The Disadvantages Of Living Like A Digital Nomad

If you read my previous post about the advantages of the Digital Nomad Lifestyle and why you should embrace this lifestyle, you may have started planning out your “exit” strategy already. You can’t wait to board the next available plane with your backpack and your laptop and start your Digital Nomad journey.

But wait! Not too fast. Maybe you should see the following disadvantages too, before you decide to take further steps. This journey, like any other journey might not be as “nice” as it appears and might not be your cup of tea.

I wish I could tell you that the Digital Nomad Lifestyle has zero challenges. I wish I had the power to automatically make every part of your journey great, but unfortunately I can’t. It’s a human lifestyle and humans are not 100% perfect, there will be some downsides you should pay attention to. These are what I will be talking about in this post – disadvantages or challenges of the Digital Nomad Lifestyle.

Loneliness

Often, you will feel very lonely for two major reasons: First, you will miss some friends and family members that you left behind in your home country. Second, though you could make new friends in your new place, the connection you have with them may not be that strong.

This is often worse when you just became a Digital Nomad as memories of those you left behind will still be in your mind whenever you are alone for quite a while. In my opinion it’s important to join a community of Digital Nomads around you. Eventually you will become friends with Digital Nomads all over the world, some who you will regularly see. Over time, you will be less lonely, so don’t give up in your first few weeks already.

You Work Even Harder

Back in your home country, your friends and colleagues may think that you quit your job to become a permanent traveller. That you are always having fun, partying, and drinking on the beach. But, what they do not know is, that this is hardly ever the case.

In fact, you are more likely to be working 80 hours a week, which is double the amount than your regular 9-5 job. You no longer see the difference between business days, weekends and holidays. You are always working on something. There will be days you won’t feel like going back home at 5pm to shut down from all the work you could leave for the next day in the office. There will be days you will continue all night as you want to finish this one specific task. And there is no one around who tells you to close your laptop and sleep.  

Unstable Income

In a “perfect” world, we get paid for the valuable time we spend on doing something. So, if the rate is €20/hour and you work for 10 hours, you should get €200. The more you work, the more you get paid. Well, get ready to be disappointed because that is not the case being a Digital Nomad. With all the hard work you offer and the long hours you devote, especially in the beginning, you still earn far below your regular income.

Not only that, depending on what you do, your income may not be on regular basis, at least for a start. You will no longer be getting those “bonuses” and allowances as well as paid vacations as you were used to get in your regular job. You might have to limit your spending to meet your income. And it’s up to you if and when this will change.

Connectivity & Communication Issues

Digital Nomads work from anywhere using the internet. Next to food and shelter, Internet access (Wifi) may be your next biggest need (if not the first ;)) This is because as a Digital Nomad, you literally live online. Most likely you’re an entrepreneur, freelancer, or even have a remote team. A strong internet connection is basically like water for you. You can’t go a day without.

When traveling around the globe, you may find yourself in places where you either don’t have a good connectivity; the jungle, some weird offside deserted place, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean or getting an Internet connection is extremely expensive. Although you can get around those things, it affects you greatly as a Digital Nomad.

Daily Challenges And Unfamiliarity

The life of a typical Digital Nomad is full of ups and downs. Almost every day, you go through several challenges, some good, some bad and some ugly; from Visa issues to theft and transportation problems. Considering you will have to go through these challenges and adventures every single day for as long as you continue to live in this country, can make it difficult for people to enjoy the Digital Nomad Lifestyle.

It is very difficult for most Digital Nomad to get familiar with the people they meet and their cultures, language, practices, fashion and so on. There seems to be a barrier between you and these people all the time. And, if you intend to break those barriers, you should be willing to spend more time in one place. It helps to stay at least one month in a place to connect well with the locals to ask them about certain things that may be barriers and make sure you do things properly for that specific country the next time.

Always Having To Start Over

Let’s say you finally got to the country you always wanted to visit. You like the people and you have almost all your basic needs (Internet and coffee) covered. All seems to go well until you realize you have to leave for the next destination.

Thinking about the time it took you to make yourself familiar with the current people and the fact that you have to go through the same process again every time you move to a new place can be annoying. It seems like your life is now a “rollercoaster” or cycle. Though this lifestyle comes with its adventures and anxiety, the fun and excitement gradually goes down every moment you move to another country.

You May Have A Problem “Settling Down”

Settling down (whatever that means) can be difficult for people who choose the Digital Nomad Lifestyle. The reason is simply because you are always on the move. So, while your colleagues are in “safer” 9-5 full time jobs with guaranteed income getting ready to “settle down” and start a family, it may not be the same for you.

You may be approaching your thirties, maybe already your forties. The period you originally planned to settle down, yet you still have 20 countries to visit and things to do before you want to slow down and start even thinking about children. Do you stop and settle down (after all, you can always quit), or you go on to explore the world? Maybe, you do both, if possible. Else, you may have to settle down later than planned.

It May Affect Your Relationships

Unless you brought the whole family came along with you, your Digital Nomad Lifestyle can negatively affect your relationships. If you are closer to your family members emotionally, you will be missing out on a lot of family and social events like weddings, graduations and funerals. It is even worse when they can not reach you whenever they want to.

Besides family, there are your friends, and some people base their friendship on how often they see you. To them, “out of sight is out of heart”. I don’t know whether this behaviour is because of jealousy or because they simply can’t deal with you being away. Nevertheless, you should be prepared to say “goodbye” to some people who you once thought were good friends. On the other hand, – from my experience – it showed me who my real friends are, and those I value most are those whereby the friendships aren’t changed in any major way.

This is also because, according to my friends, I’m good in keeping the contact. I’m the one who left, so therefor I might feel more responsible to reach out sometimes. For me, communication with my family and friends is very important. I created something called “Family Friday” where I call my family members around their dinner time. I often try to reach out when I’m having a walk to the supermarket and have regular calls with my best friend when she’s driving to the office.

No Permanent Home Or Office

Why would a Digital Nomad be worried about having a “permanent” home or office? Isn’t it what this should be all about? Well, that is true depending on the career path you choose and how you choose to settle down in the end. There will be times where you wish you had a home or office of your own irrespective of how long you have been away.

In terms of business, if you look forward to having a big corporation where your physical presence is always needed, you may consider being a temporary Digital Nomad instead of going into it full-time and permanently.

Lack Of Appropriate Societal Status

One of the difficult questions you will have to answer as a Digital Nomad is what you do for a living. I had a similar issue to deal with when I started. Sometimes, you may not know what to say when people ask you this question. Not because you don’t do anything but because you do so many things and you are all over the place that you don’t know which one to talk about.

Even if you are an entrepreneur, people will still not be convinced about you. They will think you are just a traveller or a freelancer at best (if you are lucky). When you communicate with your friends, half of them may be “jealous” about you for travelling the world (because to them, that is all you do) while the other half may see you to be “crazy” for leaving a well-paid job to be “struggling” somewhere in South-East-Asia. Of course, those are people’s opinions, and the earlier you learned about how to handle them, the better your life will be as a Digital Nomad.

The Digital Nomad Lifestyle Is Still Worth It!

The Digital Nomad lifestyle is not for everyone. Everything about the lifestyle from start to finish is a challenge. Yet, the joy and happiness of a Digital Nomad is far greater. Plus, you may not go through all these disadvantages or downsides after all. You should see those few challenges as a learning curve for you to become a stronger and better Digital Nomad.

If you have read my blog post about the advantages of living like a Digital Nomad, you might have recognised that this post is way shorter and that there’s a lot more advantages to this lifestyle than disadvantages. Although I think the pros overweight the cons, it’s up to you have to decide for yourself

If the things I listed above scared you, maybe the Digital Nomad Lifestyle may not be for you. But, if you still wish to go on, check out the upcoming Active Workations, where entrepreneurs and future entrepreneurs gather together to share ideas and learn from each other, to make your journey as smooth as possible.

You have any questions or comments, let me know, I’m happy to answer them 🙂

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