What Is A Digital Nomad? How To Become A Digital Nomad?
We are in a time where the very definition of “work” has changed.
It no longer refers to a job at a particular fixed location or premises.
With the introduction of the Internet, location as a factor is taken out of the equation when it comes to working or doing business.
Also, there are people who take this ethic to a whole another level.
Imagine, resting on a beachside hammock, making an income with a laptop connected to a nearby WiFi while watching the sun dip below the horizon.
There are people who go about their work in a similar fashion.
They are the Digital Nomads.
Who Are Digital Nomads?
Digital Nomad is the term used to denote people who make use of technology to earn a living independent of their location.
This means living abroad for short stretches of the year, visiting different locales in the same region, working out of public spaces, coffee shops, or wherever satisfactory wireless connectivity is offered.
Most of their work is done over wireless communication devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, which helps them be truly location independent.
You’re going to be hearing the term “location independent” a lot more. It is what forms the basis of being a digital nomad.
Their nature of work also plays an important role in being able to travel freely. But that is not to say that only those who are self-employed can become one.
You could be an entrepreneur, looking for a change of pace.
Or a white-collar worker for that matter.
But is it a good choice for a career? Can you sustain a lavish life while on the move?
Well, in a study conducted in 2018 on the digital nomad lifestyle almost 90% mentioned that they wouldn’t give up this lifestyle for any other way of working.
But, is it for you?
Is It For You?
The million dollar question!
Will this lifestyle work out for you?
Who doesn’t want to visit foreign nations, get to experience life overseas and see what this world has to offer?
At some point in our lives, we all do.
Do you like travelling and are quick on your heels to improvise upon any situation thrown at you, try giving it a shot. It is very enticing to those who have always had an impulse towards travelling.
Well, the benefits that come along with working over the internet and being “location independent” is very much like the example you read at the beginning.
Pros Of Being A Digital Nomad
- Freedom – You become the main driver of your life. You work mostly on your own terms and not on the fixed 9-5 work schedule. There’s no alarm to wake you up if you have already delivered your work.
- Travel – You get the flexibility to travel whenever you want without compromising your work.
- Newer Opportunities – You get on a different path than what people traditionally take. This means that you’re more open to different, newer opportunities that you never knew existed. It could even help you land in a TED talk to share your experiences, just saying.
- Improved Quality Of Life: Digital nomadic lifestyle makes you free of office politics and unhealthy office life. You get to choose where you live, what you eat, and most of the digital nomads use this opportunity to live a happy and healthy life.
- Personal And Professional Growth – This lifestyle makes you meet a lot of people and gain a lot of experiences which helps you grow both personally and professionally.
There goes the good side of things while here comes the other half that you definitely must know when thinking of becoming a digital nomad.
Cons Of Being A Digital Nomad
- Disturbed Work-Life Balance – You find yourself unable to distinguish free and work hours if you’ve got no proper timetable set up.
- Irregular Social Life – Since you are on the move for the majority of the time, it is hard to maintain a stable social life like you used to before.
- Isolation – Travelling frequently means you being alone most of the time. This could let the feeling of loneliness sink in, but can be easily avoided if you have a partner to tag along with you on your journey.
- Missing out on stuff – Catching up on family and occasions back home could be hindered due to you being on the other side of the continent.
- No permanent residency – Because of being on the move frequently, there’ll come a time when you’d just like to slow things down and have a place of your own.
You trade one set of advantage for another to live out as a digital nomad.
Even with everything mentioned above, according to MBO Partners State of Independence Research Brief, there are 4.8 million Americans living out as digital nomads.
While many try to become one for the “travel” part of it to find themselves not being able to focus on with either travel nor work.
So how avoid just that and become a happy digital nomad?
How To Become A Digital Nomad?
Digital nomadism as a way of living takes getting used to. There are a lot of changes that are to be done to your regular lifestyle and at the most, the way you work.
Here’s the employment status of the 150 digital nomads surveyed by the authors of The Digital Nomad Survival Guide:
It is given that the self-employed ones and freelancers are the first to consider becoming a digital nomad and so their higher percentages mentioned above.
You could just pack your stuff up and let your family, friends and employer know that you’ll be travelling the world all the while working. But that’d be foolish, wouldn’t it?
You’ll be able to enjoy the benefits that being a digital nomad offers more if just prepared yourself for the shift to a different lifestyle.
Steps To Becoming A Digital Nomad
You can jump straight in if you are either a freelancer or self-employed or an entrepreneur.
In case you are employed at a company, make sure:
- Higher authorities are informed.
- You’ll be able to deliver while working remotely.
Once this is taken care of, here’s what you got to do:
Make A Game Plan
Consider what you want to achieve becoming a digital nomad.
Note it down.
What is it that made you even get down this far into planning to become one?
I know, it’s hard to just sit down and write how you would like to make it happen. Believe me, just as this saying goes – Well begun is half done, it’ll come to rescue in times when you feel a lack of motivation.
Reduce Your Expenses
Make sure you pay all your debts and reduce your spending on things you don’t really need. Start saving. Make sure all your loans are paid. It is also better to get a credit card without international fees. Better yet, start relying more on online payments services. Credit cards with international service charges tend to eat up on your earnings if you plan on frequently visiting and staying.
Reduce your physical ties
In case you own any property, you better put it up for rent or sell it if you’re not willing to follow up on it while on the move. Renting it out would be more preferable since it would provide passive income that could come in handy later on.
Have pets? It is possible to take your pets on your adventure but it is better that you find a long-term caretaker. You’ll be in a new place and having a pet, no matter how dear to you, is yet another variable to consider in a growing pile of variables.
Gather Your Tools
Here’s what you’ll definitely need:
- An ultra-portable laptop – You surely don’t want to be lugging around a 3-pound rig with you at all times.
- Wi-Fi Hotspot
- A phone that is not locked to any Carrier
- Must have apps: Airbnb, Slack, Zoom, Google Translate, Skype.
- International Travel insurance
Join Digital Nomad Communities
Nothing beats the ability of being able to communicate and learn from those who already have experienced being a digital nomad firsthand. They provide you with valuable advice on being a digital nomad and coping up with the lifestyle. There are hundreds of communities and sites that you can join.
Here’s a recommended few:
Additionally, Start Freelancing
As seen before, most of the digital nomads are freelancers and that’s due to it being much easier to travel around and make a living.
You could be already employed at a company, but freelancing helps in earning extra income, and extra never hurts.
Interested? Here’s all you need to know about Freelancing.
With the demanding parts taken care of, it’s time for you to choose a destination to head to and start on your journey.
Choose A Realistic And Sensible Destination
Pro Tip: Make sure you find housing before you arrive. This frees you to focus on other things.
It would be great if you just landed at a beach-side location on your first try to being a digital nomad, but to be realistic, this is what I’d do:
- Start out with most digital nomad-friendly destination; get recommendations from digital nomad communities mentioned above.
- Get the hang of travelling and living out the nomadic life and improve on revenue generation.
- Once I get the hang of stuff and sure that my revenue can support it, I’d move onto my dream location.
The reasoning behind this is simple. You wouldn’t want to swim across a river when you’ve just learnt to swim the previous day.
You will be on your own and that doesn’t always mean it’s bad. Do note that there can be no skimping out on putting in effort from your side. You can make as a digital nomad it if and only if you’re fully focused.
And that’s all it takes in becoming a digital nomad.
Digital Nomad vs Freelancer
While reading this article, there would’ve been many times when you would have thought that being a digital nomad is no different from being a freelancer.
But that is not the case here.
While it is true that any freelancer can be a digital nomad but it’s not true the other way around. A person employed at a company could easily become a digital nomad, while becoming a freelancer means following a different profession.
Being a digital nomad means that you are on the move, travelling from one location to another.
But being a Freelancer doesn’t mean you have to travel. You just have the option to travel. A freelancer could take his work with him when they go on vacation, but most of the time they are based off a single or particular location – such as their homes.
Digital Nomadism is definitely not for everyone. But it is definitely worth giving it a shot. Who knows what you might just find. It could be the major break that you were looking for or could bring out the wanderlust in you.
Go On, Tell Us What You Think!
Did we miss something? Come on! Tell us what you think of our guide on the Digital Nomads in the comments section.