A Simple Guide to Becoming a Digital Nomad
19 May 2016
6 minute read
If you want to live as a digital nomad, there are more opportunities than ever.
What’s a digital nomad?
A digital nomad is a someone who works remotely, and travels the world while they work. This is what differentiates it from working from home. They can be contractors, employees, and even entrepreneurs.
Skills for which there is often remote work available include copywriting, coding, graphic design, web design, illustration, translation, project management, and accounting.
There are an increasing amount of tech, and tech-adjacent companies which accept remote working, and employers who are willing to give it a try.
It’s a rising trend. A Virgin Media Business survey predicted in 2014 that 60% of UK office-based employees will regularly work from home by 2022.
Why is there such acceptance of the digital nomad life?
Video collaboration and tools like Slack make it easier than ever to work together without having to be face-to-face. Companies are now seeing the value of video collaboration beyond simple travel savings, to include reducing time-to-market, increasing customer service, improving crisis management, and streamlining decision-making. A PFSK report found that companies who employ remote workers are up to 13% more productive.
But how can you get one of these jobs?
It’s always good to have savings so you can avoid panic. There are many ways to live without paying for it: couchsurfing, volunteering in exchange for accommodation, and house-sitting, but it’s always good to have options. Make sure you have steady freelance work before you leave. Don’t stop applying for more work after you’ve found a main gig, if a main gig is what you want.
Learn the skills you need to work, purely with a laptop and an internet connection.
Learn to code! We teach web development. This is a skill that you can easily take around the world.
Get a job that teaches you the skills you’ll need to know. This entry level work, and small contracts, will help you to gain experience and build a portfolio you can use to show employers you’re worth the investment.
Freelance in your spare time while you work in your day job! It’s possible. You could even take mini-tasks from Fiverr to prove yourself.
Network! Make sure you’ll always have work and can find those contacts. It’s crucial to establish a group of people you keep in contact regularly to maintain a steady stream of work.
Convert your work.
Be flexible. Line up work in advance. Get banking set up. Don’t plan to work 40 hrs/wk. Travel light (28L backpack). Go.
Create work for yourself. Greg Jorgensen pitches to small businesses, does content marketing with his blog, asks for referrals, and presents to local user group meetings.
Find a remote job. There’s many sites where you can find remote long-term and contract work. AngelList. Flexjobs. PowerToFly. Idealist. Dribble. We Work Remotely. Authentic Jobs. Stack Overflow. SkillBridge. These are just some of the sites where you can find remote work. There’s even a dedicated site for remote Ruby work: Ruby Now.
Buy an existing business. If you’ve got quite a bit of extra cash and some business nous, consider buying an existing business that has potential to do even better.
Convince your current boss to allow you to remote work.
Start your own online business. You can easily set up a consulting firm for any of the above skills online with just a website, a CV and a portfolio.
Where can you live as a digital nomad?
Anywhere! But it’s easier to do so in places with much lower living expenses, and cheap, easily accessible WiFi. For example, Chiang Mai, Thailand, has living expenses 63% lower than Sydney, according to Numbeo.
Other places worth living in include: Ubud, Bali, Taghazout, Morocco; Lisbon, Portugal; Medellin, Colombia; Bucharest, Romania; Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam; Budapest, Hungary; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; Phuket, Thailand; Davao, Philippines; Siem Reap, Cambodia; Prague, The Czech Republic; Zagreb, Croatia; Santiago, Chile; Cartagena, Colombia; Vancouver, Canada; Porto, Portugal. These are places all around Europe, South America, and Asia that are gradually establishing startup and co-working hubs. Hubud, in Bali, has 250 members, constantly in flux.
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