If you follow any digital nomads on Instagram, you probably assume that they are pretty wealthy. Flying to beautiful international destinations every month, staying in incredibly beachside hotels or jungle treehouses, and taking in local adventures.

This can make the digital nomad lifestyle seem inaccessible. You must be very wealthy to become a digital nomad, right?

While there are some very wealthy digital nomads out there, you don’t have to earn a million dollars or even $100,000 per year to become a digital nomad. You might be surprised how much real digital nomads actually earn.


Digital Nomad Salaries

Flatio recently conducted a survey of digital nomads, and among other questions, asked them to share their salaries. Let’s break it down. Results were shared in Euros.

  • 8% earned between €10,000-€20,000 per year
  • 5% earned between €21,000-€30,000 per year
  • 5% earned between €31,000-€40,000 per year
  • 7% earned between €41,000-€50,000 per year
  • 2% earned between €61,000-€70,000 per year
  • 8% earned more than €100,000 per year
  • 5% chose not to respond

This suggests that the vast majority of digital nomads earn less than €50,000 a year and still manage to access the digital nomad lifestyle. Even those on what would be considered a lower income, less than €30,000 a year, can access the digital nomad lifestyle thanks to the lower cost of living where they choose to live.

According to the survey, 32.5% of the respondents are in full-time traditional employment, while the remainder were a mix of freelancers, self-employed, and entrepreneurs. Around 55.4% choose to work from their accommodation, while 16.2% work from coworking spaces.

When asked how much they think they need to earn to be able to manage the digital nomad lifestyle, these were their responses:

  • 7% said €1,000-€2,000 per month
  • 1% said €2,000-€3,000 per month
  • 3% said €3,000-€4,000 per month
  • 18% said €4,000-€5,000 per month
  • 1% said €6,000 per month

This suggests that the vast majority think you can live well as a digital nomad with an income of around €50,000 per year.


True Digital Nomad Costs

How much does it actually cost to live as a digital nomad? It is impossible to say since it depends on where you travel, the accommodation you choose (which is usually the biggest expense), and how you prefer to live.

But to gain some insight, below we have shared four case studies from digital nomads who have openly shared their expenses online to help others. On average, digital nomads on the move estimate that they are spending US$3,500 per month. But we also have an example of a digital nomad who has made a home base for themselves in a country with an affordable cost of living, and they are spending around half that.


Case Study 1

In June 2023, White Collar Wanderer shared a summary of their expenses as a digital nomad couple. Each spends around US$3,650 per month.

They said that their biggest expense is always rent, though the exact figure depends on where they are and how long they are staying. The longer they stay, the more affordable it is per day. They use a variety of different accommodation options, with the rule that it has to be cheaper than the rent they would pack back home (in LA, so that gives them a lot of slack). In 2022-2023 they paid an average of US$1,600 per month as a couple. They also shared that their lowest rent was US$750 in Egypt, and their highest two were US$2,550 in Curaçao and US$3,250 in Denver in the USA.

They shared that they spend around US$350 per month each on travel expenses. This includes dirt-cheap flights around Europe and more expensive flights to more exotic locations. They also divided food, spending around US$100-$200 a month on groceries and US$300-$400 on eating out. When it comes to fun activities wherever they are, they spend around US$1,500 each per month. Clearly, in some places, it will be much higher and in others much cheaper. On top of that, they have bills including a storage unit, online personal trainer, phone bill, insurance, and investments, which come out to about US$500 a month each.

Case Study 2

Redditor Nomadplanning also shared detailed examples of their expenses based on nine years on the road. Their expenses have varied a lot over the years but are currently sitting at between US$3,000-$4,500 per month.

When it comes to accommodation, they have spent between US$1,500-$2,000 for the last year. This has gone up a lot since 2020 when they were spending less than US$1,000 most months because they switched from staying in hostels to Airbnbs. They estimate spending US$500-$600 a month on food, with 50-70% of that usually being eating out. They estimate spending around US$300 a month on entertainment and fun, plus US$250-$450 on personal expenses like clothes, but mostly coffee. When it comes to transportation, including everything from flights to Uber to donkeys they spend around US$400 per month.

Case Study 3

Mike Swigunski of Global Career recently gave an interview on how much he spends as a digital nomad based in Tbilisi Georgia, a country with an accessible cost of living. He shared costs for himself and his partner, who live together and split most expenses. These expenses are more for someone living long-term somewhere on a digital nomad visa, for example, 6-12 months.

He says that they pay US$600 per month for a place in a nice part of the city with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a garden. They also spend around US$90 per month on utilities including heating and internet. They spend around US$250 per month traveling to other destinations, admitting that they are traveling locally to nearby countries at the moment rather than to long-distance overseas destinations.

Since Georgia has such an affordable cost of living, they spend around US$125 per month on food, both eating out and eating in. But on top of this, they choose to spend US$161 a month on a personal chef who does all the grocery shopping and cooks during the week, wow. They pay US$120 per month for a luxury gym membership.

Nomad Talk shares similar estimates for living in South East Asia, suggesting that nomads need a minimum of US$510 per month, but more like US$1,485 per month for the kind of good standard of living described above.


Case Study 4

Warren at the Nomad Hive recently shared his expenses both when he was living on the cheap and when he was able to spend more on the digital nomad experience. He spent around US$1,500 when living on the cheap and US$3,500 plus when living larger.

When traveling on a budget he spent around US$300-$500 per month on accommodation, staying in hostels or shared rooms. He then spent around US$150-$250 on food, mostly local markets, street food, and cooking for himself rather than eating out. He spent around US$50 on local transport. He budgeted around US$200 per month for activities such as hiking and beach days, US$200 for drinks and eating out, and US$100 for miscellaneous splurging. On top of that, he was sure to save around US$300 per month following a 50/30/20 rule for essentials, enjoyment, and saving.

When traveling on a higher budget he spent around US$1,000-$1,500 per month on Airbnbs and mid-range hotels, US$200 per month on groceries, US$100 on utilities, and US$300 on transportation including flights and taxis. For enjoyment, he spent around US$400 per month on dining out, US$600 on leisure and adventure activities, and US$500 on miscellaneous things like nights out and shopping. He said that he was now allocating more on savings and investments but did not share a specific number.


Digital Nomad Money: The Reality

So, are digital nomads rich? While some certainly are, you don’t have to be. Most earn US$50,000 a year or less and that seems to be enough to cover expenses, with most spending around US$3,500 per month.

Consider that the average salary in the United States is US$64,000 and the average cost of living for a single person is also estimated to be around US$3,500 per month. The average salary in Germany is lower at €50,000 per year but with a cost of living of around €1,600 for a single person.