Digital nomad lifestyle is all about traveling and working at the most unique locations and making new friends throughout the entire journey. But only nomads themselves know what that experience is like.

In fact, the reality people face when becoming digital nomads drastically differs from the expectations.

That’s why we are here to present you with the most common expectations about digital nomad lifestyle and their differences in reality.

Expectation #1: Working from bed

Working from home is always beneficial when you can work in your warm bed anytime you want. But certainly that’s not always the case.

Working from bed requires extra energy for focus and concentration. You may feel comfortable, however it will be difficult to draw a distinct line between comfort and productivity.

digital nomad working from bed

Another important factor is that bed indicates your sleep zone, which is a mental association linked to your own home. Working from bed will distort the association and result in difficulties with work and home balance.

It will also decrease your sleep quality because no matter how much you reduce the amount of blue light on the screen, it’s more difficult for the brain to settle for sleep after work.

Try working near a desk or in other locations like coffeeshops or coworking spaces and if you’re worried about background noise you can always use noise cancelling headphones.

It’s also possible to mute background noise if you’re about to take a conference call. Simply download Krisp and mute the noise from both sides of the call with any conferencing app of your choice.

Expectation #2: More free time

It’s challenging to motivate yourself to work when you’re at home since there are many distracting factors that give room for procrastination. It’s difficult to plan the span of the day and allocate enough time for work when there are no stable working hours and necessity to work from office.

digital nomad leisure with coffee

Melissa – the founder of High heels and a backpack, has been a digital nomad for 7 years now. Even though she’s been working distantly for such a long time, she faces the same issues as many newcomers.

“I wish I had a boss to yell at me and tell me what to do. Maybe that way I wouldn’t end up writing until 4 am because I was procrastinating…”

In reality, digital nomads overwork as well and have to spend even more time planning for future trips. Sometimes this doesn’t leave enough time for leisure and non-work related activities.

Expectation #3: Maximum Productivity

When you arrive at your new location, it’s hard to get to work immediately. It takes time to settle and explore the new country. You’re more likely to spend time looking around, participating in different interesting events and going on a hunt for quiet coffeeshops and coworking spaces.

If you’re starting your digital nomad journey, don’t expect to be productive from the beginning. Time management is something many digital nomads admit to struggle with. It takes a lot of time and commitment to build the necessary skills for organizing your time effectively. There are various productivity apps and tools which can help you with this.

digital nomad productivity

Productivity doesn’t emerge right as you move in, but rather when as you settle in. So don’t worry and give yourself more time to enjoy your new home.

Expectation #4: Compensation

People assume digital nomad jobs are well paid, so it allows them to frequently travel and book the most expensive hotels in the country they move to. However being a digital nomad is not always easy, especially if you run your own business. It takes plenty of time and resources to invest in your business before you start getting decent income.

Many digital nomads face this issue including Chloe and Debora from Nominal Nomad.

“For the majority of people, it can take at least a couple of months to generate an income. If you’re planning on setting up your own business and you know that you won’t be earning money for a while, you need to make sure you have saved enough money before you move.”

digital nomad income

It’s important to make sure you save up enough money before moving to a different country. This will help you to cover the initial costs before you settle in and find a job.

If you want to have extra source of income in addition to your job, you can always find yourself side projects or part-time jobs that will help boost your financials in the long-run.

Expectation #5: WiFi availability

Finding a decent WiFi in every spot of the country you move to is in fact a difficult thing. People assume there is WiFi in every corner, but poor connection is always a possibility. Besides, using public WiFi is not always a safe option.

Your best bet can be carrying a pocket WiFi router or use virtual private network (VPN) to stay on the safe side and avoid your device getting malware or dealing with unencrypted networks. Also, always remember to log out of all your accounts once you’re done working and only visit secure (HTTPS) websites.

Expectation #6: Frequent Travels

Traveling is exhausting. Having to fly from one part of the globe to another, waiting in the airports, changing trains and buses – all of this can consume lots of your energy. Sometimes all people want to do is stay in their hotel room and relax instead of planning trips and burning time while traveling.

digital nomad traveling on an airplane

Even though Leah Mchugh, a nomad with 10 years of experience, enjoys traveling, she admits that taking a break is an essential part of digital nomadism.

“Constantly moving while working and trying to see everything is a great recipe for burnout. I’ve been moving about once a month, and I’m starting to burn out.

There’s a pull to want to take full advantage of your freedom, and I have to remind myself that freedom also means being free to stop and recharge. Sometimes you just need to take a break”.

So put your frequent traveling plans on hold and take a short break.

Expectation #7: No Friends

When you leave your family & friends and move to another country it becomes difficult to lead a solo lifestyle. Beginner digital nomads often think they won’t be able to acquire friends when they move to a new country, but of course that’s not a case.

You can use digital nomad community websites to connect with other digital nomads. Another possibility is to visit coworking spaces or digital nomad conferences or events.  

And remember, your friends don’t have to be digital nomads, they can be anyone. You will find new people you share interests just as you move and start your first exploration into the city.


We hope that these expectations won’t stop you from becoming a digital nomad and enjoying your journey to the fullest.