Last Updated on 1 February 2024 by Brittany
There’s a question circulating the pages of the internet: is being a digital nomad worth it?
With the rise of remote work opportunities, more and more people are considering adopting a digital nomad lifestyle. Now that they can work from their computers anywhere in the world, people are taking advantage and starting to create remote lifestyles.
Even countries are hopping on board to promote the digital nomad lifestyle by introducing digital nomad visas. These visas allow digital nomads to live in a country for about a year on average and fully experience everything the nation has to offer.
While this lifestyle of travel and adventure is often seen as being on vacation 24/7, there is so much more to the reality of living a remote life. In fact, the digital nomad lifestyle is not for everyone. There are unique struggles and problems digital nomads must face that most people never will.
It’s up to the individual to decide whether being a digital nomad is worth it or not. It all depends on your mindset, ambitions, goals, and craving for adventure.
That’s not to say that those capable of living a digital nomad lifestyle shouldn’t try it out! We can’t know if something is right for us without ever experiencing it. So, to help you decide whether or not to become a digital nomad, we’re exploring the benefits and struggles of a remote life to help you decide whether being a digital nomad is worth it.
What is a Digital Nomad?
First, let’s get on the same page about who a digital nomad actually is. There are many definitions flying around the internet and blogs, but here is how we define digital nomads at Nomads Embassy.
It’s pretty simple, right? Digital nomads are not remote workers who stay home in their country of residence. Digital nomads also are not expats who have uprooted their lives to settle in a foreign country for the long term.
Many digital nomads move from country to country every couple of months. They live in short-term rentals such as AirBnB’s or sometimes even in hostels.
One defining factor of a digital nomad is that they travel with most of their belongings in either a suitcase or backpack – only carrying the necessities.
Now that we have that cleared up let’s see if this digital nomad lifestyle is for everyone.
Is Being a Digital Nomad for Everyone?
If the digital nomad lifestyle were easy, everyone would be doing it. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. There are certain factors that inhibit people from pursuing a digital nomad lifestyle; sometimes it’s even out of their control.
For starters, we have to recognize the concept of passport privilege. There’s no secret that some passports are stronger than others. So, those with a privileged passport have a much easier time being a digital nomad. This isn’t to say that it’s impossible to be one for those with weaker passports, but it can prove to be more difficult.
To be a successful digital nomad, you must have a remote job or passive income that provides a sustainable allowance to cover your cost of living. There are plenty of digital nomad jobs out there, but it’s up to you to learn the skills and build up your professional resources to succeed in this.
To be successful in a remote job, whether you’re a freelancer, entrepreneur, or employed, you need certain personal qualities. Digital nomads are known to be ambitious, determined, and disciplined. These are essential to living a successful remote life.
You are solely responsible for yourself while traveling the world and working remotely. There is no boss looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re meeting deadlines. No mentors or parents are making sure you’re taking care of yourself. It’s only you in the pursuit of your own happiness and finding it somewhere in the world.
Digital nomads work hard to achieve their lifestyle of freedom, adventure, and unique experiences. We won’t lie and say that it’s easy all the time. But most digital nomads see that the hard work is worth the outcome.
Don’t take our word over whether or not being a digital nomad is worth it. We’re going to let you decide how much time, effort, and work you’re willing to put in to live this extraordinary lifestyle.
However, with Nomads Embassy, you’ll find it may be easier than you expected. (If interested LEARN MORE HERE)
The Benefits of a Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Now we’ll get to the part you’ve been waiting for – the phenomenal benefits of the digital nomad lifestyle. These benefits are what make being a digital nomad worth it.
We don’t want to influence your decision too much because you have to do what’s right for you. But we can’t express enough just how much these benefits can change your life. From being bored and unfulfilled with a mediocre 9-5 job to walking around some of the oldest cities in the world or hiking up lush mountains, you’ll definitely understand why digital nomads choose a remote life.
1. More Freedom Than You Can Imagine
What if you weren’t tied down to one place? What if you could pick up and leave at the drop of a hat and explore somewhere new?
This is just one of the freedoms digital nomads have.
As a digital nomad, you have the opportunity to create the life you want. Since most travel solo, they have the ultimate freedom to make decisions that are right for them. From where they want to live to where they want to eat to what time they want to wake up every day, digital nomads have more freedom than most people.
Imagine creating the life you want – the life that makes you happy. You can cater to your wants and needs without judgment from others, for the most part.
2. Money Goes Further
There’s a myth that traveling has to be expensive. Most digital nomads find that this isn’t the case.
The most popular destinations for digital nomads are often ones with an affordable cost of living, respectively. These include Mexico, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Colombia. In another article, we spoke about how digital nomads are flocking to these countries and how they can still be respectful while not fully exploiting the currency. This is something we here at Nomads Embassy feel strongly about!
Digital nomads from the USA or the UK will often find that rent is much more affordable almost anywhere they go too. For the amount they paid in their resident country in rent, they can get so much more value in a foreign country.
Along with more affordable costs of living, digital nomads have a list of unique expenses to pay, which are often less expensive. Think about it; digital nomads don’t have to pay the same bills as those who lead a traditional lifestyle. If they’re living in AirBnB’s or short-term rentals, they often don’t have to pay for electricity, water, or WiFi.
However, they do have the extra expense of transportation and travel such as flights, airport transfers, and other travel-related expenses.
3. See What the World Has to Offer
The world is too big to stay in one place. There are endless opportunities to go and experience new cultures and explore different countries as a digital nomad.
In one year you can live in 12 or more countries, adopting different ways of living and opening your eyes even more to the world we live in. Imagine waking up in a small studio apartment in Paris on a sunny spring morning. Then a few months later you’re digging your toes in the sand watching the sunset in Bali.
Those Instagram photos from travel influencers that you double-tap soon become your reality as you travel from destination to destination. This is your life – discovering new places and creating unforgettable memories.
4. Meet People from All Over the World
Being a digital nomad means building a global network of friends and acquaintances. There is no doubt that you will meet incredible people during your travels.
From chatting with waiters to grabbing a cup of coffee with someone you met at a coworking space to simply a nice conversation with a stranger at the bus stop, you’re going to meet people from all walks of life.
This is an opportunity that not many people have. Soon you’ll be referencing your friends from across the oceans and have a network of people you can count on.
It’s so important for digital nomads to build a community and stick together too. So while you’re chatting with the locals, you can also connect with fellow digital nomads. This can really be a life-saving support system, especially for those who nomad alone.
Because a global network of digital nomads is so important, we’ve created our own community at Nomads Embassy. So, nomads always have a place to connect and ask questions.
5. Your Quality of Life Improves
Remember that freedom we talked about in the first benefit of being a digital nomad? Well, that privilege translates to an improved quality of life. No longer are you stuck in a place that you don’t particularly care for. Instead, you travel where you want, when you want.
Therefore, you can stay in the warm, sunny weather and soak in the essential Vitamin D. You’ll be more active as a digital nomad as you explore new towns and cities. You may also find that your happiness elevates as you start doing things for yourself – things that bring you joy.
This in and of itself should show you why being a digital nomad is worth it.
6. A New Open Mindset
With each country, town, or region digital nomads travel to, they gain a new perspective on life and the world. This is only something that can be achieved through traveling.
You can read as many books and articles as you’d like, but you don’t fully understand something until you’ve witnessed it yourself.
So, a huge benefit of being a digital nomad is learning new mindsets and experiencing a broader way of thinking thanks to these experiences. You’ll see yourself change as you live the digital nomad lifestyle with these worldly experiences – and it will be for the better!
Many digital nomads also experience a shift in their priorities. There’s a common theme of a mindset focused on material items switching to appreciating and valuing emotions and non-material things more. This could be due to the minimalist lifestyle they live.
7. Productivity and Income Could Increase
It’s common for digital nomads to work as a freelancer or own a business, where they work on a project-based salary. This eliminates the equation that time equals money and instead puts more emphasis on the results of a project rather than how long it took to complete.
So, being a digital nomad could increase your productivity and result in completing assignments faster. It could also increase your income as you can now complete three different projects in a shorter amount of time.
You’ll also come across new work opportunities the more you travel and the more people you meet. Therefore, you could find higher-paying gigs or positions being a digital nomad.
The Struggles of a Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Now that you’re elated and pumped up about the benefits of living a remote life, let’s talk about the struggles that come with it. These struggles that digital nomads face aren’t your ordinary problems. They require strength, strategic thinking, and some assistance to overcome.
It’s when people face these problems that they wonder if being a digital nomad is worth it. However, remember the list of benefits we reviewed as you go through this next section. It will help you decide whether or not it’s worth it.
1. No Permanent Address
Do you understand how difficult it can be dealing with paperwork and creating accounts when you don’t have a permanent address? Say goodbye to those weekly Amazon packages arriving at your doorstep.
Fortunately, there are services that can help you set up a “permanent” address even without owning a home or signing a lease. These virtual mailboxes will collect your mail and send electronic copies to you. You can also list them as your residence if needed.
If possible, many nomads use their parents’ address as their permanent address. While on paper it can seem like taking a step backward in life, it’s only a means to keep you grounded in your country of residence.
So, while this can be an issue, there are solutions to help you through them.
2. Navigating Bureaucracy
As a digital nomad, you’re going to face some bureaucracy at some point. Whether it’s dealing with tourist visas and crossing borders or figuring out where to pay taxes while traveling the world you’ll surely encounter it.
It can be tricky and intimidating, but it isn’t impossible. The best thing you can do is research your destination, learn about visa restrictions, rules, and local laws, and contact professional services with your questions.
As for paying taxes, we suggest working with a professional accountant, preferably one who specializes in digital nomads. They’ll ensure you are compliant with the law and don’t have any issues.
3. You’ll Live and You’ll Learn
You can do as much research about being a digital nomad as you want, but it will never fully prepare you for everything you’ll encounter. Traveling is already unpredictable, just imagine what can happen when you do it full time.
While there are plenty of blogs, guides, and videos to help you through your digital nomad lifestyle, there will be some situations that you were never prepared for. However, with each of these experiences, you’ll come out a better informed and more prepared nomad. You may even feel inclined to share your experiences with your digital nomad communities to help others out.
You’ll have to make mistakes to learn how to live a more successful digital nomad lifestyle. Some of these mistakes may be small while others can be more stressful and drastic. All that counts is that you come out of it stronger.
Fortunately, Nomads Embassy is here to help you avoid these mistakes as much as possible. With reliable resources and information, our trained ambassadors can help you get out of those sticky situations whenever you need them.
4. Strained Relationships
Being away from home for so long can put a strain on your relationships. Friends and family may feel like you abandoned them or are being selfish for going out on your own in the world.
While missing out on holidays and events can be straining, it isn’t impossible to maintain healthy relationships while you’re globetrotting. It does take some effort and work to keep these relationships, though.
Dating as a digital nomad is also fairly difficult. Unless you’re both digital nomads and want to travel the world together, serious dating can be cumbersome. Although, again, it isn’t impossible.
As 2020 has shown us, FaceTime and virtual happy hours can still keep us connected with our loved ones, especially when you’re on the other side of the world.
One of the biggest struggles digital nomads face is the sense of being lonely. Often traveling by themselves in foreign countries, they can find the experience isolating and sometimes difficult to connect with others.
Being a digital nomad is a unique experience that those who don’t live the lifestyle may never understand. So, it’s important for digital nomads to meet fellow like-minded people. One way to do this is to attend meetups, join online communities, and go to coworking spaces in digital nomad hubs.
You can first start by joining Nomads Embassy’s private online community!
6. Constantly Adapting to New Places
It’s no secret that digital nomads are constantly changing places, much more than those living a traditional lifestyle. Imagine moving to a new environment every couple of months and adjusting to each foreign location.
While this is exciting and thrilling the first few months, it can become tiresome and straining when it’s done constantly. From our experience, it takes us about two weeks to fully adapt and get to know a new place.
Being constantly stimulated by new things and learning how to do basic things such as ordering a coffee, crossing the street, and obeying a new culture’s rules and etiquette can be draining. This is when many digital nomads decide to settle down in one place for a few months at a time or even apply for a digital nomad visa.
This is one of the most exciting yet exhausting parts of being a digital nomad. However, if you can adopt a great mindset and look beyond the adapting stage, you’ll realize it makes being a digital nomad worth it.
7. Experiencing Burnout
Digital nomad burnout is a very real thing that isn’t often talked about. As we mentioned before, people assume the lifestyle is like being on vacation all the time. Now you know that isn’t exactly true.
Traveling all the time and working hard to earn a stable income from a computer is exhausting and could lead to burnout. At this point, those with a traditional lifestyle would treat themselves to vacation and some time off.
As a digital nomad, it can be difficult to separate your travels from a vacation. Many of us bring our work wherever we go. Therefore, taking a break while on “vacation” proves to be difficult. Finding a work-life balance is extremely important to be a successful and long-term digital nomad.
Is Being a Digital Nomad Worth It?
We’ve given you the benefits and struggles of being a digital nomad, so now you can hopefully decide whether it’s worth it or not.
However, you won’t actually know if it’s worth being a digital nomad unless you try it for yourself. As we said, you can do all the research you want about the lifestyle, but you won’t really understand it until you experience it yourself.