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It’s been almost exactly one month since I returned home to the UK (even longer by the time you read this!) after 10 months working on the road around Asia. At the beginning of 2017, as many of you know I quit my job, started a freelance business (and this blog!), and started travelling almost all at once.
Due to this, I’ve never experienced working from home, as in home, before. Since many people go from working from home first to working on the road, I thought it might be interesting to share with you all today some of the differences, pros, and cons I’ve encountered transitioning from digital nomad to working from home – for the time being at least.
Below are the biggest areas I’ve noticed a major difference in the past month.
On the one hand, working as you travel can be extremely distracting. There are countless new sights and experiences on offer that are always far more appealing than sitting in front of a laptop, and meeting other travellers who don’t have to work can be tricky to handle.
However, travelling did make me very focused. Since I knew that I wanted to be out exploring, taking in as much of a new location as possible, I would work late into the evenings, early in the mornings, and would set aside entire days dedicated to get work done as efficiently as possible.
Now that I’m home, I’m still extremely focused (and getting loads done!), but I definitely don’t feel that push to pack my work into 2 – 3 days each week as much. There’s less to do (especially when it’s always raining outside and you’re recovering from a back injury!), so I spread my work across the week and take my time a bit more.
It’s lovely to feel more relaxed at home and able to pace myself a little more, but I did love that feeling of satisfaction when I’d pack a day of sightseeing and meet a few deadlines perfectly when I was on the road.
I have always been in the ‘travelling can be dirt cheap’ camp, but I have to admit: I’m saving so much money already by being home.
However, this difference isn’t really fair without mentioning a few things:
- I’m stay with my parents, rent free for now
- I sold my car before I left, so no payments there
- I’m recovering from a back injury, so no gym, climbing etc
Once I’m fully back on my feet, I will be rejoining my gym, climbing a few times a week etc, so I do expect my expenses to go back up – but not having to pay rent right now compared to paying for hostels and Airbnb every month will, of course, make a massive difference.
I’m so grateful to have a family that is supporting me while I figure out my next steps, and really enjoying the savings no rent allows me – straight into the savings account, of course!
Here is where working from home has really shown it’s downside. When Pete and I were travelling, we had a great work-life balance. I have always been extremely disciplined with my work, so I always made sure I had time to get my job done each week, but we also managed to pack in so many activities.
We were, literally, living the dream.
Now I’m back home, the ‘life’ side of things have definitely wavered for me. None of my friends live in my hometown, so arranging to see them is suddenly much more difficult. Suddenly, the majority of people have jobs Monday to Friday so going out and having fun is a solo activity. Again, if I weren’t so restricted by my injury I think I would have been out and about on my own regardless, but the past month has definitely made me realise how isolating working from home can be.
I love being back home and spending some much-needed catch-up time with my family, but my hometown definitely doesn’t have the opportunities (for me) to have the work-life balance I want. Whether I need to find some more hobbies that do fit this location or just find a better blend of travel and home time in the future is yet to be decided!
In all, there are some major differences between the digital nomad lifestyle and working from home – as you’d expect.
Both have their pros and cons: working from home means I’m home, with my family and our dogs, a beautiful home and the same bed every night (dream!). However, being a digital nomad lets me climb all day and work all evening if I want to. It lets me spend 10 days scuba diving and the next 5 days locked in a trendy cafe getting shit done.
I definitely found working on the road a little overwhelming at times, but I loved the freedom it gave me. In the future, I’m definitely moving towards spending time in homes away from home.
And, well, watch this space: the van-life community might just be getting a few new members…