The Realities of Being a Digital Nomad

Hayley Duszynski

Not being tied to a city or country can be freeing—but it also comes with challenges.  

Even though I've lived outside my home country for years now, I've only been a digital nomad for four months in Southeast Asia. digital nomad for four months in Southeast Asia. 

I myself, even though I've lived outside of my home country for years now, have been a digital nomad for 4 months across South-East Asia. Despite seeing some beautiful locations I've come across a few realities of my new lifestyle. 

If you, too, are considering working remotely, here are some hurdles you might encounter.

1. Getting work visas

Complicated and time-consuming are two words that come to mind when trying to organize my visa.

Every country has different rules depending on your citizenship. For example, as a British citizen in Bali you can buy a visa on arrival at the airport that allows you to stay for twos months. Whereas in Malaysia, you can apply online and stay in the country for up to up year.

Every country has different benefits and there are many to choose from. Choosing the right visa should be an important one as we all have to pay tax somewhere and this could be the deciding factor between staying in a certain country. You should always prepare yourself with the right documentation as many countries require proof you work online.

2. Money can be messy

This is a tricky subject. Having met many solo travellers and backpackers, they always assume I can cover everyone's bill or have no budget restrictions. Despite working full-time hours, it's incredibly difficult to budget your income when your spending is always changing. (Whereas if you live in one place, your expenses are more likely to be roughly the same each week.)

One day, I may spend  €200 on flights, but then the next day I can spend 10 on groceries for the whole week!

I have a Revolut card, which I use for spending multiple currencies. For safety and security, I never walk around with my European bank card and I always make sure my money is divided up in case of emergency. (Note: it is always good to have some local cash with you, many times I have needed to pay for something e.g. local village tax, where they will only accept cash.)

3. Being a digital nomad can be lonely

This is something I didn't plan or prepare for. Being a digital nomad means I am in a different country usually every month. Despite the benefits of travelling and new experiences I have also come to realize that I miss having a group of friends. Facebook groups, Whatsapp groups and Instagram groups have become my main source of socializing.

Every time I arrive somewhere new I join every solo traveller/digital nomad meetup and group I can find. I have met many lovely people from all over the world and have shared unique experiences with them, but like me, these friends are transitory. 

4. Staying healthy is harder work than it was at home

As I have a full-time job, my schedule looks a little different to those who are just travelling or backpacking. I usually go to bed fairly early and don't drink alcohol during the week, but this hasn't stopped my immune system from failing on me. I've had food poisoning three times in two months, which has made me hyper-aware that I need to take care of my health more than anything and always be careful of what I'm eating and how it's prepared.

Having up-to-date health insurance and being aware of the closest hospital is always on my to-do list when I arrive in a new place. 

5. You have to seek out good co-working spaces 

One of the true benefits of being a digital nomad is being able to share your work day with people from all over the world who work different jobs in different companies. 

But finding good co-working spaces can be tricky. I usually look for travel blogs or reviews and try out a few different options before committing to one. I also search for cafes with good Internet. I have found many cafes across different cities to be even better than co-working spaces sometimes!!

Having the flexibility to travel is something I will never take back. Thanks to my job of being a digital nomad I have been able to see so much more of the world and have learned so much about other cultures and myself more than anything!

My top advice? Make sure you do your research and always plan ahead!

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Hayley Duszynski

Hayley Duszynski is a designer, doodler, writer and picture taker. She began blogging for Verge as an intern in China. Now, she is working remotely as a digital nomad in Southeast Asia, where she's trying not to get eaten alive by insects.


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