Disadvantages of a Nomadic Lifestyle

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We’ve already gone through the advantages of a nomadic lifestyle, and now it’s time to paint the full picture and discuss the disadvantages of a nomadic lifestyle. Life, in general, puts a cost on every decision we make. If the nomadic lifestyle were purely advantageous, everyone would be doing it. Here’s our list of the disadvantages of a nomadic lifestyle that might explain why nomads are a minority:

  • Being alone. Usually, a nomadic lifestyle forces you to take a lot of leaps by yourself, as the chances are that it wouldn’t be easy to find a constant companion that follows you everywhere you go. For some people, being alone quickly brings a feeling of Loneliness, a powerful and scorching feeling nobody enjoys. Avoiding loneliness is easy for those who are settled down by entering a stable relationship, meeting family members, or developing our circle of friends. For nomads, it is more challenging, but fear not, there are still some great ways to create a social life on the move. However, you should be accept the fact that as a nomad, being alone is something which is unavoidable even if your social skills are outstanding. (Edited after reading Franc’s comment)
  • Constant ups and downs. Since the nomadic lifestyle doesn’t offer the guaranteed stability a regular lifestyle does, you’ll meet with both good and bad surprises on a daily basis. This emotional roller-coaster is boosted by the fact that everything is new and you lack information. If you take life too seriously, it can be a problem; a nomad needs to know how to ride through the ups and downs, because both are guaranteed frequently.
  • Lack of private space. Most people feel the need to be able to say, “this is home” – a place to feel comfortable and secure, store all your stuff, create and design. Constantly changing locations means you don’t always have that private home-base, and although occasionally you’ll find something more stable for a few months, it will never be home, since you know you will leave it soon.
  • Excitement levels. Travelling too much can dull you to new things. After a year of being stuck in the pressure of work, a week’s vacation in India is eye-opening. But when you’re constantly moving around (especially if you’re focused in one region, e.g. Europe), your excitement levels aren’t quite what they were. Yet another snow-capped mountain, just one more lava field. The wow element gets turned down, and even the most jaw-dropping spectacular can seem boring and mundane.
  • Money. There’s a certain illusion (steamed books such as the 4 hours workweek contributed to it), that a location free lifestyle actually holds greater riches than being a corporate slave doing a 9 to 5 job. From my experience, in the majority of cases, you would be much better off financially staying in the same place. In general, your finances are held up by the two pillars: revenue and expense. As for expenses, it’s true that you can save money by choosing to stay in low cost countries, although due to information gaps, you will probably spend more than a local. The real problem comes down to actually earning money while changing locations. Even in today’s global and internet connected world, it’s hard to form a real connection with clients when you can’t attend physical meetings with them; it’s also hard to be fully committed and focused on a revenue stream while changing locations constantly; time’s wasted. Instead of holding up the dream that the nomadic lifestyle will be improve your financials, realize that it has its costs. But then again, for nomads, happiness comes first.
  • Losing everything, again and again. It’s like birth, death and rebirth, and while we’re on this philosophical tangent, why are we so afraid of death? Maybe it’s because we’re scared of losing what we’ve worked so hard to attain. The nomadic lifestyle is similar; every time you move, you are losing your home, your favorite “known” places, your social circles, all to be recreated time after time.
  • Reaction of your non-nomadic environment. There are typically two reactions you will encounter when you reveal your nomadic identity. Envy is the first, and with envy come all the questions that are trying to prove your model wrong (you have to be wrong, or they are wrong). The second reaction is from people thinking that you’ve totally lost it. Some nomads actually thrive when receiving the envy reaction (“you have an amazing life”), but when you get addicted to envy, you will later on need to hide or lie about the disadvantages, in order to keep the dream alive. Worse, you will be at a risk of lying to yourself about how happy you are. As explored in other articles, ego doesn’t fit with the lifestyle.
  • Missing out. As your family grows older, and your friends start having kids, you’re not there to accompany them in those moments, and maybe you’re going to regret missing the precious moments in the future. I wish I spent more time with… we tend to think that only our lives are changing, but even the people we leave behind change, grow and die, and you have to learn how to accept this fact of life. If it’s important to spend quality time with your parents, don’t go away for years at a time. Come home every six months. Find solutions.
  • Not meeting your perfect match of relationship and career.When it comes to jobs, the nomadic lifestyle can be disadvantageous for the perfect career, too. The period spent travelling can look like a black hole on a resume, and can be difficult to explain to a potential employer. Although fulfilling work can happen for you while you’re moving around, you’re worse off than if you stayed at home. This disadvantage of the nomadic lifestyle doesn’t just apply to your perfect job with its perfect salary, but the perfect special someone, too. Since you’re travelling and most other people aren’t, it dramatically reduces your chance of finding your better half, and it’s something to be taken into account. Your pool of potential applicants is reduced, and your chances drop. However, if you do find someone to share the journey with, they’re probably amazing, and great candidates with whom to share your life. Sometimes finding the right person and settle down in a life full of love is much better than staying on the road. But then again, the road is fun!
  • Attachments. For a nomad, attachments are very negative since they stop us from moving. Attachments can be sweet and addictive. An amazing relationship, a great home, the right job. You have to keep on moving, and you have to give them up, if you want to continue in your nomadic lifestyle.

Got you depressed? Good. Always take into account the advantages and the disadvantages of a nomadic lifestyle, before you decide whether this is worth the trouble of the undertaking.

 

 

            

32 Responses so far.

  1. Paul says:

    Good post, we left home many years ago to live in Australia and now to travel the world, living out of a backpack is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and finding people to talk about the negatives is a challenge (ie this post had no other replies at the time I wrote). It doesn’t fit in with the ‘hey this is amazing!’ lifestyle portrayed.

    The highs are high, the lows are low but there is just a hell of allot of in-between where travel can become mundane. We work hard to keep it fresh, its an ongoing process, while I miss my family and friends immensely, my mum and dad get older and so do the friends kids at a more alarming rate, I would hate myself more for missing this chance we have!

    • elid1979 says:

      Hey Paul,
      Thanks, and I agree, people are usually enjoying telling how “epic” their journey is, without discussing the downside.
      Love your insights, keep up riding the heights and lows!

  2. Patrick says:

    Hey man. My names patrick, im 26 i have been a nomad on my own for 14 years. Its a tough life and it can take u to points u wish u never left ur safe place (home). Sometimes u didnt have a choice but to leave and sometimes there never was that said home. Noone really understands the life style nor the feelings that come with it. I live everyday in wonders of where to sleep how to eat and shower and how much time to stay in one place. I can only accept it for what it is and never regret just accept the fact i choose to make this life harder than it needs to be by never allowing myself to be comfortable in a place long enough to get settled or started. I am currently on my 36th state in usa and make friends everywhere but not so much ones that can help with a place to stay from time to time or where to wash my clothes when needed or even come for dinner to fill my 4 day empty stomach. But those friends are the ones whom tell me i inspire them bc of what i been thru and value everything but try to posses nothing. I never even had an id. Life can be hard but theres another person with a harder life. The best advice i can give u is just have respect morals value towards whats offered and be humble for what u have. Lifes not about what u obtain financially or physically but mentally and give mentally and spiritually to those who cross ur path. I wish everyone luck on their journeys and hope everyone gains the knowledge of what theyre after.

    • elid1979 says:

      Patrick,
      Good to hear from you!
      14 is a super young age to become a nomad. I honestly recommend people to start later, once they are settled in and balanced, but I guess for some of us it is not possible.
      Patrick, I think there is always a choice, and I thank god (or whoever is in charge) for giving me the chance to pursue this lifestyle. I only hope for both you and me that when the going will get too tough, we will find the courage and peace to call it quits, and settle down. You make your nomadic choice every day, and when it time to stop, you can and should stop. Happiness can also be in one place.
      Great insights about gaining knowledge and values that are needed for each nomad for sure!

  3. Faith Galvan says:

    Despite these disadvantages, this is still an attractive lifestyle to me. The only one that is a bit of a turn off to me is the “wow” factor going down. I am very bored with staying in the same place. I want to see everything there is to see. I wanna experience life. I’m 20, and I’m not sure how my father would approve. I don’t want to disappoint him (He’s the one person in my life who has always supported me.) I think that’s the main obstacle to me becoming a nomad at the moment.

  4. Saffron says:

    I love this. I’ve lived in the same small town in Ohio for my entire life.. Now that I’m an adult I want adventure and freedom. I’m thinking about saving up as much a s I can and then buying a van to travel in with my boyfriend and cat. Any suggestions? 🙂

  5. Twinkle Arguilla says:

    Hi! I’m still doing a research on how to become a nomad. i’m itching to embark on this kind of life. i just want to experience it that later in life i won’t regret not doing it. Hope my family would support me. Thanks for the post! its good to know also the disadvantages of this lifestyle. maybe somehow i could prepare myself for it. hehe 🙂

    • elid1979 says:

      Thanks for the feedback, and I think it is great you are investigating and preparing yourself for the downside of being a nomad as well.
      All the best!

  6. Asante Debbie says:

    For me, it will be default to live a nomadic lifestyle because I love my families and am ever ready to live and have fun with them, and give them shelter as well . Even the Holy bible say, A good man leave an inheritance for his children childrens. So with nomadic lifestyle I don’t think I can even build a house or properties for my children. Hmmmmmm God help us all.

  7. Franc says:

    I agree with the last 5 points, but not with the 5 first ones.

    If you are a digital nomad is becaue you can afford it. Otherwise focus on making a living first.

    Loneliness should not be a proble if you know what you want. Being alone is different from feeling lonely.

    The llast 5 points are interesting concepts;

    Losing everything, again and again.
    i take this as part fo life, and I feel privileged to experience this, even though it is not easy at all start anew in every place.
    Yet, no change, no growth.

    Reaction of your non-nomadic environment.
    Yes, some people (those stuck in their own comfort zone and/or jealous) will think and let you know that you are lost or runnning from soemthing.

    Missing out.
    It’s a trade-off.

    Not meeting your perfect match of relationship and career.
    It will happen naturally, and then you will settle. It’s how life works.

    Attachments.
    Part of the trade-offs.

    All in all, good article.

    Keep it up!

    • elid1979 says:

      Thanks Franc!
      As for the loneliness vs. being alone, I see what you are saying, and I agree, I am alone most of the time and don’t feel loneliness. The post was edited, I appreciate it.
      As for the finances, I didn’t say digital nomads won’t be able to afford it, they must be able to afford it. The only thing I think is correct is that staying in one place would have better financial results in comparison to traveling on one’s finances.
      Thanks again!

  8. That’s one way to look at it, and it is valid.
    For me, a good man lives a life that makes him happy Or Give him Full support

  9. Hey, this is a great write up. I think it’s important that people see the otherside of life as a digital nomad, because it’s often easy to portray it as an ideal life.

    I linked to this on my page about being a digital nomad;

    http://encover.co/what-is-a-digital-nomad/

  10. I’ve been a full-time nomad for three years. I’m 64 and therefore probably older than most of your audience.

    Being alone: Not a problem since I’m an introvert

    Constant ups and downs: Hasn’t happened. I think that’s more often about the person rather than the situation. Shit happens to people who live in one place, too

    Lack of private space: My van is my private space, so it’s with me everywhere, and all my stuff fits easily in it

    Excitement levels: Somewhat true, but then you discover things other than excitement that enhance your life

    Money: Social Security

    Losing everything again and again: I’m a minimalist, which is liberating. I’m not losing stuff, I’m getting rid of the clutter. And it’s not a repeating cycle

    Reaction of your non-nomadic environment: I’m too old and too independent to care what others think about me. I think that’s part of maturing

    Missing out: As I said, I’m an introvert. I’m also divorced with no children, and I haven’t felt attached to my birth family, well, ever

    Not meeting your perfect match of relationship and career: I had a perfect career but I’m glad that’s over. As for relationships, eh. not that important. I’ve met some fellow nomads who are now my friends and family

    Attachments: My lack of attachments made the nomadic life the perfect answer for me.

    • elid1979 says:

      Hi Al,
      I enjoyed reading your comment, you seem well balanced, and it is great for me to see that regardless of age, the nomadic life can work well, thank you!
      I agree that ups and downs are emotions that are unique and depending on our own perception, but the lack of stability and uncertainty as you move between countries and cultures might intensify those (it really depends if you are also staying in a usual environment, or go to remote locations). In any case, good to see you have a found peace regardless of the lifestyle you have.
      You have solved the lack of private space by a van which is awesome. However, a van decreases your flexibility, since you have your home with you and probably also limits you to land travels and less possibility to going to other continents and countries. I would like to try Van travel in the future for sure, I think it is an exciting option.

  11. […] pretty cool right? But, nomadic traveller Eli thinks you should consider the down sides […]

  12. Ozayr says:

    Hi there. I’ve read so much on becoming a location independent entrepreneur and relocating with my wife. We both stick to ourselves and enjoy working on our online company. Any idea on where and how to start to take our company future.

    • elid1979 says:

      Well Ozayr, when I started, I tried reading, but couldn’t find resources. They existed, but I didn’t know what to look for. Seems to me you are ready on the theory side, now you only have to execute, work hard, build something great.

  13. Taryn says:

    I am a wife of 22 yrs. and mother of 4, (ages 20-10). My husband and I started together on his first yr. in college. Between schooling (now PhD. Medical Physics) and military service, (15 yrs. US Navy), our family has moved 15 times in 22 years thus far. I understand our situation (stays longer than a few months) may be up for debate to be defined as nomadic. However, I relate to most comments shared. We never know how long each stay will last. The lure of adventure is always there! I’m now starting to look for compromises ie vacations, instead of whole life pickup and go. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • elid1979 says:

      Thanks Taryn for sharing your story!
      I have to admit I am also unsure about the definition of Nomadic. I guess that if you keep on changing from one place to another without having an Anchor anywhere, you are nomadic, regardless of how long you stay in each location.
      Congratulations again on for living a life of change!

  14. There is definately a great deal to learn about this subject.

    I love all of the points you made.

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