A question asked very often amongst aspiring digital nomads is “How much does it cost?”
This is quite a hard question to answer, as each location independent person has varying spending patterns and budgets. Some will embark on their adventure looking to stay in places for long periods and spend little whilst working little. Others may leave with a decent war chest of funds and want to move around quickly while working plenty to create a solid salary.
Whichever combination of these you are, some expenses will generally be consistent across the board.
For starters, some of the most expensive costs happen before you even leave your home. As annoying as it is, most digital nomads need to do several things to activate their location independent lifestyle.
Things like putting your stuff into long term storage, real estate costs for letting your place, removalist trucks and any unpaid bills can add up quickly. Compounding this, debts you currently have should be sorted before you go as well. Whether it be a phone plan cancellation, car loan, owing friends money, credit cards or outstanding bills with service providers, these should all be fixed before you go.
So, as you can see, it’s possible that your digital nomad funding has dwindled substantially already. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. Travel isn’t cheap.
First, you need to make sure you have all the appropriate vaccines and medications required for work and travelling in certain parts of the world. This requires a Doctors appointment and the administration of these medicines.
Next you need to look at your packing list. Ideally, you want to live as minimalist as possible if you are to be location independent, so you should only buy weight efficient items that are the absolutely essentials. You should aim to pack as light as possible and save space.
If you haven’t’ already, you will probably need to buy a Laptop, Camera, suitable clothes, shoes, dry bags, a backpack and some toiletries at least. Do you have any money left?
You will also need to make sure you have some form of travel insurance. You will see many digital nomads blog about how they do not take out an travel insurance policy and save some money. In our opinion, this is a very bad idea.
In contrast to these tales, are the horror stories you hear of people who do get hurt who have no insurance, and are stuck with international medical bills upwards of $100k.
It’s not that you are going to be doing something dangerous, and need that safety blanket and assurance that if you do feel the need to act stupid and get hurt, you’ll be covered. It’s more the unpredictability of other people, nature and freakish occurrences. No matter how carefully you tread, you can never avoid these things you can’t control.
Then there is your Visa requirements. Countries you are visiting need to know that you are visiting and are not part of the general population. And these can certainly be costly, a few hundred dollars in fact.
Again, this is a non-negotiable expense, as if you arrive in a foreign country without the correct visa, and can’t get one at the airport when you land, you will be sent straight back, cast as an illegal immigrant.
Right, so finally you can get to the booking of the flight. These are rarely cheap, and since all the spending on the items prior to this have sapped a far chunk of juice from the budget, you are looking for something inexpensive.
It can sometimes be painful, and is up to personal choice, but longer haul, multiple stopoverflights with budget airlines can save you a few hundred dollars. You can use the rationale that you are earning or getting paid an extra $400 by sitting on the plane or at some airport an additional 8 hours. So effectively, $50 an hour.
For others, time is money, and a direct flight ensures your sanity is in tack.
All the doom and gloom of fiscal obligation should now be out of the way, and it’s all benefits from here.
Once you actually arrive and begin your life running a digital nomad business, it’s amazing how cheap it can be. You will look to have your same expenses as back home in food, shelter and entertainment, but at a fraction of the cost. All while travelling some of the worlds finest destinations!
So in reality, it does cost a decent amount to begin or “activate” yourself as a digital nomad, however once you are over this initial hurdle, you can easily make that back within three months of leaving as your digital nomad business kicks off in paradise.
Last but not least, alcohol. Generally, most travellers love a beer. That’s fine, who doesn’t. Multiple beers, sure, why not. But getting constantly on the heavy drinking nights can add up fast. And as you get drunker, your wallet tends to get friendlier.
Be careful you don’t take large amounts of cash out when your hitting the town drinking. After a few drinks and laughs, your budgeting self discipline will inevitably falter and that weird looking currency in your wallet or purse will be thrown about like monopoly money.
Prepared by Work Play Nomad