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Wondering what the digital nomad advantages and disadvantages are? I’ve been living the laptop style for over five years, and while I wouldn’t trade it for anything, it isn’t all sunshine and infinity pools.
While there are many pros of being a digital nomad, from the freedom to work in exotic locations and geographic arbitrage, there are also many downsides. Moving around, being away from family.. it can all weigh on you after a few years on the roads.
In this post, I’ll go over 30 pros and cons of being a digital nomad to help you consider if it’s right for you.
Summary: Digital nomad pros and cons
|Freedom to work all over the world
|Work-life balance is challenging
|Finding a routine is hard
|It can be lonely
|Experience new cultures
|Learn a new language
|Time zone differences
|Make your own schedule
|Life of adventure
|Online security concerns
|You’ll become less materialistic
|Gain new perspective
|Mental health benefits
|Build a global community
|Discover new hobbies and interests
|Uncertainty of life plans
Nomadic lifestyle advantages
#1. Freedom to work all over the world
The main reason I became a digital nomad was to have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world. The world is your desk as long as you have a reliable internet connection and laptop.
Whether you want to live on a beach in Thailand or a charming city in Europe, jumping into this lifestyle will allow you to see the world without depleting your savings.
#2. Geographic arbitrage (save $$$)
Being able to relocate to another country while making money from your home country can seriously save you some cash.
Living in certain countries can be much more affordable than in expensive cities like New York or London.
The cheapest digital nomad destinations are some of the best places to live.
I lived a fantastic lifestyle in Chiang Mai for less than $1000/month!
Depending on your situation, you also may be able to take advantage of tax benefits as a digital nomad increasing your income even more.
#3. No commuting
Say goodbye to rush hour traffic and hello to a more relaxed morning routine.
Yoga on the beach? Enjoying a delicious breakfast while catching up on e-mails from your favorite cafe? These are the advantages of nomadic life!
I’m currently writing this from my rooftop terrace in Puerto Vallarta overlooking the ocean.
I love the flexibility and freedom being a digital nomad gives me in my working environment.
#4. Experience new cultures
When you live in different countries, you can immerse yourself in different cultures and learn about new ways of living.
While traveling is fun, you’ll get a much richer experience by staying longer in one area. And over time, as you experience more locations, you’ll see how we are all humans and all connected.
You’ll form connections with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and religions, providing you with amazing new perspectives that may lead you to think differently.
#5. You can learn a new language
If you’re interested in learning a new language, living in a foreign country can be a fantastic opportunity.
I’m currently living in Mexico, which allows me to take language classes at a more affordable price and practice in day-to-day life. If learning a language is something that interests you, pick a country that speaks it. There’s no better way than to immerse yourself.
Want to learn a language before you go? This language-learning app can help!
#6. Networking and career growth
Being a digital nomad is fantastic for networking with other entrepreneurs and getting insight into other industries. The DN community is diverse, with people from all backgrounds and industries.
While online connections are great, meeting other digital nomads and entrepreneurs in person can open up a wealth of opportunities and collaborations.
In major digital nomad hubs like Chiang Mai and Tenerife, there are regular nomad entrepreneur meetups.
Every Friday in Chiang Mai, we had ‘coworking by the pool’ where everyone would get a chance to speak a bit about their business and what they needed help with or could provide. I saw so many friends get work through these events, and I also made some fantastic connections that have since helped me.
Plus, working remotely requires strong digital skills, which can be valuable in today’s job market.
#7. Make your own schedule
If you are a freelancer or work a job that doesn’t require set hours, this means you can work whenever and wherever you want, which allows you to create a schedule that works best for you.
Not everyone works well in an office environment sitting for 8 hours a day (does anyone actually?) Being in a different setting may end up making you MORE productive.
There are days that I work 12 hours straight, but there are also many days I don’t work at all. I love that I can take any time off to say yes to new adventures – two weeks’ vacation isn’t enough!
#8. Life of adventure
As a digital nomad, you can not only live and work in new destinations, but you’ll also get to travel a lot more.
Unlike Canada, where you have to pay a week’s salary to go to a province next door, flights within Europe and Asia are extremely affordable, and the distances can be short.
At home, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut doing the same old thing.
Traveling and experiencing new cultures may inspire your work and personal projects! They say you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with, which I can completely relate to.
When I’m hanging out with other content creators and entrepreneurs in new countries, I feel so inspired with my business.
Surround yourself with people who you want to be, and you will naturally become that person.
#10. You’ll become less materialistic
There’s nothing like living out of a bag to make you realize how much we weigh ourselves down with material items.
When I first left Canada to jump into this lifestyle, I stored away boxes of stuff at my sister’s house. But when I returned to visit, I barely remembered most of it. So I ended up giving most of it away!
You’ll be trading in physical items for experiences, which are much more valuable.
#11. New perspectives
When you immerse yourself in a different culture, you have the chance to learn about new customs, traditions, and ways of living that can broaden your worldview and help you grow as a person. Not only from the country you’re living in but also from the other digital nomads you meet.
For example, if you’ve only ever lived in a Western country, you may be accustomed to certain values and social norms (AKA that lie we are told that we have to work a 9-5, start a family, and not enjoy life until we retire). Being a digital nomad will get you out of this skewed mindset and show you alternative ways to live.
Moreover, living in different countries can help you develop cross-cultural communication and collaboration skills, which can be helpful in both personal and professional contexts.
#12. Mental health benefits
Traveling and experiencing new environments can benefit your mental and physical health.
While Canada is generally considered a country with a higher quality of life, I find myself much happier living in climates like the Caribbean or Mexico, where there’s more sunshine and opportunities to be outdoors.
Starting a new life in such an environment can positively impact your physical and mental health – it’s certainly been the case for me!
In Canada (especially during the winter), I tend to hibernate and do minimal physical exercise. But while living abroad in places like Bali, I’m always outside exploring.
#13. Make friends all over the world
Meeting new people from all over the world can lead to some of the most amazing and lifelong friendships.
Having a shared experience with someone will allow you to connect on a deeper and faster level, especially if you’re doing something new for the first time, like paragliding over the Himalayas or riding a hot air balloon.
Other digital nomads understand how you think, and through this lifestyle, I’ve found the most amazing and supportive friends.
#14. Personal growth
Being a digital nomad will push you out of your comfort zone and help you grow.
As you move around, you will be continually exposed to new settings, perspectives, and challenges, whether navigating a new transportation system, trying new foods, or dealing with a problem in a foreign country.
There are good and bad, but every situation you face will help you grow as a person and make you more prepared for future challenges to come.
#15. You’ll find new interests and hobbies
One of the biggest benefits of being a digital nomad is having the opportunity to discover new hobbies and interests that you may not have had the chance to explore otherwise.
When you live in new destinations, you may come across activities or pastimes that are unique to that area. For example, you may discover a love for hiking while living in a mountainous region or develop a passion for surfing while living near the coast.
I was not an outdoors person until I started traveling. Being in these settings made me fall in love with adventure travel!
The flexibility of being a digital nomad also makes it easier to pursue these new hobbies and interests. Because you have more control over your schedule, you can carve out time to explore your new hobbies and fully immerse yourself in them.
Disadvantages of being a digital nomad
#16. Work-life balance can be challenging
There’s no doubt about it, one of the biggest challenges of being a digital nomad is getting that work balance right. Being in a new country is exciting, but that doesn’t mean you can stop working.
Often, it feels like people are always asking you to go out and do things – and it can be tempting to say yes to everything. That’s why giving yourself a regular work schedule is important to stay on track, which brings me to my next point..
#17. Finding a routine is hard
The lack of routine can be challenging for some people and may decrease productivity.
With the freedom to work whenever and wherever many digital nomads (myself included) struggle with time management and finding a healthy work-life balance.
However, there are a lot of tools that can help with this, like the Pomodoro technique and batching work. I also find it helpful to join coworking spaces or cowork with friends at cafes – just being in a productive environment can greatly impact how you work!
Being away from family and friends for long periods is difficult for many people, especially if you are close to your friends at home.
That’s why finding digital nomad communities to lean on for support is important. Whether online or in-person, having a community of people you can talk with who understand the lifestyle is important for sustaining it.
It’s no coincidence most of my best friends now are other digital nomads.
#19. Travel expenses
Traveling frequently can be expensive, especially if you live in more expensive destinations.
Between buying international flight tickets, rental deposits, and new supplies at each destination. Plus, you’ll likely want to go out often and experience where you are, which can add up quickly.
However, being a digital nomad can also put you in a financially advantageous situation if you choose cheaper destinations than your home country. For example, my living costs in Mexico are significantly more affordable than in Toronto.
On the other hand, while living in some countries may be affordable, others may have a high cost of living that can be difficult to manage. There’s a reason I live in Mexico and not Norway!
#20. Instability of income
The digital nomad lifestyle can be unstable if you’re a freelancer, with income and work opportunities not always guaranteed.
If you’re starting, it’s best to choose an affordable place to live, like Chiang Mai, where you can keep your living costs low while building your business. There’s no point living in Paris if you can’t afford to go out!
It’s always a good idea to have a safety net of savings before embarking on the digital nomad lifestyle so that if you run into income problems, you can still stay on the road.
#21. Time zone differences
If you have to be on calls with clients in different time zones, this may require you to work odd hours. I met a guy in Bali who worked all night because his colleagues were based in Canada. I don’t think that’s worth it, and I would just live in a timezone similar to where your clients are!
#22. Culture shock
Moving to a new country can be overwhelming, and adjusting to new cultures and ways of living may be difficult.
Cultural differences and language barriers can also make integrating into new communities and establishing relationships with locals challenging.
On the other hand, that’s why we live this lifestyle! Getting to immerse yourself in different cultures is one of the joys of being a digital nomad, and while it may be challenging at points, try to remember what a unique opportunity you have.
#23. Language barriers
If you’re not fluent in the local language, navigating daily life in a foreign country may be challenging. This can make things frustrating, especially if you have to navigate bureaucracy which is hard enough in your own language!
Still, living in a country that speaks a different country also presents itself as a wonderful opportunity to learn another language.
#24. Online security concerns
Being a digital nomad can sometimes mean working online from unsecured public WiFi networks, which may make your employer uneasy if you’re working with sensitive data.
The best way to get around it is to get one of these VPNs for digital nomads, which protects your data (and allows you to watch Netflix from anywhere in the world)!
BEST VPN FOR DIGITAL NOMADS
NordVPN is the VPN I use and love! It is the fastest VPN provider with a reputation for providing powerful military-grade encryption.
#25. Equipment issues
If your laptop or other equipment breaks while you’re traveling, it may be challenging to replace it as some countries do not have the same availability of electronics that we have in Canada or the U.S. Also, electronics may be much more expensive in certain parts of the world.
#26. WiFi issues
Ah, the ultimate digital nomad problem – finding consistent quality WiFi. While this shouldn’t be an issue in most major cities, if you’re traveling to places like the Philippines, you may run into some WiFi issues.
The best thing to do in these places is to get a local SIM card and load it with data (which is generally very cheap), so you can use it as a backup in case the WiFi goes down.
If your work requires long days of video calls and good WiFi is essential, you will need to consider this when choosing which destination to live in.
#27. Legal considerations
Living and working in foreign countries may require visas, which can be complex to navigate. Fortunately, many countries are starting to introduce digital nomad visas, which allow you to stay in the country for a more extended period while working remotely.
Some countries offer generous tourist visas on arrival, while others only give 30 days, which means doing border runs or moving quickly. If staying in one place for a long time is important to you, this will be an important factor to consider when choosing your destination.
#28. Health concerns
Traveling frequently can take a toll on physical and mental health over time, and it sucks when you get sick in a foreign country. I got dengue fever in Barbados two days after moving there and had to spend two weeks in bed!
A solid health insurance policy is one of the most important things to get before embarking on your digital nomad journey so you don’t run into unexpected medical bills. No one likes to think about that, but accidents do happen! Trust me; I’ve seen it all, from monkey bites in Bali to motorcycle accidents in Chiang Mai.
I use and love SafetyWing, insurance for digital nomads made by digital nomads.
It covers a wide range of adventure activities, covers most countries, and works on a subscription-based service, so you pay monthly and can stop it whenever you want. You can read more about how it works and the claim process in this SafetyWing review.
BEST INSURANCE FOR DIGITAL NOMADS
What does SafetyWing insurance cover?
- Medical and travel insurance
- Adventure activities, including diving
- 190+ countries
- Coverage in your home country after 30 days
#29. Social burnout
Moving frequently and living a nomadic lifestyle means you have to say goodbye to new friends and make new ones constantly, which can be exhausting.
However, the good thing about meeting other remote workers is that you’ll likely run into them in another country, which is the BEST feeling. Your digital nomad community will become like family, and every new place you experience together will strengthen your bond.
#30. Uncertainty of life plans
One of the major disadvantages of being a digital nomad is the uncertainty of life plans. When you’re living a nomadic lifestyle, it can be challenging to plan for the future, as you may not know where you’ll be living or working a few months or even a year down the line.
This uncertainty can make it difficult to establish long-term relationships, both personal and professional.
In addition, the lack of stability and certainty can also lead to anxiety and stress. The constant change and uncertainty can make it challenging to feel settled and secure, which can affect your mental health and well-being.
After five years of traveling full-time, I started having anxiety over the last year and decided to come back to Mexico and get my residency and have it as a base. My digital nomad journey is far from over, but it helped my overall well-being to have a place to call home for now.
FAQ: pros and cons of nomadic lifestyle
What are the advantages of being a digital nomad?
Being a digital nomad offers a flexible lifestyle with the opportunity to work and travel from anywhere in the world, gain diverse experiences and perspectives, and enjoy a lower cost of living. It allows for a better work-life balance and personal growth. These are just a few of the benefits of the nomadic lifestyle.
What problems do digital nomads face?
Digital nomads face several challenges, such as uncertainty, loneliness, work-life balance, internet access, cultural differences, and visa requirements. However, the lifestyle offers many benefits that outweigh the disadvantages of being a digital nomad.
Is digital nomad life worth it?
While the lifestyle offers many benefits like flexibility, variety, and personal growth, it also comes with challenges like uncertainty, loneliness, and work-life balance. For me, the benefits outweigh the challenges and it is 100% worth it, but others prefer a more stable and predictable lifestyle.
Final thoughts: digital nomad advantages and disadvantages
As you can see, there are many advantages and disadvantages of nomadic life. Despite the challenges, I wouldn’t trade the lifestyle for anything. Working remotely while traveling has allowed me to sustain a life of travel and have experiences I always dreamed of.
However, the digital nomad lifestyle is often portrayed as glamorous, and it can be far from that at times. It’s important to be aware of some of the disadvantages of being a digital nomad before setting out on your journey so you can be prepared for anything.
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