Describing the digital nomad lifestyle as awesome is an understatement. The freedom to work anywhere I want (in bed sometimes!), pretty much to my own schedule and being able to explore the world as I go is as good of a working life any of us can ask for.
But “awesome” is not the whole story—being a digital nomad is hard work. I’ve had to make sacrifices along the way. My journey from office worker to international jet-setter certainly didn’t happen overnight. I have learned some valuable lessons over the past few years, and there are things I didn’t even think about before venturing into the world of digital nomadism, which I really should have!
For you to hopefully avoid the same mistakes I’ve encountered, I’ve listed down all the things to consider before becoming a digital nomad. Think about these really hard before making this life-changing decision!
Do you have the resources to sustain the digital nomad lifestyle? The most practical thing to consider before becoming a digital nomad is money. I’ve said this before, but you really do need to have enough money before you start because surprise, surprise, it takes time before freelancing pays the bills, or before your business takes off.
Make sure you have enough savings to a) invest in your online startup business, and b) keep a roof over your head and food on the table. It sounds so boring, I know. But the worst thing you could do is book a ticket with a pipe dream and hope of employment in an ever competitive online market. I’m not saying it won’t work. I’m saying that it’s not sensible and doesn’t get you into the right mindset from the off.
Dare I say that when you fuck up here, you’ll find yourself either heading home and starting again, or staying in shitty hostels and eating instant noodles. If you wanna be a digital nomad, you want to stop existing and start living. You don’t wanna wind up merely existing somewhere else!
Is your profession a viable way to make money as a digital nomad? If you are a nurse or a vet, for example, it’s pretty tough to get consistent work on the road. Plus, you might run into legality issues, particularly in Asia. If you are career-focused, then becoming a digital nomad maybe ain’t the right thing for you.
If you already have a job that primarily involves working online or at very least on a computer, then half the battle has already been won! The next step is to work out your kick-ass game plan and get the wheels in motion.
If you do fall into the “tricky to travel” profession, then think about what transferable skills you have. As a vet, could you work on as a consultant for an animal feed or medicine brand, from afar? As a nurse, could you create your own e-book series that supports students with real-life experiences and advice?
Most people who want to become a digital nomad are looking for a change in their work path, so now is your chance to get creative!
Where will you base yourself? Does the place have a reliable internet connection? How will you be able to get some work done? These questions on logistics are some of the crucial things to consider before becoming a digital nomad. The idealistic perception that digital nomads spend their days tapping away on their laptops from a slowly swaying hammock in the Bahamas really isn’t what we do. As I’ve said before, I have wasted precious time running around town trying to find a decent Wi-Fi connection.
Living and working in the jungle in Costa Rica may sound amazing, but is it feasible? Is the internet connection consistent enough to get work done, and are there any distractions? You need to think about a location, or a series of locations, where you can base yourself. This is one way of making sure that you can focus on work, and be in a position to go out exploring.
Are you a momma’s boy or a granny’s girl? Do you have aging or ailing family members who rely on you? If yes, then this is one of the tough things to consider before becoming a digital nomad! If you are part of a tight-knit family, then the big leap to the lifestyle may cause you major upheaval. I’m all for being independent, but I won’t lie, I do feel guilty every now and again when I realize I’ve left my family behind. I miss my family a lot.
Your family will support you in whatever makes you happy, but don’t be a douche by taking that for granted. Have the talk with them, and remember to be considerate.
They may not get it, but trust me, the more you are there for your family before you start your digital nomad lifestyle, the more supportive they will be.
Do you have kids? Is having kids part of your plan? If yes, how soon? I can’t talk about this from experience, but having kids is definitely a big factor to consider.
Preschool kids may appreciate traveling, but will you have time to work on the road while being their playmate? For school-aged kids, will you have time to home-school them? This is definitely some grown-up shit to think about!
Are you currently in a relationship? If your lover is open to the idea, then lucky you, you’ve found a keeper! Otherwise, you’re gonna have to do some significant compromise. It’s going to be a tricky conversation to have, but you must. Ask your partner what they think about becoming a digital nomad with you. You can be a team and be lovers at the same time! How much more ideal is that?
These things sound hella serious. However, I am all about the no-bullshit approach. I get frustrated when I see people fail at becoming digital nomads when all they needed to do was think a little more critically. There are a lot of things to factor in. You’ll have your issues to think about, but as a general rule, these are the things to consider before becoming a digital nomad and totally changing your life!