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Digital Nomad Guide: How to become one in 2023!

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Digital Nomad Guide: How to become one in 2023!
‍Ever pictured yourself working on a laptop from a tropical island? Yeah, me too. Nowadays, digital nomads are all the rage. Let's find out if this lifestyle could be for you… 
Jessica Bergin
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Jessica Bergin is a Barcelona-based Australian writer, photographer and videographer who has worked in the travel industry for half a decade. Her passion for adventure, travel, culture and lifestyle has helped her navigate a successful career in the writing, photography and videography industry.

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Imagine this. You wake up in a lush destination, the sun is shining, and the birds are chirping. You grab your backpack and head off to the local café. As you indulge in a delectable brunch, you set up your laptop and get started on work for the day.

You have the freedom to create the life you desire and to travel anywhere you want. 

That does sound good, doesn't it? But is it really the reality of a digital nomad? What we see pinned all over social media isn't always the case. But it could be! 

If you're interested in the lifestyle of a digital nomad, you're in the right place. This guide will take a deep dive into all that the topic entails. I'll wind through the step-by-step process of how to become a digital nomad and how to make money. Let's get to it! 

What Is a Digital Nomad? 

A digital nomad is a remote worker and can be a freelancer, an employee, or a self-employed individual. They can travel as they please, whether that be domestically or overseas. 

This type of location-independent, technology-enabled lifestyle allows people to usher more freedom into their daily lives. Digital nomads connect and work online, all while traveling as they wish. 

Many nomads choose to stay in one location for a few months, while others will be up and at 'em in just a few short weeks. Digital nomads can work from co-working spaces, coffee shops, planes, hotel rooms, and practically any other place you can imagine. 

What Is a Digital Nomad Lifestyle

Typically speaking, a digital nomad is considered someone who moves around a lot. As their work relies on the web, they can move, work, and live anywhere, as long as they have access to a good internet connection. Whether you want to work from a hammock on the beach or a high-rise apartment in the city, it's really all up to you. The world is your oyster! 

While this type of lifestyle appeals to many, it's definitely not for everyone. Towns with spotty internet can be one of the challenges, making it hard to stay on top of the workload. Topped by a lack of motivation and productivity, things may quickly derail. 

Working On A Laptop In A Hammock On The Beach
Image Courtesy of Jcomp

Pros and Cons of Working as a Digital Nomad 

Now's the time to get in touch with reality. Sure, working remotely from the lush mountain tops or an idyllic island might sound fun. Unfortunately, it's not all glitz and glamour. Here are the pros and cons of working as a digital nomad: 

Advantages: 

  • You can travel full-time and be more flexible.
  • You can work from wherever you want in the world.
  • You get to experience different cultures.
  • You get to meet new people and fellow travelers.
  • You grow on a personal and emotional level.
  • You can enjoy the lower cost of living.
  • You don't have to endure a long commute to work.

Disadvantages: 

  • You have to deal with time zone differences.
  • You don't have any stability.
  • You can sometimes get lonely.
  • You might struggle to maintain a work/life balance.
  • You rely on decent Wi-Fi.
  • You might be stressed out by the logistics, i.e., getting a new SIM card, finding accommodation, packing and unpacking, and figuring out transport.

Top Locations for Digital Nomads  

If you're familiar with digital nomads working in places like Bali or Costa Rica, you might be wondering what else is on offer. Maybe the tropics aren't your cup of tea, and that's ok! The Digital Nomad Index analyzes all of the countries around the globe. 

Based on the internet, mobile speed, working holiday visas, and monthly rent, they compare the top places to live. Here are the best 10 locations for digital nomads: 

  • Canada
  • Australia
  • France 
  • Switzerland 
  • Sweden
  • Denmark 
  • Netherlands 
  • Romania 
  • United Kingdom 
  • Germany 
Colorful buildings near a river surrounded by mountains in lucerne in switzerland
Image Courtesy of Wirestock On Freepik

How to Make Money as a Digital Nomad 

Generating money while on the move is surprisingly simple. As long as your job isn't location-dependent, you can do practically anything, anywhere, anytime. From freelancing and blogging to tutoring and customer service, there's a wealth of possibilities. 

Here are some ways to make money as a digital nomad: 

  • Writer/editor 
  • Freelance work
  • Project manager 
  • Programmer 
  • Online teacher/tutor 
  • Designer 
  • Photographer 
  • Social media manager 
  • Customer service rep 
  • Virtual Assistant 
  • SEO Specialist 
  • Web designer 
  • Youtuber 

You can also consider using RemoteOK to find out about more online job opportunities. Search through the different categories, check out the freelancer directory, and sign up for email subscriptions to get alerts. Find out everything you need to know about this free platform in this RemoteOK review

Close-up view of male hand holding professional camera
Image Courtesy of Freepic.Diller on Freepik

How to Become a Digital Nomad 

First things first. Once you've determined whether this lifestyle is a good fit for you, it's time to get into the nitty-gritty details. Research is key and can play a big factor in how well it all pans out. Here are several more factors to consider beforehand: 

  • Make a budget with accommodation, food, transport, etc. 
  • Decide on a destination 
  • Acquire the necessary skills
  • Research the job market
  • Organize health insurance 
  • Get an international SIM card 
  • Research the internet service 
  • Figure out the legal and tax provisions 

Digital Nomad Visas 

Life's short, so why not start today? While it's possible that digital nomad visas are not a requirement to work remotely, it's not always the correct thing to do. 

Staying in a country on a tourist visa usually entails a "visa run." This is where a digital nomad has to leave the country once their visa expires. Whether it's for a few days or a few months, the digital nomad can then reenter the country and renew the tourist visa. 

This ongoing process can be a bit frustrating, not to mention it's also illegal in some countries. Working under a tourist visa can result in immigration problems, and it may not be possible to reenter the country after doing a "visa run."  

If you're planning on staying in a country for a longer time, a digital nomad visa is by far the best choice. You'll have ease of mind and the freedom to move throughout the country during the duration of your visa. 

Passport With Visa Stamping On It
Image Courtesy of ConvertKit on Unsplash

How to Apply for a Digital Nomad Visa 

The application process is fairly straightforward but can vary depending on each country. You'll need to fill out an online application, attach the required documents, and submit it to the relevant authorities. Sometimes, you'll need translations of the paperwork too. Here you can find information on applying for the following digital nomad visas: 

Digital Nomad Podcasts 

If you're interested in becoming a digital nomad, you might be feeling stumped by the number of options. From organizing visas to finding the ideal destination, there are a lot of things to consider. However, similar to Reddit subs, you can get inspired by a digital nomad podcast and make an informed decision. 

You can listen to first-hand experiences, listen to local advice, and find out the realities of being a digital nomad. Top podcasts include Become Nomad, Badass Digital Nomads, and Nomadtopia. For the full scoop, dive into the details with this guide on digital nomad podcasts

Tools for Digital Nomads 

Sourcing out all the relevant information can be tiring work. Thankfully, there are specialized sites like Nomad List that make things easier. Bringing it all together in one place, Nomad List compares and ranks different destinations. 

This website compares the cost of living, internet speed, visas, quality of life, English-speaking, safety, and more. There's also the chance to connect with other nomads and plan meetups too. Similar to Remote Year, this platform can be very useful for globetrotters. To find out whether or not it's really worth it, take a look at the Nomad List review

If you're looking for freelancing work, you can consider platforms like FiverrWeWorkRemotely, and Upwork

Remote Year Logo
Image Courtesy of Remote Year

Where to Stay as a Digital Nomad  

Whether it's a home near the beach or an apartment near the mountains, finding decent accommodation as a digital nomad can be an exciting process. Sometimes, hotels and hostels aren't always that reliable. 

Maybe it's a lack of soundproofing or a poor Wi-Fi connection. These things can make a big difference for a digital nomad. That's where Selina Hotels come in, a global hospitality company that offers accommodation worldwide. 

The facilities and amenities are actually designed to tailor to digital nomad's needs. You'll find co-working spaces, yoga studios, comfortable rooms, and social activities too. If you're interested in finding out what makes this chain different, have a look at this in-depth Selina Hotels & Hostels review

Working Remotely, and Beyond! 

So, now you're aware of how to make your daydreams a reality. If you've decided to get started on your digital nomad journey, or are planning to travel as you work your awesome new remote job, be sure to check out Pilot for your next trip and begin the countdown now! 

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Disclosure: Pilot is supported by our community. We may earn a small commission fee with affiliate links on our website. All reviews and recommendations are independent and do not reflect the official view of Pilot.

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Written by:
Jessica Bergin Blogs
Jessica Bergin
Contributor
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Jessica Bergin is a Barcelona-based Australian writer, photographer and videographer who has worked in the travel industry for half a decade. Her passion for adventure, travel, culture and lifestyle has helped her navigate a successful career in the writing, photography and videography industry.

Read more about this author
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