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The 5 Downsides of Being a Digital Nomad

By Sam Woolfe on 10-01-2018
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For many people, the advantages of working remotely and travelling in other countries far outweigh the disadvantages.

It has to be stressed, though, that living a digital nomad lifestyle is far from perfect (many bloggers and YouTubers are guilty of portraying it that way).


1. It can get lonely

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a partner or friend who wants to live this kind of life with you, you’ll most likely be working and travelling alone.

Of course, when you travel solo, it can be easy to meet and befriend people along the way. But when you’re working online, you may be working long hours in solitude.

It can also feel isolating being immersed in a completely different culture and unable to connect to locals due to the language barrier.


2. A lack of deep relationships

If you’re constantly moving to a new place every few months, then it can be difficult to form deep relationships with the people that you meet. There will no doubt be other digital nomads who you connect with instantly, but if either one of you has plans to move on after a month, then the possibility of becoming close friends kind of goes out the window.

You could stay somewhere more long-term, which is what a lot of digital nomads do; but if you’re interested in visiting more places, then you should be prepared to have transient relationships.


3. Dating difficulties

On the one hand, dating can be easy when you’re a digital nomad, since you use Tinder wherever you are. But similar to the previous point, if you’re not staying somewhere for a while, then it can be incredibly difficult to have a serious, romantic relationship.

It could work if you meet the right person and opt for a long-distance relationship, but that in itself presents all kinds of challenges. You’d have to be very lucky to meet another digital nomad with similar plans to you, who also happens to be a great match.


4. Exhaustion 

The idea of freelancing or being self-employed sounds pretty great on paper. But there are many downsides to both. When you’re freelancing, you don’t have a stable, reliable source of income.

Not having enough work can be a source of anxiety; as can having enough work, since there is always the possibility that a client – who provides you with a decent source of income – will stop responding to you, or decide they no longer want to work with you, or they consistently fail to pay you on time. The stress of freelancing can be extremely tiring.

Likewise, being self-employed can leave you feeling constantly exhausted. When starting an online business, you may find yourself working long hours every day – far more than you worked in your office job back home – with very little short-term financial return.

This is why it helps to build a solid client base before you book your one-way ticket to Thailand or to make sure you have enough money saved up, so you don’t burn through it all within a few months. Many digital nomads fail to be realistic in this respect and so have to go home much earlier than they would like to.


5. Homesickness 

Many digital nomads struggle with homesickness, despite never wanting to go back home on a permanent basis. As a digital nomad, you may miss friends and family and the way you can completely be yourself around them. You may miss the inside jokes you have with your closest friends or the valuable family time you have during the holidays. Homesickness can really get you down during Christmas or on your birthday.

You may also miss Western food, comfort food, home comforts, being able to speak in your native tongue, culture-specific humour and all the other things that really only apply to your life back home.

None of these disadvantages mean that you shouldn’t at least give the digital nomad lifestyle a shot. But it is important to be realistic when deciding to work remotely in different countries. Otherwise, you may be disappointed to find that you’ve been sold a dream, which isn’t as rosy as it first appeared.


Sam Woolfe writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and graduate jobs

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