What do long-term nomads think about their journey? What would they do if they had to start over?
At BeNomad, we’re starting a new series where we let digital nomads tell it in their own words. For this week, meet Kristin – a digital nomad who has traveled to over 50 countries and wants to share her tips with you. Over to you, Kristin.
How Kristin Turned Her Job in Real Estate into Multiple Remote Relocation Companies
Looking back, my journey towards becoming a digital nomad began as an adolescent in middle school and high school. Most people can relate to the sense of confusion you can have as a teenager when you’re trying to figure out what you should do for your life and career. My experience was the same.
The summer after my senior year of high school, I applied for a passport and went abroad for the first time (it seems that even teenagers perceive travel as a way to find themselves and figure things out!). Once I experienced life overseas, I instantly became hooked on the concept. Despite being plagued with uncertainty about my future, I declared to my parents that I would simply create my own job, so I could go back and live in Italy (the first country I traveled to with my new passport). I had no idea how I would make that happen, but my intention and desire were clear. To get started, I delved into research mode. I took a personal inventory of who I thought I was and attempted to uncover my purpose in the world.
Throughout this process, I realized I had a lot of varied interests, but the one that stood out the most by far was my love of travel. After changing my major 3 times and studying abroad twice, I finally had my answer. With a sense of wanderlust combined with work ethic, I set out to attain degrees in International Business and an MBA with the intention of one day living and working for a multinational company, as the concept of a digital nomad or location-independent entrepreneur didn’t really exist back in the early 2000’s.
Upon graduating in 2005, I took a job as a real estate agent in Costa Rica. I honestly didn’t love the work, but the practical experience combined with my background and area of study helped me build a valuable skillset in foreign languages, international relocation, real estate investment, business development, international business, cultural adaptation, and more.
After 7 years working in real estate, I decided to launch my own online relocation company in 2011, which allowed me to work from anywhere in the world. Another 7 years later, I have multiple relocation brands for different markets. My team and I have helped over 1,000 self-employed digital nomads and remote corporate workers move to more than 25 countries.
In addition to running my relocation companies, I also create content, courses, and programs to help others become digital nomads. I also give talks and teach workshops at digital nomad events like Nomad Cruise and Nomad Summit. To further assist other aspiring nomads, I run a free Facebook Group called Long-Term Digital Nomad Success.
My mission in life is to live a life of absolute freedom on my own terms and help everyone else do the same. This is what being an adult should be like!
Kristin’s Advice for How You Can Be a Digital Nomad
After spending a total of 15 years studying, living, or working in over 50 countries, I’ve identified a few critical factors in what helps people remain successful long-term as digital nomads. The following steps have held true for me, my clients, and many other nomads, entrepreneurs, and expats I’ve met along the way.
1. Define your “why”
Know why you’re doing this in the first place. Ask yourself tough questions and try to go deep with your answers. You might be surprised at what your true internal motivations are. If you lack clarity in this area, you can end up lost in the world, literally and figuratively. Take advantage of being able to chart your own course and be wary of adopting the ideas and goals of others as your own. This is your chance to manifest the life you want, so take some time to ponder and develop your why.
2. Determine how you will monetize and fund your future
You need revenue. The main reason people fail in the digital nomad lifestyle is that they run out of money. Monetize a skill set you already have before quitting your day job, stay aligned with your industry and zone of genius to start out, and be fiscally responsible throughout your journey. You might even be able to keep your same position at your current company or apply for the same job at a fully distributed, remote company instead of completely changing careers. Again, spend a lot of time contemplating how you’re going to fund your future and make that a priority before you “take the leap.”
3. Work a lot
Whether you’re bootstrapping a start-up or already have multiple passive revenue streams, my advice is to keep working and challenging yourself, while taking breaks as needed. There is definitely a myth or image out on the internet that if you become a digital nomad, you can decrease how many hours you work per week. In reality, you might have to work more, at least for the first few years. If you’re tight on funds, you’ll need to hustle to stay afloat. If you semi-retired with money in the bank, you’d still want to work in some capacity to maintain a level of happiness in life.
Fulfillment comes from creating things, collaborating with others and helping people in general. When you stop working, you lose a part of yourself and diminish your contribution to the planet. If part of your “why” in becoming a digital nomad is working significantly less or not at all, you might want to reconsider that or find a career that’s more fulfilling that you can also do from anywhere. Or, thinking about how else you can spend your free time in productive ways, like volunteering, starting a foundation, or becoming a mentor.
It’s important to note that the best way to maintain a consistent routine and output level as a digital nomad is to stay in one place. Or, slow travel so you can focus your energy on more important things that the logistics of getting from point a to point b. Many new nomads travel much too fast. Your productivity and health will eventually suffer if you fall into this pattern.
4. Become excellent at setting and achieving goals
Most people are attracted to the seemingly infinite freedom possible in a self-sufficient, location independent lifestyle. This means that all of a sudden, when you transition from the standard 9-to-5 to nomad, you’re pretty much in control of everything – often for the first time in your adult life. So, don’t sell yourself short. Be ambitious in identifying what you want for your present and future and go for it. Set time-sensitive goals for your personal and professional life and remind yourself of them regularly. Track your progress, celebrate your wins, and enjoy the journey.
These are my top tips for achieving and sustaining location independence over the years. These 4 elements have served me well for nearly 15 years, and I recommend them to all my clients. I recommend knowing yourself and your why, monetizing your skillset or adding skills until they are worth something, prioritizing work and finances over travel and fun so you can sustain it, and keeping your goals front of mind.
One thing most successful long-term digital nomads have in common is that we usually started small, one step at a time and building from there, compared to others hoping for a get rich quick scheme or figuring things out on the road. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen if you take consistent action toward your goals and adjust along the way.
Interested in Following Kristin’s Footsteps?
If you are interested in following Kristin’s footsteps and learning how she works as a digital nomad, check out her blog called Traveling with Kristin. Kristin has also been following a wonderful video series called Digital Nomad TV which you can find on her Youtube channel.