For some people, being a freelance digital nomad is the stuff dreams are made of, and some jobs make it easy to make that dream come true. Some jobs make it easy to take vacation—but also easy to live across the country or even overseas. Could freelancing be the key to your digital nomad lifestyle?
One of the many amazing things about freelancing is that you have so much more flexibility than with typical employment.
To a large degree, you get to decide when and how many hours to work, and where you want to work. Which means you could work from an apartment in Manhattan, a beach in California, or the Outback in Australia. Really, anywhere you can dream of (and has Internet) could be the base of your operations for weeks, months, or even years.
But, there are a few things you should know before you book your flight and start packing.
You need to be prepared to work.
As a freelance digital nomad, you’re still working. You can factor vacation time into your calendar, but you also need to factor work time on your calendar.
Most work will require you to meet with your client at least couple of times while you’re away from your normal “office.” So, if you’re on the other side of the world from your clients, you’ll want to factor in the time zone. Will you have at least a few hours of overlap in case you need to meet? Or are you prepared to wake up really early or stay up really late to take a call or two?
You’ll need to set your schedule in a way that works not just for your travel goals, but also for getting work done. This may impact which destination you choose. For example, if most of your clients are on the East Coast of the United States, spending time in Europe is a great way to sightsee by day and work at night.
If you’re bouncing from place to place, consider how you plan your travel time. Will you travel on weekends, or can you build flight, train, or drive time into your schedule during the week? If you hit a traffic jam or other delay, will it throw off anything?
Consider what technology you need to get your job done.
You also need to consider technological limitations. Will the beach have a strong enough WiFi signal? Is that off-the-grid cabin connected enough to give you the connection you need to take Zoom calls?
It’ll be important to make yourself available to your clients, and spotty internet is a poor excuse for missing Zoom calls or deadlines.
Other technology can be more difficult to come by as a nomad. Will you be able to request a printer, or other things you’ll need, when you can’t speak the native language fluently?
What about visas and other paperwork requirements?
You’ll want to look into requirements for your particular destination and based on your nationality. There are a slew of countries US citizens can visit for free on a tourist visa. For example many countries in the Schengen Agreement (many of the EU member states, plus several non-EU member states like Norway and Iceland), allow US visitors to stay up to 90 days in a 180-day period.
If you are looking to stay longer, you will want to consult that country’s consulate to find out what you need. Note that because you’re working, there could be tax implications depending on the length of your stay. You’ll want to consult a tax pro to make sure you’re keeping everything above board.
Being a freelance digital nomad in your own country.
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that working remotely is absolutely possible. Working remotely within your own country is a great way to explore new areas, while making it a lot easier to travel with a lot fewer restrictions. Plus, there’s no limit on how long you can stay.
While it’s absolutely fun and possible to work abroad, working across the country offers a faster way for those who want to pick up and go. Even during the pandemic, many remote workers realized they didn’t have to stay at home and fled to Airbnb and other vacation rentals equipped with Wi-Fi.
If a change of scenery is what you’re looking for, this may be a great option for you.
Consider where you’ll keep your belongings.
One thing some freelance digital nomads don’t consider is the cost of maintaining their home or apartment, plus the costs of travel. If you have belongings that you want to keep, but don’t want to travel with (we’re talking a couch, mattress, and the like), you’ll want to do the math on whether it makes sense to maintain your current living situation while you travel or paying for storage.
Many freelancers going somewhere for a month or so like the convenience of having a space to come back to once they’re done traveling. But, if you’re thinking you’ll hit the road and bounce from place to place for a bit, this is one where you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons.
So, it is 100% possible to be a digital nomad as a freelancer. The entire Fired Up Freelance team is remote, with many of us opting to work from different areas throughout the year.
As most things in life, it won’t necessarily be easy. You’ll have to be an expert hustler and work hard to find and keep clients. It’s possible you’ll have to take nearly any work you’re offered—even if it pays less than your normal rate. Living abroad means you’ll definitely need money coming in to make ends meet.
Even if it’s not the easiest path, it’s absolutely worth it if it’s your dream.
Your turn! Have you considered a digital nomad lifestyle? Let us know in the comments below!