Who wouldn’t like to have a job where you can make your own schedule, afford an awesome place to live, and work from anywhere in the world? As much as this may sound like the intro to a pyramid scheme pitch, Gina Miller of One Haute Prime is here to share more about how attainable and fulfilling this kind of lifestyle can be!
The term “digital nomad” describes a person who works online from anywhere in the world, living in different countries for varying amounts of time. Often opting for cities with a low cost of living, these individuals have a unique degree of freedom to travel that previously seemed exclusive to celebrities or the ultra-wealthy. These nomads head down this path primarily due to their love for travel, but also have an ambition to succeed, a knack for combining work and play, and a strong belief that breaking away from more typical lifestyles is completely possible.
In recent years, the digital nomad revolution has taken on a life of its own, and people are now seeing that it’s a viable option for many different types of people with varying careers. With the onset of the Internet and an increasing number of jobs that can be done remotely, being a digital nomad is a reality for so many people. We no longer have to wait until retirement to travel, and we can decide when and where we work. Amazing, right?
Interested? Read on for a step-by-step guide of things to consider along with resources that can have you on your way to digital nomadism in no time.
Type of Work
Of course working from anywhere sounds great, but what do you even do to make money? Typically, digital nomads fall into three different camps: remote workers for companies based in their home countries, freelancers, or entrepreneurs. Some even combine a little of all three!
Because of the internet, remote workers are becoming more common these days, especially among forward-thinking companies as they understand that not every employee thrives in an office environment, but is still completely capable of being an asset to the team. This is often the most secure way to start out since it provides a big safety net, and who doesn’t love a good safety net? If you’re ready to switch jobs, or want to get an idea of what else is out there, Remoteok.io is a brand new job board where you can see different types of remote jobs, from IT to marketing to healthcare. If you love your current job but not the location, and think you could carry it out online, some nomads have convinced their employers to let them go remote. As with most things, there’s no harm in asking.
Many digital nomads out there are self-employed freelancers. They pick up work for their specific skillset be it writing, graphic design, UI/UX design, sales, etc. The best way to start as a freelancer once you’ve determined your specialty is by getting a portfolio together, and putting on your salesperson hat to “cold call” (email) agencies or small businesses that may need your expertise. As most freelancing nomads will tell you, if you spend enough time pitching your services, eventually something’s gotta give so don’t be shy! To get a portfolio going if you don’t have one already, start by picking up gigs on Elance, Upwork or even Craigslist on your spare time. I actually found my latest Social Media Marketing gig for the awesome Canva on Upwork! There are tons of great jobs on these sites as long as you stay competitive, and are ready to apply for them when you see one!
Entrepreneurial nomads can usually be found “boot-strapping” their companies somewhere amazing and far-flung like Chiang Mai, Thailand or Medellín, Colombia. Whether it’s a new app, or an online business, these savvy people have figured out that the cost of building a company is cheaper in certain countries, and can therefore dedicate themselves full-time to their venture simply because they can afford to. Whether they sustain their travels through part-time freelancing or prior savings, the cheap cost of living in the city of choice leaves less room for stress and more room for inspiration. Don’t have a startup idea but are convinced this is for you? Don’t worry. The ever-so stylish digital nomad, Jon Yongfook, wrote a great post on how he built his business online, and gives great tips on what kind of ventures to focus on that are optimal for digital nomads. It’s incredible to see how many types of businesses there are out there, from online drop-shipping stores to custom wordpress themes, and how successful these nomads have been with them.
Where to Live
Now that you’ve secured a job or some clients, it’s time to find your first destination. You want to look for a place that has great internet speed, is friendly to foreigners, and hopefully has a low cost of living. In the past, nomads had to try their luck in different cities and hope that they had made the right choice. Luckily, you wont have to. The same creator of Remoteok.io, Pieter Levels, has made an extremely useful website called NomadList.io that gives you a cost breakdown of hundreds of cities, and even includes extra information like air quality, short-term rentals, and available co-working spaces based on input from nomads actually living there. It’s an incredible tool that has helped people pick their next home away from home without the hassle or uncertainty. You’ll be surprised to see how affordable, and inexpensive it is to live in amazing places like Prague or Bali.
Where to Work
Speaking of co-working spaces, most digital nomads make coffee shops their office for the day and love it, but others prefer to work and interact with other people instead. Cities throughout the world are now meeting this community’s need to collaborate in the workplace through co-working spaces. With co-working spaces, you can brain storm with like-minded people, make new friends, and become exposed to a whole wealth of knowledge that will furher fuel your creativity. You can check out HUBUD in Bali to get a sense of what to expect at one of these places. Many co-working spaces offer accommodations with meals included as well, which is how a lot of nomads get started. Here is an awesome list by Keith Mander with different co-working spaces and startup getaways around the world. Live and work in a gorgeous surf town in Morocco for a month? Yes, please!
Where Do I Sign Up?
If you’re interested so far but want to know more specifics, there are countless resources out there to help you get informed, and hopefully inspire you to make the leap if you’re still not convinced! My favorite is Nomad Forum, which has several helpful threads, as well as NomadStories where you can see how and why people decided to give this lifestyle a shot. It’s truly inspiring to see how many people left behind their leases and belongings to see the world, experience new cultures, and haven’t looked back since! As it turns out, “collecting moments not things,” is much easier than it seems.
For some, all of this may sound a little scary, or even entirely unappealing. But for the others who have dreamed of being able to travel while working, this is exactly what you’ve been waiting for. Of course, it may not always be beaches and coconuts when you’re a digital nomad; It takes a high level of discipline, organization, and sometimes creativity to successfully lead this lifestyle. But if you’re ready to choose how you’ll live and work, and wish to travel now instead of later, why in the world not?