What No One Tells You About The Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Being Nomadic is nothing new, but especially with the onset of the Pandemic and remote work, the digital nomad lifestyle has become extremely popular and offers some incredible benefits like freedom to travel, meeting all kinds of cool new people from all over the world, new cultures, all while working from your laptop are absolutely incredible. This was not possible in the past as many people had to save up, quit their jobs, travel, go back to work, repeat..
“Adventure is a path. Real adventure, self-determined, self-motivated, often risky, forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world.” — Mark Jenkins
And yet, while the digital nomad lifestyle offers incredible flexibility and freedom, there are so many videos romanticizing this lifestyle and while there are some incredible benefits, there are also some things you should be aware of just to take into consideration. A Perfect lifestyle doesn't reallyyyyy exist and there is no such thing as a 100% stress-free life without any disadvantages. Freedom has amazing benefits and it can have some unintended consequences as well.
Furthermore, there are other considerations that aren't often discussed. Digital nomads often have to spend thousands of dollars on visas, accommodation, and transportation not to mention taxes can be a bit more complex. Additionally, the cost of living in some popular digital nomad hubs might be higher than expected, affecting the overall budget.
By shedding light on these challenges, I want to provide aspiring digital nomads with a realistic perspective, helping them make informed decisions about this lifestyle. It's crucial to address these issues in order to fully understand the pros and cons of the digital nomad journey and effectively navigate the complexities that come with it.
The Upside of Absolute Freedom
One of the most enticing aspects of being a digital nomad is the concept of complete freedom. This lifestyle allows individuals to have unparalleled control over various aspects of their lives. And this is amazing. Always being able to research the next place and go explore is indescribable freedom and flexibility - especially if you're the kind of person who doesn't like to be tied down to one place.
Digital nomads have the flexibility to set up their workspace wherever they please - whether it's at a cozy café overlooking the ocean or in a vibrant co-working space in a bustling city. There are no restrictions on location, so you can work from anywhere in the world.
Similarly, digital nomads have the freedom to choose where they live and for how long.
They can embark on a new adventure and live in different environments, experiencing the beauty and diversity of different cultures. From a small village in Bali to a cosmopolitan city like Barcelona, the options are limitless. This is especially important for people who don't like winter - like me. I love being able to go to Spain or Portugal in winters and escape the darkness and rain in Germany during that time.
Being a digital nomad also means that you have autonomy over your time. You can decide the number of hours you work each day and the time of day that suits you best. You have the freedom to eat when you want and sleep when you want, allowing you to align your lifestyle with your natural rhythms.
One of the perks of this lifestyle can be the ability to take time off whenever you want if you're a freelancer online. Whether it's a quick day trip to a nearby attraction or a week-long vacation in a tropical paradise, digital nomads have the freedom to prioritize their leisure time and explore the world around them.
Moreover, many digital nomads are their own bosses as freelancers. They have the ultimate autonomy to make decisions and create their own path. This freedom allows for personal and professional growth, as there are no limitations or constraints imposed by a superior authority.
In conclusion, the concept of complete freedom is an integral part of the digital nomad lifestyle. It grants individuals the ability to choose where they work, where they live, set their own hours, immerse themselves in different cultures, and enjoy a level of independence that is unparalleled in the traditional 9-5 world.
Being a Digital Nomad Can Get Lonely AF
Being a digital nomad may seem like a dream come true with its freedom and flexibility, but the truth is, it's not always rainbows and unicorns. Meet an incredible person? They're off to Chile and you're heading to Australia. I don't need to tell you this makes dating a bit difficult and friendships too. Despite constantly meeting new people and being surrounded by like-minded individuals, digital nomads often experience feelings of loneliness.
The constant change of environments and the transient nature of relationships can make it difficult for digital nomads to form deep and lasting connections. While they may meet new people regularly, the depth of these relationships is often limited by the short amount of time they spend together. This can leave digital nomads feeling isolated and longing for deeper connections and a sense of belonging.
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” — Anthony Bourdain
Coping with loneliness while traveling can be a challenge, but there are strategies to help navigate through this emotional rollercoaster. One way is to actively seek out activities and groups to join. This allows digital nomads to engage with others who share similar interests and passions, providing opportunities for meaningful connections.
Coworking spaces and co-working trips can also be a great resource for combating loneliness. These spaces provide an ideal environment for meeting fellow nomads and forming connections based on shared work experiences. Additionally, many coworking spaces organize social events and networking opportunities to foster community and combat the isolation that digital nomads may feel. In the future, I'll be hosting some digital nomad co-working trips so stay tuned!
Finding ways to connect with locals and immersing oneself in the local culture and also seeking out local expat groups can also help alleviate feelings of loneliness. Participating in language exchange programs, volunteering or joining community events can provide opportunities to interact with locals and form deeper connections.
Being a digital nomad may come with its challenges, but by proactively seeking out social opportunities and finding ways to connect with others, it is possible to counteract the loneliness that can sometimes accompany this independent lifestyle.
You'll have to give up things. A lot of things
Transitioning to a digital nomad lifestyle often requires giving up personal belongings and embracing a minimalist mindset. Know why? If you weren't minimalist, traveling around with way too many things will change you into more of a minimalist.
After traveling around South America for 7 months living out of my backpack in the early 2000s, it made me value experiences in life and people more than things while ALSO realizing I didn't need that much to be happy.
While it may be challenging, letting go of the need for many material objects is essential for nomads on the move. Living without certain things becomes a necessary sacrifice in pursuit of location independence and a fulfilling nomadic lifestyle. This can be a benefit in life as you'll place much less value on things in your life.
So, not sure if you want to hear this, but if you need stability and to own a house with a big picket fence that you will have to stay home and maintain, this is probably not the lifestyle for you.
That means you'll even maybe stop caring about things like matching plates in the kitchen and you'll be more flexible with how you can cook since many Airbnb's and rental homes don't have tons of equipment. Or if you're in a hotel you might just have a few things and have a couple items you travel with. For example, this was the first year I decided to travel with a mess kit because of the bad pans I've encountered in AirBnB's and holiday rentals.
Living without certain things is also part of the digital nomad lifestyle. Depending on the destination, amenities or products that were once readily available may not be easily accessible because the country might not have them. Anything you want, you will have to carry. This may include favorite foods, familiar toiletries, or specific creature comforts. Digital nomads must learn to adapt and find alternatives or substitutes for these items.
To successfully embrace this minimalist and budget-conscious lifestyle, digital nomads can take the following steps and mindset shifts:
- Prioritize experiences over material possessions
- Embrace minimalism and declutter personal belongings
- Adopt a flexible mindset and be open to trying new products and environments
- Practice gratitude for the things they do have and appreciate the simplicity of a minimalist lifestyle
Being all Over the World Means Being Away from Home
Being a digital nomad means constantly being on the move and experiencing different countries and cultures. While this lifestyle offers incredible opportunities for adventure and personal growth, it also means being away from the familiarity and comfort sof home. Being all over the world can make digital nomads feel disconnected from their cultural roots and loved ones.
It requires finding ways to stay connected with loved ones through technology and creating a sense of home wherever they go. It really comes down to making 'home' wherever you are.
Missing major life events such as weddings, birthdays, funerals, or even the simple joys of daily life can be really ough. It's hard to be absent during those important moments and not being able to physically support and share experiences with your loved ones.
Finding communities and like-minded individuals on the road can help combat feelings of loneliness and provide a sense of belonging. Despite the challenges, being all over the world also offers the chance to create unique connections and memories in different parts of the globe. It teaches digital nomads the importance of cherishing moments and making the most out of every experience.
One of the most difficult aspects of the digital nomad lifestyle is being away from your old family and friends. While the freedom to travel and work from anywhere is exhilarating, it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Being separated from loved ones can have an emotional toll and impact your relationships. Especially when it comes to family.
However, there are solutions for staying connected despite the distance. Staying closer to home or choosing digital nomad destinations with convenient travel connections can allow for more frequent visits. Embracing technology is another way to bridge the gap - regular video calls, messaging apps, and social media can help you stay connected and involved in the lives of your family and friends.Unfortunately, not everyone will support you. And you have to learn to be ok with it. To be honest, this can be one of the most difficult parts when you communicate your excitement for a new destination or experience and not everyone is happy for you. In fact, some people might even guilt you for the life you live or even criticize you for it, think you're selfish, or that you should be doing things in the traditional way as they did or like how society expects you to. Also, when friends and family visit abroad, it can bring about a mix of emotions, including guilt.
“A person susceptible to “wanderlust” is not so much addicted to movement as committed to transformation.” — Pico Iyer
Setting boundaries between work and leisure time is also crucial. By establishing designated work hours and making it clear when they're available to spend time with their visitors, digital nomads can strike a balance between work and personal life. This helps ensure that work doesn't interfere too much with the cherished moments spent with loved ones.
It Can Be Hard to Have Deeper Relationships
Creating strong relationships can be difficult for digital nomads due to their constantly changing locations. It takes time and effort to nurture relationships, but when you’re constantly on the move, it can be difficult to maintain relationships. Additionally, it can be hard to make friends in new places if you don’t have an existing community or network of contacts.
Even if you do make connections , the fact that you move around a lot means that it’s hard to really get to know people and form meaningful relationships. This can be an isolating experience, as digital nomads often spend most of their time alone or with other travelers who are also always on the go.
It’s important for digital nomads to be mindful of the impact that their lifestyle has on relationships, and to take the time to nurture the connections they make while traveling. This can be done by staying in touch with friends and family back home, as well as making an effort to really get to know locals in each place you visit. Joining local groups or volunteer opportunities can also help digital nomads build meaningful connections and create a sense of community wherever they go.
Living the digital nomad lifestyle can bring unique challenges to relationships. Being constantly on the move can strain long-distance friendships and family relationships. The limited time spent in one location makes it difficult to maintain regular contact and stay connected.
For digital nomads in romantic relationships, the constant travel can put a strain on the partnership unless they're with a partner who has the same lifestyle. The distance and frequent separations can lead to feelings of loneliness and insecurity. It requires a great deal of trust and communication to navigate the challenges that arise from being away from each other for extended periods.
For single nomads, you can meet incredible people on your level but they might be traveling somewhere on the other end of the earth and you haven't had a long enough relationship to plan to go together.
Creating a sense of belonging can also be a challenge for digital nomads. When you are constantly on the move, it is difficult to find roots and feel connected to any particular place.
This can result in feelings of loneliness and lack of purpose, as well as difficulty finding fulfillment in your work or leisure activities. It is important for digital nomads to try and cultivate a sense of home wherever they go, by finding places and activities that make them feel comfortable and content.
Staying Healthy Can be Challenging
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be particularly difficult for digital nomads. With constant travel and changes in routine, it can be tough to establish healthy habits and stick to them. Finding nutritious food options can sometimes be a struggle, especially in foreign countries where dietary restrictions and preferences may not be easily accommodated.
Regular exercise can also be a challenge, as access to gyms or fitness facilities may be limited to long-term memberships or be expensive. Additionally, the sedentary nature of many digital nomad jobs, can make it easy to neglect physical activity. This lack of structure and consistency can lead to increased stress levels and a decline in overall well-being. However, with careful planning and a commitment to self-care, digital nomads can prioritize their health by seeking out healthy food options, incorporating exercise into their daily routine, and finding ways to reduce stress and maintain balance in their nomadic lifestyle.
One common excuse for neglecting fitness is the lack of time or energy. However, prioritizing your health is essential. Set aside dedicated time for exercise, whether it's in the morning, during lunch breaks, or in the evening. Additionally, finding like-minded individuals in the digital nomad community can provide support and accountability.
Ultimately, staying in shape as a digital nomad requires discipline and commitment. It may require being creative and adapting to the resources available in each location. By overcoming challenges and making fitness a priority, you can maintain a healthy lifestyle while enjoying the freedom of the nomadic lifestyle.
You Still Have to Work -Sometimes Twice as Much
Being a digital nomad may give you the freedom to travel and explore new places, but it doesn't mean you can escape the responsibility of work. One of the biggest challenges is maintaining a regular work routine while constantly changing locations. If you're not focused, it could take you twice as long to do the same tasks.
It's important to meet deadlines and fulfill client responsibilities regardless of where you are. This means finding suitable workspaces that offer the necessary amenities and a quiet environment. Co-working spaces or cafes with reliable Wi-Fi can be great options.
Time management becomes crucial in this lifestyle. One technique to stay focused is the Pomodoro technique, where you work for 25 minutes straight, take a five-minute break, and repeat. This helps maintain productivity and prevent burnout.
Another important aspect is actively socializing and networking. Being in new locations means there’s always an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and expand your professional network. Attending meetups or joining online communities can provide valuable connections and even potential clients.
In conclusion, the digital nomad lifestyle often requires working twice as much as before, balancing the demands of work and travel. Being mindful of the challenges and actively seeking ways to maintain productivity and a consistent source of income is vital for long-term success as a digital nomad.
Dealing With Taxes is a Pain
Dealing with taxes can be one of the most challenging aspects of being a digital nomad. As you navigate the world as a location-independent worker, it's important to understand the complexities of tax obligations and take the necessary steps to ensure compliance.
One key consideration is establishing a "base" for tax purposes. While the digital nomad lifestyle may involve constant travel, having a physical presence in a specific location can help establish your tax residency and determine your tax obligations. Researching and choosing the right destination that offers favorable tax laws and benefits for digital nomads is crucial.
However, finding an accountant well-versed in the unique tax situations faced by digital nomads can be difficult. Traditional accountants may be unfamiliar with the intricacies of remote work and its impact on tax liabilities. It's essential to do thorough research and find a professional who can navigate the complexities of digital nomad tax laws and ensure you take full advantage of any available deductions and exemptions.
Ultimately, dealing with taxes as a digital nomad requires careful planning, research, and diligence. By establishing a base and finding the right accountant, you can navigate the complexities of tax obligations and focus on enjoying the freedom and flexibility of the digital nomad lifestyle.
Freelancing means no benefits
One of the biggest challenges of freelancing as a digital nomad is the absence of traditional benefits such as health insurance and paid time off. Unlike individuals who work in traditional corporate settings, digital nomads are responsible for sourcing and funding their own benefits. This can be a significant disadvantage, as it means shouldering the burden of healthcare costs and not having the security of paid time off when needed.
Another challenge is the need for a stable source of income. As a freelancer, income can be unpredictable and irregular, making it crucial for digital nomads to have enough savings to cover periods of no income. It's essential to set clear contracts with clients that outline payment terms and deliverables to ensure a consistent stream of work and income.
Managing the lack of paid holidays is another consideration. Digital nomads often don't have the luxury of paid time off, which can impact their work-life balance. It's important to save money in preparation for time off or find creative ways to create a work-life balance that minimizes the need for extended breaks.
Ultimately, freelancing as a digital nomad provides incredible freedom and flexibility, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. Being aware of and prepared for these challenges, such as the lack of benefits and the need for stable income, will help ensure a successful and sustainable freelance career as a digital nomad.
Travel Slowly or Pay the Price
Traveling slowly as a digital nomad has its pros and cons. One of the biggest mistakes new digital nomads make is doing TOO MUCH TOO SOON. They go to 50 countries in a year racking up all kinds of sleep debt and exhaustion. When you move that fast, you'll be in a blur of airports, and AirBnB's different beaches, and you'll be exhausted and crabby wondering why. Do not do this. If you're traveling, you have time to savor the local flavors and the new environment. Pace yourself or you're going to burn out and burn up faster than ever.
In conclusion, traveling slowly as a digital nomad allows for a richer cultural experience and a stable work environment. However, it's crucial to consider the additional expenses involved in paying for accommodation in multiple places and be aware that long-term travel is not always cheap, depending on the location. With proper planning and budgeting, you can enjoy the benefits of slow travel while ensuring financial stability.
There are so many wonderful benefits to this lifestyle but there are some challenges which is why not everyone does it forever as it can take a toll on your personal and social life especially..It's important to take everything into consideration. Remember it DOES NOT have to be all or nothing. If you can work remotely, why not try it for a few months and see how you like it. You might eventually decide to do it several times a year and use your home country as a base, or you might also be more of an EXPAT NOMAD like me, so you can be based on one continent away from home while traveling whenever you want.
“Every man can transform the world from one of monotony and drabness to one of excitement and adventure.” — Irving Wallace
Are you a digital nomad facing challenges with the lifestyle or you're not sure what to do next? Schedule a discovery call to learn how transformational coaching and EFT tapping can help with emotional health and burnout, confidence issues and imposter syndrome, and the challenging roller coaster that can come with this lifestyle. Book a discovery call here.
ANDREA HUNT - Online Transformational Life Coach & EFT Tapping Practitioner based in Munich, Germany
I'm an accredited transformational life coach from Animas Centre for Coaching UK and a member of the International Coaching Federation. I'm also a Level 2 practitioner in EFT Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) and a member of AEFTP (Association of Emotional Freedom Technique Professionals).
If you're not sure where to start transforming your life, you can download my free ebook on How to Start Your Personal Growth Journey.
Are you ready to change your life, let go of old beliefs, empower yourself for a mindset shift to move forward? Mark Batterson says: You're always one decision away from a totally different life.
Header Photo: Merakist
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