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Digital Nomad
By ANGELA ASH 434 views

Overcoming the Emotional Costs of Digital Nomadism

Are you considering digital nomadism?

You’ll be surprised at how many people do!

This trend has been hyped to such an extent that entire countries have started offering special visas and tax cuts to digital nomads.

Sounds like a dream come true for people with American salaries, but isn’t there a catch?

There must be since countries are competing against one another in trying to attract you to relocate there.

Truth be told, the world is facing a major crisis. You may or may have not noticed it but things have been changing rapidly for every earthling since the COVID-19 onset.

First, there was some ‘new normal’ concept, and now there are failing economies and shady geo-strategies. Overall, nothing too cheerful for common folks trying to keep to their old ways.

If you put things in that perspective, digital nomadism may be the only solution to repurpose yourself. However, even though you’ll discover many exciting things and meet interesting people from all corners of the world, there’s also a lot you’ll be giving up.

It’s not often that you come across articles detailing the downsides and emotional hurdles of digital nomadism. Everyone keeps talking about the thrill, lower costs, new vistas… While there’s nothing wrong with that, it is also necessary to point out that life isn’t a never-ending party. Not for digital nomads and not for anyone else.

Let’s take a look at the common emotional costs of digital nomadism so that you can get a better view of what you’ll be giving up once you start your journey.

Loneliness Amid Partying Up

Humans are social beings. They feel the need to connect with other human beings on a deeper level. Although it may seem, digital nomads, don’t face problems of this sort — after all, they keep meeting new people everywhere, this presumption cannot be further from the truth.

New people come and go, and so do you. That, in a nutshell, is the very definition of a digital nomad’s social life.

Flashy meet-ups, occasional short-lived flares, parties, trips, going back to work to earn the next batch of income for the same process… That’s a common definition of digital nomadism.

Basically, people keep coming and going, and even when a digital nomad meets someone they feel they may connect with on a deeper level, that person may be gone soon.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Of course, digital nomads are human, too. They have friends and family back home… except, the home is far away, and so are the people whom they have left.

This, in itself, wouldn’t be a huge obstacle in the regular order of things. People’s circumstances change over time, after all.

However, for the majority of people, those circumstances don’t imply moving to another country. Ask any family whose close members have relocated and they’ll tell you that they maintain contacts online.

However, the fact that someone close to you won’t be by your side when you’re going through a difficult period in life is something not easy to give up. Digital nomads do exactly that, and the sentiment goes both ways.

Just like your best friend or closest family member won’t be there to support you when you need them the most, the opposite also applies.

Over time, even the strongest bonds will be altered. Once close friends may not disappear from your life once you go back, but their lives will have moved on, and so will yours. This inevitably leads to relationships changing formats as well. In some cases, it is a positive change, but things are still different.

Relocating: A Solution or a Bad Idea?

Some digital nomads decide to go all the way and relocate. In terms of the two aforementioned points, this may actually be a good idea as living somewhere means spending more time there. This alone creates the opportunity for digital nomads to meet the locals and form deeper bonds with like-minded ones.

However, what you’ll be giving up includes resigning to being unable to ever travel back to the US again. Namely, if you renounce your U.S. citizenship, you’ll be treated as any other foreigner. The same rules will apply to you regardless of your previous bonds and you may be denied the US visa.

While this may or may not happen, once you’ve renounced your citizenship, you’ll never get another chance to regain it. This means giving up all the benefits U.S. citizens enjoy and leaving all their loved ones behind for good.

This question is highly individual. Certainly, not all people think alike and what’s beneficial for one digital nomad may not be for another. However, if you’re thinking of this option for any reason, make sure to familiarize yourself with all benefits and downsides.

Work-Life Balance

Usually, digital nomadism is being cheered on for the freedom it extends. Basically, everyone considering this life choice is thinking it’s some kind of prolonged holiday.

While freedom can never be a bad choice, still that doesn’t mean that money grows on trees for digital nomads.

Yes, digital nomads need to work and often they need to work more if they wish to maintain their travel plans long-term. Budget traveling is nice and all but even this option will turn expensive when you travel frequently. It’s basic math.

Because this is a constant, digital nomad often cannot maintain healthy work-life balances. This holds especially true for people relying on gigs. Good salaries don’t fall from the skies, so digital nomads will often accept a gig certain to cause them too much strain just to be able to support their next trip.

This point can be worked on. There are multiple solutions that may suit different people. The best advice is to amass savings before setting out but, seriously, how many people can manage to do that?

No Stress Equals More Stress

Of course, there are digital nomads who are well off. Usually, these are the people who excel in their fields and who have relocated and established a business in their new country of residence (online businesses count, too).

They have their savings, a steady job, and high salaries, so where’s the catch?

This may sound spoiled to someone who’s working their lives away but a lack of challenges equals a lack of motivation in the long run. When that happens, it doesn’t matter whether the person is a digital nomad or someone else. They simply won’t be able to enjoy their lives.

When this point is coupled with the first two, things can get ugly. Being empty with no one to help you out is truly the worst-case scenario.

How to Prevent Any of This From Happening

How cool it would be if there was some magical solution to all these downsides of digital nomadism! Regrettably, there isn’t any. But there are ideas in sight, most of which involve being prepared.

For digital nomads, the best option would be to stay in one place first and form deeper bonds with like-minded residents, then go back there. It may hold the fort for a while. 

Steel your heart, prepare yourself on an emotional level, and enjoy the adventure!

Angela Ash