Starting off as a digital nomad can be quite a challenge. Make your life as a newbie full-time traveler easier by following an experienced nomad’s tips on how to get along with a limited digital nomad budget and still live the life you have always dreamed of.
First things first: You definitely don’t need a lot of money to follow this lifestyle. But before you get on that one-way flight to the destination you’ve been dreaming of for so many months, you should make sure to learn about all the budget-friendly digital nomad tools and hacks for saving time and money while increasing productivity.
The digital nomad lifestyle sounds like a dream come true for everyone currently stuck in a cubicle. Working from anywhere, on your own time, however, comes with a whole set of new challenges. So to be perfectly prepared, make sure to also read our guide on how to get started as a digital nomad!
A world-traveling nomad of three years, I’ve got so many country stamps in my passport that I can barely keep track of my adventures – luckily, there is Instagram to document the journey! Unfortunately, social media doesn’t always (or should we be honest and say never?) show the whole picture.
Hard times, failures and the really tough challenges aren’t shared. The truth is, many digital nomads give up after only a few months into the adventure of location independence and return home. Of course, this can be due to a bunch of reasons. Bad money management is, however, is among the most common ones.
To make your first months easier, I am happy to share my favorite tips with you! I only wish I would have had such a handy guide before I started my journey …
Here are our 10 travel tips for a tight digital nomad budget – and all those who like to invest their money in smart ways!
10.) Choose The Right Destination for Your Budget
Budapest, Hungary; Bucharest, Romania; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Taipei, Taiwan; and Ubud, Bali, are all great places to start when you’re on a tight digital nomad budget. They are all easy and relatively cheap to get to and have a low cost of living. Looking to spend less than $30 a day? Then start with those cities!
💵 Cost of living: $1,150/mo.
🏠 1 bedroom studio rent in city center: $541/mo.
🏢 Coworking: $167/mo.
☕ Coffee: $1.35
💵 Cost of living for expat: $954/mo.
1 bedroom studio rent in city center: $388/mo.
🏢 Coworking: $129/mo.
☕ Coffee: $2.05
💵 Cost of living: $744/mo.
🏠 1 bedroom studio rent in city center: $362/mo.
🏢 Coworking: $110/mo.
☕ Coffee: $2.32
💵 Cost of living for expat: $1,252/mo.
🏠 1 bedroom studio rent in city center: $672/mo.
🏢 Coworking: $193/mo.
☕ Coffee: $3.46
💵 Cost of living for expat: $829/mo.
🏠 1 bedroom studio rent in city center: $429/mo.
🏢 Coworking: $262/mo.
☕ Coffee: $1.79
* Source: Nomadlist.com (as of 05/15/2018)
9.) Save Money Before You Leave
This no-brainer should actually be listed on top of this guide! Although it’s not necessarily helping you to save money on the road, it’s a piece of financial advice that will prevent you from having to pack up and go home before your journey has even begun.
Having a comfortable cushion of $$$ in your bank account will help you through tough times, when you’re dealing with difficult clients or are facing unforeseen expenses, such as a visit to the doctor.
8.) Skip Out On Paying Rent By Housesitting
Housesitting is THE way to save loads of money traveling and still live in beautiful country houses or city apartments. I’ve saved over $5,000 on accommodations during the past 12 months alone because I chose to not pay rent. Instead I’ve lived for free in houses that I would probably not be able to afford in a million years! And all I had to do was water the plants and cuddle with a cat.
Often, you’ll have the chance to enjoy the temporary company of furry friends, such as dogs and cats! A wonderful bonus, as the digital nomad lifestyle typically doesn’t allow us to have pets of our own. Interested in watching over someone’s house and pets while they are away? Check out TrustedHousesitters.com for more information!
7.) Find Reliable Sources of Income
To make sure you have money coming in constantly, find reliable clients and set up contracts with them, take on a part-time remote position (even if just to get started) and make the money that you have work for you. In our 5-step guide to becoming a digital nomad, we’ve summed up a few smart ways to secure your income!
Still not sure how you’ll be making money abroad? Use your skills and offer them to people!
Great resources for finding freelance work are:
6.) Be Flexible in Your Travel Itinerary
The great joy of being a digital nomad is that you can do as you please: travel whenever you want, wherever you want to go to. This comes with many perks! Being this flexible, you get to book flights when they are the cheapest and go to places in low season, when accommodations are super-affordable! Another plus: Low season means fewer tourists, so you’ll have coffee shops and beach bars to yourself.
5.) Learn How To Mix Business with Pleasure
Working from the road sounds like a dream. But, to be honest, it’s quite a challenge, too! I’ve always felt like I could only focus on one thing at a time: Either it was going on adventures and exploring my new, temporary home, or making progress with the work on my own business, a digital marketing agency. It soon became a money factor, too.
Going on holiday, you’d typically indulge and treat yourself. However, living in paradise 365 days of the year, you’ll have to learn to slow down a bit. So I had to make compromises. When others would hike volcanoes at 6 am or get their third massage of the week, I would be sitting in my home office working my a** off.
Given that this was happening beside the pool of my comfortable homestay in Bali, I didn’t mind it too much and soon got used to the idea that being a digital nomad doesn’t mean that I am on a never-ending holiday (even though that concept hasn’t made it all the way to my relatives back home).
4.) Make Use of Smart Tools and Apps
As a remote worker or online entrepreneur, your life will literally (well, maybe not quite) depend on technology! Naturally, the smart use of apps can make your life so much easier! For smart money management check out Xero for invoicing and payments and Trail Wallet to keep track of your expenses.
That’s not enough for you? Check out these 21 must-have apps that will make every digital nomad’s life a whole lot easier!
3.) Pick The Perfect Work Space
Ask yourself, does it really need to be the fancy (read: paid) coworking space, or can you work from home? How many cappuccinos have you been drinking this month while sitting in the hip neighborhood coffee shop? All these are expenses that add to your budget.
And even if it doesn’t feel like much, when the coffee is just $2 in cheap cities like Chiang Mai, just keep in mind that with low cost of living, you’ll tend to treat yourself more than you normally would, and the outcome can be equally expansive (talking from experience …).
2.) Keep Your Belongings Safe
Have you ever had to replace a broken, lost or stolen MacBook or iPhone? Then you will know the pain such an unexpected expense can cause. Possibly more so, as such gadgets are often much pricier in the cheap countries digital nomads chose to live. So make sure to keep anything that you’re not willing to lose safe.
Make smart choices, don’t carry your MacBook everywhere you go, leave your passport at home and get a goood travel insurance for that $2,000 camera. World Nomads is the travel insurance of choice for digital nomads and offers coverage for iPhones, laptops, iPads and everything you’re uber attached to or can’t work without.
1.) Don’t Give Up When It Gets Tough
If Plan A doesn’t work, stay cool and keep trying. It’s not going to be easy. Becoming a digital nomad takes time and effort, and involves finding steady work and making tons of travel plans.
You’ll most likely end up in chaotic situations – some more so than others. And when that happens, just remember you’re not alone. Others go through ups and downs, too. I got over the struggles and continue to learn and grow day by day. And so will you.
What was the handiest tip of these 10 pieces of digital nomad advice? Tell us in the comments!