5 Mistakes to Avoid as a Digital Nomad-Are you longing to be a digital nomad?
The pandemic launched a new remote work revolution that is taking hold permanently. Having worked remotely for the last ten years as a business owner, I can attest to the fact that flexible working hours and locations an endless vacation do not make! Building a business or simply earning to travel the world without the confines of reporting to a fixed location for a standard 40 hour a week job takes discipline. In reality, it can be harder than it looks but worth it in the end.
Are you longing to be a digital nomad?
The extended pandemic has created a growing work force of remote and/or flex-time workers. Another option is the “hybrid” model that combines traditional work in a fixed location with a partial schedule set in a virtual office. From new graduates to seasoned executives, the 9 to 5 rat race has been replaced, in part, by a business model not as centered on a fixed location. While employers can reduce operating costs of full-service offices, employees prefer flexibility. However, one downside is the blurring between work and leisure time. As a result, the work day can actually grow even longer!
Companies have been having a hard time filling openings. Added to that factor, many employees are leaving jobs in droves. This has been dubbed the “Great Resignation”. As a result, many employers are agreeing to employees’ demands.
Here are some of the lessons learned in my decade’s experience:
1. Underestimating cost of living at home or abroad:
If you do not have a housing allowance through an employer or substantial savings, finding cost-effective housing can be a real challenge. We have been tracking global housing costs almost daily for the past two years. We have focused on travelers from around the world relocating to work, to study abroad or a partner at a new location. As a long-time Washington, DC resident, I am shocked to see how expensive renting or buying a house or condo i all around the world. While prices in SE Asia can be really low, looking for modern conveniences in expat communities has often been priced at $250,000 for a condominium or rents of $1,400/month.
In major urban areas whether relocating in North America or abroad, housing prices are generally higher in the center city. The lure of nightlife, easy shopping and premier cultural events may living in-town competitively priced unless you have a roommate.
Suburban apartments and housing tend to have better pricing. However, the time lost to fighting traffic and expense of a car can torpedo any savings. Check out public transportation before signing a lease.
Beyond cost of commuting, consider your
2. Assuming adequate infrastructure will be available:
Even here in the US national capitol, infrastructure can be a work in progress as technology advances. As recently as 2020, I found this out the hard way. As Zoom and other video chats replaced in-person meeting during the pandemic, I quickly found that we needed a major upgrade to have the speed for virtual meetings. Even that recently, high-speed FIOS offered by major US provider Verizon was not available at our in-town neighborhood zip code. Just minutes from the White House, how was this even possible? Luckily, cable via Comcast came to the rescue.
In Asia and the Middle East, new construction is likely to equal or exceed what you will need to work remotely. However, in charming, historic areas in the US and Europe, be sure to find out in advance.
3. Not identifying cheap and available IT support:
This weekend I found myself walking my laptop to a local service provider. Although a top quality 2 year-old model, I found my battery no longer retained a charge while the keyboard has a mid of its own…If you input “dog” you may get a “doog”. In contrast, if you have the misfortune of having to type the number “6”, you may need a hammer to cajole that key into cooperating.
As a result, if you are working outside a conventional office, find out what remote help is available as well as in-person repair and/or hardware services. An alternative is finding hourly-based virtual offices or office sharing.
Are you longing to be a digital nomad?
4. Overlooking local taxes or licensing requirements:
While more and more countries are offering new flexible one year work visas, check the requirements carefully. In early 2022, the Czech Republic is one example of the multi-faceted forms this can take:
Trade license can be required for certain occupations.
Housing proof for the year’s residence.
Verification of a minimum bank account of €5,587.
Local monthly tax requirements of about 1,800 Kč ($80 USD).
5. Failing to set work hours after adjusting for time zones:
If you have always dreamed of living near an iconic beach, world-class ski slopes or charming villages to explore, start the day reminding yourself that: “This is not a vacation”.
- Schedule a work week that is expected in your industry.
- If paid hourly, plan enough hours to match your expenses and at least a small savings.
- Coordinate time zones that you will need to speak with employers, clients and vendors.
For more practical advice on becoming a digital nomad, see our updated post:
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