When the average professional imagines a digital nomadic lifestyle, no doubt stock photography comes to mind – some wearing a 22-year-old hammock, or sitting on the sand or awkwardly balancing a laptop on a hilltop.
The pictures are beautiful. But to any real digital nomad with a serious career, photos fall flat. (Expert advice: The beach is a bad place to work.)
The problem with these pictures is that leisure time and work time merge into a single picture, where in real life they have to be different, otherwise you will waste both.
Words are worse than pictures – digital nomadic posts, articles and even books tend to be shallow and confusing.
If you are seriously considering changing the digital nomadic lifestyle, you need an accurate picture of what you are doing. So here are six basic lifestyle tips that blogs don’t tell you.
Not many digital nomads are nomads
A significant number of so-called digital nomads simply move to Chiang Mai, Thailand and live there as temporary ex-pats – or any number of places that offer a decent living combined with the low cost of living. There is nothing wrong with that.
But it is not a nomadic life.
Most digital nomads are not very young
The popular idea is that digital nomads are young people within five years of college. However, according to a recent survey of MBO partners, only 21% of “Zuma” – Generation Z, aged 25 and under.
The largest group is the Millennials – now 26-41 year olds – who make up 44% of the digital traffic. (That’s right: the “millennium” is now entering its 40’s.)
One-fourth of digital migrants are Generation X – ages 42 to 57 – and 12% are Baby Boomers: people between the ages of 58 and 76.
In other words, more digital nomads are 42 years older than those under 25.
Nomads often call it “slowness”.
Surprise! Digital nomadic professionals work full time. In fact, more than the whole time. Depends on where you go. Sometimes with slow connections, travel time, and random unusual inconveniences (which I will mention below), you can expect to keep the same working week back in the office, another, say, 20%.
To spend a week exploring a city for a digital nomad, you would have to stay there for a month and spend most of your time at work.
The digital nomadic lifestyle offers a choice-your-own-adventure
Each category of digital migration bears a slight resemblance to the others. They are all completely different.
For example, van life is completely different from international nomads. One is domestic; The other is foreign. A lot harder; Other animals can be filled with comfort.
The common denominator between the two is that everything is always new. This is very different from temporary ex-pats who moved to Costa Rica and lived there.
My wife and I are both obsessed with food and foreign cultures, so living as an international digital nomad is perfect for us.
But we have never been able to do van life (very uncomfortable) or X-pat things (very unchangeable).
The point is, since all digital nomadic lifestyles come with trade-offs and downsides, it’s important to know yourself and what you really want out of life.
And you and your partner must be on the same page.
Digital nomadic living is almost always less convenient and less comfortable
Here is a real world example:
As I write this, I am working at our Airbnb table in a southern French village called L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.
The city (and the region of Provence) is a paradise on earth. The landscape, the weather and the architecture are stunningly beautiful, and the food is great.
People are really wonderful.
Sounds great, doesn’t it?
That’s right: it can take two or three minutes to load a basic website without the available Wi-Fi (even my mobile broadband connection via Google Fi is slow). Also, the window curtains are virtually non-existent here, and the building is ancient.
So, my choice is to have an open window and be mosquito or mosquito free and work in a damp and stuffy building. Yet there is no place I want to be.
You just have to be more discriminating with the help you render toward other people.
The digital nomadic economy is in full swing
Keeping your home while abroad or on the road is very expensive and probably financially ill. So to be financially profitable, put everything in storage, sell your home and hit the road.
Yes, that’s right you can now become known as a Lord of the Rings.
Though the lifestyle is nice, think about the lack of complete control over your home office and fast internet, your own kitchen and your daily routine.
And this is certainly not a decision to be taken lightly based on false images painted by digital nomadic literature.
Van life is not all sunset and morning coffee with the dog. And even the international digital nomads are not living in the endless party in Thailand.
And you never work on the beach.
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