If you’re one of those lucky people who have a location-independent job, then you’ve probably heard of the term, ‘digital nomad.’ Essentially it refers to people who, because they work exclusively online, can do their work from anywhere. So they take advantage of that freedom, and move around the world, from one place to the next.
It’s a good life, especially for people who are coming from the world of long commutes and office politics. If you’re thinking of joining this lifestyle, however, then there are a few things that you need to be aware of. It’s not entirely a problem-free life. We run through six of the more common issues below.
It, of course, sounds good, the idea of living a life in which you’re moving from place to place, forever meeting new people, soaking up new cultures, and all-around living life to the fullest. But it’s not like you’re on vacation. You’re there to work.
OK, it’s like a quarter vacation, three-quarters work. Still, it’s up to you to make that distinction, and remember that you’re not just there to have fun. You’ll need to have the discipline to sit down and work even though it’s a sunny day and the beach is right there.
Additionally, when it comes to where you’re going, you’ll need to keep the time zone of that location in mind. If you need to be online at a certain point during the day, you might find that you’re having to work up extra early/stay up late.
Legality of Work
It doesn’t matter where you’re from: no-one has an automatic right to work wherever they please in the world. There are laws relating to work and residency that, in truth, many digital nomads are probably guilty of. If you’re planning on visiting a destination for an extended period of time, you’ll want to make sure that you’re able, legally, to be there, and to work.
In most cases, it’ll just be a matter of filling out a few forms, but if it’s a country that’s less receptive to digital nomads, then you may be unable to pass the border altogether, legally at least.
Back Home Issues
You might be off on a pretty exciting adventure, but it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not like life back home has come to a standstill. It’s still ticking along, just as it was when you were there, and there will be rules that you still need to follow.
For example, your taxes. You could be based in Thailand or anywhere else, but if you’re American, you’ll need to file your taxes. Make sure that you’re using a quarterly tax calculator to determine how much money you owe. As well as your tax obligations, remember to stay on top of any regular payments or debts that you have back home. If you don’t, when you return home, you might find that you’ve created some financial difficulties for yourself.
Sometimes, the things that we don’t like doing turn out to be the best thing for us; and the things we do enjoy, end up hurting us. For example, you might not have enjoyed getting up early and commuting to the office every day, but at least you were working hard, and your career was progressing.
When you’re a digital nomad, the life is unquestionably easier, but it could be that it’s too easy — there’s no direct pressure being applied, which can cause people to slack off.
Because it’s unlikely to happen naturally, you’ll want to push yourself to work hard and progress your career, even if that means saying no to a party or trip to the beach. You may also benefit from choosing a destination that’s already popular with digital nomads, as this will give you an opportunity to network and meet like-minded people.
Health and Product Protection
You never know what’s going to happen in life! All you can do is be prepared if something does happen. When it comes to the digital nomad lifestyle, this means getting insurance to cover your belongings and your health. Your coverage back in the states might not work overseas, and when you’re spending so much time away, it’s important that you can get treatment if you fall ill.
Life on the Road
Finally, keep in mind that life on the road isn’t always fun! Things can get lonely, you can miss home, you can have scary experiences. Learn to roll with the punches, and enjoy the good times!