Last updated on January 31st, 2024
The benefits of becoming a digital nomad are numerous. You have the freedom to work from anywhere, which means you can travel the world and have incredible cultural experiences while earning an income. No more saving for months, traveling, and then going “home” broke and broken. As a digital nomad, you’ll have the flexibility to set your own schedule and work from wherever you feel like it. Additionally, being a digital nomad allows you to escape the traditional 9-5 work routine, which can be ever so refreshing.
To become a digital nomad, you’ll have to be location-independent first, however. Location independence is the ability to work from anywhere in the world, without being tied to a physical office or location. If you’re looking to become a digital nomad by the end of 2024, here are 10 things you should do to make that a reality.
1. Find a remote job or start your own business
If you’ve got a serious case of wanderlust and also seek professional fulfillment there is a way to have your cake and eat it too: find a remote job or start your own business online.
With a remote job, you have the freedom to work from anywhere and can enjoy new experiences without sacrificing your income or career. It’s the ultimate work-life balance hack. On the other hand, if you can’t (or prefer not to) find a remote job that suits you, consider starting your own business.
The beauty of entrepreneurship is that you have complete control over your income and the type of work you do. Plus, there are endless opportunities to turn your unique skills and talents into a remote money-maker. Have a knack for photography? Sell your prints online. Love to write? Offer freelance copywriting services to businesses in need. The possibilities are endless for online businesses.
Whether you’re looking to find a remote job or start your own business, the key is to identify your skills and talents and find ways to monetize them remotely. The freedom and flexibility of a location-independent lifestyle are worth the effort.
2. Draw your destination map
Explore different destinations and identify places that align with your lifestyle and budget. Before you pack your bags, there are a few factors to consider like a reliable internet connection and the cost of living in different destinations. You don’t want to blow through your savings in the first month because you underestimated the cost of renting an apartment in your new city. You also need to ensure that you have access to reliable internet and coworking spaces to keep you productive and connected to the rest of the world.
It’s not just about the practicalities though. You also need to consider the local culture and the type of environment that suits your personality. Do you thrive in the hustle and bustle of a big city or prefer the serenity of a beach town? Are you looking for a destination with an active nightlife scene or one that offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures?
Remember that you’ll be digital nomading and actually living in this place, not just working, so it’s important to find a location that fits your personality and helps you maintain a healthy work-life balance. For example, if you’re a foodie and love to indulge in local cuisine, then a destination like Bangkok or Tokyo might be right up your alley. If you’re an avid surfer, then you might want to consider a place like Bali or Costa Rica. And if you’re looking for a destination that offers a combination of urban living and outdoor activities, then a city like Vancouver or Cape Town (a top digital nomad destination these days) might be perfect for you.
If having a community will be very important for you when you pursue the digital nomad lifestyle, then Bansko in Bulgaria and Playa del Carmen in Mexico are digital nomad hubs to look into. Nomad List is a great tool to see how many digital nomads there are in a particular place at any given time.
Grab your travel guides and start researching. Explore different destinations and consider factors like cost of living, amenities, culture, and activities, you’ll be able to identify the perfect place that aligns with your lifestyle and budget. Finding the right destinations can make all the difference in your location-independent journey.
3. Consider the legal and tax implications of the digital nomad lifestyle
It’s vital to understand the tax laws of both your home country and the countries where you plan to work. Some countries require you to pay taxes on income earned abroad, while others offer tax breaks or exemptions for location-independent workers. Understanding tax laws and regulations can be complicated, and you may need the assistance of a tax professional to help you navigate the maze.
Considering the legal and tax implications of becoming location independent may not be the most thrilling part of your journey, but it’s crucial to make sure that you’re not caught off guard by any legal or tax-related issues. Researching the legal requirements of each country and consulting with legal and tax professionals if needed will give you peace of mind and allow you to focus on the more exciting aspects of your journey. Also, look into the plethora of countries with digital nomad visas when deciding where to go.
4. Join a coworking space to meet other digital nomads
Joining a coworking space can be a game-changer when you’re just becoming a digital nomad because you’ll not only have access to a professional workspace, but you’ll also be able to connect with a community of like-minded individuals who are on a similar journey.
Coworking spaces offer opportunities to pick up remote working tips and attend events, workshops, and networking sessions that can be invaluable for picking up new skills and your network. You can meet potential collaborators and clients or just make new friends. Plus, coworking spaces are designed to be flexible, which means you can work from anywhere, anytime, and still have the structure you need to stay productive. Think of it as a home base, a place to ground yourself, and launch yourself into the world.
Join a coworking space in the place where you currently live to dip your toes into the world of digital nomadism and bolster your network for adventures to come.
5. Embrace minimalism to prepare for your digital nomad life
As a digital nomad, you’re going to have to learn to live with less. But this isn’t a punishment, it’s a lifestyle choice. By embracing minimalism, you’ll be setting yourself up for success as you become a digital nomad.
When you’re constantly on the move, the last thing you want is to be weighed down by stuff. Think about what it would be like to haul a bunch of heavy, bulky items around or have to worry about storing them when you’re on the go. Minimalism allows you to be more nimble, more agile, and more adaptable.
By focusing on quality over quantity, you can invest in items that are versatile and durable, meaning you won’t have to constantly replace them. Plus, it’s easier to keep track of and maintain fewer items.
Additionally, when you’re not bogged down by excess belongings, you’re free to focus on experiences and relationships, which is what this whole digital nomad thing is all about, right?
Another great thing about minimalism is that it can save you money. When you’re not constantly buying new things, you’re not wasting your hard-earned cash on stuff you don’t need. And when you’re not spending money on material possessions, you have more money to spend on experiences and adventures.
Simplify your life, free up some physical and mental space, and focus on what really matters. Your wallet and your back will thank you for it.
6. Take a good look at your finances
If you want to chase your wanderlust dreams, you’ll need to take a good, hard look at your finances to make sure that you have enough money to support your nomadic lifestyle, especially when you’re working for yourself with irregular income or expenses. Create a budget, track your expenses, strive to reduce debt, and plan for the unexpected. Managing your finances doesn’t have to be a drag though. In fact, it can be empowering. By taking control of your money, you can create a solid financial foundation that will allow you to travel the world and pursue your passions without financial stress or instability, and also open up exciting opportunities for investment and growth.
Start by developing a budget that works for you. This might mean cutting back on unnecessary expenses or finding ways to earn extra income. Consider using financial management tools to help you track your income and expenses, and don’t be afraid to work with a money coach to help you plan for your future.
Something you’ll have to think about once you become a digital nomad who travels regularly is foreign transaction fees. Plan ahead and conduct some research into digital banks that are made for borderless individuals like Wise, Monzo, and Revolut.
7. Learn to manage your time effectively
When you become a digital nomad, you’ll need to master the art of managing your time to stay focused, productive, and on track as you juggle work, travel, and adventure simultaneously. Without the structure of a typical office, it can be tempting to stay in bed all day, binge-watch Netflix, or get lost in a rabbit hole of social media. But with the right tools and techniques, you can manage your time like a pro and achieve your goals.
First and foremost, create a schedule and stick to it. Identify your peak productivity hours and plan your work accordingly. If you’re a morning person, knock out your most important tasks early in the day. If you’re a night owl, save your heavy lifting for later hours.
When you work remotely, your clients might be in different time zones which can be confusing at first so downloading a time zone converter app might help you keep all the balls in the air. Also, use productivity apps like Trello, Asana, or Notion to organize your tasks and track your progress. These tools can help you stay focused, prioritize things, and manage your time effectively.
To clarify, effective time management isn’t just about productivity. It’s also about creating balance and making time for the things that matter. As a digital nomad, you’ll have the freedom to explore new places and have unique experiences. Make time for self-care, exercise, and connecting with others. Use your flexible schedule to attend local events, explore the city, and immerse yourself in the local culture. Remember that the beauty of the nomad lifestyle is the freedom it provides.
8. Finetune your skills
As a digital nomad, you’ll have to be adaptable, self-motivated, and able to work independently. You also need to be comfortable with technology and be able to troubleshoot issues on your own. By constantly learning and improving, you can build the confidence and expertise needed to succeed in this exciting and dynamic lifestyle.
Invest in yourself and your future by attending workshops and conferences, taking online courses, and collaborating with other professionals in your field. By fine-tuning your skills, you’ll be well-equipped to take on any challenges that come your way as a digital nomad, maintain client satisfaction, and build a strong reputation in your industry.
9. Learn from the experts
What better way is there to prepare yourself for your freedom-filled future than by learning from people already living theirs? If you’re looking for someone who’s been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale, look no further than Tim Ferriss. His book, The 4-Hour Work Week, is practically required reading for anyone interested in the digital nomad lifestyle. If you’re in need of some motivation, check out his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, where he interviews some of the most successful and interesting people on the planet.
Chris Guillebeau’s blog, The Art of Non-Conformity, is also a must-read for anyone looking to break free from the shackles of the traditional 9-to-5. Chris is a master at teaching people how to create a life of meaning and purpose while living on their own terms.
You can take your learning one step further by getting a location independence coach or mentor that you can access and ask all the burning questions you have about living a fulfilled working life on the road. To get tips from successful digital nomads, listen to podcasts about the nomadic lifestyle. You can find a full list of podcasts here.
10. Embrace change and be open to new opportunities
Change is a constant in the digital nomad lifestyle but instead of seeing it as something to fear, embrace change as an opportunity for growth and new experiences. As Pico Iyer once said, “we travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves.” This rings true for digital nomads, as each new destination and experience offers a chance to learn and grow.
One of the biggest challenges of a location-independent lifestyle is regularly adapting to new environments but this is where the true magic happens. By being open to new experiences and learning to adapt quickly, you’ll gain the confidence to tackle any challenge that comes your way.
Remember that being a digital nomad is not just about the freedom to work from anywhere, but also the opportunity to experience different cultures, meet new people and challenge yourself in new ways. As Rolf Potts said, “Vagabonding is about gaining the courage to loosen your grip on the so-called certainties of this world.” So, embrace change and be open to new opportunities, because you never know where they might take you.