The aspiration of many people that work 9 to 5 jobs Monday to Friday is to be a digital nomad. Whilst sat at their desks they dream about laying on a beach, sand in their toes, and sea breeze in their hair while they work away on their laptop.
But, is that really what digital nomad life is like? Or have digital nomads simply created this fantasy idea that’s nothing more than an illusion to make the 9-5ers feel jealous?
As someone that’s been a digital nomad for a while now, I believe I’ve had my fair share of the good, the bad, and the ugly that digital nomad life brings, and in this article, I’m going to spill, ultimately answering the question “does living the digital nomad lifestyle make you happy?”.
So, without further adieu, let’s get into it and see if the dreamy vision of digital nomad life aligns with the reality of it.
The Benefits of The Digital Nomad Lifestyle
It’s always best to take a look at the positives first, especially when answering a question about happiness!
The digital nomad lifestyle is incredibly rewarding, exciting, and eye-opening, and there are so many benefits that come from living this way.
1.You Get To Travel Anywhere You Want To
Obviously, the biggest bonus to being a digital nomad is that you can travel anywhere you want!
The world literally is your oyster as a digital nomad – as long as there’s a Wi-fi connection so you can do your work, you can go there!
Having this much freedom to go anywhere you want is exciting and gives a feeling of exclusivity – not many people have this opportunity!
2.You Can Earn Money From Anywhere
Being a digital nomad doesn’t just mean that you can travel anywhere you like, but it also means you can earn money whenever you are.
There’s no need for you to go to the same office every day and have a boss because you are your own boss and as long as there’s a good internet connection you can make money as you go!
I run my supplement business online thousands of miles away from the majority of my customers.
3.You Meet Other Digital Nomads and Interesting People
Having a 9-5 job Monday to Friday, you’re probably going to have the same exact people around you and you’re unlikely to be surrounded by new, interesting stories, and different perspectives.
However, when you’re a digital nomad, you’re constantly surrounded by other digital nomads that all have interesting backstories and personalities, and of course, you’re also surrounded by fascinating people in the place where you’re visiting.
4.You Can Change Up Your Life Whenever You Want To
Being a digital nomad gives you the freedom and opportunity to change your life whenever you want to.
Due to the fact that you’re not tied into a job and you don’t live a location-independent life, you can go wherever you choose whenever you want.
You can change your life dramatically at the drop of a hat if you really want to, and although most people don’t tend to, there’s still a huge sense of freedom in knowing that.
5.You Decide What Every Day Looks Like For Yourself
You can wake up when you want, you can wear what you want, you can take time off, you can work, you can adventure, you can chill – it’s all up to you!
Every single day that you wake up as a digital nomad, you get to decide what your day looks like.
This is obviously very empowering, but it’s also very useful because if you happen to wake up feeling ill or in a bad mood, that’s ok – you don’t have to still drag yourself to your office job and slave away for 8 hours.
6.You Can Base Yourself In Incredible Locations
As a digital nomad, you don’t have to live in the town that you grew up in that you’re not so fond of! Instead, you can take yourself to go and live in some of the most exotic and beautiful locations in the world.
This is what most digital nomads tend to do, hence you’ll likely find the beaches of South East Asia synonymous with digital nomad life!
Since being a digital nomad I have lived and worked in Munich (Germany), Chiang Mai (Thailand), and since 2016 been living as an expat in Penang, Malaysia.
7.You’re More Motivated and Inspired
When you’re a digital nomad, you are constantly surrounded by new and exciting places, people, and culture.
All of these things obviously heavily influence your attitude, and you will find that digital nomads tend to be more motivated, more inspired, and essentially dream much bigger than people that stay in their home-town and decide to get a location-dependent job.
8.You Gain So Much Life Experience
Nothing helps you gain more life experience than seeing the world, living in different locations, existing in different cultures, and meeting all kinds of people.
As a digital nomad, you will gain so much life experience and you’ll find that you become wise (if I do say so myself!) much more quickly than you otherwise would.
The Downsides of The Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Now we’ve taken a look at some of the benefits of the digital nomad lifestyle, it’s time to take a little look at the downsides.
Of course, the benefits of living a digital nomad lifestyle can definitely make you happy, but you also need to be aware of some of the ‘not-so-great’ and challenging aspects of it too.
1.You Will Miss Family and Friends
It’s inevitable that you will miss your family, friends, and loved ones from back home when you live a digital nomad lifestyle.
Yes, you might be in amazing places and connecting with incredible people that make it feel more justifiable to be away from your loved ones, but the fact remains that you will miss them and could find it difficult, especially if you’re particularly close with your family and friends.
2.You Might Find It Hard To Switch Off
One of the biggest challenges that come with the digital nomad lifestyle is that it’s hard to distinguish the time that you work and the time that you relax.
You will probably find it very difficult to switch off and put your laptop away when you’re a digital nomad.
Firstly this will be because (if you’re a self-employed digital nomad), the more you work the more money you will make, and secondly because it’s easy to get pulled into working too much when you’re around other digital nomads.
3.You Will Miss Routine
Even if you’re visiting the most insanely beautiful places, meeting the best people and your business is thriving whilst you’re doing that, you will miss having a routine.
You might never think you’d miss having a specific time you get home from work or a time that you eat dinner or a special nighttime routine, but you will.
When you have no routine in your life, it can increase anxiety levels.
4.You Will Sometimes Miss Being Employed
When I say that you might miss being employed I’m not talking about missing board meetings or Monday morning motivation talks, but I’m talking about missing two things in particular – working alongside people and not having to worry too much about making money.
Working alone as a digital nomad can feel lonely and you will miss working towards goals with other people. You will also sometimes miss the security of a monthly salary for turning up to work.
5.It Can Be Lonely
Following on from the workplace loneliness (oh, what a positive sentence!), leading a digital nomad life can sometimes a bit lonely if you’re out there doing it all on your own.
Making friends can often feel difficult, the ones you might make could be transient, and you might miss having the people you love around you.
6.People Might Not Take You Seriously
Although more and more people are getting into the digital nomad way of life, it’s still not that common, and some people do regard digital nomads as people that are constantly just on a gap-year style travel holiday.
Obviously, this isn’t true. However, some people may not take your lifestyle seriously.
7.It Might Lead To Burnout
When you’re a digital nomad, and most definitely when you first become a digital nomad, you want to take all of the opportunities that come your way, from meeting other digital nomads and connecting with local communities to traveling everywhere you’ve always wanted to go and working 24/7.
Obviously, if you do this, you are going to get experience burnout extremely quickly, and burnout not only impacts your mental health, but you’re physical health too.
8.You May Crave The Ease of Your Home Country
There are a lot of things to think about when you are a digital nomad, from visas and Airbnb rentals to figuring out tax and local language.
Sometimes, especially if you’re feeling a little fragile or if something has gone wrong, you will find yourself missing the easiness of your home country.
How To Live The Happiest Possible Digital Nomad Life
Making Planning A Priority
It’s not just booking a flight and taking a laptop with you – you need to plan your life, just as you would in your home country!
Make sure you’re scheduling your days, planning holidays, and setting personal and business goals.
Separate Work From Personal Life
You have to separate your work life from your personal life as a digital nomad, otherwise, you’re going to experience burnout very fast.
Make an effort to schedule both the hours that you’re working and the hours that you’re doing social/personal/non-work-related things to stay on top of this.
Don’t Rush Around The Globe Too Fast
When you first start out as a digital nomad it can be tempting to travel everywhere you’ve ever wanted and rush through your travels, but you don’t need to do this.
In fact, if you do this you might find that you’ve left feeling burnout from travel and you don’t appreciate it as much. Instead, take it slow and recognize that it’s ok to spend more time in one place.
You need to create routines for yourself, even if these aren’t rigid and they’re only a morning and an evening routine.
Creating routines helps you take back the feeling of being in control and you’re going to need to feel that when you’re whizzing around the world working and exploring!
Talk To Someone If You’re Suffering
Due to the fact that a lot of people don’t think that being a digital nomad is hard, it can often feel difficult to open up to someone if you’re suffering.
However, if you are feeling particularly low or you feel as if you’re suffering from a mental health illness, make sure you speak to someone about it and don’t let a fear of judgment hold you back.
Remember To Stop And Enjoy Where You Are
Being a digital nomad is great, but don’t rush it! Stop and enjoy where you are, who you’re with, and where you’re at with your life experience so far.
Remember to regularly step back and appreciate how grateful you are to live this type of life.
Can It Make You Happy? – Depends On You!
If you’re someone that is committed to a location-independent lifestyle and you’re willing to take on the potential negatives in order to benefit from the positives and live a life that you truly want, then you should start living the digital nomad lifestyle!
So, if traveling the world as a digital nomad is what you really want to do, take my advice on how to live the happiness possible digital nomad life possible and go on your way!
It’s not easy, but anything worth having rarely is.