A guest post from Danny Newman, who is a location independent writer and traveler.
I’ve been a digital nomad for just over a year now- a milestone that got me reflecting on two things:
- How crazily fast that time has gone, and
- Everything I’ve learned along the way.
I can’t lie, the last 12 months haven’t always been easy.
Looking back on them, I see a landscape of ups and downs, like undulating hills spread out to the horizon. There have been innumerable moments of real joy, interspersed with my fair share of humbling practical and emotional challenges.
I’m still learning the nuances of being location independent and the months ahead are sure to further my education in nomadry!
All the same, having lived it for a year now, I’ve come to a point where I feel comfortable giving advice about the digital nomad lifestyle.
In this particular post, I’d like to walk aspiring nomads through a selection of the primary pros and cons I’ve experienced, and that seem to be common among others following the same path.
Are you getting prepared to transition into location independence and want some insight into what to expect?
Well, keep reading to discover the pros and cons of independent living. With these in mind, you’ll be better prepared for the journey ahead!
The Advantages of Being Location Independent
Let’s start with the good stuff. Here are 5 of my favourite things about living a location independent lifestyle.
The freedom of digital nomadry is what appealed to me most.
It’s the main feature of this lifestyle choice that continues to cast its spell over me. I’m hooked on the freedom that’s inherent in location independence.
Become a nomad and you get to escape the rat race and write your own script.
The path opens up in front of you, diverging into countless routes with new and exciting adventures down each and every single one. It’s up to you where you decide to venture next.
Freedom is a commodity for most people. They might get 1 or 2 week-long vacations a year to do what they like. For the remainder of the year they’re constrained by work and home commitments. They’re shackled to their responsibilities.
Not so with digital nomadry.
Take this path and you can do and be whatever you want and any time. It’s liberating.
Treat time as a currency.
It’s more valuable than money in that you can’t earn more of it. Every second that ticks by takes you closer to the end of your life.
That’s a scary prospect, which you’d think would shock people into spending their time wisely.
As we know, though, we rarely make the most of the time on our hands. Worse still, we waste it on choices, lifestyles and experiences that fail to fulfil us.
Moreover, we get so tied up in day to day that time slips away from us.
Through jobs, family and social commitments, most people literally don’t have much time to themselves. With location independence you regain the ability to live life on your own terms and spend your time as you so wish.
This is a big one for me.
As a digital nomad I’m in total control of everything I do.
I get to choose when I wake up, where I go, what I do, how I spend my time, and so on. There’s nobody giving me orders; no obligations that tie my hands and twist my arm.
It relates to the freedom I just talked about. Freedom and control are inseparable. Generally speaking, somebody who lacks their freedom is out of control, and vice versa. To be in control of your destiny is to be truly free.
And I love it.
Travel and digital nomadry go hand in hand.
After all, you’re location independent! The lifestyle almost always involves a degree of travelling. Sure, the control you have over your life means travel isn’t a necessity.
But, in general, most people who take this path do so to explore the world and take their work with them.
You can earn money anywhere and everywhere. So long as the wifi stretches far enough, your ‘office’ could be a hammock on a tropical beach, or anywhere you find yourself.
The world is a big place, and the internet opens the door to it. You get to break the chain of an ordinary sedentary deskbound life and swap it for endless adventures on foreign shores.
Life for so many people is an endless slog.
It’s boring. It’s stressful. It’s stifling. It’s ordinary.
It’s hard to feel inspired and infused when you’re in an office, behind a desk, working mindless tasks for a boss you never see and who probably doesn’t care about you.
Most people want their lives to be extraordinary. They want to feel motivated and inspired by their daily life. I’ve found that being a digital nomad provides the novelty and excitement I need to feel content with what I’m doing.
It’s fun. It’s new. It’s different. It’s stimulating. It’s, quite frankly, a key to finding joy in the day to day.
The Disadvantages of Being Location Independent
But, as I’ve found, it isn’t without its downsides. Here are 5 cons of location independence to prepare yourself for.
The Distance from Home
Since being a digital nomad, I’ve missed:
- My dad’s 60th birthday,
- My brother’s 30th birthday,
- My niece’s 2nd birthday,
- Two family Christmasses,
- A family holiday,
- A wedding, and
Countless other things that have happened at home while I’ve been on the other side of the world.
The distance from loved ones that’s often involved with digital nomadry isn’t easy. I can’t sugar coat it. You can feel disconnected, powerless, and a little lonely. Missing home is a common part of the experience.
Life at home is happening without you. There’s a constant fear that people are moving on and will no longer want you in their life when you eventually get home.
Thankfully there’s Skype, Whatsapp and Facetime to keep in touch.
All the same, being miles away from home can take an emotional toll.
The Work-Life Balance
The control I talked about isn’t always great.
Especially when it comes to your finances!
Of course, to earn money as a digital nomad you actually have to do some work. Don’t, and the money stops coming in and your adventure gets cut short.
But there’s usually a million things you’d rather be doing. Forcing yourself to knuckle down, turn on the computer and work can be tough.
Likewise, the need to work can detract from the travel experience. It changes the process involved; you’re constantly on the hunt for internet and forging space in your day to work.
It’s no longer pure and simple travel, and it takes some getting used to.
The Income Uncertainty
As I just mentioned, failure to work is a recipe for financial hardship.
And that’s the last thing you want when you’re living in unfamiliar territory, far from the comfort of friends and family.
Unfortunately, many location independent jobs don’t provide a steady income. You can’t sit back and wait for the monthly pay cheque to come in! No, you’ve got to hustle.
You might have to constantly find new clients, pitch ideas, or apply to job openings.
A level of pressure can develop when you bank balance starts to dwindle. After all, travelling is expensive. When you aren’t earning enough money your outgoings can quickly exceed your income, which obviously can’t go on for long.
The Lack of Stability and Routine
Freedom is great.
But I can’t deny how reassuring it can be to have the certainty of a routine. Frankly, there are times when I miss the stability of my ‘ordinary’ life of old.
No two days are the same when you’re on the road, which most people talk about as a positive. However, it gets tiring. Everything from finding a place to sleep to figuring out how to cook becomes a challenge.
In the hype of travel and making the most of your days, it’s easy to get stressed and burn out.
It’s really important to take a break, set up shop somewhere for a few days and cultivate a semblance of normalcy and routine in amongst the chaos and change that usually prevails.
The Absence of a Social Circle
I miss having a circle of friends around me.
There’s no post work drinks, weekend footy matches in the park, or going out for lunch. There’s no last minute get-togethers, impromptu excursions, or group meet ups where everyone comes together for a good time.
Often, it’s just you.
You definitely meet a huge number of amazing people on the road, and it’s easy to get chatting and turn the lonely ‘I’ into a more social ‘we’. But it isn’t the same. These relationships are usually fleeting, fading into memory after a day or so.
As I said before, it can get a little lonely at times.
Time to Wrap Up
There you have it: the pros and cons of being location independent.
The last 12 months have been everything I’d hoped they’d be and more. They’ve challenged me, tested me, exposed me to unforgettable experiences, and ultimately schooled me in innumerable ways.
I love being a digital nomad and wouldn’t change it. However, this lifestyle isn’t without its share of challenges. Are you thinking of experiencing this way of life for yourself?
Hopefully, this post has showcased the ups and downs to expect along the way.