The HIDDEN Downsides of the Digital Nomad Lifestyle

The HIDDEN Downsides of the Digital Nomad Lifestyle

I stumbled on this youtube video called “The Hidden Downsides of Being A Digital Nomad” @ Hubud Bali – by Brian David Green – –  I contacted him and asked permission to use these notes to do a commentary / follow-up video.

In general, many of these have to do with ‘traveling too often / too fast’. Which is why at the end of his talk, he recommends staying in one city for many months (which I think most remote-workers do).

Here are his notes from his presentation, combined with some of my notes: (see my commentary on video podcast #95 with Evan)


Downsides of Digital Nomadism


Self discipline

* Need for a lot of self- discipline is underestimated. Digital nomads work so hard to get the freedom to work remotely.To live and travel as you please and then paradoxically you need the self-discipline to to actually get the work done in order to maintain your freedom
* Akin to “Plate Discipline” in the dominican republic. Where you dont walk off the island  to describe the ability to hit any pitch – Only to be told in MLB they have to stop swinging at everything.

Lack Of Mentorship

* You don’t get ongoing, in-person mentorship. There’s a value in being around someone you want to emulate and digital nomads with their constant travel schedules simply don’t find the right mentor and spend enough time with him or her.
* Two types of mentors: Those whom you want to emulate vs those who have skill you want to learn.

Envy And Perceptions

* You want to show people on social media how amazing it is your work environment and yet you don’t want your employer to see it because they might doubt your work product or fellow employees to become envious
* Just because you’re in paradise doesn’t mean your work day is any shorter 

Lack Of Sustainable Momentum

* Digital nomad rarely spend more than 2-3 months at a time in one place so they don’t get the time to develop needed connections and relationships on the ground.
* You’ve got to maintain a stable client base if you are freelancing and that takes a lot of work.

* Does it gives you the chance to become so good that the market can’t ignore you ?

Road Fatigue 

* The amount of time needed to ramp up and ramp down in a location is under-estimated there’s a high cost to constantly planing travel and work and basic living 

* There are multitude of unforeseen factors (internet issues,transport issues w/getting from A to B, housing issues w/getting a good night sleep , etc.)

Lack Of Stability 

* Your Routines are constantly in flux and changing.
* It’s stressful being without a home base.
* It’s Hard on your body.

Is It Business? Or Friendship ?

* When meeting someone new and there’s the potential to work together, It’s a mixed bag of motives – especially if you’re starved for money. Is it friendship? Or a business relationship? 

* Clear communication and boundary setting can be challenging, especially when doing business with friends saying “no” is okay. Are we working together? Or is it a favor? Even a referral isn’t a “no” and can create complications.


* Have a plan and reliable remote income before you jump

* Stay put in one location with a regular routine for 3-6 months of the year. And then use that as a base to travel locally from . IOW it’s helpful to actually stop being nomadic. And instead start thinking of yourself as more of expat.

* Find others who are also long-term expats not temporary digital nomads.


What are the trends driving it?


Sex Appeal

  • Work from anywhere , and on your own terms.
  • Be independent, and find a better work/life balance.

Massively Improved Internet 

  • Wifi access has improved dramatically even in remote regions ( where sharks want to eat undersea telecom cables.)
  • Bali internet speeds have gone from 2mg/2mg and unreliable to 20mg with widespread fiber optic in 2-3 years.

The 1% are Flexing Their Muscle

  • Fierce competition for digital talent particularly in engineering has given the top workers the power to decide to be based wherever they want as long as they get their work done. 
  • TopTal, 10x management, etc.

Changing Work Values 

  • Millennials are placing a higher priority on flexible professional lifestyles and personally meaningful work 
  • Finding and “interesting” job is something that 86% say they are looking for. Another 88% report that being part of a “positive” culture is an important factor for where they work.

World Much Safer Post Cold War

Since 1990 worldwide life expectancy +9%, literacy +13%, poverty -74%, homicides -60% per WHO, UNESCO

USD Strength

Gives you more bang for your buck mexico has gotten almost 60% cheaper since 2013 if you’re living on USD.


So what about the Pros? Well I think its pressy obvious what they are but … let me know in the comments your favorite perk about location-independence / entrepreneurship / living abroad!


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