Benefits and Drawbacks of Being a Digital Nomad

As I’m sure you can imagine, having the freedom to travel and work from anywhere in the world has a ton of benefits. Let’s we’ll dive into some of the big advantages of becoming a digital nomad and uncover the positive impact they can have on your life.

The Benefits 

1. True Freedom – Being a digital nomad gives you the opportunity to create life on your terms. You finally get to live life exactly how you want. Some people choose to travel the world, while others choose a cozy cabin in the woods. The important point is that you have the freedom to live life exactly as you wish. This freedom enables you to experience more in just a few months than most people get to experience in a lifetime. With cheap flights and other means of travel, you can see more of the world than ever before. When you’re able to work from anywhere, the world becomes your playground. A place to experience, to grow and to feel fully alive. 

2. Richer Experiences – Imagine hiking the Himalayas, attending your favorite festivals, or just connecting with new friends who feel like they are long lost souls. When you’re a digital nomad, you get to hand pick the exact experiences you wish to have. You can literally go anywhere and do exactly what you’ve always dreamt of doing. This is an incredible way to tackle items on your bucket list and create memories for a lifetime. With all of the new experiences and new people you meet, you will build up an array of legendary stories. Stories that will make you laugh, make you cry and epic stories that will teach you unforgettable lessons. These stories will help you build an impressive life resume worthy of the respect and courage you displayed creating them. 

3. Enhanced Growth – The more you stretch outside your comfort zone, the more you grow as a person. You’ll become more resilient, more calm and more courageous. As you learn more about yourself and the world around you, your opportunities for growth will continue to expand. You will literally become a better, more fuller version of yourself. As a result, your confidence can increase and so will your opportunities to feel a deep sense of contentment and success. Success on your terms, exactly the way you define it. As you experience other perspectives on life and learn more about yourself, you will no doubtably become more appreciative of what you have and the life you get to life. You will enhance your character and your emotional intelligence which are some of the strongest factors towards happiness and success. 

4. Entrepreneurial Skills – Entrepreneurship is one of the most valued and potentially lucrative skills you can have. As you embark on your journey as a digital nomad, you’ll learn how to manage your time, create habits of success, market a business, sell products and services, and the list goes on and on. This skillset is in high demand, and it’s potential is unlimited. Once you’ve built these foundational skills, you can leverage them to build your business exponentially. What’s more, you’ll be in a small percentage of the world who are working in a fashion that was unthinkable just a decade ago. You will get to harness the rapid growth that this industry is experiencing. You’ll be at the forefront of an industry that has unlimited possibilities and is truly changing the way people think about work and life. 

5.  Work You Enjoy – Since you’re creating the work you want to do, you get to choose work you find rewarding and enjoy doing. Work that really lights you up and connects you with like-minded people. Work that also matches your strengths with what you’re naturally drawn towards. This is a powerful combination. When you do work you really enjoy which suits who you truly are, your growth and potential in your chosen field tends to expand greatly. Not only will you be happier doing what you love, you’ll also find more opportunities for success and impact.

6. Higher Self Connection – Being a digital nomad can be a path of courageous action, persistence and independence. While you’ll undoubtedly interact with and rely on others along your journey, you will also learn the important skill of being self-reliant. Of building your muscles of discipline and creativity. You’ll learn what you’re really capable of and in turn you’ll feel more confident about your abilities and have a deep knowing that you’re capable of handling whatever comes your way. Furthermore, letting go of an old lifestyle can be extremely freeing. As you take the steps to simplify your lifestyle and focus on what you really need, you’ll embark on a journey of self-awareness. This will reveal many insights about yourself and the world you live in. As you let go of all the stuff previously weighing you down you begin to feel lighter, more connected to your true self. Connected to a place of deep contentment and fulfillment knowing that you are pursuing a path that’s true to yourself. The discoveries can be immense and life altering. 

7. Worldwide friendships – Travelling automatically opens you up to an array of amazing and diverse people. Some of them you will become acquaintances with while others will become your best friends for life. Imagine having great friends who you can spend time with located all over the world. Friends who you can share experiences with, share perspectives with and help each other grow and evolve through life. The people you meet may have a big impact on the rest of your life. 

8. Like-Minded Community – Being a digital nomad puts you amongst a large growing community of like-minded people. People who value freedom. People who choose experiences over things. People who want to cooperate and help each other grow. People who live life for the moment rather than for an unforeseen future. The digital nomad community is one you can feel at home very quickly. These people have similar struggles, dreams and desires and when you share the journey together it can make it all the more richer.

9. Healthier lifestyle – Being a digital nomad allows you to design work which suits the life you want to live instead of the other way around. You’ll be able to eat the way you choose too, exercise when you want to and embrace experiences that touch your soul. This can lead to increased health, energy, and an expanded outlook on life. You’ll be open to totally new horizons and have the passion and vitality to pursue opportunities that would have been previously unimaginable. 

10. Increased wealth – As a digital nomad, you’ll have the option to implement new income streams, live in a beautiful, yet inexpensive location, while possibly earning money in a higher valued currency. This can help you pay off debt quickly, invest the surplus, and can lead to an early retirement where you begin to work less and live more. Where you work because you choose to, not because you have to!

11. Richer Work Environment – Say good-bye to the boring grey and brown cubicles and annoying fluorescent lighting. As a digital nomad you get to choose your office space and mix it up as you wish. You can decide if you want to work from a cozy, trendy or even funky cafes. Maybe a luxurious hotel lobby, or a calm historic library, or just settle into your own space in your quiet room. The options are endless and your in control. No more running from one meeting room to another or having to zoom around town to visit clients. No more annoying visits from people you don’t want to communicate with. Escape from the gossiping, the office politics, and the tension of your boss and coworkers. When you have the ability to work on your own, you get to design the environment you work in. Less distractions, more focus and less stress.

12. No Commuting – As a digital nomad, your commute can be a 10 second walk across your room, or a 5 minute stroll to a nice cafe. No worries about having to rush out the door to embark on a 30 minute drive. Forget having to beat the daily rush of traffic so your not stuck in a jam for hours. Not only will you save time and undue stress, you’ll also save yourself a ton of money! 

13. Choose Your Climate – Are you sick and tired of long, cold winters or wet, depressing days? If so, you can choose to trade your current climate for a totally new one. One suited exactly to the climate you want to live in. Imagine waking up to see the sun and feel the warmth on your body almost everyday of the week. It certainly can have an impact on how you feel and if it’s something you long for, it’s something you can have as a digital nomad. 

14. Better Work Conditions – If you’re lucky enough to have work that doesn’t depend on a certain time zone or client arrangement, you just might be able to design your work schedule to fit in with your lifestyle. Maybe you’re a night owl, so you’d rather sleep in during the morning and crank out your productive work at night. Maybe you enjoy early morning hikes so you’re happy to work a little later in the evening. Either way, you may be able to design your schedule to whatever suits you best. Additionally, since you won’t be going into the office anymore, you can ditch the standard work attire. Say good-bye to the fancy suits or casual dress clothes and hello to flip flops and shorts. Dress however you want and don’t worry if you haven’t shaved for a while, people won’t see you anyway. 

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As you can see, the benefits of becoming a digital nomad are many. What’s even better is that these benefits directly impact how you live so they can have a compounding effect on how you feel and how much you get to enjoy your experience of life. 

Becoming a digital nomad means you accept responsibility and take ownership of your life. This can be an extremely empowering experience. Not only will your belief in yourself increase but you will also become more confident in your abilities and more faithful that things will work out in your favor. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and you will be creating an environment based on your preferences so you will be setting yourself up to become the best version you can possibly become. 

Now, while there are countless things to love about the nomadic lifestyle, there are also quite a few drawbacks to consider. If you aren’t aware of how to approach them it can result in disappointment and possibly an abrupt end to your digital nomad lifestyle. It can be quite crushing to finally achieve the lifestyle you so long for only to discover that there are disadvantages as well.

With this in mind, let’s have a look at some of the primary drawback of becoming a Digital Nomad.

The Drawbacks

1. Missing Comforts – The thing that prevents many people from becoming a digital nomad is that they know they are going to miss their creature comforts too much. Unless you happen to be a high-income remote worker or business owner, you’re most likely going to find yourself staying at low budget accommodations a lot of the time. This may mean sharing accommodation with a bunch of other travelers and constantly worrying about your laptop getting stolen. Then there are the things that you’ll miss about your own country. Your comfort foods, the customs you’re used to and even the fact that the signs are in a language you understand. Which brings us to the next point…

2. The Language Barrier – Sure, the language barrier is part of the fun and charm when you’re working abroad. That is until you’re starving up a mountain in Poland and you just want something to eat… but accidentally order a bowl of hot water with an egg floating in it because you can’t read the recipe. Depending on what part of the world you’ll be in, the language barrier can vary from a mild inconvenience to a total disarray of feeling lost and confused. In some places, a percentage of the locals can speak enough of English or your language to help out, while in other places, the locals have no idea what you’re trying to communicate and even worse, may have little desire to care. 

3. The Danger – There’s no way to get around this: being a traveller and digital nomad can be dangerous. If you get ill, you’ll have to rely on the local hospital and medical services. Again, this risk is increased when you don’t speak the language. You may don’t know your way around so you might find yourself vulnerable in a rough part of town. Your belongings can also be at risk when you leave them in low budget accommodations or hostels. This is all even more dangerous if you decide to trek up high mountains or delve deep into jungles.

4. The Hard Work – When it comes to becoming a digital nomad, most often, you expect to gain complete freedom and to be able to live a life full of adventure. Often though, it won’t feel like that at all. You may be required to put in long hours and hard work as the price for success. That means that sometimes you’re going to be in a beautiful city with a booming social scene, only to find yourself sitting at a desk working on a computer all day long. You may even have to wake up early in the morning because your client is in a different time zone. And when you can’t find a power outlet  or an internet connection things will no doubtibly get even more challenging.

5. Technology Challenges – Yes, the lack of a power outlet can be a challenge, but so too is the lack of a WiFi connection. Or getting sand in your keyboard, or winding up with a huge mobile bill. At this point, you’re going to be highly reliant on your technology and if it goes wrong you’ll be stranded in a foreign country with no recourse. Even buying new gear in a foreign country can be a little challenging. Many laptops are customised to the local region so they may look and feel much different than you might be accustomed too. As a result, if you think something may fail along the way, consider replacing it before you leave.

6. Missing People – You may find yourself missing a lot of things. We’ve covered a few already, but you’ll probably find yourself missing the people you care most about. If you’re in a relationship, then becoming a digital nomad and travelling around the world certainly has the potential to bring your relationship to an end. While you can use tools like Skype and Facebook to stay connected, nothing replaces the feeling of being with your loved ones in person.

7. Missing Opportunities – while FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is not a new phenomenon, it sure can sting to get offered an amazing job or a cool project to work on, only to have to turn it down because you’re working abroad! When you consider some of the missing opportunities linked to the digital nomad lifestyle, it can play a role in your decision-making.

8. Bureaucracy Challenges – If you plan to stay in one location for a long term, you may be obligated to pay taxes in the country where you’re living. If you plan to set up a business or offer your services to residents of that country you may also require a work or business permit in order to start operations. Of course, the rules and options available are different for every country so it’s always best to consult with a reputable accountant or tax advisor. Luckily, in many of the larger digital nomad hubs around the world, there are businesses that specialize in helping remote workers and entrepreneurs get established in their new home. It’s a good idea to avail of these services if you wish to extend your stay in one country and treat it as your home base.  

9. The entrepreneurial roller coaster – Unless you have a stable job that allows you to work remotely, freelancing and entrepreneurial options can be quite a roller coaster. Some months you may have more money than you expected while other months might be bone dry. This is why it’s good to have some form of decently predictable income or a good amount of savings as you embark on your digital nomad journey. Budgeting, planning and a lot of hustle are essential for digital nomads who freelance or build businesses in order to fund their travels. Things will improve with time and experience but the beginning of the lifestyle can have a lot of ups and downs so it’s important to have realistic expectations and to plan accordingly. 

10. No Paid Holidays – Again, unless you have a normal job that allows you to work remotely, your paid holidays may be a thing of the past. You can choose to coincide your planned time off with the holidays of the country your in but it will take some planning on your part. Also, if your main clients are in a different country you may have to work around their holiday schedule instead. The fact remains, if you choose to freelance or build a business you will have to plan for your own time off.

11. Starting All Over – While you can utilize the skills and experience you’ve already attained, you will most likely feel as if you’re starting all over. You may sell your home, all of your possessions, say good-bye to your friends and family and embark on a totally new lifestyle. While this can be exciting and liberating, it can also be scary and lonely so it’s good to know what to expect. 

12. Potential Judgments – Let’s face it, even though the digital nomad lifestyle is growing, it’s still a relatively new trend. You may find mixed reactions from your friends and family. Some will think you’re crazy, others will think it’s totally amazing, while others may have the reaction of “who do you think you are?”. Either way, it’s important to know your own motivations for adapting this lifestyle and to communicate them in a non-aggressive manner. At the end of the day, you don’t need to justify your decisions to anyone but yourself, you just need to be okay with them. Just be prepared for mixed reactions and know that these are common reactions when anyone does something outside of the norm.

13. Dating Challenges – If you decide to frequently travel from one location to another, dating and maintaining a relationship can be quite difficult. If your potential partner doesn’t have the ability or the desire to adapt to your travel schedule or you don’t want to adapt to their lifestyle, it can be a challenge to build a solid romantic relationship. 

14. Home Cravings – If the newness of the travel begins to wear off and you find yourself moving from one town to another, you can begin to feel like you don’t have a home or anywhere to belong to anymore. That’s why it’s important to maintain some of your existing relationships and of course to continue to nurture new relationships with like-minded people. 

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Now that you’re aware of the drawbacks of the nomadic lifestyle you have more knowledge and power to design it around what you value most. 

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For many people, all of these issues will be manageable and they will pale in comparison to the amazing benefits and wonders of being able to travel the world while working. But for others… well, they just won’t. 

If you feel that way, then you might decide that being a long-term traveler just isn’t for you. But that’s okay, you can still quit your 9-5 job and you can still enjoy a lifestyle redesign. How about working out of coffee shops and tourist attractions in your own country? How about  renting a log cabin and escaping from the madness of the modern day world? How about just travelling more often? Going on 5 trips a year, instead of one ‘holiday’?

Of course, when you have the choice to work from anywhere, you can design your life however you wish..!

 

Author

Tal Gur is a world traveler and personal development enthusiast. An adventurer at heart, after trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, Tal spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey continues as a location-independent blogger, lifestyle entrepreneur, and coach. Tal’s published two books: One Year to Freedom, a 1-Year Roadmap to Living Life on Your Own Terms; and, his most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living – 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World.

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