As a digital nomad, your lifestyle is completely different from your friends and family back home. While they are sitting at a desk in a fluorescent-lit office cubicle, you are working from a comfortable cafe full of large green exotic plants in the middle of Thailand sipping on bubble tea that costs a third of the price it would back home.
However, living as a digital nomad means coming face to face with unique problems that most people never encounter. Trotting around the globe experiencing new cultures and landscapes trying to work and make a living at the same time can be stressful, lonely, but also incredibly fulfilling.
These are the most common problems that digital nomads face while living and working abroad and how to solve them.
Keeping a Daily Routine
When you are constantly picking up and moving, it can be difficult to set a daily routine for yourself. Planning around public transportation, flights, and check-in times can take a toll on your work and your mentality. While digital nomads like to live a life full of adventure and flexibility, having a routine is still crucial when it comes to being productive.
Even if you are based in one place for a long period of time, it can be hard to set a routine because you are getting acquainted with your new area and have the urge to explore as much as you can.
Try to stay consistent with things that you can control most days. Wake up at the same time every morning. Dedicate specific hours of the day to working. Let your weekends be weekends! Set aside a day or two to relax and enjoy your digital nomad lifestyle.
Achieving Work-Life Balance
It isn’t easy finding a work-life balance for people working a typical 9-5 job, what makes you think it’s any easier for a digital nomad living in exotic places with gorgeous beaches? When traveling and living abroad, there is a lot of temptation to put your work aside and immerse yourself in your surroundings.
If you truly enjoy the work that you do, it’s also easy to stay in your apartment or hostel all day working. What is the point of living abroad if you aren’t going to embrace the culture?
Achieving work-life balance goes hand-in-hand with creating a routine. When you determine what time of the day you will spend working and what times you will spend exploring, you are closer to achieving that balance.
To stay on track with your work, create a list of goals for the week or the month. Set deadlines so you don’t wait until the last minute where you have to cram your work. This allows you to spread out your work evenly.
Living in the Wrong Country
The point of being a digital nomad is living in a different country and exploring the world. That doesn’t mean that you might find yourself in an undesirable location. Whether it’s bad weather, unreliable wifi, or your location just doesn’t agree with you, it can be difficult to concentrate and be productive.
Before deciding on your next destination, do some thorough research. Reach out to other digital nomads who have spent time there and ask for their opinions.
Sense of Loneliness
As a digital nomad, you will be sure to come in contact with a lot of different people and have a large number of friends from all over the world. However, the life of a digital nomad can be a lonely one. You began your travels alone and will ultimately end them alone.
The nomadic lifestyle consists of people constantly leaving to go on to their next destination, so you do not have the sense of community you would if you settled down somewhere. This can take a toll on your mental health if you do not prepare for it and live with the digital nomad mindset.
There are a few things you can do to combat the loneliness of being a digital nomad. The first is to build a strong and supportive network. This should consist of people you can call during your bad days and they will talk you off the ledge. Having a support system is crucial when living as a digital nomad.
Get involved in online communities made up of other nomads. Since digital nomads are always on the move, online is a great way to connect and feel like you are part of a community.
Use coworking spaces if they are in the area. Sometimes just sitting in a place where other people are working can help you feel less lonely. You’ll probably make some friends there too.
Whether you travel for pleasure or as a digital nomad, there are sure to be surprise expenses that pop up along the way. While living abroad, it’s essential to make a budget so you are never stuck in a foreign country with absolutely no money.
Budgeting can be especially difficult for those digital nomads who work freelance. There is rarely consistent pay each month since it is mostly project-based. It’s always a good idea to have an emergency fund for those months where work is slow or an incident arises that you need money fast.
You may also tend to overspend, especially when trying to calculate the exchange rate when it comes to using different currencies.
Create a spreadsheet calculating your budget. Make sure that you budget for travel expenses, unexpected expenses, taxes, and money to put away for saving. When creating your budget, base your income off of the previous month. Never count on money you don’t have yet, freelance work is full of surprises and clients who “forget” to pay you.
Don’t spend money you don’t have. It’s easy to sign up for a credit card and get a $15,000 credit limit and start using it, but the interest is insane. However, having a line of credit is a good idea just in case you find yourself in a situation where you have to spend more than you have.
Explaining Your Job to Other People
A digital nomad’s social media is full of exotic places and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. So, it’s no wonder that people back home are under the impression that your lifestyle is no work and all fun. When people have this assumption, they are less likely to believe that you actually do work hard while traveling.
For those who do trust that you spend your time working, it can be difficult to explain to them what exactly it is that you do. This is especially the case when you have a number of skills and work with a variety of clients.
It’s tempting to make your life seem perfect on social media. However, if you want to show people what your life is actually like, start being honest. Share your experiences, projects you’re working on, and the difficulties that come with the digital nomad lifestyle.
Share Your Digital Nomad Problems
No digital nomad has to work through these unique problems alone. Becoming part of a global digital nomad network means having support from people who know exactly what you’re going through.
Join Nomads Embassy: The Official Global Digital Nomad Network to connect with your fellow nomads.
When I’m not writing and teaching people how to achieve a location-independent lifestyle, you can find me globetrotting, experiencing new cultures, and working on my amateur photography skills.