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Digital Nomad: a new way of living and working

Julia Medina

You probably have heard about digital nomadism. Maybe you are thinking about becoming a digital nomad in the near future.Quoting Hamlet “to be (a digital nomad), or not to be”, carry on reading and we’ll help you out with some questions you may have.

The Internet has allowed us to become digital nomads. It is changing relationships worldwide and now we are one click away from anyone anywhere. And that is awesome! Let’s take a look at what to do and where to go.

What is a digital nomad?

A Digital nomad is someone who works online and moves frequently. They usually only staying some weeks or months in one country or city, before moving to another one. As travel is the essence of nomadism, digital nomads usually pack light. It means that they live with few things and their most valuable possessions are their laptop, mobile phone (their work tools), chargers and adapters. In general, they also need to reduce their costs to save money, not only before starting this journey but also during it.

Digital Nomads pack light so that traveling is easier.

There are different sorts of digital nomads. Some can be self-employed such as entrepreneurs and freelancers, or work at a company that agrees on remote working.

How to make a living

What does a digital nomad do? Teaching, programming, designing, assisting (virtual assistance), writing, editing, translating, coaching, interviewing… Anything you can work online.

It is up to you to figure it out. Think about your skills and which tasks you can perform online. I have met digital nomads in different areas such as: Information Technology, Design, Social Media, Education, Communication.

By definition, a Digital Nomad, is a person that performs their job online.

Pick something that does not require your physical presence. You can interact by Skype, appear.in, Whatsapp etc. Remember that your working hours can be different from your stakeholders, depending on your location. So you have to deal with this partial availability. I mean you and your stakeholders (customers, suppliers, partners, co-workers, employers).

How to become a digital nomad

I view becoming a digital nomad as a process. So the first step is researching about it. The next one is planning. Believe me, you will need loads of planning and researching.

Be prepared to face changes in your routine even before starting your journey. Usually, you will reduce your consumption to save money and your possessions to travel light and to make some money (even selling what you do not need!).

Becoming a Digital Nomad takes time and a lot of planning, but, it’s worth it!

Online Communities

I suggest you join digital nomad communities and visit travel fairs to learn about countries and meet digital nomads. To find like-minded people, go for digital nomad communities online such as Nomad List. It’s an online tool to learn about the cities. Also, Digital Nomad Community – a social network that offers a course in the subject. On Facebook, there are general groups, Global Digital Nomad Network or Digital Nomads Around the World or more specific ones, such as Bali Digital Nomads or Female Digital Nomads . On Meetup, you can find digital nomad groups in various locations.

To learn more about digital nomad life, you can follow Chris The Freelancer – a popular travelling freelancer on YouTube.

Helpfull websites

To help you out, there are many websites like Coworker – a free website to find a coworking space around the world. Workfrom – to find bars and restaurants with free wifi connection. When looking for a place to live, check out Uniplaces. You can can find rooms to rent, studios and apartments in many European cities. When I moved to Lisbon, I rented a room through Uniplaces. It was easy and simple.

Use your spare time to get used to working online – as a freelancer or a volunteer. Take a look at these websites: Upwork, Indeed or Jobspresso to find a job.

You will deal with some formal matters related to your trip. Passport, vaccines, health insurance, and others related to your job such as tax, bank accounts. However, it is not a problem as it is part of any journey or job.

Where to go

By definition, anywhere with internet access. We must add an important component to this equation: an affordable place. So, before leaving, check the internet connection, the cost of living and whether you are going to need an international health insurance.

At the beginning, I think there are other points to consider as well. I suggest you look for a place where people speak English or any other language you speak. A city where there is a digital nomad community you can reach out to. And other issues that may be very important for you, such as safety.

To make things easier at the beginning, find a city with a big Digital Nomad community.

If you are looking for countries with a low cost of living, try places in Asia and South America. In Europe, there are some countries such as Portugal, Hungary, Bulgaria and Serbia that are not so expensive. If your target is North America, Canada is cheaper than the USA. Check different cities in the same country since the cost of living varies. For example, Braga, in Portugal, is cheaper than Lisbon.

Asia

In Asia, well-known places are Koh Lanta and Koh Phangan (Thailand). There we can find co-working spaces, fast internet connection, good food, tropical weather and wonderful beaches. Thailand usually offers low costs although it’s a seasonal destination and the prices get higher. Canggu in Bali, Indonesia, and Chiang Mai in Thailand are digital nomad destinations as well. A lot of digital nomads choose to travel through Asia because of the cheap prices and ideal weather and way of life. 

South America

In South America, Chile used to be a destination for digital nomads. But now the trendy one is Colombia, especially Medellín, a center of digital innovation. A nice place to be with stable internet, work spaces, warm temperatures, vivid nightlife and friendly people. Another common destination in Colombia is Cartagena, more expensive than Medellín. Buenos Aires in Argentina is another great place to go in South America: beautiful city, vivid nightlife, tasty food, affordable cost of living.

To check the scores of the cities above mentioned or seek others, you can visit the website Nomad List.

Preferred destinations

These are the 3 preferred destinations in accordance with the Nomad List website:

1. Canggu – Bali, Indonesia – with a large digital nomad community, fast internet connection, good nightlife. Check its score here.  

2. Chiang Mai – Thailand – with a high concentration of digital nomads, cheap living costs, good internet connections and friendly people. Good for beginners since it is a tourist country.

3. Lisbon – Portugal – offers all the benefits of being in an European city with more affordable costs.

Then, there are Bangkok (Thailand), Prague (Czechia), Seoul (South Korea), Medellín (Colombia), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Barcelona (Spain), Budapest (Hungary). You can check the website and its community analysis to help you learn about the cities. For example, the downside of living in Berlin and Barcelona are the costs, they are more expensive than Lisbon or Budapest.

Digital Nomads can choose where to work. Tip, go where you can find the best coffee in town!

Digital nomadism in a glance. There is no recipe to be followed. Let me give you an example of how different it could be. I have met a programmer who spent an year in Thailand and this year he is in Japan. He hasn’t decided where to be next year. Another friend, a designer, usually spends 4 to 6 weeks in a country. So far, she has stayed in Serbia (Mokrin), England (London), Germany (Berlin), Iceland (Reykjavík) and Dominican Republic (San Domingo). Sometimes, she goes back to her home country.

What now? Do you have the profile and skills to be a digital nomad? Are you ready to become one?

Thanks for reading this post

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