Home » How To Be A Digital Nomad Expat

How To Be A Digital Nomad Expat

The nomadic lifestyle is attractive because you can satisfy your urge to travel, see incredible sites, and have new experiences. But if you’re not rich, traveling around can leave you strapped for cash and even homeless when you return home.

As an expat, you’re probably well aware of America’s big economy and all the money-making opportunities there are in the states, but for one reason or another, you don’t live in America. It seems like you can’t take advantage of America’s economy, but that’s fine with you. Trekking around the globe is more exciting. Yet the nagging question of your lifestyle’s financial viability keeps coming back. Fortunately, you can become a digital nomad.A digital nomad is someone who makes their living on the internet while they’re traveling. This presents some real financial benefits. Does the country where you’re living have currency worth less than the U.S. dollar? You can contract with American companies and come out ahead.

In America, the independent contractor economy is booming: projections show it will see a 13 percent growth rate by 2019. Businesses are happy to hire contractors because they don’t have to pay for things like health insurance. Freelancers benefit from the flexible schedule and a variety of job options. As an expat freelancer, you can take this flexibility with you around the world.

The prospect is fantastic and exciting. Here are some considerations and tips for your borderless life abroad.

[t]Check Out the Platforms[/t]

Gig platforms make it easier to find work by acting as a meeting place — so to speak — for freelancers and people who need your services. Here are some to consider:

Remote OK

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If you can do tech jobs, such as programming or website development, Remote OK can pair you with a company willing to pay you to work from anywhere.


Like the name implies, Speedlancer is all about speedy jobs. Through the platform you can find a variety of tasks that take about four hours to complete. From social media graphic design to infographic design to press release writing, there are a variety of quick ways to make cash anywhere.


Do you own your home? If so, you can make passive income by renting it out to tourists through AirBnB. This is a good way to pay your mortgage, and you can take remote freelance jobs at the same time to cover your travel expenses.


If you’re a writer or you know a different language and can provide translation services, check out Fiverr. It’s not just for writers, though. You can do graphics and design, music and audio, and much more. You keep 80 percent from each transaction.

There are more platforms that can accommodate your digital nomad lifestyle. You’re contributing to a new global economy on which they depend. Since that’s the case, there is one thing to consider: you’ll be paying a middleman to do something you could do on your own.

[t]Find Your Own Gigs[/t]

Although it’s harder, finding your own gigs online can be more rewarding because you take 100 percent of the income. Just be warned, doing it yourself takes more time and requires you to have quality outreach skills.

LinkedIn is a free platform that can help you find gigs. The app will examine your profile info and suggest jobs. When you provide your profile info, be thorough so that people who need your services will be able to find you. Make sure your contacts are people you actually know; if you connect with someone you don’t know, do so because you have a vested interest in making that connection.

Get proactive by searching job boards and search engines for companies offering remote work opportunities. Once you find a company willing to contract with you, and you complete a job, you’ll need to invoice them for payment. This is important but not difficult. Make sure they can pay you via PayPal, direct deposit to your bank account, or some other digital method so you can collect your earnings on the go.

[t]Consider Tech Consultancy[/t]

Why tech consultancy? Because, given the fact that many people don’t know much about programming and data-related skills, it’s where the money is. All over the world, businesses are relying on data specialists for their day-to-day operations. Spreadsheet consultant David Carlson says that many of the people who are in his line of work charge anywhere from $100 to $200 per hour. That’s not a small chunk of change. Earning more per hour gives you more time to explore your many destinations.

To become a spreadsheet consultant you have to master Excel, which is a program that can run pretty much every part of business having to do with data. You can access a free course on how to use Excel to get work done the fast way. Even if you don’t end up becoming a consultant, you can use Excel to manage every aspect of your freelancing that has to do with numbers.

[t]Know Your Country’s Tax Requirements[/t]

If you’re still technically an American citizen, be current on the tax requirements. In addition to U.S. taxes, you may also have to pay taxes in the country where you reside. Normally, if you can prove you live in a foreign country for 330 days out of the year, you’d qualify for the Foreign Tax Credit. But since you’re a digital nomad, you’ll have a tough time proving residence.

If you’re a freelancing, globe-trotting American citizen, you have to pay quarterly taxes with the schedule C form. SDC reports that you’re subject to the self-employment tax, which is 15.3 percent of your earnings.

[t]Final Tips[/t]

Put good use to apps. Save money by crashing on people’s couches with the Couchsurfing app, or stay in hostels with Hostelworld. Take advantage of free WiFi anywhere you go with the WiFi Finder app for iOS or Android. Take advantage of frequent flyer miles through your airline of choice. The less money you spend on logistics, the more you’ll have to spend on experiences and good food.

As an expat digital nomad, you’re on an adventure few people get to experience. Whatever types of logistical hassles you end up going through, they’re well worth it because you’re free to go pretty much anywhere you want.

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