Published 12th May 2021
Satisfied in your job? Happy in your career? Set for life?
If you’re honest, probably not. These days, there are quite a few of us who are not content with our current 9 to 5 and are looking at ways to make a change. Have you ever considered being your own boss, living your best life and achieving financial independence? Well, one way to achieve this dream is to become a digital nomad.
Sadly, living our dreams without working is reserved for those of us with a somehow endless supply of money or lucky lottery tickets. For the rest of us, we need to find a way to do a job we love which pays well and gives us the freedom to make our lives what we want them to be. But if being a digital nomad can give us all this, then why isn’t everyone doing it?
Life, unfortunately, has a way of throwing challenges at us to make us work for what we want. But we don’t have to work hard, but we need to work smart. So yes, there are numerous challenges you might encounter on your journey to becoming a digital nomad, but there’s no reason you can’t overcome these obstacles.
Here are seven challenges to becoming a digital nomad – and how you can overcome them.
Working for yourself
As anyone self-employed will tell you, sometimes being your own boss isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You get to decide when you want to work, how much you want to work, and how much you can charge, but there is also a fair amount of nitty-gritty that rests on your shoulders. Chasing payments, organising schedules, paying tax – that’s all on you. And, if it’s your first time living alone it’ll also mean paying rent and bills too.
How to handle it: Don’t let the big responsibilities scare you off from signing up for this lifestyle. More and more people are becoming self-employed so there’s no reason you can’t too. Besides, any headaches in paperwork can be offset by the sound of the waves crashing against the beach… (Also, speak to a tax professional if necessary.)
Now is the time to become smart with your money. When you live independently and forge a new lifestyle for yourself, every cent is precious. Living abroad and travelling can bring with it hidden and unexpected costs which can put a huge dent in your savings.
How to handle it: Keep on top of your finances. Keep track of your monthly income and expenditure, and make sure you are saving at least a small percentage of your salary every month. Try to find the most cost-effective ways of living wherever you live – that most likely means foregoing eating out every night and rather cooking for yourself.
Living a life across borders can be tricky. Some countries will welcome you with open arms while others will ask for your firstborn child before letting you out of the airport. Sadly, this all has to do with which passport you carry, which is not something you can really do anything about.
How to handle it: Again, take it as a hiccup rather than a stop street. Do your research beforehand to make sure you have all the paperwork you need to get a visa and, if it’s not possible, don’t waste your time fighting the system. There are plenty of other places you will be able to go to.
Finding the wifi
Yes, of course, we love this lifestyle because it allows you to work from wherever you want to. But you need to remember that you’re not just a traveller; you still have a job. You need to find locations with reliable and affordable (if not free) internet connectivity. A lot of countries experience power outages – often unplanned – and free wifi might not be readily available.
How to handle it: If you’re serious about doing your work while you are travelling, make sure you are aware of any limitations you might encounter when it comes to being online. If you have a regular stream of work or a big deadline, it might make sense to stay put in a good situation, until you see a break in your work or you decide to take a holiday.
Finding your people
Being a digital nomad, by its very definition, means moving around. When you move around a lot it can be hard to maintain friendships. Plus, if you are always the new person in town it’ll be up to you to make friends for those times you’re tired of your own company. Bear in mind also that you won’t have an office to meet people at. What’s more, even if you find making friends relatively easy, it will be difficult to keep that friendship when you move to another city.
How to handle it: Of course the one solution to this problem is being a digital nomad with someone but not everybody has this option. We say, don’t let the thought of some homesickness freak you out. You are bound to meet people on your roamings. Besides, technology is such today that it is super easy to keep in touch with your friends and family back home.
Read more: Top 3 Ways to Make Friends While Abroad
Lost in translation
One contributor to your loneliness could be your lack of communication skills in the local language. Living in a foreign country often means not being able to speak the local language and the locals not being able to speak English. This is all fun and games when you arrive but it can make everyday life very frustrating after a while.
How to handle it: Overcoming this one is easy: learn the language. If you are only living in a country for a short while you might not want to spend your time learning the local language. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to communicate. Even learning a few words will make communicating easier. Of course, if you plan on being in the area for a while, it shouldn’t be too hard to immerse yourself in learning the language. Knowing a foreign language is beneficial for you in so many ways.
Read more: 3 Ways to Help You Learn the Local Language
Having a work-life balance
Working as a digital nomad often means working for clients in different time zones. Realistically it might mean working on a number of different projects simultaneously. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself juggling deadlines furiously while still trying to live your best life. For some of us, it’s not easy to compartmentalise and switch off from work. So if you don’t work a typical 9 to 5, you might end up answering emails on a Sunday or chasing a deadline late at night.
How to handle it: Find your groove. Some of us work better in the mornings, while others work best late at night. Work when it suits you so that you won’t waste time trying to be productive when you should be resting. The beauty of being a digital nomad is that you’re not stuck in endless meetings all day, so if your creative juices only flow after 6 pm, then do some sightseeing during the day and work when the sun goes down. Just remember to schedule some downtime, no matter how busy you are with work.
As with anything in life, being a digital nomad brings with it its own set of challenges. But don’t let them stand in your way of achieving the freedom of being a digital nomad.