How do I become a digital nomad?

To become a digital nomad, you need four things:

  • A desire to take control of your life
  • A source of income
  • A place to stay
  • An internet connection

There’s more to consider, of course, but that’s all you need. You don’t need some fancy backpack, an overpowered computer, or a special shirt. Start with a desire to take control of your life and let’s go from there.

Becoming a digital nomad is a process, and there will be a period of transition. I don’t want to overwhelm you here, but there are a number of important questions you’ll want to think about:

  • Where are you?
  • What will you do for money?
  • Who’s joining you?
  • Where are you excited to go?
  • What are you excited to do / try once you’re there?
  • What needs to be done before you can leave?

Give yourself some time and mental space to really think about these things. Worksheet #1 in the book helps to set the tone and ask some of the questions you’ll want to have a good answer for.

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How much stuff is there to do to become a digital nomad?

As you might have read elsewhere on this site, becoming a digital nomad is a transition to a new lifestyle and way of thinking. There are a lot of things to take care of:

  • Getting (or renewing) your passport
  • Choosing where to go
  • Choosing a way (or ways) to make money
  • Buying your plane ticket
  • Tying up any loose ends
  • Getting your bank and other financial arrangements in order
  • Selling your house or ending your lease
  • Selling or giving away your stuff as needed
  • Other considerations unique to you and your personal situation

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How do I make money as a digital nomad?

Digital nomads may work for themselves as an entrepreneur or work for a company as a remote worker. Each of these has their pros and cons, naturally:

  • Entrepreneurs remain in control over when they work, what they do, and how they do it. Their income fluctuates more, however, and they may find themselves working many hours to make it work.
  • Being a remote worker means you usually have a steady salary (though some work on commission) and a clear expectation of how many hours a week you’re expected to work. You might need to be working at odd or awkward times to stay on the same time zone as co-workers, however.

If your job requires you to be in the same room as someone or to physically touch the thing or person you’re working with, it’s going to be harder to adapt that job to the digital nomad lifestyle. You can certainly take that knowledge you’ve accumulated and use that in different ways, though. Many, many things are delivered and created digitally — and as long as you have an internet connection, those digital creations can be received and sent anywhere on the planet.

Becoming a Digital Nomad has an entire chapter dedicated to this question, along with a comprehensive list of things digital nomads are doing right now to make money.

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How much time do you need to prepare?

As a good target: 2-3 months. This assumes you need to start the process to get your passport, have quite a bit of stuff to sell or store, or need more time to move out or quit your job.

As a practical minimum: 3-4 weeks. This assumes you’ve already started the process for your passport, have some stuff to sell / give away, and need to give some notice before you can move out or quit your job.

As an absolute minimum: 1 week. This assumes you already have a passport and a location picked out. You’re giving away most of your stuff, selling very little, can move out at will, and are unemployed, don’t have to give notice to quit your job, or are taking your work with you.

It goes without saying that these aren’t fixed timeframes, and that every situation is unique. Selling a car or a house (especially in a down market) can take months, and you can’t really leave until all that business is taken care of.

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This is just getting good.

Hey, I’m Chris. That’s my book to the right, Becoming a Digital Nomad. It’s a step-by-step guide that helps you test and transition into the digital nomad lifestyle. It comes with access to 12 worksheets and access to a Facebook group to connect with other digital nomads.