1. How and why did you go nomadic?
I worked a traditional office job for 2 years to build up $20,000 of savings. My degree was in Economics so I naturally went on to work in data analysis. My time there was a bit of a blur and I don’t remember that much about what I worked on other than there being a lot of spreadsheets! On the side I did screenwriting and stage acting in the evenings.
It was a very stressful period of my life and by the end of it all I just needed space. Saving up money was what allowed me to make the jump.
I chose to live nomadically because I had a strong desire to travel and build a business. There was no way I would have been able to build a business in London. The rent prices are sky high($1,500 for a small room in a shared house located far away from the center) and even just getting around the city is expensive. The money I had initially saved up would have lasted 6 months or less in London, compared to a couple of years in South East Asia or South America. Moving overseas afforded me the time to create something successful.
Also, the world is a magical place. There are regions of it that are still untouched and beautiful beyond your wildest imagination. I did not like only being able to go places on 1–3 week holidays with my vacation time. I found that by the end of those trips I would return home feeling very unsatisfied. A great example was a trip to Mexico in late 2014. Being there was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I wanted to stay much longer and immerse myself in the culture. Unfortunately, I had to go back home to the office job and the daily grind.
At that point I knew that I had to somehow give myself the gift of freedom. I wanted to be in a position where I could get up and go anywhere and stay in places I liked indefinitely. I knew that was the only way to live the rich experiences I craved.
I hated being chained to a desk with all the magic that was going on outside. It became unbearable. I felt like I was missing out on the opportunity to live and work anywhere. So, after that Mexico trip I quit my job 7 months later in July 2015 and I have been on the road since then (except being in London during Christmas). I’m fortunate to have spent a lot of time in Thailand, Vietnam, The Philippines, Colombia and Brazil.
2. What was it like leaving your home country?
It was relatively stress free. I made sure to see all of my close friends because I didn’t know when I would be back. My university friends and I did some glamping (glamorous camping) where we smoked a lot and ate burgers. Leaving my family was a little harder, but, they knew that I was on a mission. They were and continue to be cool with me following my star. If they were unhappy with my decision that would have made things exponentially harder or maybe even impossible for me.
For the foreseeable future I plan on spending at least one month a year in London during Christmas or Summer time. London will always have my heart, for so many reasons. I represent South London to the fullest when I am away and it is nice to come back from time to time.
3. What are your biggest struggles? Fears?
My biggest fear is getting injured while abroad. I’ve been lucky enough to avoid this so far. I have some anxiety about dealing with travel insurance companies and being left in a jam. I’m sure it would be fine, though. I just know that in England I would be fully covered on the National Health Service for free.
My biggest struggle has been jumping from business to business too frequently. There is so much that you can do online to make money and sometimes it can be overwhelming. I have been guilty on more than one occasion of hearing about “the next big thing” and then jumping in too quickly without careful consideration an example of this was with Affiliate Marketing. Very recently I made a decision that any business I would go into henceforth had to fit two criteria:
- I would have to be very passionate about it
- It would have to be a business that I could work on for at least a decade.
Another struggle has been the relationship aspect of living nomadically. I have tried to live in other places for longer periods of time but I always get drawn back to Chiang Mai, Thailand because I know so many people here. The process of setting up in a new place is daunting as you have to rebuild your whole social network from scratch. Initially, this can be a tiring and lonely process. It is far easier to go somewhere you know, where you already have a social circle.
4. How are you funding your lifestyle and what projects are you working on?
I used my savings to start an Amazon FBA business. I import my own private label product from China to Amazon’s warehouse in America. After the initial couple of months of very hard work (product selection, contacting suppliers, getting samples, arranging shipping) this business has become almost 100% passive. The only thing I really need to do now is contact my supplier in China to restock my inventory. Amazon does all the heavy lifting. They send the product to the customers and make it easy to answer queries.
I have run into an issue with my Amazon business. I didn’t have the funds to restock after my first batch sold out. The longer the delay the more my sales rank goes down (essential for selling product). Before I sold out my product was making $50 per day in profit. Now I have to wait on funds (which I have tied up in investments) before I can restock my product and get my sales rank back up to where it was. Once I do that the income from my product will start coming in again. The lesson here is to not rely solely on one platform or product for your income, which I why I have recently started to diversify.
Something that I started doing recently is trading bitcoin and alternative cryptocurrency (this is what a lot of my money is currently tied up in). I started buying bitcoin and then moved over to altcoins. It is risky as they are both still relatively new. Some coins can go up 100% or more over the course of a day. I don’t recommend day trading for people who have no experience, though.
I am also working on:
- Nomad Profiles with Todd Dosenberry.
- My new YouTube channel. The goal with my videos right now is to just have fun. I post daily vlogs of my travels and life as a digital nomad.
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 is Rio De Janeiro. I spent a total of $1,500 the month I lived there. I managed to book an AirBnB within walking distance of Copacabana Beach for $600. I had my own private room and was hosted by a wonderful Brazilian lady. I usually stay by myself because I like my space. I was willing to make the trade off this time because the price was so good and I wanted to be close to the beach. If I rented in the same location but in a private condo I would have spent at least $2,500 on the rent alone.
I ate a lot of hearty Brazilian Food. A typical rice, beans and meat dish costs $5. For public transportation, they have something similar to The London Tube system so it was very easy to get around and taxis are also very reasonable.
Going out can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. You can go to the high end nightclubs, which cost $30 for entry alone. Alternatively, you can go to the free street parties in Lapa and drink $2 caipirinhas. I did a combination of the two.
In terms of activities the beach was probably my favorite thing to do and it is completely free. If you want to venture further afield there are a host of very cheap things you can do in and around Rio.
6. What is your top tip for someone who aspires to earn money online and travel?
Have self-awareness. I actually don’t work that well under pressure. The “do or die, go hard or go home” scenario is not something that generally goes well with my personality. I had self awareness in regards to that fact and so I saved up enough money to give myself ample time.
Self-awareness will also guide you when it comes to what business to actually go into and whether your strengths and personality fit well with it. Listen to your heart. Listen to your intuition because it is a muscle that will get stronger the more you follow it.
If you are younger you may not have self-awareness yet. So, in this case, I would advise getting mentors or friends who are living the life you want to. They will guide you and can offer advice if something starts to feel intimidating. Going to a digital nomad hub like Chiang Mai or Medellin will help you find good people, mentors and circle of friends faster. Usually, people in these places are super open. If you can’t make it out to a nomad hotspot just yet, then get yourself on some Facebook groups as a starting point.