Hop on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and type in “nomad life” or #nomadlife and you’ll be inundated with idyllic visions of the nomadic lifestyle. Images populate your screen of digital nomads working remotely on white sand beaches, from lounge chairs next to infinity pools, and in the middle of breathtaking landscapes, making the gypsy lifestyle seem like heaven.
Being a part of the digital nomad lifestyle has some incredible advantages – which is what you see prominently displayed on social media – but what about the disadvantages? Are there downsides to working in a new city every week, month or year?
At Location Indie, we think the remote work life has some amazing benefits for personal and professional growth, but we’re also honest about the unique challenges this lifestyle can present. In this article, we’ll break down what it’s really like to be a digital nomad, and some tips on managing the obstacles that you might encounter when living so freely.
The Benefit of Nomad Life is that Growth is Exponential
The reason the digital nomad lifestyle is so rewarding is that it forces you to grow at rates much faster than normal. Confronting new ideas and situations every day forces you to be adaptable and to develop skills for quick thinking and decision-making. Self-reflection becomes a daily skill where you start to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and make adjustments to overcome and obstacles.
When you’re constantly on the road, you’re forced to take responsibility for your decisions and their outcomes and to reflect on ways you can change or improve your reaction next time. This lifestyle has a way of impressing how pliable life is and your own capabilities at controlling any new or foreign situation.
Foreign Countries and People Will Change Your World
One way or another, travel will change the way you perceive the world around you. Experiencing other cultures has a profound effect on the way you view other people and even the way you view your own hometown.
Living abroad means taking yourself out of your element and experiencing new and bizarre things that broaden your horizons beyond what you thought possible. You’ll break down your own barriers and discover new limits that you’ll shatter without even thinking about it first.
But it Requires the Right Mindset
The most basic requirement for joining the digital nomad movement is developing the right mindset. Now, there is no “right” way to be a location independent worker, but there is a worldview and outlook that is essential to success in this realm. You must be willing to be adaptable in everything from relationships to career and take life as it comes. Being a nomad involves letting go of the things that don’t really matter and focusing on the ones that truly drive your passion and make living an adventure.
Adopting the nomad lifestyle requires getting yourself into the right frame of mind in order to be able to overcome obstacles and make the most of your freedom. For example, the nomadic lifestyle involves completely detaching yourself from ties to any specific location. This means that long-term leases and excessive consumerism are out of the question if you want to maintain a location independent lifestyle. It also means thinking outside of the box when it comes to things like insurance (traditional plans may not be right for you) and how you make your living (you might end up with many jobs, not just one)
Making Life Light
Lugging around 15 pairs of shoes isn’t realistic and breaking apartment leases every month gets expensive, so as remote workers, we learn to be flexible and let go of ideas and items that can tie us down. In general, we travel light, making it easy as pie to simply pack up our entire life in an afternoon and head off in search of new adventures.
We subscribe to a minimalist philosophy, meaning we prioritize collecting experiences over collecting material things. We focus on the moment and on absorbing every aspect of every experience. By limiting the amount of clutter in our lives, it’s easier to focus on the things that make us passionate about the world around us.
Time Becomes Relative
The digital nomad lifestyle also has a significant effect on your time in ways that can be both good and bad. Let’s start with the negative effects of the lifestyle on your time. Without the strict parameters provided by clocking in and out at work, it’s easy to get sucked into spending every waking minute of your day on work or your career. While this isn’t necessarily negative at the beginning, never taking a break can be detrimental to mental acuity and producing good work. However, online time management tools make it easy to keep your work time in check to make sure you are achieving balance and have enough energy for your passions outside of the office.
On the other hand, working from home means you no longer spend hours on end commuting between cities or sitting in endless lines of traffic. All that extra time can be spent on passion projects, developing your career, or even just making new friends and meeting interesting people. Becoming a digital nomad enables you to get out of the rat race and pursue your own dreams, career goals, and lifestyle to achieve unprecedented levels of happiness.
Time becomes as fast or slow as you want it to be. Many nomads enjoy travelling slowly and spending lengthy periods of time in new cities to truly understand the different people and culture of each place. It’s also possible to travel as fast as you want if that’s more your speed. The best thing about location independence is the freedom to choose what works best for you and to change your mind any time you feel like you need a new pace.
Basic Necessities For the Nomad Lifestyle
Arguably, the most important factor behind the nomad lifestyle outside of the mental framework required to be location independent is technology. As digital nomads, we rely heavily on technology and particularly the Internet, which allows us to work online while enjoying the freedom and flexibility to change our home base to anywhere in the world, whenever we feel like it.
Since technology is such a huge driving force behind the movement, most digital nomads need to be connected to the Internet or at least in a place where they can easily access it. Whether you’re a developer, the founder of a company or a consultant working online, you’ll need access to the Internet to get your job done.
Where We Work
Since this digital nomad lifestyle is based upon freedom of location, we work from anywhere we want. The vast majority of digital nomads work from their laptops and computers so the office can be a new location every single day.
In some more remote locations, you can have a hard time finding a café with a strong enough Internet signal to get the job done. Luckily, there are online communities like ours that make finding resources like great workspaces easier.
Cafes are popular among remote workers because they almost always guarantee a fast Internet connection, endless fuel in the form of coffee to get you through long days, and an easy way to make new friends and develop fresh ideas.
Whether you’re in a new city or one of your favorite metropolises on the planet, there is always a plethora of cafes at your disposal, where you can try new drinks and create new products and ideas for your business.
The best part of the nomadic movement in the last decade is the development of co-working spaces. These pseudo-offices are often found in digital nomad hubs where there is a larger community of remote workers. In cities where you’ll find a large population of people who want the feel and benefits of an office environment without having the location ties that come along with them, co-working spaces have opened up to fill the void.
Co-working spaces are awesome places to meet great people who are like-minded when it comes to location independence. These spaces often provide fast Internet speeds as well as printing, faxing, and other traditional office equipment. Find one that works for you here.
Where We Live
Digital nomads live all across the globe from Nicaragua to Bali to India and move around often. The freedom of working from anywhere on the planet makes it easy to spend January on the beach in Mexico and November in the mountains of Colombia and move around as much as you want in between.
On a whim, you can just pack your bags, pick up, and get moving. You can even get work done along the way at airports and train stations, making this lifestyle so much more productive than being chained to a desk all day long. Whether you choose to live in Europe, Central America, Africa or all of the above, this lifestyle is a revolving door of wonderful people, challenging work and making progress toward your ideal life.
In the spirit of the digital nomad community, co-living spaces have emerged as the residence equivalent of co-working spaces. A coliving community allows nomads to live among people who not only understand the lifestyle, but also strive to integrate it into their own worlds.
In coliving communities, you get a built-in network of nomads who can relate to your struggles while also believing deeply in the beauty of a life of freedom of movement. You might even meet new friends and travel partners this way.
Hotels and Airbnbs
Always being on the move means that you can also change your living arrangements any time you want. Hotels are a great choice when you’re feeling overwhelmed and you want the added services that hotel staff provide to make your life easier.
Airbnbs, on the other hand, are a great way to feel like you have your own space, and to get the experience of apartment life without signing a lease. You can rent an entire home so you can put your feet up, relax or work in whatever ways you see fit without being bothered by cleaners or feeling like you have to initiate conversations. Alternatively, you can rent a private or shared room in an Airbnb house if you want to get a truly local feel and interact with families in a homestay environment.
Is the Nomad Life Right For You?
The benefits of being location independent range from having more free time to faster personal growth and a higher degree of happiness. However, this lifestyle does have some disadvantages that must be recognized and addressed. To truly immerse in the digital nomad lifestyle, you must be willing to make sacrifices when it comes to material things and traditional thought processes. If you’re willing and able to accomplish this, you’ll open doors to new possibilities and be astounded by your capabilities.
Constantly confronting the unknown means that you must continuously challenge yourself to address your own weaknesses and develop strengths to become a better version of yourself. It’s a lifestyle that requires sacrifice, but also rewards you in ways that surprise you every single day.
Start simple and make sure to regularly check in with yourself to make adjustments that make your life better. With more time and a greater focus on the important things in life, you can achieve new personal and professional highs while exploring the most remote corners of the globe.
At Location Indie, we’re here to help guide you along the path to living a nomad life. Our community is designed to help every member kick ass in business and travel. Our podcast offers raw and honest takes on living the location independent lifestyle and tips to help you on your journey. Join next time we open our doors to develop friendships with travel-minded individuals and get the support you need to start travelling the world!