As a seasoned traveler, you will be familiar with the awful feeling that descends the moment you return to home soil.
Sure, in some ways, it’s nice. You get to see your friends and family, enjoy being in your own space, and there’s no awkward language barriers for you to navigate. There’s a joy to being at home, but for an ardent traveler, “home” is often just somewhere you stay before you head off on your adventures again.
If you’re familiar with the feel of your feet itching to explore the world, then the digital nomad lifestyle might be one to consider. If you’ve never heard this term before, then don’t worry; you’re not alone, and it’s a relatively new way of living life. However, if you’re the kind of traveler who is always looking for their next destination, then it might be something you want to consider.
Curious? Read on to find out more about life as a digital nomad, and how you might be able to make it work for you.
What Is A Digital Nomad?
A digital nomad is a person who, effectively, cuts ties with the ‘standard’ way of living. Rather than working and living in the same place, they are untethered. They travel the world, have no fixed abode; that’s the “nomad” part. The “digital” part comes in how they make money; most digital nomads work online, doing graphic design work, copywriting, or even blogging.
What Are The Benefits Of Being A Digital Nomad?
Without conventional ties holding you back, you can go anywhere and do anything you please. Provided you have enough work coming in to cover your expenses, you can take off on your travels and take each day as it comes.
Digital nomads are able to see more of the world than anyone with conventional travel plans can. They can go wherever there is an internet connection. They can wake up one morning and decide they fancy going to the beach in a country a thousand miles away and, provided they have the funds, they can do just that. They don’t need to worry about their home security, running errands, or any of the ‘normal’ lifestyle experiences– they can go where they please, when they please.
How Do Digital Nomads Fund Their Lifestyle?
As briefly touched upon, most digital nomads work online in freelance positions. Blogging is also an option; either as a full-time job or a way of topping up other earnings.
Some digital nomads own their own home also, which they rent out to fund their travels. If this is an option for you, it’s one of the most secure ways of enjoying the digital nomad lifestyle. You can cover your mortgage payments and hopefully have a little left over to allow you to travel, which you can then top up with freelance earnings.
Can You Be A Digital Nomad With Children?
This is very much a personal choice.
Some people do manage it, by choosing to “homeschool” their children– though the lessons take place around the globe rather than around the dining room table. Many parents prefer to experiment with this lifestyle before their children reach school age. It’s entirely up to you and what you think is right for your children. Some might argue that the traveling experience would be a better education than any school curriculum; others say that “travel experience” isn’t going to be enough for a college application.
This decision is personal, and depends on your views on a number of subjects. However, if you do want to be a digital nomad when you have children, it’s certainly possible.
Do Digital Nomads Continually Relocate?
Not necessarily; in fact, many digital nomads will stay in one place for weeks or months at a time. They don’t consign themselves to a life of living completely out of a suitcase though, of course, they have the freedom to do this if they so choose.
Most digital nomads will choose to rent a home when they visit a place they want to spend longer in. This can work wherever you go in the world. If you head to Malaysia, you might find yourself wanting to linger, so you can look for a duplex for rent and stay for six months. Or if you delight in everything that New York has to offer, you could decide to stay and rent an apartment on a short-term lease until you decide to move on. You can put down roots whenever you want, provided you have the appropriate paperwork to stay in the country on a tourist visa.
Of course, some digital nomads do continually relocate. They “live” in hotels and hostels, moving from one country to the next. If you like the idea of living like this, it’s more than feasible.
What Are The Downsides Of Living As A Digital Nomad?
It would be unfair to pretend that the digital nomad lifestyle is nothing but wonderful– like everything else in the world, it has its challenges. To ensure you’re getting the full picture, it’s worth reading through this list of downsides:
- If you fall unwell and can’t complete your freelance work, you have no safety net in the country you live in. You can always return home, but this can be complicated, especially if doing so means you will have to evict tenants from your home.
- You will need to find suitable work that can fund your travels. If you are already freelance, then you will find transitioning to a digital nomad lifestyle fairly simple. However, if you’ve never worked freelance before, it can take a long time to build up a reliable income that will allow you to move into the digital nomad lifestyle.
- You will not see your friends and family as often as you usually would. It’s easier to keep in touch with people nowadays than it ever has been before, but Skype can’t quite replace a hug, a chat over coffee, or an afternoon shopping with a friend.
- Living as a digital nomad can be expensive. You are, after all, constantly traveling, and you will need to fund this. This is more affordable than you might think, as you’re not going to be paying the usual bills that eat into your salary, but you’re still going to need to be earning enough money to pay for essentials like food and accommodation.
How Long Does This Lifestyle Last?
Ultimately, that’s in your control– it can last for as long as you want. Provided you have the funds to continue paying your expenses, you can continue living this lifestyle for the rest of your days if you so wish.
Are Digital Nomads Happy?
Yes, for the most part. The beautiful thing about this lifestyle is that you can stop and return home at any point if you find it’s becoming too much for you. There are plenty of forums full of advice and experiences about the digital nomad lifestyle, so if you’re contemplating it, you should definitely research how people find the experience.
Will The Digital Nomad Lifestyle Work For Me?
Only you can know the answer to that. Ideally, a digital nomad will have good freelance contracts, be in good health, and be confident when traveling. If that sounds like you, then do your research, talk to your family and friends, and see what comes of the idea. You could always take a sabbatical from work and give it a go for a month, just to see how you get on. Or you could decide it’s a nice idea, but not for you. Provided you make a decision that suits you and your lifestyle, and you won’t go far wrong.