How I Live And Work In A Different Country Each Month
If hearing the backstory of how we achieved the digital nomad lifestyle has inspired you to hang up your suit and pack up your bags (and laptop!) to join us on the road then let us take you through a Digital Nomading 101 to make sure your journey runs as smoothly as possible (and don’t make the same mistakes we did!)
A place to rest our heads Airbnb is a real lifesaver for us, as when you book properties for one month (at least 28 days) at a time you often get big discounts – I’m talking 35% all the way up to 60% (!) off in some cases. What we require in a property is fairly simple: room for two (ideally four, as we like to host friends and family so we don’t get homesick!), a reliable wireless internet connection (ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL), a kitchen and a washer. Everything else is a bonus – although a flare for design, access to natural light and a terrace/balcony are big secondary draws.
Although it’s a good idea to start researching properties ahead of time, keep in mind that a lot of Airbnb owners don’t post their availabilities further than one or two months in advance, so if you book too far ahead you can often miss out on some really fantastic properties. We’ve found that around one-and-a-half to two months before we’re set to arrive in a destination is about the right time to start properly looking for our new (temporary) home.
Location, location, location This might seem an obvious one, but you’ll want to stay in countries where the cost of living is relatively low and you get as much bang for your buck as possible. You have to balance this against safety, ease of travel, understanding a bit of the language and reliable WiFi connections, but we’ve found that South East Asia (particularly Chiang Mai and Bali), Eastern Europe and southern Spain are the best trade-off between value for money and comfortable lifestyle. Avoid big metropolis until you’re ballin’!
Bonus Tip: If you decide to travel around the US, you’ll notice that Airbnb adds a hefty Occupancy Tax – stretch out your stay for over 31 days and this can disappear (only in some states).
Show me the money Once you’ve built up a database of regular clients, freelance work can seem as reliable as a ‘proper job’ – but don’t fall into that trap! Unless you’re locked into a long-term contract, clients can vanish as quickly as they appear, so we’ve learned that you should always be on the lookout for new prospects. Depending on your profession, LinkedIn, Edit-Place and UpWork (watch out for their fees) are great forums to make connections and develop the relationships that will lead to the income you need to keep this party running 365 days a year.
Mistakes will be made So far, we’re pretty darn pleased to say that in the last seven months not a single dull weekend has gone by – but that’s not to say we haven’t encountered a bit of drama along the way. Power-outs, dodgy internet connections and dishonest property descriptions have created some pretty steep learning curves for us, but in the end it all counts towards building up our knowledge so that the mistakes of our past never become our future.
One thing that is of extreme importance is to create total transparency with your Airbnb host (or landlord). Let them know exactly who you are and what you’re going to need in order to live comfortably for the month. For us, it’s the internet, so we always make sure to ask the hosts before we book if the connection is strong, secure and reliable. There have been a few times in which hosts have come back and said that whilst the connection is fine for holidayers, it might not be strong enough for our needs. If we had learned this after schlepping all the way out to a new location, it would have been a total nightmare trying to find somewhere to relocate to on such short notice.
Another thing to note with Airbnb is that things are not always going to be as pictured. In most cases you can make the most of a smaller-than-expected apartment but if you notice something is genuinely wrong – take a picture of it – hopefully you won’t need it, but if you do it makes things so much easier down the line if you have to ask for a refund.
The Office Co-working spaces are not only a great way to knuckle down and work but you can also meet fun people, prospective clients and potential partners – being a freelancer is ALL about networking! Coffee shops often advertise their strong WiFi and this can be a great temporary solution to get you out of the house but after a while you may crave some semblance of an office…
Large organizations such as WeWork can be fairly expensive and restrict you to long-term renting agreements but if you search for independent venues in each town or city, you’re likely to come up with a cheaper, more flexible option – check out Hubud in Bali for the ultimate in digital nomad retreats!
It’s just a numbers game Until you can justify hiring your own accountant, you’ll be crunching the numbers yourself. Although we are yet to find the perfect accounting software, we’ve found QuickBooks preferable to others. And PayPal is fantastic for accepting payments from all over the world (but if you want to reduce fees slightly and don’t mind waiting five days for payment, try Stripe).
Well, that’s just cheating If you don’t want the hassle of organizing flights, accommodation, office space then you might want to look at Remote Year, a company that joins a “vibrant community of global professionals, entrepreneurs, and freelancers” in a never-ending journey in some of the coolest cities in the world. For a flat fee, RY will take care of all of the travel and housing admin and you will move with a group of kindred spirits to top destinations around the world.
Just always remember to dream big, dream bold!