// How I Afford to travel full time //
and oTHER TIPS FOR BECOMING A dIGITAL nOMAD
march 7, 2018
Perched in my garden on a comfy sofa, surrounded by succulents and local floral, I look up from my computer screen to appreciate the majesty that is Table Mountain perfectly framed from my porch. It’s 4:07pm in Cape Town, South Africa and I’ve just finished work for the day. The temperature is a lovely 72 degrees Fahrenheit in late February. I have everything I need in the world, most of the things I want, and all the things I desire are perfectly within reach.
A year ago today, I was tied to an apartment lease and had just quit my job. I was unhappy and uncertain about my future. It was freezing cold in Chicago, so I rarely left my teeny-tiny studio apartment. I was very stressed about money and I felt tethered to a relationship going nowhere. I felt stuck. So, I booked a flight to Europe and set my life on a new and unique path to happy.
Now it wasn’t so easy that I just made the decision to move abroad. A lot of research, budgeting, and organization went into this. It’s something that people don’t think about or see when they read my blog or look at my instagram. So, I thought I’d clear up the confusion and tell you all how I built the life I love; The happy life of a digital nomad, teacher, creator, and muse.
When I tell people about my life as a digital nomad they are often shocked to find that I am actually saving money traveling full time compared to living in Chicago. One year ago, before I left for the first segment of my life as a digital nomad, I had 3k in credit card debt and 30k in student loans. I now have $0 dollars in credit card debt and have exceeded the minimum payments on my student loans for the last 6 months. This was achievable by doing two things:
1. Finding Remote Work
2. Decreasing Living Costs
PICTURED ABOVE: Various work place locations/setups over the last year. Please note my suitcase serving as a desk in bed in the first image and lack of pants in all images.
First, on finding remote work. This is key if you want to sustain a nomadic lifestyle long term. These days, the opportunities for remote work are infinite. Just about any job or skill can be used to market yourself or something online. After being on the road full time for the last year, I have had the pleasure of meeting other travelers with such unique means of sustaining themselves. There are software developers, social media managers, accountants, personal assistants, life coaches, designers, and so many more ambitious individuals working and living out of suitcases all over the world. The most interesting nomadic career I have come across was of a young entrepreneur with two remote businesses; one business requires him to design and market adult board games; the other involves baby clothes. Strange, combo, sure. But it sounds fun and can be done anywhere with wifi.
This lifestyle is also perfect for me, as I have many interests and I am able to balance those interests and my skills to create several sources of income. My primary income and the most stable source of income comes from teaching English online. I balance this with freelance writing, modeling, and other creative projects. If you’re interested in any of these specific jobs, please reach out privately and I will give you all the deets.
Here are some other links to get you started:
PICTURED ABOVE: Shooting in Paris with Bowman Leong, an opportunity I would not have had, had I been living stateside at the time.
Over the last year, I have purposely chosen to create a home-base every three months while traveling regionally. This allowed me to rent an apartment at a rate similar to what locals pay, instead of paying nightly at a hotel. I started in Portugal for three months, then on to Romania, then Greece, and now South Africa. These places have three things in common:
2. Accessibility to other destinations. While in Lisbon, I was able to travel Amsterdam to visit friends, as well as Paris and Rome for modeling work. While In Bucharest, I traveled to London to visit a friend. I also went to Cyprus and back to Paris for modeling work. Finally in Athens, I also traveled to Poland and Santorini. All my flights were consistently under $100 roundtrip.
3. Low cost of living. All of these places cost less than Chicago, but you could budget even farther by going to even more inexpensive places in Southeast Asia, South America, or Eastern Europe. Check out this super cool chart for more deets about my locales:
Over the past year I’ve also made a conscious effort to budget myself in minimal ways, like not wasting groceries, walking more than taking cabs, and limiting my clothing purchases (mainly because I didn’t have room in my suitcase to buy all the pretty garments my heart desired). But you best believe I still went out to eat multiple times a week, ate oysters, drank fancy cocktails, and splurged on a nice new dress for a night on the town. Yet, my cost of living has consistently been between 25-50% less than in Chicago.
So that’s basically it, my people. If you have any specific questions or need some help getting started, give me a shout! Also, if you have any helpful tips for nomadic life, let me know.