Being a hobo is not really cool. However, if you take this game «pro» and call yourself a «digital nomad», it will make all the difference in the world. But how do you know if being a digital nomad is right for you? Read on to find out.
Who Is a Digital Nomad?
The Internet has also given us more freedom to choose when, where, and how we work. Don’t need to wake up at 7 every morning. Don’t need to go to the office. Don’t need to deal with co-workers you’d rather not see EVER in your life. Don’t need to make that 1.5-hour commute every day.
We are talking freelancing here but, more specifically, being a digital nomad.
According to a common definition, «digital nomads» are people who are location independent and use technology to perform their job. Usually, these are writers, designers, marketers, and programmers.
In this article, we are going to go over the pros and cons of being a digital nomad, and what it has in store for you.
Before we do that, let’s take a quick at some of the revealing stats about digital nomads.
A Typical Digital Nomad Profile
According to the survey data compiled by welance.de, digital nomads are:
- mostly male (64% to be specific), half of them are in a relationship;
- mostly programmers (22% to be precise), 9% of them are marketers, 8% are designers
- aged 25 to 35 (more than a half of the respondents)
- changing their country of residence 5 times a year on average
- making around $2K per month on average
- currently residing in… pretty much anywhere in the world!
Regarding the last point, there are some locations which digital nomads tend to favor:
- Berlin, Prague, Budapest, and Barcelona if we are in Europe
- Chiang Mai (Thailand), Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), and Davao (the Philippines) in Asia
- Medellín (Colombia), Buenos Aires (Argentina), and Santiago (Chile) in Latin America
- Austin (Texas), Portland (Oregon), and San Diego (California) in North America
Is Leading a Digital Nomad Lifestyle Worth It?
That is a rather rhetorical question. Like with anything, there are upsides and downsides to it, which we are going to get into in the next paragraph.
According to this predictive study, freelancing might not be something you will be choosing – in 2035, it actually might become a standard practice or even a necessity.
So if you are going to go freelance anyway, why not do it with style and become a digital nomad?
But before you do so, please make sure you have read and understood what lies ahead for you if you really become a digital nomad since it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.
The OBVIOUS PROS of Being a Digital Nomad
Most people would agree that these are really great for anybody.
1. You get to work at beautiful places
In the minds of most, work = office = boring. No matter how cool your company is, an office is still an office – gotta have some form of dress code, working hours, code of conduct, nosey colleagues, etc.
Working at a place where most people only get to spend their vacation once a year certainly boosts your ego, self-esteem, and creativity.
2. You have absolute freedom over your life
If you are a digital nomad, no one really MAKES you change a country every month. But knowing that you CAN do it anytime you want is a great relief and motivation. Same for working hours, projects, etc.
3. You can enjoy good quality of life while spending less
Imagine what it would cost you to rent an apartment in the center of New York, London, Paris, or Tokyo. Therefore, you have to rent a tiny flat on the outskirts of the city and make that daily 1.5-hour commute to the office.
However, in cities like Budapest, Prague, Buenos Aires, and Chiang Mai you could rent a nice, cozy apartment right next to the historical center where all the fun and beauty are – for a very reasonable amount of money. Get a view like this from your apartment!
The NOT SO OBVIOUS PROS of Being Digital Nomad
1. Freedom from local laws, policies, or political system in general
Not a fan of the new local tax law? Couldn’t stand local customs anymore? Got tired of any particular country? If you are a digital nomad, it’s simple – just up and go to another place.
2. Unique experience of living in many different countries and cultures
Who wouldn’t want that? Besides expanding your own knowledge of our world, you get excellent material for the memoirs.
3. Thousands of Instagram likes and perpetual envy from your former colleagues
Let’s be honest here – these photos we post to Instagram are not just for ourselves.
Although we strongly encourage you not to give in to vanity and snobbism, it’s what happens sometimes when you are working on top of a mountain in Thailand, and your colleagues are sweating somewhere in a rented office space in a generic office building.
Now that you are so happy and positive and almost on your way to becoming a digital nomad, it’s time for a contrast shower – let’s talk about the downside.
The OBVIOUS CONS of Living a Digital Nomad Life
1. You are missing out on real family, friends, and community
If you are still young and under 30, it is not a big deal. But as you are approaching your mid-30s, family might become more important than anything else.
2. Lots of distractions and lack of discipline as a result
It’s only in the staged photos that we see tanned guys and gals having the time of their life with a laptop on the beach. In reality, that environment makes it really hard to concentrate and work productively.
One particular method to fight off distractions and keep yourself disciplined is to track your work time to make sure you are getting on with the project right on schedule.
3. Troubles getting used to the new setting, laws, and customs
Living in another country means obeying its laws and observing local custom and traditions. Where do you get time to learn those if you are changing your place of residence every few months?
The NOT SO OBVIOUS CONS of Living a Digital Nomad Life
1. The Wi-Fi struggle
As weird as it sounds, the quality of the Internet connection in general (and wi-fi in particular) is not universally perfect everywhere and depends on a country.
Struggling with the wi-fi connection especially sucks when you are trying to get that project done on time, huh?
2. No health insurance, benefits, and other social goodies
No citizenship = no love from the local government. Might not seem like an issue when you are young but as you get older, it does start becoming a serious concern.
3. You get tired eventually (yes, it’s true)
No matter how fun traveling around the world and working at the same time may sound, it eventually loses its original appeal. The more you stay a nomad, the more you want to settle down and live a normal, stable life.
Becoming a digital nomad and living a life on the run is not that fun. As with everything in life, you gain something and you lose something – it’s never black and white.
What you really should do before making that decision is to consider all the possible pros and cons, and – once you have done that – never regret your decision.
And by the way! We’ve summarized for you the top platforms every freelancer can use to showcase his or her work. We wish you a lot of new projects – no matter from where exactly you work.