Right now, the world is full of people in a state of flux. From divorce and student loans in the West, to failed states and impoverished nations elsewhere; digital nomadism is becoming a method of financial survival for people of all classes.
The idea of earning USD while spending pesos is taking off.
The drastic increase in the number of digital nomads roaming the globe makes complete sense. It’s not just about who wants to earn money remotely on a tropical Thai beach or from the mountains of Medellin, Colombia –digital nomadism, and the gig economy, is helping elevate those struggling to find their place, wherever they may be.
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The concept of remote work isn’t the only perk that comes along with living the nomadic lifestyle.
Depending on your home country, moving to another location could do wonders for your bank account.
There are plenty of destinations around the world that allow a digital nomad to live like a king, without a king’s pay grade or inheritance.
Or a trust fund. Or a fancy-paying job.
Anyone hoping to live in luxury while spending no more than $1500 each month, keep reading. This guide provides provides a few tips on exactly how to make this dream a reality, on the cheap.
Stop Paying Tourist Prices
Living as a digital nomad can be tricky; technically, you’re no longer a tourist, but are you considered a local?
Gaining local status takes a lot of time and hard work (it even takes money if you plan on making it ‘government official’).
Although many digital nomads feel as if they’re stuck in a state of limbo between tourist and local, it’s time to stop paying tourist prices.
As you probably already know, there’s a major difference between tourist and local prices. Maybe you’ve even heard the term “gringo price” while traveling through Latin America.
The first step in avoiding the high prices aimed at unknowing tourists is to know the price you should be paying. When you know ahead of time the typical cost of a product or service, it is harder for a local to rip you off.
Whether you’re looking for transportation from Hanoi to Sapa in Vietnam or shopping at a local market in Guatemala, haggling and bargaining are typically accepted. Not only are these methods accepted, but they are also often expected.
So don’t be afraid to chew the fat a bit with a local about price before settling on one that you’re happy with.
Choose the Right Destination
The very first step in living in luxury without the luxury price tag is to choose the proper destination. It’s fairly obvious that living in Toronto, London, Dubai, or LA is not the easiest way to live an affordable lifestyle. So start narrowing down your options.
You can begin by first focusing on a continent. Once you decide if you’re into Asian culture or Europe is more your style, you can begin to narrow down your choices even further.
Whether you plan on living in this location for 3 months, 6 months, or for years down the road, there’s a lot to think about when choosing your destination.
To get you started on the right foot, consider these affordable digital nomad destinations:
- Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Medellin, Colombia
- Ubud, Indonesia
- Cebu, Philippines
- Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Lviv, Ukraine
- Merida, Mexico
You’ll notice that the Indonesian island of Bali is not included on this list. Even though Bali is one of the best destinations in the world for digital nomads to settle down, it is becoming increasingly expensive to live there.
That being said, Bali is still an amazing choice – but living like a king for less than $1500 might be challenging.
Take Airbnbs Off the Market
While living in Asia, we often keep a few apartments in locations we visit often. It’s cheaper on the whole, and it’s relatively easy.
Find an Airbnb you like and stay there a few nights. If you still like it, offer the manager 10 – 12 days the Airbnb rate as the cost of rent per month for however many months you need the apartment.
In Asia I pay an average of $120 USD cash money per month, per apartment I find via Airbnb.
The landowner will appreciate the reliable income and not having to change over the apartment for new guests (or pay banking fees), and you get to find an affordable apartment online. This Airbnb hack is great when online apartment websites are unreliable or non-existent.
Sign up for Airbnb with this link and get up to $43 off your first stay.
Put Airbnbs On the Market
You can also broker a deal with landowners to lease or buy multiple apartments as an Airbnb host. There are courses on this, and I’ve met a few nomads who have successfully made quite a bit of money hosting Airbnb guests.
However, make sure you stay within the legal rules as defined by your travel visa in relation to working abroad (another reason why a passive income is best).
Become a Housesitter
Why pay rent when you can look after an epic property and play with puppies at no charge?
Responsible home owners are looking for responsible home sitters to house sit their homes (and maybe look after a pet, too) –the perfect trade off.
Live rent free for weeks or seasons at a time, while making friends with cool people (and their pets) in different countries.
We wrote a whole article on how to get started with housesitting, check it out.
Learn the Language
The benefits of learning the local language include a more immersive cultural experience –you get to learn the nuances of the humour, negotiation, and civics.
More opportunities will open up, and people will reward you for taking initiative.
Network with the locals, find that rare apartment steal, get the freshest groceries, don’t get ripped off when you rent a car, and be better prepared for tense situations. And that’s just for starters.
Hire a Cleaner
Hire additional services from the locals, whether it’s a cleaning lady, babysitter, nanny, night nurse (for new digital nomad parents), landscaper, or au pair. Use the Facebook Groups search bar to find them.
Auxiliary services can do more than what you hired them for, they can also do the haggling and negotiations at the market, tour company, travel agent, motorcycle, appliance purchases, and otherwise –in addition to being good conversation, even helping you learn the local language, and generally being really nice to have around.
Ideal if you haven’t learned the language and want to get charged local prices for purchases you make every week.
Get a Roommate
This tip applies to everyone in the world, not just digital nomads, but it’s a helpful one nonetheless. Finding a decent apartment that fits within your $1500/month budget is more than possible in many locations. But if you want to get the best bang for your buck and live like a king, split the cost of rent with 1 or more roommates.
Living with a roommate that shares a digital nomad lifestyle isn’t just a great way to cut down on expenses, it’s also the best way to avoid seclusion.
Living in a foreign country away from home can start to get lonely, but having a roommate can help.
Join the Area’s Digital Nomad Community
Joining the digital nomad/expat group of your area is a given, but did you ever consider that it can actually help you to live well on a budget?
Many digital nomad coworking spaces offer free events, seminars, social events, and access to a comfortable workspace. Just consider the Dojo Coworking Community in Indonesia’s Bali.
Dojo requires a monthly fee for membership, but the perks of becoming a member are endless. Not only will you meet fellow digital nomads living in the area, you’ll have complete access to informative workshops, social beachside BBQs, and desk space to call your “office”.
Hire a Virtual Assistant
When I was in a dire straight working on the very first edition of Digital Nomad Escape Plan back in 2015, I fell behind in my work.
I hired a VA to fill in for me while I wrote what later became an Amazon best-seller; I made enough to cover the VA salary and my own rent, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Any job you’re doing that isn’t directly making you money should be outsourced. Spreadsheets, updates, following up, making images for Pinterest, sending sell sheets, etc.
If it is already proven to make you money, that should be outsourced, too. You shouldn’t be fulfilling services directly or creating the product. You want to be outside of the kitchen.
That’s my best advice.
Start with web design, logo design, brochure design, business card design, and a lot more by virtual design staff at 99Designs.
Once you get used to working with 99Designs remote staff, expand to a full-time VA in the Philippines.
A full-time salary for an extremely competent VA in the Philippines starts at $500 USD per month, in my experience. And that’s more than local city engineers make, I might add.
A starting salary for an engineer in the Philippines can start at around $280 USD per month. So if you hire a Philippines VA at $550 USD per month, you’re seriously elevating the individual. You’re not profiteering. You’re a small business, maybe a business of one empowering another business of one.
Social justice warriors be damned, it’s not exploitation. Filipino VAs feel free to leave a comment, too –drop a link to your website.
Cut International Banking Fees
International banking fees are brutal when you work or make money online. PayPal sucks.
They have lower fees than anything else you’re going to find out there, especially if you’re an American.
Related: How to Become a Digital Nomad
How Do You Save Money?
Let others know in the comments, and be sure to check out the following posts;
- I Need Money Now! How to Make Fast Cash
- How to Be a Digital Nomad
- How to Get an Entry-Level Remote Job