Being a digital nomad is a great way to see the world (and maybe even save some money). You don’t have to be independently wealthy to achieve this lifestyle; you just have to be smart in your approach and plan accordingly. The best news is you can go wherever you want!

Requirements of Being a Digital Nomad

If you’re considering a nomadic life, the first step is to do a detailed and honest assessment of your assets and earnings, and most importantly, everything you currently spend each month.  We use MonarchMoney to track our expenses so we can compare and contrast each month by category.

Income Source

You will need to have funds. Some nomads use their savings, then supplement with earnings from a travel blog. Many nomads (like us) work remotely, either being self-employed or having a “location-independent” job. Still others earn money (or accommodations) during their travels, for example, by house-sitting or teaching English locally.

If you ARE independently wealthy, then what are you waiting for?

Expense Reduction

The second half of the money equation is reducing your expenses. Obviously the lower this number, the further your funds will go. We gave up our apartment, sold our car, and put everything in storage. This allowed us to eliminate auto and renter’s insurance. We replaced our medical insurance with travel medical insurance.

Availability of Schedule

Not everyone can just up and leave to travel the world at any point in life. We have always traveled, but for years we had a life in the U.S. We had jobs and commitments, we were raising our daughter who was in school, we had pets. Only when we had remote jobs and no more pets and our daughter had moved out with a job of her own were we able to become nomadic.

A Plan and a Smart Strategy

Choose destinations carefully, use tricks and hacks to travel (credit card points, miles, upgrades, repositioning cruises, airbnb month+ stays, etc). If you’re serious about pursuing this lifestyle, you might consider a digital nomad visa and residency – these are currently being offered by many countries, like Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Thailand and Malaysia. This visa allows you to live and work in a particular country longer than with a tourist visa.

Biggest Advantages of Being a Digital Nomad:

  • The first one is the most obvious: you can see the world!
    Some countries are cheaper, some more expensive, but YOU decide where to go and how long to stay. There are some great tools to help you decide where you might want to go.
  • You can travel more slowly, spending more time in a city, getting to know it and living like a local.
    When you’re in “vacation mode,” your time in a given place is limited and you are rushing to see and do everything on your list before it’s time to leave. This is fun but hectic. Spending weeks or even months in one place lets you explore at your leisure, which is infinitely less stressful.
  • A less obvious advantage is that it can actually cost less to travel nomadically than it would to live at home. 
    This is because the United States is a pricey place to live, but you can live a lot more cheaply in lots of great countries and still have an amazing lifestyle. We’ve reduced our monthly expenses by 50% by being nomadic. 

Biggest Disadvantages of Being a Digital Nomad:

  • You’ll be away from family and friends for an extended amount of time.
    This is a deal-breaker for lots of folks who are happy being home and having their loved ones near. However, you can always invite friends and family to meet you somewhere, which we love to do.
  • There’s a new learning curve with each new city.
    Once you arrive at a new place, you have to figure out where to get groceries, where to eat dinner, how to get around, how the washing machine works, where to take the trash, etc. After a few days, you settle into a routine, then you’re on your way to feeling like a local.
  • You will likely spend a good portion of your time working.
    Being a digital nomad is a great way of life, but it’s not a life of constant vacation. We spend several hours every day working on our businesses.

Expert Tips:

  • Get a good travel rewards credit card and start earning points you can use for flights and upgrades.
  • Use CruisePlum.com to search for deals on repositioning cruises as transportation, which can really lower your daily expenses.
  • Read our post on how to consider and narrow down your potential destinations on criteria such as cost, climate, safety, internet, air quality, and English.
  • Join online groups of nomads, for example:

Go With Less – This Facebook Group is for nomads and it’s an amazing community. Every week you can post your locations for the next month, including cruises, and plan meet-ups with others doing the same thing. We’ve met some really nice people this way.

  • Be strategic – plan your travels to chase warm weather (more comfortable and cuts down on packing) or to avoid the expensive peak season.

Summary: Becoming a Digital Nomad

Becoming a digital nomad is a great way to see the world (and save some money). You don’t have to be wealthy, just smart in your approach.