Digital Nomads: 11 Tips and Best Places to Live
If you’re eager to explore the world, becoming a digital nomad is something to consider, but you still want to bring in a steady income.
The digital nomad community continues to grow every year. As of 2020, more than 6 million people across the world-class themselves as digital nomads.
Some nomads choose to leave their home country and temporarily settle in a new one, while others take a far more adventurous approach.
The more daring digital nomad might travel through dozens of different cities in any given year.
Although digital nomadism can be incredibly liberating, this way of life is not without its drawbacks.
Established freelancers should have little trouble maintaining a healthy work-life balance, but those new to remote working may struggle to set boundaries.
Are you considering joining the legions of other digital nomads exploring the world? Below are 11 tips for people looking to abandon the office and indulge in their wanderlust.
1 – Be Ready to Dive Straight into Work
Many of us dream of abandoning the 9-5 and embracing life as a digital nomad. However, before you think about sealing the envelope on that letter of resignation, make sure you’ve plenty of assignments lined up.
If you’re currently working in a freelance capacity, the digital nomad lifestyle shouldn’t prove too much of a culture shock.
However, you still need to think carefully about what kind of work you’ll be able to undertake while travelling. If your brand is still undefined, now is also the time to think about establishing your brand identity.
Before you start packing suitcases and booking plane tickets, step back and draft a realistic plan to map out the next few months.
A healthy savings pot is necessary even though a successful digital nomad should bring in a steady income. If your bank balance is nearing zero, focus on building up your savings before embarking on your adventures.
2 – Take Your Time When Travelling
As a digital nomad, the world is your oyster. However, avoid rushing your travels. Pick a starting destination and set aside time to settle in as you get to grips with remote working.
If your existing client book is thin on the ground, avoid starting in an expensive part of the world. You should also limit excursions and socialising during the initial stage.
Focus on delivering to your existing clients and securing fresh ventures as you acclimatise to your new surroundings.
Many digital nomads find it helpful to spend several months in their first port of call. Approach this first leg of your journey as a short-term relocation.
If things go badly, you have the option to return home and reorient yourself. If things progress well, you can start planning your next step.
3 – Balancing Work Commitments with New Adventures
Establishing a healthy work-life balance is hard enough for freelancers based in their home countries. If you’re adopting a digital nomad lifestyle, this balance is more challenging to manage.
During the first few months, the temptation to get out and explore is almost irresistible.
While you’ll want to make time to immerse yourself in local life and discover a new culture, you still need to set aside plenty of time to concentrate on your work.
As a freelancer, you have the luxury of a flexible schedule. However, a more laid-back approach to the daily grind still requires a regimented routine.
Review your to-do lists regularly and ensure you’re allocating plenty of time in your calendar to complete assignments.
You don’t necessarily have to work 8 hours a day, every day, but a regular working pattern will ensure those deadlines are being met.
That being said, it’s essential to leave plenty of time for play. One of the main perks of freelancing is that you’re not bound to a conventional working schedule.
Feel free to change your schedule to accommodate different workloads until you’ve tailored a system that works for you.
4 – Make Sure You Have Access to Reliable Wi-Fi
Most of us take reliable internet connections for granted. However, don’t assume a high-speed wireless connection will be easy to find as you traverse the globe as a digital nomad.
If you’re booking accommodation in advance, ensure you’re reviewing the wi-fi situation ahead of time.
If your hotel or rented accommodation falls short, look for nearby cafes, libraries, or creative hubs that can be utilised as workspaces.
Ultimately, there will be times when you’ll find yourself far from any urban centres and a steady wi-fi connection. This is why it’s crucial to have a contingency solution in place.
Consider investing in a mobile data plan so you can access the internet from anywhere.
Although global roaming charges can be expensive, you’ll only need to bite the bullet when you’re without any other options.
5 – Invest in Technology
A reliable laptop and high-performance smartphone are the bare minima a digital nomad will need on their travels in terms of hardware.
If your current laptop is operating at a crawl, make sure you’ve replaced it with something that will hold up well for months, if not years to come.
It would help if you also thought about portability. If you plan to travel light, a compact design is the way to go.
Travel adapters are another essential if you want to keep your tech fully charged in any country. Universal adapters are great if you’re looking to lighten the load.
As these must-haves are affordable, ensure you’re stocked with a few spares to cover damaged or lost adapters.
Headphones are another staple no digital nomad should be without. Unless you can afford the luxury of private rooms during your travels, you’ll need to be prepared to work in crowded spaces.
Noise-cancelling headsets will allow you to block out external distractions, no matter how lively your surroundings are.
6 – Protect Your Devices
Once you’ve invested in new technology, you’ll need to ensure your hardware is protected against criminals.
Travelling with your devices can be incredibly dangerous, leaving you exposed to identify fraud, email hacks, and more.
In any given week, you’re likely to be accessing dozens of wireless networks in unfamiliar places. Even if these networks are private, you need to be cautious.
To protect your devices and the sensitive information they contain, make sure you’re using a tried and tested virtual private network.
Using a VPN is good practice wherever you are in the world. When activated, a VPN will disguise your IP address, protecting your online identity as you use the internet.
It also conceals your activity from would-be hackers, ensuring you never fall foul of security breaches.
7 – Remember the Time Difference
If you’re managing assignments for clients based across the globe, you need to be thinking about time differences.
Thankfully, the average smartphone provides you with at-a-glance times for any destination in the world. To make your life easier, ensure you’re utilising alarms and reminders to keep you on track.
Time differences present other challenges to digital nomads. If you’re currently based in East Asia and working with a client in the United Kingdom, think twice before locking yourself into a mid-morning phone conference.
Those working on multiple projects will also consider streamlining client communication to cut down on admin hours.
8 – Network with Other Digital Nomads
Meeting new people and expanding your social circle is one of the greatest joys of travel. If you’re considering the digital nomad lifestyle, make sure you’re going the extra mile when it comes to networking.
Making yourself known to the locals will allow you to become acquainted with new cultures and introduce you to potential leads.
The average digital nomad largely depends on the internet to source new work. However, remote working loses some of its appeal after a while.
If you’re pining for face-to-face interaction and miss the thrill of pitch meetings, get out there and explore the market.
If you’re basing yourself in a cosmopolitan hub for any length of time, you’re bound to find lucrative leads eventually.
Networking with like-minded creatives and fellow digital professionals can also help you find new workspaces. Working in a hotel room or rented apartment can be a lonely existence.
If your enthusiasm is starting to wane, a bustling co-working space is a sure-fire way of renewing your appetite for assignments.
9 – Make Sure Your Travel Insurance Covers Every Eventuality
Travel insurance is essential, even for a two-week holiday. For digital nomads, it’s even more vital.
Insurance costs can vary wildly depending on which provider you choose, but they’re a worthwhile investment that will cover you in the event of injury, flight delays, or lost property.
Having to fork out for alternative flights can quickly derail long-term plans, forcing you to return home.
If your laptop is stolen during your travels, not having the money to afford a replacement will instantly cut you off from a steady income.
Those looking to embark on an open-ended adventure will find many travel insurance packages tailored toward digital nomads.
Opt for a rolling package that you pay for monthly if you want the best rates and maximum flexibility.
10 – Look After Your Health
Travel insurance should protect you in a medical emergency but don’t take your health for granted when working on the go.
If you’re currently taking prescription medications, ensure you have a plentiful supply to take with you on your travels.
You may need to return to your home country to replenish your stocks, so factor in the future cost of return flights.
Maintaining your fitness levels is also vital. Gym memberships aren’t a practical option for digital nomads, so adopt running or cycling into your daily routine.
When it comes to food, don’t eat like you’re on vacation. It’s OK to indulge with the occasional treat, but make sure your meals are balanced.
11 – Finding Your Groove Takes Time
Finding the perfect balance between foreign travel and remote work takes time.
Transitioning from a traditional desk job to living as a digital nomad doesn’t always go smoothly, so be prepared for a few bumps in the road.
Even if you’ve thoroughly prepared for a nomadic style of working and lined up plenty of assignments, it’ll tame for everything to fall into place.
Those first few weeks will be frustrating as you contend with crawling wireless speeds, time difference delays, and travel mishaps.
Many would-be digital nomads find these early upsets too overwhelming and throw in the towel. To avoid falling at the first hurdle, don’t be afraid to step back and catch a breath.
You’ll need time to establish the perfect work-life balance on the road.
Provided you have a steady income stream or savings pot to fall back on, allow yourself a settling-in period of around three months as you acclimatise to the digital nomad lifestyle.
Embracing Digital Nomadism
If you’re itching to travel the world but can’t afford to take a career break, embracing digital nomadism is the way to go.
As with any long-term travel plan, becoming a digital nomad requires careful consideration. The most important thing to focus on is your current work situation.
If you’re already freelancing and have a steady stream of assignments and consistent income, you’re in an enviable position.
If you’re currently struggling to cover your rent, focus on bringing in new work before planning your departure to pastures new.
Digital nomads tend to travel light, but your core inventory needs to include some essentials. Make sure you have a reliable laptop and all the hardware required to complete your assignments.
It’s also important to remember that high-speed internet connections aren’t always a given in far-flung destinations.
Make sure you’ve got a contingency plan in place, so you’re always connected, wherever you are in the world.
Finally, be prepared for an uphill struggle. Even with an enviable client list and steady income stream, you may struggle to keep plates spinning when you hit the road.
When starting your digital nomad journey, don’t run before you can walk.
Rather than relocating to the other side of the world, think about resettling in a city that’s only a short-haul flight away from home.
Should you encounter any significant issues, you can return home with ease. That being said, weathering the storm is a natural part of any transition toward a digital nomad lifestyle.
Once you’ve survived a few minor mishaps, you’ll be ready for anything.
Author Bio: Greg Tuohy is the Managing Director of Docutec, a business printer and office automation software provider. Greg was appointed Managing Director in June 2011 and is the driving force behind the team at the Cantec Group. Immediately after completing a Science degree at UCC in 1995, Greg joined the family copier/printer business.
Digital Nomads: 7 Best Places for Freelance Designers
Not all of us were made for the nine-to-five lifestyle.
Going to the same stuffy office day in and day out and continually doing the same tasks can soon get boring.
It’s no wonder people decide to give it up and look for other options.
That is one of the reasons why people decide to become freelancers.
It is expected that, by 2035, there will be around a billion digital nomads in the world.
This alternative lifestyle provides people with a chance to work from home or travel the world and work from all sorts of exciting locations.
However, when you decide to follow this path, there are plenty of things you have to keep in mind.
Before you uproot your life, you have to look into your potential destinations carefully.
Aspects you have to consider include the cost of living, the quality and prices of accommodation, the healthcare system, transportation, the speed and availability of the internet, the weather etc.
Moreover, one cannot forget about their own safety, so looking into the political situation of a prospective destination is also crucial.
In case you are a graphic designer looking to become a digital nomad, we comprised a list of the best places for freelancers.
Take a look.
1 – Lisbon, Portugal
Let’s start with Portugal’s capital – Lisbon.
The city built on seven hills is one of the sunniest in Europe.
When it comes to the weather, the summers are dry and warm, and the winters mild, with the temperature rarely going below zero degrees Celsius.
The cost of living in Lisbon is quite cheap compared to other Western European metropolises, which is great news for digital nomads.
For getting around the city, you can get a pre-paid card which can be used for the metro, trams, buses and ferries.
Seeing as how you will need the internet to work, you’ll be happy to know that it is available all over the city.
However, the speed might not be super fast.
You should also look into their healthcare system before you go.
Furthermore, the community of digital nomads is quite welcoming, and there are various meet-ups you can attend.
2 – Tallinn, Estonia
Did you know that Estonia was the first country which declares that it is a human right to have internet access?
Moreover, they keep investing in their digital infrastructure.
All of that is excellent news for any graphic design freelancer looking to travel to this beautiful city.
While the winters are quite chilly, during summer, you can enjoy the golden beaches.
English is widespread, so there should be no problems with communication and the locals are extremely friendly.
The quality of life and safety are quite good, and the cost of living is not high.
Plus, plenty of cafes and co-working spaces offer Wi-Fi, so all your assignments should be done on time.
3 – Budapest, Hungary
This gorgeous Hungarian city has much to offer to any potential adventurer.
The most significant advantage for a digital nomad is the excellent state of their internet, which is around 30mbps.
Moreover, Budapest has a well-developed public transportation system which is not expensive.
You will have buses, the metro, trams and trolleybuses at your disposal.
While their high-quality healthcare is very affordable, you should opt for private facilities as the public ones are often understaffed.
For all the benefits you stand to experience, the cost of living in this metropolis are somewhat affordable.
If you don’t mind snowy winters and mild summer temperatures, this could be the city for you.
4 – Pune, India
When we hear India, we mostly think of Delhi and Mumbai.
However, other cities offer many better-living conditions.
Take Pune, for example.
It is one of the cleanest cities in India; it’s full of greenery and has roads that are well maintained.
Due to its smaller size, getting around the city is much more comfortable, and there is less traffic than in the bigger counterparts.
Seeing as how the office sector is booming in India, you are sure to find a co-working space that fits your needs.
Thanks to the variety of festivals and cultural events the city host regularly, it has a young demographic which can help you settle in more easily.
Moreover, consider the fact that Pune is much cheaper and safer than other Indian cities when making your decision.
5 – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
If you’re looking for another Asian destination, you should definitely not neglect Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
Their friendly people will make you feel at home instantly.
Even though this is a big city, the prices are not too high, and you can find quite economical rent costs as well as affordable meals.
Vietnam’s street food is fantastic; you will get to enjoy many fresh, delicious and diverse dishes.
The climate is quite hot and humid, with two distinct seasons – dry and rainy.
Take that into account if you decide to move here.
Another potential downside is that even though there are cheap taxis and buses, the traffic is quite bad.
It would be best if you also watched out for pickpockets.
6 – Medellin, Colombia
If you’ve been watching Narcos, you probably associate this city with crime and Pablo Escobar.
However, you will be glad to know that safety has improved massively and it is now a city that welcomes digital nomads.
Seeing as how it has only recently become a hotspot for start-ups and entrepreneurs, the cost of living is not that high, and you can find reasonable prices for accommodation.
Medellin’s nickname is “the City of Eternal Spring“, which means that it’s never too cold or too hot.
However, during the rainy season, daily thunderstorms are almost guaranteed.
The metro and buses are great for getting around the city, and taxis and Ubers are also quite cheap.
Wi-Fi usually depends on the part of the city, but you can definitely find a place to work.
However, you should be aware of the fact that the air quality is not stellar in certain parts of the city due to traffic congestion.
7 – Florianopolis, Brazil
Another South American destination you should consider is Florianopolis.
While we would suggest Sao Paulo’s Vila Madalena as the neighbourhood for all sorts of artists, from graphic designers to musicians, it’s not really the safest of options.
Instead, consider Florianopolis as the city with the third-highest quality of life in Brazil.
If you are looking for a beautiful destination, here you will find both mountains and white-sand beaches.
The summers are hot and humid, and the average winter temperature is around 18 degrees Celsius.
This great weather means that most entertainment takes place outside.
You will love this if you’re into hiking, surfing and other outdoor sports.
Furthermore, they have amazing parties and nightlife.
When it comes to the internet situation, it mostly depends on where on the island you are located.
So make sure to do some research to find the spot with a good connection.
The downside is that you will probably need a car to get around as it is a pretty big city and the transportation system isn’t the best.
You can also consider other locations like Bali, Berlin or Chiang Mai, but they have been a hotspot for digital nomads for so long that their prices have become too high and they are becoming too crowded which makes it hard to find a good co-working space.
Make sure to weigh the cons and pros of these locations before you decide whether they are worth it.
With that in mind, these seven locations we listed are your safest bet if you want to start your adventure as a digital nomad.
Take all your needs into account.
Are you looking for cheaper options?
Is the weather vital to you?
Do you care about amazing views?
All of these things will help you decide which path to take.
So, follow your dreams and good luck!