One of the top lifestyle buzzwords of 2019 is “digital nomad.” Don’t know what I’m talking about? Think about those Instagram influencer types who seem to travel all over the world and work from their laptops on beaches or by a pool in exotic locations. That’s basically it.
It all looks and sounds like an amazing way to make money. But you don’t really know what they do… and how do you make money out of that kind of lifestyle if you don’t have 1 million followers and brands throwing free trips at you?
Well, as usual, the Instagram image isn’t the full story. It is possible to live a pretty amazing digital nomadic lifestyle, but it’s not for everyone.
- Take a look at my breakdown of the pros and cons. If you’re interested, follow my simple steps to figure out how to be digital nomad and test out if it’s the right fit for you… or not.
- Resources we recommend:
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Take a look at my breakdown of the pros and cons. If you’re interested, follow my simple steps to figure out how to be digital nomad and test out if it’s the right fit for you… or not.
What is a digital nomad?
Digital nomads aren’t tied to one city, country or even to one continent. They choose to travel and move for their own enjoyment. And they are able to work remotely, thanks to Wi-Fi and the wonders of technology.
This isn’t just your average working from home situation. The idea is that you could travel around different states in America, island hop across South East Asia or jump on a flight to wherever calls to you.
Sounds good! But is it too good to be true?
On the face of it, it does sound like a glamourous lifestyle. Many of us want to travel and not be tied to an office and 9-5 hours. Plus so many of us (myself included) already work from home at our laptops. So, why not shake things up?
Over the last month, I got a tiny taste of what it’s like to be a digital nomad – minus the glamorous beaches. I live in Nottingham, UK, but I also spend a lot of time in London, visiting friends in other English cities, and just got back from a trip to New York. On top of that, I was considering heading to Edinburgh for the largest arts festival in the world. I chose not to go because I felt like I should focus on work after travelling so much.
But pretty much all of my current work involves me sitting in front of my laptop. I don’t need to be in Nottingham at the moment. So why didn’t I go? Well, it turns out that the digital nomad style isn’t for everyone, all of the time.
- Travel! See new places, meet new people, experience different things! (and food!)
- Depending on where you go, the cost of living could be considerably cheaper than life back home, whether it’s with a short-term rental via Airbnb or otherwise. You could find yourself saving a lot of money.
- Find new opportunities. By meeting new people and putting yourself in new situations, who knows what exciting opportunities might come your way? Plus it could put you in the perfect mindset to think creatively and get out of a rut.
- Live your best life! I mean, why not? It all sounds amazing and if you have to sit at your laptop, why not sit by the sea in a place that has amazing things for you to do and see once you’re finished working on a task?
- The big one – you need to find work that you can do remotely. There are many areas of work that you can do this in and many of us already do jobs that suit remote work, such as graphic design, blogging or social media management. For some people, it might mean working odd hours (to accommodate overseas clients) or getting creative to figure out what you can offer.
- It can be a risk – many digital nomads sell their properties or end their leases at their homes. I’m lucky in that I can always go back to my parents’ home. If you don’t have that safety net, you need to plan carefully. Jumping off the property ladder is easy… getting back on, not so much.
- Talking of budget – costs can easily spiral. New York is not a cheap place! It’s great for a short trip, but unless I made significantly more money, I couldn’t sustain a digital nomad lifestyle there or in similar places for very long. The coffees and Uber rides start to add up, real fast.
- Responsibilities and relationships might get in the way. I don’t have any real commitments tying me to one location. However, if you have children, a relationship, a pet, or family ties that you can’t just up and leave (or drag along with you), you might find it’s not an option for you.
- You have to actually work. While I didn’t experience a true nomad lifestyle, I realised that I’m easily distracted and I want to take advantage of all the fun, amazing things while I can. It can take a lot of self discipline to ignore all that stuff and get the work done first.
Think it might work for you?
Here are a few steps to get you on track to living a nomadic lifestyle.
- Give yourself a taster. Before you fully commit, try a couple of weeks or even a month to see if it suits you. If you work for someone else, this could be a way to get them on-board. If they can see if it works in a trial run, they’re more likely to keep you on which gets rid of the problem of trying to find work! (And for them, they no longer need to pay for a desk for you at their co-working space, win-win!)
- Figure out ways you can make money remotely and get a few clients ahead of time. So many freelancers and self-employed people don’t even need to meet with clients or customers in-person but can connect via video calls, instead. Check out THIS article for some ideas.
- Work out your budget. What savings do you have? Based on the work you already have lined up, how much do you expect will come in, in the next 30 days, 60 days, 90 days? Do your research beforehand on the cost of living in each city you hope to visit. Lots of people already live this lifestyle and can give you an insight on the cost of living in your preferred destinations.
- Figure out the logistics, especially work visas. Yeah, it all sounds hippy and laid back but you’re going to need to have actual plans in place. Or risk being deported/not even getting through immigration at the airport/ending up in a dive of a hostel/wasting money/having serious regrets… just trust me – you need a plan. THIS is a great resource for figuring out the logistics side of things.
Could a digital nomad lifestyle work for you? What’s stopping you from making the jump?
Resources we recommend:
- FORUM: Facebook – Digital Nomads Forum
- ARTICLE: 15 best cities for digital nomads in 2019
- RESOURCE: How to collect unpaid invoices from your clients – Intuit
- BLOG: Nomad Stack
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