Just over a year ago, I discovered digital nomad lifestyle and hit the road for the greatest adventure—building a business while traveling.
Work is changing, faster than you think. According to the American Time Use Survey released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, among all workers, 23 percent report spending all or part of their day working from home. Roughly every other millennial will be working remotely in less than a year.
"85 percent of employed persons did some or all of their work at their workplace." - American Time Use Survey
Just over a year ago, I discovered the digital nomad lifestyle, and 11 months ago I completely redesigned my lifestyle to become one of those cool travelers doing work online and being location independent. I have traveled to 14 countries in 3 continents while working on Despreneur and Despreneur Academy with a mission to inspire 1 million people to change their lifestyles.
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Some of the Main Reasons to Become a Digital Nomad
There are many reasons people choose to become location independent. Personally, I value freedom and opportunities more than anything at this moment. I want to learn and meet and see and try as much as possible. I am not alone, you might have one of the following digital nomad traits too.
- Rejecting the idea of 9–5 job. You feel stuck and depressed in your office. Main problems include a lack of organization culture and personal scheduling freedom, your personal values don't align with your peers or the overall company's vision.
- Wanderlust, or simply put, an immense urge to travel and explore the world. Traveling has become more affordable than ever before and you feel that the world is waiting for you to try new foods, experience new activities, meet new people and see amazing places.
- You start seeing a value in experiences over things. You do not feel any fulfillment getting a new gadget or collecting other physical things. For the last year, I've lived out of my backpack and owned nothing. I've never been happier in my life.
- Life-learning attitude. You are killing TV by switching to the more interactive web and offline experiences that create vivid memories and make amazing friendships that last more watching an episode of "Lost".
How it all Started?
Digital nomad trend hit the public domain when Tim Ferriss launched his bestseller "4 Hour Work Week" with the smart concept of working abroad in a low cost environment earning western salary.
His theory of success is having enough time to actually experience millionaire's lifestyle without needing to wait for retirement. After reading numerous of articles on digital nomad lifestyle, I felt that it was doable and convinced my best friend, Justas Markus, to start freelancing and go on an adventure of a lifetime.
After four months of a preparation, we were heading to beautiful Budapest, Hungary. After some time in Europe, we wanted to escape winter and landed in South East Asia, or more precisely Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
What Will You Need?
To become a digital nomad, you will need two things: remote job and the right attitude. You're probably reading this stuck in a 9-5 job, and you think that your skills can't be applied when working remotely, so this is where the second part of the recipe comes—attitude will help you to look at things with a hustler's perspective and will allow you to push forward even when it looks impossible.
My good friend and life coach, currently based in Bali, Indonesia, Lydia Lee, had been stuck in a cubicle for years and decided to escape the 9-5 and find her calling. It all evolved into a movement called Screw The Cubicle, that allows people to find their purpose and design a sustainable lifestyle around it.
Marina Janeiko, a UX designer, has been traveling the world for years and currently works on What's It Like, an app that helps you figure out when and where to go on a trip to have the best experience with things like weather and festivals considered.
Kavi Guppta, another great nomad lifestyle ambassador, freelancer and Forbes contributor, has been on the road for more than a year now. He has been giving back to the community by sharing his experience and wisdom as well as drawing attention to things that need more than a thought, he and Anjali Ramachandran released an ebook "Disruption In The Developing World".
Jacob Laukaitis, a Lithuanian entrepreneur, and nomad has been running ChameleonJohn, a couponing website, remotely while traveling in Asia, the USA and Europe for over a year now.
Where Should You Go?
Pieter Levels has built an amazing tool for aspiring and current digital nomads called Nomad List that lists all the best cities to live and work remotely considering WiFi speed, safety, living costs, location, weather and more.
Some of my favorite places I've been to with average nomad living costs:
- Prague, Czech Republic ($1,034/m)
- Budapest, Hungary ($1,438/m)
- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia ($1,221/m)
- Ubud, Bali, Indonesia ($1,154/m)
- Koh Phangan, Thailand ($602/m)
- Chiang Mai, Thailand ($747/m).
Things to Consider Before Going
There are some smaller and bigger things to take care of before leaving that will let you experience the world without unexpected headaches and stress dealing with overseas.
Make sure to research visas. You can not stay too long in some countries, especially in the developing countries. For an inexperienced digital nomad this might be a huge headache. For example, Lithuanians can stay in Thailand for only 15 days with a visa on arrival, 30 days in Indonesia, and to enter Vietnam you first need to receive a letter of invitation.
- Pay off all of your debt
- Let people know that you are leaving
- Save up for at least three months
- Inform your bank and credit cards that you will be traveling so they don't block your accounts due to unusual use. Figure out bank charges abroad to avoid stupid charges that can cost hundreds of dollars in the long run
- Make sure to get travel insurance
- Get needed vaccines
- Find out about your bank charges abroad to avoid stupid charges that can cost hundreds of dollars in the long run
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Why South East Asia?
I'd like to compare typical western city, such as London, with a small town in South East Asia.
South East Asia is a great destination for digital nomads as it offers great value for money. In Asia, you can choose from a huge pool of talented people that can become rock star team players with little training and investment.
Asia is full of opportunities. Many developing countries, especially in South East Asia have huge markets, Indonesia has over 250 million people, the Philippines over 100 million people, Thailand 65 million and the list goes on. You can simply take a working model from the west and apply it to the east. Obviously there are many challenges to overcome but generally opportunities and endless.
Cost of Living in London, UK vs. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia?
I've lived in London, UK for over a year and for around three months in Bali, an island in Indonesia. In the table below you can see a comparison of how much I was spending a month and what living standards, I've had in these places thousands of kilometers apart.
|City||London, UK||Ubud, Bali, Indonesia|
|Description||Enormous city with dozens of activities and opportunities on every corner. If you are an entrepreneur, London is the hottest spot in Europe at the moment. However, cost of living is unimaginable and value for money is very poor.||Extremely beautiful village in the middle of the jungle in the often called "paradise Bali island." Delicious food, gorgeous beaches and sights, friendly people and numerous activities including yoga, surfing, hiking and diving. There's an active nomad community and Hubud co-working space that strives to help anyone "make it."|
|Transport||Oyster pass $195/month||Scooter $45/month|
|Rent||Bedroom with shared bathroom and kitchen $1030/month||Private bungalow with clean sheets and towels every day $433/month (picture above)|
|Going out||$150/night||$6 for all you can eat buffet with free drinks|
|Food||Cooking at home $250/month||Eating out is only $400/month|
Not Everything is Rainbows and Sunshine
This lifestyle is certainly not for everyone due to constant uncertainty, ever changing working and living environments. There are many more challenges to overcome especially for beginner digital nomads. Depending on your personality it can be really hard to deal with certain weather conditions, slow and unreliable WiFi connection, a limited English proficiency of locals, lower hygiene standards and of course always hungry mosquitoes.
“The world is a book, and those who don't travel only read one page.” ― Augustine
All in all, combining working and traveling will certainly change your life and experience will make you happier and richer person. If you have any questions regarding digital nomad lifestyle connect with me via Twitter, Facebook or any other channel.