Becoming a digital nomad : what you need to consider

It’s been a while now that the term ‘digital nomad’ exists. Some countries have even created special visas for this special kind of workers, even though most of the time, the requirements are quite high.

You’re thinking about becoming a digital nomad, but you’re not sure where to start ? Same here. I’m a freelancer since November 2020, and now that things are looking a little bit better with the pandemic, I’m thinking about creating the perfect combination of working and traveling : becoming a digital nomad. I’m planning to move to South Korea in September/October 2022, so I’m still learning and preparing, which is the perfect moment to share with you what I’ve found.

Becoming a digital nomad does look easy when you hear the many testimonies of freelancers from all over the world, but this is not the kind of project where you can just go with the flow and see what happens. Let me share with you the key elements you should consider, if you want to become a digital nomad.

#1. Work. Pretty obvious, I know haha. Think about what kind of work you’re going to do, whether you will do freelance work, or work for a company at a distance. Whatever you choose, I’d recommend to try it out before you leave your home country. Make sure that your situation is at least a little stable, that you can really earn money from your business, or that you can count on your company to allow you to work with a flexible schedule, a different time zone etc, so that you don’t encounter work-related problems while you’re abroad.

#2. Budget. In order to choose where you will be going, you need to think about a budget. If you’re earning around 800€ a month, this won’t be enough to live in Tokyo or Paris for example. Research the cost of living in the countries you’re interested it, compare it with the amount of money you can bring to the table, and see which countries/cities are okay for you to live comfortably. Try to find as much information as you can, not just the cost of housing.

#3. Visa. Choosing a country according to your budget is nice, but now you have to think about how long you’re going to stay in this country. Depending on your passport, you may be allowed to stay up to 90 days without visa (that’s how it is for most countries if you have a French passport), but if you’d like to stay longer, take a look at the visas available. If you’re under 30 y.o., working-holiday visas can be nice, but each country has its own set of visas depending of your own nationality too, so you have to look into it yourself.

#4. Legal obligations. Check your legal obligations towards your home country. You’re still paying your taxes in your home country (unless you’re planning to settle for good in another country, and that’s expatriation, not being a digital nomad), so make sure you’re still doing your paperwork correctly, even from abroad. Inform who you have to inform, that you’re leaving, please be careful about that. Be sure to check how much time you’re allowed to be abroad in order to still be considered a resident of your home country, for example. If like me there are a few questions still left unanswered even after searching thoroughly through the internet, don’t be shy and call whatever authority seems appropriate, because it is important that you’re 100% sure you’re doing the right things before leaving.

#5. Equipment. Make sure that you’re going abroad with everything you need to work properly. If you need to change your laptop, change it before leaving, it’s not when you’re in a country where you won’t speak the language that you’re going to make the best deals, unless you’re lucky. Equipment also includes an adequate phone subscription and having a good enough internet connection. Depending of how long you’re staying in one country, see if it’s better to adapt your phone subscription in your home country, or if you should get a sim card in the country you’re visiting. Having a smartphone with a dual sim card slot would then be ideal. Make sure you keep your home country’s number, since nowadays lots of banks are confirming payments via your phone. And of course, having a bit of internet data included in your phone subscription doesn’t hurt, just in case. (This also depends of where you’re going. Some countries have public free wifi in cities, while others don’t have it at all, make sure to check this too.)

#6. Emergency contact. Have someone you can contact in your home country. If you have your own company, you have an address in your home country. Make sure that you have someone at that address or someone who will get your mail, so that you don’t miss anything of importance. If there’s a problem, they will also be able to act quicker than you from the other side of the world.

#7. Insurance. Taking an insurance can be mandatory for some visas, but even if it’s not, please make sure that you have some kind of insurance for repatriation, hospital costs, medical treatments, this kind of things. Because well, you never know. You may be young and/or feel super healthy, but this is not enough. Life happens, and you will need help if something happens to you while you’re alone in a foreign country.

This is it for now. If I find new key elements worth mentioning, I will make a new blog post for you guys. I hope this helped some of you, and if we have any digital nomad reading this, please feel free to share your experience, and if you have any tips about becoming a digital nomad. Thank you ~

I hope you all have a lovely day, and see you next Wednesday !

Marie.

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