It’s a dream for many people to become digital nomads. Having the freedom to work remotely from anywhere in the world sounds appealing.
Can Couples become location independent together?
Well, the first thing to consider is to make sure you both want to live as digital nomads.
Our nomadic lifestyle started in 2007. We were fed up with working ridiculous hours on moves that we had no emotional attachment to. So we started looking into ways to make it happen and by 2008, we were in Africa cycling down a continent with hopes of being travel TV stars.
That didn’t happen.
This article was originally written as a guest post, but has been updated by The Planet D as the writer no longer runs his blog.
Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Upon returning to Canada, we were broke, depressed and unsure of the future. But for 6 months we had a taste of what being a digital nomad was, so we went back to work to save as much money as we could, and spent every spare moment researching how to become travel bloggers.
We’ve now been digital nomads, full-time, 10 years.
I can guarantee you we wouldn’t have even made it through the planning stage though if we both weren’t on board with the planned change in lifestyle.
Anyone can be digital nomads if They Set their mind to it
I know this sounds cliched; but if the two of us can live a nomadic lifestyle, anyone can. We didn’t know the first thing about blogging or social media when we started. But we worked every waking moment to learn as much as we could.
Things are easier today, there are resources all around the web on how to be a digital marketing guru, or how to start a travel blog, or how to get paid to travel.
If you ask one hundred different digital nomads how they got started, and how they earn an income as a digital nomad, you will most likely end up with one hundred different answers.
The important thing to realize, for those who aspire to be digital nomads, is that there is no clear cut way to get there.
What you need to understand is that the only thing every one of us digital nomads has in common is the desire to travel while we earn a living.
If the two of you have that desire together then, with a little work, the rest of it should fall into place.
Start thinking like a nomad before you hit the road
I think what holds most couples back from becoming digital nomads is the fact that they just can’t let go of the things they’ve acquired in their lifetime; cars, homes, furniture, hundreds of trinkets, closets full of shoes, big screen TV’s, etc.
As nomads, very few of us have more possessions than we can carry with us.
The year before we travelled full time, we lived in a trailer to keep expenses down and already learned to live with few possessions. It’s easier to move forward when nothing is holding you back.
The more you have, the less likely you will want to pack it all up to travel.
If the two of you are serious about wanting to be digital nomads, now is the time to start thinking like one.
Before traveling, start taking an inventory of everything you own.
Do you have any trinkets that are just sitting around, any clothes\shoes that haven’t been worn in months.
Look at all the things you don’t absolutely need for the next few months and sell it off. It is liberating to clean out the clutter.
Not only will this free us up of the things that are holding you back from a nomadic lifestyle, but that money can go towards the digital lifestyle you are dreaming of.
After that, start saving. Don’t spend money frivolously.
This is the time to buy only things that will go towards our digital lifestyle, and sell off everything else that is holding you back.
Start thinking about the digital part of your nomad life
While you spend the months before your departure learning how to live like a nomad, you’re also going to want to start thinking about the digital part of your new life. This is going to be a lot easier for some people than others.
If one of you already work online, or if your company allows you to work remotely, the two of you are way farther ahead than most digital nomads when they start out.
If neither of these options applies to you, then each of you are going to have to assess your skill set and get to work building your online business.
The amount of time it’s takes for a nomad to support themselves digitally is going to vary for every nomad out there.
Some already have a digital presence they have been working on for years.
Others have a digital skill set that quickly starts to earn them a decent income. The rest of us hustle on a daily basis to make a living online.
There are an infinite number of ways to make money as a digital nomad. Thousands of articles, and hundreds of books, have been written on how to; “get rich quick”, “work from home”, and “make $10,000 a week in your spare time”.
I’d be willing to bet nearly 100% of these offers are nonsense, and if you rely on these tactics to make money while traveling you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
If you really want to enjoy full-time travel as a digital nomad find out what you enjoy doing and figure out how to earn an income doing it. Easier said than done I know.
Get your business going before you leave
Once the two of you have determined what work each of you wants to do, spend the 6-12 months before you plan on traveling to get your business in order.
Again, there are hundreds of books that will walk you through the process of getting your online business up and running.
My goal with this article is to let you know that it can be done, by almost anyone.
I can give you a brief overview of the process, but for more detailed specifics you’ll need to pick up a couple of good books on building an online business.
I know there are nomad entrepreneurs that earn a living from the passive income generated from one or more affiliate marketing websites.
The truth is though that a majority of us are out there working at least a few hours a day, at least 3-4 days a week, selling our products or services.
If this is the route you plan to take, spend a little bit of time before you leave building your business and clientele.
There are many skill sets that are fairly easy to market online; web design, programming, video editing, writing.
If you have one of these skills, or a similar one, then get your website up, actively promote it on social media, and join one of the numerous “freelance work” websites to build your clientele.
Within 6-12 months you should have a fairly decent pool of customers more than happy to pay you for your services.
Think outside the box
If your skill sets fall a little, or even a lot, outside of a “traditional” online norm, fret not. I’ve seen digital nomads making money online in ways that most people wouldn’t think possible. A small sampling of examples are:
A girl we met traveling who is a personal trainer. She has numerous clients online that she trains via Skype.
The clients work out in the comfort of their own homes, and she manages their exorcize, diet and nutrition. Her social marketing skills were ridiculously efficient, and she actually had a waiting list as she only took on 10 clients at a time.
We met one guy who was a caricature artist, much like the ones you would find at a county fair or amusement park, who specialized in pets.
You send him a picture of your pet; he would draw up some funny picture of it, digitize it, and send it back. All said and done he would spend less than an hour on the sketch, and charge them $20usd for the finished product. While that may not sound like a lot of money to some, $20\hr, even if you only do 15-20 sketches a week, is enough to have you living very nicely in many areas of the world.
One girl we met worked as a seamstress in the States. When she travels she makes blouses, swimsuits, and dresses using the various textiles and designs she finds wherever she happens to be traveling.
She then markets them through her website and social media networks. She makes quite a nice living doing what she enjoys and still finds time to surf five days a week.
Read more ways you can Get Paid to Trave
As you can see whatever your skill set is you can use it to achieve the life of a digital nomad. The sooner you get started on your online presence, the more time you will have for traveling when you finally do hit the road.
The costs associated with being a digital nomad
Most of the people I encounter who are interested in a nomadic lifestyle almost always bring up the cost to travel as being a major hurdle for them. This is one factor that really shouldn’t hold anyone back, especially someone living in a “developed” nation.
When you factor in the costs you’ll be saving like electric bills, car payments, insurance payments, upkeep on house\car, or really any other expenses other than food, drinks, and travel.
To ease the costs associated with travel, many digital nomads housesit in exchange for caring for their house, pets and gardens, while they’re away, I get to live for free in their beautiful beach homes.
Not all nomads go this route. Even if you decide house sitting isn’t for you, the cost of living in a lot of cities around the world is a mere fraction of the cost of most cities in the “developed” world.
For example, a digital nomad said that expenses for rarely exceeded $1000usd a month in Nicauragua.
That included a great little apartment next to the beach, utilities, drinking water, and eating\drinking out more than a few times a week.
And that was in a tourist town. Rates were much lower the farther away you got from the tourists.
These costs aren’t unique just to Nicaragua. On a mere $1000usd a month you can live very nicely in most SE Asian or Central\South American cities, rent included.
Buy: Tim Leffel’s World’s Cheapest Places to Live on Amazon.
Honestly, in my experience, it’s much less expensive to live the life of a digital nomad, even when you take into consideration the actual costs of traveling; planes, taxis, lodging, etc.
These expenses are only a fraction of what it costs someone to maintain a home, vehicle, and lifestyle in an even moderately priced city in North America or Europe.
If the costs involved with traveling are what’s holding the two of you back from the lifestyle you want I urge you to look into it more deeply, taking the cost of living into account.
Making USD’s, while living in a country where the cost of living is relatively low, is about the equivalent of your boss in the States giving you a 50% raise (and what do you suppose the chances of that are?).
Today is the day to get started