Ideas: 10 questions to ask yourself about becoming a digital nomad

If you’re currently cooped up at home or stuck working in an office, you might be wondering whether you’d be able to make it work as a digital nomad yourself. Although the lifestyle obviously offers lots of benefits, it’s certainly not for everyone, and for many workers it simply isn’t compatible with their chosen career. But, if you can work from anywhere and want to see the world, it might well be an option for you.

Leaving your life in Britain to work and live abroad is certainly not a decision to be taken lightly, and there are a number of things you’ll need to think carefully about. So, before you start planning which countries you’ll visit, take some time to ask yourself these key questions.

  1. How will you make money? Do you have a job that can be performed anywhere, or do you have another revenue stream that will provide an income while you travel?
  2. How often do you need to be at home for work? If you are a salaried worker, you might need to return a couple of times a month for meetings or other events — sometimes at fairly short notice. Would this be a big obstacle to your plans? This might not mean it’s completely infeasible, but it may make visiting very far-flung countries quite impractical.
  3. Do you have other commitments at home? If you are married or have children or other dependent relatives, it will be a lot harder to make the lifestyle work for your family. While some digital nomads do travel as a couple, the majority tend to be single, and aren’t looking to settle down anytime soon.
  4. What are your current living arrangements? If you own a home, will you look to sell up before you move? Or, would you consider renting it out in order to help fund your travels? Both options represent a big financial risk, so you’ll need to consult a financial planner before making a decision like this.
  5. Are you ready for the downsides? Digital nomadism offers plenty of benefits, but it’s not for everyone, and there are a number of disadvantages. For one thing, you’ll have to travel relatively light, and dealing with the language barriers can be tricky. You’ll also need to be prepared to deal with bureaucratic and administrative challenges, such as travel visas, taxation issues, and tourist taxes — all of which are much more likely to cause headaches even when travelling close to home now that Britain has formally left the EU.
  6. Are you disciplined? If you’re going to work independently abroad, you’ll need to be able to manage your time effectively and maintain a high level of self-discipline in order to stay on top of your workload. Otherwise, you may end up with cash flow problems that could jeopardise your travels.
  7. Do you have a cushion of savings? Even if you can generate an income by working online, most digital nomads advise building up a healthy savings pot to support you as you get started. It’s also wise to keep some savings in reserve throughout your travels, in case of any unexpected costs.
  8. How will you handle the emotional and social challenges? Although the digital nomad lifestyle is rarely dull, it can sometimes be a lonely or isolating experience. For one thing, you’ll be away from friends and family back home in the UK for long periods of time. And, depending on how often you decide to move from place to place, you may find that forming lasting friendships or relationships on the road is tricky. This can be quite challenging for even the keenest globetrotters, so you’ll need to think carefully about whether the benefits would outweigh the social challenges.
  9. Which countries appeal to you, and is it feasible or safe to travel to them? While certain countries tend to more popular with digital nomads — especially those with low living costs — some can still be dangerous for various reasons. Others impose strict visa limitations that can make long-term residency tricky. So, you’ll need to draw up a list of everywhere you’d like to go, and then do your research to establish how safe or feasible it’s going to be.
  10. How long do you plan to travel for? Even if you love to travel, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to be on the road forever. So, you’ll need to get a rough idea of how long you want to do this for. Many digital nomads travel for a few years or so before returning home or settling in a more permanent base.