How To Become A Digital Nomad In 8 Steps

To be a digital nomad requires work, like, a lot.

Taipei, Taiwan.
Taipei, Taiwan. Photo: Chris Blatchly

Often, people are blinded by the idea of nomadism. The allure of crystal white-sanded beaches and images of people working shortened hours poolside before heading on a day’s expedition is what draws in traditional nine-to-fivers. These people want to obtain a similar lifestyle.

The idea of working from home, while traveling and indulging in various cultures, has brought on a shift in the job market. In fact, studies have shown that nearly 70% of professionals telecommute. And according to Workationing, researchers project that 50% of the workforce will be office-free by 2020. It’s clear people want to explore the world and inherit new experiences, ones many are left without because of the constraints of their jobs.

Still, becoming a digital nomad is relatively uncommon. Yes, certain amenities come with being a DN, but the various expenses and difficulties of job searching both serve as some of the lifestyle’s biggest barriers. Thus, restricting many from making the leap to become a professional world traveler.

The transition can be difficult, but it’s more than doable. And if the proper steps are followed, you could be hiking foreign terrain or sailing across international waters earlier than you’d imagine.

Now, some people have already begun planning to make the plunge into nomadism. For others, there’s still a few things to consider before completely committing to the life of a digital nomad. So, here’s a list of steps to become a part of the location independent community.

1. Cut Off Locational Ties

With plans to become a digital nomad, it’s important to reduce any restrictions that are forcing you to remain in one location. The biggest part about being a DN is location independence, which can’t be achieved if contractual obligations, housing leases or rentals are in the way.

Also, limit everything you own — cars, clothes, furniture and other personal items. I agree, it’s a lot easier said than done. But think about it, considering you will likely be traveling heavily months at a time, you will need to pack lightly. These barriers could temporarily delay your plans. So, cut your ties loose. It will make the transition to the location indie lifestyle that much smoother.

2. Map Out Expenses

The next step is to calculate your potential expenses. It’s easy to get sidetracked by the appeal of the nomadism without breaking down the possible costs. Often, aspiring DNs pay off any hanging debt, sell their cars and potentially develop a payment plan for their student loans. That way, in the end, they won’t be dragged down from past expenses as they embark on their international travels.

3. Join DN Communities

The DN community is filled with online forums and social media groups — Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn — as a beacon for aspiring world wanderers. Having a network of people who have experience and share similar interests will serve you well, especially for people at the beginning of their nomadic journey. Being in these circles also makes it easier to network with people from the places you plan to travel. You can communicate with them to build a rapport with locals and gain insight on what to expect ahead of your move.

4. Secure A Freelance Position

It’s time to seek and secure a remote position. For some, it’s easier than others. Their skills are a lot more transferable, especially in the digital market and tech industry. However, with the push toward more remote-based jobs, opportunities have risen in other professions.

Though most nomads work remotely, some aren’t as comfortable working online. That’s fine, too. Consider working at a location-based job before jumping into a freelance position. It may take you longer to embark on your journey to become a digital nomad, but the move will significantly lower your risks for failure.

5. Build Your Brand

Once you’ve been working for a while, think about ways you can extend your brand. Make it a point to find other ways to acquire income. For some DNs, they opt to develop a following on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. With this base, they offer advice, how-to guides and services for other aspiring travelers. Other digital nomads favor other streams of revenue, with some even asking for their followers or subscribers to donate money toward their travels. Determine how you can monetize your skills, then use them to fund your next big move and sustain your lifestyle.

6. Lock Down Your First Location

OK, now that you’ve set the grounds, you can finally narrow down your first location. Before you do, reevaluate how the city, state or province levels out with your budget and expected income. By continuously doing your research, it will prepare you for any side-steps in route to your new life’s journey.

Determine the place’s cost-of-living and look up popular things to do. Let’s say you are traveling to Ecuador for your first stop. With research, you would find out that the cost-of-living is fairly low compared to other countries in South America, and commonly people trek the Quilotoa Loop or cruise the Galapagos Islands. Without having a set plan, your transition to become a DN could falter.

7. Determine Your Living Conditions

Once you’ve established your destination, find housing in that area. The most common places to stay are airbnbs, hostels and co-ops, which serve as stops for nomads who plan to live in a new location for a short period of time. The goal is to avoid any potential apartment leases, contractual agreements and overly high-priced living accommodations. When you find a place, lock it down before others do.

8. Do Everything You Envisioned

Stick with your plan and go all in. Remember your dreams of clear ocean waters, swinging hammocks and freshly-squeezed fruit cocktails. Don’t forget them. There will be moments you struggle, but ultimately, you’re making strides toward a profession you planned for several months or years to obtain. So, as you embark on your new life as a digital nomad, continue to hold on to your vision between every new location.

Earl Hopkins

Content Editor

Earl is a multimedia journalist with a devoted passion for storytelling. He loves to write, read, take pictures, travel, discover new restaurants and international fashion trends. One day, Earl wants to continue building on his journalistic endeavors and eventually operate his own culture-based publication.

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