Have you ever felt restless living in one place, surrounded by the same environment everyday and found yourself dreaming of exploring the world and experiencing different cultures?
That’s exactly how I felt 3 years ago, which led me to save every penny I was earning from my full-time job in London and jump into the unknown in my hopes to pursue a location-independent lifestyle. At the time the term ‘digital nomad’ was foreign to me.
All I knew was that I wasn’t happy living in one place and being restricted by the traditional work lifestyle that tied me down to one location. I wanted to be able to visit my family back home as much as I wanted to, while also being able to satisfy my incurable love for travel.
Finding a digital nomad job while building my personal business was the perfect solution for me to be able to live and work remotely, but it sure came with its challenges.
In this article, I’ll share with you my personal experience of being a digital nomad, discussing the pros and cons of this lifestyle and what I’ve learned along the way.
Whether you’re a freelancer, entrepreneur, or remote employee, this article will provide you with valuable insights and tips to make the most of your digital nomad journey.
Pros of being a digital nomad:
1. Working from anywhere in the world
This is the main reason I love the digital nomad lifestyle. As a digital nomad, you have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection. This gives you the opportunity to live and work from different places, explore new destinations and indulge in the local culture.
As a warmth-loving person who functions best when near the beach, life in a cold, rainy country wasn’t working well for me. I love being able to pack my bags and move to a new country or the opposite, stay for as long as I like in a place that I’ve loved.
Hand-in-hand with being able to work from anywhere comes the fact that you also have flexibility in how long you stay in each place. If you prefer slow travel, you can easily settle in a country for 3-6 months depending on the visa restrictions. Alternatively, you can also move about every few weeks if you’d like to see more in less time. I’ve done and seen it both, and love the ability to set my own rhythm of traveling based on my needs at the time.
Depending on the type of work you do and whether you’re a freelancer or an employee, the digital nomad lifestyle also offers great flexibility when it comes to your schedule.
You’re mostly able to choose your own work hours and work when you’re most productive or when it suits your personal life. Work in full swing in the morning and afternoon on the beach? I’m all in for it!
3. Experience and learn from different cultures
One of the greatest benefits of being a digital nomad is the opportunity to meet and experience new cultures. Spending a prolonged time in a foreign country gives you a better opportunity to meet the local community and learn more about the different aspects of their life, and gain deeper appreciation for their culture and traditions.
Living in a foreign place for long enough allows you to challenge your beliefs about life and break out of your comfort zone. It allows you to learn about different ways of thinking, try new foods, get involved in local traditions and festivals and develop a better understanding of the fascinating world around you. It’s a truly enriching and rewarding experience in itself which also helps you grow as a person and perhaps even adopt some of the local traditions and knowledge to your daily life.
For me, local remedies and wellness practices are some of my favorite things to learn about when I travel and stay in a new place. There’s so much to learn from each other if only we are open to try a different perspective on life!
4. Meet new and interesting people
Being a digital nomad and living abroad creates so many opportunities for meeting new and interesting people from all walks of life, both locals and expats/other digital nomads. This is my second favourite part of travelling and living in different places. I love meeting interesting people from all around the world, doing some incredible things and sharing their experiences and knowledge.
I’ve literally made so many good friends while living as a digital nomad abroad.Most established digital nomad destinations have a dedicated Facebook group or group chats where there are events and meetings organised, great for meeting and interacting with new people. It’s a great opportunity to meet like minded people, exchange experiences and discuss ideas. Some of the places we’ve decided to move to have come from recommendations by people we’ve met in other digital nomad spots.
5. Cost efficiency
A lot of the popular digital nomad hotspots are generally in countries where the cost of living is lower than in your country of origin (though that might not always be the case!).
Being location-independent allows you to live a more affordable life with less resources than if you were for example to live in London and commute to work everyday.This is especially beneficial if you’re trying to build your own business or are not earning huge amounts in your early days.
Tip: Living in countries where there is a lot of local produce is also a plus as you’re able to live healthy, more sustainable and support the local community while saving on your grocery bills. Nothing better than oranges grown locally or homemade olive oil.
Cons of living as a digital nomad:
Being a digital nomad can be a lonely experience, especially if you’re travelling alone. It can be great at the start but at some point it may take a toll on your mental wellbeing. This can happen even when you travel as a couple but you haven’t found any like minded people in your new destination.
Community is very important and that’s why it’s beneficial to research your destination in advance and find out if there’s an established digital nomad community there. I would usually search for the local Digital Nomad groups on Facebook as soon as we’re looking into the location and see what the activity level on there is. If there doesn’t seem to be much happening or there’s no group chat, perhaps the community aspect might not be that well-developed.
And while in the past we’ve thought that it’s okay and we’ve still moved to that location despite the lesser number of digital nomads, we’re definitely finding places where there’s a more developed nomad community a lot more enjoyable and fun to live in.
2. Lack of stability
The digital nomad lifestyle is quite transient, which can be exciting but also challenging. You usually don’t have a stable place to go home, or may not have all the comforts of living that you’re used to in your new place.
You often may find yourself not knowing where you’re going or living next month, or even next week. And while this can be exciting and gives you a lot of opportunity to be adventurous and flexible, it can also be draining. Moving from place to place means you need to get used to new environments all the time, try to make new friends and maybe even learn some new words in the local language to be able to get by.
There can also be a lack of stability with work and income, especially if you’re self-employed or a freelancer. That’s why it’s a good idea to prepare yourself in advance to learn how to make your digital nomad life sustainable in the long run.
3. Health and safety
One of the most unpleasant experiences while travelling and living outside of your home country is falling ill or having an injury. Not all places you go will have a great level of English so this can prove challenging when it comes to receiving the right treatment or working out what you’re being billed for.
I cannot stress enough how important having travel insurance for digital nomads is. Having the peace of mind that all your medical bills are covered in case of something happening makes travelling and living remote a much more enjoyable and stress-less experience.
Especially when there are some amazing digital nomad insurance options that are super affordable and easy to sign up to, like with SafetyWing. I’ve been using SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance for the last 2 years. And while luckily I haven’t needed to use it, it’s allowed me to enjoy all fun activities that my destinations offer like hiking, rafting, snorkelling and indulging in delicious local food without having to worry about potential accidents and injuries.
4. Work-life balance
Being in a new country is always exciting and initially you may feel tempted to treat it as a holiday and just go sightseeing all day or sunbathe on the beach. This is especially true for those who are new on their digital nomad journey and are yet to find a good routine that combines both work and play.
It’s especially hard if you work from home or co-work with other people, as you may realise you end up getting more distracted than actually doing any work. By doing that you fall into the trap of having to put in more hours of unfocused work to be able to produce the same amount that you would in a much shorter span of concentrated effort.
It eventually causes a sense of burn out and you may find yourself struggling to enjoy your new location and keeping work quality high. This is possible to overcome with dedication to finding the right routine for you and sticking to it. Test out what works for you and when do you feel most productive.
There are some great tools out there to help you keep yourself focused. My favourite technique is to set a timer of 30-45 minutes and focus just on one task without allowing myself to get distracted. After the time runs out, I give myself 5-10 minutes rest before I do another work sprint. You may also want to check out the Pomodoro technique which is based on a similar principle.
5. Internet connection
Reliable internet connection is essential for digital nomads. It’s essentially the way you make your bread and butter and so finding a place with good wifi is one of the key aspects of working remotely. However, this is easier said than done in some parts of the world.
This can affect your ability to do your work efficiently and can slow your process down costing you time and money. There are solutions to this such as getting a local sim card with tons of data and hotspotting your devices, but depending on the packages and whether you need to be on Zoom calls all the time, this can end up being quite pricey.
Choosing a destination that has good internet infrastructure is key as well as confirming the availability of strong wi-fi in your accommodation. You can even ask your host to take a photo of the internet speed before you make a decision to book your place.
Overall, being a digital nomad can be an incredible adventure, offering the freedom to work from anywhere in the world and explore new places, while meeting some amazing people on the way.
However, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully and consider whether this lifestyle is right for you. While it’s not for everyone, it can be a great fit for people who want to live in new places, interact with like-minded people, and have a more flexible lifestyle.
Whether you’re a seasoned digital nomad or considering it for the first time, I hope this article has provided valuable insights and helped you make an informed decision about embarking on your digital nomad journey.
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