You could have heard of digital nomadism. People who use mobile computing and the Internet to work from wherever they choose to. They quit the matrix of corporate jobs and lure you to follow in their footsteps posting fabulous stories on their blogs. The digital nomad lifestyle is often interesting and exciting and people want to express that.Thus the amazing pictures of creative professionals working on sunny beaches or on the terrace of some gorgeous Goa located bungalow.
Is the life of a digital nomad all that glamorous? How many of the blog shared stories are actually true? Without hesitation I can say they all are. But as humans we prefer to share the rather flattering side of what we do. The great thing about being a digital nomad isn't the ability to work on the beach (which is uncomfortable and annoying, by the way). Living as a digital nomad is exactly like working from home in some ways, and totally unlike it in others. To become a digital nomad you do not need extra courage. You do not need incredible skills or super powers. But before you decide to follow the footsteps of any digital nomad there are a couple of things you should consider.
Your Office is (almost) Everywhere
True in theory but the fact is that there are certain limitations to where a digital nomad can work. Those limitations are technological and legislative. If you are reading this you are most likely sitting somewhere where there is an internet connection. Remember though that some of the paradise destinations you crave to make your office might not necessarily have the best internet providers in the world. As a digital nomad you will need constant access to your network of customers and without a stable connection that won't be possible.
The other thing is the legal aspects. As you suspect some countries are not all that keen to have digital nomads over for months. Yes, the world is a globalised village but there are certains rules and obligations you should examine carefully prior to buying your one way ticket. For example there is the Schengen Area, a collection of 26 mostly European countries that act as a single entity for visitor limits. You can stay for three months for each six-month period in the whole Shengen Area before you become an illegal visitor. It means that if you want to stay in France, Spain and then Germany for two months in each country, you'll be lucky to escape from Spain without a fine. And it means you won't be allowed into Germany at all, because you violated your three-month Shengen time period.
Note: First check all the legal issues and total periods of time you are allowed to stay in a country.
We All Fear Change
Digital Nomads are no exception. Fear is a great evolutionary mechanism that has protected us from danger. You can read about it in the post we've dedicated entirely to stress. Overcoming fear is great. You have to rationalise it but it does not mean it will go away. As glamorous as a it may seem, the life of a digital nomad can be marked with fear. The fear of the unknown, the fear of doing everything for the first time, the fear of being far away from the comforts of your social network and family. Even when you're available via the same phone number, same email address and same social network, people will still treat you like you are from Mars. Even though the truth is location doesn't matter anymore, but you've got to work really hard to remind people of that.
We follow the standard path that’s laid out in front of us by society — what’s expected of us by those around us.That leads to what we like to call the template lifestyle. We all know the pattern – go to school, get deep into debt while getting a degree, work your ass off trying to pay it off in a soul-crushing job, making somebody else rich until hopefully you can retire one day when you’re old… or drop dead from overwhealming exhaustion. However grim this scenario is, we still fear to change the pattern. And fear is the culprit.
We All Crave Novelty
As much as we fear change, the novelty that comes with it is more than welcome. And it can totally change our point of view. When you stay in one place, novelty is expensive. But when you're a digital nomad, novelty is free. You go to a new place, you like the new apartment better than the old one (simply because it is new). There is even the so called honeymoon phenomena. It is a period of time when you love absolutely everything about the place. Our minds crave something new and after overcoming fear that is what they get when you move to another destination. As we live our lives, we get used to everything around us. It bores us. Becoming a nomad is one answer to that boredom. But it comes with with its price, too.
Digital Nomads are (not always) Stress Free
While corporate life may be a severly stressful one, a life of a digital nomad is not always a stress free fairytale. As I've mentioned most people will not completely get what you do. They may be suspicious of an individual who does not have a home address and works different time zones. You have to be aware that some clients may understand that whilst others may not. Plus, there are situations when paying bills, getting things shipped, interacting with various companies and government agencies gets tricky because you don't fit into their pre-existing categories. They need a home address. They require you to pick something up in person. They need you to send a fax. All that can cause stress. Of course 99% of those situations can be solved. It just calls for a creative approach. And that is what comes with traveling, too, as you can read in our post on boosting your creativity.
Digital Nomads Feels Welcome (almost) Everywhere
I do believe that people are good. I know it sounds cliché. Most times when people are hostile towards strangers (apart from the fact that the strangers can be hostile towards them) is when they simply do not understand each other. Even though globalisation is a trend nothing can stop, there are still cultural differences that can cause misunderstanding. We've written a post on that and shared some featured slideshare decks you can enjoy on our profile. In most of the countries if you want to stay longer you will need more than a tourist visa. Sometimes you might also need to even set up a company there. Take all that into consideration.
In a Travel World Passport series on living the life of a digital nomad we've covered some of the most desired destinations. You can check them out below. Those posts include many crucial information on the life of an expat in:
The truth is that being a digital nomad is a great lifestyle choice. You just have to know that it is not a fairytale. It may even turn out it is not for you, but you will never know it unless you give it a try. If you feel like society is pushing you in a direction you don’t want to go… but you can’t figure out how to escape from it, and set yourself free, become a digital nomad for some time and see how it works out for you.