What to Consider when Choosing a Country to Live In as a Digital Nomad

It’s a big world out there…

You’ve done everything you needed to. You’re working remotely, earning income, you’ve sold your possessions. You’ve watched hours of travel inspiration videos from other nomads and you’ve picked out your carry-on luggage set. Now all you have to do is pick your first destination – when suddenly it hits you: Where can you go when you can presumably go anywhere?

By keeping your digital nomad priorities in check you can make strategic decisions that’ll have longer term benefits to you and your career. Namely, your budget will go further, your cultural experiences will be broader, and your income wont be stopped for any reason. That’s a win-win-win!

Why You Shouldn’t Pick Countries Randomly

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Click the image to view an interactive map!

Suddenly you have the ability to travel the world. It’s an exciting prospect, but it’s a responsibility that should be taken seriously. If you spend too much time in one place that doesn’t further you personal and professional goals, that accounts time you can’t ever get back. As Canadian digital nomads we’ve got a great passport to travel with, but we don’t have the strongest currency exchange compared to the $US dollar, £British pound or €Euro. There’s a lot of countries with really strong currencies and high cost of living that might be more expensive than living in downtown Toronto, for a worse quality of life!

Consider consider staying only 1 month even if you have the option to stay 3-6 months depending on which country you’re entering as a Canadian.

Note about personal safety: Not every country is safe but not every region in that country is dangerous. We just wrapped up 3 months in Mexico and it couldn’t have been a more enjoyable experience for us. Do you research, be informed and don’t be afraid.

Your Budget

Your budget is the most important thing you can manage. South East Asia is a popular destination for a lot of people in their 20s because it’s still such an affordable place to stay and travel through. The Canadian dollar stretches pretty far in places like Thailand, so I was able to throw in even more money into my loan repayments while still living in a great apartment and going out nearly every night with friends and booking great weekend trips.

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An example of our expenses while living in Da Nang, Vietnam. We track everything!

Your Work Needs

Your wifi/connectivity needs will determine where you can stay for longer than a few days. If it’s your dream to go to a truly remote and exotic location for months while working your full time job, that’s great – you just might not be employed at the same job for the whole trip.

By sticking to larger, more developed cities around the world you’ll have a base to do more exotic trips during the weekend or for a few days.

Leaving your laptop behind even for a few days can be incredibly liberating!

Your Social Needs

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The gang at Teotihuacan just outside of Mexico City

One of the real dangers of living abroad is isolation. In their March 2018 issue, Psychology Today published an article “A Cure for Disconnection” about the real dangers that loneliness has on our health. You’ll still need to connect with people, either locals or other digital nomads, to maintain a healthy mind and lifestyle.

I highly recommend creating a network of digital nomads you can travel with, but also reach out to expat communities and use Facebook groups to meet up with others in person. If you’re staying in a country that’s responsive to travelling foreigners, and where the locals have a good grasp of English or French, then take the chance for yourself to meet new people.

Get Uncomfortable!

Everything about being a digital nomad is about pushing yourself beyond what you’re used to. You might have to work late in order to meet a client deadline on the other side of the globe. You’ll be eating new and very different food than what you might be used to. The weather will definitely get some used to and who knows what the locals will think of you! Learning to be okay with being uncomfortable abroad will make you an overall better rounded person back home, wherever home ends up being.

By being careful and strategic about what regions you choose you can see more the world without breaking your budget or damaging the trust you’ve built with your employer and clients. That’s what it’s all about – Having your cake and eating it while on a tropical beach.

Thanks for reading!
– Carolina & Jonathan

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