I left Mauritius in early October 2020 for a three-month trip to Europe not knowing that I wasn’t to return to my country of residence until one year and nine months later in June 2022.
As a matter of fact, I happened to become a real digital nomad without having had any plans to do that. While the reasons for it play no important role, I do find it worth sharing a few insights I gained during that time with you.
The pros and cons of being a digital nomad
Living as a digital nomad is not for everyone. Such a way of life comes with advantages and drawbacks, naturally. Here are the ones I find most important:
> The pros
- Gaining international experience: Most digital nomads live internationally. As you can easily change locations, you can learn a lot about several other countries and cultures in a short period.
- Lower costs of living: As you can choose freely where to go and stay, you will find nice places across the world that are very affordable without having to pay rent for a permanent place as well.
- Lower taxes: If you familiarize yourself with the applicable local tax laws and international tax treaties, having to pay high taxes shouldn’t be much of a worry anymore.
- Fewer visa requirements: If you change countries from time to time, you can often just stay as a tourist for a few months without special visa obligations.
- More options: Being mobile increases the number and quality of options you have to sort out problems by simply choosing a better location.
> The cons
- If your new life as a digital nomad is supposed to be funded by becoming a freelancer working for customers remotely, you may have to compete with others across the whole world who are willing to undercut your prices.
- Unlike during a vacation where you may opt to buy yourself out of problems occasionally, saving time by spending more money may not be an option you can afford as a digital nomad regularly. That can mean that the frequent changes of location require much more time than you expected.
- Unavoidable traveling costs may diminish the savings you make by staying in locations with lower living costs.
- It may be difficult to calculate the correct total costs of staying in a particular location before the deadline to decide where to go next.
- Availability or access to special medical treatment can differ significantly between locations.
Further possibly relevant aspects
Especially if you want to maintain some presence in your home country, optimizing your tax burden without running legal risks can be difficult, complex, and therefore expensive as you may need to pay for professional help in more than one country.
Depending on where you choose to live, opening local bank accounts and making local and international bank transfers can become a hassle and very expensive.
Becoming a digital nomad can have serious implications on your eligibility for certain insurance covers. A reduced number of options in this regard may suddenly make health insurance very costly, for example.
> Psychological aspects
Not having a real “home” to return to anymore, having to adjust to completely new places several times a year, and facing all kinds of uncertainties all the time makes the lives of digital nomads very special. A kind of life that is not for everyone.
My personal conclusion
To summarize my own experience as a whole, I can say that I enjoyed it a lot despite the trying circumstances during the pandemic and I’m grateful that fate gave me that opportunity. Although I wouldn’t want to live as a digital nomad permanently, I can well imagine doing it again at a later stage of my life.
Last but not least: I express my heartfelt gratitude to all who supported me in that venture!