Some people are perfectly happy to remain static in their careers. They find themselves a job that they enjoy fresh out of school or college and work their way up the career ladder until they retire. Granted, the current lie of the economic land is becoming increasingly prohibitive of this, especially in an era of corporate wage suppression where the pay never quite covers the cost of living and opportunities seem few and far between… but it still happens. Some are perfectly happy to spend their working lives under fluorescent lights working 9 to 5 and getting by one day at a time… But you’ve already sampled that life and you know yourself well enough to know that it’s not for you.
You crave adventure, the lure of the unfamiliar. The idea of doing the same thing each and every day might offer a comforting familiarity to some, but to you, it’s a little too close to sleepwalking. You want a job and a career that makes you feel alive. You want to constantly be stimulated by new sights, sounds, tastes, and smells. You want to meet new people and learn new skills on a daily basis. You want to live where life begins… Outside of your comfort zone. But week in, week out you scour the job sites and classified pages yet never see a vocation that offers you the sense of variety and challenge that you so desperately crave.
If you’ve been nodding along as you read, it’s entirely possible that the life of a digital nomad is perfect for you!
What is a digital nomad?
A digital nomad is a remote worker, much like any other. That is to say, they usually work as independent self-employed subcontractors (freelancers) carrying out their duties remotely and submitting their work online. While many remote workers do their job from home and use their income to pay their bills and fund their lifestyle, a digital nomad works slightly differently. For the digital nomad, the world is their office. Anywhere with a decent Wifi connection, a power socket and a couple of square feet of space for their laptop is their workplace. They work to fund their travel plans and use their income to travel the world. For the seasoned travel bug who thirsts for adventure, it’s the only way to make a living. But while this lifestyle certainly sounds appealing to most, it’s really not for everyone. Here, we’ll look at some of the caveats of life as a digital nomad as well as some of the signs that you’re ready to live this hectic, often crazy but always exciting life.
First… The caveats
Everyone thinks they’d love to be a digital nomad, but it’s a pace of living that not everyone can keep up with. Being a digital nomad, like any other job, has its downside. You’re constantly rudderless and the fact that you don’t have an office or workplace can make it really difficult to separate your mental states between “work mode” and “home mode”. Speaking of home, even the most inveterate travel bug gets homesick from time to time. Even if you only feel alive when you travel, you’ll miss the everyday familiarities and conveniences of home.
It’s easy to assume that life as a digital nomad is one long holiday, but you’ll struggle to achieve work and life balance just like anyone else. You’ll live in a constant state of culture shock and your finances will be harder than ever to manage as you travel and grapple with the prospect of adjusting your thinking to accommodate the different currencies you encounter. Sticking to deadlines may also be complicated by fluctuations in deadlines and you may have some very late nights (or extremely early mornings) in your future.
If you’re still not deterred this is a good sign, take a look at these signs that you may already be set to live the life of a digital nomad…
You already work remotely
Never, ever, ever quit your day job to live as a digital nomad. Sure, there’s a certain romanticism to telling your boss to shove it before you jet off around the world, but if you do this, and aren’t able to find stable work, your trip will be over really quickly. Even though your day job may be killing you slowly every day, it’s best to build up experience working remotely as a side hustle, build up a few months of experience and establish a loyal client base. That way you’ll be much better positioned to fund your travels adequately. If you already work remotely, however, this is a great first step.
Working in an office makes you feel sick
Sick building syndrome is a surprisingly common condition that affects many who work in office environments. But even if your building’s AC system isn’t home to harmful pathogens and allergens, an office environment can make many feel sick, depressed and mess with their sleep patterns.
Many are just fine working in this sort of environment, but if you feel constrained and saddened when working in an office, the freedom of a digital nomad may be for you.
You get itchy feet every few months
Do you live to travel? When each vacation starts to wind up do you already have your sights set on the next? Does it tear you up inside that the world is such a big place and there are so many gorgeous destinations out there that you may never get to see? If your feet are constantly itching, the constant variety of life as a digital nomad may actually be perfect for you.
You’re able to maintain your focus in busy environments
Distraction is a constant threat to a freelancer’s productivity, and if you’ve already spent some time as a remote working freelancer, you likely already have some strategies worked out to help you to mitigate its effects. But distraction reaches a whole other level when you’re a digital nomad. You’ll have to focus on your work and meet your deadlines without the benefit of a quiet office environment. You may find yourself beavering away in a bustling bar on Bondi beach or in a crowded cafe in Croatia. If you’re able to block out distractions even in the busiest and noisiest environments, you already have the inside track.
You’re smart with your money
Being smart with your money is essential for any freelancer. Most self-employed people are pretty adept at managing their finances, handling their taxes and setting aside savings for their retirement. But these waters are muddied when you’re constantly moving and adapting to new currencies with wildly different values.
If you’re extremely money smart and are able to stick to your budget even when using fluctuating currencies, this is another huge advantage.
You’re a people person, but you enjoy your solitude
One of the many great things about life as a digital nomad is that you’ll meet many people who can enrich and inform your life. Thus, it pays to be gregarious and to be able to strike up conversations with pretty much anyone when you’re making friendships on the road. At the same time, however, it is a very solitary path and you must be okay with spending long periods of time alone. If you enjoy your own company despite your excellent interpersonal skills this is very advantageous.
You’re looking to invest in overseas property
If you have nothing tying you to your hometown or even country of origin, the life of a digital nomad can be an effective taster for life overseas. If you have the notion of buying property overseas either to live in or an investment opportunity; check out https://rumahdijual.com/malang/ if you are, living as a digital nomad can help you to make informed decisions about the property you buy. You can get to know the area, explore local amenities and get a genuine feel for life in the area.
Flexibility is a real prerequisite to the life of a digital nomad. You need to be able to not only meet a deadline in another time zone but to be able to think on your feet and find creative solutions to problems as they happen. What will you do if your editor emails you a set of revisions at 4 o’clock in the morning? What will you do when your chosen “office” for the day has unreliable Wifi? What will you do if your laptop is lost, damaged or stolen? The ability to be flexible and solve problems creatively will be essential to your life if you choose the path of a digital nomad… Oh, and make sure that you always, always, always back up your work.
You dream big but know when to keep your feet on the ground
Finally, everyone has dreams. But many get stick in a rhythm that quickly becomes a rut. Lots of people sacrifice their dreams because they don’t know how to make them a reality. But if you have the perfect combination of imagination and pragmatism, you can find workable ways to live your dreams, dreaming big yet keeping both feet firmly on the ground.