💰 How to save money as a digital nomad

I’m homeless.

Well, sort of.

I’m what’s called a Digital Nomad. Meaning I work from my laptop and travel from country to country.

I still work 40+ hours a week, but I do it from Airbnb’s and coworking spots. Not an office.

Why would I do something so different?

I’ll get to all that.

But first, here’s what we got for ya:

  • 🌎 Why Be A Digital Nomad?

  • 📍 Our Top 5 Spots

  • 🚨 Don’t Make This Mistake

🌎 Why Be A Digital Nomad?

When I told my mom I planned to live in Colombia for a few months, she was not happy.

I get it. On the surface, I can see how it sounds a little crazy.

But I knew there was a growing community of digital nomads doing exactly what I wanted to do.

To date, there are over 35 million digital nomads in the world. 

So now for the real question: Why??

Most do it for two reasons:

  1. It’s fun. Personally, I think everyone should try the digital nomad lifestyle at least once. If you’re interested, here’s a guide on where to start.

  2. To save money. In Thailand, I can stay in a beautiful Airbnb for just $1000/ month. In Medellin, the Ubers were no more than $5, and a nice steak dinner costs under $20.

And if you really want to embrace a long-term digital nomad life, there are some major tax benefits you can take advantage of.

For example, Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEI). This is the most simple & popular one, where you don’t need to give up your citizenship or do anything crazy.

This allows you to deduct up to $112,000 of your income each year that is earned outside of the U.S. So your first $112k each year could be tax free.

Always consult with an expert, but here’s a great YouTube Channel we like called Nomad Capitalist. They go in-depth on the global lifestyle & tax benefits.

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📍 Our Top 5 Spots

Right now, Chang Mai is considered the most popular city for digital nomads.

But I thought you could also use some personal recs and tips from the Profit Snack team.

Here are our top picks:

#1. Medellín, Colombia

Why: It’s like a jungle and city combined into one. Everywhere is beautiful and the prices are affordable. You can salsa dance, hike, paraglide, and eat amazing food.

A Must-Do: Guatapé Lake. It’s a beautiful lake about 2 hours from Medellín with green hills and bright blue water.

My Tip: Download Rappi and stay in El Pablado to meet other nomads.

Average monthly cost for digital nomads: $1,370 / month

#2. Valencia, Spain

Why: A very relaxed and slow-paced summer vibe. It’s affordable, easy to get around, and I met a lot of international nomads there. Plus, the food is delicious.

A Must-Do: Go to the ports! It’s full of life in the evening with rollerblading and dancing.

My Tip: Bike bike bike. Everything is close, and the nature is beautiful.

Average monthly cost for digital nomads: $3,418/ month

#3. France

Why: While more expensive than South America & Southern Asia, the big cities are very walkable & I find there to be so many things to experience.

A Must-Do: Popup farmers markets happen every day of the week on the streets. It’s tough to beat waking up, getting a fresh croissant/coffee, then picking out some fresh fruit & groceries for the day! It’s sourced & sold directly from the farmers and is very healthy.

My Tip: Visit the south of France. You can take the train system (TGV) all throughout Europe for very cheap. I love Aix-en-Provence & Nice.

Average monthly cost for digital nomads: $5,000 / month (this can be significantly reduced if you stay in hostels)

#4. Bangkok, Thailand

Why: Awesome nightlife. I have to work during the night due to time zones so having 24/7 restaurants and busy city life is amazing.

A Must-Do: Visit as many temples as possible. I went to three and my favorite was The Grand Palace.

My Tip: Always carry an umbrella and download Grab. It’s like a combo of Doordash and Uber and you can book hotels with it too.

Average monthly cost for digital nomads: $1,350 / month

#5. Costa Rica

Why: Awesome beaches with nearby mountains. You can take hikes through their rainforest, and depending on the time of year you can watch the volcano erupt.

A Must-Do: Zipline through the Monteverde Cloud Forest. It’s awesome and full of pretty birds.

My Tip: Rent an all-wheel drive car, especially during the rainy season. It can be hard to find rides and many roads are unpaved which can get tricky.

Average monthly cost for digital nomads: $3,000 / month

If you’re looking to pick a place to go, I recommend checking out this guide here.

So, that was the picture-perfect description of digital nomad life.

Now, let’s get into why sometimes it can be a total sh*t show.

🚨 Don’t Make This Mistake

To be completely honest with you, some of these mistakes are pretty embarrassing. But hey, maybe these tips will help you out.

Here are 3 things I wish someone told me:

Tip #1 - Do your research. Ok ok, a lot of people told me this. However, I was not the only one who booked a flight without preparing.

At the very least, you should:

  • Verify how long you can legally stay there. Most countries offer a digital nomad visa. If you don’t get a visa, book your flights back BEFORE entering the country. They will ask for them.

  • Check both the city and your Airbnb’s Wi-Fi bandwidth. If the wifi is not strong, you can’t stay. Some even buy a SIM card for extra support.

  • You might need vaccines. Some countries won’t let you in without proof of specific vaccines.

This hasn’t been an issue for me yet, but make sure to get travel health insurance. Better safe than sorry.

Tip #2 - Bring 1 debit card and 2 credit cards. Right now, one of our writers is stuck in Bangkok without any cash. Why?

She didn’t bring a debit card.

Always bring 1 debit card to pull out local currency, and 2 credit cards for everything else.

Tip #3 - Network. Join digital nomad Facebook groups for specific cities and go to their events. Also, check out a few coworking centers.

Over 50% of nomads are business owners, so they create some great connections.

Let us know where you are in the world in the poll below!

That’s it for today,

The Profit Snack Team

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