A digital nomad can be defined as someone who travels the world while making money online to fund their traveling lifestyle. When people think of a digital nomad, they often picture someone on their laptop working from amazing locations like mountain top jungles or nearby white sandy beaches. These images attract many people to the digital nomad lifestyle, but this lifestyle is not always as glamorous as it might seem. I’ve been a digital nomad for some 20 years. In this post, I’m going to give you the warts and all the pros and cons of being a digital nomad to help you decide whether the digital nomad lifestyle is for you. Are you ready?
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The Pros of Being a Digital Nomad
There are many benefits to being a digital nomad. Here are the top reasons to sway you to become one:
You Can Travel as Much as You Like
Being able to travel is the main reason and biggest advantage of the digital nomad lifestyle. That is being able to travel when you want, where you want and for however long you want. Being a digital nomad provides you with the greatest flexibility for your travel plans. If you want to base yourself somewhere for a few weeks or months, you can. Or you might prefer to move to a new place every few weeks. Well that is fine too! As a digital nomad, you are in control of your travel and can travel as much as you like.
Work Whenever and from Wherever You Want
The second biggest pros of being a digital nomad is that you have the freedom to work whenever and wherever you choose. Being able to work online means you can work whenever and wherever. This could be in a co-working space in the jungles of Bali, a cafe in Estonia or from an apartment in Portugal with views of the ocean. As long as you have a fast and stable WiFi connection, an ergonomic chair and table and your equipment – you are good to go. Being able to work whenever and wherever you helps create a good work/life balance.
Combining the above two, freedom was hands down the biggest factor of me becoming a digital nomad. I had the freedom to work when I wanted and from wherever I wanted. My schedule was my own and being able to work when and where I wanted meant I did. So far, I have lived in 4 different countries and counting. Many countries are now introducing a digital nomad visa.
Having the freedom to work when you want and where you want can help generate a good income. By working for yourself online you cut out the middleman and you can keep the whole income. With less stress from pressures of having to make money, the money you do make will help you travel longer and further.
Lower Your Cost of Living
Most digital nomads choose a country with a lower cost of living than their home country. This is a big pro for people from countries such as Australia or the United States of America where cost of living is much higher than countries such as Bali, Mexico or those in Eastern Europe. Having a lower cost of living makes the income you are earning from your on-line business go further and enables you to travel longer and further. In most cases you will have reduced the expenses you had a home – you won’t be paying for mortgage payments or a car loan, etc. As well, having a lower cost of living, you may be able to afford things you couldn’t in your home country.
Experience New Cultures and Grow Personally
Going on a 2-week holiday is great, however, being able to immerse yourself in another culture for 6 months is even better. You will experience more of the local culture, discover the cuisine and learn how the locals live. Seeing how other people live is great for your own personal growth. Trying new foods, travelling on local transport, meeting new people and dealing with daily life in another country is wonderful to help you grow personally. And in most cases you don’t know this is happening until one day you are faced with a situation that you face in a different way to once you might have. You discover you are more aware of life and have become a knowledgeable and well-rounded and open-minded person.
Live a Healthier Lifestyle
Having more control of your work life, can lead to a healthier lifestyle. You will have more time to ensure you eat healthy and do your exercise. No more rushing around during your lunch hour, you can have as long as you want for lunch now!
Meet New and Interesting People
I find when I travel solo that I make a more concerted effort to be-friend other solo travellers or locals. I find I am friendlier and happy to ‘have a chat’ with someone. Solo travel doesn’t have to be lonely. That person or persons could be another digital nomad, another traveler or a local. And they could become a life-long friend or new work lead! I have a number of friends that I met while traveling and have remained in contact with them. Occasionally we meet somewhere around the world.
Take Your Office With You
Yep, no more long commutes. No more putting up with bs in the office. Being able to take your office with you means you can set up wherever you like. As long as you have a comfortable spot, wi-fi and your lap top – you are set.
The Cons of Being a Digital Nomad
You can’t make a decision on being a digital nomad without knowing the cons. Here are the cons of being a digital nomad in this pros and cons of being a digital nomad.
You Don’t Have a Permanent Home
Being a digital nomad means you don’t have a permanent home because you are always on the move. You don’t have anywhere to spread your ’stuff’ out. All your stuff fits into one or two bags that you rarely unpack. You lack the comforts of home and must get use to sleeping in different beds and not always having somewhere safe to store your things. And it can be a worry when you arrive at a new destination and not be able to find accommodation that ticks all your boxes. Not having a permanent home can sometimes be stressful.
You Don’t Have Access to Decent Wifi
Fast and reliable wifi is very important to digital nomads and not every country has a good wifi infrastructure. If you don’t have wifi you can’t work, and if you can’t work, you can’t always make money to fund your travelling lifestyle. You can use your hotspot on your phone or international SIM cards but these can prove pricey.
Life on the Road can be Very Lonely
Loneliness can be a big con of being a digital nomad. You may like solo travel, but that is different to feeling lonely and isolated. Loneliness can become a mental health issue and you don’t want this to affect you. As a digital nomad you will spend a lot of time alone working, but humans need human interaction and as a digital nomad you will need to put yourself out there to make connections to keep yourself sane. And if you make connections, you or they, may not be around long enough to establish a relationship. Then you are lonely again. Plus, keeping in touch with friends and family can be hard when you are in different time zones and you may miss them very much. Yeah, life on the road as a digital nomad can be very lonely.
The lifestyle of a digital nomad can be fast paced and it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some can get very stressed from the decisions you need to make like constantly trying to figure out where you will go next. What accommodation will be available at the next place? Will there be fast and reliable wifi? How will I service my clients being in a different time zone? Will I qualify for a visa or have to do visa runs? Lots of questions you could ask yourself and all the uncertainty can cause you to feel stressed. Some people are better at coping with this stress than others. Those that aren’t will question if the digital nomad lifestyle is really for them.
Work/life Balance Is Hard to Maintain
It can be challenging when you first become a digital nomad to maintain a good work/life balance. When in a new place you may want to do a lot of sightseeing and getting to know your ‘new home’. This can lead you to neglecting your work. Or it could be the other way around and you do so much work that you don’t get to know your ‘new home’. Then you will be asking yourself, why have you left the comfort of home where you may have had a good work/life balance. You will need to work on your priorities and get the work/life balance that you envisaged your digital nomad life would provide. Plus, you may not feel comfortable in your workspace so procrastinate and produce inferior work. All this can cause feelings of stress, as per my con above.
Entrepreneurial Risk and Fiscal and Financial Responsibilities
Owning a business can bring wealth and freedom. It can also come with tons of work, big responsibility including fiscal and financial responsibilities that must be attended to. As a business owner in a foreign country you will need to be able to cover all your living costs, which can cause pressure if you aren’t earning enough. You also need to ensure you meet local taxation obligations. This can be stressful needing to understand what is involved for every country you live in.
Friends and Family Don’t Understand You
My last con of being a digital nomad is the feeling of being misunderstood. Some of my friends relayed their concerns about me being a digital nomad life and couldn’t understand why I wanted to be one. I felt very unsupported in my chosen lifestyle and occasionally, when things aren’t going my way I feel confused.
What Do You Think About being a Digital Nomad Now?
With the knowledge now of the pros and cons of being a digital nomad, you can make your own list and decide whether the digital nomad lifestyle is for you. Some people thrive on being a digital nomad while others struggle. It is now up to you to decide what lifestyle is for you!
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