3 Months as a Digital Nomad: Conclusions

December 14, 2016

It’s my last week on the road as a digital nomad. There’s every chance in the world I’ll just be turning back around after the holidays and starting the process over again, but I’m considering options in the states as well, to be around to fight Trump’s agenda and defend those who are victims of bigotry and discrimination in the US… I didn’t think I would ever have to say that.

Overall, I would call this experiment a success; I was able to survive on the income I raised online, and go to a variety of countries. However, there have been more disadvantages to staying on the road than I initially foresaw back in California.

Here are my thoughts on being a location-independent freelancer in Asia.

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There are always going to be unforeseen expenses

Maybe not in your first week, or even your first few months, but eventually, something will come up that requires you spending more money than you had budgeted. For me, the main setback was voluntary; I had the option of booking flights between countries with British Airways Avios and a small fee, but the costs were so low it was more practical to just pay cash for the tickets and save the points for future use.

My health has suffered

Because I haven’t spent more than three weeks in any country to which I’ve traveled over the last three months, I haven’t always had the time to hit the gym, eat a healthy breakfast, and run six days a week. I haven’t let myself go too badly, but I was in marathon shape before I flew into Shanghai. Now I feel so stiff from hours spent writing on my Macbook. The next time around, I’ll try to plan staying in one country like Thailand or Vietnam, renting an apartment, and doing runs when my visa expires. This will ensure a little routine in my exercise, and hopefully give me access to a kitchen and refrigerator.

I haven’t been able to save

This is part and parcel with expenses, but honestly, I just haven’t pulled in enough income to do anything more than survive in Southeast Asia. I make over $1000/month in writing assignments and social media management, giving me ample free time. However, I still have to go out to eat the majority of the time, leading to hidden costs. I stayed in hotels instead of long-term accommodations. Where I should have just called it a day, I often went out and spent more on activities and food. I can correct this in the future, but I also like to spend on leisure.

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