I’ve been pondering running two lifestyle series on the blog, and after getting feedback from readers like your lovely self ( saying hells yes!) I’m happy to announce I’ll be whipping up posts that help you craft nourishing routines and ponder living abroad/traveling.
Today I want to dive into the first in the latter series: digital nomad life.
I should have written about this sooner, considering we’ve been doing it since ’09!
Yep, that’s right: we moved from Los Angeles to South Korea back in 2008 or 09 and have been traveling and living abroad ever since.
We first moved when our daughter was about 15 months old. After months of discussing moving to Europe ( where I spent a good portion of my childhood), my husband said he felt more comfortable moving to Asia. We had spent a month traveling through Korea, Japan, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam, and it was an experience that really touched both of us. I had also spent quite a few summers in Singapore as a kid, and am a MAJOR fan of Asian horror movies and video games ( yes, I’m a strange geek) so I said it would be awesome.
Billy thought Korea would be best as we had experience hosting exchange students, and both loved Busan. Plus, as badly as we wanted to live in Japan, it would have taken 6 months to get our pets ready to move there. And we wanted to relocate asap.
We were in Korea for about a year, and then spent 6 months in Tuscany.
What made us finally move to Thailand? After Billy finished working in Korea, we vacationed in Phuket for a month and loved the laid-back lifestyle. Since we were planning on homeschooling, it felt like a better fit than Italy; homeschooling is legal there, but few people do it. We also lived in a very small town up a very steep hill, and it was somewhat isolated and it wasn’t the best location for us. Had we moved to Venice or Firenze, we’d probably still be there to this day. Oh well….
Billy took 6 months off work in Italy and it was then that we began pondering working from home. I started a family travel blog, where I talked about worldschooling ( unschooling/homeschooling & travel) but I was completely ignorant on how to work from home.
After a few months in Phuket of us attempting to figure out blogging & social media and if indeed we could work from home, we failed pretty miserably and Billy took a job teaching again.
But I was determined to make things work so that we could have him home, which is where he wanted to be.
I began eventually earning an income as a freelance travel writer, working with sponsors, but it was hard to get each and every sponsor at that time. A few years went by, and I joined B School
No matter what anyone says, I really loved and highly recommend Marie’s program. And I’m not an affiliate.
It helped me sort through all the training I had in holistic health, marketing, travel writing, social media, and herbalism, and finally get clear on who I was helping, and how.
Around that time, I got certified as a Holistic Life Coach, and completed so many marketing/biz programs and had in depth experience doing Facebook marketing for my husband’s site ( he did eventually start working from home, and still does!), I decided to continue pursuing freelance writing but would make digital strategy my specialty/focus as a coach.
The Ups/Downs To Becoming A Digital Nomad
One of the major plus points to becoming a digital nomad is that you can simplify your life drastically. I have friends who are travel bloggers or entrepreneurs that literally live out of their backpacks! Others live in an RV.
We lived on an island for almost 5 years, much of which was without a car. We didn’t need one!
Because of the low-cost of living this way, you can save money. This does mean making sacrifices and letting go of approval from society about how you live your life. But if you’re into holistic, alternative living, you probably already get this. 😉
The downside is that depending on where you go, you may find a lack of community, especially if you have kids. Not to brag but we were one of the first families doing worldschooling back in the day, and I know Thailand well enough to say that even here in Chiang Mai, it’s hard to find like-minded families. That’s not to say they don’t exist. They do! But it’s literally hard to find them. It’s like we bump into them in a cafe and we all go ‘wow, I worldschool/unschool too!’ and somehow never get together after that. I’ve had this happen for years, even after writing people and trying to arrange gettogethers.
Luckily, being an extrovert has helped me keep in touch with more and more holistic, creative families over the years, but it’s still not easy. I have run into three families in the past two weeks who have expressed the exact same sentiment I’m talking about here.
Per what I’ve heard from fellow digital nomad individuals and families, Costa Rica and Mexico have been great for them in finding like-minded people.
Chiang Mai’s digital nomad hub ( per my friend Robyn) has loads of people who do drop shipping. They hang out in the touristy part of town, at some of the cafes. There are people like my family who live in Hang Dong ( our area, outside the city center) too.
I also want to stress that starting a biz from scratch while traveling is challenging. Unless you have the know-how and have built connections and relationships before you go abroad, you may struggle like we did.
Tips for Life/Health Coaches Who Want To Be Nomads
Wellness businesses tend to be built on relationships, which is the case for most businesses actually. While you can absolutely do coaching sessions online ( and indeed have a ‘laptop lifestyle’), having an Ideal Client decide to invest in themselves and work with you happens when they know, like, and trust you. And this takes time!
It also takes a coach who isn’t afraid to pitch places that accept guest posts and may even write friends or people they think may be interested in working with them and let them know about your latest package, or Discovery Sessions.
In other words, you need to to consistently taking action to get clients. I’m not a biz coach, but I know what I’m talking about here, because this is what it takes for me and for the majority of entrepreneurs.
Tips On Making It Work
I highly suggest starting your coaching business and having some clients to work with-or having savings- before you begin slow traveling as a digital nomad.
Remember that most businesses take a year or more to become profitable. That doesn’t mean you can’t get a client during your first week of business, but it does mean there are no guarantees. The more focused and clear you are with who you help and how, and the more determined you are to take daily action, the faster you’ll get results.
If this will be the first time out of your home country, I’d suggest traveling with a friend or family member. We’ve had readers move abroad only to return home waaay earlier than they intended, due to culture shock.
If you’re going to slow travel like we do, make sure to learn as much of the language and culture of the country you’re staying in. This will help you make friends and order at restaurants.
If you’re going to rent a house or a long-term place, know that many of the most affordable housing options are not posted online. The websites that have housing options listen in English ( here in Asia) are geared to foreigners are are more expensive, and not necessarily nicer.
Learn about visas ahead of time too, plus where the local embassy or consulate is for your home country, in case you need help or have to renew your passport.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the first post in this series, and if so, please share it with your fans, friends, and followers! And if you’re considering becoming a digital nomad, leave a comment below with any questions you have for me. I’ll help in any way I can. 🙂