The Comprehensive Guide to Becoming a Digital Nomad

Becoming a Digital Nomad GuideOnce upon a time, the entire prospect of living like a digital nomad would have been utterly foreign to most. While many people worldwide have been working from home for quite some time, until Covid-19 took over the Earth, getting up and working in an office setting was still very much a thing.

Today, millions of businesses of all sizes operate on a fully remote or hybrid basis. It’s easier now than ever to become a digital nomad, whether you choose to work for a company or yourself. This guide will comprehensively cover the steps you’ve got to take to become a digital nomad.

What is a Digital Nomad?

Digital nomads are people who work remotely while traveling to different locations. You’ve probably seen them out and about, working in public libraries, coffee shops, and co-working spaces. Digital nomads rely on devices with the capabilities to connect to WiFi, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, and mobile hotspots.

Digital nomads can do their work whenever they want, depending on who they work for and their hours. As a digital nomad, it’s possible to do your work from an ocean-side beach chair. You can pick the location as long as you’ve got a wireless connection!

In short, digital nomads can travel full-time without quitting their jobs. You still have to find the perfect work-life balance as a nomad, but it’s pretty fantastic to wake up and start your work day wherever you want to be in the world.

The digital nomad lifestyle offers plenty of benefits. While it sounds impressive to almost everyone, it’s imperative to do your research and thoroughly understand if it’s the proper lifestyle for you.

What to Consider Before Becoming a Digital Nomad

Becoming a digital nomad is a huge lifestyle change that takes a lot of planning and a relatively high level of commitment. Most people working as digital nomads are highly interested in eliminating the shackles of a 9 to 5 job and traveling alone or as a family.

Before jumping into the digital nomad lifestyle, here are a few considerations you should make right after you determine that you have the correct type of job position to make the switch.

Working Anywhere

Although many digital nomads travel and work abroad, this is not a requirement for the profession. You can work wherever you want, from wherever you want. For example, if you live in the United States, you can efficiently work remotely while traveling across state lines.

One of the best parts of the digital nomad life is the ability to log into work without being home! So, while living as a digital nomad definitely provides the flexibility to travel internationally if you want to, it’s not necessary. You can work from a coffee shop in the next state, and you’re still a digital nomad. Knowing this helps to make the decision less overwhelming.

Paying Taxes

Working as a digital nomad overseas doesn’t mean you’ve become exempt from paying your social security taxes in the United States (if you’re a citizen). You can accumulate severe and costly fines if you forget or purposefully delay paying your taxes. If you let it go too long, it can result in losing your passport, and if you love working abroad, the loss of your passport can throw a wrench in your plans.

Saving Money

Taking on the digital nomad lifestyle can save you money in the long run, primarily if you work digitally in a lower-cost state or travel to a country with a lower cost of living than your home. There are many excellent housing prospects available internationally for digital nomads, but you must know where to look, and this resource can point you in the right direction.

In some cases, you might even be able to find accessible housing if you agree to house or pet sit! Of course, these accommodations won’t last forever, but one of the main points of a nomadic existence is moving from place to place.

Maintaining Pristine Work Logs

It probably goes without saying, mainly if you’re working as a part of a larger company or team, but digital nomads must be extremely careful about logging their work time. A detailed work log is essential if you want to qualify for the FTC (Foreign Tax Credit) or the FIEE (Foreign Income Earned Exemption) and pay less on your taxes.

Keeping Up on Travel Restrictions

COVID restrictions could potentially ruin your digital nomad plans, though the possibility of that continues to lower as time goes by. Regardless, it’s still important to research travel restrictions in general, and it’s a good habit to get into to keep yourself safe and on track when it comes to hitting work deadlines.

After all, a massive component of working as a digital nomad is ensuring that you have the discipline to get your work done when needed, without letting your desired surroundings distract you.

If these considerations sound okay to you, then it’s very possible that you can seamlessly switch to a digital nomad existence without causing any major upset to your work or personal life. Of course, situations differ for everyone, but these are some good general guidelines that will help you understand if working remotely while traveling is right for you.

Becoming a Digital Nomad

If life as a digital nomad has sparked your interest, you’ll be happy to know that it’s not as far-fetched as it might seem. The dream may be a little closer for those already working on a remote or hybrid-remote schedule, but if you’re stuck in a 9 to 5 that you can’t stand, don’t worry, there are a few paths to digital nomad bliss.

Do Your Research

You’ve got to begin by conducting a whole lot of research regarding your skills and how they match up to fully digital careers. Not only should your digital nomad career appeal to you, but it should hold your interest enough that you can do it from anywhere, on schedule and well.

Many digital nomads work in computer science-related jobs, such as web development or information technology. Others choose to take the copywriting or creative writing positions. There are plenty of work lifestyles that work well with the digital nomad lifestyle. From full-time employment to owning a small business, there are ways to work successfully from wherever you want.

We must note that not all digital jobs allow you to work as a digital nomad. If your job involves in-person work or client meetings, it can be almost impossible to work on a nomadic basis because you have to be within driving distance for meetings. Some employers might let you fly in, but it doesn’t make sense for most businesses.

Train Correctly

You have to have the proper training for your desired career. It’s common for most digital nomads to have a bachelor’s degree at the very least. If you don’t have that level of education, don’t let it stand in your way. Hundreds of accredited online schools will allow you to earn your degree on your own time.

If you don’t want to return to school, you might consider online courses or bootcamps that can provide you with the certified skills you’ve been looking for in a shorter time frame (around three to six months, sometimes less)! The bottom line here is that even though you may hold the desire to be a digital nomad, you cannot go without experience in one of the fields that allow for it.

Job Hunt

Once you’ve received the appropriate training, you’ll want to look for remote jobs that do not require office time or face-to-face, in-person meetings. Tracking down remote work is not as difficult as it once was, as many potential employees consider it non-negotiable. Since March 2020, most employers have been willing to permit employees to work remotely, if possible.

But where can you find remote-only jobs? The honest answer is everywhere. Long gone are the days of specific job boards reserved for remote work only, though they do still exist. Here in Remoters we have a free remote job board with hundreds of jobs across different professions published each month, for example.

You can also try various social media channels. If you’re knee-deep in the search for a job that will allow you the flexibility to become a digital nomad, try this resource list.

When you go in for an interview, you’ll want to ask a few questions to the employer before you lock into a permanent contract to ensure that the position and company are right for you.

  1. Ask if you’re ever expected to work in person, so you can plan to be local for those events, or you can not take the job if you don’t prefer in-person work.
  2. Ensure that you know the time zone of your employer so you can meet deadlines and be on time for virtual conferences.
  3. Make sure you understand the software platforms they use, and if you’re unfamiliar, they have to know so you can remain connected during work hours.

There’s no denying that becoming a digital nomad has its challenges. However, if it’s something you desire, it’s definitely worth the preparation.

The Cost of Being a Digital Nomad

One of life’s challenges as a digital nomad is often the cost. If you don’t hash out a concrete plan regarding where you’re going to live and manage your bank account accordingly, you might find yourself in a sticky situation concerning money.

However, the cost of traveling the world as a digital nomad varies based on the countries you plan to visit. Some countries are affordable, and others are not. A few of the cheapest countries in which to work remotely are in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia and Thailand.

When you choose to live and work out of these countries, you’ll have a relatively low cost of living, and you can continue to charge your USD or Euros rates, depending on where you’re from, meaning you can make more money as the exchange rate will work in your favor.

Don’t forget that you still have to pay your taxes while working abroad, and it’s more affordable to stay in one place for an extended time than to pack up and move around constantly. You can easily save cash on food by shopping at local grocery stores and cooking for yourself. Of course, you want to experience as much of the culture as possible, so don’t hesitate to eat out at local restaurants every once and a while too!

Staying in hotels can add up quickly, so remember that renting a home or even staying in a hostel can lower costs. Again, this is something that depends on the duration of your stay and where you’re visiting. If a hotel feels safer to you, then trust your gut.

Public transportation is another great way to save a little money. Before you begin your digital nomad journey, making a list of the countries you want to work from is a vital step. You must know the cost of living compared to how much you’ll make as a digital nomad. Be honest with yourself about the places you can afford on your digital nomad salary.

Traveling the world can be beautiful and fulfilling on a budget. Working in a digital nomad lifestyle is rarely about taking a luxury vacation, although you should do that too, on occasion. Instead, it’s about seeing a new country through the eyes of the locals, living as they do, and experiencing what they experience. It’s about gaining cultural perspective without giving up a steady income.

The Ultimate Tip List for Aspiring Digital Nomads

Becoming a person who travels the world while working is not the far-fetched dream it once was. With the consistent evolution of technology, you no longer have to be a millionaire to travel the world while staying plugged in and connected to your career.

If you’re thinking of becoming a digital nomad or are already well immersed in the lifestyle, we’ve got a few tips to help you make the best out of every day.

Align Your Finances and Insurance

One of the biggest mistakes you might make when becoming a digital nomad will involve money, and there are plenty of resources available that will keep you from making the same mistakes. First, you must educate yourself on tax laws because you’re essentially running a business abroad. You’ll need business insurance and personal (health) insurance for yourself.

Before you officially start working as a digital nomad, you must ensure that your debt is limited and your finances will cover how and when you want to travel. Nothing is scarier than landing in an unfamiliar country and finding you cannot cover the costs to thrive there or get back home. Working within a digital nomad lifestyle is supposed to be fun and enlightening, not chronically stressful.

Get Your Feet Wet

Before you decide to work digitally while traveling the world, you might want to start by taking a shorter vacation first. While your holiday should indeed be enjoyable, it should also be productive. You cannot live as a digital nomad and not work. It takes a ton of discipline and motivation, especially when you’re in the middle of a jungle waiting for exploration or lying next to crashing waves resisting the temptation to put down your work and pick up that novel.

The whole point of a shorter vacation is to see if you can find the balance it takes to work while traveling. Digital nomads do not travel full-time. While they’re technically always on vacation, much of that time is spent working, and preparing for that takes a significant shift in mentality for most people.

Bringing What You Need

Living as a world traveler means practicing minimalism. It’s costly to bring everything you own around the world, so most digital nomads bring only the essentials with them when they’re on the road. You have to step back and consider whether or not this is something you can do.

Practicing living out of your suitcase while you’re still at home is not a bad idea. In fact, we recommend it! Start by putting everything you want to bring with you into the suitcase in which you usually travel. Consider what you can fit into your car and on the plane.

Try using only what’s in your suitcase for a month or two. Make a list of what you missed the most and how many things you added over time. This will help you create a comprehensive packing list and give you an idea of how long you can live with only specific items.

If you fail this test and cannot live out of a suitcase in your home for a month or two, this doesn’t mean you can be a part-time digital nomad. Most digital nomads spend a ton of time on the road, but you can easily stick close to home and still take in plenty of sights and experiences you’d never have with a daily 9 to 5.

Steady Income

As frustrating as it might be for some to hear, you’ve got to have a steady income to make it as a digital nomad. Living out of a van next to the ocean is more expensive than it used to be (though it does save on lodging!), and traveling via car or plane adds up quickly. The bottom line is that no matter how you choose to live or travel, you need income.

Many digital nomad positions are available on freelancing sites like Upwork and Fiverr. You can choose to make money actively or passively, and passive income is ideal for the digital nomad because you can literally make money while you’re sitting on the plane and not engaged in your work.

Dropshipping has been found to be a good way to dabble in passive income as it involves a couple of hours of work daily. If you prefer a more active stance on income, you might try trading your time for money, taking a job as a copywriter or graphic designer. It’s entirely up to you concerning how much work you want to put into it, and the good news is if you run into money troubles, experience and the right avenues can get you out of it quickly.

Stay in One Spot

When most people start as digital nomads, they’re wholly romanced by the traveling part. While this is very exciting, it’s crucial to remember that constantly moving from place to place can be utterly exhausting. After a while, most digital nomads prefer to stay in one spot for at least a month, maybe more!

It takes time to determine how much you like an area, so give yourself that time to acclimate to the lifestyle and immerse yourself in the culture. Try to keep yourself on a daily schedule, as living on the go can become hectic or unorganized if you don’t. Give yourself work hours (they don’t have to be the same every day) and stick to those hours. Block planning can be constructive for digital nomads.

Moving with the Flow as a Digital Nomad

If you’ve practiced from home, found a steady income stream, and honed your business skills, congratulations, you might be ready to become a digital nomad. It’s important to realize that many obstacles will present themselves in your professional and travel life.

Try not to worry about failure because if you realize living as a digital nomad isn’t right for you, you have the freedom to change your mind. Going with the flow is crucial to nomadic life, so embrace it. You’ll have days that make you remember why you wanted to live life on the road, and you’ll also have times that are rocky or challenging.

If becoming a digital nomad is what you truly want, you’ll find ways to stick through it during the hard times. It’s a beautiful lifestyle to live, but it’s not suitable for everyone, and there’s no shame in that.

Hopefully, this guide has brought you closer to your dream of living as a digital nomad. We’ll see you on the road!

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