Digital nomad lifestyle - what is and how to become a digital nomad?

How do you like the idea of ​​your office being located on a sandy beach in Montenegro or in a luxury cabin in the heart of the Alps surrounded by nature? If this caught your attention, you’re going to love this article.

Nowadays, the traditional 9-to-5 job is no longer the only path to a fulfilling career. The rise of technology and the internet has given birth to a new breed of professionals – digital nomads.

As of 2023, about 24% of companies around the world have adopted a remote way of working, and the numbers are just getting bigger. Believe it or not, the number of digital nomads in the world has increased from 7.3 million in 2019. to 35 million in 2021 (112% increase) after the Covid-19 pandemic. There must be a good reason for so many people choosing this lifestyle, right? Let’s unravel why.

What is a digital nomad?

A digital nomad is someone who leverages technology to earn a living while leading a location-independent lifestyle. Unlike traditional workers confined to an office, digital nomads have the freedom to work from anywhere with an internet connection, whether it is luxurious coworking spaces or beach bars. 

This lifestyle is not limited to a specific profession, it encompasses a diverse range of occupations, including freelancers, remote employees, entrepreneurs, and content creators.

The essence of being a digital nomad lies in the ability to blend work with travel seamlessly. Digital nomads often find themselves exploring different cities and cultures, all while maintaining a steady income through their online endeavours.

Women wearing a hat seating next to sea

Digital nomad jobs - who are digital nomads?

Now that we have a broad picture about digital nomad life, let’s dig deeper into who they actually are and which jobs are the most popular for this type of profession. Here are some interesting statistics that will help you understand this lifestyle a little better.

While the gender distribution among digital nomads is close to parity, with 50.19% being female and 49.81% male, there is a slight pay gap. Men earn approximately $55,800 annually, whereas women earn about $46,500.

Digital nomadism attracts freelancers of all ages, but the majority of them are actually millennials, making over 40% of the community.

Top digital nomad jobs include:

  • Computer & IT – 21%  
  • Art and creative – 12% 
  • Education and training – 11%
  • Sales, marketing, and PR – 9%, 
  • Finance and accounting – 9%
  • Consulting, coaching, and research – 8% 

The most common positions chosen by men include: software developers, web developers, startup founders and crypto professionals. Women, on the other hand, mostly choose marketing, creative professions, blogging and educational positions.  

As of 2023, these are the countries with most digital nomads:

  • US – 210,664
  • Spain – 125,038
  • Thailand – 124,729
  • Mexico – 102,627 
  • France – 94,590
  • Indonesia – 91,963
  • Portugal – 82,998
  • Italy – 49,304
  • UK – 48,068
  • India – 45,286

Benefits of being a digital nomad

Embarking on the journey of becoming a digital nomad offers a variety of advantages that extend beyond traditional work structures.

Flexibility and freedom

One of the most enticing aspects of the digital nomad lifestyle is the unparalleled flexibility it offers. Digital nomads have the power to set their own schedules, choose their workplaces, and tailor their environments to suit their preferences whether they own their own business or are employed by a company. They can choose to stay for a while at the same place using the long term rentals option or travel to different places every day. This autonomy fosters a sense of freedom that is rarely found in traditional employment structures.

Global exploration

Digital nomads have the unique privilege of transforming the world into their office. Whether it’s the bustling streets of Tokyo, the serene beaches of Bali, or the historic cities of Europe, such as Old Town Kotor – the possibilities are endless. This constant exposure to new environments stimulates creativity, broadens perspectives, and enriches personal growth.

Increased productivity

Contrary to conventional beliefs, digital nomads often exhibit increased productivity. The change of scenery and the exposure to new environments can inspire creativity and innovation, leading to enhanced job performance.

Work-life integration

Unlike the conventional work-life balance, digital nomads often talk about work-life integration. The boundaries between work and personal life blur as they weave their professional responsibilities into the fabric of their daily adventures. This integration fosters a holistic approach to life, where work complements rather than competes with personal fulfilment.

 

How to become a digital nomad?

Embarking on the digital nomad journey requires careful planning and a strategic approach. Usually the first question people ask when thinking about becoming a digital nomad is “How much does a digital nomad make?”

Digital nomads can earn an average salary and be absolutely content with it, but if you are an entrepreneur, there is no limit on your earnings. It is fully up to you, your skills and time management. 

Changing your lifestyle like this can be hard, so here’s a step-by-step guide on how to transition from a traditional work setting to the freedom of being a digital nomad.

Websites for digital nomad job seekers

The first step in embarking on this adventure involves meticulous planning for a smoother journey. And what better way to prepare than by informing yourself through websites specifically made for digital nomads? Here are some of the best rated websites for you:

  • remote.co – a dynamic job board dedicated to remote and online opportunities. New jobs are listed every week and there is a blog section where you can find some useful advice.
  • weworkremotely.com – similar to previous platform, this job board also lists remote jobs offered by employers, but it’s mainly used in North America (it’s made in Canada and 25% of users are from USA)
  • powertofly.com/jobs – this platform offers a variety of jobs along with events featuring company executives, training webinars, blog resources, e-books, and immediate coaching services. A focus on equitable opportunities for women is generally seen as a big plus of this job board.
  • workingtraveller.com – this online recruitment service allows short term jobs for all travellers around the world. Online community on this site includes over 4,000 hosts and more than 50,000 travellers. 

Evaluate your skills and identify your niche

To kickstart your journey into this type of remote work, begin by identifying your skills and determining your niche. Identify the skills and talents that can be monetized online. Many remote jobs require specific skill sets, such as digital marketing, programming, writing, or graphic design. By recognizing your strengths, you can tailor your path towards a suitable digital nomad career.

Build an online presence

Establish a strong online presence by creating a portfolio or website showcasing your work. Utilise social media platforms to network with professionals in your industry and build a digital community.

Secure remote work opportunities – digital nomad freelance

Look for remote job opportunities or freelance gigs that align with your skills. Online platforms offer a plethora of remote job listings across various industries.

Invest in necessary equipment

Ensure you have the essential tools to work remotely, such as a reliable laptop, a high-speed internet connection, and any industry-specific software or equipment required for your work.

Financial essentials for digital nomads

Effective financial management is a key factor for digital nomads to thrive. This is especially important for those starting their own business.

  • Research the country you are travelling to – before setting out, thoroughly research the cost of living in your chosen destination. Take time to understand local tax regulations and familiarise yourself with currency exchange rates. This knowledge will empower you to make informed financial decisions during your stay.
  • Setting the budget – crafting a detailed budget is paramount. Calculate anticipated monthly expenses, covering accommodation, transportation, food, and other essentials. Factor in unforeseen costs, allocate funds for health insurance, and establish a financial cushion for emergencies.
  • Taxes for digital nomads – navigating tax obligations can be intricate for digital nomads. The majority of digital nomads pay their taxes either in their home country or the one they are visiting. Make sure you understand the tax regulations in both your home country and the locations you visit. US citizens are, for example, obliged to pay taxes to the US even when living abroad. Consulting with a tax professional well-versed in international taxation can provide valuable insights. Keep meticulous records of your income and expenditures to simplify the filing process.
  • Banking for digital nomads – selecting the right banking strategy is crucial. Choose a bank with minimal international transaction fees and consider online banking for convenience. Have contingency plans in place for accessing funds, such as backup cards or digital wallet options. Ensure your financial tools align with the flexibility of a nomadic lifestyle. It’s not rare that credit cards get cancelled or declined when used in foreign countries, so make sure that you secure one that won’t put you in that situation. Take into consideration that you will be employed by companies all over the world so you will need options such as PayPal, Wise and Payoneer to avoid situations where your employer can’t pay you.
  • Emergency fund and future planning – build a robust emergency fund to safeguard against unforeseen circumstances. Additionally, consider long-term financial goals. Establishing a plan for savings and investments can contribute to a sustainable and secure digital nomad journey.

The best countries for digital nomads - turn your workplace into a luxury adventure

Digital nomads have the world at their fingertips, and choosing the right destinations is crucial for a successful and enjoyable experience. Here are some popular locations for digital nomads globally.

Montenegro – beautiful nature and rich culture

Nestled in the Adriatic Sea, Montenegro is gaining popularity among digital nomads for its stunning landscapes, historic charm, and plethora of options for accommodation, making it one of the best countries to work remotely from. 

In recent years, Porto Montenegro, renowned for its luxurious marina, has particularly emerged as a sought-after destination for digital nomads seeking a picturesque and inspiring work environment. With a growing number of professionals embracing the flexibility of remote work, Porto Montenegro has adapted to accommodate this trend by offering co-working spaces and innovative facilities designed for those who can work from anywhere.

The marina’s waterfront cafes and open-air workspaces provide a scenic backdrop for digital nomads to stay productive while enjoying the Mediterranean ambiance. High-speed internet, business services, and a supportive community of like-minded individuals contribute to the appeal of Porto Montenegro as a haven for those who wish to balance work and leisure in a stunning setting.

On the other hand, cities like Kotor, Budva and Tivat offer a unique mix of coastal beauty and cultural richness while a flourishing yachting scene adds a touch of adventure, making Montenegro an emerging gem for those seeking a serene work environment. 

Bali – “Island of gods”

Known for its vibrant culture, luxurious resorts, stunning landscapes, and hospitality, Bali has become a hotspot for digital nomads. Ubud, in particular, is a hub with co-working spaces, a welcoming community, and a tranquil environment. Dive into the local Balinese cuisine and immerse yourself in the island’s spiritual vibe for a truly unique experience.

Thailand – paradise on Earth

Thailand offers a unique blend of modern amenities and traditional charm. Its unparalleled beaches, excellent cuisine, and a thriving digital nomad scene rank it among the top destinations for remote workers. Explore the ancient temples, participate in the vibrant festivals, and connect with the local Thai culture.

Dubai – a blend of urban sophistication, opulence and nature 

As a global business and technology hub, Dubai has become increasingly popular among digital nomads. Known for its futuristic architecture, luxury lifestyle, and thriving economy, Dubai offers a unique blend of modernity and tradition. Experience the vibrant city life, indulge in world-class dining, and explore the desert landscapes surrounding this cosmopolitan oasis.

Tips for living as a digital nomad

While the digital nomad way of living offers incredible opportunities, it comes with its own set of challenges. Here are some tips to navigate the nomadic journey successfully:

Establish a routine

Nomadic lifestyle can be pretty chaotic without a routine. Creating a consistent daily routine helps maintain productivity and work-life balance. Set designated work hours, allocate time for leisure, and ensure you get adequate rest. 

Invest in travel and health insurance 

Healthcare systems vary across countries, and having comprehensive travel insurance is essential for unexpected medical expenses. Make sure that your insurance covers both health emergencies and potential gear or equipment losses.

Network and connect

Building a strong network is crucial for both personal and professional growth. Attend local meetups, coworking events, and online forums to connect with like-minded individuals. Communicate with other digital nomads to share experiences and visit a trusted website dedicated to digital nomads, such as nomadlist.com to discover new destinations and adventures.

Stay mindful of time zones

If your work involves collaborating with teams or clients in different time zones, plan your schedule accordingly. Use tools like World Time Buddy to coordinate meetings and deadlines effectively.

Prioritise work-life balance

While the flexibility digital nomads experience while working is liberating, it’s essential to set boundaries to prevent burnout. This is especially important for a digital nomad with family. Designate time for relaxation, exploration, and self-care.

Tips for digital nomads who are (or plan to become) business owners 

Fun fact – 33% of all digital nomads in the world own their own business. So, if you are one of them or plan on becoming one, here are some tips that will help you organise better: 

  • Automate and delegate – as a business owner, leverage automation tools and delegate tasks to streamline operations. From project management to email marketing, automation can free up your time, allowing you to focus on strategic aspects of your business.
  • Cloud-based operations – ensure your business operates on cloud-based systems for collaboration, file storage, and communication to enable seamless access to important documents and information from anywhere in the world.
  • Tax planning – consult with a tax professional to optimise your tax situation and explore tax-friendly jurisdictions that align with your business model.
  • Establish legal structure – this may involve consulting legal experts to ensure compliance with regulations in different countries while maintaining the flexibility to operate remotely.
  • Backup systems – rely on cloud storage, external hard drives, and backup services to prevent data loss, ensuring the continuity of your business operations.
  • Build a remote team – consider building a remote team to support your business growth (virtual assistants, freelancers etc.).
  • Financial planning – this includes setting aside emergency funds, managing cash flow effectively, and having contingency plans for unexpected business challenges.
  • Stay updated on regulations – keep abreast of legal and regulatory changes in the countries you operate in at all times. 
  • Invest in cybersecurity – use secure networks, employ encryption tools, and stay informed about the latest cybersecurity threats to safeguard your digital assets.
  • Diversify income streams – explore opportunities to diversify your income streams. This could include creating multiple revenue streams within your business or investing in complementary ventures that align with your skills and interests.

Digital nomad visa - what is it, how does it work and which countries allow it?

As remote work gains popularity, several countries are adapting to attract remote workers by introducing specific visa programs. These visas offer legal frameworks for digital nomads to reside and work in a foreign country for an extended period. 

Among the countries that offer some sort of digital nomad visa are: Montenegro, Iceland, Argentina, Portugal, Spain, Mexico and many others. Currently, there are about 60 countries on this list, and as the location-independent way of working becomes more and more popular, the list will become longer.

The digital nomad way of life is a testament to the evolving nature of work in the 21st century. It offers a unique blend of professional freedom, global exploration, and personal growth. By carefully navigating the transition, selecting the right destinations, and embracing the challenges with a proactive mindset, anyone can embark on the exhilarating journey of becoming a digital nomad. 

As the world becomes more interconnected, the possibilities for remote work and location independence continue to expand, making the digital nomad lifestyle an increasingly viable and appealing choice for the modern professional.

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