31 March, 2020
Tips on Becoming a Digital Nomad
In recent years, the ubiquity of wireless and high-speed Internet has helped many people live their lives as digital nomads. These are independent workers who rely on digital tools to be able to work from any location. Many people take this opportunity to travel the world while working at the same time. For others, it is a great chance to move around and experience what life is like for locals in different places. Finally, retirees can also find it a useful way to do something part-time to ease themselves into the life of leisure. Whatever category you recognize yourself in, these tips on becoming a digital nomad are bound to help you find a way to join the movement.
How to become a ‘digital nomad’
Set up your work
One of the obvious practical tips on becoming a digital nomad is getting your boss or bosses on board. If you already work remotely, this won’t pose too much of a challenge. You’ll only need to discuss it in detail if you are moving somewhere in a different time zone. However, if you work full time in an office, it might be more of an adjustment.
If your employer is reluctant to let you work remotely, try asking for one day of working from home per week. There has been a lot of research on the benefits of working remotely. You can use some of those to back up your request. Once your boss has seen that you are equally or more productive on that one day, you can ask for 2 or 3 days next. Eventually, ask to revisit your original request.
In order to make everything go seamlessly, agree on certain ‘office hours’. This should be the time during which you will be available to your colleagues and employer. You want to set up a structure so you could do your job properly. However, you also want to be able to go out and explore when you are not working. Certain apps will become essential, though you probably use many of them already. Slack and Zoom are the basic ones to keep everything running smoothly. You’ll obviously need steady Wi-Fi, a laptop or smartphone and earphones with a mic.
Decide where to go
Every beginner’s guide to being a digital nomad emphasizes the importance of budgeting. If your plan is to travel, the planning won’t differ immensely from any other trip you’ve done. Most digital nomads opt for parts of the world like the Far East as it represents a very exotic area. However, if your plan is to go and live elsewhere, you have to treat it as a move. An easy search will provide you with all the information you need for planning where to go and how.
Make sure you budget for more than simply utilities and necessities like food and public transportation. Part of your time will be spent as a tourist, so you will probably want to enjoy a lot of what the city has to offer in terms of culture.
Many people go for European capitals. These cities are exciting year-round with plenty to see and do. Barcelona, for example, is not the cheapest European city. However, it is much more affordable than many other capitals like Paris or London. For this reason, it’s the place with quite the digital nomad population. It boasts upwards of 300 co-working spaces on top of its cultural and historic attractions.
Though a bustling city like Barcelona may sound like made for young people, it could actually be a great choice if you are looking for ways of making your move for retirement enjoyable. The fact that it is somewhat of a digital nomad hub could make it easier to find your footing in this emerging industry. On top of that, spending time in Barcelona is probably on everyone’s bucket list. If your life’s dream was to see Europe, you could easily do so from your home base in Spain as plane fares for other Eurozone countries are quite cheap.
Get your documents and insurance
Among the practical tips on becoming a digital nomad is getting all of your papers in order. You will obviously need a passport, but beware because some countries require a passport that is valid within at least 6 months of your last travel date. Some countries will also require a visa. If you plan on bringing a pet, you’ll need to make sure their vaccinations and pet health certificates are up to date.
Finally, you need to ensure you have health insurance. Many experts suggest keeping your personal insurance and address if you are from the states. In most cases, this insurance will cover emergency abroad, but you should definitely look into exactly what it covers.
Don’t forget your taxes
Just because you are working independently and in another country, doesn’t mean you are exempt from taxes. Some companies make sure they deal with this instead of their employees. Unfortunately, however, this is not exactly how it usually gets done. The fortunate news is that, in many countries, you are exempt from paying taxes on your income if you spend fewer than 6 months there. Your best bet, though, is to hire a professional. They will be able to help you out and reconcile the differences between your home country and your new place(s) of work.
Set up your own business
If you do not already work independently and there is no way your current employer would let you work remotely, you may want to think about starting your own business. Some people will be able to do so within their current industry while others will have to stretch a little. Consider all of your skills and think about which of those you could monetize online through remote work. There isn’t really a solid map to follow on this one, so you will have to get creative. Once you’re clear on what you think you should do, you could use websites like Upwork to help you find work.
Celia Hope is a digital nomad currently working out of Barcelona, Spain. She mostly freelances as a blogger covering topics related to technology, travel and where the two overlap.