The Rise of the Digital Nomad

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What is a Digital Nomad?

Digital nomads have chosen a unique way of living. They are people who utilize technology to earn a living from remote locations such as Airbnbs, coffee shops, hotels, recreational vehicles, or anywhere that has a Wifi connection. They usually spend several months abroad and are constantly on the move. 

What Are the Hours and Income Like?

Well, it depends on the type of work you do. The good news is that a lot of this is within your control since you typically get to choose your schedule. A digital nomad can easily make an annual income of $12,000 and still live a cushy lifestyle in places like South East Asia or Bali. Obviously, that income will not be sustainable for other regions such as Paris or Italy. 

According to a survey by Flexjobs, 70% of digital nomads work 40 hours or less in a week. One-third of digital nomads work over 40 hours per week. 18% of this genre of workers make six figures or more and 22% average between $50,000-$99,999 (that’s higher than what the average American employee makes). So no matter what income you can muster from remote work, you most likely won’t have to sacrifice financial comfort when choosing a digital nomad lifestyle.

How Do You Become a Digital Nomad?

You see these individuals working on white sands with a laptop or smartphone in hand. It’s almost unbelievable. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get a sunkissed tan while earning money? It’s an extremely attractive lifestyle and it’s easier than you think. There isn’t a singular blueprint for every modern nomad to follow, but there are some universal truths to acknowledge before you begin. 

Here are some tips to get you started on your digital nomad journey: 

Manage Your Expectations

The reality of remote work is that it isn’t always going to be glamorous. You’ll have to get creative when it comes to cultivating and maintaining a comfortable and productive working strategy. You may have to settle for a dingy cafe if it’s the only place nearby with a working Internet. 

All of this means that you should look at the option of remote work realistically and honestly. Can you handle being away from family and friends? Can you manage your own work-life by using self-discipline and self-motivation? Can you let go of what is tying you to your specific location such as long-term leases or vehicles?

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” 

— Anthony Bourdain, acclaimed chef and author of the bestselling book “Kitchen Confidential. 

If You Haven’t Already, Find A Job That Allows You to Work Remotely

If you recognize your job can be done solely from a computer, you can ask your current employer to work remotely. A lot of Americans are doing this already due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. And according to Global Workplace Analytics, remote work is likely to continue after the pandemic clears. They predict that 25-30% of the workforce will be working remotely by the end of 2021. If you are not currently employed, you can check out Indeed or other hiring platforms for jobs such as a customer support representative, social media marketing, programming, or others. 

Or, Create Your Job.

Work for yourself by starting your own freelance business. There are tons of platforms for freelancers to find work such as Fiverr, Freelancer, Upwork, Writer’s Work, and many more. Jobs such as blogging, website development, copywriting, copyediting, graphic designing, and video creation are great freelance career options. It’s up to you to identify your skills and go from there.

Once you’ve been a freelancer for a good amount of time, you can begin building your business. If you’re good at what you do, it will be easy to gain referrals for new clients and increase your income streams. You can consider creating your website, business cards, and marketing program to reach your full potential as an entrepreneur.

Join an Online Community

There are great resources and support to be found in an online group. Groups allow you to make great connections and learn from experienced, like-minded individuals.

Begin Planning Your Journey.

Once you have a solid income, you can start considering where you’d like to land. From America, Europe, to Asia, the possibilities are endless. Consider your budget and expenses so you can maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle. 

Remember, you can always change your mind when you need a change of scenery. Create a list of dream destinations, do your research, and narrow down your options. Keep in mind what each location can offer. You’re not going to be working 24/7, so where would you like to play?

Figure Out Where You’ll Be Living

Once you find an area to land, find housing at places like Airbnbs, hostels, hotels, etc. Airbnb is a good option because you can rent entire spaces for a specific amount of time or pay month-by-month. Hotels offer laundry and meal services, so they’re very low maintenance options, but can be pricey. Or, you can go all out and buy a recreational vehicle such as a campervan, RV, or pull-along trailer. When I begin my digital nomad journey, I will be working remotely from a camper connected to Wifi. 

Create a Strategy and Stick to it.

It’s important to set goals and follow through. Be clear on where you want to go, how long you want to be three, where you can work while there, etc. If you need medication, plan your pharmacy pickups. Consider everything you require on a daily basis. 

Routines are essential and backup plans are important. Consider the possibility of failure and how you will handle it if that happens. If you’re going to a new country, research the rules, the culture, and resources for emergencies.

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