Heard of Digital Nomads? Here's How to Get Started

Alejandro Medellin

undefinedThe American dream used to be a good, steady job, a nice house, a good car, and of course, a family. But now, with millennials graduating from college every semester, the American dream has changed. A decline in jobs for recent-grads has seen a rise in freelancing through sites like Freelancer and Upwork. Freelancing is hard, but it does have its upsides, like choosing your hours, taking on projects you are passionate about, and doing it from anywhere with Wi-Fi access.

From this new age of freelancers has risen a type of person who travels the world and makes money in between visits to the beach. Digital nomads, as the names suggest, constantly travel and work when they need money from wherever they are. There are companies whose sole purpose is to make arrangements for digital nomads. like providing housing, booking plane tickets and handling all other logistics like Wi-Fi and groceries. 

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Some of the best places to be a digital nomad in are places that are affordable and the website Nomad List can find the city that’s right for you. Nomad List can narrow down your pick by selecting several filters such as internet speed, safety, weather and cost. Cities in Europe and Asia top the list, but Bali is one of the most popular destinations because of its beautiful beaches and chill vibes. Having visited Kuala Lumpur last year, I would say it fits the description as an affordable city with a bustling metropolis and plenty of places with good Wi-Fi and stellar food—trust me on this one.

Before embarking on the quest to becoming a digital nomad, it is important to note that one must be an established freelancer first. Although some of these cities may be affordable, it will no doubt, still, cost money; add the airfare, travel insurance, and other expenses, and suddenly you’re calling home for a loan. Another option is to work for a company that allows working remotely, that way there is a guarantee on how much money is coming in and when. You won’t be able to work your own hours, but besides that, there are still all of those other perks.

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Traveling the country in a refurbished sprinter van has become a popular way to live the digital nomad life, but it does have a big initial investment—who knew that refurbishing a vehicle was expensive. The #VanLife movement has exploded in recent years because who doesn’t want to answer emails on the way to hiking the Grand Canyon. Living in an enclosed space is a downside but going anywhere you like whenever you want sounds pretty damn awesome. Van lifers are prolific videographers too, apparently, and you can learn a lot about that style of living just by going to YouTube. Instead of building out your own van you can rent one out, and these are the companies that make it possible.

It seems that the American dream has evolved into a life of constant travel abroad and at home while having a job that is creatively fulfilling and hoping that the rest fits into place at a later date. The original dream still exists for most people out there, but digital nomads work from hammocks and on their way to surfing big waves, and are, therefore, not most people.