Digital Nomad Budget: How Much Money Do You Need?

Digital Nomad Budget: How Much Money Do You Need?


I’m going to share the wisdom I’ve gained over seven years of traveling the world while working online. This journey has taught me invaluable lessons about how much money you need to make, how to manage a digital nomad budget effectively, and the best tips for a sustainable long-term, and happy digital nomad lifestyle.

Whether you’re just starting or looking to refine your financial strategy, I’m here to help you enjoy your digital nomad journey!

Is It Really Affordable To Constantly Travel The World?

digital nomad budget in Japan

The question we always get asked is, “How can you afford to constantly be traveling around the world?” The answer lies in making money online, budgeting, and making strategic travel choices. Being a digital nomad is actually more cost-effective than maintaining a traditional lifestyle in many Western countries, provided you know how to manage your finances and travel wisely. See my Digital Nomad Budget Plan below.

How Much Money Do You Need To Make To Travel Full-Time?

Since the pandemic, with rising global costs, I recommend a minimum monthly budget of at least $1500 USD to travel comfortably in more budget-friendly countries.

While it’s certainly possible to make it work with less, and I’ve seen many do so, this figure should comfortably cover your essential expenses like accommodation and food, while still leaving room for leisure activities. Additionally, it allows you to set aside a few hundred dollars for savings, ensuring a balanced and enjoyable travel experience.

Digital Nomad Budget Plan: 50-30-20 Rule

I swear by the 50-30-20 rule for a balanced budget and enjoyable lifestyle! Simply, figure out how much you make every month and break it up by the following:

  • 50% for Essentials: Half of your income should be dedicated to necessities. This includes your accommodation, food, water, internet, laptop, clothing, health and wellness expenses, and anything else that falls under the ‘must-have’ category.
  • 30% for Personal Enjoyment: This portion of your budget is for the joys of travel and leisure. Think about allocating this to activities like tours, rentals, dining out, socializing, shopping, and those little indulgences that enhance your travel experience.
  • 20% for Saving/Investments: The remaining fifth of your income should go towards securing your future. This includes savings and investments, whether that’s putting money aside for property, stocks, retirement funds, or other investment opportunities. It’s about ensuring long-term stability so you have peace of mind to enjoy your digital nomad lifestyle right now!

Digital Nomad Budget Breakdown

Warren going surfing

When started my digital nomad journey, I wasn’t making a lot of money, so I was on a pretty tight budget. However, as years passed and my online income grew, my digital nomad budget expanded accordingly. Now, it would be considered on the more expensive side. Let me break down both stages for you.

Cheap Digital Nomad Monthly Expenses

While I was starting my journey, my monthly income fluctuated between $1000 and $2000 USD. To manage this budget effectively, I had to stay longer in each location and embrace a more cost-effective way of living. But here’s the thing – this never once diminished the joy and fulfillment I found in my digital nomad lifestyle!

  • 50% for Essentials ($700 USD Per Month):
    • Accommodation: Staying in budget hostels or shared rooms can cost around $300 – $500
    • Food: I had to limit my eating out to Local markets and street food while doing some cooking in hostels which added up to about $150 – $250
    • Utilities and Internet: Often included in cheap accommodations.
    • Transportation: Using local transport like buses, bikes – $50.
    • Workspace: Again, I worked in my hostel or cheap accommodation for free
  • 30% for Personal Enjoyment ($500 Per Month):
    • Leisure Activities: Free or low-cost activities, like hiking or beach days, and occasional tours – $200.
    • Eating and Drinking Out: Occasional meals and drinks at inexpensive restaurants, $200.
    • Miscellaneous: Occasional coffee or snacks, gifts, splurging – $100.
  • 20% for Savings ($300 Per Month):
    • Setting aside money as a safety nest or purchasing investments.

Expensive Digital Nomad Monthly Expenses

7 years have passed since my tight budget and I now travel in a different, more comfortable manner. This is considered to be on the more high end of travelers and digital nomads and I am not restricted to only spending time in cheaper countries.

  • For Essentials ($2000 Per Month):
    • Accommodation: Renting private apartments, Air Bnbs or mid-range hotels, around $1000 – 1500.
    • Food: Regular groceries $200.
    • Utilities and High-Speed Internet: Approximately $100.
    • Transportation: Including occasional flights and taxis, $300.
  • For Personal Enjoyment ($1500 Per Month):
    • Dining Out: Enjoying mid-range to high-end restaurants, $400.
    • Leisure: Activities like guided tours & adventures $600.
    • Miscellaneous: Nightlife, entertainment, shopping, $500.
  • We can save more than 20% now on our higher income:
    • This includes savings for property, emergencies, retirement funds, etc.

By applying the 50-30-20 rule, it becomes clear how a digital nomad on a tighter budget can manage their finances effectively. This approach ensures that essentials are covered, personal enjoyment is not neglected, and future financial stability is considered.

Tips For Happy Digital Nomads

taking a break

Embracing the nomadic lifestyle is about more than just managing your digital nomad budget; it’s about making the most of your experiences while ensuring personal and professional fulfillment. Here are some tried-and-tested tips that have not only helped me maintain happiness and balance but also made my digital nomad journey more rewarding.

Stay In One Location For Longer

Spending more time in one place has multiple benefits. It allows you to deeply immerse yourself in the local culture and community, which can be incredibly enriching. Staying put also reduces travel costs and lets you discover hidden gems that you might miss during shorter stays.

Plus, longer stays often mean better deals on accommodation and the chance to establish a routine, which is crucial for productivity, feeling refreshed, and your well-being!

Research Accommodation Suitable For Your Job

Your work environment as a digital nomad is pivotal to your success and happiness. When researching accommodation, look for places with reliable Wi-Fi, a comfortable workspace, and a setting that aligns with your work needs. Personally, I need to do a lot of 1-on-1 sales calls for my job so noisy hostels just won’t cut it for me anymore!

Whether it’s a quiet room for a writer or a vibrant co-working space for a graphic designer, the right environment can significantly boost your productivity which directly effects your digital nomad budget!

By simply going to and searching for the cheapest monthly stays, you can find some awesome bargains. For example, Click Here to see some of the ridiculously cheap monthly accommodation options in Bali.

Get Insurance

Insurance is essential for peace of mind. Investing in comprehensive health and travel insurance protects you from unexpected medical expenses and travel-related mishaps. It’s not just a safety net, it’s a necessity that ensures you can fully enjoy your adventures without worrying about the ‘what ifs.’

EKTA travel insurance is the most popular among travelers due to its cheap cost and added benefits. It costs as little as $1/day AND you can get 37% off by Clicking Here!

The Top Secret For A Happy Digital Nomad

digital nomad budget relaxing

The real key to a fulfilling and sustainable digital nomad lifestyle lies not just in the adventures and experiences but in how you plan for your future. The top secret, which I’ve learned through years of nomadic living, is the importance of investing in your future. Here’s why and how you can do it:

Invest For Your Future!

I can’t stress this enough: investing is key. Whether it’s in stocks, retirement funds, or other forms of investments, a portion of your digital nomad budget should be dedicated to growing your wealth. This is the key to being able to enjoy a long-term fulfilling digital nomad experience without having to worry about your future when you decide to settle down!

Save Money On Accommodation

Digital nomads in a van

Finding cost-effective accommodation is one of the most significant ways to manage your digital nomad budget effectively, especially on a tighter budget. Here are some strategies to save money on accommodation without compromising comfort and quality:

House Sitting

House sitting is an excellent way to save on accommodation costs. It involves looking after someone’s home (and often their pets) while they are away. In exchange, you get to stay in their home for free. This not only cuts down on living expenses, relieving your digital nomad budget, but also provides a homely environment, which can be a welcome change from hostels or hotels.

Here are some sites you can use to find house sitting opportunities: Trusted House Sitters, Nomador and MindMyHouse. There are many more available and you should search for local house sitting sites for the country you are planning to travel to.

Pet Sitting

Similar to house sitting, pet sitting involves caring for someone’s pets while staying in their home. It’s a perfect option for animal lovers and can provide a unique and enjoyable living experience, all while saving on accommodation costs. you can find these opportunities on the websites listed above and again, search the local area you plan to visit.

Work For Accommodation

Many hostels and guesthouses offer free or discounted stays in exchange for a few hours of work each day. This can include tasks like working at the reception, cleaning, or helping with events. It’s a great way to cut down costs, meet new people, and gain new experiences.

You can find some very interesting opportunities to visit very unique places from sites like Worldpackers and Workaway.


Staying in hostels is a classic way to save money. They offer affordable rates, opportunities to meet fellow travelers, and often include amenities like kitchens, where you can cook your meals to save even further. Hostel World is by far the best platform to find hostels in any area. Check out some of the hostel deals in Mexico for example HERE.

Long-Term Airbnb

For longer stays, consider renting an Airbnb. Hosts often offer discounts for monthly stays, making this a more budget-friendly option than hotels. Plus, having your own space can be more comfortable for working and living.

Cheapest Countries For Digital Nomads?

digital nomad budget in Yelapa

For digital nomads, finding destinations that are both affordable and conducive to a remote working lifestyle is key, especially working with a tight budget. Here’s a list of nine countries that offer cost-effectiveness and digital nomad-friendly environments:

  • Vietnam: Known for its low cost of living, Vietnam offers a vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and reliable internet in cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
  • Thailand: A classic favorite among digital nomads, Thailand combines affordability with a high quality of life. Places like Chiang Mai and Bangkok are hotspots with strong expat communities.
  • Indonesia (Bali): Bali is a paradise for digital nomads, offering a unique blend of beautiful landscapes, cultural richness, and a strong community of remote workers. Ubud and Canggu are particularly popular.
  • Mexico: With its diverse landscapes and vibrant culture, Mexico is a great choice. Cities like Mexico City and Playa del Carmen offer great infrastructure for digital nomads, all at a low cost.
  • Colombia: Cities like Medellín have become hubs for digital nomads, thanks to their pleasant climate, affordable living costs, and growing digital infrastructure.
  • Portugal (specifically Lisbon and Porto): Portugal offers a great quality of life with relatively low living costs. Lisbon and Porto, in particular, are known for their digital nomad communities.
  • Georgia: With its Digital Nomad Visa program, Georgia is inviting to remote workers. The cost of living is low, and cities like Tbilisi have a growing reputation as a digital nomad hub.
  • Ukraine (particularly Kyiv and Lviv): Before the recent conflict, Ukraine was becoming a popular destination for digital nomads due to its low cost of living. Kyiv and Lviv were especially favored for their café culture and fast internet.
  • Philippines: The Philippines offers beautiful landscapes, an English-speaking population, and affordable living costs. Cities like Manila and Cebu are popular among digital nomads.

How To Become A Digital Nomad?

Natasha working online

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you transition into this unique way of living:

Step 1: Assess Your Skills or Learn New Skills

The initial step towards a digital nomad lifestyle is to assess the skills you have that are compatible with remote work. This might include areas like writing, graphic design, web development, sales, or digital marketing. If these don’t currently fall within your skill set, there’s no need for concern. I myself began without expertise in these areas. The beauty of these skills is that they can be learned relatively quickly and can become profitable avenues for work.

If you’re starting from square one, I’d recommend considering sales. It’s a skill that can be more easily acquired and can be quite lucrative, especially in selling high-ticket programs for others. Plus, it often allows for a satisfying work-life balance. However, it’s important to align this choice with your personal interests and strengths, as what works for one person may not be the ideal path for another.

Step 2: Set Up Your Remote Workspace & Transition to Remote Work

Having a reliable laptop, a good internet connection and a productive work environment is essential. If you forget anything, you can always order it from Amazon while you’re overseas.

If you’re currently employed, explore the possibility of transitioning your existing job to a remote format. If that’s not feasible, look for remote job opportunities that align with your skills. The rise of remote work culture has opened up a myriad of opportunities in various fields. Check out the 11 Best Laptops for Remote Work here.

Step 7: Conduct a Trial Run with a Short Trip

Before fully committing to the digital nomad lifestyle, undertake a short overseas trip while continuing to work. This step is crucial to:

  • Test Working Remotely in a New Environment: Experience the challenges and benefits of working in different time zones and settings.
  • Assess Adaptability: Evaluate how well you adapt to new cultures and environments while maintaining productivity.
  • Fine-tune Your Routine: Use this trip to refine your daily routine and work habits in varying locations.

Step 6: Choose Your First Destination

Select a location that is friendly to digital nomads, considering factors like cost of living, internet reliability, community, and lifestyle. Popular starting points include Bali, Chiang Mai, and Lisbon.

Best Digital Nomad Jobs

As the digital nomad lifestyle continues to gain popularity, the range of jobs that can be done remotely has expanded significantly. Here are some of the best jobs for digital nomads:

  1. Sales: Particularly in the realm of high-ticket items or B2B (business-to-business) services, sales roles can be incredibly lucrative and often offer a good work-life balance. This field requires strong communication skills and an understanding of customer needs and market trends.
  2. Freelance Writing and Blogging: For those who have a way with words, freelance writing and blogging can be an excellent fit. This includes content creation, SEO writing, and copywriting for various industries.
  3. Graphic Design and Web Design: This field is ideal for individuals with a creative eye and knowledge of design software. It allows for flexibility in projects, ranging from website design to branding materials.
  4. Software and Web Development: With skills in coding and web development, you can work on a variety of projects from anywhere in the world. This job involves building and maintaining websites and applications.
  5. Digital Marketing: Encompassing activities like social media management, content marketing, and SEO, digital marketing is perfect for tech-savvy individuals who excel in promoting products and services online.
  6. Virtual Assistance: Virtual assistants provide a range of services, including administrative, technical, or creative assistance, to clients remotely.
  7. Online Teaching and Tutoring: Teaching languages or academic subjects online is a great option for those with teaching expertise or knowledge in specific areas.
  8. Consulting and Coaching: If you have expertise in a specific area, you can offer your services as a consultant or coach, be it in business, lifestyle, health, or other fields.
  9. Translation Services: Proficiency in multiple languages can open doors to translation work, which involves translating documents, websites, or providing real-time translation services.
  10. Photography and Videography: Talented photographers and videographers can find freelance work that often involves travel and a variety of exciting projects.
  11. E-commerce and Dropshipping: Managing an online store or engaging in dropshipping involves understanding e-commerce, marketing, and supply chain management, suitable for entrepreneurial spirits.
  12. Data Analysis and Statistics: Data analysts and statisticians can work remotely, dealing with data interpretation, statistical reporting, and data visualization.
  13. IT and Cybersecurity Consulting: The need for IT and cybersecurity expertise continues to grow as businesses increasingly operate online.

If you don’t have any experience and you are unsure of which path you might want to take, check out the 21 Best Traveling Jobs with No Experience!

If you’re freelancing you can always use platforms like UpWork to get started with finding projects. Check out these tips for finding work on UpWork.

FAQs: Digital Nomad Budget

digital nomad budget with a view

Navigating the financial and logistical aspects of a digital nomad lifestyle can bring up many questions, especially for those new to it. Here are some frequently asked questions that address key concerns:

Is 30 too old to be a digital nomad?

Absolutely not! I am currently 33 and my partner is 35 and we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon! Being a digital nomad is more about mindset and adaptability than age. Many individuals start their digital nomad journey in their 30s, 40s, or even later. This age can actually be advantageous, as you might have more professional experience, financial stability, and a clearer understanding of what you want from a nomadic lifestyle.

How much money do I need to be a digital nomad?

The amount varies greatly depending on your lifestyle, destinations, and spending habits. A basic rule of thumb is to have enough to cover your living expenses (like accommodation, food, and transport), insurance, and savings for emergencies. This could range anywhere from $1000 to $3000 per month, though some manage on less and others may need more.

My recommendation is to start with at least $1500 USD per month to be able to have a comfortable life and digital nomad budget.

What Is An Average Digital Nomad Budget Per Month

On average, digital nomads spend between $1000 and $3000 per month. This budget includes accommodation, food, local transportation, work-related expenses, and leisure activities. The cost can vary based on the country you’re in and your personal lifestyle choices.

What Is The Best Backpack For A Digital Nomad?

The best backpack for a digital nomad is one that is durable, comfortable to carry, and has enough space for your laptop and other essential gear. Look for backpacks with multiple compartments for organization, a padded laptop sleeve, and ergonomic support. Brands like Osprey, North Face, and Tortuga are popular among digital nomads.

Check out my top picks here – Top 7 Digital Nomad Backpacks in 2024
Or see our full digital nomad packing list here – Ultimate Digital Nomad Packing List

Safety While Traveling as a Digital Nomad

When embracing the digital nomad lifestyle, safety is paramount. Research your destination’s safety norms and laws, keep digital copies of important documents, and stay connected with family and friends. You can check the US Travel Advisory to research a place before you go. Prioritize digital security with VPNs and regular data backups, and ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance. Stay aware of your surroundings, especially in unfamiliar places, and keep your belongings secure. These precautions allow you to enjoy your travels with greater peace of mind.

What Is The Best Internet For A Digital Nomad?

Reliable internet is the lifeblood of a digital nomad. Opt for global SIM cards or local data plans, and always have a backup like a portable Wi-Fi device. This ensures you stay connected, no matter where you are.

Check out how we stay connected while traveling in Spain

Conclusion: Digital Nomad Budget

Embarking on a digital nomad lifestyle is an exhilarating journey that offers unparalleled freedom and the opportunity to experience diverse cultures. However, it also requires financial planning and a digital nomad budget to be sustainable and enjoyable.

The key to a successful digital nomad budget lies in understanding and adapting to different locations and circumstances. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned traveler, it’s crucial to continuously evaluate and adjust your spending according to your income and lifestyle changes.

You might also be interested in – If You Work Remote Where Do You Pay Taxes: Digital Nomads Guide

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