Living the Digital Nomad Island Dream: What To Know

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There are many great reasons to become a digital nomad. But if there’s one standout reason to consider this lifestyle, it’s the ability it gives you to live on a tropical island. While there’s always the option to visit these tropical, beautiful corners of the world, there’s something extra special about living there.

Stepping out of your front door and onto a beach? Sign us up. However, before you pack your bags and move to one of the popular digital nomad island options, there are some things you should know.

Take a read of our tips below, and you’ll be able to ensure that your island life brings nothing but good times. 

Digital Nomad Island advice

Getting Into the Groove

A lot of people expect to turn up on a tropical island and quickly get down to work. But it doesn’t always work that way. While some people are able to get locked into work no matter where they are, for others, it can take a little bit of time.

While there’ll likely be a professional side of the island, it’ll function primarily as a tourist zone — and of course, tourist places have a much different vibe to professional cities. You might find that you’re drawn into having fun, rather than getting to work.

And that’s fine — providing that was the plan. It’ll be best to arrive on the island without having mountains of work on your plate. 

Talking With Clients 

You may be one of the lucky digital nomads who is truly independent. That is, you have nobody to report to: it’s just you. But that’s not the case for most people, who do have to talk with others. This could be the company that they work for, or it could be clients.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you have clients in Europe or the United States, then they’re probably going to be in a different time zone — and not just a difference of an hour, but many hours. You might have to practice talking on the phone first thing in the morning or late at night since you’ll need to work around them. 

Sun Safety

Picture a tropical island in your mind: what do you see? It’ll likely be a palm tree, a white sandy beach, and a shining sun overhead. It’s the island dream. However, it’s important that while this can seem attractive, there’s another side to the sun.

If you’re not careful, then it can cause a lot of damage. A bad sunburn will be uncomfortable at the time. Long-term sun exposure will cause premature aging, and could even cause skin cancer. So remember that it’s not all fun and games when you’re living on an island: there is an inconvenient side that has to be handled too! 

Essential Luggage

It’s possible that you don’t have all that much say in what’s in your luggage. If you’ve been going from one place to the next, then you’ll just have to take everything you’ve been carrying so far.

Still, there are some things that you’ll absolutely need to have in your suitcase when you’re moving to an island. First of all, think about beach clothing. You’ll also want to get some new sunglasses, ones that protect your eyes while also looking stylish. Other island essentials include a good hat and cooling footwear (we’re thinking some high-grade sandals). You’ll know why they’re so important when you’re there!

Meeting People

One of the things that people worry about when they’re transitioning to a digital nomad lifestyle is meeting new people. After all, while moving around in this way provides many opportunities to do fun things, for most of them, you’ll need to have a gang of friends.

The good news is that while it can be difficult to meet friends in large cities when you’re new in town, people usually don’t have the same problem when they’re on an island. A good idea is to sign up for a coworking space when you first arrive. This won’t just give you a space to work; it’ll also allow you to meet many like-minded people. 

Digital nomad working on an island

Staying Focused

As we mentioned earlier: the islands that you’ll be drawn to will also have a huge tourist following. Indeed, it’s likely that tourists will be who the island caters for. And that means there’ll be plenty of fun events, parties, all-around good times, and so on. It won’t necessarily be a working environment. If you’re going to work well, then you’ll need to have discipline.

Many people get caught out by this reality. They turn up planning to work, but then get sucked into the vacation side of the island — and their work suffers. It’s always a good idea to periodically remind yourself that work comes first, and fun comes second.

You won’t always want this to be the case, but if you’re going to ensure that your digital nomad life continues into the future, then you’ll have to keep your working standards high. 

Visa Issues

A lot of people think they can just turn up anywhere in the world, open their laptops, and get down to work. But this isn’t the case. There are visa rules everywhere, and it’s not guaranteed that you’ll be eligible to work in the place you want to live, even if you’re working remotely.

When you’re in the planning stages of your trip, it’s recommended that you research the rules, and make sure that you follow any required steps. If you’re traveling in a place and decide that you’d like to stay, then speak to the people already working there about the rules.

Again, a coworking space can be a good place to get advice regarding your legal status. 

Island Hopping

One of the fun things about islands is that you rarely just see one sitting out there on the water. There are usually clusters of them. In some regions, you’ll find that one island has a much different vibe compared to the one located a short boat ride away.

It’s sometimes a good idea to mix things up and move from one island to the next. This is especially true if you’re planning on staying in the region for a while, since some islands will be better than others, depending on the time of year. 

Infrastructure Concerns

If there’s one thing that many people underestimate, it’s the quality of the infrastructure that they’ll find when they’re on the island. While it can be good, the truth is that many tropical islands just aren’t set up in the same way as larger cities.

You can’t expect New York-level service when you’re on a tropical island in the South Pacific. Indeed, that’s part of the charm! However, it can make working difficult. If you’re going to live the island dream, then remember that there could be times when you’re without electricity or wifi for a few hours. 

Creepy Crawlies

And here’s something that you might not be quite as excited about: when you’re living in a tropical environment, you’ll have to expect tropical insects to be there too. If you’re from a place with big insects, then this won’t worry you all that much, but if you’re not, then you can expect to jump a few times. You’ll eventually get used to them!

Local Culture

It’s really important to respect and honor the local culture of the place where you’re living. They’ll be happy to welcome you into their home, but don’t forget that they were there first. Even learning a few words of the local language can help you to integrate somewhat with the local community.

Ultimately, it’s about treating the island as their home, rather than as your playground. 

When to Move On

Most people are blown away by the beauty and vibe of tropical islands when they first land there. It seems like a terrific place to live and work for a few months! However, it’s always good to be mindful of how much time you’re spending there. Of course, if you’re pushing yourself and also having a good time, then there’ll be no reason to move on.

However, if you find that you’re beginning to stagnate, and that you’re losing touch with yourself somewhat (or your work is suffering), then it’ll be a good idea to move on and take a break. You can always go back! If you stay, then you could find that you end up staying years — and that you end up regretting it. You’ll have a great time, but remember that all good things must come to an end at some point! 


As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, there’s really nothing better than living and working on a tropical island. It’s a lifestyle that would have been unthinkable even twenty years ago, and now you can do it, providing you have a job that you can do anywhere. However, before you set off on this type of adventure, it’s important that you know exactly what you’re getting yourself in for. 

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