How to become a digital nomad? 7 steps to greater freedom

Escape your old routines and step out into the world. As a digital nomad, you can work from anywhere in the world and at the same time explore new countries and cultures. We explain the steps you need to take to become a digital nomad and what you should look out for.

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Step 1: Be inspired to become a digital nomad

Maybe your job is perfect for digital nomadism or perhaps you want a fresh start and are taking off in a new direction. Either way, the important thing when considering becoming a digital nomad is that you choose a job that requires little more hardware than a laptop, a charger, and an Internet connection.

Carefully consider the type of employment as some roles lend themselves more preferably to digital nomadism than others. They include being employed by a company that enables remote working, being a freelancer, self-employed, or being the founder of your own company. If you prefer to test whether digital nomadism is for you, part-time self-employment may be a suitable option for a limited period of time.

Tip

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Step 2: Creating a legal framework

Whether you’re working as a freelancer, are self-employed, or run your own business you must take care of the formalities. The self-employed and freelancers usually need to register their business, while companies must select an appropriate legal form. Sometimes this is accompanied by further registrations, such as an entry in the commercial register. It’s a good idea to get some advice from an accountant who will manage your taxes and advise on residencies.

If you plan on working abroad or for foreign clients, you should register your trade in the country you mainly reside in (e.g. USA) as that will simplify taxation in the long-term. There are special tax regulations to consider for Europe and Asia and these should be discussed with your accountant if you plan on spending a long time in these countries.

To open a business bank account, you will usually require an address of residency (even if you tend to work elsewhere temporarily). You may also want to apply for a credit card to withdraw cash abroad or pay for goods free of charge.

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Step 3: Get insurance

The most important type of insurance for digital nomads is health insurance. You will usually need to apply for a separate travel or foreign health insurance. In any case, you should check with your state or commercial insurance provider whether they cover medical emergencies while oversees.

To protect yourself against professional liability, specialist professional liability insurance policies are available. Where necessary, you can protect your equipment by taking out individual content insurance. Photographers, for example, would be well advised to insure their camera and accessories.

Tip

Gain an overview of the most important insurances for the self-employed.

Step 4: Acquire clients

If you are just starting out as a freelancer and plan on traveling a lot, you may want to get clients on board before you leave. This provides security and ensures a regular income from the beginning of your trip.

Tip

A website is an important marketing channel for most businesses and freelancers. Register your desired domain and create your website with MyWebsite.

Step 5: Determine your itinerary and plan your stay

As a digital nomad, you could get started within the vicinity of your place of residence and benefit from flexible working. If you’re planning to travel there are a few things you’ll want to take care of. Consider accommodation – either rent a small apartment or book a room and work on-site from a coworking space. Book flights or other transportation and, if necessary, take care of visas and recommended vaccinations in time.

Step 6: Organize the life you leave behind

When you only want to enjoy the life of a digital nomad for a few weeks or months a year, it is worth hanging on to your (rented) apartment or perhaps subletting it while you’re away. Subletting means you can save expenses and get a little extra income. You might need to speak to your landlord first to check whether subletting is allowed and decide on the furniture you want to leave in the apartment. Clear anything that is not suitable for foreign eyes.

Consider your mail. When self-employed or freelancing, it’s likely you’re receiving traditional letters that you’ll want to open in a timely manner. Set up a mail forwarding if possible.

Step 7: Arrive

Once you’ve taken care of all the preparations, you’re ready to start your journey. After you’ve arrived, it may take a few days to get your bearings and get set up to ensure optimal working conditions. For example, you’ll probably want to purchase a local SIM card that lets you surf the web on mobile devices so that you can quickly and easily find your nearest coworking space, the best restaurant for a quick midday snack, and the top spot for an evening stroll.

As a digital nomad, you’ll want to find the right work-life balance and establish routines, such as regular working hours in the morning and afternoon, but allow enough time to take in the sights and experience foreign cultures and all the benefits of digital nomadism.

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