Remote working has become commonplace over the past few years, leading to more people than ever becoming location independent (a.k.a. digital nomads).
Digital nomads are those who routinely travel while simultaneously operating a business or freelancing. This lifestyle does have some definite advantages and disadvantages, which is why you should know these six things if you are considering it.
1. You are tied to connectivity.
When you first embark on your nomadic lifestyle, you may have visions of traveling to remote areas of the globe. Once reality sets in, you will quickly realize that visiting places without good Internet reception is merely a fantasy.
Since you will be working as you travel, one of the first things you’ll want to know when moving from place to place is what the Internet signal is like in a given area. You can use NomadList to find the best cities for connectivity across the world; it was built for Nomads by Nomads so it’s definitely worth a go!
2. Disconnecting is difficult.
You may feel that being able to work any time or any place is a bonus; however, it can actually be both a blessing and a curse. Since your work follows you everywhere, disconnecting to enjoy some downtime can actually be challenging. You’ll have to make a conscious effort to disconnect if you are to spend quality time seeing the sites while you travel.
It can be even harder to disconnect when going from one time zone to the next. Many digital nomads compensate for this by adopting a more flexible schedule. Rather than keeping a traditional 9 am to 5 pm shift, you may discover that working around the clock and adjusting to accepting client calls at 1 am might work better for you.
3. Growing your business can be challenging.
Online interaction with customers is only one aspect of a successful business. In-person meetings with clients and vendors is also important if you are to build good relationships. No matter how far technology advances, there’s nothing quite as effective as talking face to face with people when it comes to networking. If you are often gone for weeks or even months at a time, building professional relationships is something you may find extremely challenging.
Certain functions of your business may suffer as well. Tasks such as opening bank accounts, setting up mailing addresses, and obtaining a business license must be done in person, so if you are not available, progress may stagnate. Any job that requires the handling or approval of original documents could also be slowed up significantly if you are away from the office.
4. You must be financially disciplined.
Digital nomads often experience fluctuating income, which means they must have great financial discipline. To make up for lean times, you must be disciplined enough to put aside some extra cash during good times.
You may also find it necessary to have multiple streams of income so that if one dries up, you have another one to fall back on. You must be equally as disciplined when it comes to spending your money. It can be easy to stay in the nicest hotels and eat at the finest restaurants; however, if you do that on a regular basis, you could find yourself desperate and broke.
5. Social interaction can stagnate.
In the past, nomads went from place to place scooping up whatever work was available. From picking crops to washing dishes, these individuals were constantly interacting with people during their travels. When you work online, your ability to meet new people is severely limited. You’ll need to make a conscious effort to get out and about; otherwise, your globe-trekking could actually wind up to be quite a lonely experience.
Sites such as Meetup.com to connect with others in your area that share common interests. Joining groups on Facebook and other social media sites will help you stay connected with folks back home as well as the new friends you encounter.
Another rising trend are co-working spaces, which are popping up in all of the popular nomad destinations and provide you with a great working space, excellent internet connections, all the fruit and drinks you need and more importantly the opportunity to network with likeminded individuals. One excellent example of this is Hubud, located in Ubud, Bali you can check out this awesome space right here.
6. Online shopping requires due diligence.
Your digital lifestyle will likely include a great deal of online shopping. It’s no longer acceptable to simply click on a product, read a short description, and submit payment information.
Your limited stay in an area makes returning products extremely challenging. As such, you’ll likely rely on websites such as Consumer Essentials to provide you with compiled statistics about various products to help you make a more informed decision.
As you can see, becoming a digital nomad has its advantages and disadvantages. Keep these six things in mind, and you are more likely to enjoy living this location-independent lifestyle.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Will Blears is an entrepreneur and founder of Perceptive Digital a boutique agency which specialises in digital paid advertising for medium to large brands. He is also a blogger over at One Mans Brand where he helps teach people how to make an income from online marketing. Connect with @perceptivedgtl on Twitter.