This is probably the most practical guide to becoming a digital nomad you’ve ever found. I’m going to explain exactly how you can become a digital nomad, and how you can live and work from anywhere in the world in 2019.
Before we begin, let’s clear up a few things.
Firstly, this will not be easy otherwise EVERYONE would be doing it.
That being said once you’ve set up these systems and learned the ropes, you’ll never go back. You’ll never be able to go back to your old mindset and this will shape you.
What is a digital nomad?
Well, it’s someone who lives and works from anywhere. Someone who has the freedom to be able to say ‘I’m going to India for the next 6 months’ and then they do it. It’s being able to choose how to live your life, and still make money while you’re on the move.
Sounds pretty amazing doesn’t it, so why doesn’t everyone do this? Well it could be a mixture of things. Maybe they don’t know that this is an option? Maybe they don’t know how to start?
The truth is more and more people every year are turning to this lifestyle, and taking to the road. It’s just a better way of living, you get to experience whatever you want, you’re never tied down and you can work on what you love doing and get paid for it all.
How to become a digital nomad
Firstly, this isn’t going to be easy because you’re likely building an entirely new set of skills. This isn’t something you’ve done before and so it will feel strange. don’t panic, realise this is normal.
Step 1: Work out how you’re going to pay for it
This is probably the most important part and I’ll start with this because I don’t want you to get bored and click away from this article without learning the most important stuff. To become a digital nomad, you’re going to need a way of making money from ANYWHERE.
There are actually a number of ways you could do this, such as:
- Getting a job wherever you travel to and ‘job hopping’
- Learning a skill and getting paid for that skill online (such as writing, design work or sales)
- Building a passive income stream so that you get paid while you’re sleeping (or on a plane)
- Finding cheap places to go that even pay you to stay there (it’s possible)
So there are lots of options. There are more options than the ones I’ve put there, but I want to focus on just a few of these. so the easy and obvious ones are getting a job in the place you travel to.
The trouble with that is that you’re still sort of tied down and reliant on an income from a job. This means you have to show up for work, you could get fired, you’re tied to THAT place (until you move to somewhere new) and so on.
It’s good but it’s not ideal, and it’s harder to move around FAST like this because you need to constantly set up in a new place and get a new job. If you had a passive income however, you could move through places like a butterfly, staying where and when you like.
The best way in my opinion of being a digital nomad is to have a mixture of PASSIVE income and ACTIVE income (online).
This means you can earn money while you sleep, by selling either ebooks, digital products, FBA products with Amazon or getting advertising revenues from a YouTube video.
COMBINE that with active income from doing freelance work on sites like Upwork and you’re flying. You’re free, and your income is not coming from only one place. This means you have more security and more freedom. What I do is sell Ebooks and make videos on Youtube (and for that you’ll need a good vlogging camera).
So you need to figure out a way of building passive income.
That’s for another post but for now, just consider how you’re going to pay for your travels. You need a way of either saving a large pot of money BEFORE you go or building or creating a way of making money while you’re there.
Step 2: Choose where to go and how to get there
This is an important one. Don’t just go to the airport and pick a random place (although when you’re more experienced, this can be fun). Plan out where you want to go and for how long.
Look long and hard at the map and then do some research on where you think you want to go. Look at the news around the place and what’s going on there NOW. It’s all well and good reading a Tripadvisor post from 2004 but it’s 2019 now.
Things change and places change. Learn what’s going on there NOW and then make your decision.
At the moment one of the best ways to travel is through a room rental site called Airbnb. This lets you choose the place you want to stay and they offer HUGE monthly discounts, if you book more than a month at at time.
Plan where you’re going to go and always look at the details of the room on Airbnb:
- Is there Wifi? As most of your work will be done online you NEED good internet
- Message the person before asking for an extra discount. The chances are they’ll be happy to fill the room or apartment and will offer a good discount if you just ask
- Are they at least nearby the apartment in case you need help with anything? If you’re moving somewhere you don’t speak the language and something goes wrong with the gas or electric, what would you do?
Step 3: Think about how long you’re going for
This is a big one. Basically, the longer you go for the more money you can save. If you look on Airbnb the best discounts pop up when you book more than 4 months or so. The ‘per night’ cost might be $30 but if you book a whole two months they give you 70% off or more. That’s a huge saving!
before you go, plan where you want to go and how long. It’s best to stay in any given place for about 4 months or more, as this lets you make the most out of where you’re going and save money on discounts and travel etc.
Plane tickets are also a huge cost, probably one of your biggest apart from rent so carefully plan where you’re going. Ideally, go to one place for 4 months and then move to another place FAIRLY NEAR to the first place so you don’t have to pay hundreds in air fares.
Step 4: Think about the details (before you go)
You should think a little bit about details before you go. There are certain things that you’ll probably want to leave in your home country. You sort of want to have a ‘base’ in your home country, assuming that it’s safe and you enjoy living there.
The things I’m talking about are:
- Dentistry: If you need work done on your teeth, where will you go? Normally people are registered in their home country and its difficult to change that, so will yo pop home for appointments twice a year?
- Tax status and letters: If you run a business you’ll no doubt need to use an address to things like email marketing, and many other forms of communication. What address will you use, and how often will you be able to check it? If you receive checks, where will they go and when will you cash them?
- Health care: If you need some operation or even just a prescription, how and where/when will you get it? For example if you need inhalers but aren’t able to stock up on them, that’s something to think about
- Pets? If you have any pets at home you’ll need a plan for how they’re going to be looked after while you’re not there
- Car? If you have a car, same thing
And there are of course other details but hopefully that’s helped you think about the details you’ll need to take care of when you’re going off on your travels!
Good luck! And don’t take my word for it, see how awesome this lifestyle is yourself. Even if you just test it for a month or so, book a cheap flight and Airbnb, save up a bit and bring your laptop. You’ll never want to go back (and you don’t have to!)
Digital nomad jobs
There are actually a lot of digital nomad jobs you could get. Depending on how much time you have before you want to set off, you could just get a job.
If you’re stuck for time and want to do this FASTER, it’s worth just getting a remote working digital nomad job like one of the following:
- Freelance writer on Upwork
- Freelance web developer
- Remote working customer support assistant
- Remote working phone support (A little harder)
- Remote English teacher (You can do this online or in person in the destination)
- Teach languages online (If you’re bilingual)
There are of course lots more digital nomad jobs which I’ll be writing about soon, but those are the main and probably most popular ones. You can find these on various job sites, but you should just start by searching ‘digital nomad jobs’.
You’ll find a whole bunch of them online. It’s worth building your OWN thing on the side though. The worst thing would be GETTING a job like this, going out to say Vietnam, signing a 6 month lease on an apartment then LOSING that job.
Make sure you’re always focused on building your own thing. I teach how to build a passive income online business in 6 months in the Digital Nomad Bootcamp course.
Digital nomad downfalls and risks
I think it’s worth mentioning a few DOWNSIDES of being a digital nomad. You might not have been aware of these, but there are actually some annoying things about becoming a digital nomad that most people forget about.
In fact, lots of these things you’ll only discover once you’re actually on the road, working remotely.
- It’s hard to make friendships when everyone’s either coming or going every few days/weeks
- Relationships become very difficult to maintain unless your partner is traveling with you
- Taxes become a nightmare unless you carefully plan it (Or just agree to pay full income tax in your home country)
- Finding good internet can be the most annoying thing you have to do
- It’s SO tempting to just play around and explore instead of working when you’re in a fun destination
- It can get lonely depending on where you’re staying and you might miss your family
- It’s super difficult to maintain your friendships back home (so easy to forget to keep in touch)
- You’l get reverse culture shock when you get back home
There are probably more but I’ll make another post about those. Just bare in mind that it’s not always the sunshine and plaiting ropes from free range yoghurt that it’s made out to be. Sometimes there are downsides and it isn’t for everyone.
What it’s really like being a nomad
Well, I wrote a post about my experiences as a digital nomad over a few years but in general, it’s awesome.
I wouldn’t trade it for the world. In fact the whole thing has been a very clear choice for me. I had a good, very well paying fun job back home but I left that job to travel. I knew I’d probably earn LESS by doing this but the money wasn’t the motivation for me.
In the long run by the way, I earn far more now doing my own thing than I ever did in my old job but that’s another story. In general, it’s a sacrifice between a comfortable job back home and a life of unknown adventures on the road.
I chose the latter, and I don’t regret it.
Sure there are scary moments, technical problems, annoying issues and things like that but they don’t matter so much. Not when I think about the beautiful memories I’ve created over even just the last few months.
The truth is, if you’re ABLE to work from anywhere on your laptop, there are probably much more fun places than your home country (usually). So it makes total sense to just get out there and explore those places.
Hopefully you’ve learned how to become a digital nomad and what you’ll need to do. There are a few steps and it’s not SUPER easy, but when you break it down, anyone could do this. It’s not much harder than getting a regular job, you’re just working in a different place.
Learn more about being a nomad
Here are some useful posts about becoming a digital nomad you might like:
- Vegan digital nomad: It’s actually pretty difficult being a 100% VEGAN digital nomad but this guide should help you out and show you where to go and how to eat out
- Digital nomad taxes explained: You’ll find that taxes can be very difficult and annoying to organise and work out, this guide will help you (Took me many hours of researching fuelled by lots of coffee)
- Dating as a digital nomad: Your love life can get.. complicated when you’re on the road. Relationships and friendships seem to be fleeting until you meet up again in another country 6 months later
- Best destinations for a nomad: The best and coolest places to go once you’ve set up your business or income!