What You Need to Consider as a Digital Nomad – Income

All the things you need to consider about your income before you quit your job and become a digital nomad.

Obviously to be able to quit your usual day job and become a digital nomad you need to have enough income coming in to cover your expenses. Most people can’t decide one day that they will quit as they have rent/mortgage and other financial commitments. And not many of us have a fairy godmother who will wave a wand and give us endless amounts of money in our bank account.

So what can you do?

There are so many things that someone can do if they are prepared to put in some time and effort. The internet is continuing to grow as more of the world population gains access to the world wide web and cheaper devices on which to access it. Being a digital nomad doesn’t mean, not having to work, it just means you have the flexibility to work from wherever you want to be in the world.

Hindi Temple Celebration Malaysia

Remember if you decide to quit your job, sell everything and move to a country in South-East Asia, your living expenses will decrease significantly so you will need less income, you don’t need to reach your current income level. If you decide to house sit like we do, and get free accommodation, you can lower your income expectations even further.

Of course your income expectations could be different from us or others. We are happy to live simply without buying the best new gadgets or brand name clothing and so forth, but others may have other commitments such as health costs or debt that needs to be considered.

In Australia we needed at least AU$4000 a month in income just to sustain our basic lifestyle, in Malaysia we needed about AU$1500 for a better lifestyle than in Australia, and currently we need about AU$1000 a month to live a fantastic life while we are house sitting. So to decide what your income requirements are you need to write a budget and include everything you will need, and then check out numbeo to find out some general prices. We have found them to be pretty reliable; however you can also google property websites in the country you are planning on moving to and also the most popular supermarkets to get an idea on what you will be paying.

Sunset view from our apartment in Penang

I also used to check out Facebook and Yelp for reviews on local eateries so I could see how much a meal out may cost. These will only give you a general guide as things change but also again people have different expectations. For instance in Malaysia you can get a rental for 1000MYR a month and some would be happy to live there, where as we wanted something a little more luxurious. We were also able to negotiate a better rental rate and term than was advertised.

Dinner with monkeys in Penang
Dinner with monkeys in Penang

Some things you will want to include in your budget as a digital nomad, especially if you travel include:

  • Food
  • Accommodation
  • Local Transport
  • Visa Costs
  • Utilities
  • Visa Runs
  • Travel Insurance
  • Air travel
  • Exchange rates
  • Health costs
  • Technology upgrades
  • When something goes wrong
  • Getting to and from airports/new locations

Something else that a lot of digital nomads do when they consider their income is to not just rely on one source of income. Unfortunately, you can’t always predict what the market will be doing or rely on certain platforms for money for instance if you teach English online you may find at certain times of the year some companies have less hours available. Or if you rely on Facebook for leads they may change their algorithms so all of a sudden you aren’t being seen by potential clients.

It may sound overwhelming to start with, but if you really are considering quitting your job so you can live like we do, then it is worth the effort. And once you start planning and putting everything in place it will all come together. Remember if you start planning for this to happen over the course of six months to a year, you will have a solid platform to never have to return to the 9-5 that you are desperately trying to escape.  

Afternoon beer on the beach in Penang
Afternoon beer on the beach in Penang

Here is a short list of ways you can earn money online as a digital nomad. The list is almost endless and we have multiple blogs on the subject. So check out our Earn category for more ways that you can make your digital nomad dream a reality sooner. 

ESL Teacher

You can get a TESOL/TEFL certification for as little as a couple hundred dollars and be teaching English online within weeks. If you work for a company you could earn up to US$25 per hour, or if you want to start your own tutoring business you could earn US$40-50 per hour! Find out why teaching ESL is great for being a digital nomad.


You could start your own dropshipping business over a weekend and just have it building in the background as you start to plan your life as a digital nomad. There are numerous platforms you can use that make it easy for anyone to start their own online store, even if they don’t have any web design experience; however if you want a more customised website you could always build your own website using WordPress. Learn how to here with video tutorials.


If you enjoy researching and sharing knowledge, being a copywriter could be your opportunity to step into being a digital nomad. The great thing about being a copywriter is that you don’t need a degree or other qualifications (although they can’t hurt), and you don’t need extensive experience. You just need to be able to sell yourself, and then sell ideas.

Social Media Manager

Again being a social media manager is a great job for digital nomads and no qualifications or experience are required. Of course to get hired by companies you have to be able to show value and that by hiring you they will increase their revenue or sales, but it is easy to start out perhaps with friends businesses to gain experience and then launch your own agency.

You can learn more about how to be a social media manager by signing up and taking a FREE course at Skillshare.com

Your ‘Real Job’

Consider if your current job has the ability to transfer into an online entity. Write a list of what you do or what you could be doing as part of your role and research whether it could be done online. For example are you a lawyer? Is there opportunity to review legal documents for businesses online? Are you a hairdresser? Could you mentor apprentices or other hairdressers starting their own salon?

Rachael studied at university for a professional qualification that usually requires an employee to be on location to do their job; however she identified an emerging gap in the market for a particular segment of small businesses and in the past 2 years has been able to build an income that contributes significantly to our multiple income streams.

No matter what your educational background or job history is, if you are prepared to spend some time getting your online business started you can do it! If we can do it, you can too. 

For more of the best online jobs click here.

Further reading:

Top Tips For House Sitters – Start Living the High Life For Free

Teach English Without a Degree? Discover how to start earning online, abroad or locally



  1. Good day I am interested in this course, are you really guaranteed a job? Is it possible to work over weekends and evenings. I am based in South Africa so with the time zone I could do that?

    1. Hi Maya, There are no guarantees for any job as it depends on the requirements that the recruiter is looking for. On saying that, we do know of people who have finished the course and have quite quickly picked up 2 part time Online teaching jobs with different companies.

      The majority of online jobs are for teaching Chinese students, some companies allow you to work 7 nights a week (that is normally around 6pm-10pm Beijing time) and more hours on the weekends. Other companies may only offer 3-4 nights a week plus weekend work. So, that’s around midday through to 4pm Sth Africa time.

      To get started just click on this link to eTEFL Online, select the type of course that you would like to do and make sure you enter the PROMO code JUSTESL15 to get 15% discount and the chance to win a full refund for the total cost of the course… Competition closes on 14th December 2018.

      Hope this helps and Good luck!

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