What is a digital nomad and how to become one

Anna Allgaier

*Well, hey there. My name’s Anna and I work at Wise as a Content Marketing Manager. Welcome to my article. Emphasis on the “my” here. Why? It’s just so you know that all views and lol’s below come from me and not Wise. I take it you’re here to learn more about living la vida loca abroad, so I’ll shut up now and leave you to it. HAPPY READING. *

When you google “what is a digital nomad” you’re treated to the following definition “a person who earns a living working online in various locations of their choosing (rather than a fixed business location)”, which is accompanied by an image of a very happy man on his laptop by a lake, throwing us an enthusiastic thumbs up.

So if you’re looking to pop those thumbs up in the air like you just don’t care, join me as I look into the digital nomad life, how to become one, and what countries offer digital nomad visas that you can apply for.

☀️😎Get paid from abroad 😎☀️

How to become a digital nomad 🤔

First things first, why is this so appealing? Quality of life is number one, the ability to travel the world, making the most out of your salary while getting paid in your home currency abroad and, of course, the endless “living my best life” bragging rights .

Digital nomad jobs 💻

The first thing you’ll need to tackle is can you work abroad from another country? There are a few ways to go about this. Here are some of them for inspiration (god look at me, using words like inspiration and digital nomad, I feel like a human instagram quote):

  1. You could set up your own business
  2. You could freelance
  3. You could take advantage of your current company's work abroad schemes if you’re lucky enough to have one. We get 90 days at Wise- yes, I’m showing off.
  4. You could pick up some seasonal work
  5. Apply for a remote job. Since the pandemic loads of companies offer fully remote work. You can now filter for remote jobs in particular on LinkedIn to make your search that little bit easier.

What you need to know before becoming a digital nomad 🤓

First things first, why do it?

Oh I don’t know. Quality of life? Travel experiences? So you can tell people you’ve “been to Europe.”

Make friends with your laptop

Most of us know how to use a laptop and login to a Zoom call at this point. If you’re choosing a sunny location by the beach, we recommend hiding your background with a Zoom filter so your colleagues don’t absolutely despise you. If you haven’t had the pleasure of sitting on video calls for hours on end and need a bit of help, there are plenty of free computer courses out there.

If you aren’t a pro on a screen, there are plenty of courses (some free) online or in-person that can help you catch up to speed.

Hello Wifi my old friend, I’ve come to connect with you again

Once you select where you’re heading, make sure you’re going to have access to decent Wifi wherever you stay. Google cafe’s, find a coworking space, ring your accommodation ahead, and suss out what the internet speed looks like. It’s no good having Wifi if it moves at a glacial pace. A lot of destinations even have digital nomad networks now, so you can make some buddies abroad at the same time. Cute.

Come on you, sort your life out

And whatever you do, don’t forget to look into travel and health insurance. Suitcases get lost, people get stung by very aggressive jellyfish, tummy bugs attack after a very adventurous food purchase at a market.

Learn the lingo

Whenever I go to France, and try to order something in French, I always get English back. It hurts, but it's always better to respect the culture and give the language a go. Depending on where you’re jetting off to, basics can be enough. Find out more on the easiest languages to learn vs the hardest here.

Put your money where your mouth is

Yeah yeah, you’re talking. But can you walk the walk? CAN YOU???

You can.

All you have to do is get your finances in order. Make sure you’ve got a budget, set aside money for flights, accommodation, calculate what your average spend will be, make sure you have an emergency fund and most importantly, figure out how you’ll receive your money while abroad.


That’s where we come in.

How Wise can help

When you set up an account with Wise you’re getting an international account that’s a more affordable option to other providers.

You can send money for less using our mid-market exchange rates, spend while you’re abroad so you can live like a local, avoid hidden fees, receive payments wherever you are from up to ten different countries, and convert and hold money in different currencies. Plus, you can have a personal and a business account too with both physical and digital cards, making admin and life pretty easy. You can pay your rent, bills and employees remotely ( I mean you can do more than just that but I’m giving you a little taster..mmm yummy.) You can access your business and personal account from the same place, and the business account avoids the average high rates, hidden charges and monthly fees. Plus you can pay your employees, get paid and manage your cash flow from abroad.

So woooo. Get yourself a Wise account here.

Digital nomad visa countries ✈️

There are loads of countries that offer digital nomad visas. But to keep things sweet and simple, I’ve picked a few fan favourites and had a look into them. You. Are. Welcome.

Spain: digital nomad visa 🇪🇸

So,this one is a bit of false advertising because the visa isn’t available for non-EU passport holders YET. But it’s on its way. If you hold an EU passport or you come from Schengen area countries, you can work in Spain already for up to three months.

But for those without the EU label, the new digital nomad visa will be introduced soon under the Startup Act that the Spanish Parliament put forward.

The legal side of things isn’t ironed out yet but what we do know is that you’ll need to be employed by a non-Spanish company to be viable for the visa and you’ll need to have an income with less than 20% being earned from Spanish companies.

If you want to move to Spain to work before this comes to fruition, you can still apply for a standard working Visa but it may be more of a hoopla.

Portugal: digital nomad visa 🇵🇹

The Portuguese government doesn't have a digital nomad visa per say but they do have a Portugues passive income or D7 visawhich entitles you to pretty much the same thing the nomad visa would.

As of May 2022, you can now apply for this visa so you can work remotely while living in pretty portugal. You can work as a freelancer, or do remote work but the catch is you can’t work for a Portuguese employer.

To be considered for the visa you’ll need:

  1. Proof of income
  2. To apply for a Portuguese NIF Number
  3. To sort out your local Portuguese bank account or global account (cough cough Wise)
  4. To meet the minimum stay requirement of 16 uninterrupted months for the first two years.
  5. You’ll also need a clean criminal record (naughty naughty) , a cover letter, health insurance and, of course, your passport.

Start applying here.

Bali: digital nomad visa 🇮🇩

Bali is a digital nomad hotspot, but until now they’ve only been able to work in the sunny spot for up to 180 days a year. By the end of this year, Indonesia will be introducing a visa specifically for remote workers. It’ll be valid for five years, you can live there tax-free (OMG) and the only condition is your income has to come from an entity outside of the country.

If you want to get there ASAP and can’t wait for the launch of the new visa, you can apply for a KITAS visa.

Greece: digital nomad visa 🇬🇷

Once again, if you’re a Schengen/EU lad or ladette, you can already work from Greece. Vibe.

If you aren’t you can apply for their new Digital Nomad Visa which will allow you to live and work in the country for 12 months.

The T’s and C’s:
  1. You have to work for a non-Greek company
  2. If you’re self-employed you need to show proof of business activity, what you do and put forward your business address. Again this can’t be registered in Greece.

To apply, head to your local Greek embassy or consulate.

P.s if you do head to Greece, it’s technically thanks to me, so I expect some sort of food related souvenir.

Croatia: digital nomad visa 🇭🇷

I haven’t ever been to Croatia, but I have binge watched Below deck Mediterranean so I’m basically a local. And with that knowledge, I can wholeheartedly recommend getting yourself in that visa application process.

As of 2021, you can apply for temporary residence as a digital nomad. The visa isn’t actually a visa per say, it’s a residence permit for non-EU/EEA passport holders.

And the same rules apply, no working for a Croatian company, they’ll want to see evidence you’re bringing in some money and they’ll ask to see your passport. Shoutout to all the people who also have a tragic, tragic picture.

To apply, head to your local Croatian embassy or consulate. For more information, you can check out here.

Fun fact: a few of the visas/permits allow you to bring a family member or spouse along. This is one of them. If on the other hand you need a break from your family, let’s just pretend you never read this.

Costa Rica: digital nomad visa 🇨🇷

I’ll be taking notes on this one because Costa Rica is gorgeous and I have poor GCSE Spanish skills, here we go.

The Costa Rican DNV just legalised this July, 2022. The visa will allow you to stay in the country for a year, but once your year is up you can apply for another one.

You have to work for a foreign company, own a business or work as a freelancer and you need to have an income of over £3,000-£4,000 each month. Depending on if you’re coming alone or with family members.

Once you apply, you should know if it’s a yay or a nay within a couple of weeks. Find out more on their official website.

Et voilà. If this article has made you go “YAS QUEEN, this 9 to 5 life is too basic for me. Time to get my glorious self on a flight somewhere fancy.” Then fabulous. If you need some help on your digital nomad adventure, we’re here to give a helping hand.

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