Saving money as a digital nomad isn’t as easy as it may sound.
The issue is, your environments are constantly changing. As you find the best place to shop for groceries in Bali, your location changes. Then you have to find another place to shop. I could go on and on. This post is an instruction guide for showing you how to quickly determine the cheapest ways to live – no matter what country you’re in.
If you’re a digital nomad, chances are you work online. This means having to track down the best internet connection wherever you may be. That, or if your job permits, you could use satellite internet. It can be as simple as plugging a SIM card into your machine. Strongly consider picking cities with Google Fiber.
Without argue, Airbnb is a revolutionary way to book a place to stay. Use their search function to find the lowest (yet acceptable) priced place to stay. This service offers accommodations in 190+ countries. You can also use sites like couchsurfing.com and craigslist.org. Surprisingly, Craigslist operates in over 70 countries. Hotels are just generally too expensive if you plan to spend 365 days on the road. Plus, interacting with locals is probably the reason you got into nomadic life to begin with!
Food is a fun topic. And it’s definitely worth discussing. When hunting for food where you live, it’s best to live like the locals. What do they eat? Their diets are probably based off things which can be grown locally. This is good. That means the food is cheap. For instance, eating bananas in Guatemala is cheap. Eating bananas in Iceland isn’t. Eat local. It will taste better and save you lots of money. Plus, again, who doesn’t want to experience the local culture!
Investing as a nomad isn’t as confusing as it may seem. If you’re a US resident, you can still do all your investing with a firm such as Vanguard. Because, as a US citizen, you still have to report all your income to the US government – regardless of where you live. But the advantage to that is you can also remain investing as a US citizen. If you’re not an American, find an online brokerage firm that can fulfill orders for a citizen of your home country. Investing is mobile, just like you.
You still have to do taxes. For the US, you get longer to pay than April 15th (a 2-month extension) if you’re living abroad. But again, you still have to pay. Do this all electronically. You’ll be just fine.
If you’re a digital nomad, chances are you need a great laptop and/or phone. If those lifelines go down, your connection with your company is lost. This being said, always having access to a new laptop is a must. It’s wise to ask yourself, “If my laptop or phone becomes lost, stolen, or broken, where will I get a new one?” Consider this strongly with each new place you visit. Some places, a new laptop will be very hard to come by. Other places, a new laptop will be very expensive. Guatemala, for instance, has high import taxes. This makes laptops both fairly rare and very expensive. Always have a plan. Buy new tech in countries with low prices if possible. This may mean waiting until you’re back in a low-tax environment to make a hardware upgrade.
If you’re in the market for new clothing, consider buying in a cheaper country. When you compare London with Seoul, you’ll be hundreds ahead if you wait to arrive in Seoul. If you’re going to buy online, use an address that isn’t taxed. Some places charge tax for online purchases, others don’t. The rules on this vary even from state-to-state in the United States.
Being a successful digital nomad takes planning. None of the planning is difficult, it just takes some thought. Have you been a digital nomad before? How was it? Any tips you’d like to add?
I’m a personal finance freelance writer and webmaster. I welcome you to visit me at www.thefrugalpreneur.com