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The 7 Things I’ve Learned From Becoming a Digital Nomad

The digital nomad lifestyle. It’s often put on a pedestal like the shiniest object in the room, but does it live up to the hype? I’ve always wanted to work remotely and on my own terms. Here’s why I finally took the leap to become a digital nomad.

I’ve spent just over 7 months living in Amsterdam from Minneapolis. My entire small family, consisting of myself, my 2-year-old toddler daughter, my wife with an amazing career, and our dog, decided to jump to a new area just because. One question I hear all the time in Amsterdam is…. “why? Why did we move here from the United States?”

Stranger: “Is it because of your work?”

Me: “Yes. Well, sort of. Actually, I just wanted to.”

Personally, I view it as a hybrid of both work and personal choice. Ultimately, it’s that I mainly wanted to explore a digital nomad lifestyle. Here’s why and what I’ve learned in the process.

What I’ve Learned from a Digital Nomad Lifestyle

I hate monotony.

Kyle on the Balcony in Paris
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Monotony is scary to me. I am always looking for a place to explore and experience something new. I felt that after several years of the same old-same old, I needed to break out of my shell and see what the world has to offer. Sure, I had already visited more than 10 countries before I made the move, but I knew that there is more to learn, explore and grow from out in the world.

If it were up to me, I’d rather have challenge and chaos than conformity and routine. Being uncomfortable is an incredible thing, it can make you grow as a person in so many different ways.

While the general thought is that digital nomads simply coast around with their laptops and live the dream life… it’s a bit of the opposite.

The digital nomad lifestyle can be isolating and frustrating. These daily challenges have helped me work smarter and not harder. Plus, working remotely is the new normal so if you aren’t adapting, you may be losing, I suppose.

Becoming a digital nomad was a life goal.

Person at the Top of Jungfraujoch in Switzerland
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Not many people know this, but the first day I visited Amsterdam I said I want to live here someday. Yeah, I was a later-year college student at the time. There was somewhere between that moment and when I was a mid-level professional working under fluorescent lights at 8 pm that made me question everything. That was one of the main reasons I became a digital nomad in the first place.

Back to that monotony thing, I guess. But I was learning something about myself, deep down. I wanted to get to a goal that was worth striving for, day in and day out. Sacrifice a day in the office for a future day of freedom. Learn a new skill today to unlock freedom for tomorrow.

This goal became a neurotic habit where I couldn’t really think about anything else. For better or worse, I needed to have it. So, I started teaching myself everything about blogging and content marketing. Eventually, that snowballed into a bigger thing, but the most important part was doing it in areas that are of interest to me, like travel.

Also, there’s a massive communal backing with digital nomads, which helps mitigate some of the sense of being alone. For example, with SafetyWing, I can get healthcare and financial support but also be a part of a strong digital nomad community.

Being a digital nomad allows you to focus on your personal growth.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss. So that’s what they say I guess? But, it kind of holds true. Political and social issues in the United States are genuinely fatiguing. Mix that in with a 60-hour work week and life becomes a time warp.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on America. It’s just you need to spend time focusing on what’s important to your personal growth as a person without too much influence from external forces.

If you simply don’t have the resources to know what’s going on, you won’t have to dwell on it or have unnecessary stress worrying about it. Plus, having a 7 to 8 hour time difference means that a lot of the stuff you’d want to know about is already not in your front view mirror.

It’s in the rearview mirror. Let’s keep life going and not worry about some political tweet on Twitter from some billionaire.

Cultural perspectives unlock personal growth.

Look, I’m not here to bash. But, let’s be honest. Living to work and working to live is a hard pace to go by in the US. At the same time, it really isn’t just about that.

Yeah, that’s important, for sure. The big thing though is saying that you’ve lived your life fulfilled with the perspective of seeing the lens from other people’s eyes.

We get one opportunity to live the life we want to live. If you can say that you’ve done so by absorbing, living, and breathing at least a few other cultures in your lifetime — that’s an absolute win in my book.

Moving abroad can help an individual grow and challenge themselves, learn new skills, gain self-confidence, and develop a new perspective on the world. It can also help to open their eyes to different cultures and ways of living, as well as enable them to meet new people from all walks of life.

You have a more diverse set of experiences as a digital nomad.

Person Taking a Photo of an Elk in Yellowstone
Hard at Work in Yellowstone...

Living in a foreign country can be an exciting way to experience different cultures, meet new people, and see new places. The digital nomad community is generally open-minded and features people from all over the world, not just one culture or place. This makes it easy to explore different cultures and learn from each other.

The downside of this lifestyle is that there is no permanent place to call home, so your home base may change frequently. Finding a way to stay connected with friends and family can be a challenge while living abroad.

I’m 100% glad that I made the decision to become a digital nomad and live a new lifestyle. At first, this was incredibly scary, but I’m so happy that I made the jump.

Being able to work remotely, travel the world, and explore new cultures has been the most liberating experience of my life. I’ve met amazing people in every part of the globe and now feel more connected to others than ever before.

I’ve seen an overall improvement in my quality of life.

Digital nomads tend to have the ability to prioritize their wants over their needs. Nomadic life means that you can prioritize a lifestyle that is important to you.

I was previously coming from the United States where my healthcare costs were sky-high as a solo entrepreneur. Now, living abroad my healthcare coverage costs have severely declined, and pair that with SafetyWing digital nomad health insurance, and I’m just as covered as I was in the United States working for a firm with high-quality, bankable insurance.

See Related: Best Digital Nomad Insurance

Making friends is hard.

I didn’t realize how difficult it is to build connections in countries in which you can’t speak the language. Yes, here in Amsterdam nearly everyone speaks English. However, meetups generally have this balance between Dutch locals and expats that can be tough to navigate.

I’ve been trying to learn Dutch but it’s not easy given that everyone will defer to English unless you truly can speak Dutch like a local. Luckily, Amsterdam is a city that is filled with digital nomads and expats, so it could be much worse.

If making friends is hard, that can be fun in a way. It’s a bit of a challenge. So, back to that whole personal growth thing. As an introvert, this has helped me become more personable and inquisitive.

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