What is a digital nomad? In this day and age, you will hear this phrase almost everywhere, it’s become a lifestyle that is becoming more and more popular over the years with people wanting to leave their 9 to 5 jobs and travel the world. Being a digital nomad isn’t about laying on a beach or at a poolside with your laptop like the photographs you have probably seen on Instagram. These are definitely some perks of the job, but it requires a lot of hard work and dedication to become a successful nomad and to earn an income from anywhere in the world.
So, what is a digital nomad I hear you ask? A nomad is a person who travels abroad to different destinations for at least a few months out of the year (maybe even longer) and earns a wage from online work. There are many different types of digital nomads and varieties of work available, a nomad can earn a comfortable wage to live a nice, chilled lifestyle in countries such as Bali or Thailand. If you’re looking to travel and work from countries such as London or France, you might struggle financially.
At times it can be stressful and not so glamorous, but the lifestyle is rewarding and can give you the freedom to work while traveling the globe, experiencing incredible new sights and cultures that you might otherwise not get the chance to experience. If you are dreaming of leaving your 9 to 5 and living the nomadic lifestyle while following your dreams, or just interested and looking for more information on how to become a digital nomad, then take a look at these steps.
If you have decided that you want to take the step to become a digital nomad, great! Before you do anything, you need to sort out your home life. You will hopefully be earning money while you’re traveling, but it is always smart to have money in your bank account. You don’t know what life will throw at you and if something happens and you need money, you don’t want to cut yourself short!
Do you have any debt, long-term leases on vehicles or apartments? These will be the first things you need to sort out, especially any debt. Set up re-payment plans or pay it off before you travel if possible. If you own a car, you might want to think about selling it. You don’t want to have to pay insurance and tax for something you are not using frequently.
Cancel any commitments like gym memberships, subscriptions, you’ll want all of your money for your new lifestyle not wasted on memberships your not using anymore. Also, look at your current line of work. Are you wanting to quit completely? If not, can you take holiday time? Or maybe you can do your job from abroad for part of the year? Try to make sure you end things on good terms with your boss, the digital nomad lifestyle might not last forever and return to the “real world” can be hard so it’s good to keep connections.
Being a digital nomad means traveling light, you’ll be living out of a bag for most of the time so any junk you have at home, get rid of! If you don’t want to throw away all your clothes and furniture then rent a storage space, you can leave anything important you want to keep safe in there while your traveling.
Identify your skillsets and find work
Now you are ready to travel, but first, you need to identify what your skills are. What can you offer to an employer? Why would someone want to choose you over the other 50 nomads who applied for the same job? What skills do you have that can be done online?
You’ll have to own a laptop and understand how to use it. Use skills acquired from previous work and education to your advantage. A lot of common online jobs look for people with skills such as writing, design, SEO knowledge, marketing, and engineering. Another option if your native English speaking is to teach English online. You can do this from anything with a good WIFI connection and a headset for your laptop.
At the start of your digital nomad life, most remote work or freelancing will be paid but it will be a small income. The more work you do and experience you gain the high wage you can earn. Try and get as many positive reviews written about you and your work as possible to build up a good name for yourself and keep a digital portfolio to how to future employees. Every nomad is different, there are different lines of work you can follow you just need to find out what works best for you personally. Don’t be afraid of failure, being a digital nomad can be hard at times and you may have days where you don’t know if it’s all worth it. Don’t be discouraged everyone has these days, think about your freedom and your lifestyle, if this is something you truly want then work hard and make it work!
There are many different search platforms available to help you find your perfect job, use sites such as RemoteOk or We Work Remotely to help you search for work. If you’re looking for freelancing gigs check out Upwork for more writing-based work. If you don’t feel like diving into your laptop and working that way there are other options available.
You can find a location-based job, places like Australia offer working holiday visas where you can get a job, most commonly on a farm or fruit plantations and work and earn money. This is great if you are looking to travel abroad but stay in one location and earn money, you’ll still have the option to explore your local area and met other people working the same line as you. Another option is to take your current work abroad with you as mentioned briefly above. Not everyone will have this option but speak to your boss. If your current work is something you feel you could do from anywhere then there is no harm in asking, just make sure you come us with a good and persuasive proposal that will explain and persuade your boss why you should be allowed to work remotely.
Join a digital nomad community
The thought of taking the jump and becoming a digital nomad can be exciting but also really scary, where do you start? At time’s your new lifestyle can seem very overwhelming and it’s good to have like-minded people in the same area of work to turn to for advice and even friendship. The nomadic lifestyle can be a lonely one at times, this is why finding a community Is very important.
There are many different Facebook groups and forums on google that you can turn to for advice and questions, other people the first-hand experience is the best type of advice you can get. You will also find meetups for other digital nomads in your area if you are located in a popular nomad location such as Bali, Chiang Mai, and Budapest. It is nice to be able to surround yourself with people in the same boat as you and can encourage and support you when you need it.
Research and decide on your locations
Before you take off to live out your dream nomadic lifestyle you need to do some important research and decide what locations you would like to travel to and work from. There are endless locations you can travel to, you need to work out what will suit your type of work and the type of lifestyle your craving. If your looking for a relaxed location with beach vibes then maybe avoid big cities like Bangkok, try one of the islands instead.
Work out how much money you are expecting to earn per month and figure out where you can afford to live. Everyone’s digital nomad lifestyle is different and not one set blueprint will work for everyone, you need to be happy. Do you want to save money and sleep in hostels? Do you want to live the high life and live out of 5-star hotels and villas or are you looking at taking out a short-term lease on an apartment somewhere? Calculate your earnings and budget yourself, and if you’re not happy where you are then moving. That is one of the upsides to being a digital nomad, you can move freely to wherever you want, whenever you want.
Once you have worked out your monthly income and what type of accommodation you want, you also need to consider your social life. Make sure you still have money left for food, drinks, and entertainment, you don’t want to spend all your money on a fancy villa then have no money left to spend on food! If you are looking to meet new people and communities then search for the current most popular places for nomads to live. Here you will find like-minded people, great internet, fun activities, and good shared housing options.
You should also consider the destination itself. It would make no sense to move to Thailand if you do not like hot weather. Go on Nomad List and look through the cite's that rank highest for digital nomads, then make a list of locations that interest you can do some research. Search the climate, living cost, activities, health care, Internet serious, exchange rates, visas. You’ll need to take some time off now and again for you, you need to look after yourself so search for actives and experiences that you would enjoy doing. If you have a passion for surfing, look for a beach location compared to a big city. Find the locations that suit you and you’ll be happy living and working in.
Create goals and plans
Living a digital nomadic lifestyle can be amazing but also very distracting, you need to remember that it’s not an excuse for a long holiday or to party every night. You need to keep on top of your work and make clear goals from the start. If your living by the beach or in a city, you will come across distractions, you need to find a quiet space to work that suits you. Don’t stay and work in your hotel room if you are likely to curl up and fall asleep in your bed, find a nice café to go to.
The amazing thing about being a digital nomad is that you can make your own work routines, you don’t have to stick to the normal 9 to 5, but you need to keep on top of your work. Be organized, get goals and make to-do lists. Find ways to encourage yourself to work. You don’t have to be glued to your computer all day, go out and enjoy yourself but make time for your work.
Working from your laptop can be really nice relaxing and it is what a lot of people dream of, some days you might end up spending hours sat at your laptop. It is so important that you remember to take care of yourself. Set your self-time limits to spend at the computer then get up go for a walk, clean the house, go for a coffee with a friend, just take a well-needed break. You’ll hurt yourself and make yourself sick if your eyes are glued to the computer screen all day long.
Being a digital might just seem like a dream that only the lucky few can live, but that is not true. You can live the nomadic lifestyle too, you just need to work towards it and work hard. If you take note of the steps above and push yourself it can be achieved. There is an amazing world out there for you to experience and money to be made from anywhere in the world, so what are you waiting for? Take the steps to your ideal lifestyle and live your best life