A nomad life has its pros and cons. In this article we discuss our digital nomad lifestyle and answer your tops questions.
To be honest, it wasn’t until recently that I realized I was a “digital nomad.” Although I’ve been nomadic and house sitting for almost two years, I just hadn’t ever thought to label myself that way. Maybe because in my head I thought those living the digital nomad lifestyle had tons of money coming in from their blogs and they were always blogging from beautiful beaches (thanks Instagram) and neither of those is true for me.
However, while talking to a friend, she pointed out that I do a few different kinds of remote work. So even if my blog doesn’t bring in much money, I am able to live a nomadic lifestyle thanks to these other remote jobs I do from my computer. Suddenly a light bulb turned on and I started to think of myself as a digital nomad and not just a nomadic house sitter.
I tend to get a lot of questions about my nomadic life. What is it like to work from anywhere? Do I make a lot of money? Do I get lonely? Is being a nomad stressful? So, in this article I plan on answering these questions and giving you a realistic view of what it’s like to live a digital nomad lifestyle.
So what is a digital nomad? Digital nomads are people who make a living by using technology to do their jobs which makes them location independent. There are different kinds of digital nomad jobs. You could be a website designer, graphic designer, social media manager, online health coach, virtual assistant, photographer, online English teacher, etc.
In my case, my remote work originally started as a somewhat traditional office job. Back in 2016, I quit my 9 to 5 government job and started working for a small insurance company that allowed me to work in the office three days out of the week and two days remotely. At that point I still wanted to have a home base but have the flexibility to travel more. I thought I’d never get rid of my stuff and become nomadic.
“The only thing constant in life is change.”– Heraclitus
However, that small taste of remote work suddenly had me craving more. I wanted to work remotely and travel all the time. I didn’t think my boss would be up for it. I went in to his office with the plan to quit, but thankfully he wanted me to stay with the company. We worked out that I would only work remotely but on a part-time basis instead of full time.
Coincidentally, my apartment lease was also up at that time. I got rid of most of my stuff, put the rest in a small 5 ft x 5 ft storage unit, and started house sitting. So in September 2017, I began my digital nomad life.
I’ll talk about the bad stuff first, because I think a lot of times people don’t realize that being a nomad isn’t always glamorous…
Being able to work from anywhere means being able to work from anywhere. It’s a double edged sword. It means that if there’s work that needs to get done, you have to be able to get that work finished no matter where you are. One time I was driving from one house sit to another when I got an urgent email from work. I pulled over and was literally working on Excel spreadsheets from the side of the highway with semi trucks zooming passed.
Being a digital nomad means living on a budget. Yes, there are some bloggers out there that make thousands a month and live solely off of that money. I’m not one of those. That’s why I still have my part time remote job (which doesn’t pay a lot) as well as other side hustles. I’ve written articles for other websites, contributed insider tips to hotel blogs and travel apps, and more. Because although I no longer have rent to pay, I still have bills and food to buy.
The best places to work remotely, contrary to popular belief, are not along a beach. Working nomads need WiFi. Besides, sand gets everywhere lol! No, the best places to work remotely are quiet cafes, coworking spaces, or in our case, the house where we’re staying. So don’t think that digital nomads are always working from lounge chairs and sipping daiquiris.
The digital nomad life takes a lot of planning, especially if you’re house sitting. I always line up house sits months in advance and do my best to make sure there aren’t large gaps of time in between them. That isn’t always easy to do though and can be a bit stressful. Since we’re on a budget, we don’t want to have to pay for hotels or AirBnbs so having a Plan A, B, and C are crucial.
I think one of the biggest perks of my digital nomad lifestyle is getting to know so many you! As I travel from city to city, I love when followers and other bloggers reach out to meet up. Talking about travel with others that are just as passionate about it as I am is so fun. Plus, I always get great local restaurant recommendations 😛
Obviously, another great thing about having a nomadic life is getting to travel a lot more than the average person. In the last two years I’ve seen more of the US than I had in my whole life. And thanks to house sitting, I’m traveling to cities I wouldn’t have always considered (or even knew about). I’m discovering that there’s always something cool to do or see, no matter how small of a town it is.
As I wrote in my Pros and Cons of Solo Travel blog post, I do get lonely sometimes. Luckily the digital nomad community is always there for me through social media. In Facebook groups we can share our joys and frustrations with others in a similar position and get tips and digital high fives when we need it most. We also share the occasional funny meme. 😉
Another question I often get asked is how long I plan on living my digital nomad life. And the answer is, I’m not sure. I’m enjoying myself a lot and love all of the traveling I’m doing. I always try to find house sits that are a few weeks long too, which lets me get to know the area better.
If you’re thinking of becoming a digital nomad, ask your current boss for a trial run and see what they say. Ask if you can do some remote work from home a day or two out of the week. I’ve found that most times companies/bosses just don’t trust that work will get done. So if after a trial run they see that you’re getting your work done, maybe they’d feel comfortable with letting you work remotely all the time. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
There are days that I miss having my own kitchen and bed though. So I won’t say that I’ll live this digital nomad lifestyle forever. But for now I’m going to keep winging things and see how they go because being a nomad definitely has its perks.
Pro Tip: If you’re seriously considering a digital nomad lifestyle, we recommend looking into Trusted Housesitters. We’ve been using them for almost two years to travel without paying for accommodation.