Digital Nomadism: The Basics
Working and traveling the world might sound like a dream, but for many people, it’s actually a reality. The term “digital nomad” was officially added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary back in 2021, and for good reason: millions of people around the world have adopted a “laptop lifestyle,” where they work remote jobs while traveling the world, and identify as a digital nomad.
In order to understand how to become a digital nomad, it’s important to understand the state of the digital nomad landscape today, to understand how you can craft this lifestyle for yourself. First of all, a digital nomad is a person who works remotely and is location independent. Most digital nomads are self-employed, while others are remotely employed full-time by a company. As far as location independence goes, some digital nomads choose to travel full-time, and live in places short term. Other digital nomads might have a home base outside of their home country, or might change homes every few months.
“Digital nomad” is not a job in itself, and instead, describes a lifestyle of working remotely and traveling.
What Makes a Digital Nomad?
In order to become a digital nomad, you need to understand and adopt the two main components of digital nomadism. They are:
- Remote work: Digital nomads need to have a source of remote employment. As we touched on above, many digital nomads are self-employed, and work in careers such as freelance writing, graphic design, video production, photography, translation, and teaching/tutoring. They also might work in marketing, social media, or in tech. It’s also possible to work full-time for an employer in a remote capacity, and still be a digital nomad.
- Location independence: Want to wake up on a beach in Bali, or in a bungalow in Mexico city, or a high-rise in Singapore? Digital nomads do that at the drop of a hat, without needing to put in for vacation days. When it comes to location independence, digital nomads choose places to travel and live that suit their needs and desires.
We’re going to dive into these two categories of digital nomadism, and discuss different ways that you can accomplish them.
Working as a Digital Nomad
For many emerging digital nomads, finding remote work or starting a remote business can often seem intimidating. But the great news is that now, in 2023, there are tons of resources available to help you find work as a digital nomad. These resources include remote job boards, freelancing websites, and remote-friendly employers.
(Please note: Abraham is not affiliated with any of the following resources.)
Remote job sites
Certain job boards are specifically designed for digital nomads and remote employees. These include websites such as FlexJobs, WeWorkRemotely, and Digital Nomad World, and are great for finding location-independent jobs.
Gig and freelance sites
The gig economy is thriving, and today, there are many ways to make money by providing flexible, freelance services. Two of the most popular websites for gig and freelance work are Upwork and Fiverr. You can look at these websites to see what types of services are offered, and see what types of freelance work you’re interested in.
Finding full-time employment is possible for digital nomads, but you have to keep in mind certain caveats. For example, employers might want you to work in certain time zones or countries, be available for calls and meetings, or expect real-time communications. If you’re looking for remote employment, you can set up job alerts on common job search engines (such as LinkedIn and Indeed) and include “remote” as part of your search criteria.
If you’re having trouble finding work as a digital nomad with your current skills, an excellent option is to take a course in something you enjoy, and that you’d want to work in. For example, you can take courses in coding, graphic design, writing, and other “freelance-able” skills.
Living & Traveling as a Digital Nomad
Living life as a digital nomad is pretty unique. Most digital nomads choose to live outside their home country, and many choose to travel frequently (or full-time). Here are some things to consider when it comes to living and traveling as a digital nomad.
When choosing where to live or travel, digital nomads need to be aware of different visa requirements. Visa requirements and terms differ from country to country, so if you want to live and work in a country, it’s important to check what type of visas are available, and how long they’re for. For example, many tourist visas are available for between 30 and 90 days.
Digital nomad visas
When it comes to visas, there’s an emerging category of visas that can be beneficial to many digital nomads: digital nomad visas. This new category of visas usually allows someone to stay in a country for an extended period of time (up to a year or more in some cases) while working a remote job. There are dozens of countries currently offering (or planning to offer) digital nomad visas. Countries currently offering digital nomad visas include Georgia, Croatia, Iceland, Portugal, Malta, and Greece.
When it comes to the question of where digital nomads should live and travel, the answer is “anywhere!” But there are some locations that are considered hubs for digital nomads, and where there are bustling digital nomad communities. Some of the locations most often visited by digital nomads include Israel, Thailand, Spain, Germany, France, Mexico, Italy, Portugal, and Indonesia.
Every digital nomad lives and travels differently. Some might choose luxury travel, but many digital nomads practice “budget travel.” Tips for budget traveling as a digital nomad include choosing budget-friendly travel locations, and learning how to “travel hack” (with credit card points, airline benefit programs, and flying to destinations based on price). Staying in hostels is also common among digital nomads. Many digital nomads also look for opportunities to trade creative services for travel opportunities. For example, at Abraham, we have a Partner Creator Community, for those who love traveling and creating original content. You can discover our amazing locations in Israel, Egypt, and the Philippines, while sharing your content with Abraham’s community. Many digital nomads also look for work trade opportunities with platforms such as Worldpackers and Workaway.
Health insurance and taxes
Digital nomadism comes with special considerations when it comes to things such as health insurance and taxes. Your protocols will depend on your home country, the country you’re staying in, what type of employment you have, and what your specific needs are. As far as health insurance goes, there are health insurance options for travelers and digital nomads (such as World Nomads, Allianz, and SafetyWing). You should research the best options for your needs, and also understand your own specific tax obligations (in both your home country and the country you’re visiting).
The Future of Digital Nomadism
If you’re interested in learning how to become a digital nomad, you’re in luck: the number of digital nomads has more than doubled over the past few years, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Studies also reveal that remote workers are more productive than their in-office counterparts, and that an overwhelming majority of digital nomads are “highly satisfied” with their work and lifestyle.
If you’re looking to adopt a digital nomad lifestyle, Abraham’s locations are perfectly equipped for those looking to visit Israel. Our locations in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Eilat and Nazareth have excellent workspaces, daily breakfast, guest kitchens, comfortable accommodations, and excellent Wi-Fi. Plus, we have tons of variety in our locations. You can enjoy the bustling metropolis of Tel Aviv, take in the ancient sites in Jerusalem, unwind by our pool and soak up the sun in Eilat, and relax in a quiet oasis in the Old City of Nazareth. We also offer tours all over the country, to help you make the most of your time in Israel.
Michelle is a digital nomad and full-time traveler, who works as a freelance writer and video producer. She shares digital nomad tips and stories on TikTok, has published a free digital nomad guide, and has been featured in Business Insider.