But just because the options are there to work from anywhere in the world, does it mean that becoming a digital nomad — or someone who becomes location-independent and uses technology to perform their job — where you can live like a king or queen for about $1,000 per month? Could you give up your daily routine, structure, friendships and comfort of your cozy apartment to travel to a random spot and still be productive with work?
Becoming a digital nomad isn’t for everyone. But, for those who think they may have the chops to test it out, here are some ways to determine if it’s something worth trying for six months to a year.
Being An Effective Digital Nomad Largely Depends On What You Do For A Living
The first step in determining whether or not you have what it takes to be a digital nomad is to figure out if you can make a living outside of the U.S. If you’ll be working via the Internet for a U.S.-based company, you can work without getting a work visa in many countries. You probably won’t be able to work for a company located in your host country, or employ citizens of the country to work for you, though.
Can you do your work at any time of the day, or will you need to be in front of our computer to work with clients during U.S. working hours? That will limit your relocation options, so it’s an important factor in deciding whether or not the digital nomad life is for you.
You’ll also need to find locations that have a reliable internet connection, and you’ll need to be able to easily transfer money you earn from your American bank account to your new overseas bank and vice versa. Whether you’re using cash or not, having a secure PayPal or Venmo account is smart, that way you can transfer money quickly and easily.
A Digital Nomad Needs To Adapt To New Cultures
When living abroad as a digital nomad, you’ll need to respect the locals. That means learning their customs and some basic phrases in the native language. For example, it might be fine to hug someone in the U.S. or France, but it’s not in Japan or Dubai. Casual dress in one country might be seen as promiscuity in another, so do your research and respect different cultures.
On the other hand, living abroad lets you get to see, learn and understand how cultures that go back thousands of years exist today. If you want to live like an American while you’re overseas, rather than being flexible with your dining times, dress, business hours, speed of service and other aspects of your lifestyle, you may not be cut out to be a digital nomad.
Digital Nomads Don’t Have Much Stuff
Digital nomads don’t have a lot of stuff. Remember, you’ll be moving to a new location with one or two suitcases, meaning you’ll be forced to live minimally. If you’re someone who needs a favorite juicer, piece of exercise equipment, paintings, knick knacks and all that to feel “homey”, the digital nomad lifestyle may be difficult for you to adapt to.
What Countries Are Best For A Digital Nomad Lifestyle?
While there are thousands of places to live around the world while being a digital nomad, the list of places that offer safety, reliable Internet, access to health care and affordability isn’t that long. Still, there are dozens of options that have already been tried and tested by expat Americans, so, if you can spend a day or two doing online research, you’ll be able to create a short list of locations.
Popular destinations for digital nomads include:
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
Depending on how much money you plan on making and how much you’re willing to spend, you can also find locations in many English-speaking countries.
Three Things Before Deciding On Becoming A Digital Nomad
Before making the decision to lead a digital nomad lifestyle, even for a short while, do three things to make sure you’re making the right decision for yourself.
1. Research locations, including forums frequented by expats, in your potential new home countries.
2. Reach out to expats if you can find their email addresses, LinkedIn profiles, blogs or forum posts.
3. Take a trip to the country and visit it, spending at least two days visiting with locals, talking to expats, looking at housing and checking out local prices for food, gasoline, dining out and other items you’ll be using regularly.
Being A Digital Nomad Can Be Fun And Financially Rewarding
Being a digital nomad can be an incredibly fun experience that most likely won’t be available once you get married, have kids and own a house or condo. Even if you only try one or two exotic places for a year or so, you’ll build a lifetime of memories.
In addition to being a fun experience, working as a digital nomad can help build up some cash to pay off student debt or save up to start a small business once you return home. It also makes you more employable if you work in a field where international experience is a selling point, too, which is a major added plus.