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How to Be a Digital Nomad: A to Z

Digital nomads tend to be a diverse bunch, pursuing a range of different careers in order to supplement their lifestyle as they move from one furnished apartment or short-term rental to the next. So, what is a digital nomad and what do you need to be one? Well for starters, all you need is a reliable internet connection, a skill set, and a computer—remote working has never been more feasible. 

In the past few decades, there has been a growing trend towards working outside of the office. Remote working has been described as mutually beneficial by companies who employ this offer. 

As the job market diversifies, an increasing number of jobs are becoming location independent. If you want to join the league of digital nomads, then read on to find out how to become a digital nomad!

Why Embrace the Digital Nomad Lifestyle?

Life is about working to live, not living to work, right?

With a variety of opportunities to choose from, there is no better time to try your hand at remote work. Not only can remote working foster more efficiencies, but it also gives you greater control over your time. This means you’ll spend your hours doing the things you love, instead of having to compromise because ‘work always gets in the way.’ Ready to get started with a life doing what you love where you love? Here are the four major steps:

1. Choosing an Ideal Profession

Besides acquiring remote work through your existing employer—or creating your own business—there are plenty of options for the digital nomad to choose from because all you need to get started is a laptop and an internet connection. 

Types of Remote Work

Generally, the types of remote work digital nomads tend to do can be separated into three categories: 

  • The Corporate Remote Worker operates within the confines of a corporate structure, but they do so remotely. Although they’re still a full-time employee, they may enjoy 1-2 days a week working remotely, or they may never be in the office.
  • The Freelancer who offers skills like web design, social media management, marketing, and freelance writing. These workers create their own itineraries and work schedules.
  • The Entrepreneur typically has their own internet-based company which they can manage remotely. Entrepreneurs work similarly to freelancers; however, instead of working with multiple clients, entrepreneurs typically work on a single business.

Once you decided the best avenue to follow, you’ll need to pick a specific profession. Below are the most common types of freelance work, as well as how you can learn the skills you need to work remotely: 

  • Software, Web, and App Developers – This is by far the most common type of digital nomad, and often the most lucrative. There are different angles to approach it from—whether that be learning to code such as Java, Python, or Javascript, or learning aspects of software design and architecture. Udemy offers several courses on software, web, and app design, while Code Academy and Coursera are great places to start learning code (the backend).
  • Digital Marketing – This is a great industry to get into if you’re interested in how companies optimize search engines to generate traffic to their websites. Digital marketing is a fast-paced and ever-changing environment, so it is important to stay in step with the latest developments. Udemy also offers digital marketing courses on anything from Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to social media management. WordStream offers courses on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, while the Google Ad Grants Online Marketing Challenge is a great option as a competitive free online digital marketing course set in a real-world experience.
  • Language Teaching – Remote language teaching is a growing industry with a reliable customer base. With online courses such as TEFL/TESOL, it’s now even easier to learn how to teach English as a foreign language from the comfort of your own home (or even on the road, seeing as there are platforms which allow you to teach from your smartphone). Courses start from $119, and it’s possible to earn up to $20 an hour teaching English remotely. 
  • Graphic Designer – Creatives with a talent for digital design are in demand across the country. Though a skill that requires a degree of artistic flair, there are courses available to learn Adobe Illustrator. Udemy and Coursera also offer highly rated courses to teach graphic design.
  • Copywriting/Content Writer – If you have a gift for the written word, perhaps copywriting is for you. With quality content in demand, the industry is thriving with hundreds of copywriting agencies based across the world. If you feel like you want to hone your writing skills, AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting course offers everything you need to nail your first copywriting assignment. 

Traveling and choosing a profession often come with the same advice: Follow your heart, and you’ll be surprised where it takes you

2. Finding Remote Work

As already mentioned, if you’re able to turn your existing office-based job into a remote one, then this is by far the most secure and stable route to the digital nomad lifestyle. Becoming an entrepreneur takes guts, but if you have the right skill set (or a million-dollar idea) it might just work out for you. If you’re just starting out on your digital nomad journey, however, you’re likely to begin as a freelancer utilizing your chosen skill. 

Here are a few job platforms which offer freelance work:

How Much Can I Expect To Make?

Digital nomads, on the whole, tend to be driven more by their lifestyle than by monetary gain. Oftentimes, as long as the work enables you to keep working from anywhere, being able to break even is the first milestone. Freelancing jobs such as graphic design and copywriting can be tough at first, but with regular work, it isn’t unattainable to reach around $50,000 per year. 

With that being said, just like any freelancing position, should your skills continue to improve, so too (generally) will your income. 

It’s important to note that many remote workers make over six figures a year. This, of course, takes dedication—but the emphasis here is that just because someone wants to be a digital nomad doesn’t mean they need to settle for a meager career. 

3. Working Out The Logistics 

Another facet to consider when becoming a digital nomad is logistics. From receiving payments to figuring out your taxes, you’ll need to have some sort of plan.  

  • Getting Paid:
    • Receive Money Electronically Both Paypal and Cash App are great mediums to use for receiving money. Additionally, if you have a bank account and your client has ACH capabilities, then that’s usually a better option.
    • Boots On The Ground If your client doesn’t have the capabilities (or if it’s not part of their protocols) to send you money electronically, then you’ll need to have someone on the ground to help. This could be an address you send your checks to, only for a loved one, family member, or friend to then deposit it in your bank. 
  • Health Insurance:
    • While your schedule and lifestyle provide the freedom you want, your health isn’t something you can take lightly. Should an emergency situation occur, you need to be prepared. 
  • Paying Taxes:
    • Just because you’re a digital nomad doesn’t mean you’re exempt from taxes. While you can usually avoid having to pay income tax in foreign countries (if you stay for under 6 months), you’re still going to have to pay taxes in your native country. There are certain deductions you can make when you’re a digital nomad, which is why you should reach out to a tax professional to plan your taxes during your time away. The last thing you want to do is end up in tax trouble when you return from your working travels.

4. Finding Places to Call Home

While the life of a digital nomad comes with the freedom to travel where you please, a bit of structure goes a long way. You’re likely looking for the best places for digital nomads, but what about the best living options for digital nomads? If you plan to stay in each place for a while, but not long enough for a typical lease, you’ll need to find some sort of short-term rental. Furnished apartments, like ones here at Landing, offer month-to-month leasing along with all the things you would need to call it home. Month-to-month leases allow digital nomads to move to the next place whenever they want without the hassles that come with a typical 12-month lease. From furnished apartments in NYC to furnished apartments in Austin, TX, Landing has options in the most popular digital nomad destinations across the country.

The World At Your Fingertips

If you want to become a digital nomad, there are three avenues you can go down: 

  • Find a location independent job working for a company on a contracted basis
  • Create your own company/start-up
  • Offer your professional services as a freelancer

If you’re wondering where to start, first equip yourself with some skills by taking some of the online courses available. Once you feel like you’re ready, use job platforms to find remote work, or offer your services on freelance websites. Once you start earning, then all you need to do is pick your destination, finalize your digital nomad packing list, find a place to live, buy your ticket, and you’re ready to embark on the nomad lifestyle! 

If you’re in need of a place to stay, check out Landing for fully-furnished apartments to rent by the month—the perfect stopover on your digital nomadic adventure. Here, we make it convenient for digital nomad professionals to rent obligation-free spaces curated for their lifestyles. 

 

Sources: 

Coso Cloud. Survey Shows Working Remotely Benefits Employers and Employees. https://www.cosocloud.com/press-releases/connectsolutions-survey-shows-working-remotely-benefits-employers-and-employees

Dev. 5 Best Courses to Learn Software Architecture and System Design for Programmers. https://dev.to/javinpaul/5-best-courses-to-learn-software-architecture-and-system-design-for-programmers-1879

Inc. Top 5 Free Online Courses For Digital Marketers. https://www.inc.com/larry-kim/top-5-free-online-courses-for-digital-marketers.html

Reliable Soft. How To Learn Digital Marketing At Home & Free. https://www.reliablesoft.net/learn-digital-marketing/

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