Working abroad as a digital nomad continues to be a popular option for those who want to combine productive remote work with the opportunity to experience life in another culture. Becoming a successful digital nomad in 2024 requires considerable financial planning and careful choice of location.
If 2024 is the year when you want to make big changes in your life, one way to start is to embrace the digital nomad lifestyle. Armed with enthusiasm, a job you can do remotely, and a love of travel, you can make a foreign country your home base for months or even years. Despite return-to-office mandates, opportunities for digital nomads in 2024 await those who want to take the plunge to work abroad.
Even relocating to a different place in the United States can be challenging, but moving to a foreign country where everything from the food, the culture, and the language are unfamiliar adds a new dimension to the experience.
Most Popular Countries For Digital Nomads In 2024
Where should you go to be a digital nomad? While the whole work is at your disposal, you need a destination that is safe, affordable, and welcoming to expats. That means that the Internet service is reliable, transportation to what you need is accessible, and friendly locals and a community of fellow nomads are nearby.
Unless you have a location you want to check out, you might look to popular destinations that other nomads love. Many countries in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Europe top are welcoming to digital nomads. The current favorite locations are:
VisaGuide.World rated these countries on their Digital Nomad Visa Index to determine the ranking.
Their criteria include:
- Active visa availability that makes it easy to enter the country
- Internet speed to facilitate remote work
- Taxation policies and tax-free length that may exempt you from most foreign taxes during your stay (though you still must pay U.S. taxes)
- Income requirement for visa applications to show that you can support yourself
- Cost of living in Euros to help you figure out your budget
- Global Health Score (GHS) that shows capabilities to resist or manage diseases, especially future epidemics and pandemics
- Tourism popularity
Here’s how Spain, the current favorite, stacks up.
Spain dominates the list because it has a digital nomad visa that allows people to live there for up to a year so long as they make $2,750 per month (or twice the Spanish minimum wage.) Those with a spouse or family need to show proof of $1,000 more for the first person and $335 for each additional family member. You also need health insurance.
The country is a vibrant location for work and play. It ranks #17 in health preparedness, making it safe for individuals and families. It is the second most popular tourist destination in the world after France and ranks right above the United States.
(See all the particulars about living in Spain on a Spanish digital nomad visa.)
Pros And Cons Of Being A Digital Nomad
Regardless of where you go, you can look forward to personal growth and adventure as you immerse yourself in a new culture. As long as you are in a field conducive to remote work and settle somewhere where it is easy to do it, you can have an interesting stay. Depending on the local economy, you can save some money while being extremely productive.
There are distinct problems with embracing the digital lifestyle. If you lack flexibility or are easily upset or disillusioned when things don’t go your way, being a digital nomad might be especially frustrating for you. There are four negative aspects of being a digital nomad that most people have to face.
- Economic uncertainty. No country is safe from recession and inflation. If there is a downturn in your industry or in the local or international economy, you can find yourself with insufficient income. Rising inflation can impact travel costs, housing, food, and other living expenses. You always need an emergency plan to get you through tough times.
- Visa restrictions. Many countries welcome digital nomads and have work visas that make it legal to work there. Other countries are more restrictive, while others have rules they do not enforce or loopholes that make extending a stay there easy.
- Social isolation. Loneliness is a problem for many digital nomads. Making new friends can be difficult after leaving friends and relatives at home and suddenly being alone in a new land. Introverted nomads who are wrapped up in their work may suffer more than more outgoing people. Think ahead and join social media groups for expats in your desired destination so you have some connections in the area. Check our coworking spaces to prevent the isolation of working from home.
- Logistical challenges. The Internet connectivity and different time zones from your employer, customer, family, and friends can make both getting work done and retaining personal connections difficult. Periods of bad weather, natural disasters, and political unrest can further disrupt everyday work life.
Planning Your New Life Abroad
If your desire to live abroad is stronger than your fears, there are several questions you need to ask yourself before committing to a location.
What type of work will you pursue?
Most foreign countries prevent visitors from taking local jobs, so you must have remote work lined up before you go abroad. If you already have a job where you can work overseas, you need to consider your income, obligations like student loans, and anticipated expenses. As an employee of a company, you may need to get permission from your employer to work remotely from abroad.
If you are in the early stages of thinking about going abroad, you should assess your skills and determine what you can do. Certain lines of work can usually be done overseas.
- Tech jobs in IT and cyber security, data science and analysis, and software developers
- Creative jobs in graphic design and web design, photography and videography, and content writing and editing
- Marketing and sales jobs in social media management, sales and e-commerce, and SEO and digital marketing
- Miscellaneous jobs as virtual assistants, online language teachers, and coaches and consultants
Most countries have income requirements to enter, so you should be established in the field and have a track record that proves to authorities and yourself that you can live comfortably in your chosen country. It’s good to have a backup job in case your work falls off while you’re far from home.
What are your income goals?
Many people successfully finance a rich but frugal life in a foreign country, which enables them to pay their expenses, travel a bit, and put money aside for emergencies or long-term savings goals. Enjoying a more lavish lifestyle requires a higher income. To get the most for your money, you should aim for destinations where the U.S. dollar goes further.
When you choose your destination, many online guides offer insights into costs at the standard of living you want to maintain. You can live more economically by avoiding costly international hotel chains and chain restaurants and, instead, choosing local options. Some nomads save on housing by housesitting or house-swapping. Another trick is having enough of a kitchen to make some meals at home to save money.
Is traveling to neighboring countries your goal?
Many people hope to travel as part of their digital nomad experience. While 9% state that as a motivation, just 24% travel while working, according to data from Fiverr. About 54% visit 1 or 2 countries annually, and 20% visit 3-5. Only 17% travel to five countries or more per year. The need to work can keep people from seeing all they’d like while abroad, so if you have specific attractions or places you want to see, consider travel costs in your budget.
How long do you plan to stay abroad?
Most countries have limits on how long remote workers can stay there. Sometimes, it is possible to get extensions to lengthen the time in a specific country. Some digital nomads who love traveling go from country to country before returning home, while a few apply to be permanent residents. Others geoarbitrage by sequentially relocating to countries with lower living costs before returning home. Most people plan on digital nomading for a couple of years before settling down closer to home.
While you can’t read the future, having an idea of what you might want to do helps you make plans. If, for example, you have a car or property, you could sell them for cash to finance your travels if you anticipate being gone for a long time. On the other hand, if you anticipate only being gone a year, you might hold on to your assets and make plans for their care while you are abroad.
Resources For Prospective Digital Nomads
Fortunately, as you think about whether you want to do this or not and then make concrete plans, there are plenty of Internet resources to help you, including groups on social media. Here are a few of the most useful.
Facebook groups for digital nomads in various countries