The Downsides of Digital Nomadism! 3 Real Challenges You Should Know

February 22, 2024

Photo by visualspace from iStock

Many people have romanticized notions about the digital nomad lifestyle, but the reality may be different. Here, we've compiled the three most common challenges shared by digital nomads. If you're considering embarking on the digital nomad journey, it's worth taking a look!

Leaving the office behind and taking only your computer, the world becomes your workspace. This digital nomad lifestyle has long been an aspiration for many, offering a blend of work and life where individuals no longer feel like cogs in a machine but instead have greater control over their lives.

But did you know? Many digital nomads eventually choose to return to conventional workplaces. There's a plethora of struggles shared by digital nomads online, shedding light on the reality of their journey, which might not always align with the romanticized image.

If you're considering embarking on a digital nomad lifestyle, it's worth understanding the three main challenges frequently encountered by digital nomads.

1. Long-Term Career Development

Before diving into digital nomadism, your first thought might be about your career. Planning for long-term career development has long been a concern for those interested in committing to the digital nomad lifestyle, and perhaps it's the most crucial issue.

If you have a clear career plan and are still an employee of a company, merely offering your expertise through remote work might alleviate some of the stress.

However, some choose to leave their current jobs altogether to pursue freelance work or create their own brands while diving into digital nomadism.

This decision often brings to the forefront the issue of unstable income. Can your financial situation handle the uncertainty of project availability and fluctuating income?

Moreover, how will this freelance work or brand development contribute to your long-term career growth? These are questions you must contemplate.

Many digital nomads leave traditional employment structures to work on a freelance basis or establish their own brands. However, when they encounter career roadblocks or struggle with unstable and slow salary growth, they may become more anxious and ultimately choose to return to traditional workplaces.

If you're interested in this topic, you can refer to "Stable Job vs. High-Paying Freelance: Which Is a Better Career Choice?" to help you think through your decision. You can also listen to the "Digital Nomad" series on the podcast "JB's Small Talk."

We've interviewed many digital nomads who share their experiences on how to start digital nomadism and plan for long-term careers, which could be valuable references for you.

2. Work Isn't Necessarily Easier

Many assume that digital nomadism involves leisurely working at a beachside café while enjoying the ocean view, with thoughts of playtime after work. However, the reality is often quite different.

Digital nomads still have work to do, and often the workload is similar to or even greater than when they were employed in a traditional office setting. Without effective time management skills and with constant distractions from the desire to travel, tasks may remain unfinished or not done well.

Business matters can also interrupt leisure time during travel, leaving them with a sense of being pulled in two directions.

When traveling to different locations, digital nomads may also have to adjust to different time zones to accommodate various companies or clients, leading to further confusion in balancing work and life.

Many digital nomads share in online communities that the work pressure of digital nomadism isn't necessarily lower. Some even have to deal with the instability of freelancing or entrepreneurship, making the overall experience not necessarily easier.

This is one of the reasons why some ultimately return to traditional workplaces. If work is equally demanding, they might as well return to the stability of a traditional job.

In digital nomadism, time management skills are especially crucial. You can refer to articles on time management, which may be helpful to you.

3. Sense of Isolation

The digital nomad lifestyle may not be as joyous as you imagine, with the opportunity to make friends from around the world through travel.

Since most digital nomads work remotely alone, even if they're employees of a company, they may not be very familiar with their colleagues due to long-distance work. When encountering problems or seeking someone to talk to, it can be challenging to find someone, leading to a profound sense of loneliness.

While traveling and working, you may meet other digital nomads along the way. However, these encounters are often fleeting, making it difficult to form deep friendships.

Some digital nomads establish communities to connect with others, work together, and maintain contact. They may also organize regular workshops to share experiences. Therefore, before embarking on digital nomadism, consider joining such communities. Not only will you meet more digital nomads, but you'll also build connections.

You can also refer to the article "Remote Work Socializing: 7 Ways to Never Be an Outsider Again" to help you make friends more smoothly.

These are the realities behind the digital nomad lifestyle shared by many digital nomads. Before starting your journey, evaluate whether your situation is suitable for digital nomadism and seek advice from other nomads, which will be more helpful to you!


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Editor Group/邱于瑄

Editor Group/邱于瑄

Yu-Syuan is the editor of "Digital Nomad" and "'Darencademy". She used to be a reporter for the magazine "Globel Views", traveled across Taiwan, able to write articles wherever there's internet and a laptop.