When you’re feeling like E.T. but home doesn’t feel like home anymore


If you’re a digital nomad, you may at some point experience what I call E.T. syndrome. It’s what happens when you return home to friends and/or family and you feel like E.T. the cute alien from that 80’s movie that wants to phone home. Except home doesn’t feel like home anymore and your passport has been given a good workout. The lives you lead are radically different maybe even at complete odds. In this post, I will share with you some common digital nomad problems. To find out more, please keep reading.

Yes, I run a bona fide business/have a job.

It’s unfortunate that part of the problem may reside in the fact that certain people in your life may simply not understand your lifestyle or be envious of it. The life of being a digital nomad is by definition one of travelling and not having a permanently fixed abode. What you call home last 2-3 years, sometimes less. You need to concern yourself with visa application rules, travel insurance, jet lag, loneliness, etc. Your life is about movement and their life may be about routine. Each year resembles the next. Mortgage, car payments, 9 to 5 job, school fees, the weekly pub crawl and what Bev from high school is doing now. You no longer can find anything to talk about. Who is Bev again?

I run a bona fide business and pay real taxes.

With running a business comes the usual problems of staying legally compliant, having the right insurances and paying the amount of tax you're supposed to. Whether it be knowing which visa, work permit or licenses you need, it all takes time and money. Finding clients, getting them to sign contracts and pay you when they’re supposed to is a challenge. You end up having to chase clients when they go MIA or send e-mails discussing issues you thought were already sorted out. Exchange rates and reporting amounts for tax purposes in your home country are critical because the tax man won’t forget you, my friend.

I have the business, but I don’t have the wi-fi…

So before leaving you’ve made sure you have the technology situation sorted out. You have the tools of the trade, for example, laptop, mobile, digital camera and all the cables and adaptors you could want. You have work scheduled and know when you need to hit your deadlines. You are set, right? Only when you arrive at your destination you notice your accommodation wi-fi is non-existent or keeps dropping out. The camera lens you intended on using broke in transit. Then your laptop suddenly decides to go to laptop heaven or the mobile app you need that is blocked in the region you’re in. This technology was meant to be your friend but right now it’s your foe.

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As a digital nomad, you may at some point experience E.T. syndrome. Returning home to friends and/or family feeling like a stranger. Your wants, needs, struggles, and triumphs are going to be different maybe even at complete odds. But that my friend is part of being a digital nomad. You may find that the freedom, experiences, and quality of life you gain far outweighs the negatives you may experience.

So, where to next?

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