How to Become a Remote Developer and a Digital Nomad

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August 23, 2023
Mindset & Growth

Today, remote work is a common occurrence in many industries, especially technology, where companies provide their employees with the opportunity to work from home, or on the road for extended periods of time.

The term "digital nomad" refers to people who work remotely from anywhere.

digitalnomad

Unlike people who work from home full-time, a digital nomad works remotely full-time while living wherever they choose.

A typical digital nomad spends a month in Vietnam, a month in Australia, and then a month in Singapore.

He or she lives in exotic locations based on whim.

In some cases, however, digital nomads don't really need to change locations so often.

These are just a few lifestyles that can be described as digital nomads:

  • Permanent backpackers often change hostels and locations while working remotely.

  • Generally, digital nomads travel gradually, staying in each location for two to six months and joining a co-working space in each city.

  • Families traveling across the country in camper vans while working remotely via satellite internet and/or free libraries and cafes.

  • They work half the time from home and half the time rent their place on Airbnb while staying at a lakeside cabin in another state.

Digital nomads come in a variety of lifestyles.

One feature they all have in common is the ability to earn an income while living away from home in a way that isn't limited to one or four weeks of annual leave that most full-time workers get each year.

It allows digital nomads to stay away from their homes for significantly longer periods of time than most people.

This opens up options previously available only to retired folks who did not have to worry about earning a living or working.

A developer is ideally suited to become a digital nomad.

An internet connection and a laptop are all we need to do our jobs.

Remote work has been made easier than ever before as a result of recent changes to the way developers work:

  • Through Slack integrations like Screen Hero, two remote developers can collaborate as if they were sitting next to each other.

  • These days, developers can work effectively on laptops small enough to fit inside their daypacks and more powerful than ever before.

  • Across the globe, there are now thousands of locations where you can get free and fast internet, from cafes to libraries to co-working spaces. Many cities even offer free internet access throughout their boundaries.

  • The potential of chat tools like Slack and video conferencing tools like Google Meet has finally been realized, providing slick and reliable ways to communicate.

  • Today's developers are increasingly working in cloud-native environments where SSH access is available from anywhere, including the company's headquarters and a public library in Hanoi, Vietnam. We will address some security challenges later on as a result of this freedom.

There is no better time to be a digital nomad than when you're a software developer.

Being a digital nomad can be accomplished in a number of different ways.  

Making the Transition to Digital Nomad

nomad

As a software developer, you can be a digital nomad in three ways.

Take a Career As a Totally Remote Developer

It is likely that more tech companies will hire developers globally over the next few years.

The majority of remote developer roles are currently available to candidates across the country, but not internationally time zone misalignment remains a concern for productive output and collaborative effort.

Work will become more asynchronous in the future, but for the time being, synchronization is the norm.

Consider Becoming a Freelancer

To become a digital nomad, freelancing is a popular choice.

Freelancers don't have to adhere to strict business hours or time zones because they have the freedom to choose when and how they want to work.

It is also possible to better manage your workload by taking on more work when you are settled and have a good working environment.

When you're a digital nomad, traveling quickly between multiple locations, freelance work may be a good fit for you.

Overcoming Difficulties

The life of a digital nomad can appear to be glamorous on the surface. This is sometimes true.

As a digital nomad, you face just as many challenges as commuting to work at rush hour.

You might find being a digital nomad challenging at times, so here are some ways to minimize those challenges.

Slow Travel Is Recommended

digitalnomad1

Juggling three cities in seven days with a full-time work schedule or a roster of clients is a recipe for stress.

As opposed to having 12 hours a day to explore a city, when you work while traveling, you may have only two or three to do so.

Having worked all day, you might want to stay in some nights, leaving only to go downstairs for dinner.

To summarize, as a digital nomad, you will have to travel more slowly.

Instead of spending three days in each city while backpacking across Asia, plan on one to two weeks.

You will have plenty of time to get settled, ensure you have access to stable good internet, and see the sights while also meeting your work obligations.

Always Be Ready to Handle Worst-case Scenarios

A common occurrence I've noticed in the digital nomad community is people whose work tools have been stolen while they travel and work as digital nomads.

They're forced to spend their own funds in order to replace the stolen items because they lack insurance or savings.

One of the hardest parts is that they are not able to make the money they would need to replace the tools they lost.

You should have adequate insurance if you don't have enough money to replace a stolen laptop in your savings account.

At some point, almost all travelers experiencing long-term stays will have a valuable item stolen.

Being prepared will make it easier to handle.

Have A Backup Plan At All Times

plan-b

It is always a good idea to have a backup plan for digital nomads.

If the internet at the hostel is not working, they can go to the Wifi cafe around the corner.

They know that if their visa for the first country they choose isn't approved, they can quickly get a visa for the second.

It's hard to make a good backup plan when you're on the move, and that's no different when you're a digital nomad.

Safety Nets Shouldn't Be Spent

Keep enough money in your savings to buy a plane ticket to a safe location.

This will protect you in the following scenarios: You may lose your job, have dry freelance gigs, become ill, or face visa problems.

If you cannot afford a flight home, to your parent's house, or to the place of a friend or family member, then you need to be able to afford a trip to a 'safe harbor.'

It is possible to become a digital nomad without a safe harbor but you will require a larger safety net in the event of a worst-case scenario.

Work in an environment that is comfortable

digital

Many digital nomads spend their waking hours hunched over a small laptop, seated in a crowded cafe, on a wooden stool.

The break from the office can be fun, but when poor posture and uncomfortable chairs are the norms, your body can begin to suffer.

'Mobile office' should include a lightweight laptop stand, a comfortable mouse, and a wrist rest or mousepad.

If your laptop stand allows you to raise your screen, it will help you maintain a better posture as well as reduce wrist fatigue.

Keep In Touch With Family And Friends Back Home

It is easy to forget about home when living the digital nomad lifestyle.

Your life is filled with new experiences and friends.

Your family and friends may seem distant and unrelatable as you're surrounded by new people.

Remember, though, that most likely you will not be a digital nomad forever.

Most people eventually will settle down or take a break.

We all get tired of traveling, and we don't all want to live far away from home all the time.

Upon returning home, what will be waiting for you?

You'll have a much easier time transitioning back to normal if you've been in contact with family and friends back home.

You can also cope with the isolation you may feel like part of a digital nomad lifestyle by keeping in touch with your friends and family.

A video call back home can be so beneficial if you have difficulties meeting people in a new city or if you are sick and unable to leave your house.

Checklist for Travel

As a digital nomad, you should keep a few things in mind when selecting a location.

This information is available on NomadList.

Living Costs

How much is the cost of living?

As a digital nomad, you may struggle to make ends meet if your cost of living is much higher than at home.

Compared to living at home, you could save a considerable amount of money if it's much more affordable.



Internet

Is the internet available and reliable? Can you find Wifi cafes, libraries, and co-working spaces, if you need them?

Industry and Networking

Are you traveling to a place with a big developer community? Does your city have a Python meetup, for instance, if you're a Python developer?

You can meet people while working as a digital nomad by attending industry events and networking.



A Security Reminder

security-reminder

Developers may have additional concerns regarding security when they travel as digital nomads.

What might someone with high technical literacy be able to do or see if they stole your laptop?

Stolen laptops are bad enough, but realizing that they contain unencrypted copies of your company's production database is likely to worsen the situation!

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How to Become a Remote Developer and a Digital Nomad

February 16, 2024

Today, remote work is a common occurrence in many industries, especially technology, where companies provide their employees with the opportunity to work from home, or on the road for extended periods of time.

The term "digital nomad" refers to people who work remotely from anywhere.

digitalnomad

Unlike people who work from home full-time, a digital nomad works remotely full-time while living wherever they choose.

A typical digital nomad spends a month in Vietnam, a month in Australia, and then a month in Singapore.

He or she lives in exotic locations based on whim.

In some cases, however, digital nomads don't really need to change locations so often.

These are just a few lifestyles that can be described as digital nomads:

  • Permanent backpackers often change hostels and locations while working remotely.

  • Generally, digital nomads travel gradually, staying in each location for two to six months and joining a co-working space in each city.

  • Families traveling across the country in camper vans while working remotely via satellite internet and/or free libraries and cafes.

  • They work half the time from home and half the time rent their place on Airbnb while staying at a lakeside cabin in another state.

Digital nomads come in a variety of lifestyles.

One feature they all have in common is the ability to earn an income while living away from home in a way that isn't limited to one or four weeks of annual leave that most full-time workers get each year.

It allows digital nomads to stay away from their homes for significantly longer periods of time than most people.

This opens up options previously available only to retired folks who did not have to worry about earning a living or working.

A developer is ideally suited to become a digital nomad.

An internet connection and a laptop are all we need to do our jobs.

Remote work has been made easier than ever before as a result of recent changes to the way developers work:

  • Through Slack integrations like Screen Hero, two remote developers can collaborate as if they were sitting next to each other.

  • These days, developers can work effectively on laptops small enough to fit inside their daypacks and more powerful than ever before.

  • Across the globe, there are now thousands of locations where you can get free and fast internet, from cafes to libraries to co-working spaces. Many cities even offer free internet access throughout their boundaries.

  • The potential of chat tools like Slack and video conferencing tools like Google Meet has finally been realized, providing slick and reliable ways to communicate.

  • Today's developers are increasingly working in cloud-native environments where SSH access is available from anywhere, including the company's headquarters and a public library in Hanoi, Vietnam. We will address some security challenges later on as a result of this freedom.

There is no better time to be a digital nomad than when you're a software developer.

Being a digital nomad can be accomplished in a number of different ways.  

Making the Transition to Digital Nomad

nomad

As a software developer, you can be a digital nomad in three ways.

Take a Career As a Totally Remote Developer

It is likely that more tech companies will hire developers globally over the next few years.

The majority of remote developer roles are currently available to candidates across the country, but not internationally time zone misalignment remains a concern for productive output and collaborative effort.

Work will become more asynchronous in the future, but for the time being, synchronization is the norm.

Consider Becoming a Freelancer

To become a digital nomad, freelancing is a popular choice.

Freelancers don't have to adhere to strict business hours or time zones because they have the freedom to choose when and how they want to work.

It is also possible to better manage your workload by taking on more work when you are settled and have a good working environment.

When you're a digital nomad, traveling quickly between multiple locations, freelance work may be a good fit for you.

Overcoming Difficulties

The life of a digital nomad can appear to be glamorous on the surface. This is sometimes true.

As a digital nomad, you face just as many challenges as commuting to work at rush hour.

You might find being a digital nomad challenging at times, so here are some ways to minimize those challenges.

Slow Travel Is Recommended

digitalnomad1

Juggling three cities in seven days with a full-time work schedule or a roster of clients is a recipe for stress.

As opposed to having 12 hours a day to explore a city, when you work while traveling, you may have only two or three to do so.

Having worked all day, you might want to stay in some nights, leaving only to go downstairs for dinner.

To summarize, as a digital nomad, you will have to travel more slowly.

Instead of spending three days in each city while backpacking across Asia, plan on one to two weeks.

You will have plenty of time to get settled, ensure you have access to stable good internet, and see the sights while also meeting your work obligations.

Always Be Ready to Handle Worst-case Scenarios

A common occurrence I've noticed in the digital nomad community is people whose work tools have been stolen while they travel and work as digital nomads.

They're forced to spend their own funds in order to replace the stolen items because they lack insurance or savings.

One of the hardest parts is that they are not able to make the money they would need to replace the tools they lost.

You should have adequate insurance if you don't have enough money to replace a stolen laptop in your savings account.

At some point, almost all travelers experiencing long-term stays will have a valuable item stolen.

Being prepared will make it easier to handle.

Have A Backup Plan At All Times

plan-b

It is always a good idea to have a backup plan for digital nomads.

If the internet at the hostel is not working, they can go to the Wifi cafe around the corner.

They know that if their visa for the first country they choose isn't approved, they can quickly get a visa for the second.

It's hard to make a good backup plan when you're on the move, and that's no different when you're a digital nomad.

Safety Nets Shouldn't Be Spent

Keep enough money in your savings to buy a plane ticket to a safe location.

This will protect you in the following scenarios: You may lose your job, have dry freelance gigs, become ill, or face visa problems.

If you cannot afford a flight home, to your parent's house, or to the place of a friend or family member, then you need to be able to afford a trip to a 'safe harbor.'

It is possible to become a digital nomad without a safe harbor but you will require a larger safety net in the event of a worst-case scenario.

Work in an environment that is comfortable

digital

Many digital nomads spend their waking hours hunched over a small laptop, seated in a crowded cafe, on a wooden stool.

The break from the office can be fun, but when poor posture and uncomfortable chairs are the norms, your body can begin to suffer.

'Mobile office' should include a lightweight laptop stand, a comfortable mouse, and a wrist rest or mousepad.

If your laptop stand allows you to raise your screen, it will help you maintain a better posture as well as reduce wrist fatigue.

Keep In Touch With Family And Friends Back Home

It is easy to forget about home when living the digital nomad lifestyle.

Your life is filled with new experiences and friends.

Your family and friends may seem distant and unrelatable as you're surrounded by new people.

Remember, though, that most likely you will not be a digital nomad forever.

Most people eventually will settle down or take a break.

We all get tired of traveling, and we don't all want to live far away from home all the time.

Upon returning home, what will be waiting for you?

You'll have a much easier time transitioning back to normal if you've been in contact with family and friends back home.

You can also cope with the isolation you may feel like part of a digital nomad lifestyle by keeping in touch with your friends and family.

A video call back home can be so beneficial if you have difficulties meeting people in a new city or if you are sick and unable to leave your house.

Checklist for Travel

As a digital nomad, you should keep a few things in mind when selecting a location.

This information is available on NomadList.

Living Costs

How much is the cost of living?

As a digital nomad, you may struggle to make ends meet if your cost of living is much higher than at home.

Compared to living at home, you could save a considerable amount of money if it's much more affordable.



Internet

Is the internet available and reliable? Can you find Wifi cafes, libraries, and co-working spaces, if you need them?

Industry and Networking

Are you traveling to a place with a big developer community? Does your city have a Python meetup, for instance, if you're a Python developer?

You can meet people while working as a digital nomad by attending industry events and networking.



A Security Reminder

security-reminder

Developers may have additional concerns regarding security when they travel as digital nomads.

What might someone with high technical literacy be able to do or see if they stole your laptop?

Stolen laptops are bad enough, but realizing that they contain unencrypted copies of your company's production database is likely to worsen the situation!

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