Why I Stopped Being a Digital Nomad

By Ian Fernando

Being a digital nomad can seem like a dream. You have the freedom to live in any country you want, work a few hours here or there, explore wondrous places and cultures, and then move on to a new country whenever you want. I wanted to go all-in with our businesses and have more freedom in my life.

Quick Benefits of a Digital Nomad

Here is the reason why being a Digital Nomad is good and why I chose it:

  • Freedom and Flexibility: Working from anywhere in the world as a digital nomad is possible as long as you have a laptop and an internet connection. You may choose your schedule, work from different time zones, and take vacations whenever you like thanks to this.
  • Travel and Adventure: Being a digital nomad gives you the chance to see the world and learn about different cultures and foods. You can travel and live abroad to experience other cultures, meet new people, and form new friendships.
  • Savings: Being a digital nomad might be economical, depending on where you reside. Living in a place with a cheap cost of living will allow you to cut costs on rent, food, and other expenses.
  • Professional Growth: Traveling the world as a digital nomad can provide you with new perspectives on life and work and the chance to network with people from all backgrounds. You can also develop your independence and learn to adapt to new circumstances.
  • Work-Life Balance: You have the freedom to design a work-life balance that works for you as a digital nomad. You can work from a coffee shop, co-working facility, or beach while taking breaks to explore or spend time with your loved ones.

At first, I planned to stay as a digital nomad for around 1 year, but I ended up extending my travels for another 8 years because I enjoyed it so much. The culture, the food, the people, and the exploration. It was such a great experience, I loved every aspect of it.

Then 8 years later, I have seen most of Asia and felt I needed a base, a place I can call home after being gone for so long. I really never had a base - a place I can call home, I had an Airbnb. I never enjoyed booking a new Airbnb, or saying I missed my Airbnb. It never felt like home.

However, every lifestyle has its pros and cons, and for me, one of the biggest cons was not being able to see my family and friends for long periods of time. I would miss big events like birthdays and weddings. New friend relationships are a handshake and a goodbye.

I didn't mind making new friends, I am naturally an extrovert but relationships seem to always reset in every country I am in.

It was also a lot of work, from researching places to booking flights and hotels to travel planning. It could be quite taxing, especially since I had to start over every time I arrived in a new location. Maintaining good habits and routines was also challenging, and towards the end, I became a little numb to the amazing experiences we were having because it had become the norm for me.

Eventually, I did things on the go, I felt more comfortable just doing things on the fly and not overthinking, enjoying the present time and day vs. stressing over tomorrow. Though being a digital nomad is great, there are flaws, and I even mentioned a couple above.

The downside of a Digital Nomad

Here are some reasons why being a digital nomad was hitting a toll on me:

  1. Loneliness and Isolation: If you're a digital nomad traveling alone, it might be lonely and isolating. Making new friends in strange environments can be difficult, and you can miss having your family and friends around for support and company.
  2. Burnout and overworking: It might be easy for a digital nomad to become caught up in the cycle of overworking and burning out. You might experience stress and exhaustion as a result of the constant pressure to produce and fulfill deadlines.
  3. Travel Fatigue: Moving constantly from one location to another can be demanding and tiresome, particularly if you are coping with jet lag, strange surroundings, and several time zones. Maintaining a healthy routine might be difficult when your surroundings are constantly changing.
  4. Lack of Stability: Living a nomadic lifestyle as a digital nomad can be unexpected and unstable, making it difficult to make long-term plans. You would not have a consistent source of income, and you might struggle to locate housing in new locations.
  5. Culture Shock: Living and working abroad can be exhilarating, but it can also be stressful and difficult. This is known as culture shock. Dealing with culture shock, language barriers, and strange habits can be hard and draining.

Each of these bullets has a solution. In isolation, I tend to go to meetups, go out, and keep meeting people randomly. I am very extroverted and enjoy people, even if the language barrier is very high. It is about absorbing experiences and having a very open mind about life and your environment.

My Homebase is Sao Paulo, Brazil

In the end, I loved my time as a digital nomad, but I was ready to move on to the next chapter and have Sao Paulo, Brazil as my real home base. I still want the freedom to travel as much as possible, and Brazil was a good choice, it is a huge country.

Here it reminds me of New York and how fast it moves. The diversity of food and the ease of access to natural food is a huge priority for me. The other thing that makes Brazil attractive to me is the fact it is huge. A country as massive as Brazil still allows me the freedom of travel, but without the aspect of travel.

I can plan with friends, and not have to reset a relationship. I can just pick a flight and go and not really plan. I do not have to think about visas or paperwork needed for entry.

The fact Sao Paulo reminds me of New York feels like home. It has the vibe of New York with the people diversity, Amazon and online deliveries, amazing restaurants, etc. I fell in love after 2 weeks of visiting last year. I plan on staying for 2 years full-time and seeing if it is the perfect fit for me.

For me, what's most important is the freedom to choose how I live my life. Whether being a digital nomad is worth it or not depends on your personal values and goals. It's not as glamorous as it can seem, but if you have realistic expectations and know what you want to get out of it, it can be an incredible experience.

Ian Fernando
Involved in the internet space since 2002 and have been through the ups and downs of this online industry. I am a traveling digital nomad, media buyer, online strategist, and many more online titles.

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