Many people become remote workers in order to travel and be location independent, but an increasing number of those working remotely are doing so while planning to stop and smell the roses.
The chances are good that if you're interested in remote work, you'll have heard of digital nomads or be interested in becoming one yourself. The idea of being location-independent while earning income online is attractive, and these nomads are already clutching their passports in the hope of global borders opening up soon.
Digital nomadism is often considered by the uninitiated to be part and parcel of remote work, but there has been a new movement in the work from home world known as 'digital slomadism'. The hint is in the name; this type of remote work lifestyle is trademarked by individuals who still travel while working online but once they get to a location, they can spend several months there.
Both points of view have their own distinct advantages and drawbacks, which we will be breaking down in this article. Planning to work remotely but not sure whether to be a digital nomad or slomad? Find out below:
Being A Digital Nomad
Becoming a digital nomad and working remotely while traveling may be suitable for you if you enjoy traveling and experiencing new cultures. These are the biggest incentives for prospective remote workers hoping to see the world while growing their careers at the same time.
Some of the significant benefits of this approach to remote work other than traveling the world and meeting new people include having more control over your work environment and minimizing stress, being able to set your own schedule and work style and can even help you to save. A digital nomad hailing from the US but working in Southeast Asia will find their daily cost of living greatly reduced.
Still, there's more to being a successful remote worker on the road than just grabbing a suitcase and a laptop before boarding the next plane to Bali. After all, if it were that easy nobody would work in an office ever again!
Challenges Digital Nomads Face
Not every part of being a digital nomad is smooth sailing. As great as the benefits sound, the disadvantages can be significant enough to put even the most determined individual off of attempting it.
To start with, leaving your home country and working overseas is a pretty good way to get yourself tied up in red tape. Working visas, taxes and other important bureaucratic processes will need to be completed on a regular basis. Certain countries do not have built-in recognition of online work which can make the above more difficult. If you're planning to freelance while you travel the lack of guaranteed income may be a hurdle that can show up out of the blue.
On a more personal basis, traveling and working remotely at the same time can be a lonely experience for some. Being away from a personal support network during times of unexpected challenges (such as the worldwide border closures of this year) can be incredibly stressful. Not everyone is up to the challenge of leaving friends and family behind, especially if it's for good. Making new friends can prove to be daunting - if you're not planning to stay around for a while meeting people and building more in-depth connections with them isn't always possible.
Having to be in charge of your own workplace also means that you will need to ensure you have the internet connection and tech which isn't always consistently available in some locations around the globe. This means any location you plan on traveling to will need to be pre-vetted to meet the minimum requirements for you to be able to work effectively.
Is Digital Nomadism Right For You?
If the above hasn't put you off of pursuing this path and you're still interested in becoming a digital nomad, you'll need to make sure you understand the finer details of what it's like to be one.
The most successful digital nomads:
- Are adaptable to new situations and do not get easily attached to places
- Have few or no dependencies, allowing them to be on the go at the drop of a hat
- Are willing to live out of a suitcase and sacrifice the majority of their material belongings
- Pay off existing debts before starting their nomad journey and manage finances carefully
- Have the self-discipline to work and live independently
- Do their homework about taxes and stay up to date on payments and latest regulations
If you feel this describes you accurately, then you can confidently step up to the plate and start your remote journey on the road.
Becoming A Digital Slomad
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the digital slomad movement. In contrast to digital nomads, slomads like to take things slower. Slomads still travel like their counterparts do, but rather than skipping town within a week or two they put down temporary roots, sticking in one location for a few months instead.
Rather than playing tourist, this allows slomads to get more familiar with each location and make closer personal connections all while maintaining the benefit of being able to see the world. Putting down deeper roots, even if they're temporary, helps slomads to develop a network they can rely on for local guidance and find places more off the beaten path. It's also a great solution to the loneliness that remote workers who travel often can feel.
Because digital slomads move around at a slower pace, this style of work is more suited to remote workers that have dependents like pets.
This approach can have a lot of benefits that digital nomads do not necessarily get access to. For one, longer stays allow slomads to negotiate better rental prices. Another serious advantage is avoiding the burnout that can come from being on the go the whole time. Moving from airport to airport and hotel to hotel can quickly become tiring, and staying put for longer let's slomads skip that experience.
Challenges Slomads Face
The challenges that slomads face are very similar to the challenges faced by digital nomads.
In order to work and live in a single location for a month or three, it has to be a place that fulfills the requirements of having a solid internet connection and some sort of remote work culture. Slomads often like to connect with others that are in a similar boat and having other similar workers around is a great way to build a network. With no remote work culture it may be tough for slomads to get the full benefits of living this way.
Keeping up with financial management is key for slomads to be able to maintain their lifestyle in a foreign country and to plan future moves. The upside is that unlike nomads, slomads have more time available to prepare their finances and think about what they want to do next.
Just like digital nomads, slomads need to stay on top of visa and tax requirements which will vary from country to country or face the consequences. If you're a slomad with a dependent, these consequences can have a severe impact on your life.
Is Being A Slomad Right For You?
For you to be a successful digital slomad, the requirements will be similar to those nomads are held to. There are some key questions you should ask yourself before deciding whether nomadism or slomadism is better suited to your goals.
- Am I prepared to live in another country for more than a month?
- Do I have the finances available to afford the cost of living for an extended amount of time?
- Have I got debt or other liabilities to take care of before I can leave my home country?
- Where can I move to that covers the requirements needed for me to work?
- Do I mind being away from friends and family for longer time periods?
If your answers to these questions are largely affirmative, and you are confident that you have the discipline to maintain your work schedule while abroad, you can take it as a green flag to move forward.
If your goal is to work remotely while traveling, you should consider the merits of both of these approaches and decide which one works best for you. Desk To Remote can help you land a remote job that will enable you to be location independent - find out how by contacting us.