Becoming a digital nomad is not for the faint of heart! Even with careful planning, there are some frustrations digital nomads must deal with as part of the lifestyle. It is essential to go into the journey with your eyes wide open and having some idea of what to expect. Proper planning will go a long way towards preventing these frustrations from de-railing your experience.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about the Top 10 Considerations for Digital Nomads in 2023, which focused on various factors potential digital nomads needed to be aware of when choosing where to go. In today’s article, we will be focusing more on some of the common frustrations digital nomads experience once they are on their journey.
So, without further ado, let’s chat about the top frustrations identified by digital nomads and how you can deal with them.
1. Finding a place to live
Based on Flatio’s Digital Nomad Report 2023, finding a suitable place to live is the biggest frustration for digital nomads. It can be challenging to find a place to stay that checks all your boxes. Some of the common factors digital nomads consider when looking for accommodations are:
- Good workspace
Since most (over 55%) of digital nomads work from home, it is crucial for them to find a place where they can get actually get their work done.
If you intend to only stay in your location for a short period of time, you could probably “stick it out” if your accommodation turns out to be less than ideal. But, if you intend to stay for longer, it may be best to find a short-term accommodation to start, and then look for a more long-term place to stay once you arrive so you can actually go check it out in person. This also enables you to make a more Informed decision once you have some on the ground experience in your location and know where you want to be.
2. Meeting people
Flatio’s report identifies meeting people and building relationships as the second biggest frustration for digital nomads, and it is pretty clear why. Spending short amounts of time in any given location and likely not speaking the local language can definitely make it a challenge to build relationships. Add to that the time it takes to settle in every time you get somewhere new, or having an introverted personality, and you could be in for a tough slog.
But that does not mean it is impossible to make new connections and find a community of people in your digital nomad destination. Here are some ideas for how to make meeting people a little easier:
- Join Facebook and other social media groups to start making connections and figure out where people are hanging out before you arrive.
- Head to coworking spaces, cafes, and local meet-ups to interact with other people face to face.
- Volunteer and get engaged in other group activities.
Is it more difficult to meet people and find your community as a digital nomad? Yes. Is it impossible? Absolutely not. By making a conscious effort both before you get to your destination and once you arrive, you can definitely still find “your people”.
The third biggest frustration for digital nomads according to the Flatio report is taxes. And this totally makes sense, because taxes are a pain in everyone’s behind, both digital nomads and non-digital nomads alike.
Moving between different countries can make taxes more difficult and confusing. Make sure you understand the tax requirements of every country you visit, so you don’t end up with tax issues you weren’t expecting. The majority of digital nomads (66%) pay tax in their home country and, unless you spend enough time in another country to fall into their tax net, that will likely be the case for you, too.
Speak to an accountant if you have any questions and to make sure you understand your filing obligations.
Coming in at #4 on the Flatio report is healthcare. Getting injured or sick is already stressful enough when you are abroad, so you want to make sure you are covered should anything happen to you.
In some places, healthcare may be cheap enough that you can choose to forego any insurance. Other places may be costly enough that it makes sense to have insurance in place to mitigate potential costs should you require medical attention. Perhaps you just like having the peace of mind of having an insurance policy in place, just in case.
Insurance providers like Safety Wing are fabulous options for digital nomads because they offer worldwide insurance coverage at an affordable price, starting at less than $50/month! Hook yourself up with a policy like this to protect yourself when unexpected medical situations arise. The other thing you will want to do is gather some good intel about healthcare facilities in your destination, so you have an idea of where to go and what to expect should you need them.
Rounding out the top 5 frustrations in the Flatio report, we have visas. Ah yes, visas.
There are numerous types of visas and each country offers its own unique mix with varying requirements, length of stays available, etc.
Flatio’s report states that most digital nomads (29.1%) spend 1-2 months in a particular destination at a time, while 26% spend 3-4 months at a time. However, even with these shorter stays, digital nomads may find their visa options lacking.
Many countries offer only a 30-day tourist visa, meaning that if you want to stay longer, you will need to do a “visa run”, where you essentially leave the country for a few days or even just a few hours, then re-enter the country to get a fresh 30-day tourist visa. This can be quite a hassle to deal with and some countries, such as Thailand, are putting rules in place to crack down on visa runs.
You may have the option to extend your visa, however this can be quite costly. Other options, such as digital nomad visas, usually require you to submit your application well ahead of time and come with more documentation requirements than a simple tourist visa.
The best solution is to research your visa options and plan your stays accordingly. If you aren’t interested in spending the time and money on doing a border run for some of those shorter-stay visas, make sure you find another visa option that better suits your needs.
6. Internet speed and reliability
Moving away from the Flatio report, there are many other frustrations that can come up for digital nomads, internet speed and reliability being a big one. There may be a place that you would absolutely love to go from a travel standpoint, but if the internet is garbage, you won’t be able to get your work done. As glamorous as the digital nomad life may seem, working while you travel is a necessity and you can’t be without a good internet connection for long.
Even if you are in a location with supposedly good internet, it can go down for hours (or even – gasp! – days at a time). There’s not much you can do about this, aside from doing your best to choose locations that are supposed to have decent internet. Nomad Girl does a great job of compiling internet speeds of popular digital nomad destinations so make sure to check that out!
7. Work/life balance
Finding the balance between working and traveling is another challenge and frustration for digital nomads. Constantly traveling and planning for traveling is time-consuming. You may want to see and do everything, but that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to getting enough work done.
Conversely, you also don’t want to spend all your time in your Airbnb, working, and missing out on the beauty of your destination.
Striking the right balance between working and traveling will take some practice. Anyone who has done any amount of traveling knows that things generally do not go as planned, and they usually take longer than you think they will. Build in enough buffers for yourself and do not overestimate the amount or work or travel you will be able to fit into a short period of time.
A successful digital nomad journey will allow you time to explore your destinations, while getting the required work done to support your travel.
8. Time zone issues
If you are on one side of the world and your team is on the other, it can be tricky to deal with the resulting time zone difference. It may require you to get up earlier (sometimes MUCH earlier) or stay up later to accommodate the time difference.
9. General travel issues
Traveling does not come without its issues, both during actual travel from place to place as well as once you have reached your destination. Whether that means massive travel delays, losing your luggage, or even being mugged, unforeseen events can and will occur.
Obviously, all of these things are super frustrating (and sometimes scary!) to deal with, especially if you are somewhere unfamiliar and don’t have friends and family around to support you.
This is part of why putting in the effort to make friends and find community as a digital nomad is so important, but also why it’s a good idea to have travel insurance coverage in place from a company like Safety Wing. Their medical and travel coverage will help to make these frustrating events a little less frustrating. Peace of mind is a valuable thing!
10. Relationships with family and friends
Once you are living abroad, you may find it more difficult to keep up your relationships with family and friends at home. You’ll find yourself missing out on important events that you would have loved to be a part of. You’ll likely find most of your friends and family don’t really understand what you do, which can cause a weird dynamic in existing relationships.
But, the great thing about being a digital nomad is that you can work from wherever you want, right? So, if you are really missing home, you can choose to head home for a few weeks and reconnect with your friends and family in person. Many digital nomads even say that they get to spend better quality time with their family and friends once they go abroad, since we tend to take our close proximity for granted when we live close to our loved ones and don’t make as much effort to see them.
And, when you are away, you can make use of all the great technologies we have at our disposal these days to stay in touch with your loved ones. Usually, it comes down to both parties making the effort to nurture those relationships.
The digital nomad lifestyle includes a lot of ups and downs and it is best to go into it with your eyes wide open about some of the potential challenges and frustrations you may face. While there will always be unexpected issues that come up, you can mitigate many of these frustrations with proper planning. A positive, flexible attitude will go a long way, too!
If becoming a digital nomad is your goal, you are definitely going to want to check out Escape Artist Insiders magazine, which is all about building your offshore dream. The whole Escape Artist team is here to empower you to further your financial and offshore freedom with helpful insights and advice.
Subscribe now for holistic, actionable advice you can start taking today, and I’ll see you next week!
Like Our Articles?
Then make sure to check out our Bookstore... we have titles packed full of premium offshore intel. Instant Download - Print off for your private library before the government demands we take these down!