Has is it ever crossed your mind on chasing the digital nomad lifestyle? I happened to settle for it early this year when I lost my first white collar job. I have always had passion for exploring the world a lot and digital nomadism seemed like the perfect idea for me. Well I had very many places in mind but India seemed to get most of my attention the most due to its diverse cultures, monuments and areas to explore ranging from exotic cities, ancient ruins, religious structures and a diverse land scape with a wide variety of tourist attractions.
Working remotely from India however was not a walk in the park like many of you perceive it to be. It sure had its fair share of challenges that include:
Paper Work Management in India
Registration at the (Foreigner Regional Registration Office) FRRO is one of the vital steps you will undergo. Despite having all the documents in place you are expected to go back at least twice before being certified with an FRRO certificate. The rules and requirements keep changing and sometimes you may be asked to bring documents that weren’t listed. The FRRO is surely not the best way to have as a first encounter in India but once you overcome it, you are good to go.
Banking and Compliance
Carrying cash has never been a safe option for me. While I was working remotely from India, I found using my home debit card to withdraw cash in the local currencies very expensive. Mostly I use PayPal as my means of payment off which wasn’t a better option as their cross border fees happened to be very high. I got to learn that transfer Wise have made international transfers more affordable; and offer borderless accounts that can hold money up to 28 currencies making the digital nomad’s lifestyle easier.
The most appropriate way of running your business as a freelancer and a digital nomad is becoming an Estonian E-resident. After this you can create an Estonian limited company that you can manage from anywhere in the world. It enables you to connect to your business online directly. LeapIN helps you establish your company and take care of your accounting, taxation and any other legal compliance.
Internet accessibility in India is not that good for a remote worker in India. I happened to settle in Goa where the internet really sucks. Many budget able guesthouses lacked Wi-Fi and online booking services were not offered. There is also frequent power shortage which implies that good connection might not be accessible all the time. Normally you can access good Wi-Fi at most coffee shops in major cities across India. If you are working remotely it becomes expensive taking countless cups of coffee just to utilize the free Wi-Fi. Getting an Indian sim card can be a great solution but then it involves intensive paper work and a bureaucratic process that takes some days to get connected.
This was the greatest challenge I faced. Indian delicacies are spicier and very hot for most digital nomads. I found locally vended street foods too oily and spicy that may lead to digestion problems. There are luxurious restaurants with your desired type of food and international eateries like KFC and MC Donald’s that are pretty much expensive in the major Indian cities. I preferred the locally vended food as it saved my money a lot. On the other hand if you prefer cooking your own meal, getting your preferred ingredients used back at home may be quite a hassle due to miscommunication.
Local Transportation – Travelling While Working in India can be very cumbersome. The taxi cab drivers and auto rickshaw drivers are very cunning and always find a way to source extra money from you to cater for the transport cost. If you have no knowledge on the local fares you might end up spending more than what is expected. Some cheeky drivers even take a longer route than the usual to keep the meter running for a longer time, with this kind of dishonesty they can even get to an extra mile of robbing you if you are on your own. It is highly advisable to undertake a little research about the private cab drivers just to be safe.
Some of the Indian natives are not concerned with hygiene practices and maintaining their environment clean. I would put the blame it on the large population and illiteracy. The cities in India are crowded with shanties all over. You will face a very ugly scene especially on hygienic practices in public places like local transportation and trains, affordable hotels and the public toilets. Crowded places happen to be noisy and would not be an ideal place for a digital nomad who is strictly there for work purposes and requires silence.
Despite English being one of the national languages here, remote workers in India face language barrier especially following the new accent from digital nomads and vice versa. This may lead to miscommunication especially if the parties involved have very strong accent associated problems. Digital nomads face this especially when purchasing essentials in markets and with the taxi cab drivers of whom majority don’t understand English.
No matter where you are, a medical insurance is very important. In case of any emergencies a policy is highly needed. Digital nomads in India are required to have medical insurances which are charged monthly. This is dependent on your length of stay. Purchasing medical insurance relatively becomes cheaper if your vacation lasts for a longer period of time.
Digital Nomadism may sound to be a very promising career choice. Remote workers in India get a whole experience of being in a beautiful and diversified country, not forgetting their rich cultures and sight taking sceneries. But just like any other occupation you have to face the challenges associated with your work place. After all life is not always butter and bread.