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Becoming a Digital Nomad

Digital Nomad

Technological advancements today mean that many people only need a laptop to do their jobs. Since the pandemic, more and more firms are open to allow employees to work flexibly, or work from home permanently.

The digital nomad lifestyle is becoming popular among the younger generations, however, there is definitely no age limit on starting a new way of life. Some of the top self-employed businesses are popular among all ages.

Many companies don’t require workers to be in the office all the time. Others can do freelance work from their laptop from any part of the world.

For sure, leaving the known for the unknown comes with its challenges, but thousands of others have been through similar doubts and made the decision to go.

Making this decision requires a leap of faith. You will never know the full extent of your opportunities if you don’t try. It might just be the beginning of a whole new way of living.

Being a digital nomad has numerous benefits. Such as leaving a toxic job and office politics, learning new skills and languages, and experiencing new cultures. If you are willing to compromise on leaving your well-known environment behind, you are in for the greatest treat in your life.

Travel restrictions caused by the pandemic are still in place in some countries. Yet, many digital nomads are working around them. By choosing destinations with lighter restrictions or living a nomad life in their home country. You don’t have to go to a foreign country to become a digital nomad.

This article is here to provide guidance on how to start living a digital nomad life. If you are interested in hitting the road and want to explore the world while you are earning a salary. Giving you tips and bits of advice on where to stay, necessary equipment you need, and explaining the perks that come with this life.

Who is a Digital Nomad?

It is a brave choice to abandon the comforts and the security of your home. Yet, the people who have done it gave up the nine-to-five and drifted off into the sunset with their laptops.

Digital nomads gave up the office life, packed up their belongings in a suitcase, and hit the road. This is not as easy as it sounds, but more on that later.

A nomad can do their work from almost anywhere, so it means they have the freedom to move around and work around their travels.

There is no set time for how long you need to stay at one particular destination. You set the length of your stay according to how you feel about the place.

Imagine when you can file invoices from a cozy café on a cobblestone street, write reports from Hanoi or catch up with clients via video call from the beach. Work-life already sounds more appealing, and you will have other ideas to make work fun.

Being a digital nomad is not only about the fun. Although these adventure-seekers are not tied to a desk in an office, they still need to make the ends meet.  This means that sometimes they work two or three different jobs.

What’s It Like to Work as Nomad

Once you’ve decided to give nomad life a go, you will still need an income to sustain your life.

The digital nomad life is becoming more available. Firms are downsizing their physical presence and hire remote workers enabling the company to reduce spending like office space.

Here is a list of popular digital nomad jobs:

  • Writer
  • Blogger
  • Influencer
  • Consulting
  • Website designers
  • Language teacher
  • SEO
  • Software developer

The spectrum of jobs extends beyond the list, but the above examples are some of the most frequent choices among nomads. High-paying jobs without a college degree also exist.

Details to consider

Regardless of which country’s citizen you are, you should still keep track of your taxes.

If you are American, you need to file taxes even if you are living abroad. However, there are some exceptions, such as when you spend most of the year overseas and pay your taxes in the country you are living in. In this case, you can avoid paying US taxes on up to $100,000.

Rules on taxing greatly vary in different countries, but it is wise to keep on top of your tax and finances.

Depending on whether you are an employee at a company, a self-employed freelancer, or an entrepreneur, different rules apply.  If you are serious about living abroad, but not sure how to handle your taxes and bookkeeping, you should hire a certified accountant who specializes in people working abroad.

Whilst you might not need to file taxes right away, you will need to keep your books clean to avoid uncomfortable questions or worse.

Having the right bank account is important to avoid paying extra fees when you make a payment or withdraw cash abroad.

In Europe, it is popular to use Revolut, Monzo, or Starling accounts. You can download their app to track your expenses and you can also store money in different currencies on your account.

Gadgets and More

As you will use your laptop to get most of your work done, it is advised to choose one that is reliable. If your laptop crashes and you lose what you have been working on for hours or days, you might lose the necessary income.

If you are planning on living and working abroad for a longer period of time, it is useful to invest in a Virtual Private Network (VPN) from a trusted source. This will make it easier to log on to websites in your home country and watch the same Netflix or your preferred streaming service.

You will also use your phone a lot of the time to keep in touch with colleagues, clients, friends, and family. If you have a U.S. provider and want to work overseas, chances are you will need a SIM card at your new destination to avoid paying extortionate international charges.

However, if you settle in Europe for some time, you can take advantage of free EU roaming. You can buy a phone plan in an EU country, then, when you travel outside to another EU country, you won’t need to pay additional roaming charges.

Your calls, text messages, and data service will be charged at a domestic rate. You will probably go with a pre-paid card which means that you pay in advance for using your mobile phone.

Always check the exact conditions of the plan or pre-paid card that you are purchasing. Some cheaper plans could have limited data or data caps.  You should watch out if your operator includes a data roaming surcharge in your plan. This is equal to the EU-wide wholesale data cap (€3 / GB of data in 2021 + VAT).

Depending on your work habits and available WiFi at your new accommodation, it is worth investing in a WiFi hotspot if you don’t want to be tied to WiFi hunting.

Carrying your hotspot will enable you to work from anywhere without worrying about WiFi availability. You don’t necessarily need to pay for data continuously, you can buy day passes for your hotspot.

A power bank is very useful when you are on the road. Your electronics will be one of your most used items, so it is good to have extra power with you, just in case. There are plenty of different sizes and options you can choose from, but it is advised to go with one that has at least 10,000 mAh capacity.

Plug adapters are also useful objects. If you are heading to Southeast Asia, bear in mind that they use different voltages, so it is best to get one if you want to plug in your gadgets.

If you like to relax on the beach with a book after work, it is suggested you invest in a Kindle or any other eBook. You will save space and free up weight in your backpack. It is also useful to have on long flights, or delayed connections.

When you will be having adventures during your travels, you will want to take photos. If you use a camera it is advised to take multiple SD cards. However, another option is to get a subscription for a cloud service, and you won’t need to worry about losing your photos and your work.

Good headphones will also be necessary for work and traveling. You want to maintain some privacy when you are on a video call and working from a café or co-working space.

There will be different apps depending on your location which will make your life easier. Universal travel apps are:

  • currency converter (Xe)
  • Map
  • AirBnB
  • Booking.com
  • Flightradar24
  • Apps for airlines you are frequently using
  • Couchsurfing

Destinations

Digital NomadPhoto Credit: Jefferson Santos 

What makes a good digital nomad destination? There are some factors you need to keep in mind when choosing your next destination.

There are particular locations that are popular with digital nomads for their community, price, accommodation types, connectedness, or climate.

The cost and quality of living have to meet your needs but don’t stretch your expenses if you are on a budget. You want food and accommodation to be reasonably priced so you can also spend on exploring and adventures.

You also want a good internet connection, to be able to work remotely.

Networking opportunities are important if you prefer to be around people instead of being by yourself, especially when you are new to a city.

If you are new to nomad life, it is practical to choose destinations where there are established digital nomad communities.

You can do your research on them in your location on the Internet. Check for any available groups on Facebook or Reddit. Then you can also ask destination-related questions before you commit to traveling there.

There are many things to consider about a potential destination. If the place that you go to has an established community, you will more likely to receive support. Having a community of like-minded people will also be the safety net for lonely days.

You can also choose your destination according to its surrounding places. Ideally, you want to travel somewhere where you have never been before.

Here are some popular digital nomad destinations:

  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Bali, Indonesia
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina

However, you will have your own way of deciding where to go next.

Another way to go about it is to look up Skyscanner’s ‘Everywhere’ search option to find the cheapest destinations. This is a good opportunity to find somewhere to go where you haven’t thought of before. Then, when you find an intriguing destination, you can go to Nomad List to get detailed information from cost of living, internet quality, safety, and so on.


Author’s Bio: Russell Ridgeway is an American writer based in Budapest, Hungary. He works for Lensa and creates freelance content in the business, tech, and fashion industries. He also writes creative fiction. You can reach him by email (russell@lensawork.com), or on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.


More on this topic:

What Is It About Digital Nomads?

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