About the author

This guide was written by Darren Cronian. Over the last 7 years, he has secured numerous remote jobs and built a successful freelancing business. Frustrated at automated rejections or struggling to find freelance clients? Your remote work coach is here for support.

It’s time for a dose of reality because since remote working has become more prominent with the pandemic, there has been an increase in content selling the dream of working on a beach.

The reality of being a digital nomad

Do not get me wrong, this is totally possible, but day-to-day it is not the reality. You will spend a lot of time working in your accommodation, a coffee shop or co-working space! To live a comfortable life as a digital nomad, you need to be making a consistent income, and that does not come from spending all your day on the beach or next to the pool.

That aside, let’s talk about the pros and cons of being a digital nomad.

My Digital Nomad story

For over 7 years, I have worked remotely while travelling the world. Living in cities like Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Prague. In 2015, I quit my office job of 24 years to work remotely as a Quality Assurance specialist. This was the best decision, and I love living this lifestyle.

Pros and Cons of Being a Digital Nomad
Freedom and flexibility

Working in an office felt like I was a pre-programmed robot. Wake up, commute to the office, work, take a 30 minutes lunch break, work more, head back home, sleep, and repeat.

For 24 years, this was pretty much my existence.

The freedom and flexibility introduced into my life surprised me when quitting my office job. Getting into a work routine is vital to enjoying the places you travel to while getting work done to make a living.

At the time of writing, my home in Seoul for three months and my main working hours are 6 to 11pm. This gives me the freedom to do whatever I want, from waking up until it’s time to work.

That’s usually around 10-11 hours. Like today, I will go to a coffee shop and work on my online business. Other days, you will find me exploring the city, hiking, and enjoying the outdoors.

Freedom and flexibility are more important than money, but let’s be honest, you cannot live in cities like Seoul without cash. Working 25 hours a week gives me freedom, flexibility and money to live comfortably.

Isolation of working and travelling alone

For introverts like myself, living as a digital nomad is perfect, especially as we live through a pandemic. For many, though, the thought of working, travelling and living alone is a considerable challenge.

One of the benefits of spending 3 months in one place is making new friends by joining local events and feeling part of a community. It is a little more complicated in some countries like Korea but totally possible.

For work, you will use tools like Slack, Zoom, and Google Meet to communicate with other team members and clients, so there is some social engagement. Using Whatsapp to keep in touch with family and friends back home really does help.

People often ask me if I feel lonely, and the answer is always no. My day is pretty full, and I never have time to think about being alone. Finding hobbies and interests to keep you busy outside of work is a great way to beat isolation.

You must spend time doing the things you love in life and not spend all of your day and night working.

Experience the world we live in

Travel is the best education anyone can receive. You learn about different cultures and languages. You meet new people and discover another perspective of the world. Then there’s the food – one of the best experiences is tasting unique flavours and cuisine that you’ve never eaten before.

Where possible, avoid staying in tourist areas. Instead, live in local neighbourhoods to experience the real side of the places you visit. You will meet more people and not pay the overinflated tourist prices, which can be double what you pay locally.

One of the many things I love about being a digital nomad is sitting in a coffee shop, hearing the sound of locals having conversations.

When writing this guide, my workspace was a small coffee place near my Seoul apartment called Azitpunk. The coffee is excellent!

Living as a Digital Nomad can be stressful

Without it sounding like a whiny list of first-world problems, stressful situations can occur as a digital nomad. Being prepared for these events will save you money, time and help you avoid stress.

  • Banking issues

Do not travel with only one method of payment. Travel with two debit cards, a credit card for emergencies and also use Wise, an online bank account where you can transfer money quickly and pay for bills.

Should your bank card get stolen or lost, then you are going to be without access to your money to pay for accommodation, food, and travel to your next destination.

Also, think about setting up Google or Apple Pay on your phone, so you do not need to take your bank card out with you.

Research if the country you are spending time in has a money card, where you load money onto it and pay for public transport and snacks at convenience stores using the card.

  • Travel issues

An array of travel issues can arise as a digital nomad, and the more often you travel, the higher the chances of something happening.

Flights can be cancelled, or you might not check in to the flight in time. Your luggage could be lost for several days. Your Airbnb apartment might be in the middle of a building site. Your hotel has double-booked, and you have no room. You could lose your passport or be a victim of crime.

These scenarios have solutions you can do beforehand to reduce the risk, and we have a guide that will help you plan for these travel issues.

Work options based on your lifestyle

We’ve talked about having more freedom and creating the perfect work-life balance, but the same flexibility can be built about work and how you make money. To live this lifestyle comfortably, you need to be bringing in regular income to pay for accommodation, transport, food and tours.

You could be employed by a company, freelance for clients, run your own business, or be a contractor. All of these ways of working have pros and cons, but you have options based on the type of lifestyle you want.

For me, having time to experience the place I’m living in is essential. So, I work part-time (25 hours per week) as a contractor for a US company. Throughout the day, I explore, rest or work on my business. In the evening, I work as a Quality Assurance Specialist. One of the most significant benefits of a contractor is getting paid every month.

What’s next?

Do you have any questions about being a digital nomad? Ask your questions, and we will happily help you. Also, subscribe to the Hive, our free email where you can learn about remote working while travelling.

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This guide was written by Darren Cronian. Over the last 7 years, he has secured numerous remote jobs and built a successful freelancing business. Frustrated at automated rejections or struggling to find freelance clients? Your remote work coach is here for support.

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