What are the downsides to becoming a digital nomad?

Questions & AnswersCategory: AdviceWhat are the downsides to becoming a digital nomad?
Sean Tierney Staff asked 1 year ago

It seems like there are a lot of positives but what things do you miss from this lifestyle change? Is there anything you regret or wish you would have known prior to making the switch? What would advice would you give your former self about approaching this decision?

1 Answers
Sean Tierney Staff answered 1 year ago

I can’t speak for others but the decision to go nomadic was one of the top 2 decisions of my life and has been almost entirely positive across the board. In terms of the downsides I would say the following:

  • Friends and family: uprooting from where you’ve lived most of your life is a jarring thing for sure and I do miss a lot of my friends from AZ but the reality is most were starting to get married and settle down anyways, so the opportunity cost here isn’t truly as bad as you think. Remote Year gave me a whole new base of 70 friends to do stuff with and really revitalized what was a dwindling social scene. I’m still able to visit my folks when I go back home and they actually were just here visiting in CDMX which was great. But yea I’d missing close friends and family from home is the #1 downside of this lifestyle.
  • Creature comforts: sounds silly but the two luxuries I missed most while traveling are my Nutribullet and SodaStream (I know). I’m currently settled temporarily in Mexico City before an impending permanent move to Lisbon so I picked these items up on the last trip home and increased my luggage footprint for the sake of having these luxuries again. If you’re wedded to “stuff” then you might miss the various material possessions you have at home but these things melt away in importance surprisingly fast when you’re traveling and experiencing other cultures daily.
  • Freedom of having a car: so there’s two sides to this coin. I had a 4×4 Tahoe in Arizona and loved the ability to drive up north and go offroad. I miss that ability to leave on a whim and go anywhere at any time but on the other side of that coin it’s been super liberating not having a vehicle to worry about. Your US driver’s license and renting a car abroad depending on where you are is typically way cheaper than US prices. I just sold my Tahoe and it felt great to shed that final anchor and be fully detached. But if you value the freedom of having a car, that would likely be something that you’ll miss.

Other than that I have had surprisingly little homesickness or fomo from being away from home.

In terms of what I wish I had known prior to making the leap: I wish I wouldn’t have stressed about it as much as I did. I was 50/50 at one point on doing it when adding up the pro’s and con’s and it could have gone either way. All the counter-arguments and downsides we come up with are largely just fear-based and irrational – I would tell my former self to weigh those more realistically and not let them threaten the prospect of doing a once in a lifetime adventure like this while you can.