Digital Nomad: Benefits and Downsides of Living the Dream
A digital nomad makes full use of the technology to work and earn income, whenever and wherever they are. They work remotely from any location and use this freedom to explore the world. You might find them in cafés in France, libraries in Argentina, beaches in Indonesia, or office shares in Australia.
The digital nomad lifestyle has been made possible through many innovations, including content management software, cheap Internet access through WiFi, smartphones, and Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) to keep in contact with clients and employers.
Some digital nomads have a wide range of clients and make a living through the combination of jobs, while others have formal or semi-formal agreements with clients guaranteeing a certain amount of work or billable hours.
It’s safe to say that the digital nomad way of living is one of the fastest-growing lifestyles we have today. There are estimations, which assume that by 2035, there will be 1 billion digital nomads on this planet.
Benefits of being a Digital Nomad
Why is this so popular? Why do more and more people choose to work remotely and travel the world? Take a look at the following benefits.
1. Being your own "boss" sounds cool.
Location independence and flexible hours are the apparent benefits of being a digital nomad. As a remote worker, you choose your temporary home base, your working schedule, and your office setup. When you’re a digital nomad, there are virtually no limits to where you can be.
2. Freedom to work from anywhere at any time.
Being a digital nomad allows you to control how much work you will take on and when to do it; therefore, you have great control over your own time and your rhythm toward doing things.
3. You can travel the world!
This is the biggest selling point of this lifestyle. As mentioned previously, this type of career is ‘remote’ given how you can do your work online — a realm that is not bound to one stationary place — so it’s no surprise seeing digital nomads who hop from one exotic destination to the next while they work.
4. Inspiration from nonstop travel.
The digital nomad lifestyle guarantees unlimited travel. And constant globetrotting has one main benefit: inspiration.
Nothing beats the inspiration you get from seeing captivating places, meeting interesting people, and overcoming cultural barriers.
Inspiration for what, you might be wondering.
The answer is simple: inspiration for life.
Consequently, all the inspiration you get from extensive travelling can foster your personal growth and also provide courage for your entrepreneurial route.
Much like inspiration, full-time travel is a reliable source of adventurous experience and memorable moments. If you’re a digital nomad, a new adventure looms around every corner. The only limit to what you can experience is your imagination. (And your bank balance, of course!)
5. You get to meet a lot of people: locals in foreign countries, travellers, and fellow digital nomads.
It’s even a typical occurrence to be thrown into situations where you can get the chance to connect with like-minded individuals. This is a great thing because, in such way, you could have the opportunity to bounce off ideas with people that would not only help improve you as a person, but could also give you ideas in ascending your career and in building a remote/online business (which is customarily the grand goal of any digital nomad).
Geoarbitrage is a relatively modern term. LetsReachSuccess defines it as “relocating to take advantage of the lower costs of a city/country.”
Hence, geoarbitrage allows you to increase your quality of life by moving to a cheaper location. As a digital nomad, you can take full advantage of price differences. Better still, you can go one up by switching to a low-income country.
7. Personal growth and opportunities.
As a digital nomad, you constantly expose yourself to new situations, challenges, and ideas. Whether it’s navigating a country’s subway system, meeting like-minded individuals, or suffering from setbacks, personal growth is a key aspect of digital nomadism. You’ll become more open-minded, more confident, and better at organizing things. All of which would serve you later, no matter if you stay on the road or put down roots eventually.
Finally, the last major benefit of a digital nomad lifestyle concerns opportunities that will come your way, and you’ll realize that these wouldn’t have come to your hometown.
Downsides of Being a Digital Nomad
Digital nomads supposedly “live the dream”, but there are also downsides to the lifestyle — most of which you’ll learn the hard way. On this basis, here are the disadvantages of being a digital nomad.
1. Developing the patience and discipline to build your dream.
If you think that staying disciplined is hard in a familiar, safe environment, imagine being in an exciting, beautiful location with endless cultural and culinary options.
You need a healthy chunk of discipline to progress in your corporate job at home. Multiply this by fifty, and you’ll pretty much know how much discipline digital nomadism requires.
Ask yourself: Are you more interested in travel than business?
If it’s the former, go on a gap year. Travel, enjoy life, and don’t worry about running a business. If you don’t have the discipline to work hard on the road, it’s better to build your business at home and travel once you can afford it. Don’t try digital nomadism if you don’t mean business.
2. It’s not all about pleasure.
Most people think that what all digital nomads do is spend time away lounging on the beach since they only work less than 4 hours a day. That can happen, but not everyone can do that immediately, especially when a person is still starting.
In the beginning, you’ll most likely be shedding blood, sweat and tears, working 80% of the time (or even more) in a coworking space, coffee shop, restaurant, or hotel room as you try to stabilize your clients and cashflow.
3. Travel-related issues.
First, the fear of missing out on travel opportunities because of work.
At the outset of your digital nomad journey, you envision working on the beach, visiting sites every other day, and meeting fellow travellers.
The truth is that unless you’ve already built your online empire, the first few months will be work, not much else. Finding a balance between properly enjoying a location and working as a freelancer is challenging.
Second, travel fatigue can become a side effect of digital nomadism.
People only used to all-inclusive annual holidays don’t know this, but long-term travelling is exhausting. And travelling much while working freelance is extremely draining.
4. A decent internet connection tends to be hard to come by.
This struggle is real. Since most of the digital nomads rely on the internet, a poor internet is annoying and an inconvenience. Regrettably, this is a problem that is almost always faced as you travel around the world.
5. Loneliness and short relationships.
The solitude and fleeting relationships are common among digital nomads. This is most likely to happen if you’re setting out in this lifestyle alone or if you don’t take the initiative to connect with people whilst you’re on the road. But then again, it’s also possible that no matter what you do, that feeling of homesickness can still creep in from time to time, and it can be quite tough to beat.
6. A lack of social confirmation.
Another disadvantage of being a digital nomad is the fact that most people aren’t familiar with your lifestyle. Even though digital nomadism is quite common nowadays, most people still don’t have a clue about the ins and out of location independence. Time and time again, you have to explain that you are working remotely, change countries frequently, and most importantly: that you are not on holiday. Worse still, even if people know what digital nomadism is, you won’t receive a lot of social confirmation. Most people value stability and conformity more than freedom and adventure.
And that’s their right. No one has to agree with the principle of geoarbitrage.
Nevertheless, if you’re an aspiring digital nomad, keep in mind that you’ll have to earn people’s respect. And this won’t be easy. Most of them are either envious, incredulous, or indifferent. Whichever it is, both at home and in your nomad base, your “social status” will be lower than other people’s, even if there’s no logical reason for it.
7. You'll miss feeling at "home".
Finally, the freedom of location independence comes with a catch. You’ll never feel “home” again.
Remember your childhood, when you spent your days playing football on a dilapidated pitch near your house? And later, when your friends would gather at the same bar every weekend?
Those experience signify a feeling of “being home".
Once you take the leap and become a digital nomad, that feeling will disappear.
Yes, you can always revisit your hometown, but it won’t be the same.
Your friends will go on with their lives, and they won’t share the same passion for business and planet roaming. They’ll still be your friends, but your priorities will have changed. And so will theirs.
Your hometown will feel boring and predictable, not homey.
You’ve become used to exhilarating adventures and consistent novelty, something hometowns simply cannot provide.
You might think that this homely feel can be found in one of your nomad bases. But here’s a hard pill to swallow: It might be possible to establish a deep connection with a foreign place, but it would never replace the feeling you had in your hometown.
Unless you’re moving to your location of choice permanently, and willing to fully integrate into the local society, you’ll have to say goodbye to the concept of “home”.
If you are asking yourself if you should become a digital nomad, consider the advantages and disadvantages discussed. Know what you have to prepare before starting a location-independent life, and don’t rush into it.