Digital Nomads: The Dream Of Freelancers, But is it… Real?
The remote work lifestyle has seen great advancement in recent years, with the number of people bracing the work-from-home culture ever on the rise, it's safe to say that people are enticed by the flexibility of working outside the constraints of an office.
For some freelancers, digital nomadism is a dream to aim towards. This remote work culture that promotes working from anywhere, with no geographical limitations, is fast becoming trendy.
But is it the best for you?
In this article, we look at who digital nomads are, why this is a dream for freelancers, and the problems digital nomads face.
What exactly is digital nomadism?
Digital nomads are remote workers who usually travel from one geographical location to another while doing their work. These nomads get to do something really interesting — travel the world — while delivering great results to their clients.
The effectiveness of a digital nomad lifestyle is down to several factors like personality and skill, but the opportunity to explore other cultures is one most freelancers wouldn't mind.
Using remote technology, these nomads can move from city to city, an entirely new country, or even a continent using special visas that permit them to work there.
This seems all too rosy and perfect. But the fact is, there are challenges posed by this lifestyle. But let's start with the peculiar benefits.
Advantages of being a digital nomad
Digital nomadism which is a kind of remote work lifestyle offers freelancers some benefits, some of them peculiar to the lifestyle and others more generic.
Flexibility in work schedule
Most freelance jobs offer a certain level of flexibility relative to the traditional 9-5 work. The digital nomad lifestyle kicks things up a notch, you can type away at an article while sipping juice on a beach or write code for a new website in a coffee shop located thousands of miles away from your continent.
Opportunity to travel and experience new cultures
The bane of remote/freelance work is the boredom that comes with sitting indoors for hours drowning in task upon task. Some freelancers even begin to lose touch with reality. Digital nomadism can eliminate this by exposing you to exciting places all around the world. You can immerse yourself in different cultures and learn from the people you meet. This can broaden your perspective and enhance your creativity.
No geographical restrictions on work
All you need is functional remote technology equipment and you are good to go. Digital nomads can perform their jobs and communicate effectively with their clients regardless of what country they are in. This means you can explore the world while earning a living.
Possibility of lower cost of living
Running a freelance business in some countries could mean more expenses for a freelancer than in others. For instance, nomads from the USA can travel to tropical countries or parts of Asia where food, rent, electricity bills and other expenses are significantly much lower, that way they get to save more money.
Challenges of being a digital nomad
So, now that we have seen the advantages of digital nomadism, let's consider the various challenges.
Difficulty in maintaining work-life balance
Even in a regular remote work lifestyle, freelancers struggle to create a healthy balance between their work and personal life, requiring a lot of discipline to achieve this. This is the same for digital nomads, and for some, the work-life balance dilemma presents itself in an interesting new way— it is very easy to get distracted from work while traveling to exotic locations.
Yes, to effectively produce results in your job you need lots of focus, regardless of your location you still need concentration. This can lead to isolation and loneliness which are popular shortcomings of remote work. Even digital nomads are susceptible to that. In fact, theirs could be more severe because regularly moving from place to place can leave you with no meaningful connections.
Freelancing is a contract-based style of work with no guarantees of new offers making their way to your desk. It is hard to predict your income as a freelancer. This can pose a bigger challenge to some nomads who have to court a whole new bunch of expenses that traveling the world opens them up to.
Dependence on technology and internet connectivity
Some areas might have poor or no internet connectivity. This can hamper your progress as your entire output depends on technology and internet connectivity. A break in communication due to unplanned outages can severely hamper your work. Therefore, as a nomad, it's important to make due research on the suitability of whatever locations you intend to travel to.
Is the digital nomad lifestyle a realistic one?
Yes, numerous professionals are living the traveling freelancer lifestyle. But working as a digital nomad presents an interesting argument. While it promises great benefits, the sustainability of such a lifestyle is questionable.
Considering the benefits and limitations, it is reasonable to ask— is digital nomadism realistic? This depends on several factors and hence, has no straightforward answer.
First, it is clearly not for everyone. Some people could get distracted from their work amid new people and culture while others might become too isolated, thereby affecting their work-life balance.
Secondly, with recent events like the Coronavirus outbreak, expect countries to be more strict with digital nomads trying to make their way into the country.
Finally, with an increasing interest in digital nomadism, some popular areas for nomads are probably going to see hikes in the cost of living in the long term. Though this might seem a stretch, it presents the future of this work lifestyle in a new light.
Through a nomadic lifestyle, freelancers can experience new cultures by traveling from place to place. Aside from the excitement that comes with that, they can save more money, learn new things that can help their work, and meet more people. However, digital nomads can face a lot of setbacks, some of them unexpected. Whether this will become the dominant work lifestyle it's up to the future to tell, however, it is the dream job for freelancers.