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How to Become a Digital Nomad (in 10 Steps)

Figuring out how to be a digital nomad is exciting, but it can also be confusing and feel like a lot of work. That’s why, after years of living as a remote worker around the world, I’ve created this practical guide on how to become a digital nomad in ten steps. 

how to be a digital nomad

Below, I’ll share what you need to do to become a successful digital nomad, with actionable steps and helpful answers to common questions.

Read more: 7 Ways Digital Nomads Make Money Online

What is a digital nomad?

A digital nomad works from anywhere in the world, using technology to do their job. While many digital nomads travel while working on their computers, you might also have a home base.

The most significant difference between a digital nomad and someone with a traditional job is that you’re location independent and can work as long as you have computer and internet access.

Some digital nomads work remotely for a company as an employer, while many digital nomads work for themselves.

Pros & Cons of Being a Digital Nomad

digital nomad pros and cons

Before you become a digital nomad, it’s essential to understand the pros and cons. While being a digital nomad is incredibly rewarding, it’s not for everyone.

Digital Nomad Pros

  • Being able to travel: Getting to travel while earning an income is easily one of the best parts of being a digital nomad. Travelling brings countless advantages, including learning new cultures, trying new activities and foods, and wellness benefits.
  • Working from anywhere: You can work in a coworking space in Thailand, a coffee shop in Portugal, your office at home, or anywhere that lets you get your work done.
  • No more commuting: One of the most significant drawbacks to a traditional job that digital nomads don’t experience is commuting.
  • Creating your own schedule: If you’re a digital nomad who works for yourself, you can have a flexible schedule that fits your lifestyle best.
  • More flexibility: Digital nomads experience far more flexibility than you can at most 9-5 jobs. From where and when you work to how much money you can make, there’s ample opportunity to live a life you appreciate.

Digital Nomad Cons

  • Inconsistent income: When you work for yourself, it can be challenging to earn a consistent income. This is why it’s important to learn how to budget.
  • Difficulty creating a work-life balance: When you can always have your work with you, it’s essential to create a work-life balance that doesn’t let you lose sight of how you want to live your life.
  • Having to track down reliable WiFi: Since digital nomads rely on the internet to get work done, you have to make sure you have a reliable internet connection, which can be stressful. A mobile hotspot helps with this.
  • Loneliness: Sometimes, the digital nomad lifestyle feels lonely, but there are plenty of networking opportunities.

How to Become a Digital Nomad in 10 Steps

Although being a successful digital nomad can be incredibly rewarding, it can be a lot of work. Following these steps should make the process easier for you!

1. Identify Your Skills & Interests


The first step to becoming a digital nomad is figuring out if it’s even an option for you. And the good news is that most people have or can learn the necessary skills to become a digital nomad.

An excellent place to start is to identify what skills and interests you already have. Make a list of these, and include anything you can think of.

2. Determine What Type of Work You Want to Do

Once you have your skills and interests listed, use this to identify a few potential jobs you could do. A good digital nomad job is one that offers the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world while providing a steady income.

But it should also be one that you are drawn to and one you are happy to learn and grow within.

online jobs for freelancers

These are a few digital nomad jobs you might consider:

  • Copywriter
  • Social media manager
  • Virtual assistant
  • Graphic designer
  • Blogger
  • Online tutor or teacher
  • Photographer or videographer
  • Website designer
  • Software engineer or programmer

Read More: Best Websites for Finding Remote Jobs

3. Learn How to Manage Your Money (Budgeting & Saving)

As we have mentioned, your income as a digital nomad may not always be consistent. This is one of the biggest challenges people face when transitioning from a traditional job.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure you’re financially comfortable:

saving money
  • Learn more about your finances and minimalism by reading and listening to podcasts.
  • Figure out how much money you need each month and make sure you are earning and saving enough.
  • Start a savings account. Anytime you make more than you need for that month, set it aside to save money for lower-income months. Tip: Try putting it in a different account and leaving the card at home if you struggle with impulse spending.
  • Get a debit or credit card with little or no monthly or foreign transaction fees, you will be surprised how quickly those fees add up.
  • Use a budgeting app to help you stick to your monthly goals and be financially aware.
  • Look for affordable flights and learn about simple flight hacks.
  • Consider house-sitting for free accommodations around the world.

Instead of just a step in how to become a digital nomad, these are ongoing practices that’ll help you be successful in the long run.

4. Create a Portfolio and Find Clients


Most digital nomads work for themselves. If you’re going this route, you’ll need to create a portfolio and start finding clients. Your portfolio helps you showcase your abilities to potential clients.

This part of the process can be challenging, especially when you’re just starting out. You might even feel discouraged at times. That’s okay because most digital nomads face this.

However, once you land your first few clients, you’ll be on your way to being a successful digital nomad.

To create a portfolio, you’ll need work samples to show potential clients. To get portfolio pieces when you’re new, you’ll either want to create your own spec pieces or offer someone your service for free or at a very affordable rate. Make sure they’ll be okay with you using the work in your portfolio. You’ll only need to gather 2 or 3 portfolio pieces to get started.

Then, you’ll need a place to display your work. You can use Journoportfolio to create a simple portfolio. However, I recommend creating a website (Squarespace, Wix, WordPress, etc.) to show your services, portfolio, and other information in one place.

TIP: Don’t forget to use good SEO practice to make sure people can find your website!

Once you have a portfolio, you can reach out to potential clients and share your portfolio. Linkedin and other job boards are a great way to find potential job opportunities.

5. Join a Digital Nomad Community


Joining a digital nomad community is one of the best ways to learn more about this lifestyle and meet like-minded people.

Many Facebook pages such as Digital Nomads Around the World offer this kind of community or you can join Reddit groups such as r/digital nomad. Just search for digital nomad/remote worker and your location in the search bar and see what comes up.

Coworking spaces also hold events that are ideal for networking and meeting local remote workers in person. Trying some virtual coworking spaces can also help you meet people online if you aren’t able to access a coworking space.

6. Gather Digital Nomad Gear

digital nomad gear

Every digital nomad needs the proper gear to get their work done successfully. Our digital nomad gear guide shares all the essentials every remote worker needs, including luggage and backpack options, a reliable computer, Virtual Private Network (VPN), travel insurance, and more.

Read More: Best VPN for Remote Workers

7. Decide Where You Want to Work

best places digital nomads europe

Deciding where to work is the best part for many remote workers, including myself. You can work from anywhere with the internet, and there are endless options.

A good place to start is by thinking about what kind of experiences you’re looking for. You might consider the cost of living, lifestyle, and distance from home.

Here are some of the best and most popular digital nomad destinations:

Check out our digital nomad travel guides for many more options.

Don’t forget that while many digital nomads use the tourist visas that may be available to them depending on their passports, there are also a number of digital nomad visas that allow you to work legally and spend extended time in a country.

8. Simplify Your Belongings & Pack For Your Adventures

minimalist packing tips

One of my favourite parts of becoming a digital nomad was getting rid of so many things I didn’t need. It allowed me to travel more freely and made packing much easier. That said it can be easy to accumulate things as you go.

Use this minimalist packing checklist to help you simplify your belongings and pack for your travels and try out our ten tips for minimalist packing.

9. Get Digital Nomad Travel Insurance


Digital nomad travel and health insurance is necessary in case you face unexpected mishaps and expenses during your travels.

These are some of the top travel insurance options:

  • SafetyWing and Insured Nomad: both have various options for short-term and long-term travel
  • World Nomad: best for someone who wants travel medical insurance; covers adventure-related expenses that many others don’t 
  • HeyMondo: offers inexpensive, flexible plans

Check out our guide to digital nomad health insurance for more options.

10. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

how to keep good work life balance

It can be easy to get caught up working on projects and checking email when you work remotely. That’s why it’s crucial to prioritize a healthy work-life balance. And when you’re doing this, studies show you have better chances of productivity and mental and physical health.

These practices can help you maintain a work-life balance:

  • Have a morning routine that lets you focus on yourself before work. This might be a cup of tea while you read or listen to your favourite playlist while you eat breakfast.
  • Create a workspace free of distractions.
  • Make a reasonable schedule for yourself and stick to it.
  • Write a to-do list for the next day at the end of each workday to help keep you on track.
  • Take breaks. Schedule short breaks throughout the day and try to spend 1-2 days per week offline.
  • Plan at least a few solo and social activities per week.

Read More: Ten Tips for Getting Started as a Freelancer

FAQ: Top Digital Nomad Questions

cheapest places to live digital nomads

How much does a digital nomad make?

According to various studies, digital nomads make an average of $50,000 – $100,000 annually. This can vary based on what kind of work you do and how much you work. Best of all, if you’re working for yourself, you can scale your business and find multiple income streams to increase your earning potential.

Read more: What is Passive Income? (8 Ways to Get Started Right Now)

What work do I do as a digital nomad?

There are countless job opportunities for digital nomads, including being a freelance writer, virtual assistant, social media manager, online teacher or tutor, copywriter, photographer, transcriber, graphic designer, and accountant.

In 2023, there are many location-independent business options, as long as it’s something you don’t need to be in person for.

Read More:
Best Newsletters for Finding Online Work

20 Best Careers for Digital Nomads

7 Ways Digital Nomads Make Money Online

Is it hard to be a digital nomad?

Being a digital nomad can be hard, but many people find it much easier than working a traditional 9-5. That said, the lifestyle isn’t for everyone and requires various skills, including technology, communication, and self-motivation.

Read More: The Downsides of Being a Digital Nomad and How to Overcome Them

Do I have to pay taxes as a digital nomad?

Yes, you have to pay taxes as a digital nomad just as you would as an employer. However, if you’re a digital nomad working for yourself, you’re required to keep up with your income and expenses throughout the year and use these to file as a sole proprietor or LLC.

Read more: Digital Nomad Taxes (Everything You Need to Know) 

I hope these steps to how to become a digital nomad were helpful for you! If you enjoyed reading this article, please consider sharing.

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