Before the pandemic, the digital nomad lifestyle was a mystery to many. When people asked what I did for work before 2020, my response was often met with confused faces. “So you can work from a hotel room anywhere in the world if you want? Wacky!”
While the digital nomad lifestyle once elicited incredulity, the recent boom in remote working seems to have got more people interested in this somewhat unconventional life choice. If you’re considering taking your job on the road, this is what you need to know.
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Digital Nomad Lifestyle – Benefits and Drawbacks
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Remote Work Pros & Cons
Wondering whether the digital nomad lifestyle is for you? I’ll dive into some of the main advantages and disadvantages of remote working below.
Freedom to Travel
In my opinion, the number one benefit of life as a digital nomad is the ability to do your job from anywhere. Freedom to travel was my main motivation in pursuing a remote work job and it has allowed me to explore a range of fascinating and colourful cultures.
From the rugged hills of Scotland to the sweltering Caribbean coast of Colombia, the digital nomad lifestyle has given me countless opportunities to explore places that have always been on my bucket list.
Insurance for Digital Nomads
For as long as I’ve travelled, a comprehensive travel insurance policy has been a must-have for me. However, when I first started looking into getting covered as a digital nomad, there were next to no options. This meant that although there were people working from the road, it was still a bit risky to do so.
Luckily, demand leads to supply and SafetyWing jumped in to fill the gap. This travel medical insurance was created by nomads for nomads. They understand the unpredictable nature of life on the road and have tailored their offerings to suit digital nomads.
You don’t need to inform them of your itinerary in advance and you can take out a policy if you’re already on the road. It is ideal for remote workers who don’t like to micromanage every aspect of their trip. I use them personally and can’t rate them enough. Read more about SafetyWing here.
Choose Your Own Hours
While this will vary depending on the type of work you do, one of my favourite things about working remotely is the ability to choose my own working hours. Ditching the 9-5 was one of the best things I have ever done and allows me to work when I want. This means I can tailor my work day to when I am most productive, while still making time to do the other things I love – like travel!
With no commute to consider, I have more time to maintain a good level of fitness, something which has huge benefits for my mental health and well-being. While not all remote jobs allow you complete freedom to choose your hours, for example, some may specify that you have to be based in a specific time zone or clock on between 9-5, they usually afford more flexibility than traditional working arrangements.
Digital Nomad Visas
As remote working continues to become more popular, many countries are beginning to realise the value of creating a digital nomad scene. As such, they are introducing specific visas for freelancers and other remote workers to allow them to stay longer in the country. It has never been easier to swap your 9-5 for the digital nomad lifestyle!
Be aware that some of these digital nomad visas will have minimum income requirements. It is important to check that you fulfil the criteria prior to applying.
Maintaining Relationships is Hard
The digital nomad lifestyle can feel hard at times, especially when you have stuff going on at home. The main drawback of working from anywhere is that you’re likely to be very far from home, making it much harder to maintain relationships with your family and friends.
While it is always possible to video call those at home, it is not the same as being there in flesh. This can lead to feelings of isolation and guilt which can be hard to manage with a limited in-person support network.
When I’m freelancing from the road, I have to be disciplined with my time to get the most out of the experience. Whether that means setting aside specific days or time slots to work, I have to make time to both do my job and explore the place I’m in.
It is easy to get so carried away with your job that you forget to make time to do the things you love. Remember why you wanted to become a digital nomad in the first place. Being able to work from anywhere is only worth it if you actually make the most of the opportunity!
In my opinion, being self-motivated is one of the most important skills for remote workers to learn. Bear in mind that it does take practice, if this is something you struggle with, it might be worth honing this skill at home before you move your life on the road.
Establishing Social Connections is Difficult
The nature of the digital nomad lifestyle involves a lot of moving about. This can make it very hard to form long-lasting connections while you travel. To overcome this, you should look for digital nomad meet-ups and get involved in social events that suit your interests.
Hanging out with like-minded people who understand the drawbacks of working from anywhere will bond you and give you people to vent to when you’re having a bad day. If you can, commit to staying longer in one place. This will allow new friendships the time to develop, leading to a more fulfilling experience.
Not Being Taken Seriously
When you’re not talking to other digital nomads, it is easy to feel like you are no longer entitled to have a bad day. Those who are not familiar with freelancing on the road often don’t understand the drawbacks of working remotely.
As far as they are concerned, you just swan around from beach to beach, tapping away on your computer for a couple of hours a day. This can feel very disheartening when you work hard and do a valuable job like everyone else.
Remember that these people are not trying to hurt you, they simply don’t understand the digital nomad lifestyle. To be fair, when you look at #digitalnomadlife on Instagram, it is easy to see why they are confused!
Much like any job, freelancing comes with advantages and disadvantages but for me, it was the best decision I ever made. There are definite drawbacks to working from anywhere, namely the need for discipline and the difficulty maintaining social connections on the road, however, in my opinion, it is more than worth the trade.
Now that the digital nomad lifestyle is so much more popular, you are much more supported than you used to be, with tailored visa options and health insurance to cover you while abroad. The benefits of being a digital nomad are fulfilling and far-reaching, allowing you to carve out a better work-life balance while ticking destinations off your bucket list at the same. Sounds like a dream, right?
Are you tempted to try out the digital nomad lifestyle? What is holding you back?