Pros and Cons of Being a Digital Nomad: The Beginner’s Guide
Digital nomadism allows you to chase your dreams while you’re working. If you become a digital nomad, you can see the world and advance in your career, at the same time.
Working a location-independent job has been a great experience for me. I’ve finally established the lifestyle I’ve been dreaming of for long, long years.
The journey of leaving my 9 to 5 regular job and becoming a digital nomad has also made me realize that I could live with much less. Adopting this more minimalist life relieved me from many burdens in my life.
If you’re planning to transition into digital nomadism by leaving your regular job: I can’t say that it’s always a bed of roses or risk-free, but I can say that the experience and the freedom are definitely worth the challenge.
I’ve prepared a comprehensive pros and cons list to help you with your decision-making process, but before that, let’s get into digital nomadism a bit more.
What Is a Digital Nomad?
A digital nomad is someone who works online and location-independently. The difference between a digital nomad and an ordinary remote worker is that digital nomads travel as they work. Unlike regular remote employees, digital nomads typically don’t have set working hours, they only show up for compulsory meetings with colleagues and clients; the rest of the time, they’re the boss of their own time.
Any place in the world can be an office for a digital nomad, as long as they have their laptop with them and can access the internet. The most significant aspect of being a digital nomad is to be able to constantly travel and embark on new adventures without interrupting their work life and career.
Pros of Being a Digital Nomad
The greatest advantage of digital nomadism is the ability to work from wherever you are. The freedom of not being stuck in an office is simply magnificent.
Knowing that you can spend the next day in a place you’ve been most curious about gives a sense of liberty that nothing else in the world will ever give.
Chance to Meet Like-Minded People
When you become a digital nomad, you get to meet new, like-minded people along the way as you travel or through online communities. Since you have similar worldviews and share the same interests with these new people you meet, many of these friendships can be lifelong ones.
Finer Quality of Life
Not living to work and the opportunity to advance in a career without investing all your time and energy in it make digital nomads perceive life as more meaningful. Moreover, for those who have wanderlust, being able to travel whenever and however they like is another factor that increases the quality of life.
Lower Cost of Living
Digital nomadism allows you to cut back on expenses such as monthly bills, rent, and the like. You don’t spend all you earn not merely to get by but also on the things that’ll make you happy.
Being in Charge of Your Own Schedule
Being a digital nomad means being your own boss at the same time. You don’t have to work 9 to 5 when you’re a digital nomad, you’re in charge of your own time and tasks. This flexibility also allows you to work more productively on your own terms.
Being constantly on the move puts you in many different situations. The challenges you’ll face, the people you’ll meet, the cultures you’ll get familiarized with, and the things you’ll learn will lead the way to self-discovery, personal growth, and a better grasp of life.
I’ve put this item also in the cons section of the list because it’s a bit of a subjective matter. I myself have effortlessly established a work-life balance after transitioning into the nomadic life. When I was working at my regular job, I used to overwork with the fear of losing my job because I had fixed monthly expenses that were not low at all. When my cost of living decreased, my stress level did, too. After that, I managed to find a healthy balance between my work and personal life.
When you schedule your own tasks, you don’t easily get overwhelmed. Having such a colorful life motivates you to create such balance as well.
Establishing a healthy work-life balance and leading a life of better quality will increase your chances of advancing in your career. Because digital nomads who are passionate about their work and leading a happy and balanced life tend to be more productive.
Moreover, traveling and experiencing new things keep one’s curiosity alive and improve their skills in troubleshooting, adaptation, etc.
Freedom To Travel
When you’re a digital nomad who works a location-independent job or does gig-based remote work, the world is yours! You can travel anywhere, anytime. One day you can work plugged in at a chic cafe in Paris and the next day you can be enjoying the sea breeze on a golden beach in Greece.
Constant Adventure and Learning
Digital nomadism is a constant and educational adventure. You never know the next thing you’ll encounter and you’ll learn new things each day by getting to know new cultures, people, lifestyles, and places. The life of a digital nomad is a never-ending excitement.
Becoming a Global Citizen
Traveling all the time makes you gain a new set of skills as well as develop the characteristics of a global citizen. You’ll learn how to navigate in countries you’ve never been to before as well as obtain a more wholesome and clear worldview.
Living a Minimalist Life
If you become a digital nomad that’s constantly on the move, you’ll have to travel light. Taking only the crucial stuff with you and leaving the rest at home will take a burden off of you that you never knew existed, and you’ll be surprised to see how few of your belongings you actually need to live.
Cons of Being a Digital Nomad
It’s a challenge to make solid plans, especially long-term ones, when you’re living the life of a digital nomad. Your plans may change due to visa requirements or other limitations. You never really know where you’ll be the next day, nomad life’s full of surprises.
However, these surprises may be of good nature as well. A fellow traveler you meet at a cafe may inspire or encourage you to change your plans of flying to Barbados and you may find yourself in the mesmerizingly authentic streets of Belgrade.
Being Away From Home, Family, and Friends
The life of a digital nomad can get lonely from time to time. You may get homesick, and miss your friends and family. Although you meet great, like-minded people along the way during your travels, there are certain kinds of connections that you feel you can only establish with the people back home.
Being away from home, family, and friends can also cause you to experience FOMO. You can feel like you’re missing out on big events in the lives of the people you love. But here’s the trick: you’re a digital nomad; you can always steer for home as well!
Unstable Income and Expenses
Although you can get by with less money as a digital nomad compared to settled life, your income may be unstable depending on the work you do, or the scale of your travel expenses may vary from time to time. Keeping track of an unstable income and variable expenses may be a challenge but planning your budget thoroughly and frequently will make things easier for you.
Isolation Due to Remote Work
Working remotely without ever actually seeing your colleagues or clients face to face may cause you to feel isolated and lower your mood and hence your productivity.
However, you can attend digital nomad get-togethers or go to co-working spaces and cafes to avoid such feelings.
The Risk of Being Perceived as a “Feckless Traveler”
This is maybe the least important of the disadvantages of digital nomadism. To some people, digital nomads may seem like “the odd ones out” or lazy people who only want to wander around. Or they may think that digital nomadism is just a phase. Some may even try and not-so-subtly judge you but don’t mind them: not so many people have completely grasped the concept of digital nomadism yet. Always remember that your lifestyle and career are as legit as any other. Plus, you're following your dreams!
As I’ve mentioned earlier, it may be easy for some people to establish a healthy work-life balance when they’re their own boss and working as they travel. For others, on the other hand, it may be much harder to establish a balanced order while they can work at any time. Having an unstable income has a huge impact on this; people tend to overwork to earn better.
However, a healthy work-life balance is crucial for your health, happiness, and productivity at work. Don’t worry, though, there are a few tricks to building and maintaining a good work-life balance.
The Bottom Line
Digital nomadism has countless incredible perks like excessive freedom, flexibility, and constant exploration and adventure. Does it have its challenges? Of course, it does. However, once you adapt and find your balance, there’s no other experience as liberating as it is.
You can weigh the pros and cons to decide whether or not you’ll embark upon this adventure, but I’m telling you, it’s the greatest feeling to be able to see all the beauties of the world as you build your career.