It’s been called the Great Resignation, the Great Reshuffle, the Great Reinvention, the Great Reimagination, the Great Digital Reset…
You get the idea — it’s a “Great” Big Change in the way we work, everywhere around the world.
If you’re among the many people who are looking to ditch the 9-to-5 and explore working remotely as a Digital Nomad, then here are my Top 10 Tips to help you get started.
1. Get clear on your professional identity
If the old models of work are changing, then you must change the way you think about your professional identity. This means getting really clear on your unique set of skills, passions, experiences and value that you bring to the world. Your professional identity should be as unique as you are, because old titles like “manager” or “executive” no longer hold meaning in these changing times.
Check out my last piece, “How to Thrive, Both Personally and Professionally, in a Time of Accelerating Change,” to start thinking about your professional identity.
Once you’ve reconsidered your professional title, take the time to update your LinkedIn and social media profiles. As a Digital Nomad, you’ll be leaning heavily on your mobile network. Your online presence should be consistent with your personal brand and professional identity.
2. Find a Digital Nomad community
A quick Google search reveals there many great websites that cater to Digital Nomads. Some examples include Digital Nomad World (a truly comprehensive resource), NomadList (excellent for comparing locations) and Digital Nomad Girls (a resource that caters to those who identify as “location-independent women”).
You can also lean into LinkedIn groups such as Remote Workers on LI and Digital Nomads And Location Independent People. Or, search your favorite social media platform using hashtags like #digitalnomad, #wanderlust, #remote work and #workfromanywhere. Your next roommate or work partner could be one DM away.
3: Location, location, location
If you’re reading Culturs Magazine, chances are you’ve already got a few couches you could crash on in various locations, at least to get started. Of course, you’ll want to factor in things like cost of living, ease of movement, safety, internet access and the like. Your quality of life will greatly depend on your income compared to your local expenses (and both may be challenging to predict).
NomadTravelTools.com is a fantastic site for comparing your current city to another potential destination including the cost of living, internet speeds, weather, currency conversion and even visa requirements.
Speaking of visas, of course you’ll need a visa to enter your country of choice. Nomadgirl.co maintains an updated list of countries now offering Digital Nomad Visas (yup, that’s a thing now). Rules vary by location, so plan ahead. Visaguide.world has some good info, as well.
4. Get to work
Post-pandemic, it is easier than ever to work remotely — and not just as a freelancer or entrepreneur. Companies around the world now recognize the value of trusting their staff to work away from an office. So you don’t have to sacrifice benefits like paid vacation and sick leave, retirement plans or health insurance to be a Digital Nomad.
If you already have a job, start by having a conversation with your supervisor about remote work. In my family’s case, for example, my French-born partner asked his boss if he could work from France each summer, and they said yes! Consequently, our family now gets to spend quality time with relatives and friends that, in the past, we could only see for a few days on our short visits.
If you’ll be looking for a new position or gig, here are just a few great websites for finding remote work:
- LinkedIn Jobs: use this tool to search thousands of remote job postings.
- Flexjobs: the No. 1 site to find vetted, remote work.
- Upwork and Fiverr: both are excellent sites that cater to gig and freelance workers.
5. Protect your assets
If you’re working abroad, you’ll need to pay attention to laws in both your home country and your country of residence. It’s critical that you have your ducks in a row before you go.
Manage your banking: You’ll need access to both your personal funds and business accounts (if you’re self-employed). Check out this piece on NomadGate, which compares the best personal and business bank accounts for Digital Nomads. Or, talk to your local banker to discuss your options.
Pay your taxes: Don’t think you’re off the hook on taxes just because you’re out of your home country. This could lead to major financial losses in the future. Instead, plan ahead and get the help you need from expat tax services like bright!tax, Greenback, or HR Block.
Create a digital estate plan: You know what they say, “expect the best and plan for the worst.” In case of a medical emergency, or worse, your loved ones need to know how to access your most important information like financial assets, liabilities and passwords. This is important no matter what your age or health status. My favorite resource for creating your digital estate plan is Everplans. I’ll also plug my own online course, Triumph Over Technology, which includes an entire module on preparing your digital estate.
6. Make a healthcare plan
Even with the rise of telehealth, you’ll want to be sure you know where to access in-person healthcare and how to pay for it. Check with your current healthcare and insurance providers, or purchase a new health insurance plan. TravelingLifestyle.net and LostWithPurpose.com both have tools to compare plans that cater to Digital Nomads.
And be sure you know how to refill important prescriptions, and pack a stash in your carryon.
7. Prep your tech
I’ll state the obvious that as a Digital Nomad, you’ll be carrying your office on your back. So don’t skimp on tech. Whether you’re a Mac, PC or even a Google person, be sure you’ve got ample cloud storage and know how to manage it well. Sites like TechRadar, CNet, and DigitalTrends can help you compare laptops and other tech hardware that best meets your needs.
Your mobile device will need to work internationally, without costing you a fortune. I loved these helpful articles from ExpertVagabond.com and FreedomIsEverything.com, which give detailed advice for using a mobile device abroad. For portable internet access, explore purchasing a Mobile Hotspot like the ones featured in this article from DigitalTrends.
Beyond hardware, you’ll need to install the right programs and apps on your devices. Must-haves include Zoom, WhatsApp and a map app like Google Maps. Check out my previous article, “Travel The World With A Smartphone And A Credit Card,” for more of my favorite travel apps.
8. Set a schedule
Working as a Digital Nomad requires self-discipline. Remember, you’re working remotely — you’re not on a permanent vacation. To be successful, you have to commit to a work schedule, ensure you’ve got the right work environment (hint: laptops and sand dont mix) and stay flexible when conditions change.
At the time of this writing, for example, I’m sitting at a table at the back of a bar at Les Sables-d’Olonne, France while the rest of my family is out enjoying an afternoon at the beach. The great music and plenty of passersby makes it a bit more challenging to focus, but it’s the only place I can go to with internet access at the moment. So, you know … discipline. Earplugs help.
9. Think short-term and long-term
Working as a Digital Nomad may be simply a short-term experiment, but consider your long-term life goals. Making a choice to travel almost always changes the trajectory of your life. You’ll meet new people, discover new cultures and encounter new perspectives.
Want to learn a new language? Seeking to volunteer to serve a cause? Interested in buying property in another country? Imagine the life you want to live in the future so that you’re ready to take advantage of any opportunity and new connection along the way.
10. Stay connected with loved ones
Just because you decide to work abroad doesn’t mean you should abandon your already-established relationships. In fact, you may start to get lonely if you don’t take the time to nurture those familiar ties.
Here are a few of my favorite tools for keeping in touch:
- Marco Polo: perfect for sending 1-1 asynchronous video messages (which is helpful when it’s 3 a.m. where your best friend lives, and you’d like to send a message now).
- WhatsApp: The No. 1 secure, reliable messaging service, used around the world.
- A private photo album sharing tool such as Google Photos or Apple Photos (so that you can share specific photos with close family and friends, away from social media).
- The mailbox! Don’t forget, hand-written letters, postcards and printed photos will brighten anyone’s day and let them know you truly care. This is especially true for the older adults and children in your life (who either miss handwritten notes or never get them). Want to be sure you remember their birthdays? Consider scheduling them in advance with Postable.com.
And, there you have it! My Top 10 Tips for working as a Digital Nomad. So, dear reader, where will your next professional experience take you?