I’m a 26 year old web designer from NY and have been living abroad since 2014. I’ve lived in Prague, Morocco, Thailand and Indonesia and have traveled to 27 countries (I think, I haven’t counted in a while). I make my money online and travel the world doing so. I love to hike, eat good food and meet awesome like minded people.
1. How and why did you choose to go nomadic?
I’ve known I wanted travel to be a big part of my life since I was a little kid. After working a corporate job for a year after college, I started getting restless and it became clear to me that I did not want to spend the rest of my life in a cubicle.
I moved abroad in 2014, first to Prague where I was an Au Pair (also not for me) and then to Morocco, where I worked in a hotel. By this point I had started travel blogging but it wasn’t going so well and I was unfocused. I had heard of “digital nomads” and was interested, but wasn’t sure how to get into it.
Eventually I bought a ticket to where they all seemed to be congregating in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I figured if I surrounded myself with like minded people, something would happen.
I moved to Thailand in April of 2015 with $800 and a dream. I didn’t have any money coming in, wasn’t sure how I was going to make it but knew that the pressure was on and I’d have to figure it out. I did eventually figure it out but it took me a while and it wasn’t easy.
2. What was it like leaving your home country?
I’m lucky in that I grew up in an awesome family that has always taken me traveling. I think the first time I left the country was when I was 11 and we went to Australia. Before I had graduated high school we had vacationed in Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Bahamas and a few others.
During college I traveled around Spain and France with few friends and then after I graduated did a backpacking trip around Central America. I’m able to adapt to other cultures pretty quickly I think because I had traveled quite a bit already, so I wasn’t that surprised or too far out of my comfort zone when I arrived in Asia.
3. What are your biggest struggles? Fears?
My biggest fear is always finding clients but so far it’s gone pretty well and I hope it continues that way. Money is always an issue but when you’re living abroad you don’t have typical expenses like a car and if you’re living out of a backpack, there’s not much room (literally) for unnecessary purchases.
I’ve also thought about how my constant traveling affects my family and people I’m close to, if it’ll put strain on my relationships or force me to lose contact with friends, but really it just weeds out the people you probably shouldn’t be friends with in the first place. It’s also given my friends and family the opportunity to visit me in some cool places that probably wouldn’t travel to otherwise.
4. How are you funding your lifestyle and what projects are you working on?
At the beginning of 2016, I started a web design business with a friend I met in Chiang Mai. She has since left the company so now I have full reign of it. We work with other entrepreneurs, digital nomads and small businesses to bring their web presence to life.
I’m currently working on a website for a digitally nomadic immigration lawyer based out of Europe and Dubai, a website for Mr. Scott Eddy, who is a very well known digital consultant in the travel industry and I have a few pending proposals for a coffee and chocolate company and a well known girl’s travel Facebook group.
I used to make my money by freelance writing but I decided to push in the direction of something a little more challenging and lucrative. Web design is great because it’s creative and you can do it from anywhere. It’s also a constant learning experience.
5. What is the estimated monthly cost of living for one of your favorite locations? What lifestyle does that afford?
One of my favorite locations that I’ve lived in so far is Canggu, Bali. It’s a beautiful little coastal town filled with surfers, good food and friendly locals.
I’d estimate that it cost me about $600 to live there for a month, all included, but it could have been less and can definitely be done for way less than that. I think I paid $220 for a nice room in a 5 bedroom surf house, with a big kitchen, balcony, 2 bathrooms and a 10 minute scoot from the closest beach. I also rented a scooter for the month so I could drive around the island, ate western food out fairly often and got expensive coffees almost every day at the cafes I worked at.
You can get pretty much any western food dish for under $10, usually more like $5 or $6 and a full Indonesian style meal for $1 or $2. I also got a membership to the coworking space there, but the wifi was really spotty so I ended up not using it much, but the space was beautiful. I went to amazing yoga classes ($4/ 90 minutes) a few times a week and got hour long massages whenever I wanted. I also did a few trekking trips, visited some tourist attractions and drank my fair share of Bintang.
I lived a pretty high quality of life for a very affordable price in one of the most beautiful islands in the world.
6. What is your top tip for someone who aspires to earn money online and travel?
My top tip for anyone who wants to work online and travel would be to establish the business before you become nomadic or move across the world.
Starting up in Thailand was hard and I was broke a lot. It took me more than a year to generate a solid client base that I can count on. I wouldn’t suggest doing it like I did, if you can launch your business before you leave try to do that, and then you can just grow it on the road.
Also, traveling is not nearly as expensive as you think it is. When you move away from home, you learn how to live on less and that in turn saves you money. And most countries are cheaper to live in than the US, Australia and Western Europe.
Any final thoughts?
The digital nomad lifestyle isn’t for everyone and it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. It can be expensive, you have to sacrifice a lot of things and it can be emotionally and physically exhausting.
People will ask a LOT of questions and will judge you or think you’re crazy or can’t understand why you live the way you do. You’ll probably wonder a few times if you’ve made the biggest mistake of your life and if you should just pack up and go home.
But if you can get through all the language barriers, food poisoning, delayed flights and debit card freezes, you *might* just be rewarded with exotic experiences, unexpected connections and a life more colorful and vibrant than you could have ever imagined.