How to become a digital nomad

Find out how to travel the world and still get paid

Rosie Murray-West – Virgin Money Living Mentor

by Rosie Murray-West | Independent Money Mentor

Award-winning personal finance and news journalist

Becoming a digital nomad is a dream for many people. These world wanderers take full advantage of new technology to work remotely from any location across the globe, whether they are on the beach in Bali, or watching the Northern Lights in Svalbard. Find out how you can join their number with this step-by-step guide.

Start with the skills

“Everyone who is thinking about becoming a digital nomad is in a slightly different position,” says Johannes Voelkner, a long-term remote worker who runs travel blog webworktravel. “Some have already got skills that can be turned into a successful remote working career, while others might need to take a crash course.”

If you’re not in a hurry, he suggests moving into careers that will give you these skills, such as applying for jobs at online marketing agencies in the UK. Once you’ve got some experience under your belt, you’ll be able to take them away with you.

If you’re happier interacting with people, a course teaching English as a foreign language will also give you skills to travel with. You can teach in a physical school in these locations or become an online tutor with companies like Live Lingua.

Understand your living costs

There’s a world of difference between being a ‘digital nomad’ and being location independent, and one is much easier to achieve than the other. Earning enough to live in cheaper parts of the world, such as Southeast Asia, will allow you an exciting lifestyle, but you won’t be truly location independent unless your online income allows you to move to more expensive locations as well. If you’re happy to stick to countries with a lower cost of living, the dream might be a reality more quickly.

Engage with the nomad community

The best way to get tips on how to work remotely is to ask those who are already doing it. Sign up to apps like WorkFrom to show you the best places to work in any city, while groups like the Digital Nomads Forum can put you in touch with a wealth of advice and experience.

Get the money right

Before you travel, ensure you’ve been in touch with your bank and worked out how to organise your finances. Frequent travellers often find their cards stop working unless they tell their banks where they are going, while having the right credit cards, prepaid travel cards and payment technology with you will ensure you can continue your lifestyle for as long as possible. You may need to talk to your local tax office, or an accountant, about the tax implications of your decision, as where you pay your tax will depend on a variety of factors including where you live. If you are planning to stay somewhere for a long time and have a working visa, it may be sensible to get a bank account in that country, but many digital nomads do without, and only keep an account in their own country.

Invest in the right technology

Your computer and phone will be your constant companions as a digital nomad, and they will need to work – and survive a lot of physical punishment – as you travel around. Ensure you invest in reliable, top-quality kit that can also withstand shocks. Waterproof cases and good protective luggage will save you a lot of heartache, particularly if you are travelling to an area where buying new technology or getting an old computer repaired can be tricky.

Before making financial decisions always do research, or talk to a financial adviser. Views are those of our mentors and customers and do not constitute financial advice.