Working Abroad as a Global Nomad
Considering Remote Work? Not too long ago, for people not of retirement age, the problem with the dream of going to live abroad was that it was at odds with staying gainfully employed. It generally meant taking a huge risk, quitting your job, and selling all your worldly possessions. And while the payoff was the chance to experience adventures far and wide, the downside was that the longer you stayed away, the more at jeopardy your financial future became. However, those days are over. Now it is possible to thrive professionally and financially, while being able to travel the globe. Forget getting by on tips, serving beers in a tourist trap, or insecure employment teaching ESL under the table; instead, take advantage of the thriving freelance economy and how common a remote workplace has become to keep your current level of income while also being able to see the world.
The trick to having a successful freelance career while traveling the world is to remember a few things. One is that a freelance career takes more hustle, more motivation and more organization than the sort of job where you show up at 9, punch in, and then punch back out at 5 pm. And when you combine the freelance chaos with a few extra factors that always come with navigating cultures that are new to you, dealing with bureaucracies of both your home country and those of wherever you go, and of course some of the stress that will always accompany travel and exploring new places, a career freelancing while living abroad won’t be a walk in the park. It will be more like a hike through the Himalayas, because when you do stay focused you’ll be rewarded with getting to live a life of excitement while keeping your more practical side happy. Here are a few tips to make things easier for you.
Save Before You Go
While your goal is to make the same as you’re making now, it’s best to allow for an adjustment period. You’ll be running your own business and adjusting to a new culture. Even if you’re current freelance business is thriving, it’s important to allow yourself some space to work less when you arrive and learn how to use your new schedule and environs to create the most productive workflow for yourself.
Use Cost of Living to Your Advantage
It’s a whole lot easier to contribute the same amount into your savings each month, when a lot less is going to paying for basic expenses from housing to food, and luckily, there are very likely to be a whole lot of places in the world where the basics will cost significantly less than what you are used to. Remember, if you choose to live the nomadic life, rather than moving to a single place in a new country, there will be costs associated with traveling, short-term housing and unexpected expenses that always arise in unfamiliar places. If that’s the route you choose, it’s a great idea to choose to spend a good deal of time in the more affordable locations of the world.
Don’t Forget About the Taxes
Wherever your home country is, if you’re living abroad, it’s likely that that does not make you exempt from taxes. Make sure to do your research before you leave, consult a tax attorney and familiarize yourself with the laws that effect your specific situation. That will save you from a nasty surprise down the road.
Create a Network
Networking is a key skill for both freelancers and expats, and as a freelancing expat it will be an absolute lifeline. An online forum, such as the Nomad List can be an invaluable resource for facing the specific challenges that come with freelancing abroad and remote work, not to mention, they can help beat that inevitable loneliness that comes with going somewhere new. And be sure to plug into communities wherever you go, it can help you get the most out of enjoying your travels, and may lead to helping you with what is always one of the greatest challenges for any freelancer: finding new clients.
Know What You Need for Remote Work
It’s amazing how few places are left on this planet that don’t have some access to internet, but a reliable internet connection can still be hard to come by in some places, and it might be harder (or pricey) for travelers. Make a comprehensive list of what you need to do your job well, and make sure that wherever you go, you have what you need. Whether that means scouting out in advance or investing in a reliable satellite hotspot that will work anywhere, be prepared.
Consider a Job Done Remotely
Being a business owner isn’t for everyone. While choosing the freelance life means you’re your own boss and have a great deal of freedom, it also means that you have a great deal of responsibility, and if things don’t go well, you don’t get paid. Even if you’re doing everything right, you must remember that to a certain extent, your beholden to luck and need to be sure to leave some room for failure. So, whether you don’t like taking on that degree of risk, or just want something that is more stable, and perhaps has some built-in features like international health insurance and a retirement account, you may very well decide that the life of being self-employed is not for you. However, in today’s global economy and the internet age, that doesn’t mean you can’t still travel while achieving your professional goal. See if there are openings in your field in a company that is generous about allowing their employees to work remotely. If you’re not finding things that are specific to your past employment, see if you can consider switching to a related field. Many tech companies are very open to remote workers, so perhaps if you have work experience in education, look for an education tech company that might be a good fit. Once you find the right job, you’ll be able to enjoy all the advantages of a stable job while seeing the world, and the biggest drawback you’ll have to contend with will be scheduling the time change, and there’s an app for that.
- Remote Year – Facilitates Remote Work Experiences
- We Work Remotely – Find Jobs that Aren’t Restricted by Commutes
- Best Sites for Finding Remote Work (SkillCrush)
- We Roam – Work Abroad with Other Remote Workers
Remember to Schedule Vacation Time
For all freelancers, one of the biggest challenges is making sure to take time for yourself. It’s vital that you create a differentiation between work life and personal life, otherwise you risk facing burnout, which will in turn cause your business to suffer. When you’re living in the landscape you’ve always dreamed of visiting, it can be even more difficult to create this distinction. Whether you’re beachside in a tropical paradise, high in the mountains, or in the middle of a far-flung metropolis, it’s necessary that you mindfully schedule time to enjoy where you are, and not just leave your free time for when you’re done with the day’s work.
It will take a lot of work, but if you’re able to find the right balance of running your freelance business while seeing the world, the rewards can be enormous.