Digital Nomads: What to Know Before You Go Global — Kate Sortino
With Covid, a lot of people are doing the work-from-home thing. Many of y’all are considering taking a job in international, which is awesome! I did it, and I’m happy I did. Here is a little bit of advice for digital nomads, or aspiring digital nomads, as they consider taking their job to another state or country.
Advice for digital nomads
First things first: Be very, very careful about international regulations regarding your job.
The unfortunate reality is, most employers don’t want to deal with international regulations and taxation, not to mention security issues, privacy issues, client confidentiality, etc. Employers also don’t want to deal with time zones, spotty internet, and other variables associated with DN life. An increasing amount of them are embracing the lifestyle! But many still aren’t.
Simply “using a VPN” will not solve the security issues, nor will it pull the wool over your employers’ eyes. Unless you’re willing to risk losing your job, don’t circumvent their rules and just assume that a VPN is an Invisibility Cloak of Sneakiness.
A few things to consider as you transition WFH to DN:
- You are not going to find high-speed Internet in many, many places. Particularly less expensive countries. Particularly in short-term rentals. There definitely are some places that are equipped for this! But this is not a global standard. Strolling I’ve been to Thailand and expecting your $4 a night hostel to have 120 Mbps upload speeds is silly, and banking your job on that is even sillier. If high-speed internet is really important to your job, I suggest finding local backups so you aren’t relying on the place you’re staying or the cafe you’re working in.
- Talk to your employer. Transparency is best, plus maintaining the lie can get stressful.
- Working remotely is not the same thing as working from home. You will probably not have the same setup, the same ergonomics, the same technological accessories, and conveniences. You’ll need to prepare for contingencies, budget accordingly, and be flexible.
- A lot of places in the world don’t understand or care about remote work. Trying to explain a Zoom call to your neighbor whose children won’t stop screaming at the top of their lungs from sun up till sundown, they’re not going to understand or care. This isn’t their fault, they are at home. It’s not reasonable to expect them to completely alter their life and schedule to accommodate your professionalism. This has been something that I’ve struggled with a lot, but I have a very understanding employer who understands this is just part of nomading.
- Try it locally before you go global. I’ve met a number of nomads who tried it out domestically, found out that it was not for them, and never made it overseas. This is because you are choosing to forgo a lot of creature comforts in order to travel the world, but you don’t really get to see as much as you think you will because you’re still working 8, 10, 12 hours a day. It’s really fucking cool, but it’s not a permanent vacation.
- Before you completely uproot your life, try being a nomad in another city or another state for a few weeks to see if you can handle living out of suitcases, not knowing anybody, not having a place to call home in the traditional sense. If the pressure is too much when you can still speak the language and navigate the stores, transportation, and culture that you’re already used to, DN lifestyle may not be for you. If you love it and it’s exhilarating and as awesome as you were hoping, great!
Hope this was helpful advice for digital nomads or those wanting to become one. DN life is super cool and I’m really happy at it, but there are a lot of considerations and things to prepare before you head off 🙂
Originally published at https://katesortino.com on December 1, 2021.