The question of how to be a digital nomad is hard to answer. And for a simple reason. Being a digital nomad is not a profession; it’s a lifestyle. Digital nomads choose to rebel against the system, and instead of working from an office, they have the entire world to choose from. They work and live wherever they want.
After the pandemic, becoming a digital nomad seemed the new normal. Today, 15.5 million people are living as digital nomads worldwide. According to statistics, the number is steadily increasing after the pandemic.
Table of contents
- What Is A Digital Nomad?
- 1. Secure An Online Income
- 2. Save For At Least 6 Months
- 3. Decide Your First Destination Wisely
- 4. Sort Out Accommodation
- 5. Get Bureaucracy In Place
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Digital Nomad
- Must-have Skills To Be A Digital Nomad in 2022
- Last Thoughts
But how to become a digital nomad? What are the pros and cons of this lifestyle?
What Is A Digital Nomad?
Digital nomads are people who work remotely while traveling to different locations regularly. The only thing they need is an Internet connection and a good laptop. Then, digital nomads can work from coffee shops, hotels, co-working spaces, or even a beach. They are not tied to any location.
However, being a digital nomad means more than having a remote job.
How To Be a Digital Nomad: 5 Steps
- Secure your online income
- Save for at least 6 months
- Decide your final destination wisely
- Sort out accommodation and transports
- Get bureaucracy in place
Working as a digital nomad isn’t as easy as it looks. If you are wondering how to become a digital nomad, the first thing to remember is that traveling takes actual time out of you.
When planning your journey, consider that moving any three days to different cities is challenging. Transports can be delayed. Your visa application requires you more time, many things could go wrong – wasting time you should use working.
Becoming a digital nomad requires discipline. As obvious as it sounds, being organized with a solid daily routine is one of the first steps to being a digital nomad. You have to re-think your work schedule at home to adapt wherever you are. If you keep your productivity high, you will have more time to enjoy yourself!
So, without further ado, here are 5 steps to become a digital nomad in a post-covid world:
1. Secure An Online Income
Digital nomad working can fall into four categories:
- Freelancing: You pitch your clients and build your business with independent contracts.
- Remote position: You have a full-time job with a remote company or work with a remote contract.
- Location-independent entrepreneur: You run your own remote business or brand.
- Passive Income: You set an activity, like cryptocurrency, affiliate marketing, or renting your flat (if you are lucky), to ensure a passive income each month.
You don’t need to run your business to be a digital nomad. Most nomads start with other positions or freelance gigs before launching their own brand – only 34% of digital nomads run a business, 66% have a traditional remote job.
First, you need to identify your work niche based on your skillset. After that, you can take courses to strengthen your weaknesses and improve your CV. After the pandemic, most companies open remote work options. However, the average salary for remote positions depends on multiple things like the company scale, expertise, or location.
2. Save For At Least 6 Months
Becoming a digital nomad also means being good with finances. After all, traveling costs money even with the best saving tricks. And even with a good salary, you need to add extra expenses for transport, food, and emergencies.
If you plan to become a digital nomad, the first thing to do is save at least 6 months of expenses. And, reduces unnecessary subscriptions or monthly charges. For example, credit cards have high-interest rates, and a debit card is often enough. The idea is to get rid of everything that is unnecessary for your journey – physically, financially, and psychologically.
However, as a digital nomad, you need to consider some necessary expenses:
Working remotely means working with tech tools and devices – ideally, functional tech tools. From laptops to Wi-fi hotspots to adaptors, make sure you have everything you need to work wherever you are. The first investment is on quality work equipment and travel cases to store them safely.
If you have a job requiring sound-proof rooms or specific tech equipment, like podcast or photo shooting, you might consider adding a co-working space to your monthly expenses.
A co-working space is a valuable investment for professions like programming or engineering when traveling to ensure a professional working spot, high-speed wi-fi, and quality tech equipment.
Apps to find Cafe and Co-working Spaces
Here is a list of apps to narrow your search to cafes and co-working spaces:
- WorkHardAnywhere (WHA)
Finally, remember the impact of transport on the budget. For example, van life can be cheaper in the long run. But you still need to make a consistent investment to set it up to live in it when traveling. And you have to include monthly expenses for road trips and petrol. Initially, public transport is a better option to stay on budget.
However, make sure you organize your trip also think about how you will move around. For example, if you plan to travel to Europe, public transport shouldn’t be a problem. It will be a different story if you plan to travel to eco-villages in the middle of the rainforest. So, when planning, check the following things:
- Reviews in the public transportation system and if they include subways and trams.
- Ride-hailing services such as Uber or Lyft are available.
- Taxi ride rate for emergency cases.
3. Decide Your First Destination Wisely
The destination makes the journey. Choose wisely! Following global lockdowns, most countries launched digital nomads and remote workers initiatives. Before booking, check if you could move somewhere to have a base to travel and less issue with local administrations.
Furthermore, remember the importance of being in contact with like-minded people. If you are seeking professional growth, you might look at digital nomads events than hostels, for example.
Here are a few ideas to organize your journey as a digital nomad:
Following the pandemic, numerous countries across the globe launched visa programs for digital nomads. These programs help you settle in the new country, simplifying taxes, insurances, and internal administrations. Some of these visas are quite expensive, while others are more affordable and require an application process. Based on the type of journey you have in mind, remote work visas are a valuable solution if you want to visit a new country.
Digital Nomad Programs
Digital nomad and remote work programs are the easiest way to meet like-minded people. Depending on the organization, these programs move to different cities or stay in one place. What’s the matter is that they bring nomad groups together from everywhere in the world. And if you want to connect with people with the same style of life, this is one of the best solutions to start!
Co-living spaces are accommodations where digital nomads share living and working spaces. Especially if you are new to nomad life, co-living options are a great opportunity to meet new people and expand your network. From Madeira to Mexico, you can find amazing locations to live a full experience as a digital nomad surrounded by like-minded people.
4. Sort Out Accommodation
After finding your destination, it’s time to sort your accommodation. For example, Airbnb offers a convenient deal if you book in advance and for an extended time. Or, you can try co-living spaces to combine living and professional space. Or, you can book in different hostels to visit more cities. The point is, to organize in advance your accommodation based on what you expect to do while traveling – and make sure to have a safe working spot!
Here are some guidelines for finding the best accommodation abroad and enjoying your digital nomad experience:
- Research reviews and comments about the area to find convenient deals and information.
- Subscribe to Facebook groups to find alternative accommodation for travelers and digital nomads.
- Look on websites like WorkAway or BackPackers to find work exchange solutions for free accommodation.
- Secure temporary space with CouchSurfing, AirBnB, or Craigslist to ensure a safe spot when you arrive.
- Check criminality rate in the area – you don’t want your electronics stolen your first day!
Best Cities to Start a Digital Nomad Life for Living Costs
The ‘best city’ to move in depends on numerous factors. You need to include Internet expenses, utilities, emergencies, etc.
Before moving to a new place, do research on the average living costs, banking, and health insurance you can use, to estimate a budget of your living expenses. Make sure to have some budget left – for fun and emergencies alike.
Here are some of the top cities to move in for living costs and digital infrastructure:
|City||Monthly Cost of Living|
|Canggu, Bali||USD 1,146|
|Belgrad, Serbia||USD 1,449|
|Buenos Aires, Argentina||USD 1,162|
|Chiang Mai, Thailand||USD 1,171|
|Bangkok, Thailand||USD 1,561|
5. Get Bureaucracy In Place
Finally, how to be a digital nomad implies a tricky part: bureaucracy. That’s right. Nomad life also implies DIY tax filing for remote jobs, accounting, and so on.
Tax procedures are tricky – and annoying – anywhere in the world. There is no escape, we all need to accept it. So, when you choose your final destination, check which solutions you have to move in without paying double taxes or risking sanctions. And, if a visa scheme allows different arrangements to simplify your stay.
Most people still wonder if health insurance is worth it for digital nomads. After over two years of the pandemic, the answer is yes. For example, if you test positive, you will spend the extra money to change accommodation or have medical support. So, it’s a smart way to avoid issues in the long run. Plus, in most countries is mandatory for travelers.
Finally, the best way to save money while traveling is to choose the right banking. You don’t want to invest your emergencies funding in ATM charges, don’t you? In the past few years, online banking for digital nomads has become very popular, and you can find reliable solutions to avoid extra charges on ATMs or exchanging currency.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Digital Nomad
The pros and cons of nomad life are strictly connected. Sometimes, cons are simply the other side of the coin of the reasons why you choose this lifestyle. Becoming a digital nomad you can access infinite opportunities, and be someone you wouldn’t have ever imagined.
However, you always need to consider the downsides and what could go wrong. Here is a list of advantages and disadvantages of being a digital nomad:
|Work anywhere any time||Building routine|
|Nonstop travel||Never feel home|
|Adventure||FOMO of missing new places|
1. Work anywhere any time vs. Building routine
Location independence and flexible schedule are the main reasons to become a digital nomad. You can work from a cute cafe or in a library. Start early in the morning, or leave work tasks for the end of the day.
However, this freedom comes with a price. In the long run, lack of routine leads to burnout and disorganization. Without discipline, it’s hard to keep a healthy energy level to handle work responsibilities and traveling time. For example, you arrive in Bali and get immersed in the local community. Without realizing it, you spent three months partying with your emergency funds, being late at work, and you didn’t learn anything new.
If you want to get the most out of this life choice, you need discipline. Working anywhere at any time still means you gotta work – hard. And be mindful about your time schedule and finances. It will be the time for networking and partying, but after your job is done.
2. Nonstop travel vs. Never Feeling Home
Nonstop travel is a dream. As a digital nomad, you can live a different life anytime you move somewhere else. You can be inspired by new languages, cultures, food specialties, and never stop learning new things about the world. On the other hand, you will never feel at home again.
Especially after years of traveling, your hometown will feel like a new city. People you left home started a new life, and often don’t have your same vision about work and stability, for example. Or, other digital nomads might share your life vision, but physically travel on the other side of the planet.
So, be mindful that traveling around means finding internal roots to feel at home while traveling. And being a digital nomad means learning how to keep friend relationships despite physical – and spiritual – distance.
3. Geoarbitrage vs. Travel Fatigue
Recently, LetsReachSuccess defined ‘geoarbitrage’ as the practice of “relocating in order to take advantage of the lower costs of a city/country.” In short, it means moving around in places with more affordable living costs or tax deals for remote workers.
However, moving everywhere means travel fatigue. Visiting four locations in 6 months means moving any three weeks. Plus, you need to take care of legal arrangements in some places, taking more time to organize the journey. So, make sure to leave time for your travel and rest!
4. Adventure vs. FOMO of Missing New Places
Besides inspiration, traveling means adventure. Being a digital nomad, you can meet people from all over the world, and try experiences you wouldn’t have thought about it. However, traveling can be addictive after a while. And it starts what most people call FOMO – fear of missing out. So, while you work, you start thinking about all the missing opportunities. As a result, you become sloppy at work and don’t enjoy the free time you have. Remember enjoying the nomad life is more about choosing the experience – than doing it all.
5. Personal Growth vs. Loneliness
Traveling as a digital nomad means constantly being out of your comfort zone. Solo traveling is great for personal growth. But it also means loneliness. Sometimes it’s hard to find someone to share your experiences with, and you end up most of the time by yourself. In this case, consider joining digital nomad programs or retreats. You can have a break from moving around, meet like-minded people, and have the chance to build more stable relationships.
If you still have doubts about the digital nomad lifestyle, here are some inspirational stories of remote professionals and digital nomads worldwide read this article.
Must-have Skills To Be A Digital Nomad in 2022
Any field requires a specific set of skills. However, how to be a digital nomad calls for abilities that you can’t miss to enjoy the nomadic lifestyle:
1. Computer Skills
Being a digital nomad means working with tech equipment every day. Computer skills are crucial to delivering a quality performance to your clients and saving your time. Would you leave your social media campaigns to someone who doesn’t even know how to share a Zoom screen? Computer skills make you look professional and reliable, and improve your performance in the long run.
2. Writing and Communication Skills
Writing and communication skills are a must in virtual settings. For example, some remote positions only require email exchange, and you need to be clear and concise in your communication. Again, messy documentation or imprecise emails with clients don’t look professional. And as they might never see you in person, it’s the first interaction you have to make a good impression. So, make sure to double-check spelling and organize your communication to be clear and reliable with your clients. Communication and writing skills also help you keep work tasks organized, improving your workflow and time management.
3. ‘Sell Yourself’ skills
To be a nomad, ‘sell yourself’ skills are a great plus. If you don’t have a remote contract, you promote yourself. For example, you are a social media manager finding new clients on Linkedin or a freelance writer pitching different domains. After all, you are promoting yourself!
4. Organizational and Time Skills
Without time and organizational skills, a nomad’s life can quickly turn into a nightmare – leading to burnout and lack of productivity. So, set a schedule and make sure to follow it. Time management is the most important for remote workers and digital nomads, no matter their niche.
7. Legal Skills
Work and travel also mean dealing with different labor laws and tax systems. Some remote countries ensure more flexibility, but a good understanding of how the legal aspect works can save you a lot of time.
8. Adaptability And Social Skills
Finally, becoming a nomad means moving to different places and meeting new people. So, you need to be open to different perspectives and stories and adapt to a different culture. Also, moving around means changing workplace and habits – make sure to adapt your work routine to not get overwhelmed!
If you want more information to improve your skills as a digital nomad, read our Seeking Inspiration? 12 Best Remote Work Podcast To Change Perspective to get more inspiration for your future nomad career!
No. Eventually, you need a degree for certain job positions, like the IT or health field. But there are plenty of remote jobs that don’t require a degree to start your adventure as a digital nomad.
According to research, one in five digital nomads make between $50,000 and $99,000/year – an average of $10 and $30 per hour. Plus, digital nomads in the marketing field can make between $40,000 and $99/year. However, if want you make is enough for a nomadic lifestyle also depends on how you organize your journey.
Here is an overview of job opportunities to help you start your nomad life:
Digital nomad jobs for beginners [no experience]
Having no experience isn’t an excuse to postpone your chances for a nomad life. Especially after the pandemic, there are thousands of remote job openings that don’t require specific experience to start:
Data entry specialist
Data entry requires basic IT skills to digitalize information. Usually, the pay isn’t among the highest rates, and the job requires methodical and straightforward tasks. However, it’s a good option to start your remote career. You will work a set amount of hours, increasing your tech skills and securing a stable income to travel.
Social media marketing
Social Media marketing offers numerous opportunities to start remote gigs and secure an income to travel. Online presence is a popular requirement for all businesses. You can pick an industry you like and start collaborating with different companies or apply for a full-time position.
Online English teacher
Who doesn’t need to speak English nowadays? From conversation to grammar to writing, online teaching gives you numerous opportunities to find a flexible solution to ensure a stable income while traveling. If you want to increase your pay rate, you might consider getting the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification – at least 120 hours. The course is an investment. But it will allow you to propose higher rates and build a solid income over time.
In the same vein, you can sell your skills online by offering to tutor in different subjects. Or, you can offer homework support to kids in different subjects. This type of option has numerous opportunities, and you can easily reach enough students to travel and work.
If you know more than one language, you can work as a translator in different fields. From legal to business to live conversations, you can find various options to secure remote clients online.
Highest-paying digital nomad jobs
On the other hand, if you are thinking to build a remote career, many nomad jobs pay well and give the opportunity of professionally growing over time:
Software and web development
Without surprises, the tech field offers thousand of positions to work remotely earning a good salary. Including game and app development, it is one of the highest paying digital nomad fields to build a remote career.
Online marketing is a huge sector. But everything starts with SEO (Search Engine Optimization). These techniques are crucial for businesses to reach their consumers. So, it’s a growing field with high demand for new candidates. Most positions are remote and – when you gain enough experience – it is one of the best paying nomad jobs.
Video content creation is another field quickly expanding. Businesses and companies need to produce tons of video content to promote their product and services. Once you choose your niche, it’s a great solution to build a solid nomad life.
In the same vein, graphic design is one of the most in-demand positions nowadays. From visuals for blogs to companies’ graphics, you can find numerous opportunities to become a digital nomad from visuals for blogs to companies’ graphics.
E-commerce store owner
If you’re passionate about specific products, you can try to launch an e-commerce store. After the first investment for storefront setup and shipping logistics, you will have a stable income for your remote business.
In the era of cryptocurrency and NTFS, online traders are in high demand. If you know about trading and market trends, you can build a remote career finding clients worldwide.
Non-tech digital nomad jobs
One thing is being confident in working with tech tools. Another is being a tech professional. There are many non-technical remote work options in the nomad world to start your digital nomad journey:
Customer service is needed everywhere, even online. Nowadays, most of these positions are remote, and you can find a full-time position securing a stable contract to travel.
Virtual assistant is one of the most popular jobs among digital nomads. From sending emails to social media posts, you take on several administrative tasks for one or more clients. The positions can vary depending on the company, but it’s a flexible and dynamic solution to start your nomadic journey.
Nowadays, becoming a remote writer is easier than you think. From blog posts to ghostwriting, you can find full-time and freelance positions to secure a stable remote income. And if you want to start your blog, it’s a great solution to improve your content optimization skills and promotional strategies for the future.
Proofreading and editing
In the same vein, proofreading and editing skills are always in demand if you are good with grammar and spotting spelling mistakes.
After the pandemic, most people prefer to train at home because it’s more flexible and affordable. So, what is a better time to become an online fitness coach? You can grow online clients from hard workouts to mental exercise with courses and individual sessions.
How to be a digital nomad depends on how you want to live your life, and how open you are to what will come. You might find love, a life-long work partner, or a new place to call home. Or, you might travel for a whole to be back to your family.
To recap, the most important thing you need to have to enjoy the nomad life is discipline. You can travel everywhere, meet new people, and experience new adventures. But you need a strategy to keep your roots solid and remember when it’s time to work.
Being a digital nomad doesn’t mean having an easy life. It means living on your terms, with pros and cons, taking responsibility for your choice, and enjoying any moment of it. So, stop thinking about it. Open your laptop and start looking for a remote job!