Is The Digital Nomad Life For Me?
Armed with a laptop and ready for a lifestyle change, thousands of people are setting out to live the digital nomad life. There are incredible success stories and reality checks from those that packed up and went home. The location independent lifestyle has its highs and lows just like any type of lifestyle. If you want to live and work from anywhere there are some important things to consider before hitting the road. Keep on reading to see if the realities of the digital nomad life is the life for you.
It gets lonely.
Unless you’re meeting friends or travelling with a significant other, you’re about to have a lot of alone time. Although there are many cities that have been deemed “digital nomad hubs”, most digital nomads are just passing through. Transient relationships come with the territory of the lifestyle.
Although you will meet people and have great relationships with them, it is not likely that the current location is permanent for either of you. Because most people are on the road, they’re already thinking of their next location.
Human interactions are still an important part of life so it’s essential to make the effort to connect with fellow digital nomads around you. You never know what city you will see them in next and it could be fun to start travelling with people you click with!
This is an honest truth of the location independent lifestyle and is a common reason that many nomads decide to head back home. The best way to deal with loneliness is to not isolate yourself. Work in coworking spaces, live with roommates, engage in digital nomad Facebook groups and attend hosted meetups.
Almost everyone who lives this lifestyle has felt loneliness at one point or another. Reach out to fellow digital nomads, say “hello” to the person you keep running into at the coffee shop – they may feel lonely too.
It takes self-discipline.
Freelance marketing, launching an online business and working remotely for a company back home all have one thing in common. No one standing over your shoulder making sure you are getting the work done. Without the structure of an office or boss, falling behind on work is a common digital nomad occurrence.
Distractions are all around! Drinks on the beach, the newest episode of Making a Murderer or just laying in bed all day. Without the 9-5 framework, your time becomes your own. The ability to delegate your own time is a popular reason people work remotely but not without a struggle.
Launching an online business or working online takes time management skills and a whole lot of ambition and hustle. When you become your own boss, you are in control of your productivity. Most days you will need to choose work over exploring and that isn’t always easy.
Schedule out your working days or wake up earlier in the morning to start your to-do list. Enjoy the culture you’re surrounded with but be mindful and honest about what is on your plate.
Maintaining relationships back home can be difficult.
Travelling the world and working online leads to getting to know amazing destinations and even more amazing people. While you’re spending your time settling into your new life and cultivating new friendships, it’s important not to lose touch with your loved ones back home.
Thankfully there are many ways to keep in touch but schedules and time zones can get in the way. Skype calls and Facebook messenger conversations cannot replace the connection of physically being around someone. You won’t be able to spend quality time with them like you used to which can be straining on relationships.
Being a digital nomad can lead to having an unpredictable schedule which can make calling back home consistently difficult. Try your hardest to maintain the relationships you have back home, even if it is only a Skype call every other week. Life on the road can be incredible, but don’t forget about the friendships you’ll go back and revisit one day.
It’s not an everlasting vacation.
Photos on influencer’s blogs can make the laptop life seem like a lavish around-the-globe vacation. We can’t lie – working and living abroad while experiencing so many countries is awesome. We much prefer it to the lives we had back home! But let’s get real – we are not on a luxury vacation.
Digital nomads are choosing to live and work somewhere other than their home country. No matter what coordinates you are in – laundry needs to be done and groceries need to be picked up. Oh, and don’t forget that businesses need to be built and emails replied to.
Being location independent means you are able to perform these everyday tasks in exotic locations but doesn’t make life or work any “easier”. Most days are spent inside cafes or coworking spaces putting in countless hours of work. Being a digital nomad is not an everlasting vacation but if you manage your time well and put in the hard work you can earn a well-deserved break from your laptop.
It can be exhausting.
Living nomadically comes with moving cities, making new friends in those cities as well as learning the ins and outs of a new city (while working online – you can’t forget that part!). The usual stressors of travelling don’t go away even after being on the road for a while.
Because of visa regulations, you will have to leave a country every 1-3 months. That’s moving 4-5 times a year. Relocating, finding a new place to live, a new place to work from and restaurants to eat at. It’s an endless cycle of being a digital nomad.
On top of the cultural changes, online work can be a bit unpredictable at times. Just like any other type of business, you need to be generating sales for your product or service. This, on top of having to move countries every few months, can really wear on a person.
To avoid exhaustion, it’s important to live and travel slowly. It’s so easy to want to “move, move, move” so you can see more. The more you move around, the less settled you will feel and your productivity will suffer. Take a breath and chill at a location you get comfortable in. Depending on your passport, there are some long-stay options in a few countries to take a break from moving around and get back into a groove.
Being a digital nomad is not for everyone (and that’s okay). The realities of being able to live and work from anywhere has its downfalls. If you’re ready to dive into launching an online business or start working online, it’s important to be mindful about the difficult parts of the lifestyle. Be active in Facebook groups to avoid loneliness, set times to call friends back home and settle in a location for a while to avoid exhaustion. Working from your laptop is the reason you are able to live this lifestyle but don’t forget to step away, take a breath and enjoy the new life you’ve given yourself.