10 Pros & Cons of Digital Nomadism

10 pros & cons of digital nomadism by Rosie Andre

If you've seen people (like myself) posting online about how wonderful Digital Nomadism is and you've been wondering "yeah, but is it really all that great?".. today, I'm going to break down 10 pros and 10 cons of this type of lifestyle.

I know this lifestyle isn't for everyone. Maybe after reading this, you'll be able to decide if it's right for you or not.

10 Pros:

  1. We get to live where we want (within reason). Since December 2022, we have lived in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Australia, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Bali, England, USA and Mexico. And even though some of those places we were there for 2 weeks, and some we stayed for 3 months, we are still living there at that moment in time. We don't have a house back home. We aren't on vacation. We live wherever we are at any moment in time. And this is amazing. It means that we can see the world and really live like a local. We are only restricted by visas and cost of living. But otherwise, the world is our oyster.
  2. We explore new countries, cities & towns all the time. We change location every week or month which means we get to experience new food, culture, people, architecture, weather, nature and so much more. In 2023, we lived on the beach in Bali for 2 weeks snorkelling every single day, we explored the architecture of old town Hanoi, we ate bugs at food markets in Thailand, we climbed volcanoes & mountains in Malaysia & Indonesia, we saw wild monkeys in Cambodia, we saw local dances in Bali & weddings in India. We are really seeing so much that our brains feel full, but it is so enriching and interesting.
  3. Honestly one of my favourite things - we don't have a boss breathing down our necks! I worked in Subway for years, and I've also worked in shops, bars, clubs, festivals.. and every single time, I have had to ask my managers for time off due to sickness, permission to have bathroom breaks, approval to leave early for important appointments, vacation days off work and more. With this lifestyle, I can go to the toilet when I want and need to go (I know, it's incredible!). I can take a day off as and when it suits me. I can book flights, hotels, holidays without the approval of anyone else (except maybe my husband). I can spend a day in bed, just because I want to. And honestly having so much freedom is incredible. I don't know how I ever worked a regular job before this. I remember working in Subway and having to ask to go to the toilet whilst on my period and being told "you can go in 30 mins". What the heck?! It's kind of crazy to me now looking back at that bullshit. And that's not even mentioning the pressure that managers put on you in terms of "what did you do today? how many sales did we have? how can we improve and get faster tomorrow?" (aaaand breeeeathe...)
  4. Self growth, compassion & gratitude have increased as we learn more about the world and the people in it. I think in the West, we can sometimes think that we are hard done by. I think we quickly forget just how lucky we are in so many ways. We have running water that is safe to drink. We have hot showers. We have heating and AC for both types of weather. We have homes, with comfy beds, big TVs and Netflix. We have good public transport and great healthcare. Some of the most basic things in life we tend to take for granted. And it's only when I travel that I realise just how fortunate we really are. In Cuba we didn't have access to drinking water and had to buy water from the shop everyday. I also had a miscarriage in Cuba and found it really hard to find basic necessities like period pads and pain killers. By the way, the pads I found were expensive and shit. In Mexico, we rarely have hot showers. If we do it's a luxury. In many places we haven't had comfy beds. Or quiet neighbourhoods. Or air conditioning. And we haven't even suffered compared to lots of people in the world. Travel really opens up your eyes and makes you so much more compassionate and grateful for the things you do have.
  5. My knowledge about history has increased ten-fold. I never placed much importance on history knowledge. I didn't pay attention at school because to me it was all old news. No point talking about it. It's already happened. But actually visiting historical sites and learning about what has happened previously on this Earth has been so interesting for me. Some of my highlights have been the war museum in HCMC, Vietnam. Exploring My Son Sanctuary in Da Nang, Vietnam. Visiting the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Looking around the temples of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Admiring the forts & the Taj Mahal in India. Wandering around the Mayan ruins in Mexico. Before visiting all these places, I didn't really understand the importance or the history. But now, I see how amazing it is that the pyramids of Mexico that were built 2,000 years ago are still standing. I understand the horrific things that the American's did to the Vietnamese during the war. I understand the cultural significance of the Taj Mahal. It's just amazing to me that so many important pieces of our history are still around today for us to walk around, learn more and deepen our understanding of the world. I have never appreciated history more than I do now.
  6. We meet really interesting people on our travels. We have met some really interesting people whilst travelling whether it's an Airbnb host who treats us like family for the week we are staying with them. Or the digital nomads we meet in a random Airbnb somewhere. One of the most interesting people we have met recently is a woman called Lucy Barnard who is attempting to be the first woman to walk the length of the Earth from the bottom of Argentina to the top of Canada. It's amazing to talk with people like this who have different goals, different experiences and different perspectives. I always learn so much when we talk to new people from around the world.
  7. Become more minimalist & not into consumerism & fast fashion. This is a big one for me. Before we started this lifestyle I used to care SO MUCH about what I looked like, what I wore, the make up I had on, following trends, buying the newest "must have" item. And these days I don't give a shit. What I look like is literally the most boring thing about me. I have so much more to offer than what I am wearing. And it's taken me a little while to learn this lesson. Back in my 20s, I had hundreds of dresses, high heal shoes, handbags, none of which were good quality or designer. All H&M, Primark, Zara and other fast fashion retailers. I didn't care about the quality, where it came from, who made it. All I cared about was how cheap & fashionable it was. But living out of a suitcase, I have really had to be selective about what I travel with. All my clothes are versatile and go with lots of other items. They are all practical and serve a purpose. I no longer yearn for new dresses every week, new shoes, new make up, new handbags. Instead, I look for quality items that will fit within my limited wardrobe of what I already have. And it's been amazing for my self confidence, my wallet and also the planet.
  8. Earn more money for the time you put in. This one is dependant on what you decide to do whilst being a digital nomad. When I worked a full time job in France, I was working in Subway. I worked 35 hours a week and earned around $1,000 each month. That's 140 hours of my time (plus commuting) to earn minimum wage. These days, I earn around the same amount of money but I spend maybe 40 hours a month working. A quarter of the time for the same amount of money. Of course, I could try to get more clients and earn more money, but whilst travelling I also want the freedom to visit where we are. However, this might be different for some people, because if you keep your regular job but work online, you obviously won't be able to earn more money, unless you take on extra work in the time you would otherwise be commuting.
  9. Quality time with my husband. Another big one for me is spending so much time with my husband Jeremie. When we lived in France and both had full time jobs, I feel like I barely saw him. He left for work at 7am to miss the traffic. And got home after 7pm. We would cook, clean, watch TV then go to bed. And because of the jobs I had, I would often work weekends. And as he was working in a start-up company, he would often work evenings at home. We would also spend time seeing friends & family so we didn't honestly get much time together. At least it feels like that now looking back. Because these days we spend all our time together. And it's the best thing ever. Of course, when we are working, we have our headphones on and we work. We don't sit and chit chat all day. But we are together. Next to each other and working on our dreams. And because we don't commute, do after work drinks, see friends, we have so much more quality time together. I would never go back to regular 9-5 office work (if I can help it). In Asia in 2023, we also ate out for every single meal because it was so good and so cheap, so we didn't have to cook, do dishes or do laundry and that was amazing. Less stress between us as a couple in terms of who is doing what each day around the house and it meant we had more time together.
  10. Healthier lifestyle. I feel like we have much more of a balanced lifestyle since we have been travelling. We walk around cities and tourist sites, we hike mountains, we swim in waterfalls and oceans, we eat home cooked foods (sometimes it's greasier than others.. Mexico I'm looking at you!), we don't drink alcohol (especially because we aren't socialising and so not social drinking which we did a lot in Europe). I don't know. It just feels like we are outside more, in nature more. We also try to do yoga & meditation although I've fallen off the wagon recently. But it's something that I have time and energy to do now, which is hard when you're working a 9-5 office job and commuting everyday.

10 Cons:

  1. I'm away from family. My main con is that I'm away from family. And I don't mind missing Birthdays & Christmases but it really sucks when I'm not there for the hard times. When someone is in hospital or something bad happens. I love to be there for my family and will always travel home for an emergency or if anyone needs me. But it also pains me to be away from the everyday life. I sometimes think I would love to live in England to be able to pop over to my parents for dinner. Or take them away for a night in a nice hotel. Treat them to special things or little things. But I obviously miss out on things like that because I chose this lifestyle. And it is a decision I've made. And I am happy with it. But it doesn't mean it doesn't suck sometimes.
  2. If you get sick, you're not at home, with your medicines, your bed, your home comforts. I've been lucky in that I haven't ever been really ill. I had food poisoning twice in Asia in 2023 and it sucks being away from home. Being somewhere new and not knowing where the local pharmacy is. Not having your own bed, your own home comforts, your own medicines. Luckily it hasn't happened too many times. But there are times when I would do anything to be at home and not in a random country somewhere.
  3. Packing & unpacking all the time. Packing and unpacking is the bane of my life. I hate it so much. I have gotten better this year as I have less things in my bag but last year, every single week we changed places, I would spend hours packing up my bag, trying to make it all fit. It's always such a stressful part of travel for me. I hate it so much. I kind of can't wait to settle down at some point and have all my things in 1 place so I don't have to pack and unpack every week. But it's a con that I will put up with if it means we can travel and see the world while we work.
  4. No sense of home, limited wardrobe, no decorations, no extra hobbies etc. There are things that I miss about being a digital nomad. Like I said above, I no longer value buying new dresses every week.. but I do sometimes get bored of my wardrobe and wish I could buy a cute or fun dress. But I don't have space for it in my bags, so expressing myself and my personal style is difficult. But more than that, I don't have a sense of home. Every week we go somewhere new, which means I don't have my own home decorations, photographs on the walls, my own space. And in terms of extra hobbies, I would love to learn Tibetan singing bowls, but obviously I can't travel with 10 of them. I would love to do more creative things like painting, ceramics, embroidery but again, I can't carry it all around with me. I feel a little limited in what I can do sometimes which feels frustrating.
  5. Hard to keep friendships & build community. We have a couple of friends that we talk to every month on zoom. And I am so grateful to those people because always being on the move means you don't really have enough time to create real relationships. We don't attend events like yoga, sound baths, drinks after work etc which means we don't have much communication with other people. I think it could feel lonely if you solo travel and don't make the effort to speak to people in hostels etc.
  6. Can't explore creativity. As I said before, I would like to do more creative projects like sewing, knitting, embroidery, ceramics, block & screen & Lino printing, painting, making clothes and so much more. Because we don't have the space in Airbnbs but also in my backpack, there are things that I just can't do right now. And I feel myself built up and full of creativity with not many ways to express myself. This is where my iPad and YouTube comes in as I can always do some drawings or create a new video. I would 100% like to have a space where I can be more creative. One day!
  7. Basic healthcare isn't a priority. I have needed to get a filling in my teeth since 2021 but I haven't been in one place long enough to go for a check up appointment then the filing appointment a month or so later. I lost my prescription sunglasses in Cancun in January and went to the opticians in Mexico City whilst we were there and had to do the test in Spanish.. I don't speak Spanish.. so things like this always take a back seat instead of being a priority. There's other things like laser hair removal that I would like to do, but again, you need to be in the same place for months if not years at a time. Doctor visits are also very rare. If there is a long standing issue, it's hard to go to the doctors to seek advice if you change locations every week and don't speak the language. Just be aware that this lifestyle probably isn't ideal for people who need a lot of assistance with medical things.
  8. Income & costs can vary. Some places we can save $1,000 per month because the cost of living & day trips isn't too expensive and then some places it costs more than or equal to what we earn. If we are somewhere cheap like Asia, it's great. But we have found Mexico to be more expensive that we had anticipated so it means we haven't been able to save as much money as we would have hoped. When you're moving around all the time, there are no guaranteed costs. For example, when you rent, you know that you're paying $x per month, food costs $x per month. But when you travel, one city might be twice as much as the last, so it's hard to budget and plan accordingly.
  9. I'm struggling to come up with 2 more disadvantages, but I guess one could be sometimes you don't get a good shower with powerful flow and hot water. I'm really struggling to come up with numbers 9 and 10 haha. But yes, I love a hot shower with a good powerful pressure. And sometimes you get a dribble of cold water and it's so unsatisfying. Especially when you need to wash your hair, shave your legs etc. It can be unpleasant to shower in a cold dribble. But it's not the end of the world. And it means you're super grateful for when you do get a good shower. I no longer take it for granted.
  10. And the last could be spending money on drinking water. I'm from the UK where you can just drink the tap water. And there have been several places where we have had to buy bottles of water to be able to drink and stay hydrated. This isn't the worst thing in the world and actually I'm super grateful that I can find and afford drinking water because I know some people don't have that luxury, but I honestly couldn't think of another con to this lifestyle.

So there you have it folks. 10 pros and 10 cons of digital nomadism. I hope this blog post was helpful, informative and maybe even entertaining. Let me know in the comments if you would consider being a digital nomad after reading this and if anything surprised you.

If you want to read more about my experience, here is a blog post about my first 16 months as a digital nomad. And if you want to watch any of my travel videos, you can watch them on my YouTube channel here!

10 pros & cons of digital nomadism by Rosie Andre
10 pros & cons of digital nomadism by Rosie Andre
10 pros & cons of digital nomadism by Rosie Andre

Leave a Comment