“I want to be a digital nomad, but I don’t think I can afford it”
If that’s what you are thinking, then this article is for you!
Many people who heard about digital nomadism, would love to subscribe to this lifestyle. Many want to experience the freedom, the different experiences and cultures; and maybe you are one of them too.
Let’s say you want to quit your job, say goodbye to your boss and hop on a plane to a place that excites you, where you can both enjoy your life and do your work online. But why haven’t you done it already? Is the reason financial?
Don’t worry! You are not alone, many digital nomad wannabes are postponing their dream to travel the world while working remotely, because of the exact same reason; they don’t have enough money to start living this lifestyle.
But what is “enough” money? How much do you need to save to start your digital nomad life?
If you search this question, you will see answers ranging from $500 to $8,000. That’s a big range right there! So, who decides how much you need? We will help you find the answer.
It’s easier than you think
Let’s start by telling you. It’s much easier than you think it is.
If you ask people who don’t have a digital nomad experience, they might inspire financial fear in you, or instill the idea that only the rich can afford this type of lifestyle.
Let us tell you, bearing in mind that we are all for financial security, that this is not true. Ask people who are digital nomads and they will tell you; anyone can become a digital nomad. All you need is a skill you can monetize, and even if you don’t have one, you can acquire it.
Now that we have established that it is easy, let’s get into the question at hand.
How much do I need to save to start my digital nomad life?
Instead of giving you an estimate that will probably prove wrong. We will guide you on how to calculate this number yourself.
6 months rule
The first rule when planning your digital nomad life, especially the finances, is to plan on the basis that you won’t make any money for 6 months. Most blogs, freelance gigs and remote work job hunts, prove financially fruitful after an average of 6 months.
Based on this rule, our plan here is to save money to cover those first six months (or a little bit more) where you might not have any income.
Choosing your destination is the most crucial element to figuring out how much money you need to start.
When you decide on a destination, you can calculate visa costs (if any), flight tickets and whether you need health or other insurances; these 3 categories cost the most.
Then, you can go ahead to check the cost of living there including rent, groceries, bills, internet and phone packages, coworking spaces, travel and sightseeing, transportation and dining out.
Most digital nomads, especially in the beginning, prefer to head to South East Asia. Countries like Indonesia or Thailand are famous for their low cost of living and being welcoming to expats and nomads. However, the flight ticket to go there is usually on the expensive side.
If you start in a country with a low cost of living, your earnings will have more value, and you can end up saving more than you think.
There are also European and Latin American destinations which are equally affordable. These include, Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovakia, Portugal, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia and Chile.
Frequency of movement
Moving is expensive. It might be the most expensive part of the digital nomad life; however, it is also the goal, right?
Well, our advice is, plan to move slowly, that way you can save tremendous amounts. Moving from one place to another fast means more transportation costs, set up fees and maybe visa and other fees. It also takes a toll on your health.
When you stay in a destination for a few months, you can also take advantage of offers, negotiate the rent and get a cheaper subscription in the coworking café or the gym.
It also helps you take in the experience and really visit the place you are in without rush. Afterall, the point of the digital nomad lifestyle is experience, not only stamps on the passport.
The lifestyle you lead/plan to lead, will play a big role in assessing your financial needs. What kind of apartment you rent, how often do you have a night out, how many places you want to visit, even down to how many cups of coffee you buy every day? All of these are expenses.
Our advice is to keep it balances. You need to have a good life. It’s not like you are a tourist who is there temporarily, you are there for a while and comfort and good quality of life are important for your work, health and overall experience.
On the other hand, you don’t need to do things the luxurious way, all 5-star, expensive dining and a lot of shopping.
Of course, if you can afford it, feel free. However, we are talking to the average joe here.
Look for deals, ask nomads who have visited this destination, eat some meals at home and make some of those cups of coffee yourself. Aim for a good balance between comfort and experience on hand and a reliable budget on the other.
Uncertainty can be a part of the experience of digital nomads. Maybe it will take a while for you to find the right balance and what you like, or maybe your income will vary from one month to another; it’s ok.
This is normal, trial and error is part of the experience. And with the spirit of trial and error, our advice before starting a digital nomad life, is to do a trial run.
Choose a destination, estimate the money you need and try it out for a few months. Probably, not all the financial decisions you will make will be sound, however, it will be a learning experience and will make it easier for you to start your dream life as a digital nomad.
Just for fun, check how much you need for your dream destination and let us know!