You may have even seen this type of lifestyle on social media and think it looks enchanting, especially if you’re sat in an office cubicle, under fluorescent lights in a work environment that oozes office politics.
The people who lead this life are known as ‘digital nomads’. They are location independent, meaning they can work from pretty much anywhere in the world. With thousands of people already adopting this so called “digital nomadic lifestyle”, and predictions of there being 1 billion digital nomads by 2035, on the surface it seems like the perfect set-up.
But is it all sunshine and rainbows? Here we break down some of the perks of being a digital nomad and some of the challenges they might face.
It goes without saying that the best part of being a digital nomad is being able to work whenever you want from wherever you want. You can plan work around your life instead of planning your life around work. Living a location independent life opens the doors to such freedom, where you can pick the ideal environment to live and work in and choose how to structure your day. As long as you get your work done, when and where you do the work comes down to you. You may be an early bird one day, and a night owl the next. The hours of the day are yours to play with. As they say, the world is your oyster!
Another huge pull to the lifestyle is the ability to travel. You don’t have a set itinerary to stick religiously to or a return ticket looming in the background. If next week you fancied going to Bali, off you go. Not many jobs provide the opportunity to hop around from country to country, choosing what you wake up to, whether it be a tropical paradise, a snow-capped mountain or a bustling urban jungle. Many countries are already well set up for digital nomads with co-working spaces in abundance, or cafes with plugs and high speed internet.
Meeting New People
When you travel you find yourself in environments where meeting new people is pretty easy. Co-working spaces, for example, are often bursting with digital nomads, where everyone already has a shared interest – working remotely. Not only is it a great place to find like-minded people, but it can provide a great opportunity for networking.
Meeting people from different parts of the world, whether they’re a local in the country you’re currently in or a fellow traveller from some far-flung land, is always a good chance to learn about other cultures and open your eyes to a different outlook on life.
No Office Politics
Working in an office, or any working environment, always comes with some form of politics. This could be lazy co-workers, people taking the credit for work they haven’t done, the water cooler gossip, working overtime with no gratitude, being glared at for arriving 2 minutes late…the list is endless. Working remotely limits these annoyances. You’re not stuck in the same place, surrounded by the same people, 5 days a week. No one is monitoring what time you start work or when you take your breaks. All you need to think about is getting the work done. How you do that is your business.
Finding a Stable Income
Working remotely can come with a certain level of uncertainty and instability. It’s said that the original digital nomads were full time gamblers, playing poker in online poker rooms or gambling at online casinos. But in the current climate, this definitely isn’t the most stable form of income, or the most responsible way to make money. The online poker boom is over, with sites trying to make up for lost business through cutting ‘rewards’ and increasing their fees. As for online gambling, finding an online casino that has a reputation for fair gaming and paying out winnings can be tricky and strict regulations mean many countries ban online casinos from operating in their territory.
You may be lucky and already have a job or business that you can do remotely and earn enough money to supplement your nomadic existence. If not, there are plenty of online jobs to choose from, but many of these jobs require certain skill sets and the building of a solid base of clientele before the hours roll in, and this can take some time and hard work to achieve. Cost of living might be less abroad, but without a stable income, the chances of that one way ticket turning into a return ticket are pretty high.
Constant Search for Internet
Digital nomads rely on internet. If they can’t get online, they can’t work. If they can’t work, they aren’t making money. And while it may be tempting to travel to some outback location, off the beaten track, there may be no internet. This is the limitation to the nomadic lifestyle – certain places just don’t have the infrastructure to support working online. Even if you’re in a country with internet, it may not be the most reliable. When choosing a location, the online capabilities of the place is something that you always have to factor in.
While you have the chance to meet lots of new people, the nomadic lifestyle can still be lonely. Forming relationships can be tricky due to the fluidity of the environment – people are always coming and going. You may meet new people, but they might not be on the scene long enough to cement a friendship. Staying connected to those back at home can also be difficult, especially when time differences are involved.
Getting the Work-Life Balance Right
While the freedom to work whenever you want from wherever you want is the main attraction to the digital nomadic life, it can also be the hardest part. Getting the work-life balance right is tricky. Some digital nomads find it difficult to switch off and take breaks, resulting in them working every day and most evenings. Others swing the other way, getting easily distracted by the wonderful environment they’re living in. If you get lazy, the money doesn’t come in. But if you work all the time, what’s the point in being location independent? It’s hard to strike the balance – remaining disciplined and motivated while also remembering to explore your surroundings.
In conclusion, like any lifestyle, there’re always going to be pros and cons. On your Instagram feed, it may look like digital nomads have the most perfect existence. The reality, however, can be quite different. Life as a digital nomad can be both fantastic and uncertain, full of adventure and challenges. You may find sunshine and rainbows but expect some storms along the way!