RETIRE AS A DIGITAL NOMAD: A GUIDE
Retirement as digital nomad: A guide to financial security and adventure
How to retire as a digital nomad?
This is the question that crosses many people’s minds that stops them from becoming a digital nomad. I’ve been living and traveling around the world since 2005, and I have been location independent since 2020. I’m usually targeted for being irresponsible and reckless because I supposedly do not think of retirement as a digital nomad. I am here to tell you that if you take the necessary steps, not only will you be able to retire comfortably. In some cases, you might have an even better lifestyle than if you were to retire in your home country. In this guide, I’ll be explaining the steps you can start taking now to contribute towards your retirement as a digital nomad. This can all be applied whether this is a temporary phase of your life or even long-term.
Before we even get into retirement, we first need to cover finances. If you’re spending a considerable amount of time abroad, no matter where you’re from, you should already be affiliated to a bank that offers seamless international transactions, low or no fees, and excellent online services.
The most international options I’d recommend are Revolut and Wise. I use these to have funds in different currencies, pay employees for international projects and withdraw money free of charge from ATMs. If you’re reading this, there is no reason why you should be paying for banking services abroad. If you have a reputable bank in your own country that has good services for people abroad, keep those. As a person that has spent more than half of her life abroad, I’d highly recommend having both local and international accounts to have easy access to funds while minimizing currency exchange fees.
Paying for Private Healthcare
Back in the day, international healthcare was extremely limited. Trips of longer than 3-6 months automatically disqualified you from health insurance. That is all in the past. Nowadays, there are a number of companies that understand the needs of people who are traveling most of the year. Personally, I buy a yearly international health insurance package that covers medical and travel insurance and I specifically say that I am traveling all over the world.
SafetyWing seems to be a popular choice among digital nomads – they have excellent marketing and you’ll find content creators like myself promoting them often. I’ve heard their services are dreadful, so even if it’s easy money, I’m not selling you stuff to rip you off. WorldNomads is another popular choice. I’ve heard better reviews of this one but it’s pricey compared to other choices in the market. Ultimately, you need to do research and find out what works best for you. This all depends on your health, age and illnesses, if you have any.
Do not shy away from using local healthcare. I have had many incidents over the years where I’ve had to use local services: from Moldova, to China and Mexico. The service has always been excellent. If you have international health insurance, you’ll pay for everything out of pocket and get refunded later. If you have reached a certain age, you’ll want to get a comprehensive package that covers any extra needs you might have.
Geo arbitrage means taking advantage of cost-of-living differences between countries. You research destinations where your currency holds more value, and this is where you are able to stretch your retirement savings even further. We normally assume that living abroad usually means more expenses. I have personally increased my net value, savings and investments just by spending time in countries where the USD goes far.
Especially if you aim for long-term accommodation (not through Airbnb, because that’s not sustainable) – you will be integrating into a new culture and saving. If you’re open-minded enough, you could also be housesitting in exchange for free accommodation. Many people, even retirees (I also did it), downsize their belongings, leave everything in a storage unit and live for free around the world. If you’d like to sign up, you can use the link here.
Using geo arbitrage to your advantage means that you can comfortably embrace retirement as a digital nomad for a fraction of the price. This is not a concept I’ve come up with. There are plenty of communities around the world like these. My only concern with these is how little they seem to integrate into local culture, even refusing to learn the local language. As long as you’re not like a stereotypical retiree, you should be fine.
Besides dealing with pensions, you can also start investing separately from the scheme your government has set up. Personally, I don’t believe any country in the world will have enough to take care of me in 30+ years, so I invest instead. Stocks, bonds, NFTs, crypto – there are so many choices when it comes to investing.
I’m not here to tell you what’s right or wrong. But I do believe in allocating your money wisely, and diversifying as much as possible. I personally have a degree in Economics and have always been interested in index funds. Index funds are basically a package, where you can invest in stocks, bonds and international stocks without worrying about where and when to invest. It’s slow in growth but has great compound interest and makes up for inflation very nicely. It’s a long-term investment.
I had no idea where to start, until I took this course from Personal Finance Club. It explained everything from scratch and halfway through the course I was already investing. It’s been 3 years, and through its community and Facebook group I’ve been able to make new friends with similar life visions: working to live and not living to work. But most importantly, it’s for people aiming for financial freedom. Anyone in the world can take this course, about 25% of it covers US taxes. The rest is relevant for everyone.
Diversifying Your Income Streams
Investments are a great way to use your income wisely, but like I said before, these take time to see rewards from. If there’s anything I’ve learned over my years as a digital nomad is to never keep my eggs in one basket. I got fired from my tech job last year, but I’ve been able to manage ever since because it wasn’t my only source of income.
Industries change, economies are a rollercoaster, and people unfortunately lose jobs and clients on the way. This is why it’s important to make sure that you don’t have only one income source. This is especially relevant if you’re a digital nomad and worried about retirement. Any major loss to our income will set you back in your retirement goals. Yes, you can bounce back, but that usually takes a while. How to do this? Explore freelance opportunities, consulting gigs, and passive income options. This approach not only provides financial stability but also allows you to adapt to changing circumstances and market trends.
Retirement as a digital nomad is possible. Gone are the days of equating stability to staying put in one place throughout your life. However, this requires careful consideration of various financial aspects. The main key is to build a solid foundation for a secure and exciting retirement journey. If you’re looking into becoming a digital nomad, I suggest you check this out for a guide on how to achieve it. Location independence has never been as achievable as it is today. Don’t let the fear of thinking retirement is not possible stop you from becoming a digital nomad!
Hey there, and welcome to Go Global with Sibu! I’m a global citizen that has been living and traveling around the world since 2005 – all through budget travel, scholarships, study/work and living abroad opportunities. I share everything I’ve learned over the years here – to prove to you that you don’t need money or privilege to enjoy everything that this world has to offer.