You are dreaming about becoming a digital nomad and work remotely around the world? The term is trendy since a few years and even more in Singapore, New Zealand, Thailand and the Netherlands according to Google Trends.  The interest has never been so high and it is likely to keep growing even more in the coming years. 

One of the questions we get the most from our readers, is how to become a digital nomad.  You may think of this person working on his/her laptop on a white sand beach while drinking a cocktail, with the sound of waves in the background?

digital nomad woman beach

It’s indeed what you can often see on social media and you wonder, how can you do the same, making an income while sitting at the beach? That’s why we created this guide to help you make your way to becoming a digital nomad and therefore be location independent, even if you may not spend all your time at the beach.

 The reality is a bit less glamorous, you cannot just sit at the beach or the swimming pool and hope that income will follow.  You will need a lot of perserverance, hard work to get the right amount of income stream and a lot of commitment to keep it going.  And even if you will probably struggle with basic issues like getting a good Wifi connection while travelling, you will enjoy fast your new freedom while exploring the world.

As everyone is unique, there is not only one possible path that leads to the life of a digital nomad.  Depending on your current work experiences and professional skills as well as your learning abilities, you will find some of the advices in this guide more or less appealing to you. Just take what may help you move forward, even if you skip a few steps that you don’t judge pertinent to you. 

As you understood, we have written this guide for beginners, people who are interested in joining this new location independant lifestyle.

What is a digital nomad?

First of all, we should ask ourselves, what exactly means being a digital nomad? 

According to Wikipedia,

“digital nomads are a type of people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner.  Such workers often work remotely from foreign countries, coffee shops, public libraries, co-working spaces or recreational vehicules. […] Successful digital nomads typically have a financial cushion”.

Digital nomads are often young remote workers, entrepreneurs, wealthy people with passive income streams or retired/semi-retired persons. A lot of people become digital nomads to reach financial independence, not relying on the security of a job while enjoying not having to report to a supervisor.

Digital Nomad

On the other hand, some careers allow for some levels of location independence, especially in the IT sector. A lot of freelancers choose to work remotely, from various locations worldwide. 

Most of the time, digital nomads spend many months abroad each year, travelling while working. They are often on the move, staying in a country on a touristic visa until it expires. It is of course much easier to be a digital nomad if your passport allows you to stay as a tourist in a lot of different countries.

Governments tend to turn a blind eye to nomad work as soon as digital nomads don’t take a job away of a local person.  Some people find ways to stay a bit longer legally in a country by taking up part-time job in teaching languages or by taking university courses in their host country. 

We observe that a large part of the digital nomads come from wealthy countries and tend to stay in cheaper regions where the cost of living is quite low, like in Bali, Thailand, Chiang Mai, Colombia, Mexico.  However, depending on your income, you can reside in many other countries without much difficulties. 

So, while you may live comfortably with $1000/month in Thailand or Bali in South East Asia, it won’t be so easy in expensive cities like London, Dublin, Paris, Sydney…


To live a good nomadic life full of adventure, it’s a no-brainer, you will need to focus on generating decent income streams.

Some countries started programs that digital nomads can benefit from, like the e-Residency status in Estonia  (plans of a digital nomad visa was announced) or the SMART visa program in Thailand.

 No matter what the income you are considering to reach, your goal is to become a digital nomad so you can enjoy the freedom/independence of working where you want, when you want and therefore live your life fully while travelling across the world. 

 Steps to become a digital nomad

As previously said, there is no unique way to becoming a digital nomad, so we would advice you to select only what is relevant to you according to your personal life circumstances.  We assume in this guide that you are not wealthy yet.

Steps to become digital nomad

In order to be able to afford a country-independent lifestyle as soon as possible, you will need to prioritize your finances while keeping working on your other life objectives (relationships, family,..). Indeed, you have one life for sure and time is limited.  So you need to be focused and keep moving forward, step by step.  

Ideally, you will want to reach financial independence, having your assets generating incomes covering your everyday expenses (food, rent, healthcare,..). That way you will feel secured on the long run while travelling, even if your life circumstances change and your ability to create new income streams fluctuates.

In it important to feel supported on this journey, by your family and/or partner as you will go through successive periods of uncertainty before reaching each time a new equilibrium in your life.  Having such a supportive partner will help you to keep moving forward, even if you will need to do concessions too.  If you don’t have a partner or a family, focus on your goals, increase the probabilities of achieving them by doing concrete actions.  You will attract what you aim for. 

Here are the steps you can consider in your journey to become a digital nomad with a financially independent lifestyle.

Work or study in your home country / abroad

The first step after graduating from college/finishing your studies is to enter the “real life” and join the workforce. In the beginning, starting as an employee is the easiest way to make money and learn new skills that will increase your value on the market. If you have an independent mindset, you may find it difficult to enjoy being an employee and coping with your manager.  


Keep the ultimate goal in mind, which is to become more independent.  To accomplish that, you need to develop your skills and get to know yourself better.

The first few years of work help you reach the next steps, which is to save enough money to afford your lifestyle in the future and start having money work for you

If you want to leave your home country directly, why not getting a job abroad?  We live in a globalized world and living the expat life may be worth trying as you often get better conditions abroad.  You can potentially get a higher salary, less taxes to pay and a better lifestyle while working abroad. 

Internet is full of advice about the best places to live as an expat, so you should consider that too.  It can be a stepping stone to get work opportunities faster and to earn money at a pace you cannot reach in your own country.  It gives you also an international experience, which is highly valued on the job market.

Alternatively, you can also study abroad and get a college degree there, which gives you an international experience.  

Both working as an expat or studying abroad are good ways to start living in new countries, in your journey to become a digital nomad. You will be attached to a country for a while but it is safer and more structured than being completely location-independent, living as a freelancer or an online business owner.

Therefore you can see if digital nomadism is really for you or not, without taking much risk.  While you are working/studying abroad, you can keep working on the next steps as described in this guide to become a true digital nomad later on.

Digital nomads travel often on a tourist visa so often they cannot stay more than a few months at the same place.  As an expat or student, you will probably need to secure a visa or a resident permit, but once you get it you are secure for an extended time.  Australia and Canada offer working holiday visas, maybe worth considering.  If you decide to stay in Europe, once you are there you can travel in all the countries of the European Union (EU).

Save money & Get a Nest Egg

The cash you will earn with your first work experiences is very important, by saving as much as you can for a while, you will be able to create a nest egg.  


It is enough money to cover your expenses for a prolonged period, in case you lose your source of income (lay-off,…), it gives you more confidence and you will also be able to cope with various life uncertainties (health issues,..).

You are the best person to decide how much money you need to save, depending on your personal circumstances.  As a guideline, having at least 3 to 6 months of expenses covered is a good objective for a nest egg.

Each time you get money – probably via your salary – put the maximum you can directly on your saving account, and never withdraw it unless it is for an emergency situation or an investment.

After having spared enough money for your emergency fund, you should keep saving money so you will manage to make money work for you in the long run, getting more security for your digital nomad lifestyle.

Get investing knowledge

You need to educate yourself with investing so you will know how to make your money work for you instead of leaving all of it on a savings account that yields nothing, especially if we take inflation into account. 

stock market

However, once you get this knowledge to make investments, don’t touch your nest egg/emergency fund as you will probably need it in the future.

There are plenty of websites and books focused on financial education so we advice you to do your own research and keep a critical mind and not take every Youtuber word as a reference.  

Here is a selection of interesting books for your financial education: 

– “Rich Dad Poor Dad” and “Why the rich are getting richer”, from Robert T. Kiyosaki

– “The Intelligent Investor“, Benjamin Graham (preface & appendix by Warren Buffett).  The best book about investing, according to the legendary investor Warren Buffett, third richest person in the world. You will learn about value investing from his mentor Benjamin Graham.

– “Security Analysis”, Benjamin Graham, David L. Dodd.  It is also one of the best books about value investing according to Warren Buffett.

It is very important to educate yourself before making investment decisions as it involves money and you don’t want to make stupid decisions because of a lack of knowledge or by selling at a loss when panicking.  Finance is about knowing yourself, your emotions, and the emotional reactions of the markets as well as its cycles (bear – bull market,..). 

If you are not interested in investing, that’s fine too.  In that case it is better to keep saving your money and leave it in your saving account instead of making it disappear in bad investments due to a lack of knowledge.

The goal with investments is to grow your money over time by investing in assets that create cash flows, like real estate and stocks (dividends). 

Real estate in particular is very interesting if you want to become a digital nomad.  Indeed, if you save enough money for a deposit and you borrow the rest from the bank, you can buy an apartment and rent it, so you will get passive income. And it gives you a security on the long run as you will be owner of your apartment(s)/houses when you get older.

It is important to make the right calculation so in any case you get more money from your tenant than the amount you give to your bank monthly to repay your loan. If you invest in many apartments over time you can get a good amount of passive income, which will help you to finance your lifestyle as a digital nomad.

Real estate is country specific so at the end you will need to delegate the management of your properties to friends/relatives or a professional agency, even if it affects a bit your return on investment. 

Invest in Assets

Goal: create cash flows and passive incomes from investments

The goal with investments is to grow your money over time by investing in assets that create cash flows, like real estate and stocks (dividends). 

Real estate in particular is very interesting if you want to become a digital nomad.  Indeed, if you save enough money for a deposit and you borrow the rest from the bank, you can buy an apartment and rent it, so you will get passive income. And it gives you a security on the long run as you will be owner of your apartment(s)/houses when you get older.


The easiest way to invest in real estate is by having a job as an employee with a permanent contract because banks assess your income when you apply for a mortgage, and they like financial stability.  In the future, after having invested in many properties, you can leave your job and enjoy your passive income streams.

It is important to make the right calculation so in any case you get more money from your tenant than the amount you give to your bank monthly to repay your loan. Never invest in a property if it will make you loose money and so become a liability. If you invest in many apartments over time you can get a good amount of passive income, which will help you to finance your lifestyle as a digital nomad.

Real estate is country specific so at the end you will need to delegate the management of your properties to friends/relatives or a professional agency, even if it affects a bit your return on investment. 

On the other hand, you can consider opening a brokerage account to invest in stocks, especially the one offering an important dividend, like a real estate investment trust (REIT).  A REIT is a company that owns or finance income-producing real estate accross a range of property sectors, like office buildings for example. 

Real estate and dividend stocks are cash flow generating assets, so owning them bring you additonal money that you can use for additional investments or to finance your independent lifestyle. 

On the other hand, you can also consider investing in other asset classes that don’t give cash flow or just a little bit, like common stocks, physical gold, or even cryptocurrencies if you believe in them. 

You enter the market when assets are cheap (“blood on the streets” – bear market) and sell when people are excited and the markets overvalued (end of bull market).  Then you can use the profit to buy assets that give passive income, like real estate and dividend stocks.

Create Passive Income

With your savings and the profits you get from your investments, you can buy new assets that make you even more money, securing your lifestyle with additional passive revenue streams.  It is like a snowball, the more assets you get, the more likely you will make your money grow. 

coconut beach

Real estate is the king for passive income but be careful of not investing when the market is way overvalued and properties are super expensive. 

Real estate and dividend stocks are not the only way to create passive income, you can also write books and sell them on Amazon or via a publishing house to get royalties each time someone buys it.  You write a book once, you sell it thousands of times.  It’s the same with any peace of intellectual property you can make (songs, books,…).

You will keep creating passive income over time, it will help you more and more to finance your lifestyle while you travel the world as a digital nomad.

Start a location-independent activity

You are probably working as an employee for the moment and your goal is to get additonal income streams that don’t force you to stay in a specific country, as you want to travel freely as a digital nomad.  To achieve that goal, you may consider starting your own business online while you are still an employee. You can leave your full time job when the profit from your business will match the salary you get.

If you have other sources of income on top of your salary as well as enough savings and you are not too risk averse, maybe you will decide that you can afford to quit your job to go full time with your business.

If you are not employed at this time, freelancing can be a good option for you if you have specific skills you can market.  

In both cases, the first step is to identify your skills, learn who you are and what you would like to do. You cannot be 100% sure you will succeed, but with self confidence and by taking calculated risks you will increase the probability of success over time. 

  • Freelancing

You need to become an expert in something to become a freelancer. What are the skills you can monetize on Internet? Think about your previous work experiences, or your studies/qualifications that could be useful for getting higher-paying remote work.  Here are some examples of freelancing work: 

  1. IT engineering : developer, IT expert (web, mobile & software dev, network/security, financial industry,…). You can get clients on Internet to do your remote work, or find a client in the country you target to work as a freelancer for a while.
  2. Creative front-end developer/designer
  3. Sales & Marketing
  4. Writing, blogging
  5. Teaching (via video chat like Skype): you can teach English online if you are a native speaker, or your specific mother tongue.  VIPKid is one of the services you can use if you want to teach languages.
  6. Customer service
  7. Admin support
  8. Data science & analytics
  9. Architecture, engineering

Forbes describes many freelance businesses you can start for free immediately, it’s worth having a look. 

A lot of digital nomads decide to start off by working as a freelancer with remote work that allow them to earn a small income.  After experimenting a remote work, you can decide if you want to move forward in that direction and increase your income stream, expanding your business.  Alternatively, you can find several freelance missions to make more money. 

As previously said, it is specific to your personal situation, your skills, your personality and your risk tolerance so you need to find your own way of being a digital nomad.

It is very likely that you won’t make enough money at the beginning compared to the stability of a full time job if you work as a freelancer online, but with perseverance you can make it.  Of course, if you are a highly paid independent contractor in the IT or financial industry for example, you won’t have much problems financing your nomadic lifestyle.

You can find remote work by browsing the job sites in the country you target. In particular, some websites like RemoteOKWeWork Remotely or UpWork post location independent missions for freelancers. 

You can search on these websites by categories/skills and even if a lot of freelance jobs are IT oriented (development, web design,…), there are also many support and customer services missions or jobs like editing, writing, doing translations for people who don’t have a strong technical background, but are good in communication.

  • Start Your Own Business
startup desktop

Before starting a company and becoming a business owner, many people start by freelancing for a while.  You get to know your market and if you do well you can get your first customers who can give you references afterwards, when you will create your business.  

You can also create your own website and focus on creating added value to people, for example by giving them access to information that help them solve problems.  You can sell products and services online if you work hard and you put priority on marketing and sales while always working on your brand reputation.  Starting an online business is perfect for a digital nomad as it is completely location-independent.  All you need is a laptop and a good Wifi to start working. 

Here are a few business ideas you can consider: 

– Blogging/online business : if you like writing, you can start a blog and you promote it to attract people.  You build an audience over time while collecting their email addresses, which you can monetize afterwards by selling products or services like e-books, webinars,.. You will have to work hard and promote yourself (personal branding) via social media, often including a Youtube channel but it’s worth it. So it involves a lot of marketing and you need an advertising budget to skyrocket your growth. 

If you don’t have any experience, you can start by being a copywriter, creating content for other blogs and get paid for that.

– Ecommerce: you can create your own product and sell it online via an e-commerce platform, or alternatively you can sell products from other brands that could benefit your audience. 

– Marketing agency: if you have expertise in social media, you can start a marketing business to help companies increase their reach to build their audience and get more customers.  You will deal with Google Adwords and Facebook Ads for online advertising as well as contact influencers on Instagram to promote the brand of your customers. It also involves doing some SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for a website to help it rank higher in the search results of Google.

– Airbnb/Booking: if you own a property, you can rent it to tourists on or Airbnb. By doing so, you will act as an “amateur hotelier” but on the long run you can think of creating your own company managing rented accomodations for short-term stays.

Starting your own business from scratch is rewarding but it takes a lot of time before you can earn enough money. If you have enough savings, you can also consider buying an established healthy online business that produces good cash flows. You can search for such kind of businesses on Flippa for example which lists their net profit. 

Having your own company is not the only way to become wealthy and secure your lifestyle.  If you already work as a freelancer or you have enough passive income to support your everyday expenses, you can avoid having your own business and you just keep taking remote work while travelling abroad.

Indeed, there are plenty of ways to become a successful digital nomad, either by owning your own company, doing freelance work online and/or managing enough assets that produce passive income, or simply by taking jobs on the road while you travel.

Delegate the management of your country-related cash flow generating assets

As you want to be more location independent to become a successful digital nomad, if you are a business owner you need to delegate as much as possible the work that you do physically in the country where you operate your business. 


For example, if you have a property, you can either rent it in a classic way with a tenant, or you can monetize it on Airbnb/Booking as described in the previous section. 

You can delegate the operational management to a dedicated company (cleaning, check-in, check-out) or relatives/friends/cleaning professionals you pay and just handle the communication part online with your customers.  It decreases your profitability as you have to share a small percentage of your revenue but it is a relatively easy way to create cash flows if you can afford to own a property.

A lot of businesses require some sort of logistics work in the physical world but if you make good money you can delegate the operations to other people and be less location-dependent. It helps you scale your business too, as your time is limited.  You move faster alone, but you go further in a group.

Remove unnecessary country-related costs

 After you settle in a country for a while, you will probably have expenses that are linked to the country you stay in.  For example, you probably signed for a gym membership or you have a car.  Probably you got a long-term lease on an apartment. It is very important to identify which things in your life are dragging you down, tying you to one location. 

making a budget tracking finances

Make sure you remove these costs before you move out of the country to explore a new destination. It’s a no-brainer, but keeping these costs will affect you afterwards as you need to earn more money to cope with these expenses.

If you have a car, you can consider selling it now so you will save a lot of money by not having to pay for insurance, registration, gas and maintenance. And in the long run you won’t need it as you will travel.  Of course, it depends on your personal circumstances, if you have a family or if taking public transport is fine for you.

Remove also all kind of subscription services like Netflix or Amazon Prime that destroy your bank account when put together so you can free up your income for the things that matter when travelling. 

As a digital nomad, you will want to travel light so try to limit the number of objects you buy and get rid of most of them when you decide to move, by selling them or giving to other people.  Being a digital nomad is linked to simplicity and freedom of movement, keep that in mind.

It is also the right time to pay down or set up payment plans for debts that don’t finance cash-flows generating assets, like credit card debt or student loan debt. It is a priority as these liabilities make you loose a lot of money due to the high interest rate. These are bad debts, they make you loose money, they suck it out of your pocket.  They are among the worst debts you can have.

In case you have a student loan debt, you can open a dedicated bank account for your payments so you are sure you won’t touch it when you are travelling.

On the other hand, if you have debts on assets, it is worth keeping them.  Indeed, an asset puts money in your pocket.  So it is good debt. An example is a mortgage you have on an apartment, with the monthly repayment lower than the income you get from renting it. We advise you to read Robert Kiyosaki’s book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” to learn more about the concept of asset & liabilities, good and bad debts.

Choose where you want to live next


After following the steps of this guide, you should now have one or many income stream(s) at your disposal, bringing cash flow on a monthly basis. Ideally, if you are an employee, your alternative sources of income should match your net salary so you are completely safe. 

At this stage of your journey you will probably decide that you have enough resources to escape the rat race of your 9-to-5 job and become a full digital nomad, living out of your freelance and/or business activities on top of your passive incomes from your assets.

But where should you go? It is a very personal question, the answer will depend on what you would like to see and do in life and your level of income. From North America and Europe to Asia, Latin America, Oceania or Africa, choosing a destination can be overwhelming.   It is easier to be a digital nomad in low cost countries like in South-East Asia. Start by figuring out the cost of living in each place to narrow down your list of potential destinations.  This includes rent, food, entertainment, healthcare,..

Always keep in mind, as you are a digital nomad, you can move quickly to another country if you want.

The NomadList website will help you find trending destinations, their cost of living and different important parameters for remote workers, like the quality of Internet, the safety level, the quality of the healthcare system, the weather, fun and many other criteria.

Move and update your lifestyle

cliffs beach

When you know your next destination, you will need to find an accomodation. It is often difficult to rent an apartment from abroad as the owners want to see you before signing a lease agreement.  Therefore, in the first few weeks you can rent on Airbnb, or an hostel so you get enough time to search for a more permanent accomodation, if you plan to stay for at least a few months/1 year. 

If you are just passing by for a short time, these temporary solutions are perfect.  It is more easy to make friends in a youth hostel or by using Couchsurfing even if you don’t have your own space unlike renting a whole apartment on Airbnb. 

On the other hand, hotels may offer additional options like meal or laundry services. As you have the freedom to travel with enough income, you can change your accomodations depending on your needs.

Final Thoughts

Living the life of a digital nomad is rewarding, but it can also be challenging as you will constantly have to adapt to different cultures and rules. Experiencing this diversity is exciting, you will live outside of your comfort zone, far away of your bubble at home, and keep growing with the various experiences you will have.  

preparing to travel

It is important to set goals and define plans and then take action, keeping in mind that you will need to adapt as you cannot control everything in advance. You need to be focused, working towards achieving these goals and knowing what you want, why you want it and where you want to go.  With a concrete action plan you can make things happen. 

You should be flexible and have a backup plan in case your first idea doesn’t work out.  

Through this guide, you learned about the importance of creating passive income streams via cash flows generating assets, and how to feed your bank account and investments with cash from a remote work, a freelancing activity or via a business.  All of that will give you a safety net to finance your lifestyle abroad and cope with unexpected events.  

As a digital nomad, you have to cope with many other aspects of life and not just your income as an expat/remote worker.  Indeed, you will have to think about healthcare (what happens if you get sick or you are injured?), insurance, the cultural aspects as well as the legal framework of the countries you visit. 

In conclusion, if you are really willing to put the hard work to become location independent, a digital nomad, you will need to trust yourself and move towards that goal with focus. 

You can get started within a few weeks and get a new experience abroad quite easily, first as an expat or a student, and later as a successful digital nomad living of various income streams manageable online, from work and assets. 

With Wingio’s advice and the numerous websites for expats/remote workers as well as the job sites for remote work and the information on Internet for starting a business or learn to invest, you have enough resources to get started and explore the world. 

There is so much to gain you can get from these experiences and little to lose, so believe in yourself and make just things happen.

“The distance between your dreams and reality is called action”

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