There’s something amazing about being able to live and work anywhere in the world. And it’s no wonder the amount of people living a digital nomad lifestyle is on the rise.
I left my corporate almost five years ago now, and haven’t looked back. Being able to work from anywhere is awesome.
You could call me a digital nomad. Or a lifestyle entrepreneur. Or just say that I work from home. All of the titles kind of fit, because it’s hard to really classify us and what we do.
This year, I’ll probably work from 6 different countries. Maybe more. But six is a nice round number. I’ve got a home base here in Asia yes, but there’s freedom in being able to work from anywhere. You can travel slower and enjoy life at your own pace. You can see the world, while still building a career for yourself.
To my friends back home, it’s like we’re living the dream. I worked from a beach in the Philippines, a tiny apartment in Japan, a five-star hotel in Indonesia, a beautiful AirBnb in Malaysia, and of course plenty of coworking spaces in Australia, and short vacations all over the rest of Asia.
It’s all rather exciting this digital nomad lifestyle. You can explore new destinations, cultures and foods, at the drop of a hat. Oh and that’s not even the best part. You know that feeling you get when a holiday is coming to an end?
If you start living the lifestyle of a digital nomad and you’ll never get that feeling again.
But with the good comes the bad. The travel is amazing, and we’ve got enough stories from exotic destinations that you’d be bored silly if you get us talking about it. But there are a few hard truths to living a life like this.
Here’s what you need to know before you start living your life as a digital nomad.
The truth about the digital nomad lifestyle
You’ll say goodbye far too much
It’s hard to make friends on the road. As we get older it’s getting more difficult to make real friends that are living a similar nomadic lifestyle. Many people simply can’t relate to the decisions we make, as their view of travel is just taking a few short weeks off. We’ve also been abroad for far too long, which makes maintaining any semblance of a set of friends back home very, very difficult.
The cost of living is ridiculous
I’m all about a life of luxury, and I laugh every time I see a wannabe digital nomad moving to Chiang Mai with $500 dollars to their name. But what they’re doing is capitalizing on the cheap cost of living. You can get by on far less in South East Asia, South America, or even Eastern Europe than you can in a city like Sydney, London or Los Angeles. We’re still able to save a large chunk of our monthly income, despite our adventures all over the world, because we’re living in cheap locations to cut down our daily expenses.
You’re not there for all the events
Birthdays. Weddings. Christmas. Engagements. All of the normal social events we’d be at aren’t always possible. Especially weddings. The last few years have seen an explosion in the amount of our friends tying the knot, and it’s not always feasible to get all the way home for it. It’s only widening the gap and stretching out friendships further, when we’re not able to be there on their special days. You simply can’t live a digital nomad lifestyle and expect to be at home for all the important events. Something has to give, and we miss out on a lot.
It’s exciting having new experiences
New places, people, cultures, and of course food. Especially when you’ve got a little time to enjoy it all properly, the experiences you’ll have living a digital nomad lifestyle are one in a million. You’ll learn more about the world, yourself, and meet new and interesting people wherever you go. Do it long enough, and you’ll quickly become one of those interesting people too.
The digital nomad lifestyle is also kind of exhausting
But that being said, constant travel can wear you down. I no longer country hop like I used to. Going from city to city in a matter of days, or even weeks, is exhausting, let alone impossible if you want to maintain any semblance of a work schedule. We now base ourselves out of a single country for a year or more at a time, and use our downtime to properly explore the region. The amount of effort that goes into coordinating flights, new hotels, and new destinations is just too damn high.
Being in control is kind of amazing
Instead of being locked into a 9 to 5 job where you’re expected to sit at your desk, you can use your hours as you please. Beautiful day? Go lay by the pool. Feeling a little down? Go do a session in the gym. The only thing that matters when you’re a digital nomad is generating enough income for your to continue to maintain your lifestyle. That means you work on your terms, when you want to.
You’ve got to be motivated
I thought that I used to work long hours when I was in corporate. I was kidding myself. Once you’re an entrepreneur and the amount of income you can generate is directly tied to the amount of work you complete each day, you start to do a heck of a lot more. Early mornings. Late nights. Oh and weekends? If there’s a client deadline or anything pending, you can say goodbye to a relaxing Sunday. You’ve got to power through. And don’t even think about getting sick. If you stop working you stop making an income. I’ve not had a sick day in years.
You’ll never deal with winter again
Unless you want to of course. It’s been six years since I’ve seen snow, and I can’t imagine ever living somewhere where it’s cold again. You get to choose where you want to be, at what time of the year, so you can enjoy an almost endless summer.
It’s so hard to disconnect
Turning off is one of the most difficult things to do. When you’re ability to generate an income comes from the internet, there’s always work that needs to be done. Taking an afternoon off is easy, but anything longer than that is impossible. There’s clients to please, pending tasks to complete, and an inbox that’s slowly filling up with unread mails, even when you’re doing your best to ignore it.
When it all comes down to it the digital nomad lifestyle isn’t for everyone. Trust me. If you crave catching up with your friends every Friday night, spending Sunday dinners with your family, or are even going to miss your dog, it’s probably not the life for you.
But if you are wanting to challenge yourself, you’re not alone. There’s so many people making the transition to a more nomadic experience, whether they’re freelancing on the side or going it full time with a remote job. You’ve even got thriving digital nomad communities to help you connect to the other crazies that live their life like this. They know exactly what you’ll be going through, so don’t be shy to reach out.
Because when it all comes down to it, life is for the living, and you’ll never catch me working a 9 to 5 ever again.
See more from the blog