Man climbing in kiviõli hillsSource: Taaniel Malleus

Guide For Digital Nomads

If you want to work from anywhere or run your business remotely. In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about being a digital nomad.

Here is a complete guide to being a digital nomad

Nomadic life is part of the human experience. While in some areas, it declined with the advent of agriculture, in other areas, it remains the norm even to this day. A recent twist on this established lifestyle is the modern-day digital nomad — someone who lives and works from any location of their choosing.

So, if travel and freedom from the 9-to-5 sound perfect, keep reading. This guide will cover the key points you need to know about being a digital nomad.

How to be a digital nomad?

Social media often gives us a skewed vision of the digital nomad's life. The bloggers, high-tech nomads, and freelancers you follow online often make it all seem easy. But becoming a digital nomad requires planning, creativity, and effort.

So, where to start?

1. Build your skill set

Whatever skills or knowledge you have, you can turn into remote work, especially if you're willing to think creatively. Remote work has boomed since the pandemic; now, many more employers realise employees can work just as productively outside the office walls. While traditional computer-based jobs like development or graphic design are easier to do from any location, the rise of video calling and online collaborative platforms means the sky's the limit for today's digital nomads!

If your current career makes working outside of an office hard, think about how you can move your skills online. Are you a teacher? Perhaps you could teach English online. Maybe you could do sessions over Zoom. Take what you know and look for ways to branch out and build your skill set to make working remotely possible.

people working in co-working space

Source: Rasmus Jurkatam

2. Decide where in the world to start

Where you live matters; running a remote company from a small island with unstable internet connectivity probably won't get you very far. Meanwhile, trying to live in Paris on a tight budget might have you heading home early.

You must also consider your legal right to work and reside in a country. Many countries, like Estonia, are driving the digital nomad trend and have created specialised digital nomad visas or remote worker permits.

Moreover, budget, legal rights, internet connectivity, and ease of living should all contribute to your decision.

We'd recommend considering these European countries when you're looking for your first destination:

Estonia, Malta, Croatia, Iceland, Germany, Czechia, Romania

Tallinn old town

Source: visit tallinn

3. Establish a source of income

If you're going the freelance route, start building up a portfolio. Small gigs might not pay the best, and the work could be tedious, but the experience is everything. Once you've got a steady stream of income and multiple clients, you can build your own business.

Of course, being a digital nomad while a full-time employee or contractor is also possible. You'll need to find a company that allows you to work from anywhere. Nowadays, even if your company doesn't have a set policy on remote work, you could put together a convincing argument. Don't be afraid to ask!

4. Find a community

The best part of being a digital nomad is finding new communities of interesting people. Being part of a community is not only good for business but also good for your well-being!

Not only will socialising make you happier, but it can also connect you with potential clients and job leads. This can be crucial to your success as a digital nomad. Check out co-working spaces, cafes with good WiFi, and meet-up events to find your community and meet like-minded people.

Friends gathering at a bar

Source: Rasmus Jurkatam

5. Set up banking and health insurance

As a digital nomad, you'll often be on the move. So, you'll need to find an easy way to save and access your funds wherever you find yourself. Some of the newer online borderless banks may better fit a nomadic life than the traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Do your research, and consider the currency you'll be paid in and where you'll be paying taxes.

Health insurance is another essential point to consider. Depending on your citizenship and where you'll be living, you may not qualify for free or low-cost local healthcare. For example, if you're an EU resident and decide to head to another EU country, you may be covered with the European Health Insurance Card. However, if you're an American digital nomad in the EU, you will likely have to purchase private health insurance.

a table game about e-estonia

Source: Jelena Rudi

The pros & cons of nomad life

The high-tech digital nomad life is enticing for many. Working from a beautiful European cafe or a sun lounger on a sandy beach often sounds amazing compared to your normal office space. However, there are some downsides to being a digital nomad. Let's take a closer look at the pros and cons of digital nomadism.

Pros - Freedom is, of course, the most significant advantage of being a digital nomad. You have the autonomy to choose your location, your work hours, your vacation hours, and much more. Plus, saying goodbye to rush-hour commutes does wonders for decreasing stress.

Let's not forget the other upsides to being a digital nomad:

  • Taking charge of your work/life balance
  • Reclaiming more time for creativity
  • Total immersion in different languages and cultures increased motivation from all the new experiences

Cons - Every job or lifestyle is flawed. Being a digital nomad is hard work. You must independently figure out paperwork, visas, health insurance, new languages, and international business.

Another potential downside is motivation. Being your own boss or running your business requires tremendous dedication and self-motivation—people who prefer to be told what and when to do tasks may run into trouble here.

Other cons to consider:

  • Homesickness and the feeling of isolation
  • Missing out on events “back home”
  • Less stable income
  • Encountering language barriers

Finding a legal place to work

Being a digital nomad doesn't mean you're simply packing your laptop while you go on vacation. And, if that's what you plan on doing, think twice! You may face serious repercussions, such as deportation if you work this way.

Therefore, a form of legal residency is a must. You should check what types of visas are available for those wishing to live and work; some might be straightforward, like Estonia's Digital Nomad Visa. Other countries might require more complex paperwork. For example, Czechia requires you to secure a trade license, pass an interview, and submit significant paperwork.

As the saying goes, there are only two things certain in this life - death and taxes. Even digital nomads have to file their taxes. Your legal residence in a country may make you liable to pay taxes there. 

Is the digital nomad life for you?

The digital nomad life isn't for everyone. Some people prefer to live in one location and have a full-time job for stability.

Before setting out into the world and starting the nomad life, you need to figure out what kind of person you are. This might be the perfect opportunity if you love challenges, independence, travel, and are highly self-motivated.

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do I crave adventure?
  • Do I thrive on novelty?
  • Do I dream of being my own boss?
  • Am I adaptable and resilient?
  • Can I work 100% online?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might have what it takes to become a digital nomad. As the first country in the EU to offer a Digital Nomad Visa, Estonia is an easy place to start your journey!