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How to become a digital nomad

How to become a digital nomad

The digital nomad lifestyle is exploding as remote workers realize they can do their job from anywhere. Working from a beautiful beach or snow-capped mountains entices many, but many might not know where to start. For those who are curious about being a digital nomad but need help taking the first steps, our team at Citizen Remote put together a few ideas to answer some of your questions.

Ask yourself why you want to become a digital nomad

There are many reasons why people become digital nomads. Perhaps you love to travel, or your family and friends live all across the globe. Figuring out why you are a digital nomad is just as important as the how. When things get complicated on the road, you can recall why you are doing this in the first place.

A man with a laptop by the window

Ask yourself: what’s important to you?

  1. Is it working on your own time so you have more time for other things?

  2. Is it seeing the world?

  3. Is it meeting new people?

  4. Is it experiencing cultures and events not available near you?

Getting an idea of what you want from this lifestyle can be essential, so you’re not just chasing trends. Remote work and a nomad lifestyle require you to be very intentional with your time, so it’s important to know what motivates you and why you want this life.

Finding a digital nomad job

You might already have a job that allows you to work remotely. If your current job does not allow you to work remotely or out of the country, you need to find a new job that embraces this lifestyle. If you have skills that translate into remote work, look for companies that target your skillsets. If you do not, consider exploring new options for things you might be interested in.

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There are many digital nomad job boards that you can look at, including Citizen Remote, WeWorkRemotely, and Flexjobs. If you do not have much luck on listing sites and job boards, utilize your connections and create a job for yourself. You can also consider freelancing rather than finding a full-time career.

Digital nomad jobs: how to find them and land one

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How to become a digital nomad once you have a remote job

Once you have figured out how to finance your travels, the fun part comes: where to go and how to prepare. There are a lot of things to consider when transitioning to this lifestyle. For example, if you have a house or apartment, you might want to sell most of your furniture or belongings so you do not have to worry about paying for a storage unit on the road. So if you are traveling with pets, make sure you know how to get all the proper paperwork to move them abroad.

A man at the computer

Consider where you might want to go and what you want your life to look like when you get there. Some nomads continuously chase summer, so they go to South America from October to April and North America or Europe from May to September. Practice working from anywhere and separating work and pleasure. Prepare yourself mentally for lots of fun but also some stress that comes with the territory.

How long do I have to wait?

Now that you have mentally and physically prepared, you are likely ready to leap. However, many countries require you to have a remote job for three months before applying for a digital nomad visa. Puerto Rico is a great starting place for American and Canadian aspiring digital nomads as there are no visa requirements–once you have your remote job, you can go.

If you are comfortable moving every couple of months, you could also head to a country on a tourist visa and test out the lifestyle before applying for a nomad visa. Doing this will let you get started immediately and requires much less paperwork.

Digital nomad visa for Puerto Rico

How to prepare for a digital nomad life

To prepare for this lifestyle, begin to practice the separation of home and work. Many people who work from home have trouble separating the two and end up having never-ending work days. Start spending some of your free time intentionally developing skills that could help you on the road. Not only will these skills come in handy on your travels, but the practice of separating work and home is invaluable.

Try skills such as writing or blogging, practicing a new language, or even a new hobby. Finding more interests will give you more to relate to others while traveling. Hobbies are also helpful for taking your mind off work and allowing you to relax. You can also find many hobbies to do remotely.

How to become a digital nomad through adversity

Practicing resilience is a great skill when you are a digital nomad. Sometimes there are obstacles to overcome and unpleasant situations that you have to face, but you can still become a digital nomad no matter your situation. The most helpful thing when starting something new is utilizing the resources available. Do not reinvent the wheel here and learn from other people.

A woman on the couch with a laptop

How to get a visa

Unfortunately, you will likely need a visa if you want to spend time working remotely in a country. The visa process varies significantly between countries and depends on how long you want to stay in the country. In some countries like India, you can more quickly file electronically with no need to prove a certain income threshold, while other countries will require more legal counsel and proof of income. Once you have figured out where you might like to spend an extended amount of time, we can help you figure out how to get a visa in your preferred country.

How to stay motivated as a digital nomad

Everyone gets a little unmotivated from time to time, but it is essential to be able to snap out of that mindset quickly. Digital nomads have different productivity needs than office workers, as you always stay in a new environment. Technology is your best friend as a nomad, but make sure you do not overuse it. Entertainment is always a click away, but so are help and organization tools. Ensure you’re setting good habits with your technology to get the most out of it. You will also need to get away from it from time to time to get refreshed.

Don’t try to do everything all at once. With a whole world to see and work to be done, it can be important not to try and do it all at once. So don’t overwhelm yourself with the thoughts of everything you want to do and accomplish. Now that you work on your terms, you have plenty of time to achieve everything you want.

How to find other digital nomads

Joining a community of nomads is beneficial for many reasons. Not only is it just fun to have friends while you’re on the road, but it comes with unparalleled opportunity. The community is a great resource to ask questions and call on for help when you need it. When you meet people you enjoy spending time with, you can also travel with them and split accommodation to cut down on costs.

There are many ways to find other digital nomads. Check out nomad groups on Facebook and look for nomad events on Meetup or other networking sites. You can also use CitizenRemote’s upcoming app to connect with travelers worldwide. Not only can you find people similar to you, but you can use the app to get help with visas and taxes.

How to be a digital nomad

When you are a digital nomad, you have to find the balance when it comes to planning. Different people prefer different levels of planning. It is nice to stay open to new opportunities and experiences, so try not to plan for too many months. Conversely, last-minute travel can be stressful and cost substantially more, so you must think ahead at least a little bit.

A man and a woman are looking at the laptop

You will also want to plan when your work stops and your life begins. The boundaries between work and fun can blur when you are not working from an office. Therefore, setting these boundaries yourself is crucial, so you don’t end up working all the time or (maybe worse) not at all.

Luckily, we are living in a time when digital nomadism is becoming increasingly popular. This means that you have lots of resources to find a community no matter where you go. Utilize these resources to make friends or business partners while on the road. Look for coworking or co-living spaces, networking events, or general digital nomad events to find like-minded people. Joining the digital nomad community is excellent for long-term success. Who knows, you might meet your next best friend or partner while on the road.

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How to become a digital nomad and make it last

Just like anything, being a digital nomad takes a lot of work. Although it comes with high rewards, there are also moments of high stress. To last as a digital nomad, you must continuously work on preventing burnout.

The most important thing is to listen to your body and understand when you need to take breaks from work and technology. Staring at a screen all day long is mentally and physically exhausting, so allow for screen-free time. Whether doing yoga, reading, or just relaxing at the beach, give yourself plenty of breaks and time to recharge.

You can take things as quickly or as slowly as you desire. The beauty of long-term travel is that there is no rush. Instead, feel free to settle in and spend three months or even a year in a destination before moving to the next. When you are just traveling for fun, you might only spend a few days in a city. Being a digital nomad allows you to fully experience life in a city before heading to the next one.

Preventing burnout can also happen by using all the available resources for nomads. Many apps help with remote work and travel planning, like Citizen Remote’s new app, Airbnb for accommodation, and Google Flights to compare destinations.

A man is flipping through a notebook

Everyone’s path to becoming a digital nomad looks a little different. Whether you just graduated from college or are considering a career change after decades of working, this lifestyle is possible for you. You will want to consider a few things before deciding on this life, like where you want to go, what you want to do, and how you want to be. Think about why you want to be a digital nomad, and then take the steps necessary to make it happen.

Once you embark on this lifestyle, keep checking in with yourself to see if there are things that you want to change. Practice separating work from the rest of your life and provide yourself with opportunities to take breaks and enjoy hobbies or new friendships. Utilize all the resources available to help you, including digital nomad groups, travel apps, and all the information on the internet.

This lifestyle is not for everyone, but it is pretty remarkable when you finally experience something you’ve been dreaming about.


Harrison Pierce is a full-time digital nomad and freelance writer.

He specializes in travel and personal finance and works with a variety of companies and publications to create meaningful content. Harrison travels with his cat, Isabelle, and spends most of his time in South America. Although he has only been writing professionally for under a year, he has always had a passion for the craft.