Is the Digital Nomad Lifestyle Really for You?

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a digital nomad is someone who runs a business online and is free to travel the world. Tim Ferriss of “The Four Hour Workweek” fame often gets credit for suggesting this as a lifestyle in and of itself. You don’t have to travel the world. There are people in the United States living and working as digital nomads as they travel the country in an RV and others who utilize the freedom to visit conventions and travel to events constantly, unconstrained by the commitments of a conventional job. Is the digital nomad lifestyle really for you?

Benefits of the Digital Nomad Lifestyle

The digital nomad lifestyle is popular with those who want to travel the world, since it lets them sustain their lifestyle. That is how it received its name in the first place. A benefit of becoming a digital nomad over the traditional vacation is the ability to spend weeks in one country instead of a quick week where you try to cram in everything.

If you set up an online business you can run from anywhere, you are now free to relocate anywhere in the world. For those who are considering becoming an expat in another country, it lets you move where you want and continue to have an income. Also, you won’t be left penniless if you have to move back home later to be close to family or for health reasons.

Study Online

Becoming a digital nomad no longer requires interrupting your education. For example, no matter where you are staying today, you can attend Abilene Christian University and enroll in an online master of higher education program. If you are working overseas, such as those who travel the world and earn money by teaching English, completing a program like Abilene Christian University’s online higher education degree gives you an edge over your competition and guarantees your ability to get a teaching job in the United States if you come home.

The digital nomad lifestyle allows spouses to earn a constant stream of income even as they move every few months to follow a construction worker, seasonal agricultural worker, consultants who travel extensively or a member of the military. The digital nomad life is popular with early retirees who want to earn some income while traveling before their Social Security or pension kicks in.

The Problems with the Digital Nomad Lifestyle

Unless you are able to count on a retirement income or have significant savings in case of an emergency, one of the problems you face as a digital nomad is that your income becomes unpredictable.

This issue is not as severe for those selling a product online through their own website, though your income still depends on how well the product sells and is threatened by any knockoff or a new competitor. If you sell an information product like a newsletter or subscription-based website full of expertise, your income is at risk if you run out of new ideas and angles to keep readers engaged. You are tethered to your business via an internet connection, so you cannot spend more than a week or two away from civilization.

The digital nomad lifestyle does not suit everyone, but it might work for you if you can earn an income online or want to travel and study at the same time.