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How to Become a Digital Nomad and Work from Anywhere

The digital nomad lifestyle is a dream for many. Digital nomads can work from anywhere in the world and travel as long as they have a laptop and an internet connection. It’s true freedom. Turning this dream into a reality is the hard part. Obtaining the skills and knowledge to become a successful digital nomad is a challenge. This guide explains how to become a digital nomad and work from anywhere.

In this guide, I’ll explain how to find a remote job or start an online business and make money online. I’ll also cover budgeting, taxes, visas, moving abroad, and more. Finally, I’ll share some of the best digital nomad destinations.

Becoming a digital nomad isn’t easy. It requires some skill to make money online or obtain a location-independent job. It won’t happen overnight but it is possible. You’ll also need to plan carefully to make this lifestyle sustainable. It can get expensive if you’re not careful. Hopefully, this guide makes your transition to the digital nomad lifestyle a bit smoother and quicker.

I have been living as a digital nomad for the past 3 years as a professional blogger. In that time, I spent time in about 15 countries including Argentina, Brazil, Uganda, Turkey, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Mexico. Sometimes I stay in one place for 2-3 months at a time. Other times I travel around. It took me about 3 years to reach my goal of becoming a digital nomad. I had to learn new skills and take some big risks. In this guide, I’ll share my experience.

How to Become a Digital Nomad

Step 1: Gain knowledge or skill. You will need some type of digital or technical skill to get a job or start an online business. Teach yourself, take courses, or go to school to learn.

Step 2: Start making money. Once you have a skill, you can start applying for remote jobs or start an online business. Some of the most common digital nomad jobs include programming, blogging, graphic design, editing, web design, and consulting. You need to have a source of income before leaving home.

Step 3: Decide where you want to go. Some of the most popular digital nomad destinations include Argentina, Thailand, Mexico, Colombia, Portugal, and Bali.

Step 4: Create a budget and save some money. Consider the cost of airfare, accommodation, food, insurance, entertainment, and digital nomad gear (laptop, phone, luggage, etc.) You also need an emergency fund.

Step 5: Prepare to leave. Sell off or store your belongings and cancel subscriptions. Plan your banking and money management.

Step 6: Legal considerations. Gather all of the necessary travel documents. Research visas. Consider how you will pay your taxes.

Step 7: Start living as a digital nomad. Buy your ticket, book accommodation, pack your bags, and start living the digital nomad lifestyle.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for details.

Table of Contents

What is a Digital Nomad?

Digital nomads are people who work remotely and regularly travel to different locations. They work in co-working spaces, coffee shops, libraries, hotels, or anywhere with internet access. Digital nomads work online with a laptop and smartphone. They use various apps to communicate and get their work done.

A digital nomad can work from anywhere with a stable internet connection. They are location-independent. During their time off, they can travel, go sightseeing, and experience different cultures.

There are a number of different ways people live the digital nomad lifestyle. Some stay in short-term accommodation such as hostels, hotels, and Airbnbs while others rent apartments in each destination. Some travel internationally while others stay in their home country and live in a van or RV. Digital nomads can travel constantly or stay for a few months at each destination.

The Benefits of Being a Digital Nomad

  • The freedom to work from anywhere
  • You can set your own schedule and take time off when you like
  • Your money goes further. You can save and invest more if you live in a low-cost-of-living area
  • You can travel as much or as little as you want
  • There is no toxic office politics or drama to deal with
  • You can learn new skills such as a language, cooking, hobby, etc.
  • You can live where you want. Spend summer in the mountains and winter by the beach
  • Startup costs for most online businesses are low. All you need is a laptop.
  • You’ll experience new cultures
  • You’ll meet new people and make friends
  • It builds character. You’ll become more independent, adaptable, and confident
  • Opportunities open up including jobs, relationships, investments, etc.
  • Tax advantages

The drawbacks of being a digital nomad

  • You will deal with loneliness
  • You will miss your friends and family
  • Constantly moving around gets exhausting
  • Your monthly expenses vary depending on where you live
  • Your income can vary from month to month if you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer
  • Staying productive is difficult.
  • Time zones make scheduling difficult for remote workers
  • You’ll have to deal with a language barrier
  • Your taxes and residency become complicated
  • Travel becomes less exciting
  • You will have to deal with poor ergonomics while working
  • Dealing with logistics including booking flights, accommodation, etc.
  • Dealing with bureaucracy when applying for visas, renting an apartment, etc.

Check out my list of pros and cons of being a digital nomad for more important considerations. Also, check out my YouTube video about the pros and cons of digital nomad life.

The Pros and Cons of Digital Nomad Life: Is It Worth It?

How to Become a Digital Nomad

Step 1: Gain the Necessary Knowledge and Skill

Most digital nomad jobs aren’t entry-level. You will need some knowledge and skills to find a job or start your own online business.

You will need some type of digital or technical skill to work as a digital nomad. If you don’t have any skills, you can learn.

Sites like Udemy, Skillshare, and Coursera offer courses on a wide range of topics. If you want to learn to code, there are plenty of free or cheap options such as Codeacademy or Kahn Academy. You could attend online classes from a university. Think about the skills you already have and build on them.

You will need to have computer skills, regardless of your job. Digital nomads use a variety of software. Learning different types of software such as Excel and photo and video editing software can be helpful.

Some other important skills for digital nomads include:

  • Self-discipline: You’ll need to be disciplined enough to get your work done every day. There are lots of distractions.
  • Flexibility and adaptability: You need to be able to adapt to new environments quickly. Every time you move to a new city, your office setup will be different. The time zone may also change.
  • Communication skills: You’ll need to be able to communicate with your boss and co-workers through text, email, or over video chat.
  • Budgeting and finance: To make digital nomad life sustainable, you’ll have to create a budget and watch your spending. Costs vary greatly by country. Your income may also vary.
  • Organizational skills: To stay on top of deadlines and track your costs.
  • Sales/marketing skills: If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to market your services and find clients.
  • creativity: Many remote jobs require creativity. If you’re a writer, designer, videographer, or marketer, you’ll need to be able to create new content.
Working on my computer in my hotel in Cairo
Working in bed in a small hotel room in Cairo
My home office setup in Buenos Aires
My work setup in an Airbnb in Buenos Aires. Not very comfortable.

Step 2: Start Making Money as a Digital Nomad

Before you’re ready to leave home, you need to find a way to make money online. This is the hardest part of becoming a digital nomad.

Digital nomad jobs can be separated into three categories: remote workers, online entrepreneurs, and freelancers.

Remote Workers

Remote workers work for companies in jobs that can be done online. For example, many programming jobs, customer service jobs, marketing jobs, and accounting jobs, can be done remotely.

Remote work is becoming more and more common as companies reduce office space. If you already do most of your work online, you may be able to ask your boss if you can work remotely.

The main benefit of working as a remote employee is stability. You will receive a regular paycheck. You know exactly how much you’re going to earn each month. This makes budgeting easy. Chances are, you’ll also receive some benefits such as health insurance and some type of pension or retirement plan as well.

The drawback is that many companies require you to be online at specific times for meetings and collaboration. If you’re in a different time zone, this can be a challenge. You won’t have quite as much freedom.

Online Entrepeneurs

Online entrepreneurs own online businesses. For example, a blogger, YouTuber, or drop shipper is an online entrepreneur.

Online entrepreneurs have the highest earning potential. When you own a business, you are also your own boss. This gives you plenty of freedom to work when and where you want.

The drawback is the responsibility of owning your own business. You have to worry about keeping your business legal. Tax laws are complicated. Of course, you also have to run the business. This can be extremely stressful and time consuming.


Freelancers make their living by selling online services. For example, a web designer, writer, or graphic designer can work freelance. To get started as a freelancer, you’ll need to build a portfolio of your work.

Start by making a simple WordPress website and posting some of your best work to show potential clients. If you don’t have any work to show, create some. Write an ‘about me’ page that describes your skills and experience.

These days, it’s pretty easy to get started as a freelancer. You can throw an ad up on a freelance job board such as Fiverr or Upwork, and start doing some jobs. With a bit of skill, you can make money freelancing.

The main benefit of freelancing is flexibility. You can work whenever you want as long as you complete the job. You can also choose how much work you want. If you need more money, you can take on more jobs. If you want more free time, you can be a bit more picky.

The drawback is that freelancing can be unstable. You never know how much money you’ll bring in each month. When you’re starting out, jobs can be few and far between. As your portfolio grows, so will your income. The more experienced you get, the more you can charge for your services. For example, a beginner web designer might be charge $500 to design a website. A skilled web developer with an impressive portfolio might charge $5000+ per website.

Digital Nomad Jobs

  • Blogging
  • Youtube
  • Web design
  • Dropshipping or running an eCommerce store
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Social media manager
  • Graphic design
  • Freelance writer (blog posts, copywriting, eBooks, technical writing, etc.)
  • Freelance editing (photo editing, video editing, or text editing)
  • Software Developer
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Creating and selling online courses
  • Selling on Amazon
  • Proofreader
  • Customer service
  • Consulting
  • Transcriptionist
  • Data entry
  • Travel photography
  • e-Commerce/selling on Amazon
  • Marketing
  • Teaching a language
  • Creating and selling digital art
  • Event planning
  • Creating and selling online courses
  • Accountant/Bookkeeper
  • Voice acting

You can apply for remote work on websites such as:

Zac on the summit of Mt. Sinai

I’m currently working as a full time blogger. I have made my living as a blogger for the past 4 years. It can be a grind I like being able to work on my own time without having a boss looking over my back.

Step 3: Consider the Logistics of Nomadic Life and Make a Plan

After you find a way to start making money, it’s time to sort out the details of digital nomad life. You’ll have to consider internet availability, banking, taxes, licensing for your business, communication, insurance, and more. In this section, we’ll discuss the logistics of living a nomadic life.

Starting a Business

If you’re starting your own online business, you’ll have to decide which legal structure to use. This will impact how you pay taxes and your liability.

For most beginner digital nomads, a sole proprietorship is the best business structure. Once you start earning more money, you can start an LLC (limited liability company). This can give you some legal protection and potential tax benefits.

You’ll also need to be obtain the various licenses or permits that are may be required to run a business. In most cases, you’ll at least need a business license.


Managing your money while traveling can be a challenge. For example, you may have difficulty using your foreign credit cards or getting paid while living overseas.

One solution is to open a Wise account and a Paypal account. Payoneer is another good option for people outside the U.S. and U.K.

Another solution is to get a good travel credit card and debit card. I like the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card because it has no foreign transaction fees. You can also earn miles for free flights. I flew to Africa and back for free with credit card points a few years ago. The Schwab Bank debit card is also great for digital nomads because it refunds all ATM fees.

If you’re running your own online business, you may also need to open a business bank account and business credit card. These offer benefits for business owners. They also make it easier to track your business expenses for tax purposes.

Taxes for digital nomads

Taxes are complicated. Particularly if you’re an American. This is the case because Americans need to file taxes in the U.S. regardless of where they’re living. Most other nationalities only need to pay taxes where they’re living.

The good news is that there are some ways to reduce your taxes as a digital nomad. Americans can take advantage of the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. This allows you to exclude your foreign earnings of up to $112,000 from being taxed in the U.S.

It is also possible to establish tax residency in a tax-friendly country to reduce your overall tax bill. For example, many high earners move their business to Dubai or Singapore to cut their taxes. This alone could save you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars per year. Some people choose the nomad life just for the tax savings alone.

There are a few different ways to file your taxes depends on your specific situation, how much you earn, and where you earn your money. If you’re not sure how to file your taxes, you should speak to an accountant who is familiar with international tax law. They will be able to help you figure out the best way to file. A good accountant can help you reduce your tax burden.

Wifi and Internet for Digital Nomads

When you’re a digital nomad, you need a fast and reliable internet connection to get your work done. Luckily, you can find a decent internet connection pretty much anywhere in the world these days.

The first thing you should check when you arrive at your hotel or Airbnb is the speed of the Wifi. I recommend you install a speed test app on your phone so you can quickly and easily test the quality of the connection. If you check in someplace and find that the internet connection isn’t good enough for you to work, you’ll have to either find a different place to stay or do your work somewhere else.

Some nomads don’t like working at their accommodation. Instead, they choose to work at co-working spaces. These are locations where you can rent office space. You could also work in coffee shops.

Sometimes finding reliable Wifi is difficult. You can use mobile data as a backup solution. This is more expensive but it’s an option. I have had to do this on several occasions. Recently, in the Philippines, I couldn’t find reliable wifi so I just bought an eSIM and data and tethered my laptop to my phone.

Phone plans for digital nomads

You need a phone number from your home country so you can receive 2FA (two factor authentication) texts from your bank. Many travelers use a virtual phone number (VOIP or voice over IP) for this. A number of companies offer this service including Google Voice or Skype.

Alternatively, you could use a phone plan that includes international text. Google Fi and T-Mobile are good options for this if you’re from the U.S.

If you’re spending more than a couple of weeks in one country, you’ll also want a local number so you can make local calls. Most nomads just buy a local sim card and a phone plan when they arrive in a new country. If you do this, you’ll need to make sure your phone is sim unlocked.

In much of the world, Whatsapp is the standard messaging app. Everyone uses it. If you need extra security for your communications, consider using Signal.

Use a VPN to keep your data secure

A VPN (virtual private network) is a great way to increase security while working online. By connecting to a VPN, you can encrypt your traffic and stay anonymous online. This is especially important if you’re working on public Wi-Fi networks. It will also help to keep your data secure. This is particularly important when online banking or logging into various online accounts. Thieves can’t steal your data as easily

A VPN is also useful if you’re working in a country with restrictive internet laws. It allows you to bypass most internet censorship.

A number of companies offer VPN service. A few popular options include ExpressVPN, Proton VPN, and Private Internet Access.

Insurance for digital nomads

Travel insurance can cover you if you’re injured or if you get sick abroad. Some travel insurance also covers your belongings if they are lost, stolen, or damaged.

In addition, travel insurance brings peace of mind. You don’t have to worry as much about the cost of healthcare or your expensive work gear if you’re insured.

A wide range of travel insurance options are available. Some companies offer plans that are specifically designed for digital nomads.

Permanent Address for digital nomads: Receiving mail and packages

If you don’t have a permanent address and need to receive mail and packages while you’re abroad, you can use a virtual mailbox service. Your mail will be sent to the address of the virtual mailbox. It will be opened and scanned so you can read it online from anywhere in the world. You can print any documents you need.

Mail and packages can also be forwarded to you for an additional cost. You can choose where the virtual mailbox is physically located. Most companies offer several locations. There are virtual mailboxes available in every state.

Many companies offer this service. One of the most popular options for digital nomads in the United States is Earth Class Mail.

If you need to use your virtual mailbox for official mail such as taxes, voting, or your driver’s license, you’ll need to choose a virtual mailbox with a physical residential address. This service can cost a little extra but it is available.

Alternatively, you could use your parent’s address or a friend’s address if they are okay with it.


For tax purposes, you’ll have to track your income and expenses related to your work. If you’re a freelancer or business owner, you may have money coming in from multiple sources. You’ll need to use some type of accounting software to help you track all of it. Quickbooks is a popular option. You could also use Excel.

Emergency backup plans

It’s important to have an emergency backup plan just in case. Before you leave home, build up an emergency fund. It should be enough to cover unexpected expenses, such as medical emergencies, injury, theft, a natural disaster, running out of money, or having to return home unexpectedly due to a death in the family.

You need to have the ability to fly home quickly and sustain yourself financially. If you lose your digital nomad job, you need some cash to help you get back on your feet. You may need to fly home, pay for accommodation, and live for several months without income while you search for work.

I recommend you set aside at least $5,000-$10,000 as an emergency fund. Keep it in an account that you won’t touch. Some digital nomads keep enough cash on hand to survive for a year or more.

Finding Accommodation

An Airbnb in Bali
An Airbnb I recently stayed in in Bali

A few accommodation options include:

  • Most digital nomads rent apartments by the month on Airbnb. This is what I usually do. Airbnb is easy and convenient. You don’t have to worry about putting utilities in your name or furnishing a place. Many hosts offer a discount if you book at least 28 days. For more info, check out my guide to Airbnb vs hotels.
  • This is a great option if you prefer to stay in short-term accommodation like hotels and hostels.
  • If you’re just getting started, your budget may be tight. In this case, you may consider staying in hostels to save money. Hostels cost about $10-$25 per night depending on the region you’re visiting.
  • Local classified ads- If you’re planning to stay in the same location for 3 months or more, you can save some money by renting an apartment. To find properties, look on local classified ad sites and Facebook groups. This is usually the most affordable accommodation option. You may have to furnish the place. This is an extra expense and a hassle.

Getting Around

In most of the world, you can get around without a car. Public transportation is widely available. Busses, subways, trains, trams, and taxis are all options in most large cities. You can also use rideshare services such as Uber or the local equivalent.

In some places you may consider renting a scooter. Oftentimes rental agencies offer monthly discounts. I have rented scooters in Thailand, India, and the Philippines. Many digital nomads living Bali use a scooter to get around.

Making friends

Loneliness is one of the hardest parts of being a digital nomad. Because you’re constantly moving around, you never really have a chance to develop close relationships. You have to put in some effort to meet people.

One way is to stay in hostels. Hostels are great places to meet other travelers from all over the world. The drawback to staying in hostels is that it can be difficult to get your work done when everyone around you is going out every day and partying at night. Hostels can get pretty noisy. You may need to find someplace else to work.

You can also meet like-minded people working in co-working spaces or cafes. Some co-working spaces even host events where nomads can get together and network.

Expat communities are also great places to meet new people and make friends. You’ll find expat communities all over the world. Try joining some expat Facebook groups. and are also great places to meet other digital nomads. Popular digital nomad destinations have nomad communities you can join.

You can also try attending local events and festivals. In large cities, there is always something going on. Another option is to take a class. Language classes and cooking classes are great places to meet people.

Online dating is also a great option. Who knows, you might even meet your soul mate.

For more ideas, check out my guide: How to Meet People While Traveling.

Prague, Czech Republic

Choosing a Digital Nomad Destination

You can work anywhere you can get a decent internet connection. That’s really the only requirement.

The cost of living is also an important consideration for most nomads. You need to go somewhere you can afford to live. Most digital nomads prefer cheaper destinations so they can take advantage of the low cost of living.

You’ll also want to consider your quality of life. Some countries are more comfortable for nomads than others. Consider the climate, cuisine, language, laws, politics, etc.

You might also consider the legality of working a job abroad. You may need a specific visa to stay in the country legally. Sometimes you can work on a tourist visa and other times you can’t.

The ideal digital nomad destination has fast internet, a low cost of living, and easy tourist visas. The best destinations also have a great climate, delicious cuisine, and friendly locals. Of course, your personal also comes into play. There is no best nomad destination.

Working on tourist visas

Most digital nomads work and travel on tourist visas. This is a legal grey area. Technically, you’re not supposed to work on a tourist visa in most countries. Even if you’re not earning any money locally. In some countries, working online on a tourist visa is legal. It really depends on the ways the laws are written.

Some countries turn a blind eye to digital nomads working on tourist visas. They know what they’re doing is illegal but they leave them alone because they bring so much money into the local economy. This has been the case in Thailand for many years.

The work that digital nomads do is also not well understood. The laws are often unclear. While we are technically working, we’re not taking jobs away from locals. We’re not earning any money locally. This is what work visa requirements are designed to prevent.

When immigration asks what you’re doing in the country, the best answer is ‘tourism’. This isn’t a lie. You will be sightseeing while you’re there. When you’re asked what you do for a living, just give a simple answer that anyone will understand.

If you keep your answers simple, you’ll pass through immigration smoothly and quickly. If you start telling your life story, you could end up getting sent to a secondary inspection. You could be denied entry if you tell immigration that you work online.

Once you’re in the country, it’s also a good idea to avoid telling people that you’re working online. Someone could turn you into immigration and cause problems for you. It’s unlikely but it could happen. Just tell everyone you meet that you’re a tourist.

When I’m asked about my occupation, I usually say I work in marketing. When asked why I’m visiting, I simply say ‘tourism.’

Digital Nomad Visas

These days, a number of countries offer visas specifically for digital nomads. These visas allow you to work legally. A few countries with digital nomad visas include:

  • Georgia
  • Croatia
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Czech Republic
  • Germany
  • Estonia
  • Norway
  • Costa Rica
  • Mexico
  • Colombia
  • Brazil
  • Barbados
  • Cayman Islands
  • Antigua
  • Thailand
  • United Arab Emirates

For a more complete list as well as information on visa costs and income requirements, check out this great guide.

The benefit of working on a digital nomad visa is that it’s completely legal. You can also stay in the country longer term. Most digital nomad visas are valid last 6 months-1 year. Sometimes they can be renewed or extended. A few even provide opportunities for citizenship. Some also offer tax benefits. You can establish tax residency and reduce your taxes. This is nice if you come from a high-tax country.

The drawback is that there is some paperwork involved. You usually have to prove that you have sufficient income to support yourself. The income requirement varies by country. In cheaper countries, you may have to prove that you earn $1500-$2000 per month. In more expensive countries, you may have to show that you earn $3000-$5000+ per month. You may have to visit an embassy to apply for the visa. There is some bureaucracy to deal with. Some visas are easier to apply for than others.

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is one of my favorite cities I’ve visited as a digital nomad

Best cities for digital nomads

There are some digital nomad hubs where nomads tend to congregate. Countries become popular digital nomad destinations when they offer a combination of easy tourist visas, good internet, and low cost of living. A few of the most popular cities for digital nomads currently include:

These nomad hubs change from year to year. Places become popular for a couple of years and then fall out of popularity when they become too crowded or when the visa policy changes. Some places are always popular. For example, Thailand has been a digital nomad destination forever.

A few of my favorite digital nomad destinations that I have visited include Bangkok, Istanbul, Bali, Buenos Aires, and Mexico City. I also love traveling in Africa. I spent 5 months in Uganda last year and loved it. I’m going back in a couple of months. Check out my list of some of the best places to be a digital nomad in Africa.

You also don’t need to leave your home country. Many remote workers travel around their home countries. Van life is also a popular option.

Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is another one of my favorite nomad destinations

Things to Do Before Leaving Home

Before you start your nomad life, you’ll need to take some time to plan and prepare. In this section, I’ll outline a few important things to do before leaving home.

Save money

You’ll need to save some money before quitting your day job and moving abroad. Make sure you have enough saved up to cover your living expenses for several months in case you run into unexpected costs or lose your job. Three to six months of living expenses is a good cushion. You don’t want to end up broke and stranded in a foreign country.

There are a few ways to save money for your future nomadic life. Try to live as cheaply as possible. Downsize your life. Sacrifice some luxuries. Try to stop eating out and drinking alcohol. You could also take a second job, start a side hustle, or do freelance work for some extra income.

You can also reduce your expenses. Switch to a cheaper phone plan. Cancel unnecessary subscriptions such as cable, Netflix, Spotify, etc.

Sell off some of your belongings to bring in some money. If you have valuable items, such as a car, TV, desktop computer, or jewelry, you can sell them to finance your move abroad.

You should not quit your day job until you either have enough money saved to travel without working or you have money coming in from an online business or freelance gigs to support yourself while you’re living abroad. It’s important to build up your online income first before moving abroad.

Get Rid of Your Possessions or Put Them in Storage

Possessions can really weigh you down when you’re trying to live a nomadic life. Sell off your belongings before you leave home.

Getting rid of your stuff will feel stressful at first but will feel incredibly freeing later. Not being tied down by possessions feels like a weight being lifted off your shoulders. Not having to store your stuff will save you money.

Start by listing your valuable items on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or eBay. The money you make can help you start your nomadic life. You can donate the less valuable items to a charity or thrift store or give them away to friends and family. Everything else, you can throw out.

Of course, there are some things that you’ll want to keep like family photos, important documents, and sentimental items. Make sure to keep these safe and sound. A safe deposit box or a small storage locker is a good investment. Alternatively, you could leave these items with a close friend or family member.

My travel backpack and clothes
My travel backpack with my clothes

Get your Documents in Order

A few documents you may need include:

  1. Passport- Make sure it has at least 6 months of validity.
  2. Visas- Most digital nomad visas need to be applied for in advance.
  3. Driver’s license- If you plan to drive. In some countries, you may need to get an international driver’s license.
  4. Vaccine certificate- Some countries in Africa and South America require proof of yellow fever vaccine.
  5. Insurance- Bring a copy of your travel insurance policy. Some countries require proof of insurance.
  6. Prescriptions- If you require any medications.

A Reality Check: The Truth About Digital Nomad Life

There are lots of online courses out there that claim to offer the secrets to becoming a successful digital nomad. Almost all of them are scams. Most are simply full of information you can find for free online. You can learn everything you need to learn about how to become a digital nomad for free on websites like the one you’re reading right now. You don’t need to pay money for a course or for coaching or anything like that.

Another hard truth is that not everyone is cut out for the nomad lifestyle. Constantly moving around is exhausting. Working from a different location every month is difficult. It’s impossible to develop a routine. Some struggle emotionally with the isolation that comes with this lifestyle. It is lonely. There is no avoiding it.

Some people also struggle with the work. Some people just can’t make money online, no matter how hard they try. Many peopole don’t have the discipline to work long hours independently. I worked on my business for 2.5 years for 6-8 hours per day 7 days per week before I made any money. It was a grind. Most people would have given up.

This lifestyle is also unpredictable. You might make good money for a couple of years then lose your job. Your income could be cut in half due to some technological change. You have to be prepared for that. Some people can’t take the unpredictability. It is incredibly stressful at times.

Before you quit your day job and buy a one-way ticket to Bali, think about whether or not you’re really cut out for this lifestyle. Becoming a digital nomad is not easy. That said, it is an achievable goal if it’s what you really want.

FAQ About Becoming a Digital Nomad

Is Being a Digital Nomad Legal?

Yes. It is perfectly legal to be a digital nomad as long as you follow tax laws and immigration laws. Pay your taxes and apply for digital nomad visas and you can live this lifestyle 100% within the law.

Most nomads do not operate 100% legally. They work on tourist visas. This is often illegal. Some digital nomads also don’t obey international tax laws. This is also illegal.

How Much Money do Digital Nomads Make?

Digital nomad incomes vary greatly. Most digital nomads earn between $50,000-$100,000 per year. When starting out, many digital nomads earn just $10,000-$20,000 per year. A high-earning digital nomad makes more than $150,000 per year.

Exactly how much you can earn depends on your job. If you’re working as a bookkeeper for $20 per hour, your maximum potential income will be limited. You might be lucky to make $40,000 per year. If you own your own business, there really is no ceiling. The most successful digital nomads run online businesses making over 1 million dollars per year.

For an idea of what you could earn, check out this list of average hourly earnings for various nomadic jobs

What Should I Study to Become a Digital Nomad?

There isn’t any one specific degree or field of study that will guarantee a digital nomad job. There are some skills that you can learn that will make finding location independant work easier.

A few areas of study include:

  • Computer science- This is probably the most useful. With some experience, you could become a remote software developer or web developer, or even a freelance developer. These are high paying jobs.
  • English- This degree would come in handy if you want to become a writer, proofreader, editor, blogger, copywriter, or English teacher.
  • Business, economics, finance, or accounting- These degrees will come in handy if you choose to start your own online business.
  • Education- With this degree, you could work as a teacher or create and sell online courses.
  • Graphic design- This degree is a good option for creative nomads.

How Much Money Do You Need to Become a Digital Nomad?

It is possible to start living as a digital nomad on as little as $800-$1000 per month. At this level of income, you would be limited to the extremely low cost of living countries. You would also have to be frugal.

To start the digital nomad life, you should ideally earn at least $1500 per month. With this level of income, you can live a comfortable lifestyle in the more affordable nomad destinations. You will have to be somewhat frugal but you will have enough money to travel and go out and enjoy yourself once in a while.

Earning $2500 per month is a good income goal to live the digital nomad lifestyle long term. With this level of income, you could live in a wide range of countries including all of the popular hotspots. You will qualify for most digital nomad visas. You should also have enough money left over each month to save or invest a bit for retirement.

How Much Does it Cost to be a Digital Nomad?

On average, digital nomads spend around $1500-$2000 per month. If you’re frugal, it is possible to live on $1000 or less per month in many countries. If you want to live in expensive highly developed countries, you’ll probably spend closer to $4000-$5000 per month.

What Equipment do Digital Nomads Need?

To be a digital nomad, you’ll need a laptop, smartphone, and reliable WiFi. You’ll also need an international phone plan so you can stay connected. You’ll also need some quality luggage to keep all your electronic devices safe and protected.

My Experience Living as a Digital Nomad

Before becoming a nomad, I was a backpacker. I saved up money working various jobs at home in the U.S. and then left for a few months at a time to go traveling. While traveling, I dreamed of being able to earn money while I traveled.

While traveling in Africa, I met a travel blogger. We ended up traveling together for several months. During that time, he explained the business to me. It sounded interesting but unrealistic to me.

Shortly after returning home to Southern California, I moved to Tijuana where the cost of living was lower. I remembered what my blogger friend told me and I started blogging about that experience. Over time, the blog grew into this travel blog.

When I started, I knew nothing about this business. I learned everything as I went. I had no experience with websites, WordPress, writing, or marketing. It was a long and difficult journey but, I made it work.

At this point, I have been living this lifestyle off and on for the past 2.5 years. During that time, I have lived as a digital nomad in 15 countries across Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Usually, I stay in one place for around 1-2 months at a time. Sometimes I travel around.

To learn more about my experience, check out my YouTube video about my first year as a digital nomad.

One Year as a Digital Nomad: A Review

Are you starting your digital nomad journey? Share your experience in the comments below!

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