Want to learn how to be a digital nomad in 2020?
With loads of remote working opportunities available, this is the best time to work and travel across the globe!
In this article, we’ll highlight the benefits of a digital nomad lifestyle and give you a step-by-step guide on how to live it!
This article contains
- What Is A Digital Nomad?
- The Pros And Cons Of Being A Digital Nomad
- How To Be A Digital Nomad In Five Easy Steps
- Find Remote Work
- Decide On A Destination
- Figure Out How You Want To Live
- Join Digital Nomad Communities
- Three Additional Tips For Becoming A Digital Nomad
- Don’t Start Traveling Without Getting Clients
- Carry All Documents, Necessary Clothing, And Medicines
- Ensure Good And Stable Internet Connection Wherever You Are
- Alternative Methods To Becoming A Digital Nomad
Let’s get started.
What Is A Digital Nomad?
A digital nomad is a person who can work from anywhere in the world. Unlike regular employees, they don’t need to report to a specific physical office – all they need is a laptop and an internet connection!.
Most digital nomads make their money online by freelancing, creating their own location independent businesses, or by doing other remote work.
While there are many different kinds of digital nomads, they all have one thing in common:
They’re always on the move – they rarely stay at one location for a few weeks or months at a time.
This means that you can enjoy a vacation abroad while working fewer hours!
From snow-capped mountains of the Alps to the serene beaches of Bali, the world is your oyster when you’re a digital nomad!
For a closer look at the digital nomad-ism, check out this article by Time Doctor’s Justin Clarke about his digital nomad experience right after snorkeling in Bali!
The Pros and Cons Of Being A Digital Nomad
Here are the benefits and drawbacks of living a digital nomad lifestyle:
Here are the benefits of becoming a successful digital nomad in 2020:
When you’re a digital nomad, you work on your own terms.
What does this entail?
- No more long commutes – just plug in and work from anywhere! From the mountains to a coffee shop, you can work wherever you feel most productive.
- Choose your work hours and your days off.
- Unless you have a scheduled video call, you can skip the business attire and slip into something comfortable like flip flops and shorts.
2. The Ability To Travel the World
Being a digital nomad allows you to check a lot of things off your bucket list.
You get the opportunity to visit fascinating places that you’ve always wanted to. When you have location independence, you can work while you explore countries and experience different cultures. Not to mention, you meet many interesting people on the way!
3. Live A Comfortable Life For Less Money
Being a digital nomad lets you live a comfortable life at a fraction of the cost it’d usually take.
- If you choose to work in Eastern Europe or Southeast Asia, you can afford a luxurious lifestyle for around $1000 a month in many countries
- These places generally have a low cost of living, so your daily expenses and travel costs can be kept to a minimum.
- This way you can work fewer hours and earn enough money to live comfortably.
4. Learning To Live Independently
Travel is a great teacher. As you’ll be visiting new places and meeting many new people, you’ll also hone your social skills.
You’ll find yourself in new situations almost every day, and will learn how to live independently and overcome challenges yourself. It’s one of the best character-building steps you can take!
While globetrotting can be a thrilling experience – this lifestyle comes with a few disadvantages. Here’s a closer look at them:
You’ll be meeting a lot of people on your travels. However, as you’re always on the move, it’s going to be hard to maintain any long-term relationships.
Going abroad also means that you’ll be far away from friends and family. As a result, you might miss out on important life events like weddings, anniversaries, and more.
2. Managing Your Work-Life Balance
This is the most challenging thing about being a digital nomad.
Since you’re always the move, you have to search for a temporary home base where you can work and sleep, regularly.
You also have to spend a considerable amount of time traveling to your new destination.
Additionally, your clients are based far away from where you’re at, there might be a considerable difference in time zones. This can make it difficult to find the perfect time to communicate.
If you haven’t planned things out carefully, you could be far more unproductive as a digital nomad!
How To Be A Digital Nomad In Five Easy Steps
Here’s how you can start your digital nomad journey in five simple steps:
1. Find Remote Work
The first step in your digital nomad journey is finding a remote job that allows you to live that lifestyle.
Ideally, you should brush up on some of the most common skills that remote workers possess, such as:
- Graphic Design
- Social Media Marketing
- Web Design
- Customer Service
Always look for online courses to learn new skills that can help you build your own business. Alternatively, you can pick up these skills while working on a side hustle before you start your nomad lifestyle.
“If you’re a writer or marketer, you can start a content writing business that helps companies reach more customers”, says Peter Brook, director of content marketing at Ivory Research
Once you’re confident in your ability to work from anywhere, search for opportunities from remote specific job boards like We Work Remotely and RemoteOk.
The only downside of taking up a full-time job in a remote company is that you are expected to work a fixed amount of hours every month. So plan your travels accordingly.
However, if you want the unbridled freedom of being a digital nomad, consider these options:
Become a Freelancer
If you choose this route, you can decide what projects you want to work on and your own working hours.
Plus, you have to deal with a variety of tasks and clients, so your online job never gets boring!
The easiest way to become a freelancer is by looking for work on job boards like Upwork and Fiverr. Here you can find digital nomad jobs like data entry, web design, virtual assistant services and more.
Here’s a list of other great websites that can help you find business as a freelancer.
Start a Remote Business
After you’ve had some experience as a freelancer, you can generate more income by starting your own location independent business.
For example, if you’re a writer or marketer, you can start a content writing business that helps companies reach more customers. Once you increase your skill-set, learn tools like Ahrefs, you can even offer other services like SEO and digital marketing.
However, starting a remote business from scratch can be risky, as it doesn’t provide a steady income.
How do you reduce these risks?
You need to build an online business that provides passive income to help you supplement your savings.
Here are some passive income business ideas:
- Blogs – Passionate about a hobby or a niche? Share your expertise by becoming a part-time blogger. Monetize your blog by running ads or affiliates.
- E-commerce websites – Build your own e-commerce website and distribute your products using dropshipping.
2. Reduce Location Ties & Start Saving
When searching for a remote work opportunity, figure out what expenses are tying you to your current location.
Here are some of the monthly costs that need to be addressed:
- Long-term leases on apartments
- Automobile Loans
- Subscription Services like gym memberships
By paying off these recurring expenses, you’ll be able to save money when you’re on the move.
It’s a good idea to pay all of your credit card bills and membership fees before leaving. Additionally, if you have student loan debt, create a separate account for payments. This will prevent the expenses from eating away at your savings.
Also, as you’ll be on the move for months or years, you won’t need a lot of stuff in your house. Consider a garage sale to get rid of household items to earn some money on the side.
3. Decide On A Destination
Now that you have some savings and income, it’s time to pick your first destination.
There are so many great locations around the world, so where should you start?
Begin your planning by setting a budget.
An ideal budget should answer these questions:
- ‘How much money would I be able to pay for rent?’
- ‘How much would it cost to eat out at a restaurant?’
- ‘What’s the cost of living at the location?’
Once you’ve set your budget, scour through Nomad List to narrow down your choices. It offers Nomad Scores based on the cost of living, internet speed, fun experiences, and safety.
Want to live comfortably on a tight budget?
Any destination in South-east Asia is your best bet.
If you are still unsure where you want to go, Chiang Mai in Thailand is a great digital nomad hub to begin your journey.
4. Figure Out How You Want To Live
Now that you have your destination in place, you’ll need to figure out what kind of accommodation you want.
If you want to make new friends – share your space with other digital nomads by living in a hostel or a co-op. It’s a great way to cut costs and meet new people!
If you prefer solitude – rent your own room or apartment from Airbnb. It’ll cost a bit more, but it’ll be worth it!
If you’re working on a challenging project, it would be difficult to manage chores like laundry, preparing meals, etc. Here, consider a homestay or hotel that offers to do those tasks for you.
5. Join Digital Nomad Communities
Even if you’re traveling solo, it’s always good to join a community.
Here are a few reasons why you should join a digital nomad community:
- Want to meet like-minded people? The Location Indie community can share their experiences and offer a few tips and tricks to help you navigate an unfamiliar place.
- Have a few awkward questions about living and working as a digital nomad? These expat communities are always open to help you out when you’re stuck.
- Unable to find a place to stay at the last moment? The Couch Surfing community has you covered!
Three Additional Tips For Becoming A Digital Nomad
Here are some additional tips to ensure your digital nomad lifestyle proceeds smoothly:
1. Don’t Start Traveling Without Getting Clients
Make sure you have a few clients on board before you head out.
Usually, it’s quite challenging to build a client list from scratch. Based on your service, it can even take a few months to have enough clients that can support your income.
If you don’t consider this while you’re traveling, you might burn through your savings before you even get a client on board!
2. Carry All Documents, Necessary Clothing and Medicines
Do you have everything you need before you embark on your digital nomad journey?
Make sure you pack the following:
- Important Documents – Ensure your passport is valid within six months of your last travel date. Getting an international driving permit can be useful if you want to get around through a rental car.
- Backup Debit/Credit cards – These come in handy if your existing cards get stolen or misplaced.
- OTC Medicines – Not all OTC medicines like Aspirin, Ibuprofen or, Tums are available at all times in certain countries. Always carry a few strips of each.
- Adequate Clothing – Ensure that you pack the right clothes for your trip. Packing heavy coats for your trip to Bali is never a smart idea!
3. Ensure Good And Stable Internet Connection Wherever You Are
Many remote working locations offer free internet, but is it really good quality internet?
Slow and choppy internet can delay your conference calls and work submissions.
Before you check-in anywhere, ensure the internet connection is satisfactory with a quick speed test.
Consider getting a data plan on your smartphone. So you can create a hotspot, when the wi-fi network in you area is down.
Alternatively, look for a coworking space near you. They generally offer free wi-fi hotspots and other services like printers and scanners to help you get started immediately.
Alternative Methods To Becoming A Digital Nomad
There is no fixed route to becoming a digital nomad. Here are a few different ways to start your remote work journey:
1. Study Abroad
Unsure whether remote work is right for you? Choose this route.
Start by enrolling at a university abroad. Unlike other routes, this offers you structure and a safety net in case you want to opt-out.
While the risk is low, it could take you longer to become a digital nomad as you’ll need to secure a visa or resident permit. Some countries like Canada and Australia also offer working holiday visas that let you work to supplement your travel funds while you study.
2. Take Your Current Job On The Road
Do you love your current job?
Try convincing your boss to let you work remotely. Here’s what you need to do in order to be successful with this approach:
- Write a proposal that outlines your main objectives and how you plan to work remotely effectively.
- To address issues of concern such as productivity, offer to use time management tools like Time Doctor.
- Suggest tools like Slack or Skype to help you communicate and manage tasks with your team.
This is a great way to slowly introduce yourself to digital nomad-ism without worrying about earning!
3. Final Tips
After you’ve planned your nomadic lifestyle, here are a few final tips to follow:
- Set a passive income stream (blogs, Amazon Kindle ebooks, index funds)
- Ensure you have healthcare insurance in case of emergencies
- Learn a few phrases in the native language, in case Google Translate doesn’t work.
- Know the local laws and regulations
Living a digital nomad life is highly rewarding.
Just ensure that you have the right skills, remote jobs and preparation before setting out to live it. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be working and vacationing in beautiful locations all across the globe!