Successful digital nomad stories
WHO ARE DIGITAL NOMADS?
I’m quite sure that at least once in our lives we’ve all heard a term ‘ digital nomad’. I personally heard about it a few years ago. I wasn’t immediately sure back then what it meant, but it sounded super interesting. I imagined a person with their backpacks and a laptop just roaming this beautiful planet, working and exploring new cultures. And that mental image, the image I had in my mind just made me feel free somehow and it brought a breath of fresh air into the stale ordinary.
Perhaps most of us think that the term is relatively new, but one of the earliest known uses of the term digital nomad goes back to 1997, in the book Digital Nomad by Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners. At the base of being a digital nomad lies remote work- the possibility to work from every nook and cranny of the world where you have the Internet access. I’ve read many digital nomad stories and what the features that these modern day nomads have in common are perseverance, persistence, courage and enormous flexibility.
So let me share just some of the stories so you can catch a glimpse of this type of lifestyle: ways to earn an income,how to manage your budget, popular work destinations, what tools you need and last but not least, some useful tips from experienced digital nomads. Buckle up, we are taking off.
HOW TO EARN AN INCOME
It goes without saying that the minimal requirement is a laptop. After that, the world is your playground, both literally and metaphorically. Luckily ( or not) we live in the world that has seen a rapid transit to the online way of working. Naturally, that opened many doors to new jobs, jobs that haven’t existed before. Depending on your interests and skills, preferences, etc. you can pretty much choose from a vast range of available jobs: be it in the IT sector or something more creative or artsy. Somehow, it seems that digital nomads are mostly involved with writing but it’s not limited only to that. Any job that you could efficiently do online could be your source of income, which logically brings us to the next question: what about my expenses?
HOW TO MANAGE YOUR BUDGET
There are many ways to manage your budget efficiently. Some digital nomads start from scratch. They choose cheaper destinations where living costs are not that high or they work in exchange for accommodation and live off from the money they saved so far. That’s where the flexibility kicks in. You should be prepared for many scenarios knowing that one month might be ‘drier’ than the next one. While travelling and meeting new people, some of them might end up being your friends. Quite a few nomads stay at their friends’ places for a while. Having a specific mindset where you quickly and rationally make decisions, and not impulsively can save you lots of sweat and effort. And although you might think that digital nomad just ‘sail’ from one place to the other without a backup plan, that couldn’t be further from the truth. You need to have a backup plan, a B option, call it as you wish. You shouldn’t keep all your eggs in one basket. Make some rough estimations about the living costs you’ll have at the place of your stay and how it would pan out for you. What might also be useful is to try to minimize your possessions and primarily (only) buy the things you need.
WHAT TOOLS YOU MIGHT NEED
Some of the tools already lie in you. I’ve already mentioned perseverance, persistence, courage and enormous flexibility. You really need this set of skills to be a digital nomad. You also need to be able to make income, to grab good opportunities and as already mentioned, to have a plan B. If we talk about more ‘tangible’ tools, you need good support. The idea of a lone digital nomad might seem romantic but you do need some kind of community. For example at Nomad List you can look at living costs, internet speed, travel expenses in various places. Co-working spaces are also great because they are an amazing way to meet like-minded people. Just because digital nomads like to wander that doesn’t make them hermits. Good organization and setting priorities is also handy.
If you aren’t strapped on cash, you can choose a destination your heart desires. Even then, you should pay attention to legal regulations regarding your stay and to your health insurance. Most popular destinations are undoubtedly the countries in Asia such as Thailand or Bali. If South America is your thing then you may wish to head to Colombia or Mexico. No worries if you are more European type: countries like Portugal, Spain, Estonia, Cyprus, Bulgaria to name a few. All these countries seem to be a great choice because of their affordable costs of living, easy company set up system and quite high quality way of life. Moreover, they all have a low tax system which is definitely a perk on its own.
If you read the above lines carefully you could have seen that there have been quite a few tips there. If we could sum them up in any order our list would be something like this:
- Make sure you have some money put behind or make sure that you have more than one job in the pipeline
- I probably can’t stress enough how important it is that you have a valid passport or ID and to make sure they are validated on time. While at it, don’t forget international health insurance. You really don’t want to take a gamble and be without one.
- Be flexible- living like a digital nomad means you signed up for a bit of a roller coaster sometimes. You work and travel, it is logical that sometimes, thighs might not go along with your plans. You need to adjust to any new situation and a potential turn of events.
- Prioritize and organize. Don’t waste your energy and resources when not necessary
- Try to work for employers who pay in strong currencies
- Join some Digital Nomad community, get support and backup
Personally, I have always loved the idea of work and travel, the sense of freedom it brings, and the way to meet new cultures, expand your horizon, and be a more open-minded person. Everything in life has its pros and cons and for sure digital nomad movement isn’t for everyone. But it can’t harm trying it out. Call me too much of an optimist but I think the pros outweigh the cons and that even if you eventually see it’s not your cup of tea, by that time you will have discovered beautiful places, people, cultures and gained the experience of a lifetime.
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