How to Become a Digital Nomad in 10 Easy Steps

Dated: November 19 2020

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digital nomad

Whether it’s sitting on a beach with a laptop in-hand or working from a remote mountain town, the world is your oyster when you’re a digital nomad. Fortunately, it isn’t as hard as you think to ditch the 9 to 5 desk job and become a location independent worker. All that’s needed is a decent internet connection, a remote-based job and an affordable place to live. With the right planning and know-how, you too can live and work wherever you please. Here are 10 tips on how to become a digital nomad in today’s ever-connected world. 

How to become a digital nomad

  1. Start saving your money

    Moving abroad can be somewhat unpredictable. What if you lose your job and need to find another? What if your paycheck arrives late? What if you suddenly need money for unexpected expenses? Plan for these “what ifs” by saving your money and creating a cash cushion to fall back on. Not only will having an emergency fund set you up for success as a digital nomad, but it will also give you extra funds to enjoy nearby activities and events.   

  2. Find a job that allows you to work remotely

    To become a digital nomad, you’ll likely need to find a job that allows you to work remotely. Freelance jobs, in particular, lend themselves to the kind of flexibility that is necessary for digital nomads. Freelance jobs include writing and editing jobs, consulting, website development, and social media marketing – among others. To get started, we recommend checking out UpWork, an online workplace where businesses can connect and hire freelancers. If freelancing isn’t for you, then consider teaching English to locals wherever you live.

  3. Create a passive income stream

    Looking for another way to make money? Many digital nomads are able to live anywhere because they receive earnings from a passive income source. Passive income is money that you make outside of an employer. The most common examples of passive income streams include book royalties, stock dividends and money earned from a rental property. For ideas and strategies on how to earn passive income, check out Bankrate.com’s suggestions. 

  4. Figure out your budget

    Once you’ve figured out how you’re going to make money (and how much you can expect to make), decide on a budget that works for your needs and lifestyle. For instance, if money is tight and/or you’d like to save a little extra moolah, you may want to choose a place where the cost of living is relatively low. The more money you make, the more possibilities you have for places to live. Be sure to also factor in moving costs when budgeting for your overall life as a digital nomad.

  5. Research cities and potential homes

    Now that you’ve saved your money, found a source of income and determined your budget, it’s time to find a place to live. When choosing a city to call home, there are several questions to ask yourself: 1) Where can you live comfortably on your current salary/income? 2) Where can you find plenty of coworking spaces and a digital nomad community? 3) Where can you find the type of culture and lifestyle you’re looking for? Answering these questions will help narrow your many options. Several popular cities for digital nomads to live in include Mexico City, Mexico, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Lisbon, Portugal, Taipei, Taiwan, Bali, Indonesia and Bangkok, Thailand. All of these cities have a relatively low cost of living, plenty of community workspaces and many vibrant cultural attractions.

  6. Obtain or renew your passport

    Have you checked your passport lately? If you want to pursue life as a digital nomad, then you’re going to need a passport that isn’t expired. This travel document issued by the U.S. government is required and necessary when traveling to another country. It confirms the identity and nationality of the passport holder when partaking in international travel. Fortunately, applying for a new passport or renewing an existing passport is easy to do. For more information on the passport application process, check here.

  7. Research visa and work permit details

    Depending on the country you travel to, the type of work you plan to do and the length of time you wish to stay, you may be required to apply for a visa or work permit before entering the country. Unfortunately, this can be a time-consuming process, so be sure to read up on the country’s requirements and immigration laws as soon as possible.

  8. Learn the language (or at least try!)

    Moving to a country where English isn’t the first language? Start studying up on the language and culture before you go. When you arrive in the new city, sign up for a language class or find a local tutor to teach you the language. Whether you need to order food at a restaurant or ask for directions, learning the basics of the country’s language can go a long way in acclimating you to your new home. For more tips on how to improve language skills when traveling abroad, check here.

  9. Find a support system in your new city

    Moving to a new city can be lonely – especially when working independently and remotely. For this reason, it’s particularly important for digital nomads to find a like minded support group in their new city. From working out of a community co-working space to joining local expat groups, we encourage you to find friends and fellow digital nomads within your new city.   

  10. Locate your home embassy

    You never know when you’ll need the assistance of your local embassy. When moving abroad, make sure to locate the local embassy as soon as you arrive in the new city. Local embassies provide consular services to residents, if and when they need it. For an official list of all U.S. embassies, check here.

Ready to start your digital nomad life?

While international moves are certainly stressful, figuring out how you’re going to move abroad doesn’t have to be. Check here for your official moving abroad checklist. In fact, thanks to our network of reputable and reliable international movers, finding the right company to handle your relocation is a cinch. We vet all movers for key certifications, capabilities, and insurance. Movers must also be licensed and bonded with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). In addition, all moving companies based outside of the U.S. are in good standing with FIDI, the largest global alliance of professional international moving and relocation companies. Best of luck and happy moving!

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Lisa Handley

Lisa Handley is a ReMax Hall of Fame real estate agent, 612-390-6520, who believes in taking care of her clients, like she would want her only family taken care of. Lisa is a native of Minnesota and ....

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