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Digital Nomads-5 Mistakes to Avoid-Are you longing to be a digital nomad?
Digital Nomads-5 Mistakes to Avoid-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 do not make for a perpetual vacation. Building a business or simply earning enough to travel the world without having to report to an office 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 pandemic has created the need to work apart from a fixed location. The result is a series of new work options:
- Using your home full-time as your office.
- Working flex-time not a traditional 9 AM to 5 PM work day.
- Having a “hybrid” schedule that combines traditional work in a fixed location with a partial schedule set in a virtual office.
Prior to the pandemic, digital nomads at home or abroad were primarily comprised of young bloggers, IT professionals and self-employed entrepreneurs. As the market has evolved, working offsite or virtually is now popular among both recent graduates and seasoned executives.
Companies have two good reasons for agreeing to remote work. First, they have been having a hard time filling openings. To make matters worse, many employees are leaving jobs in droves. This has been dubbed the “Great Resignation”. Secondly, the former can reduce operating costs generated by full-service offices.
Digital Nomads-5 Mistakes to Avoid
Here are some of the lessons learned in my decade’s experience:
1. Underestimating the 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 was shocked to see how expensive renting or buying a house or condo is all around the world. While prices in SE Asia can be really low, living with 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 make living in-town very 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.
2. Assuming adequate infrastructure will be available:
Even here in the United States 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 meetings during the pandemic, I quickly found out that we needed a major upgrade to have the speed for virtual meetings. Even that recently, high-speed FIOS offered by the major US provider Verizon was not available at our in-town neighborhood zip code. Located 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 the IT infrastructure that you will need to work remotely. However, in charming, historic areas in the US and Europe, be sure to find out in advance if high-speed internet is common.
3. Not identifying cheap and available IT support:
This weekend I found myself walking my laptop to a local service provider. Although my laptop was a top quality two year-old model, I found my battery no longer retained a charge. Added to the challenge: the keyboard has a mind 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.
Digital Nomads-Local Rules/Schedules:
4. Overlooking local taxes or licensing requirements:
More and more countries are offering new flexible one year work visas to make up for lost tourist dollars. Check the requirements carefully. In early 2022, the Czech Republic is one example of the multi-faceted forms this can take:
Trade license 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 are now living your dream, i.e., having relocated to an iconic beach, world-class ski slopes or charming Old World villages, remind yourself daily: “I am not on vacation”.
Be sure to:
- 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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