The notion of living a location independent lifestyle is growing in popularity. Many entrepreneurs, across various age groups, long for the freedom to live and work wherever they desire.
The idea being, build an “online business”, ditch the office, and head out to travel to all of the places you’ve dreamed of visiting.
There is a glut of information online pertaining to this kind of travel lifestyle. This is making it easier for people to gain enough confidence to escape their cubicles and take a stab at being a digital nomad.
My Husband and I have been location independent, working online and traveling, for almost three years now. There is a lot more information available to educate and help people transition into this life now than there was before we committed to becoming digital nomads.
Technology and the business world are changing rapidly and continuously. This creates a whole range of opportunities for entrepreneurs to adapt skills they already have to remote work.
And, if a person is motivated, they can invent an online business of their own. Create a digital product people need, market it via a phone or laptop, and have the money flow to them via electronic channels. This is what attracts so many people who want to escape the rat race and live life on their terms; an oversimplified version of what it takes to be a successful digital nomad.
But, honestly, there are a lot of obstacles associated with this lifestyle as well. Thing’s that will become a part of everyday life that aren’t at all easy or freeing.
It’s always best to get as many of the facts as you can before making any kind of life altering decision. In the spirit of that, I’d like to share some of the challenges associated with living as a digital nomad.
Simple truths that will help you make more informed decisions if you’re considering a location independent lifestyle.
You’re going to be uncomfortable
Constant newness, no home, no support, and a severe lack of consistency are all characteristics of this lifestyle. You’ll be totally self-reliant for travel planning and managing your business as you circumnavigate the globe. Discomforts digital nomads suffer from time to time include feeling isolated, burnout, and a myriad of physical ailments attributed to arduous travel days, crappy beds, and sitting in front of a laptop for hours on end.
You’ll use both sides of your brain often
A left brain (linear, logical, analytical thinker) or right brain thinker (more creative, intuitive, imaginative); which one are you? Well, I can assure you, both sides will get a work when you live a location independent lifestyle. You need to be logical and creative, analytical and imaginative every day and sometimes simultaneously.
There have been numerous articles written about how frequent travel impacts a person’s chances of success. With so much exposure to new and different things, digital nomads get an entrepreneurial education unlike any other. Looking at situations analytically and creatively, developing different ways of thinking can be a natural side effect of this lifestyle if you let it.
You need to be a self-starter to succeed
If you want to be a successful digital nomad (we define that as traveling in a financially sustainable way) discipline and mental toughness are two things you really need to have.
Procrastinating can be killer; the challenges of your new location independent lifestyle will make it easier to make excuses. Travel days, jet lag, and spotty internet will all be obstacles you need to overcome to achieve your work. This is where using both sides of your brain and steely discipline need to play a part.
You need to be organized with what needs to get done (despite the challenges of the day), creative with how to find the time and place to do those things and disciplined to focus and persevere even when faced with inevitable setbacks.
Work hours can get crazy and not in a good way
For most digital nomads (including us), there’s no such thing as 9-5 and forget about a 4 hour work week!
If you don’t have a regular gig like a full-time remote job or a long-term contract you’ll always be hustling for business. This can be overwhelming and exhausting at times. Perseverance is needed to generate a sustainable online income; this pursuit can take a lot of your time.
What if you have a regular paying online job, will that make it any easier? Yes and no; the freedom of remote work will not last long if you don’t have the discipline needed to get the work done.
This article, “6 Skills You Need to Work Remotely from Anywhere in the World” outlines the discipline and behaviors needed to get remote work done. Having or being willing to hone the skills mentioned in the post is a must for anyone preparing to become a digital nomad.
You won’t travel wherever you want whenever you want
This lifestyle is no vacation. Sure, you have choices of where and when you can go but Internet speeds will greatly influence where you decide to travel. In relation, client’s needs and pressing deadlines will also play a part. Fulfilling work commitments can be extremely challenging if you’re moving around a lot. This inspires digital nomads to pick destinations with decent internet speeds and commit to them longer term even if they initially had no desire to visit that particular local.
Networking is key and not just for your business
Being “new in town” frequently can get lonely. Especially if you’re holed up in your apartment working like crazy. Human contact is very important to moving a new business forward. Brainstorming for inspiration and new ideas is a lot different face to face than it is with people over Skype or other social networking programs via the internet. For many, in person, social interaction is also needed to maintain productivity and avoid depression. Finding outlets to connect with like-minded people can be one of the most overlooked problems for digital nomads.
Getting what you need can be harder, more time-consuming, and expensive than you ever imagined
The logistics of life and running a business while traveling is more than a full-time job. There are so many things to consider and figuring out what works best for your business and living arrangements can take a considerable amount of time to get right. Your whole world will be different; constant travel, no familiarity, and language barriers can make making the simplest decisions, painful. Locating basic amenities in each new location can be incredibly frustrating when you’ve got deadlines to meet also.
Then there’s the financial end of things. Assembling short-term rentals through services like AirBnB or VRBO is time-consuming and time spent not earning money. Finding an option in a safe area close to amenities you require can be very expensive as well.
Here’s the bottom line on the challenges digital nomads face
Multitudes of cube dwellers around the world dream of relocating to a seaside cottage to monitor the surf, work a great job via their laptop and watch the money to roll in. That scenario sounds incredible, doesn’t it?
The fact is, it’s more likely that seaside cottage has no Wi-Fi, a mattress on the floor and the “kitchen” consists of a cooler and a camp stove. Then there’s that lovely salt air, it’s great for respiratory health but it will wreak havoc on your computer. Tell me, what’s the workaround for a keyboard that no longer types the letter “t”?
Nomadic lifestyle problems are unique. They are more challenging for some than others and one thing’s for sure, living this kind of lifestyle isn’t for everyone.
I hope you found this article thought-provoking. Is there anything else you’re curious about? If you’re already living as a digital nomad, what nomadic lifestyle problems do struggle with most? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.