Why become a Digital Nomad?
Across the globe, more and more people are deciding to become digital nomads, choosing to leave the stress of the daily grind and the hassle of the traditional 9 to 5 in favour of reduced stress and greater freedom.
The term ‘digital nomad’ was rarely used 10 years ago but, with the rapid growth of the Internet, digital nomadism is now growing into a large movement. People are realising they can do their work anywhere in the world, on their laptop, so long as they have an internet connection.
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Most of the world work 48 weeks a year and look forward to a holiday away once or twice a year. Living the digital nomad life flips this model on its head, opening you to a life of complete freedom. You can literally turn your life into a full time holiday with all the freedom and income you desire. Don’t get me wrong, you have to work hard, but choosing the digital nomad path will mean all the hard work you do today, will keep paying you in the future. As you keep working on the right kind of projects, you will continually build income into something called passive-income. This means that you grow multiple online revenue streams that you can simply manage or grow until they’re making you money while you sleep.
For me, initially, digital nomadism is about breaking free of your current life, then it’s about building several online revenue streams so you have the freedom to follow your passions to find your true calling. Contribution back to the world and helping other people is incredibly important. Once money is not an issue there are only so many days you can spend lying by the pool sipping cocktails until you’ll begin to seek more. You are on Earth with a purpose. If you don’t know what that is, worry not, attain freedom first and the purpose will come.
Smart digital nomads realise that swapping time for money will never provide great wealth and freedom. We teach you the path to creating multiple income streams in our free starter course.
TREND GRAPH: ‘Digital Nomad’ searches over last 10 years
What is a Digital Nomad?
There is a growing number of digital nomads across the globe, choosing free time and travel over possessions and mortgages. Digital nomadism has grown alongside the spread of reliable Internet across the globe. Some people think this is how everyone will work in future. Going on recent trends, the prediction is that there will be 1 billion digital nomads roaming the Earth by 2050.
DEFINITION: Digital nomads are people who are location independent and use technology to perform their job. Digital nomads work remotely which is now economically possible due to cheap internet access, smartphones and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) to keep in contact with clients and employers (investopedia)
Many co-working hubs have sprung up across the globe allowing digital nomads to work short term in professional environments. Digital nomads either earn money for doing paid work or build businesses that generate semi-passive to passive income.
Passive or semi-passive income means you are earning money while you are not working because of the work and things you have done in the past. Most people think the only way to earn money is to work for someone in exchange for an hourly rate or salary. This is wrong.
If you don’t understand this yet then prepare your mind for a shift. You will never get out of the trap of a 9 to 5 life unless you are willing to change the way you look at the world.
This is what we are here to help you with.
We help people go from where they are now to where they want to be. If you like our three-step philosophy then you have found what you need. If you’re new to all this – start here.
There are many happy nomads doing freelance work across the globe. There is nothing wrong with this whatsoever, however, in essence you are still working for other people, have deadlines and the other inherent problems of freelancing. This is a great thing to do initially as you build more longer term semi-passive income streams. However, if you are looking to live the true digital nomad life and start living a life most people only dream of, then you need to be gearing yourself to at least a semi-passive income to really enjoy the benefits.
Choosing the semi-passive income route can be harder, it can take more time but the rewards will be forever greater. Our training recommends choosing four options, each with varying degrees of passion and financial outcome.
Money VS Passion Quadrant
This diagram divides different amounts of money and passion into four sections. Ideally you want to have a business / project in each box, generally starting with box one and moving through each box until you end up in box four. The move through all these boxes could take a year, it could take five years, there is no time limit and your passions and missions will evolve overtime anyway. You may start with something like freelancing although you are not totally passionate about it because it has the possibility to bring in limited income, so pop that in the box one.
Many people manage to skip steps or take a slightly different route to the one I recommend. There are always other factors at play, but this is a proven path for ongoing security and growing your income.
This is what you need to focus on when you are starting out. It may be freelancing or smaller business ideas that take a while to build, like eBay Dropshipping. This is the survival box; you need to hustle with a few smaller income streams to ensure you have enough to survive on as you begin your new life.
For me, this meant focussing on building a small and regular client base doing business consulting. I was passionate about helping people start up or improve their own businesses but it wasn’t my main passion. It paid ok but I was always swapping time for money, which is technically the same as working for someone else. I enjoyed it to begin with but was always making plans to move onto box two. Financially, it paid the bills as I was starting out. It quickly grew and I ended up hiring five other remote workers to do much of the specialist work while I managed the projects and communicated to everyone else. Freelancing is a great way to begin on sites like Upwork, Guru or Freelancer.
Freelancing can be hard work and take time to build but is definitely one of the best options to start bringing in an income, especially if you have a good set of skills. There are jobs out there for people with even the most basic of computer skills. If you have never worked for yourself before you will learn some valuable lessons doing this kind of work, whilst carving out the start of your independent life.
This is the next stage in growing your online income and future security. This is a higher income section but is still not your main passion area. Sometimes you can skip this section and turn some of your main passions into a great business, however, many people do not know how to do this, or would rather do it for free. I find when you have the pressure of money on a project you are really passionate about then the financial pressure can get in the way of the mission.
The most profitable business blueprint we found for this box is dropshipping with your own Shopify store. This is a real business with massive potential and the ability to scale up as much as you want. We became a member of Dropship Lifestyle which takes you through the process of starting your own dropshipping online empire.
FREE COURSE: Introduction to Dropshipping
Now that you have learned to make a regular income and have grown several larger income streams you will be financially stable and have more free time. Your businesses in box 2 will continue to grow, with less time required to work on them. Outsourcing options also now become worthwhile in order to free up more time so you can start to focus on your passions – the reason you are here on the planet.
This may be a time to reflect, take some time out from all that hard work and enjoy your new found financial freedom. Go on an adventure holiday, a detox retreat or a meditation to really decide what you want from life. What do you want to give back? Who do you want to help?
Many people know what they want to do and make it happen. For others it may take more time. It could be that you just want to learn a language, help at a dog hospital or do volunteer work in a third world country.
The things in this box could be hobbies or passions, which over time could develop into something you could take over to box 4 and monetise, developing more revenue streams from some of your main passions.
Ok, now you don’t need to hustle anymore. You have several large semi-passive income streams and because of this you have more freedom to follow your passions, giving back to the world in some way. This is a great position to be in and many do not or want to go any further. However the optimum outcome is to develop some of your existing ideas and passions into something you are are extremely passionate about so you can turn them into a business that helps other people.
There is no pressure to make money from box 3, but as things grow, opportunities can arise to build your passions into something else that offer services, online courses, coaching or any number of things. The great thing is you will be in a stable position to make these decisions without having any financial pressure.
This website is about providing education and resources to help you create the life you want. First of all it is about starting, which you have probably thought about as you are reading this. The main thing that holds people back from making the leap to complete digital nomadism is a lack of finances; the fear of not having enough can delay or even put people off completely. People always think they need more than they do and also like to have backup funds for a rainy day.
The simplest thing you can do is to sell everything, get a credit card for backup and take off to a country that is cheaper to live in and begin. You will make 20X more progress when you put yourself in that situation! Accelerate your learning by meeting like minded people and using resources like our Business Blueprints as we have studied and broken down the most effective online businesses for you.
Once you have money coming in you can start doing projects that you are passionate about and not necessarily for money. The ideal is to find the one thing that you love doing and leverage that so you can earn a good living at the same time. My passions are learning, teaching, health and helping others so Nonconformity University was the ideal passion project that I also earn a living from. I was able to work on it because I had plenty of business coaching clients and a other growing online income streams so there was initially no pressure to make money from it. I wanted to give away the best information for free to help others change their life and let the income grow slowly.
If you have only been used to working in the way that most of the world works, exchanging a fixed amount of money for your time, then get ready for a change.
You will have to do some initial work for nothing, but this is part of a long term plan that allows you to build up a sustainable long term income.
Imagine in two years, earning $7,000 a month, and you only have to work a few hours a week AND, that $7,000 is your income every month and is growing month on month!
Ponder that for a moment. What would you do with your life?
We will be sharing lots of energy and productivity hacks to get your online nomadic empire firing on all cylinders at a rapid pace. Please join to stay informed.
How to be a Digital Nomad
Being a digital nomad means you regularly earn enough for accommodation, co-working spaces, equipment, food and living without being tied to another organisation or location. You simply need a computer and internet to manage your online businesses. You will also need enough regular income to cover your travel expenses. If you are currently working for someone else and have no other means of income, you need to make a start now.
What situation are you in?
If you are reading this for advice on how to make the leap you should fall into one of the following categories:
NOTE: The savings amount is the figure you generated when you sold everything that you no longer need.
- You have no savings, have a job and no business ideas
- You have no savings, have a job and have either started a side business or have an idea for a side business
- You have at least $6,000 in savings, a job and no business ideas
- You have at least $6,000 in savings and have either started a side business or have an idea for a side business
Selected 1 or 2?
Ok, unfortunately you have no safety blanket so you need to set some major goals for the next few months. You need to make sacrifices and save everything you can while building your online business. If you have no business ideas, don’t stress, we’ve researched all the routes to success, which you can find in our Business Blueprints. Read and study each of these and choose 1 or 2 that you feel comfortable with.
Set a date six months from now for when you will leave everything. This gives you a target and will make decisions to not go out or spend money and instead stay in, save and work that much easier. Start selling everything you do no need, see any opportunity to save, sell or make money as you move closer to your target. It is amazing how quickly life changes when you simply make up your mind to do so.
You may have to make some decisions about housing, mortgages, debts and relationships. This can be a hard time and everyone has a different situation to deal with. You have to live your life and the very fact that you are reading this already means that on some level you are not happy with your current situation. Life is a journey of ups and downs. You will know in your heart the direction you want to take. You just have to commit.
If your debts are relatively low and you are confident you want to go for it, get a credit card or make sure you have a limit of approximately $6,000 and make the move as soon as you can. As soon as you put yourself in another country with a limited budget you will make things happen more quickly than if you stay put.
Selected 3 or 4?
Guess what? This is all you need. It will take a while to organise everything, sell your things and book your ticket, so get planning right away. You have enough to last you six months in places like Thailand. Many people think they need tens of thousands to move away. Wrong. The more you have the less motivated you will be to get your online business thriving. You need to have some level of excitement, fear and adventure to make this work, with some savings. It’s about finding a balance between having enough security to get you by for a while and enough motivation to make your plans to succeed.
If you are unsure, or are scared of making the move because you do not think you have enough, apply for a credit card with 12 – 18 months credit free. Then you know you have another year of backup credit to fund accommodation and food expenses while your online income grows.
Everybody has too much stuff. Everybody overpacks for holidays. Many people love attaining stuff they don’t need, acquiring new and shiny things and telling people about it to prove they are doing well. Digital nomads are different. They have decided to cut out all the unnecessary belongings they can. They have simplified their life as much as they can so they are nimble enough to move around the world easily.
I decided I wanted to travel with carry on luggage only, so I sold everything in my life except the things that I put above my head on the plane from England to Bali.
Check out my packing list and the unpacking video I made the day before I left my old life behind.
The great thing about having less belongings is that there is less to worry about, less things that can go wrong. In short, life becomes much simpler, much easier, You can focus on what is most important, like experiences, making the most of your time, meeting people and generally enjoying life to the maximum.
When you make the move to becoming a digital nomad you will need to audit all of your belongings and make some strong choices. Many people choose to put all or most of their belongings in storage. This is a waste of time and money. Put anything sentimental in a box and store it at a family or friend’s place. Sell everything else, unless you are taking it with you.
People become digital nomads for a few reasons. They may not be happy with their current job or life, they want to be free, they want to live somewhere else, they want to build unconventional online businesses, they want to help the world. One thing they all have in common is they drastically down-sided their packing list. Most opt for one or two bags and many just go carry on wherever they go. Just taking carry on may sound like a crazy idea for the next few years, but if you are sensible you will be amazed at how much you can have to hand and how liberating it will feel to travel so light.
I know lots of people who chose to become digital nomads and took loads of bags and belongings, within a year all of them drastically cut everything down to just a carry on bag or two. Don’t make the mistake of taking too much. Digital nomads have a pattern of owning little, but the things they do own are the very best money can buy.
UPDATE – 16/03/17
I returned to Bali from Australia with a new bag I had shipped to a friends house, the Outbreaker by Tortuga. WOW, it just about fits everything the Aeronaut 45 and the Tom Bihn Co Pilot fits and is still only carry on. I am blown away at the design of the bag, the quality, capacity and price. Ill do a comparison video soon but here are some standout reasons I believe this is the best digital nomad bag available at present.
- It is designed solely as a bag pack so is much more comfortable than the Minaal and Aeronaut 45. The straps and back padding mean wearing the bag is super comfortable.
- The main compartment open up completely like a suitcase for easy access and organisation.
- The back has a fully opening electronics compartment with soft lined pockets for a laptop and tablet as well as lots of different sized pockets for cables, chargers, cameras and anything else.
- There is a really great organisational pocket at the front as well as loads of other pockets all over the bag so you can really have a place for anything and easily grab something when you need it.
- The capacity is crazy good, I just cannot believe I got everything in here from my previous two bags.
- The price is only $249 which is $50 less then the Aeronaut 45 bag.
Digital Nomad Bag
A very important decision is the bag or bag combination you choose. We strongly believe in only taking carry on luggage and going for a lower amount of high quality belongings. You do not want them lost on an interconnecting flight, broken or stolen. Now, the tricky part is the different rules airlines have. Most have the carry on dimensions in common, to which all the bags we recommend comply. The rules differ on the carry on items but rules are there to be stretched. Go with a carry on bag and a personal item and just stroll on without a care and 99% of the time you will be fine. You can also hide it under your main bag. We have read many digital nomad packing lists and most comment that they never got stopped for taking a personal item when it is not allowed. The great thing is that many airlines are now starting to up their carry on allowances to compete with other airlines.
Carry on Bags
Personal Item Bags
These things allow your to really get more belongings in your bag. They also keep things organised. They’re cheap and they come in all sizes. I would recommend getting three or four medium sized cubes to keep clothes in for your main bag.
I purchased these: 3 X Medium Packing Cubes by eBags
TSA approved locks mean you can lock your equipment using a 4 digit code and airport staff can open your bag if they need to using a special tool. These are really good to keep your bags secure.
I purchased 2 packs of two: 2 TSA Security Padlock
Digital Nomad Equipment
Every digital nomad’s best friend. This is the window to your business operations. You should buy the best laptop and the best case money can buy. Think about when you last used a slow computer, when you had to wait for the next action to happen or application to open. If you are using a bad computer all these seconds add up to days over the year.
Normal business use: 13 Inch Macbook Air
Advanced use, video editing, graphics: 13inch Macbook Pro
An unlocked smartphone is the best choice. You can purchase local sim cards for data in most countries. However, many carriers are starting to offer competitive deals for international usage as well as bundle deals. Before I came away I had planned to stay in various different countries for a month or two at a time, before moving on. I am from the UK and was with EE; I could pay £5 a month for 100 minutes of international calls and another £5 a month for 100 international SMS. I have since purchased a Bali sim as the data did not work here from the UK and I decided to stay longer.
Take a look at your options, but go with the option that is as flexible as possible. Don’t tie yourself into long contracts and, importantly, be open to changing things up as you go as every country is different.
I didn’t bring an external hard drive, I rely on Google Drive for all of my storage needs. This is totally a personal preference. Many people like to store films and media on them to watch, I rarely watch anything these days as there are so many other things to do. I have everything backed up and mirrored on Google Drive, even my music, so if anything happens to my laptop then I don’t have to panic as I can easily access everything, including all my work from any device. I wrote an article on How to Get the Most of of Google which covers the ideal Google Drive set up.
Tax implications for Digital Nomads
The tax laws for digital nomads are hazy at best. Digital nomads are constantly having to enter different countries and deal with visas. Getting a work visa in different countries is always going to be a lot more work than getting a simple tourist visa. The simple fact is you are going to have to pay tax somewhere. It may be advisable to set up your business in your home country and pay taxes as if you were living there full time. Many digital nomads prefer this option as it offers the security of being able to freely return to your own country. There may be health and credit benefits for you to take this option. This way, whenever you enter a new country you simply go in on a standard tourist visa. The country does not need to know you are working as you are not doing work specific to that country.
The other option is to find a tax free haven to set up your business. There are many options available and if you choose this route, you will need to do further research and even seek professional advice. You often have to own a property or business in the tax free haven or live there for a certain amount of months during a year.
As the transition to becoming a digital nomad may involve some cross over time, we advise setting up a sole trader business in your own country whilst you are still earning from your current job. It takes time and energy to get everything, like bank accounts, sorted.
Insurance is most definitely recommended, to cover you for any major accidents as well as transport back to your home country. With the rise of digital nomadism, there are now some excellent insurance companies with comprehensive packages for full cover while you are constantly on the move.
Sign up at World Nomads.
Banking as a Digital Nomad
You will keep your existing bank accounts in your home country. Open a business account and two more back up current accounts. Foreign banking machines all have different habits and if your card is swallowed you need to have others so you can get cash out. Keep these cards in separate locations.
Foreign countries can be notorious for card skimming so always cover your pin. They also have different end-options than the bank machines you are used to. Many people take their cash and forget to press the button to return the card, walk off putting the money away and the card gets swallowed. This happened to me twice in two months in Bali.
Take one of your back up cards out and keep the account empty and transfer money into it using online banking just before you need it. This way if it does get skimmed there will be no money to steal.
There is normally no need to open up any foreign bank accounts. International payments can be handled by Paypal. I use Xero for accounting and sending invoices.
Best Digital Nomad Wallet
I love the crabby wallet. It is small and simple and holds a everything I need in one place. My cards, some cash and keys. I purchased a lanyard strap so I can hang it round my neck under my t-shirt or attach it to my trousers. I have also found that it makes the wallet easier to locate in my bag etc. The wallet is cheap and durable and the smallest size possible so you can forget about it but never lose it.
If you make the leap to being a digital nomad, you will notice that most digital nomads are pretty healthy. Why? Because of the stress free lifestyle. Yes, there are deadlines and life always presents things to deal with. However, digital nomads are the boss, they call the shots and the very fact they are not required to conform to the rules of society gives them a massive boost in overall health.
Digital nomads have more time so many exercise regularly. They don’t own cars so walk a lot more. They tend to follow the sun so are getting plenty of Vitamin D. Digital nomads tend to stay in countries where the cost of living is lower and eat out a lot where the local food is naturally more healthy in nature.
Visas are different in every country and most countries have a government website advising citizens of what access they have and for how long. In the UK we have Government Travel Advice. You will have to find your own directory and research your destinations.
Most countries let people to turn up and stay for a month and then have extension opportunities. With most things in life there are always work-arounds. Before coming to Bali I got the 60 day visa but once here and I met a bunch of people I found out I could extend this to six months with only one visit to immigration.
Smartphone, unlocked with a rubber bumper case to prevent any type of fall is the best option for long term digital nomadism. Smartphones allow you conduct many operations of business, including your banking, emails and communicating with team members through apps such as slack and upwork.
In terms of sim card, you can pick up local sims and swap them into your phone. Most countries have a monthly option. You can keep your whatspp number the same as your home country so contacting your friends and family is easy. The other option is to look at home phone sim deals on a monthly pay basis. Many countries now offer good international tariffs including calls, SMS and data that can be used at a fixed rate in many countries in the world. Offers vary from country to country so it’s worth doing a bit of research.
I purchased an unlocked iPhone 6, put my local UK contract down to the lowest monthly amount and then purchase a local sim in Bali and other countries as I go. I could purchase a local sim in Bali for 100,000 Rupiah which is about £6.
Being a digital nomad, internet is obviously extremely important. The internet and wi-fi is readily available in even the most remotest of countries. Many countries have completely skipped physical broadband in favour of wireless internet. However, some countries still do not have wi-fi and only have physical plugin in the wall ethernet adapters. If you are rocking an up to date laptop like a MacBook Pro then you will know the day of the ethernet port on the side is long gone. Good idea to take a USB to ethernet adapter to cover all bases.
The three main options for using internet while travelling are your place of accommodation (sometimes good to check the signal before you pay for your room); cafes and bars readily have free internet available for people purchasing food or drinks. You can often buy a coffee and get a good few hours of work in without being bothered, but you will have to access as you go; the third options is co-working spaces. These places often have a higher quality of internet and are more relaxed but still have a professional feel.
The best search tool for finding the cheapest flights is skyscanner. They have a nice option to view flights by month and then you can see all the individual prices for each day and pick the cheapest and most convenient. Many people are travelling the world on free flights with regular upgrades as they use flight point credit cards with their dropshipping businesses. The dropshipping model is the best online business blueprint we have found as it is a real business, with great profits, ability to scale and options to sell stores off after a few years or at least 18 months of regular profits.
Interested in dropshipping? – Take this free mini course.
By far, your best choice for accommodation is Airbnb. The price is lower than many hotels and the quality of accommodation is higher. You will commonly be able to stay in a apartment with a lounge, kitchen and other benefits such as a washing machine. There are over 1,500,000 listings globally and their search function is unparalleled.
Airbnb is good for short trips but even better for digital nomads. Because digital nomads are constantly travelling with no fixed abode they tend to stay at a place for a month, if they like it they may stay longer or move on to somewhere else. Over half of Airbnb listings offer significant discounts if you book one place for a month at a time.
Hostels will cost you less but the lack of privacy and space does not make the saving worthwhile. They may be a good option for short term stays or in between destinations. Not all hostels are as cheap as you think and if you do your research, plan ahead and book early, you will be able to live in luxury through Airbnb.
If you do want to find a hostel click here.
Hotels may also be a necessary intermediary. The best hotel aggregate site with complete ease of use is Booking.com
If you want to reduce your digital nomad living expenses and even make a profit you may enjoy: BUSINESS BLUEPRINTS: Airbnb Arbitrage
When you are constantly on the move it is essential to be secure. Digital nomads tend to travel with very few belongings but have high quality equipment and clothes. Many have decided if they are only going to own 50 or so belongings, every one of them will be the very best, even down the underwear. Here are free security tips I have picked up along the way:
- Have several back-up debit / credit cards and store them in different places, not all in bags at your accomodation in case you do get robbed (they will often take the bag and all its contents).
- Use a simple wallet that can hold a few cards, a bit of cash, attach a key or two and a lanyard strap. This way you can hang it round your neck under your clothes, or in your pocket but attach it to yourself so you will not lose it or have it stolen.
- Only take out one of your back-up debit cards and transfer money into that account just before you need it so if the card gets skimmed, no money can be stolen.
- Take several TSA approved padlocks with a digit combination, not a key to secure your bags when travelling.
- Stay safe, let people now where you are, make friends and support each other. The world is generally welcoming and friendly, but unfortunately crime does happen so be sensible and follow your instincts.
Beginning this life can be so rewarding and yet challenging at the same time. For many the big issue is finances and many people think they need far more than they actually do to begin with. At the start of the article I recommended having a six month amount in savings of around $6,000. Many do it on a lot less. To lead this lifestyle the single most important thing you can do, is to just do it. The universe has a funny way of looking after those who decide to go for it. You will meet the people who will guide you, you will find the resources to educate yourself and you will learn from your mistakes and gradually, day by day, if you really want to succeed, you will.
If you want to join Nonconformity University for free – register here.