Do you want to quit your job and become a digital nomad?
Do you feel trapped in your life and need an escape plan?
The following guide to becoming a location independent digital nomad is for those looking for a way out.
You don’t have to be stuck at home any longer. Wondering what the point of it all is when there’s so much more that you could do with our lives.
You can live abroad while traveling the world. You can also work from coffee shops, coworking spaces, or even on the go.
Moreover, you can create products that people want to buy. Or, sell services that will make us money without sacrificing quality time with family and friends.
The possibilities are endless!
Furthermore, the guide below’s a great starting point for digital nomads and future expats who want to make their living elsewhere or work from home.
What Is a Digital Nomad?
To answer your question, a digital nomad is a person who is location-independent and can operate anywhere in the world.
Instead of working at a set location, you, the future nomad, could work from a coworking space, on a fallen tree trunk in a jungle, or wherever your imagination could wander.
However, as a digital nomad, you become dependent on yourself, your laptop, cellular data, or any other internet connection, and the tools you use daily.
You also can work anywhere in the world—or expatriate if you’re tired of your living situation. Moreover, you don’t have the watchful eyes of a manager, which means you have to manage yourself.
Here’s How To Become a Digital Nomad in 2022
Becoming a digital nomad is more than just being able to work on the go. It’s about living in a state of perpetual motion, never settling down, and constantly exploring new destinations.
If you’re ready to take your business from local to global, the following sections are for you.
1. Save Money
If you haven’t transitioned, yet; read this step before you do anything.
You need an emergency fund, regardless if you’re location-dependent, work online from another country with a low cost of living, or remotely in your home country.
An emergency saving is vital because who knows when your employer might go out of business. Or you might encounter an ailment that prevents you from working. Either way, a safety net will allow you to ride out the storm somewhat comfortably.
Firstly, you’ll want to ensure this fund is easily accessible yet can pull in a bit of passive income while it’s dormant. A money market account’s an excellent option for it to trickle interest into your account while it sits. To open a money market account, check a local or online bank, or you could find a mutual fund company. When shopping, ensure the money market accounts you’re looking at are FDIC ensured.
Here are some steps to follow when forming your emergency fund:
- List all your monthly expenses.
- Figure out what you could sacrifice if you lost your job or suffered from a disability.
- If you have any money you can set aside initially, do it.
- Calculate how much you can set aside for your emergency fund every month.
- When you’re figuring all this out, note situations that would justify emptying the emergency fund.
If possible, save up at least six months’ worth of expenses to fortify your emergency fund. If not, just save what you can. Conversely, if you plan on moving abroad, it’s vital to save a lot.
Don’t pull money out of this fund unless it’s unexpected, urgent, or necessary.
2. Identify Your Skills
Let’s face it:
Since remote work is growing in popularity, as with many other fields, it’s slowly becoming saturated.
Don’t a stuffed market stop you from developing a skill, though.
As with the growing number of work-from-home applicants, so are the number of businesses opening or workforce businesses will need.
The following are some skills you’ll need as a digital nomad:
- Cross-cultural literacy. Since you might work with coworkers from other countries, it would help to understand their cultures so you and them can communicate better.
- Excellent time-management skills. Without management to oversee your workday, you’ll need to ensure you can finish your tasks on time.
- You’ll need stellar written and verbal communication skills to update your coworkers and higher-ups on what’s going on.
- While self-discipline and motivation aren’t necessarily skills, you might also consider it a skill with how much of it you’ll need for working from home. If you can’t resist temptations, you can’t make it through your workday.
Do you have these skills?
If you don’t know, identify your strengths and weaknesses to determine whether you have them. Moreover, figure out what you’re good at, for instance, writing, programming, customer service, or whatever else.
3. Join a Digital Nomad Community
Unless you already have many friends, the best tip that you can take from this guide is to network with more folks; whether domestically or abroad.
Either way, you shouldn’t approach a location-independent lifestyle alone. While you can communicate with coworkers, it’d be more beneficial for you to find people outside of work to network with.
Here are some great communities for digital nomads:
- /r/digitalnomad: a subreddit with over one million Redditors who’re location-independent and can offer their perspectives.
- You have to pay $99 to use this one, but Nomad List has a massive community and crowdsources details about various countries and how they suit expats and nomads.
- Find jobs and meet new people by using Nomads Talk’s free Slack channel.
- Outsite offers coworking and living spaces in various locations worldwide with a decent price tag, unlike other accommodation options.
- Search for local Telegram channels, Facebook groups, or Meetup groups with like-minded people.
4. Figure Out How Fellow Digital Nomads Communicate
To communicate with coworkers, clients, or anyone in your social circle, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with numerous platforms—since everyone doesn’t use the same websites.
Some digital nomads communication tools include:
- Trello task management
- Google Hangouts
- Text—voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) if you’re abroad
5. Decide How You’re Going To Make Money
Do you want to act as a digital nomad who works for employers long-term?
Perhaps, freelancing is more up your alley—where you prefer working for multiple clients who pay varied wages and don’t offer benefits.
Or, you could create your own benefits and jobs for other digital nomads by becoming an online business owner.
No matter what route you go with, you’ll need to go with at least one to make money—unless you’re rich and reading this guide for fun.
Do Digital Nomads Pay Taxes?
Of course—digital nomads do pay taxes.
If you’re an expat working from another country with an open work permit, you’ll have to pay taxes for the country you’re in and your home country—if you’re in the United States.
However, if you renounce your citizenship, then you won’t have to pay taxes for both countries. Moreover, with paying taxes in another country, you should look into foreign tax credits and see if you can qualify for foreign earned income exclusion (US example).
The tax forms you use depends on what your employer provides. But if you go into freelancing and you’re in the US, you will have to pay quarterly (estimated) taxes.
To figure out your owed estimated taxes, use Form 1040-ES. Afterward, you will have to submit a payment before the quarter’s due date. Fortunately, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) makes this process relatively easy. You can use services like the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).
How Do Digital Nomads Get Paid?
Getting paid as a digital nomad depends on what agreements you and your employer or clients have.
If you’re getting paid in cryptocurrency, ensure you’re using a website like Coinbase or any other crypto wallet. Otherwise, most employers or clients will pay you VIA PayPal, Wise, or direct deposit.
At this point, you should ensure you have any of these accounts and an online bank account that doesn’t require a physical presence.
6. Create an Emergency Plan
Since I already covered creating an emergency fund, this section mainly applies to expats or digital nomads abroad.
Anything can happen when you’re overseas.
Moreover, some unfortunate scenarios could happen with the visa that requires you to fly back home. The government could deport you. Or the country could erupt into chaos.
If any of the above happens, ensure you’re prepared for such scenarios.
Here are some steps you should take to create an emergency plan as an expat:
- Remain up-to-date with airfare costs between the country you’re in and your home country; afterward, add those funds to your emergency budget.
- Figure out where you could stay in your home country along with transportation and your income.
- Have a bug-out-bag ready—if you’re in a country that’s at risk for conflict—that way, you’re prepared to evacuate.
- Enroll in a program like America’s STEP to receive information and help while abroad.
What Are Some Resources for Digital Nomads?
The following are resources available for digital nomads:
I have an up-to-date list of essential tools for digital nomads, such as software and web apps that show you local coworking spaces.
While I’m plugging, you might also want to consider a minimalist lifestyle to reduce your dependence on things and make more time for what matters.
While you might have to dig a bit to get past people telling you similar stories or sales pitches, there are gems you’ll run into that can either give you perspective or tips to survive as a digital nomad.
4. Digital Nomad Lifestyle Forums
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Being a Digital Nomad Legal?
Working as a digital nomad is legal if you’re working from your home country or if you have an open work permit in the country you’re visiting.
If you’re a digital nomad or expat who entered a country and didn’t have an open work permit, yet you work from a distant employer, that’s illegal. An open work permit is when you can work from any employer you choose—you’re not bound to a specific employer.
While some countries offer freelancer- or digital nomad-related visas, not all do.
Moreover, ensure you research programs the country you want to work in offers to give you open work permits to become a digital nomad.
Is Becoming a Digital Nomad Worth It?
Becoming a digital nomad is worth it and a lot easier than you think.
There are plenty of resources for you who want to take your work on the go.
No matter your particular needs, there’s an option out there that will suit you just fine.
With everyone working remotely these days, it feels like being a digital nomad has become more and more commonplace. Whether or not this trend continues remains unknown, but one thing is sure—if you’re looking for something new in life, then becoming a digital nomad might be right up your alley!