The Pros And Cons Of Being A Digital Nomad

Well, the most obvious con of being a digital nomad is having to call yourself a digital nomad… can someone please come up with a less nerdy sounding name?!

A digital nomad is someone who is officially homeless. They roam around the world staying in hostels, hotels, Airbnb’s or wherever they fancy while earning a living working online. How can something so cool have such a terrible name?

I’ve been a digital nomad for a little over a year, currently residing in Lisbon. Here’s a photo of me writing this blog:

If you’re gonna work on a Saturday, make sure it’s from somewhere with style

A post shared by Sam Priestley (@sfpriestley) on

Pretty darn cool ehh? Over the last year, we have lived and worked from: Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Spain, Hungary, Croatia, Ireland, Gran Canaria, Malta and Lisbon. All for less money than it cost to live in London.

Post: My Digital Nomad Expenses – Travelling South America vs Living In London

But just like everything in life, living the dream isn’t quite as great as the Instagram feeds make it looks. Here are some of the pros and cons of being a digital nomad.

The Good

1. You Get To Live On The Beach

But not just the beach, the best areas wherever you are. Everyone I know who lives in London lives out of the centre. A good half an hour to an hour trip in. Can you imagine the cost of renting a flat in Covent Garden or Knightsbridge? Well in Rio de Janeiro, or Budapest or Lisbon you can have a nice flat in their version of Knightsbridge or Park Avenue for the same price as a cardboard box in Peckham.

2. You Live In Year Round Summer

Or if you don’t like Summer, whatever your favourite temperature is.

3. You Have Jaw-Droppingly Good Photos

I don’t know much about photography, but some of the places I have been are so pretty my pictures even makes me jealous. It got so bad I have given up posting them on Facebook. I don’t think my friendships would stand it.

4. You Can Live Very Well, Very Cheaply

You know how millennials are always complaining about how they will never be able to afford their own place, or can’t eat out because it’s too expensive? Well, you can move to 90% of the world, take a pay cut and start saving. If you Google Digital Nomad, there are hundreds of blogs talking about places you can live well for under $1,000 a month. That’s not really my scene but it is definitely doable.

5. Freedom From Local Policies Or Politicians

Don’t like a change in the tax laws? Don’t like the schooling system? Don’t like paying for higher education? As a digital nomad, you can simply up and move to somewhere you prefer.

6. You Get Really Interested In World History & Geography

Talk to me about Chilean dictators and the subsequent art scene. Please! It’s fascinating!

Being somewhere and meeting the people who were involved is incredibly interesting and inspirational. It also makes me very thankful for the stability we have known in the UK.

The Bad

1. You Have No Community Or Family

You know all those friends you’ve been cultivating for years? Who you hang out with, WhatsApp all the time and who know you inside out? Well, we don’t have that. Every time we land in a new place we need to go out and find new friends.

Then just as we start getting close to people, either us or they move on. It sucks. Plus I’m an introvert; it takes so much energy to make new friends every couple of weeks!

2. You Are Always Moving House

Moving house is rubbish. And stressful. And you end up spending half your life looking for where to live next.

3. You Have No Stuff

I really want to play GTA 5. But I can’t. I can’t buy a PS4 because there’s no way I can lug around. Here is everything I currently have with me:

I’m getting married in July. What are we going to put on the gift list?

4. You Aren’t Very Productive

As fun as it looks, working like this just isn’t practical:

Hard at work in the office #digitalnomad #sorrynotsorry #croatia #korcula

A post shared by Sam Priestley (@sfpriestley) on

The glare reflects off the screen. The wifi is rubbish. Everyone around is paddleboarding or chatting. There are no power sockets. And there is always something more interesting to do than working.

I’ve got so many business ideas and improvements I want to make, but just don’t have the time and motivation.

When my fiancé quit her job to start a business and travel the world, it took her almost three months to start! She felt like she was on holiday and for most people (unless you’re a weirdo like me), holidaying is more fun than working.

Post: Quit Your Job, Become A Freelancer And Travel The World

5. You Never Understand The Language Or Customs

Yes everyone speaks English, but only when they’re being polite. You can’t just fit in with local social groups because they talk to each other in the local language. So instead you hang out with other travellers, expats and digital nomads.

There’s also always this underlying level of stress about every little daily action which you don’t really notice until you return home and the stress washes off.

6. You Become A Massive Snob

“I had a lovely caipirinha in London yesterday” – normal friend

“It’s actually pronounced k-eye-pa-ring-yah. I bet it was disgusting, I’ve never had a proper one outside of Brazil. They always put in too much mixer and not enough sugar.” – massive snob you

7. You Have To Explain To People That You’re A Digital Nomad, And Then They Hate You

But despite that, it has been an amazing experience. I don’t think we’ll be digital nomads forever, but regardless of how we’ll be living in a years time, I have learnt a lot and will probably never be the same person again.

Online Businesses You Could Start

Digital Nomad Further Reading:

  • Luciano Napoli

    what is the most friendly people have you encountered? are there any business that can be done having connections in several countries?

    • I found Argentinians to be particularly friendly. But I haven’t really encountered anyone not friendly. Brazilians were also really friendly. One thing I didn’t like about Thailand when I was there a few years ago was that you feel like a lot of the locals who work in tourism are trying to scam you. I haven’t seen any of that in South America or Europe.

      Yes the business that jumps to mind is finding products or manufacturers in one country that you think would sell really well in another. For instance you could travel and source goods for an Amazon FBA business. Ship the goods from whatever country you’re in to the Amazon warehouses and manage it all online.

      • Martha Muniz

        Awesome Idea! I know many people do this for a living, I mean but I am talking high end items that not many regular folks like us could affort to start sourcing if you decide to bootstrap.

  • Miss Susan Gould

    Sam, you may have travelled to many countries worldwide, but clearly not to all of the countries within the United Kingdom! Now if you were to go to some of the Welsh valleys, you’d find some of the world’s friendliest people & yes, I am biased!! 😉

  • Arnold

    Every post you write inspires me to move forward. Thanks, Sam! Good luck in continuing being a digital nomad. Enjoy the sun, while we in the UK will enjoy clouds.

  • David Redondo García

    nice post and very down to earth…I can see many want-to-be digital nomads BSing their way on Instagram or Facebook and I know first hand that some of them just struggle with their money or they have to rely on being waiting staff, teaching English or nanny jobs while portraiting themselfs as #freedompreneurs #digitalnomads and all the hastags in the world… but you are genuine. Congrats and keep enjoying life!

  • Have you been able to find any tools to help find a community as your travel? I understand you are travelling with your girlfriend. I ask as someone who will be embarking on the journey alone.

    • Yes a few.
      – Each place I look for a relevant active group on Facebook. For instance ‘Gran Canaria Digital Nomads’.
      – I look for groups on the meetup app.
      – I post on Jiu-Jitsu forums.
      – We go to a local church to meet people.
      – I post on the digital nomads around the world facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/DigitalNomadsAroundTheWorld/)
      – I sometimes join the expat forums or facebook groups in each place.

      • Thanks, just joined that Facebook group. That could be a blog post btw 😉

  • Martha Muniz

    Awesome post! I believe I would also take a whole lot of me to stay focused and do work. I would not hate you and your girlfriend if I ever get to meet you guys:) I have learn a thing or two from reading your blogs:) Always looking foward to them. How are sales going on your table tennis bag?