Imagine spending winter in Thailand, spring in Spain, summer in Croatia, and autumn in Peru. All while working and enjoying a comfortable and adventurous lifestyle.
That is the life of a “digital nomad.”
What is a “digital nomad” you ask? The term appears to have originated in 1997 with the book entitled Digital Nomad by Tsugio Makimoto. According to Reddit:
“Digital Nomads are individuals that leverage technology in order to work remotely and live an independent and nomadic lifestyle.”
The digital nomad lifestyle has become one of the hottest strategies for combining work, life, travel, and adventure. While it’s very popular with the Millennial crowd, anyone at any age or career stage can make it happen.
So how does one pull off being a digital nomad? It’s not easy, but it’s definitely doable if you strategize and plan wisely.
Finding a Remote Job
The first step is to find or create a job that you can do remotely that doesn’t require your physical presence. In today’s tech world, there are a myriad of possible options.
My friend and fellow blogger, Ryan Robinson, recently put together a great list of side businesses that can be done remotely with his 65 Best Businesses to Start While Working a Full-Time Job.
Although it’s written from the perspective of earning side revenue while working full-time, almost all of the ideas can be applied to the digital nomad lifestyle.
Here are just some of the remote job ideas: graphic design, web design, web development, online courses, online coaching, podcasting, writing ebooks, Amazon reselling, affiliate marketing, English teacher, blogger, and much more.
You can also find a number of remote jobs on freelance sites and remote job boards. Some of the top freelance sites are Upwork (formerly eLance & oDesk), 99 Designs, and Fiverr.
Remote job boards include WeWork Remotely, FlexJobs, and Working Nomads.
If you’re currently employed, you can try asking your employer about remote working options. Many tech companies are used to working with employees, contractors, and vendors in other cities and countries. A couple of jobs that work well remotely are developers and designers.
It doesn’t cost you anything to ask, and you never know - your boss may be fine with it. You can even sell them on the fact that you’ll save them space and money, since you won’t be using a desk at the office or using any of the office resources.
Selecting the Best Countries
The best countries for digital nomads share several characteristics: low cost of living, nice weather, plenty of things to do, fast and accessible wifi, availability of co-working spots, and are safe and friendly.
Nomad List does a great job ranking cities worldwide for digital nomads. Their primary rankings are based on cost, weather, air quality, fun, and safety. You can also filter for fast wifi, female friendly, and great nightlife.
Another great resource is International Living’s Best Places to Retire list. They rank on cost of living, fitting in, entertainment & amenities, healthcare, infrastructure, and climate.
You can also get some good ideas by reviewing lists of top countries for traveling on a budget.
Taking all the rankings into consideration, the three regions that make great locations for digital nomads are Southeast Asia, Central & South America, and parts of Europe.
Southeast Asia: Thailand has always been popular for digital nomads, especially Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Phuket.
Thailand’s not the only great spot in SE Asia. Other countries to explore or consider are Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Nepal, Malaysia, the Philippines, and India.
Central & South America: The top countries in Central America are Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Mexico, and Costa Rica.
For South America, the best digital nomad locations are mainly along the Pacific coast: Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Uruguay.
International Living’s report ranked Ecuador #1 for retiring abroad:
“A doctor’s visit will set you back around $10, while a main course in a restaurant can be had for as little as $2.50. The bus trip from Cotacachi to Otavalo will cost you 25 cents. For big-ticket items like real estate, you can get a lot more for your dollar here than in the U.S. A couple can live well here on $1,400 a month, including rent.”