Many people have wondered whether they could lead a nomadic lifestyle, but far fewer have tried it and found success. So I turned to the expertise of James Clark, the founder & author behind the successful travel blog Nomadic Notes, who has been a digital nomad since 2003 and is one of the best guides around. Here you can read, learn, and share some of Clark's best tips and insights on..
Nico: You decided to embrace a nomadic life in 1999 when you moved to the UK. Where did you get the inspiration to become a digital nomad? What awakened your desire to travel?
James: I moved to the UK in 1999 on a working holiday visa for Australians. Living in London and being able to travel to European destinations gave me the travel bug. While I was there I realized that I wanted to travel for longer than an annual work vacation permitted, and I also became interested in the internet. After my time in the UK, I did a course in basic HTML web design and started making websites for fun.
Continuing my desire to live abroad, I then got a working holiday visa in Ireland. I learned about web design and affiliate marketing in my spare time, and I soon realized that I could do this as a business, which would be a better alternative to working in the boring jobs I kept finding myself in. The phrase “digital nomad" wasn't a term then, so I wasn't thinking of becoming one. I just wanted to have a job that I enjoyed, and doing web design had the benefit of being able to do it anywhere. I became a digital nomad in 2003 out of necessity when my visa in Ireland expired and I had to move on.
"Working in mind-numbing jobs made me more determined than ever to work for myself." (James Clark)
Nico: Obviously you must have encountered some difficulties living out of your comfort zone. What would be your number-one piece of advice for those who are thinking to live a nomadic way of life? What's one of most important skills for becoming a successful digital nomad? And what's the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?
James: If you do want to become a digital nomad and work anywhere in the world, go for a test run first. Keep your home and don't sell everything you own. Instead, go away for a month or two and see how you like it. You might find that being a digital nomad is too disruptive to your way of life, or that you don't feel productive while living like this. If that's the case, then there's no loss. If you find you love it, then you can go back home and prepare for your new life as a digital nomad. The best skill to have is to be self-disciplined enough to work for yourself.
The digital nomad life is often sold as an easy life working by the beach, but if you are too distracted by the beach to get any work done, then your life as a digital nomad will be a short one. My biggest challenges are mostly work-related. Being self-employed, I'm always thinking of where my next income source is coming from, and coming up with new business ideas.
Takeaway: To succeed as a digital nomad you must be self-disciplined, make quick decisions, and be creative [Tweet This]
Nico: As an Australian citizen and digital nomad, you've lived and worked in different EU countries, and now you're actually spending most of the year in Vietnam. How do you handle your taxes? What would be your suggestion for setting up taxes, residency, and a business as a digital nomad?
James: Everyone who takes up a digital nomad lifestyle will have different circumstances regarding taxes, so I can't offer general advice. For myself, I still maintain an Australian business and pay Australian taxes. I have a rental property in Australia as well, so it isn't beneficial to offshore my business life. It's best to seek professional advice or ask in one of the digital nomad forums what would be the best business and tax structure for your situation.
Nico: With today's economic crisis, unemployment rates are skyrocketing. Is it too late to become a digital nomad after 40?James: I see that people get being location-independent and being a digital nomad confused. Being a digital nomad is the result of having a location-independent income, whether that be offering services on Fiverr that you can do anywhere, or setting up a business that can be run online.
When you look at it like that, it is never too late to find a way to create location-independent income, which can enable you to become a digital nomad. I think that for someone over 40, seeking an online income source is a better prospect than putting yourself through the interview mill in an ageist job market.
Dreaming of becoming a digital nomad? Check out Fiverr's guide to hacking the digital nomad lifestyle for additional tips and tools for turning your remote business ventures into a success. Even when you're working from halfway around the world, Fiverr experts can help you anywhere you go.
Are you already a successful digital nomad? Tell us your tips for making it work in the comments below.