic-whatevers — browsing was virtually impossible.

But I learned to work around it. (At least, I thought I had).

See, rather than sitting in front of a website waiting interminably for it to load, I’d hop over to some other task that I could do in the meantime. If this second task required a fateful click of the mouse into a website, then I would return to the initial page (to see whether it’d loaded yet), or on to another job.

Therefore, I would often have five or six distinct jobs on the move, doing all of them piecemeal and simultaneously.

I figured this was the best way to become productive with slow internet. (And the internet was not really all that slow, actually… Right?)

Wrong. I had gotten used to it.

Subsequently, I moved to Canada.

between social calls with family members and friends, I sat down at my Mum’s place to have a little bit of work done.

“Sorry honey, the internet here is really dreadful. We are trying to do something about it,” my Mum interjected when she saw me setting up my workspace.

So I let a block of 3 hours to get everything done (which is normally what it would have obtained in Peru).

An hour after (“crappy” internet and all), I had been staring at my computer . Everything was done! I’d accomplished my whole task list in record time, timeas racking my thoughts and to-do lists searching for something I had forgotten to do (but of course, there was not anything).

I believed all my multi-tasking in Peru was making up for the lack of internet rate, and there I was in Canada, with nothing left to do in a fraction of the time. It made me realize that multi-tasking (as much as I really like to do it) isn’t the best way to work. Move on to the task, complete it, and it’s much better to sit down to a task .

Slight catch: this assumes, however, that if you click on a webpage, it really loads. (sigh)

Choosing Destinations According to Internet Speeds

I used to yell at electronic nomads who picked their destinations based solely on internet connectivity.

I have known a few people over the years that wanted to see India; a surprising number picked Bangalore as their foundation solely due to reputedly faster internet speeds. Bangalore! Really? Of all places in India? (Sorry, Bangalore — I’m positive you are cool, but you are not the first destination folks think of when they consider visiting India).

But today, I am not sure those electronic nomads were as mad as I’d initially surmised. Seeing that I was taken by my job two-three times more I saw the wisdom.

How to Research Internet Speeds Before You Get There

Researching Internet Speeds at Destinations

Like my colleagues, for those who have some idea of where you need to go (like India) but have not decidedecided onpecific destination to base yourself out of, watch out for comments concerning the internet speeds in that region of the planet.

You can usually find information such as this on electronic nomad forums and sites, and you can always ask other digital nomads on the internet about their own experiences in certain countries.

Testing Your Apartment Before You Arrive

If you have decided on a town and are exploring places to stay while you are there, it’s a fantastic idea to check the wifi where you are going to be living beforehand.

You can accomplish so by asking the server to run a speed test and send you the results. They could do this here.

Locating a Coworking Space

Another alternative is to locate and join a coworking space in town where you are going to be staying.

This may be a fantastic solution for the community element also, but it can be a lifesaver if you can not access decent internet at your home or in a coffee shop.