How to become a digital nomad as an accountant

Gabriela Peratello

While traditional jobs in finance and accounting would have been strictly office based, more and more qualified professionals are starting to look for ways to become a digital nomad as an accountant.

The good news is that this is perfectly possible, with the right planning and preparation — and we’ll cover some of the key things to think about right here.

We’ll also run through some of the best places to find digital nomad accounting jobs, and introduce the Wise Account as an essential tool for managing your money as a digital nomad.

move-and-manage-your-money

Can you be a digital nomad as an accountant?

Absolutely. You can become a digital nomad as an accountant. In fact, digital nomads, travel enthusiasts and people embracing an international lifestyle can find work in a whole range of ways.

Some of the best travel jobs include seasonal work or positions within the travel industry, but there are also a whole range of roles which can be done remotely — including some accounting positions.

Broadly speaking, if you want to become a digital nomad and continue working in accounting and finance, you’ll have a couple of choices — set up on your own by either freelancing or building a business, or find an employer who will be happy for you to work remotely.

Setting out on your own may seem somewhat daunting, but with popular freelancing platforms like Upwork¹and Guru², acquiring clients may be easier than ever. Upwork alone claims to have helped freelancers secure over 9,000 contracts in finance and accounting in the past 12 months.

We’ll dive into some of the best places to find digital nomad accounting jobs in detail later — whether you want to work for yourself, or find a remote-friendly employer instead.

How to become an accountant digital nomad: step by step

As a digital nomad you’ll need to plan your life a little differently to people following a more traditional path. Depending on your personal circumstances you might have a whole lot of logistics to work through, from selling or renting your US home, to working out schooling for your kids, to planning how to keep in touch with friends and relatives when you’re on the road.

At the same time as planning all of this, there’s also the question of how to earn as a digital nomad accountant. Here are some key things to think about to help make the transition to digital nomad life smooth.

Step 1. Decide whether you’ll freelance, set up your own business, or look for a remote contract

The first question you’ll need to answer is around the way you’ll work as a digital nomad. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have an employer who can support you working remotely in a different location. Or — more likely — you’ll need to consider finding a specific remote job, or taking on freelance clients where location is unimportant.

The good news is that both options are possible, and while there are some aspects of finance jobs which don’t work well without face to face client interactions, there are also plenty of positions which can be adapted really well to a remote way of working.

Since more and more people work from home now, many clients don’t mind virtual meetings with their accountants — giving you scope to be anywhere in the world with a decent wifi connection. We’ll take a look at some good places to look for remote work and freelance accounting positions, later.

Step 2. Narrow down places to live and look at visas and costs

You’ll need to start thinking about destinations pretty early in your planning. If you don’t have a set location in mind, one common tactic is to pick one of the world’s cheapest places to live to allow you to benefit from a good quality of life for a lower cost while you’re finding your feet.

Narrow down your options based on your personal preferences — and how supportive the country is of digital nomads. There are many countries now which offer digital nomad visas, which make it easier to stay for anything from a few months to a couple of years — including the right to work in the country as long as your clients are overseas, and often with no local income tax to pay.

Step 3. Get all the tools you need to work remotely with clients

Moving to a fully remote working schedule will also need a bit of thought. From practicalities like getting the right laptop, phone or tablet, and a quality headset for calling clients, through to the software and apps you may need.

Here are a few pointers:

  • Figure out how to communicate with clients — video calling platforms like Zoom³ can make this easy

  • Decide how you’ll store and share documents — cloud based tools like Google Drive⁴ have broad functionality and are familiar to most people

  • Check out cloud based accounting tools like Quickbooks⁵ and Xero⁶ to see which works best for you

  • See if you need a project management tool like Asana⁷ as a way to keep your work organized and communicate with clients about workflows 

  • Get remote access and viewing tools like Teamviewer⁸ lined up, to let you work with clients as though you’re in the room with them

Step 4. Access the support you’ll need to manage daily digital nomad life

Once you’ve worked out the practicalities of working remotely as a digital nomad accountant, you also need to think about the tools and support you need to arrange day to day life.

A few key considerations include:

  • Take the opportunity before you travel, to connect with other accountants who are digital nomads — look for blogs, use your LinkedIn network and ask friends if they know anyone who has already been down this road

  • Get a low cost multi-currency account to let you pay and get paid in a range of currencies

  • Find a few apps you like, to help with booking tickets, accommodation, getting local recommendations and so on

  • Check out practical questions based on your destination — for example, how is best to get around (do you need an international driving license, or is Uber available?), where and how can you meet new friends, and so on

You can also check out this list of the best apps for travel, for everything from smart ways to manage your money, to accommodation booking tools and maps.

Step 5. Plan your work processes and routines

So now you’ve lined up the tools you need to be able to work, and some of the essentials for managing daily life in your destination. Before you head off into your new life, it’s also worth investing some time thinking about how you’ll be able to structure your time, create processes for working with clients, and achieve some balance.

For example — what time zone will you be in, and will that mean scheduling client calls at unsociable hours? How can you communicate your preferred ways of working with your customers, to make sure you’re meeting their expectations? Will you set structured working hours in advance, and how can you balance that with making the most of your destination?

Step 6. Get ready to go!

The exact step by step process to become a digital nomad as an accountant will vary a lot, depending on your specific area of expertise, whether you prefer to work for a single employer or freelance for multiple clients, where in the world you want to live, and so on.

However, once you’ve laid the groundwork there’s nothing left to do but make the leap. Make sure you’ve sorted out your visa for your destination, book up your travel, and get packing.

How can you find digital nomad accounting jobs?

Digital nomad accountants tend to work for an employer who allows fully remote work, or as freelancers taking on clients under their own business name. The way to find work will vary depending on your preferred approach.

If you’re looking for a remote accounting position with a single employer. It’s worth looking at sites like:

Umbrella and curated sites like these feature accounting and finance jobs which can be done at least to an extent remotely.

However, you’ll need to double check with the specific recruiter what they expect on this front — for example, whether you’ll be required to remain in the US while working from home, or whether you’ll be needed in person for occasional client meetings.

An alternative which may be more flexible is to freelance instead. There are quite a few freelance platforms which can help you connect with clients across different accounting based positions — take a look at:

And of course, you may be able to connect with clients directly too. Reach out to companies and individuals within your network, ask around to see if anyone needs help, and advertise your skills online to build a client portfolio which supports your flexible lifestyle.

Wise: a financial solution for the nomadic lifestyle

Before you head off for your new life as a digital nomad accountant check out the Wise Account as the practical way to manage your money when you move around.

You can open your Wise account online or in the Wise app, to hold 40+ currencies and get a linked debit card for day to day spending and withdrawals. There’s no monthly fee to pay, and no minimum balance to worry about.

You’ll also get local bank details to get paid like a local in 9 different currencies, which means no fees for you — and in most cases, none for the person sending the money either.

Wise currency conversion always uses the mid-market exchange rate with no markup. That means you’ll only ever pay low, transparent fees for the services you need.

Get started with Wise
in minutes

Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up-to-date pricing and fee information.

Getting set up as a digital nomad accountant does take a bit of thought — but the rewards of a digital nomad lifestyle are well worth the planning. Use this guide as a starting point to help you figure out how best to adapt to life on the road — and good luck!


Sources:

  1. Upwork
  2. Guru
  3. Zoom
  4. Google Drive
  5. Quickbooks
  6. Xero
  7. Asana
  8. Teamviewer

Sources checked on 10.12.2022


Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Money without borders

Find out more

Tips, news and updates for your location