“Choice empowers people and makes for a more content workforce. One day, offices will be a thing of the past.” – Richard Branson, English business magnate
Ever dream of giving up the 9-to-5 and getting paid to travel the world?
Digital nomads use technology to earn a living on-the-go. Technological innovation and globalisation are enabling them to work from anywhere with an internet connection, from an internet café in Cape Town to a beach hut on a remote island in the Philippines.
What’s more, technology is making it easier than ever for businesses to send money overseas. With WorldRemit’s new business service, UK-based companies can now make safe, fast and low-cost online payments to individuals in 140 countries!
With this in mind, we have prepared some insights to help you figure out what it means to be a digital nomad in 2019, how you can become one and how to embrace the challenges along the way.
What is a digital nomad?
Digital nomads are individuals who depend on technology to earn their income and lead a location independent life. They are people who don’t want to be tied to one specific location and, although some of them may have a base at home, most of their time is spent on the road.
- Digital stands for the online-based nature of their income.
- Nomad stands for being always on the move.
It’s not a lifestyle that suits everyone, as it requires a certain mindset. Digital nomads often prefer working independently on their own projects and exploring the world over material possessions.
The term is often misused and sometimes confused with words like ‘expat’ and ‘remote working’. But they all mean slightly different things.
- An expat is a person who lives outside their home country. They generally have a long term job and don’t lead a nomadic lifestyle.
- Remote working is the ability to work outside of the workplace, but it does not necessarily involve travelling. As a remote worker, you can work from home, but you may also commute to the office a few days per week.
- Digital nomads are people who use the freedom of remote working to travel around the world.
What does a digital nomad do?
There are many different takes on digital nomadism – the only thing that digital nomads all have in common is that their job is performed on a laptop while they travel. Any place with a reliable internet connection is good enough to become their temporary office.
Unlike conventional 9-to-5 jobs, there is no such thing as a typical working day. Each day flows differently depending on the workload, time zone of their clients or their travelling schedule.
But with the power to do your work on your own terms comes great responsibility, so it is not surprising that many digital nomads fall into a fixed routine. The good news is that you get to decide what the routine is.
How do I become a digital nomad?
You don't need to be a highly skilled technical guru to earn money online. In fact, if you are attracted to the nomadic lifestyle, all you need is self-discipline, motivation and a willingness to learn.
Firstly, you’ll need to figure out how to start making money online and then how to adopt the nomadic spirit.
Here is a list of 5 steps to help you get started.
1. Explore your options
What’s it really like to be on the road for months or even years at a time? What are the best and worst aspects of becoming a digital nomad? Is it really something that would make you happy?
Start with finding out what you’re getting yourself into and learning about the highs and lows of this lifestyle.
Connect with digital nomads via an online community
Get inspired by seeking out the stories of those who are already on their digital nomadic journey. They can help you navigate the challenges of starting out and will have valuable hints and tips to share! It’s no surprise that digital nomads have a strong online community revolved around various Facebook groups, apps and websites.
From business to location advice, you can use the online community to find your next freelance gig or build a network of like-minded people.
Here are some resources to explore:
Research the best jobs to do as a digital nomad
You might be surprised by the variety of jobs that you can do without having to be in an office.
Here are some popular occupations that are compatible with the nomadic lifestyle.
Take a look at these job sites that only show remote job listings.
2. Develop a skill that allows you to become a digital nomad
If you want to become a digital nomad, your mission should be to find out which one of your skills can be monetised online. If you are already on the right path and know what you’ve got to do, then congratulations! But what if you’re not quite sure what you’re good at and how to make money online?
As a digital nomad, the key to success is strong self-discipline. So, get honest with yourself about what you enjoy doing because, when you’re passionate about something, the results speak for themselves.
Here are some questions which might help you find out what you can do online:
- What skills come to you naturally that you could turn into a digital career?
- What are you good at and who could pay you for it?
- What can you see yourself doing when you open your computer in a remote location?
Once you have figured out what skill or skills you want to develop, you’re half-way there – believe us, that’s one of the most challenging parts. The only thing you need to do now is to become a master at it.
Here is how you can start mastering your skill:
- Take an online course.
- Join a relevant university or college programme.
- Get a job where you can learn the skill as you go.
- Make the most of free content online (blogs, podcasts, webinars or video tutorials).
3. Set up your digital career
Become a freelancer
Today, many businesses embrace remote working and hire talent from different countries.
Freelance digital nomads are self-employed individuals offering their services to clients. And the possibilities are endless – as long as the service doesn’t require your physical presence.
Some popular freelance gigs include writing, project management, web design or accounting.
Start to work remotely
In the past, people mostly performed their duties at their designated workplace. But things are different in 2019. People value their work-life balance and employers are becoming more flexible to attract and retain skilled workers.
Research from Global Workplace Analytics shows that the remote workforce increased by 140% between 2005 and 2018.
If you only need a computer to do your job, then you might be the perfect candidate for remote working! Why not try to negotiate with your boss to see if they are open to you spending less time in the office?
Alternatively, take a leap of faith and look for a job that already offers you the option to work remotely.
Build an online business
Some entrepreneurs run part of their business - or all of it - online.
Whether you start building your business full-time right away or as a part-time venture alongside your freelancing, you’ll be working on something you’re passionate about while travelling to some of the most fascinating places around the world.
4. Prepare yourself for a nomadic lifestyle
As you get closer to realising your goal of making your money online, you can start to focus on removing barriers that tie you to one specific location.
Eliminate as many expenses as you can
Ideally, you want to leave with as little financial burden as possible. Cancel gym memberships, insurance which won’t be of use to you abroad or mobile phone contracts. If you are paying off debt, try to reduce it as much as possible before you go. Work out a flexible repayment schedule which you can follow without a steady income.
Set up a physical address
With an address, you can receive important mail. Digital nomads often use the address of their family or friends. Alternatively, you can look into renting a post office box in the country where you are planning to spend the most time.
Figure out your taxes. Each country has a different tax structure and you could face penalties for not following the law. You can find guidance and information about taxes online and if in doubt, ask a licensed professional.
Declutter your life
Go through all your possessions and get rid of things that you don’t use regularly. Consider selling your car and giving up your rented flat, because you hopefully won’t need them for a long time!
With all the fine print, travel insurance can be overwhelming. Search for insurance deals that don’t require you to return to your home country at regular intervals, but allow you to be on the move.
5. Map your journey and go!
What kind of digital nomad are you going to be? Will you be spontaneous and continuously on the go, or will you take a more relaxed approach and spend an extended amount of time in one place before moving to another?
If you want to take it easy at first, consider hitting the road for a finite period of the year and spending the rest at home.
Think about the options open to you and your budget. Which countries will allow you to afford the life you dream of and what do you plan to do once you get there?
Once you pick your destination and have created a plan for the months ahead, you can pack your bags and take on your first adventures as a digital nomad.
How can I manage my money as a digital nomad?
Before you set off on your remote working journey, don’t forget to consider how you will get paid and, if you own your own business, how you will pay those who work for you!
Businesses are often overcharged for sending money abroad, especially to developing countries, and the high transfer fees can affect both the companies themselves and the people who work for them.
We've just launched a new business service, enabling UK-based businesses to send money to freelancers, contractors and staff in 140 countries around the world.
Our business service offers companies a variety of ways to send money to suit the individual they are paying. Depending on where they are sending to, businesses can choose from bank transfer, cash pickup, mobile money and airtime top-up.