How to Become a Digital Nomad & Start Working Remotely – Steps, Resources and Guides

Digital Nomad Life Guide

Being a digital nomad and working remotely from a sunny, exotic beach seems like the ideal lifestyle. If you think you’re ready to travel the world and work from just about anywhere, read on to learn more about becoming a digital nomad.

What is a Digital Nomad?

A digital nomad is a person who travels often, at least twice a year, and earns a living by working online. As long as they have a computer and an internet connection, digital nomads can continue to work and earn an income.

There are many different variations on the definition of digital nomad. Some people who are location independent, which means they can work remotely from anywhere, consider themselves digital nomads. However, digital nomads are characterized by their lack of one home and their travels, which may occur every few weeks or up to every six months.

Digital nomads may earn an income from selling physical products, digital products, or services online.

Pros and Cons of Being a Digital Nomad

Choosing to become a digital nomad is a life-altering decision. Before selling your home and saying goodbye to everyone you know, weigh the pros and cons of adopting this lifestyle. Instagram and travel blogs typically only show the positive, glamorous side of being a digital nomad. As with any lifestyle, while there are definite advantages, there are downsides as well.

Pros

The freedom to see the world on your own schedule sounds like a dream. There are many appealing aspects of being a digital nomad.

  • Having a lower cost of living for the same or better quality of life
  • Traveling whenever and wherever you choose
  • Having the flexibility to set your own work schedule
  • Experiencing other cultures
  • Making new friends from all over the world

Cons

The reality is that being a digital nomad involves more than searching out jungle waterfalls and sandy shores. Becoming a digital nomad takes a lot of hard work, and not everyone is cut out for the laptop lifestyle.

  • Saying goodbye to family and community connections with potential isolation challenges
  • Getting rid of personal belongings, or paying to keep them in storage until your return
  • Finding a good internet connection that will allow you to work on the go
  • Communication challenges with team members and clients that are in other locations and timezones
  • Being disciplined to keep your work productivity while traveling the world

Steps to Become a Digital Nomad

Everyone has varying careers and lifestyles, so you may need to spend longer on some steps or be able to skip some entirely.

1. Eliminate expenses while increasing income

Take a good look at your expenses and subscriptions to see what you are able to live without. You’ll want to begin to eliminate the unnecessary spending so that you have more money to spend on your travels.

Work on paying off your debts as quickly as you can to reduce interest payments. Look for side jobs or ways you can earn extra money, such as dog walking, Uber, mystery shopping, or anything else you can do in your spare time.

2. Reduce location ties and reduce your “stuff”

Think about what is keeping you in your location. End long leases and cancel memberships. When you pick up the essentials and live abroad, you won’t need or want to bring most of your things with you. Start cleaning out the clutter from your house.

Many things you may be able to sell at a garage sale or on sites such as Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Sell your car, or put it in storage and lower your insurance premiums while the car isn’t in use.

Go through your photos and keepsakes; toss what you don’t want, and make digital copies of what you’d like to keep.

3. Consider turning your current job into a remote position

Many companies are starting to allow employees to work from home. Find out if this is something your current employer would offer. If this isn’t common practice at your workplace, do your research first so that you are prepared for a discussion with your boss. Common concerns are communication and efficiency.

4. Identify the skills you have, then improve them or learn more

You’ll need to work to fund your travels, and if you can’t turn your current job into a remote position you’ll have to make your own. Have a look at the skills you already possess or the skills you can improve upon to earn money. If you are great with kids or have teaching experience, you may want to become an online English tutor.

If you are a developer, look for freelance work building the front- or back-end of websites. Apply for jobs online and create a website and business cards to attract more clients. Continue to take courses and learn so that you can keep improving your skills. Expand on what you know and teach yourself something new.

For example, if you already enjoy taking photos and making simple edits, learn how to use Photoshop for more complex edits and sell them on stock photo sites.

5. Choose your first destination

Remember, digital nomads travel at least a couple times per year, so don’t get too concerned about where you should go first. Choose somewhere with a good internet connection and where the cost of living is low, so that you are sure you can work and fund your lifestyle for a while. Create a rough budget so that you know how much you’ll need to earn and spend.

6. Do a test run

Try out a shorter trip, roughly three weeks long, to see how you fare with living and working from somewhere else. You may encounter some issues you hadn’t expected, and will need to think of solutions before you sell your house and pack your things.

Resources to help you start as a digital nomad & remote based professional

Thanks to the growing popularity of remote work and the digital nomad lifestyle, there are now loads of fantastic resources out there to help you make the most of this unique way of living. We’ve compiled some of the best into one place to give you instant access to advice on every aspect of working remotely:

1. Becoming a Digital Nomad

If you’re interested in taking the first steps to becoming a digital nomad (working remotely while traveling), these articles give you a warts-and-all view of nomad life along with some helpful starting points:

2. The Keys of Working Remotely

Remote working isn’t without its challenges, but these posts have loads of useful tips to make it easier:

3. Keeping your Productivity as a Digital Nomad

Productivity can be challenging when you’re often on the move. These articles give you insider tips on maximising your productivity when you’re living the digital nomad lifestyle:

4. Life as a Digital Nomad: Destinations, cost of living, health insurance…

As a digital nomad, the world is your oyster. These posts give you loads of inspiration for destinations that work for nomads, as well as some of the practical arrangements needed for this lifestyle:

Read more advice on how to work remotely and succeed digital nomad with our handy How-To Guides.

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