If you’ve ever thought about ditching your 9-to-5 job in favor of a more location-independent lifestyle, you’re not alone. In recent years, there’s been a growing trend of people giving up their traditional jobs in favor of working remotely—aka, becoming a digital nomad.
For instance, seven out of ten people in Singapore want to live a nomadic lifestyle. Up to 74% of young Singaporeans also want to work remotely just so they can also travel while earning an income.
Of course, many challenges come with this type of lifestyle. Knowing about the common struggles of digital nomads and how to manage each one will make it easier for you to live this way.
Challenge 1: Not Knowing What Gears to Invest In
If you’ve never worked remotely before, it can be tough to know what type of equipment and services you need to get started. What kind of laptop should you buy? What accessories are worth splurging in? These gear-related questions can be tough to answer, especially if you’re on a tight budget.
The good news is that plenty of online resources can help you figure out what type of gear to buy. The first steps include knowing what your remote job entails and purchasing the right equipment to facilitate that.
For example, you are a freelance photographer planning to do more outdoor shoots and editing. In this scenario, one of the factors you must consider is the environment in which you will be working. If you anticipate that you will be working in wet or dusty conditions, a fully rugged laptop would be the best option to protect your device from damage. This is because such durable computers can withstand tough conditions and even operate in extreme temperatures.
The good news is that many of today’s fully rugged laptops can accommodate any digital nomad’s needs. Aside from having 4G LTE and long battery life, some can even operate as tablets while offering numerous screen size options. After knowing your choices, the next step would be to find a reliable dealer who sells the kind of laptop you need for the job.
Challenge 2: The Struggle to Maintain Focus and Productivity
Being able to work from virtually anywhere is not as glamorous as it looks. It can be quite difficult to stay focused and productive when you don’t have a fixed office space or routine. When everyone around you is having great fun, chatting away, and there’s so much happening, focusing on your task becomes highly challenging.
One way to maintain focus is by setting up a dedicated workspace, even if it’s just a corner in your room. If you’re sharing the room with someone else, you can also invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones to help block out distractions.
Another tip is to set regular working hours for yourself and stick to them as much as possible. This will help train your mind to know when it’s time to work and when it’s time to play. After establishing a routine, getting into “work mode” will be easier even when you’re not in a traditional office setting.
Challenge 3: The Loneliness That Comes With Working Remotely
It’s not uncommon for digital nomads to feel lonely and isolated, especially if they’re constantly on the move and don’t have a solid support system. This is because, when you’re working remotely, you don’t have the same opportunity to socialize and interact with colleagues daily.
Sure, you can easily talk to your clients or colleagues online or through video chat. Still, it’s not the same as having a face-to-face conversation. This is why it’s crucial to make an effort to socialize and meet new people when you’re working remotely.
One way to do this is by joining relevant online communities and forums related to your work. You can also find coworking spaces in the cities you visit. These are places where like-minded individuals go to work and can be a great way to meet new friends and network with potential clients.
If you’re unsure where to start, plenty of websites and apps (such as WeWork) can help you find coworking spaces in your area. You can even work in a virtual coworking space by renting a desk in an online office, such as Desktime.
Challenge 4: The Financial Insecurity
When you’re a digital nomad, your income is often not as stable as it would be if you had a traditional job. This is especially true if you are still starting your journey or are only taking freelance projects. If you are not careful, you can end up living from pay-check-to-paycheck, resort to debt, or even worse — find yourself stranded in a foreign country without any money.
It is vital to have an emergency fund that can cover your expenses for at least three to six months. This will give you some cushion in case you face any unexpected financial setbacks, such as losing a project or being unable to find new clients. Save a portion of your income each month to build up this fund quickly.
It is also a good idea to have multiple streams of income. This way, even if one stream dries up, you will still have others to rely on. For example, you can freelance and run a successful blog or YouTube channel on the side. This will help to ensure that you always have some money coming in, no matter what.
The Challenge 5: Constant Change Can Be Exhausting
Some people thrive on change and love the adventure of never knowing what will happen next. But for others, constant change can be downright exhausting—especially if you don’t have much time to plan between moves. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, it might be time to consider slowing down the pace a bit.
Take some time to plan out your next few moves in advance. Yes, part of the appeal of being a digital nomad is spontaneity. However, if the constant change is starting to wear on you, it’s perfectly OK to plan ahead so you can have peace of mind.
Additionally, give yourself at least a week or two in each destination so you have time to experience everything it offers without feeling rushed. Instead of packing your schedule with activities, make some time for leisurely strolls, relaxed sightseeing, and generally, take it easy.
Some challenges come along with being a digital nomad. But if you’re willing to prepare for them and can put in a little extra effort, you can successfully manage them—and enjoy all the benefits of this lifestyle. With the help of this list, you’ll be one step closer to being a digital nomad pro!