Since Tim Ferriss published his 4-Hour Workweek in 2007, digital nomads have become a hot topic for debate. Nowadays, the digital nomad lifestyle is one of the fastest growing «new» ways of living.
While there’s certainly something romantic about the idea of travelling wherever the wind takes you, making money online with only a few hours’ work a day.
There’s also plenty of hot air, colourful stereotypes and mystery surrounding the digital nomad lifestyle. People are quick to judge when they are confronted with this type of lifestyle and can often assume things that are frankly untrue.
Let’s have a look at some of the most common stereotypes working digital nomads have to put up with, and if there is any truth behind them. Here’s our top 10, in no particular order:
1. The digital nomad lifestyle is only for the young
Social media posts help to propagate this stereotype – tanned 20-somethings travelling the globe, funding their nomad lifestyle as they go. However, there is no reason why the older generation should be excluded. In fact, sometimes it can even be helpful to be a bit older.
The working experience and connections you have might help you to find new clients. Your savings are useful when you first start out to travel- age is absolutely no criterion for exclusion when it comes to being a digital nomad.
2. The lives of digital nomads are always action packed and exciting
Again, social media is to blame for this stereotype! Nobody wants to look at pictures of digital nomads sitting on public transport or in crowded cafes getting their work done. No working nomad is going to be thinking about taking pictures as they scramble to find a stable Wi-Fi spot, or a quiet place to conduct a conference call.
This means that the digital nomads you know, and follow on social media only have profiles full of interesting pictures showing them scuba diving, rope swinging, eating exotic foods etc.
The result is that your opinion of the digital nomad lifestyle is heavily skewed. The reality is that like everyone, digital nomads indeed do some very exciting stuff every once in a while. But they are not living that type of life every day.
3. Digital nomads are always «on holiday»
After reading Tim Ferriss’ “The 4-Hour Work Week”, many would assume, that all digital nomads get by with only working a couple of hours each week. How wrong they would be.
Especially in the beginning, nomads work crazy hours. 60-hour weeks are no exceptions. Finding clients is hard work, and keeping them takes a lot of effort. Only very few, very successful digital nomads can go down to working less than 15 hours a week, and only after they’ve invested a lot of time, work and often money beforehand.
4. Digital nomads struggle to keep themselves productive
This one depends purely on the personality of the nomad in question. Not everyone can be productive enough to be successful in a remote position. It takes certain skills, like self-discipline, and fine organisational skills to be able to make it work – it’s not for everyone.
Since most digital nomads create their own working schedule, making sure you work “enough” hours every day is essential. While there are many potential distractions, there are also many ways to increase your productivity when working from home. Things like sticking to a to-do list, and taking planned breaks can help you stay focused.
5. Digital nomads are constantly travelling
Many people are under the impression that digital nomads are constantly roaming the planet, and never really stopping in one place.
Can you imagine how exhausting that would be? Most digital nomads either travel slowly or have a base that they travel from. That doesn’t mean they’re not real digital nomads, it just means they prioritise their mental and physical health.
6. Digital nomads struggle to make ends meet
The simple answer here is that some do, some don’t. Just as with any career, when you start out, you are going to be earning less than you would be with ten years’ experience. Being a digital nomad can actually afford you a cheaper way of living, as long as you pick the right countries and cities to live in.
Once you have experience and have found your ideal clients, it’s time to scale your business and make more money. After a few years of working their way up the ladder, many digital nomads who work as freelancers or remote employees, often earn more than they did in their previous corporate jobs while working fewer hours and doing work they love.
7. Finding a good place to live is tough
This stereotype is closely linked to #5 from this list. You can also see why this one could put people off the digital nomad lifestyle – people hate moving! The truth is that moving house is simpler as a digital nomad. Short-term rentals can be easier to find, and services like Airbnb take away a lot of the stress.
8. Building successful career is hard
Being a digital nomad might not be the typical career path, but that doesn’t mean you will be less successful or qualified. Freelancers can gain great reputations for their remote work, and can be successful on a corporate level too.
It doesn’t always require working in a well-reputed organisation to climb the ladder of professional growth and success. Many digital nomads are freelancers or entrepreneurs; they can never have that kind of progress.
9. You’ll have to hold off starting a family
It’s easy to see how people can think that moving around all the time and traveling the world is not the right thing to do with kids. Well, as we have discussed above, that’s just a stereotype surrounding the digital nomad lifestyle anyway.
There are many nomad families out there, whose children benefit from the exposure to different cultures, languages, lifestyles, people, and places.
10. It’s hard to build long-lasting friendships
If you were planning on starting out as a digital nomad, this would be an understandable fear. However, it doesn’t have to be difficult to make lasting connections as a working nomad.
There are so many ways to meet new people, make friends and stay in touch while working and travelling. It’s simply not true that you have to keep saying goodbye to people you’ve just met. Sure, there can be less time to hang out and get to know each other than usual, but it’s not about how much time you have together, but rather how you spend that time!
Hopefully, this list has straightened-out a few of the most common stereotypes surrounding the digital nomad lifestyle. Nomad life can be cool and exciting, but it also requires a lot of dedication and discipline to keep motivated and productive.
However, once people get over the initial teething problems they will surely face as a novice nomad, they will find it very hard to go back to a more conventional lifestyle. Why not try it for yourself?
Noise can have a drastic impact on productivity and concentration, and a clear line during remote conference calls is essential. All digital nomads should definitely check out Krisp.
This nifty noise cancelling app filters out pesky background noise at both ends, leading to a significant boost in the quality of your calls. Try it for yourself, and let us know how you get on in the comments!
Are there any stereotypes about digital nomads out there that we haven’t mentioned? Which worries do you have concerning becoming a digital nomad? Let us know in the comments below!