How to Become a Digital Nomad

You’ve seen pictures: someone’s working on a laptop in a hammock on a tropical beach. This is the life, you may think. Well, that individual didn’t just wake up one morning and find themselves working in paradise. It took preparation and planning.

This lucky laborer is a digital nomad, also called a location-independent worker. A digital nomad is someone who can earn a living from anywhere and does exactly that. Most spend big chunks of time abroad enjoying the benefits of countries that are low-cost, beautiful or both.

If this is your ambition, here are six steps to becoming a digital nomad.

1. Develop Remote Job Skills

Maybe you already have a “nomadable” skill. If you’re a freelance writer, website developer, editor or transcriber, you already have work you can do anywhere. Some digital nomads teach English online. Others take gigs from online job sites such as Upwork and FlexJobs. Blogging can be profitable, especially for affiliate marketers who earn passive income from advertisers.

If you don’t have one of these skills, there are reasonably priced classes where you can develop them. 

2. Choose a Destination

This involves more than just picking the most beautiful country. Working while on a tourist visa is illegal most places, and tourist visas usually expire in 90 days or less.

However, many countries now offer freelancer visas especially designed for nomad workers. These include some desirable ones such as Bali, Barbados, Bermuda, Antigua, the Caymans, Costa Rica, Malta, Mauritius, Spain and Portugal. If warm weather isn’t your thing, you might try Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Iceland or Norway.

Countries that welcome digital nomads generally have decent broadband. Most countries with poor connectivity aren’t ones you’d care to work from.

3. Try It At Home

Before you begin globe-hopping, start doing freelance work where you are. You might keep your day job full- or part-time. As freelance income increases, start experimenting with the nomad lifestyle, for example, by setting your own hours and going to the lake during the day.

This is a good time to begin connecting with the worldwide digital community on forums or Facebook groups. Learn some ins and outs from folks who are already living your dream.

4. Simplify Your Life

Digital nomads travel light and minimize obligations. You might:

  • Sell or rent out any homes you own.
  • If you’re a renter, set an end date on your lease.
  • Get rid of everything you don’t need. Find a place to store the rest.

5. Attend To Practical Matters

Besides ensuring that visas and inoculations are in order:

  • Switch to a bank that reimburses ATM fees.
  • Get a credit card that doesn’t charge currency exchange fees.
  • Purchase a VPN.
  • Make sure you have the medical coverage you need.

6. Join a Digital Nomad Community

Nomads tend to form communities in nomad-friendly countries. If you live where they live and get to know them, you’ll not only have moral support but will pick up practical tips to make life easier.