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Being a Digital Nomad, Is It For Everybody? A Short Trip To NYC Reveals The Truth

I know that some of my readers would love to read my reviews of some products I use for niche websites. Sorry, guys, no reviews this week! Last week, I did not have much time to spend on the blog. The reason is I went to New York for four days. Sam, my boyfriend, attended a programming conference that was held in Brooklyn, and I tagged along.

It was a perfect opportunity for me to try out a digital nomad hat to see if it would be possible for me to travel and work at the same time. Since I wanted to explore the city, I had just enough time for work to keep up with my freelancers.

NYC, Brooklyn, Fort Green Park: Happy to be here!

Fort Green Park, Brooklyn, NYC: Happy to be here!

Why did I want to try it out? Well a while ago, somebody who knows about my business and its remote nature asked me if I want to start travelling when I get enough money from my websites. I asked myself the same question… And the answer is no 🙂

What Is a Digital Nomad?

But first in the case you do not know what it is, let’s see what means to be a digital nomad and why it is so popular.

This is what Wikipedia says:

Digital nomads are individuals who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner. Such workers typically work remotely—from home, coffee shops, public libraries, and even recreational vehicles—to accomplish tasks and goals that traditionally took place in a single, stationary workplace.

Many people like to travel but many are limited in travelling by their regular jobs. Being a digital nomad solves this problem. The key is to find a remote work and do it while being on a road.

nyc brooklyn bridge

Being a digital nomad, you can work even from the top of Brooklyn Bridge!

Being a Digital Nomad Looks Like Fun!

When I see others working in cafes with their laptops, I feel a bit envy. These guys and gals look being so comfortable sitting in big comfy chairs with a big latte cup and deliciously looking pastry on a plate next to the coffee cup. They are sitting in a nicely decorated room surrounded by people like themselves; they often sit next to the window that makes people watching so easy.

If they get bored with work, there is always someone to chat with – even if it is a barista or a waitress.

They look cool and happy. And seemingly, they always find themselves in the best places of the word. Once they get bored, they can pack their stuff and move to another cool location.

I see the same people in airports. They look busy and concentrated – they do not like to fool around and waste their time. These guys are clearly doing some important stuff on their laptops while being on their way to amazing places.

People resting on rocks in Central Park, NYC

People resting on rocks in Central Park, NYC

Price Behind Looking Like a Cool Digital Nomad

From the outside, it all looks cool and fun and efficient.

However when I tried to do it myself, I realised that being a digital nomad is:

  • expensive;
  • distracting;
  • time-consuming.

It is expensive to travel, to live in different places, and to eat in cafes. Digital nomads depend on a good internet connection so they cannot stay in places where there is no fast internet available. This forces them to live in big cities that are not cheap.

When I went to NYC, I stayed at a pretty cheap airbnb place. It was a shared room in Brooklyn for only slightly more than $65 a night. For three nights I paid $195 ($271CAD). This is a quarter of what I pay here, in Montreal, for a mortgage of a nice 2 bedroom apartment. The money I paid for 3 nights in New York would cover 7.5 days of living in my own apartment. So, this stay was more than twice as expensive as owning a much bigger place!

Couch surfing can be a solution to this problem. But it is a sacrifice in terms of both physical and psychological comfort; thus, it is not suitable for me.

Eating out all the time is also very expensive. Of course, it is possible to not work from cafes but rather stay at the place where you live and work from there. But then what’s the point? Why should I come to a new place only to stay inside locked in four walls? This is at least how I understand it.

fishermen in Central Park NYC

Digital nomads trying to save some money on food? Central Park, NYC

In NYC, I worked from cafes a few times. Each time I paid about $12-16 for a meal – walking all day made me super hungry. However for suppers, I went to a grocery store where I spent $25-30 each time. This was enough to feed both me and Sam for supper and the next day for breakfast. I could not help but prove a well-known fact that cooking your own food is much cheaper than eating out.

Working in public places can be distracting. At least, it is for me. The last time I went to a cafe in NYC, two cafe neighbours of mine had a loud conversation about their purpose in life. It was so hard for me to concentrate! I did not think of bringing headphones and regretted it a lot. At the same time, I cannot listen to music for too long – my ears get tired eventually. However, it seems that having headphones is a must for me if I want to work in public places. Otherwise, no work can be done.

guy chilling on bench in Central Park NYC

This public place does not seem to be distracting! Too bad it does not have a wifi. Central Park NYC

And of course, you can argue with me saying that all these problems can be solved! Making a proper planning ahead of the time and being enough flexible to get more value for less money can reduce costs and downsides. Couch surfing and house sitting are solutions to living expenses. Working from a library with a WiFi (or working from your place) and bringing your own meals with you are solutions to eating expenses.

And all this brings us to the last disadvantage of being a digital nomad: It is time-consuming! Planning, moving from place to place, finding your way at each new destination, trying to optimize spendings – it eats up a lot of time and energy!

In NYC, the planning was a necessary part of my daily activities despite my desire to unwind and just go with the flow. When I arrive at a new place I get a bit overwhelmed, and it is hard for me to decide where to go and what to see – I want to go and see everything! But if I want to both do the work and see the city, I have to prepare a daily route, allocate a certain amount of time for each activity, and then to stay on the schedule. I am sure that are people who love planning and enjoy having a daily agenda while visiting new places. I am not such a person. I have enough planning and strict schedule in my regular life and when I am not at work, I like to relax and to not think too much. Not possible if you are a digital nomad!

view on Manhattan from Central Park NYC

Central Park, NYC is a perfect place to relax and unwind


Generally, I am a homebody who does not spend too much time traveling on a regular basis. But when I do travel, I like to immerse myself into new places and not to think about anything else. There is time to work and there is time to play. And it seems I do not like to mix them both.

And I do not like traveling enough to stand issues popping up when I arrive at a new place. So, the conclusion is I do not want to be a digital nomad. At least for now 🙂

delicious ice cream rolls at 10below NYC

Delicious ice cream rolls at 10below NYC

Check out my video of the process of cooking ice cream rolls on my Instagram. Also, all the pictures in the post are taken by me, and you can find them on my Instagram dushonok.

What do you think about digital nomadism,  guys? Would you like to do it?

  • Updated February 10, 2016
  • Varia
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