Once you’ve finalized your remote work set up, then it’s easy to think that the world is your oyster. And, in many ways, it is! However, if you want to make it work on a long-term basis, then there are certain details to consider when choosing from the best digital nomad destinations.
Paying attention to certain considerations and thoughtfully assessing your options will determine if your remote work situation flourishes or fails. What may initially seem to be a small detail, such as a city’s timezone, can end up having a big impact.
Here are a few details to keep front of mind when choosing your next destination as a digital nomad.
- 1 Timezone
- 2 Infrastructure
- 3 Lifestyle and Culture
- 4 Affordability
- 5 Weather
- 6 Language
- 7 Growth Opportunity
- 8 Ready For Action?
The timezone of the destination that you’re visiting is critical for several reasons. Not only will it help with working productively, but also to make the most of the culture you’re immersing yourself into.
If you’re embarking on one of your first digital nomad stints overseas, then try to keep a healthy overlap with time zones. If you’re ambitious and venture off to the other side of the world, consider the sacrifices that will need to be made.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will help determine whether the timezone is manageable or not.
● When do you work best?
If you’re a night owl, then it’s wise to explore locations that are ahead of your home base. By going this route, you’ll be working during your most productive hours while the rest of your team and/or clients are online.
When we were in Brazil, we were five hours behind South Africa. To make sure that we had enough overlap with our home base, we were waking up at 5 am. Every now and then, Ollie had to wake up at 3 am to join a meeting. This was a challenge and the first couple hours of the morning were a struggle.
Luckily, we quickly adapted and found that we were productive in the morning. On the other hand, pushing through until 11 pm at night would have been more of a challenge.
● When is the rest of your team most productive?
There’s little-to-no point overlapping with the rest of your team during a time when they are not productive. Early in the morning, most people are answering emails, and many others tap out after lunch. This is something to consider as well.
While you can’t make everybody happy, it’s important to consider the effectiveness of communication while you work abroad, especially with the people that you spend a fair bit of time working with.
● What limitations has the company put on you?
This is a big one. It’s great if you’re given the thumbs up to travel and work, but you may have very different ideas of what this means compared to your employers. Make sure that you agree on any timezone overlaps that could occur.
It’s worth getting this agreement in writing. For example, if your employer agrees to a four-hour overlap, then you’ll need to consider this agreement when picking your destination. If you want to visit a location that has more than the agreed time difference, then you’ll have to work odd hours.
For example, when we’re in Bali, we typically work from 10 am until 6 pm to make sure that we have a 5-hour overlap with our team back home.
● What is the lifestyle that you’ll be sacrificing (if any)
Keep in mind that if you end up working odd hours, then you may be giving up a part of the lifestyle and culture of the place that you’re visiting. If this is the case, you need to ask yourself if it’s worth it.
For example, when we were in Brazil, we were going to bed at 9 pm every night so that we could wake up early for work. This wasn’t ideal for experiencing the nightlife of Brazil but it was a sacrifice that we were willing to make. Would you have been?
In most cases, you can’t work online without WiFi and a decent internet connection. As alluring as the Philippines may appear to be, it’s not the most reliable when it comes to an internet connection and general infrastructure.
The following three aspects should be on your checklist of infrastructure:
- Strong and stable internet connection
- Access to decent healthcare
- Space to work – either coworking, office space, or WiFi-fueled coffee shops
Lifestyle and Culture
When you’re not working, you’ll probably be exploring the society that you’re living in. At least, we hope that you do. While it’s always nice to explore new places and experience something different, you need to consider whether or not you’ll be able to enjoy the lifestyle and culture of the destination for a longer period of time.
If you’re an avid surfer, then you may struggle to live in a land-locked concrete jungle. If the slow pace of island living frustrates you, then you may want to shortlist bustling cities instead of tropical havens.
It’s also important to consider your own culture and whether you’ll struggle to fit into the society or not. Unfortunately, we live in a world where we have to consider prejudice and acceptance when visiting a destination. With this in mind, it’s valuable to do research on whether a city has a low rate of racism, supports LGBTQ, and is open-minded about religion.
We’ve spent long periods of time in places that have an affordable exchange rate, and much shorter time in places that are more expensive. There’s no point in crippling yourself for an experience. Rather save up and enjoy your time in a place without financial pressure.
We travel to different parts of the world to escape the winter cold. With this in mind, it’s unlikely that we’ll plan a trip to a country that is freezing over at the same time as South Africa is experiencing its colder months.
With this in mind, don’t assume that a country will be warm because of stereotypes. Take the time to research the destination’s climate over the time of year that you’ll be visiting and make sure that it meets your expectations.
Don’t underestimate how difficult it can be to set yourself up to work remotely without being able to communicate effectively. From the moment that you arrive at the airport, to looking for a coworking spot, and asking about a failed WiFi connection – language is important.
This doesn’t mean that you should only travel to destinations that speak your mother tongue, but it’s worth considering how you’ll communicate. If you can’t speak a language that the local population is familiar with, like English, French or Spanish, then it may be worth doing a crash course in Duolingo – or picking an entirely new destination.
This is an added bonus when traveling to a destination. Whether you’re working for yourself or an employer, it’s worth considering if the destination has a landscape that is conducive to your business growth.
This can manifest in different ways. Such as having a community of entrepreneurs, bloggers, or tech junkies. If you’re running a business that pivots on sustainability, then you can pick a destination that has a strong focus on the same ethos.
Ready For Action?
By working through this list of considerations, you’ll be able to approach your digital nomad journey with a lot more confidence. Knowing that you’re in a productive time zone or a city that doesn’t act differently because of your skin color will make you feel a lot more at ease before you board the plane.
What are some of the most important considerations for you when choosing a digital nomad destination? If we’ve left something important off of this list, then let us know! Drop us a message on Instagram and we’ll add it to this list.