About the author

Darren Cronian, the author of this guide, has spent eight years securing remote jobs and building a successful freelancing business. His goal is to help people escape the office. Read more >

Quitting my 9-to-5 office job of 24 years to become a digital nomad changed my life. The decision to escape the office took me two years to where it felt comfortable to commence the nomadic lifestyle.

My travels have taken me to countries like South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Prague, Helsinki, and Ukraine for the last six years. I live in cities for 30 to 90 days, immersing myself in the local culture and learning more about our world.

Let’s learn what you need to know before becoming a digital nomad.

What you need to know before becoming a digital nomad
Setting Expectations

When you search digital nomad online, the first thing you see is a ton of photos of people sitting on the beach, working on their laptops, sipping a cocktail. This is not the reality of the nomad lifestyle.

Of course, you can take your laptop outdoors, check a few emails, and maybe browse the internet. To be productive, you must be indoors, sitting in your apartment, coffee shop, or co-working space.

How much money you need to live will depend on how often you are traveling and what lifestyle you want to live. Most digital nomads must work 8 hours daily to bring in a good income to live comfortably.

What is Living Comfortably For You?

You will find me living in comfortable one-bedroom or studio apartments, dining out a few times a week, and staying in local neighborhoods for 1 to 3 months.

Throughout the year, you will find me in cities like Seoul, and Tokyo, then affordable cities like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Eastern European cities.

You will find some digital nomads who can only afford to live in hostels and stay most of the year in cities like Chiang Mai.

While there is nothing wrong with this nomad lifestyle, it isn’t for everyone, so you need to think about how you would like to live while working remotely and traveling.

Expect Unplanned Events

When you’re living the nomad lifestyle and traveling regularly, unexpected events that are often out of your control can occur. You could lose your job; your bank card could get stolen. Your flights could be canceled, leaving you stranded.

You must be able to keep calm and deal with any issues head-on. Where possible, have a plan should these events occur.

Always travel with a 2nd debit card and a credit card should you find your primary card is lost or stolen. If you lose your job or freelancing clients dry up, have an emergency fund to live off until you find new work.

You have to think on your feet and make big decisions occasionally. You must become familiar with the places you are traveling to and know the common scams aimed at tourists.

Also, research prices so you do not get ripped off when shopping.

Research Your Destination

Before you book flights or accommodation, spend time researching your destination. Where you are living must be well connected so that you can get work done. Does the place have power issues? What is the time zone compared with the company you are working for?

Think about the weather while you are there, i.e., do not travel to the Caribbean during the hurricane season. Don’t head to Vietnam during the rainy season, etc.

What are the common scams in the destination? Read up about them so you are less likely to fall for the tricks on tourists.

Find out the neighborhoods you should avoid at night. Make sure you are not living in areas where crime is high. All of this information can be found online.

Buy Travel or Health Insurance.

Healthcare abroad can be expensive, so it’s a wise factor in the cost of travel or health insurance to ensure you are financially covered. Have pre-existing conditions? Make sure your insurance covers you. It will cost you more, but it is worth it if you are taken ill while traveling.

If you are British and traveling in the European Union, apply for a Global Health Insurance Card through the NHS. You will receive free or disconnected health coverage should you be taken ill.

Final Advice for Digital Nomads

Access to the internet is critical when working remotely, so always have a backup. While traveling, use an unlocked phone or a 4G MiFi with local SIM cards. These devices can then be tethered to your laptop to continue to work when WiFi goes down.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a network within the niche or industry you are working in.

You need a group of people to call upon if freelancing work dries up or when you are looking for a new remote job. Without my network, the digital nomad dream could likely have ended in only six months.

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