How to Become a Digital Nomad And Start Living the Nomadic Lifestyle

become digital nomad

Digital nomad, expat, telecommuter, whatever you want to call it, the popularity of remotely working has grown. Digital nomads pack up their office and trade it in for the tropical beaches of The Caribbean or the balconies of Italy. By monetizing and mobilizing their trade, digital nomads can work almost anywhere in the world.

Some businesses allow for their employees to work remotely, some digital nomads have to leave the corporate world and become their own boss to do so.
Living in paradise may sound like a dream, but the planning, motivation, and self-discipline involved make this lifestyle anything but a walk in the park (or along the beach).
The increase in popularity of this modern lifestyle has led to a surge of “get rich quick” guides and courses. Facebook ads for information on how to live the nomadic way of life (only accessible after paying a hefty fee) appear more and more. The nomadic life is not easy. There is no fast track, no little-known secret.

Simple steps to become a digital nomad and start living a sustainable and realistic nomadic life:

Monetize and Mobilize Your Profession

Although the name implies a digital occupation, you don’t have to develop software or write code to become a digital nomad. Think about how you can mobilize your profession or hobby. Can you teach courses through Skype, or write how-tos on a subject? If your profession is difficult to digitalize, consider monetizing a hobby. Etsy is a great resource for selling handmade items.

Think outside the box on what you can offer. If you are well written or have a knack for copywriting, freelance websites such as UpWork, Freelancer, and even Craigslist offer long and short-term jobs in your area of expertise. Teaching English as a second language is another outlet to consider (not all programs require you to speak two languages).

If you are really serious about becoming a digital nomad but don’t feel like you have the right skill set, learn one. Websites like Lynda and YouTube have plenty of resources available to learn a new or more profitable trade.

Practice Sustainability

Once you have determined your mobilized profession, practice its sustainability. Before you pack your bags and fly across the globe, work from home for 6-12 months to set your realistic expectations and save money. Freelancing has a ramp-up period; you have to please quite a few clients before you gain the respect of the big boys.

If you already have a solid customer base or plan on working remotely through your current employer, give yourself enough time to adjust. These few months at home will allow you to work out some kinks and road bumps before moving halfway across the globe. Keep detailed records of your spending habits and earnings; you need to set a realistic expectation for your future lifestyle adjustment.

In addition to setting your financial capabilities, this time at home will determine your ability to work as your own boss. Digital nomads are self-driven. The temptation to slack off will be exponential in a new country. If you have difficulties staying on task, use this time at home to practice before the shiny bright lights of the new city drag you in.

Determine Your Monthly Income

Before you even consider the destination you want to live in, you must determine your accurate monthly income. Don’t assume anything, what you’ve made these past 6-12 months is likely the most you will be making abroad, at least for the first few months.

Don’t assume a big project will come your way, play it safe and assume you will lose a client on your first day in paradise. It may seem extreme, but it’s better to plan for the worse and hope for the best than over guess your budget. Once you have an accurate number of your net monthly earning, you can begin to consider your options.

become a digital nomad

Explore Your Options

If you haven’t already, this is a great time to start reading up on the digital nomad forums and groups, such as r/digital nomads on Groups and resources that provide information about the best places to consider are invaluable.

You’ll hear from ex-expats, current residents, and skeptics of your potential new home. Do as much research as you can in this area, this will become your new place, a decision not to be taken lightly.

A few things to consider before you decide to become a digital nomad:

  • Are you willing to learn a new language?
  • Do you have family or friends that are dependent on you?
  • How far from home are you willing to travel?

Can You Afford to Become a Digital Nomad?

Finally, and probably the most important factor, Check out books about your potential place from the library, read all the stories from expats in the area you can find (even the bad stories, especially the bad stories). Don’t get discouraged if your dream location turns out to be more expensive or less of a dream than you planned.

The world is infinite; you can find a place that meets your requirements, it will just take a bit more time.

The Final Steps

Once you have found a sustainable career and location to move to, downsize and downsize again. Selling your belongings will provide a nice boost before your trip (or potentially cover the flight). Chances are you won’t be shipping much of anything, opting for an extra checked back and overstuffed carry-on instead. Again, the forums come in handy here.

There are plenty of packing guides and resources out there for starting a new life in a foreign country. Obsessively read them all. (If you aren’t obsessively reading all the material you can get your hands on already – this may not be the best lifestyle for you.)

Plan on the lifespan of your electronics dramatically decreasing. Have an emergency fund for a multitude of reasons – most importantly – to cover the full costs of a new laptop if yours happens to break (it’s only a matter of time).

I hope that this guide has introduced you to the digital nomad lifestyle and inspired you to learn more about this adventurous gig. Live the digital nomad lifestyle? Let us know your tips and tricks below!

Ellie Herring is a creative writer who lives in Denver, Colorado. She graduated from Texas Tech University with a B.A. in Advertising. When she's not writing about her latest travel adventures, you can find her at Red Rocks Amphitheatre dancing in the mountains.

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