The Pros and Cons of Quitting Your 9-to-5

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These nomadic workers took the plunge.

Woman leaning out the window of a moving car

Picture this. You’re sitting on a beach in Bali, sipping fresh coconut juice while you sort through emails from your boss and edit your latest report. Remote life, right? We’ve all dreamed about it. But dreaming and doing are two different things. Before you sign up to be a nomadic worker, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of quitting the grind and hitting the road.

Pro: The people and places will inspire you

Kimley Foster travelled the world for a year as part of the inaugural Remote Year group. While she started the year as a freelance digital marketer, she was inspired along the way to found an eco-friendly leggings brand, Wildheart. Part of the inspiration for the business came from the people she met and places she visited. “I went to at least one co-working space [in each country],” says Foster. “And the people in those places are so inspiring. There’s just something about meeting different entrepreneurs in different countries and [seeing] the way that they deal with different issues… and the way they came up with their ideas. It’s pretty unique.”

Pro: You’ll take a deep-dive into new cultures

Ângela Bastos is a digital marketing consultant from Lisbon who has been “location independent,” as she puts it, for more than six years now. For Bastos, the major perk, “apart from the obvious, which is to travel,” is the chance to get to know and explore cities as though you were a local. “At a new location, you will probably have the time to explore places off the beaten track, meet locals and other digital nomads, [and] connect with the startup scene there,” says Bastos. “Travel is not rushing to see every attraction in a city; it’s about exploring the place and its community while you’re based there.”

Pro: You can chase the weather you love

Amna Shamim is a digital marketer who swapped the bright lights of New York City for life on the road in late 2014. One of the major perks for Shamim is the fact she can chase the weather she loves. “I never have to deal with the dead of winter or the peak of summer, unless I want to,” says Shamim. “As someone who hibernated [throughout] January, this is huge.”

Pro and con: You’ll be living in different time zones

According to Foster, the one thing every digital nomad struggles with is the changing time zones. “Every country I went to, I was changing hours,” says Foster. “Sometimes I was working late into the night; sometimes I was getting up early to take calls.” Unsurprisingly, this can take its toll on your physical and emotional wellbeing. However, says Foster, there are also perks to moving between time zones, especially if you’re working for an employer in a different time zone. “You don’t have interruptions. If you want to go explore the city, you can do it, and there’s no-one to stop you.”

Con: You might struggle with working solo

For Foster, working as a solopreneur had its downsides. “No-one really has your back,” says Foster. “You’re not in a team, so you don’t have the same support. In a normal office space, if you have a different view from your client, you have a boss or colleague to help you get through that. When it’s just you, it’s just you.”

Con: The nomadic life can be lonely

Yosh Han, an entrepreneur and perfumer, is currently travelling with Remote Year, although she has been a digital nomad for several years now. As such, she knows the downsides well. “It can be lonely at times, being on the road,” says Han. “It’s fun to go on dates here and there, but developing meaningful relationships while being nomadic is a bit more challenging.”

Con: It’s hard to stay on top of your work

Unsurprisingly, when you arrive in a new city, you’ll want to explore – but that’s not always possible when there’s work to do. “It might take some time to settle and return to your ‘work’ routine when you arrive [in] a new location,” says Bastos. “It’s completely normal to have an urge to explore as soon as you arrive, [but] you have to balance [that] with the fact you still have work to do. This is particularly difficult when you’re travelling with friends who don’t work everywhere they go.”

Con: You may struggle with homesickness

It would be surprising to find a digital nomad who hadn’t struggled, at some point, with homesickness. Shamim notes that even little things such as a hotel “not being properly stocked” or “being physically ill” and unable to communicate with your doctor can bring on a bout of homesickness. And that’s not the only time the grass looks greener. “Sometimes I have FOMO about the casual brunches and nights out with friends, but when I was in New York, I was always anxious to leave and explore,” says Shamim. “You can’t win it all.”

Read More: 5 Unusual Escapes That Don’t Require A Passport

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