Choosing Your First Stop as a Digital Nomad

Digital nomadism is an exciting lifestyle, but not nearly as easy as people who haven’t attempted it think. For starters, to become a digital nomad, one needs some savings and a good plan on how to get started.

New places can prove more unpredictable than one may think, especially if they haven’t been there before. The key is thorough research and expat advice.

However, when it comes to choosing your first location, there are a couple of additional things to consider. Let’s take a look at some tips.

Study the Culture

No matter how open-minded one is, some cultures may be too much of a “culture shock.”  Cross-cultural diversity is a skill a digital nomad must master, which is best done by mingling with the locals and researching the basics first.

For example, if you’re planning to travel to an Arab country, a hijab might be required.

Take Taxes Into Consideration for Particular Countries

Next on, there are taxes to consider. On top of the federal taxes, there are also the taxes of the particular country you’re visiting to take into account. For example, there are drastic changes in U.S. and UK taxes.

Also, state taxes must be paid by all residents even when they’re living abroad. That is to say, a digital nomad is considered a resident if:

  • They lived in the state for any duration during the tax year
  • They have a permanent place of residence in the state
  • They have immediate family that lives in the state while they’re abroad
  • They keep their voting rights, ID card, or driver’s license in the state (any of these)

The only U.S. states that don’t apply this taxation system are Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington State and Wyoming.

There’s a way to prevent double taxation by qualifying for one of the three following programs:


Tax Treaties

The U.S. has in place tax treaties with countries, so make sure to check whether your destination qualifies.

The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE)

If you can pass either the Bona Fide Residency Test or the Physical Presence Test, you qualify for the FEIE.


The Foreign Tax Credit (FTC)

The FTC helps expats claim a dollar-for-dollar credit on foreign income taxes. To qualify, you should obtain a foreign tax liability.

Lastly, research whether you qualify for a housing exclusion and foreign tax credit.

Look Into the Climate

This may seem like an insignificant detail, but it really isn’t. If you’re planning to visit a place with an extreme climate, it may prove disastrous unless you know what you’re signing up for.

If you’re planning to establish a business somewhere and make it your base for travels, make sure to pick a country that has a climate that suits you.

Explore Transportation Options

EVs are now becoming more and more popular with rental fleets. With battery charging options and locations growing, driving an EV can be very sustainable. Or, of course, check out public transportation and rent-a-car options.

Look Into the Basics Closely

As mentioned before, many digital nomads choose to establish a base in one country first. On top of the abovementioned points, you should also take into consideration the following basics:

  •         Internet access
  •         Costs of life
  •         Quality of life

Research Accommodations

Make sure to research accommodation options properly. Many people book accommodations on airbnb before even seeing the space, but this is not always the best of ideas.

Ideally, you can stay at a hostel or a hotel while you’re looking for a place.

There are various options to consider, as follows:

Short-Term Rentals

Short-term accommodation allows you to live a life of your own making without any long-term commitments. If you’re traveling often, this may be a suitable option. There are many short-term accommodation types including hostels, hotels and apartment sublets.

Long-Term Rentals

Long-term rentals offer a sense of security. E.g., if you choose a year-long lease, you won’t have to worry about looking for a new place in the next 12 months.

This option is perfect once you manage to find the right accommodation and if you’re planning to stay for a while in the city. On that note, you may want to look for serviced apartments, which are fully furnished and also come with necessary appliances and personal belongings.

Co-Living Spaces

For budget travelers, co-living spaces may be a suitable option. These are basically, spaces where a group of people lives and may or may not work together.

Key Takeaways

Everything considered, there are a couple of things to consider when choosing your first stop as a digital nomad, as follows:

  • Internet access
  • Costs of life
  • Quality of life
  • Climate
  • Culture
  • Accommodations
  • Taxes

Remember to connect with the local expat community to get pro tips on anything you may need to deal with.

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