1. How and why did you choose to go nomadic?
It all started with a trip to Chile to visit my girlfriend. I took a week off of my full time job and worked remotely for a few days while we explored Santiago, Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, and the Atacama Desert. I’ve been to many countries in Latin America but this was far and away my favorite.
After an incredible few days, I flew home and returned to my office in Washington, DC. Ironically, I didn’t feel refreshed or rejuvenated. Instead of quelling my thirst for travel, the trip motivated me to travel more. So after setting clear expectations with my manager and demonstrating that I could deliver quality results while working remotely, I just asked. To my surprise, he fully supported my endeavor.
I’ve always craved and embraced change. So having the ability to consistently move around where I want when I want to is a really appealing concept.
2. What was it like leaving your home country?
Moving from the U.S. to Mexico was exciting. Even mundane tasks and errands were more fun because I was in Mexico. Leaving home isn’t for everyone. But I absolutely love the challenge of having to speak another language and figure out a completely new environment.
3. What are your biggest struggles? Fears?
I operate in extremes. I embrace a work hard, play hard kind of lifestyle. So when moving abroad I had to discipline myself to separate those parts of my life explicitly. For some, it’s difficult to separate nomadic work from all-out vacation. Being a digital nomad isn’t about drinking margaritas on the beach, nor is it about hunkering down in a hotel for 80 hours/ week and depriving yourself of fun experiences. It’s really important so strike that balance between work and play. It’s something I focus on every day.
4. How are you funding your lifestyle and what projects are you working on?
I started by maintaining my full-time digital marketing job and going remote. Personally, I’d recommend this as the most easy and stable way to transition to a nomadic lifestyle. However, after a month I decided I wanted to take on new projects and get a fresh start.
So recently I started freelancing full time. Some of my projects entail web development, digital recruiting, and content marketing with existing contacts. For example, I recently helped build an informational website for students looking to take a gap year. But, I’ve also been working on my business development skills by taking on new clients through Upwork.com. If you have a specialized skill (mine happens to be Mailchimp email automation), really focus on finding clients within that niche. It will help narrow your search and it can be a great source of income.
5. What is the estimated monthly cost of living for one of your favorite locations? What lifestyle does that afford?
Living in Mexico City is about one third the cost of living in Washington, DC. Of course you also need to factor in travel costs and splurging on the excitement of living in a new country as well. That said, my girlfriend and I sought out living abroad because it had potential to save us money.
Our apartment in Mexico City was less than half the price our apartment in DC. It had comparable amenities (1 bed, 1 bath, kitchen, etc.) and was honestly in a safer neighborhood than where we lived in the US. Since we were saving so much money, we were more open to doing fun and spontaneous things.
Want to stuff yourself with a few beers and tacos at a local restaurant? No problem, that’ll be $6USD each. Want to take a week night to see a ridiculous masked wrestling match (known as Lucha Libre)? Great, that’ll be $5USD each. Want to take a cab home across the city after all this fun and excitement? As long as you’re willing to pay $3USD each.
Living abroad is a treat on its own. But the reduction in costs allowed me and my partner to live a an even more free-spirited lifestyle than we were used to.
If you want a more comprehensive comparison between major U.S. cities and Mexico City, you should check out my post “Traveling is a Waste of Your Money”.
6. What is your top tip for someone who aspires to earn money online and travel?
Stop aspiring and start doing.
I put off this dream far longer than I needed to. There are an infinite number of ways to become a digital nomad. Don’t paralyze yourself by trying to find the perfect way. Anyone who is reading this and dreaming of doing the same, take this challenge.
Close this tab. Open up a new one, give yourself 30 minutes, and do one of the following:
- Set up an ebay store and start selling a product;
- Create an Upwork.com profile and begin freelancing with skills you already have;
- Email your boss asking about remote work opportunities;
- Google opportunities to work or volunteer in your desired country and subscribe to get updates from them;
You may not be able to fund the lifestyle you want immediately. But you can get started in a matter of minutes. It’s all about conquering your fear of making the small changes.