Do you have what it takes to become a digital nomad?

With all the talk about digital nomads and being able to travel and work on the road, many who work in an office in a fixed location may be considering whether it makes sense to try living abroad.

There are many factors to consider when mulling over the idea. It’s not simply a case of reading one of Tim Ferris’ books and thinking you can make a go of it. You should look at the facts and their merits.

Here are few things to think about when considering relocating to a sunny country vs working and traveling as a lifestyle.

What Type of Work Will You Do?

Will you get a job working abroad in your current profession, train for a new profession either at home or abroad, or freelance in some capacity?

In terms of freelancing, unless you can develop a strong network of contacts, you’ll face stiff global competition which pushes the price down. Few people in freelance fields command the best money.

Most others are chasing deals and cutting their rates to get them.

Taking a Job in a Foreign Country

When you already work in a profession that lends itself well to working a similar role in a foreign country — as a type of nurse, a doctor, a teacher, or someone in the charitable field — then it is often a much easier transition.

Depending on the country, there may be a crying need for qualified people. For instance, small islands like Malta may struggle to find the best doctors and nurses to work in their healthcare field and may welcome experienced foreign healthcare workers.

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There are opportunities when you’re willing to look for them.

The salary that you can pull in for working a foreign job may or may not be better than what you receive back home. It really depends on the type of work and the urgent need for it.

A foreign school may prefer native speaking English teachers over local non-native speaking teachers, but there’s a limit to how much they can pay for the improvement in teaching quality and applicability.

Different Types of Jobs

Some jobs, like working on an oil rig, are high-risk, short-lived positions that pay very well. Others, such as teachers, are employed usually for the term or the year.

There are more temporary and short-lived assignments in foreign work, so contracts are often for a few months and not open ended.

When wishing to have the experience of working abroad as an employee, a person must either be more flexible in the roles they apply for when living in one location, or relocate to other countries to find work, take interviews, and risk disappointment.

For people who have caught the wanderlust, they often enjoy the fact that when a contract ends, they’re free to either find work in another country using the internet, or strategically relocate first and then apply for jobs once there, using savings built up to cover their relocation and downtime costs.

Working Your Way Up the Ladder of Success

When building a career is the priority, there are two ways to do this while abroad. The first way is to stay in one location, develop local work experience, build a solid local reputation and hopefully rise up the ranks.

The second way is to apply for, and take, positions in other cities and countries if they present the chance to get promoted by changing employers.

The first approach is perhaps a more reliable route to success, but for people who enjoy seeing more of the world, the second approach could work.

However, this carries greater risks of only moving laterally. Certainly, when you’re frustrated about a lack of career development in your home country, moving abroad and staying in one location might provide a second route to success.

A return home could later result in obtaining a higher-level position that could not previously be attained unless already possessing previous experience in that type of role.

However, it’s important to be selective about what experience and roles will likely provide this benefit in the future as job markets change and getting that same job abroad isn’t always as easy as one might imagine.


There are thousands of people who choose to live abroad and freelance. Freelancing covers the gamut from writing to graphic design, to app developer, to social media consultants and affiliate marketers.

There are some surprising jobs that people choose for themselves as a self-employed person.

Teaching English is certainly a popular occupation in foreign schools, but people also now teach using Skype one-on-one with students who are studying English (and other subjects) anywhere around the world.

How much can be earned freelancing depends largely on whether it’s  a field that’s in high demand, or one where many people are providing largely the same service to their clients. T

here is some degree of commoditization happening. For example, a graphical logo for a new website can look just as good produced by a graphics designer in Lucknow, India than in Manchester, UK, which pushes down the rates that can be charged.

On the flip side, the living costs tend to be lower abroad.

You can also become a member of freelance websites like Upwork or Freelancer and bid for jobs there. Be prepared for rejection.

But, like a sales job, it’s a numbers game and once you build up your profile and have a few positive customer reviews, people will be willing to pay a higher rate for quality work.

Work and Travel

Working and traveling is tough to do. The process of researching multiple locations, picking the next destination, booking tickets, packing up, flying out, landing, and then going through the routine of setting up again isn’t easy or fast.

We take for granted all the things we know how and where to get them accomplished. When not speaking the local language well, if at all, just finding out where to buy a specific thing can be a 1-2-hour chore instead of a 5-minute trip down to the local corner shop.

Multiply this by the many things that you require, and changing locations too frequently gets to be problematic.

After being away for more than just a few months, most travellers choose the slow form of travel by staying in a single location the maximum allowable amount of time — three to 9 months in most cases — before moving on.

Doing so reduces the setup time upon arrival. If you get bored easily, you can surely travel to other towns and cities that surround your chosen home location to break up the experience without needing to relocate constantly.

Whether to work and travel or build a strong career in a single foreign place is sometimes a personal choice, it often depends on what you do for work.

Some professions lend themselves to being employed abroad in countries where there’s a need for that kind of professional.

However, for people who freelance, they have greater freedom of movement but add more disruption to their life and work when moving too frequently.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments

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About Elena Tahora

Elena has been a full time writer for the past 4 years. She has been featured on various websites like TheFutureofThings, FineHomesAndLiving and Boostability. A writer by day and a reader by night, In 2017 she launched her own blog Find her on twitter @TahoraElena


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