How I became a digital nomad » The Daily Remote

How I became a digital nomad

7 min read

Ever since I got my first remote job, friends and family have made comments such as:

“Wow, how lucky/blessed are you.”

“That must be the life.”

And while I do feel extremely blessed and enjoy my life immensely, I want to shed some light on this lifestyle that many people may not consider.

A Little History

I got my first remote job working part-time for a law firm in Tulsa, Oklahoma. My boss was a very good friend of mine who took a chance on me working remotely. We agreed that it would be a part-time arrangement so that I could pursue other passions.

I moved to live with my parents in south central Oklahoma to save money while I pursued this new venture. I was working part-time as a marketing manager, writing music, building a freelance business from the ground up, and working on a passion project with a friend from college. I even began planning a YouTube gaming channel.

As usual, I was doing many things at once and spreading myself thin. I tried networking in town to build my freelance business but quickly discovered I was in the wrong market. I uploaded my music to YouTube but was daily frustrated with the process and how it was becoming more work than passion. I tried reaching out to old college peers to help my friend and me with our project to no avail. Rather than actually uploading content to a YouTube channel, I played video games for hours as an escape. And slowly but surely, tensions rose in the office and my status as a necessary employee dwindled.

Time for Change

Living with my parents was always a temporary move, but things started looking more and more temporary. I knew it was time for a change, so I began looking for a full-time opportunity. I had some friends in Denver and blasted my resume all over the state. Nothing.

I then began to resign myself to looking closer to home even though I longed to move out of the state and explore. I eventually got a full-time job in Oklahoma City and made my move to independence again. Though the feeling of having my independence again was a welcome reprieve, in my heart I knew that this chapter was also temporary.

I couldn’t pinpoint the moment or trigger, but the entrepreneurial and wanderlust bugs had bit me and buried deep in my soul. I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d leave the state and my new full-time job. Over the course of a little over a year, my partner and I had more than a few heart-to-hearts about our lives. We were both unhappy at our jobs and in our apartment and knew we needed change. We wanted to live the life we envisioned rather than one we had to do simply out of necessity or obligation.

Will Work Remotely for Travel

So I began sending out my resume once again, but this time, I wanted the flexibility to work anywhere in the world. I spoke with one of my friends from Denver who had just landed a remote job. She recommended I check out Idealist.org, which is where I eventually landed my current remote job. However, there were several websites I scoured while I hunted for a full-time remote job.

We longed to travel and explore, remove the stress and excess, and focus on more important priorities. And although we knew we wanted to live out of state, it was difficult to picture our lives in a state where we knew no one and family was hundreds of miles away.

The Lightbulb

After a long day of work, Becca, my partner, came home and told me her idea:

“Why don’t we just purchase an RV? That way, if we need to come back home and stay for a month or so we can.”

Thinking on that idea just felt right. It was so easy to consider and it clicked. We both felt at peace and began to research the Internet on RVing, staying connected to the Internet while traveling, downsizing, and more.

There was so much we had to learn! We started selling extraneous belongings, and while it was difficult at first, the more we lightened our physical load, the more it lightened our mental load.

It’s a very freeing and liberating experience to not have to spend mental capacity on the junk you accumulate over years! The thought of moving or storing anything made us shudder. We wanted to spend our mental capacity considering where we would travel next, getting healthy, developing our relationships with family and friends, and focus on generally being happy and grateful for each day.

A Learning Curve

Becca and Sarah's 1st Rig

Becca and Sarah’s 1st Rig

After about a month of deciding to pursue the full-time travel lifestyle, we purchased an RV. We also gave ourselves about a month to get everything in order to move in before we had to pay another 6-month lease on our apartment. There’s something about giving yourself a short deadline that can really get you in gear! We traded in my car, sold all the furniture, made two trips to our parents’ houses in Texas and Oklahoma to store memories, forwarded our mail, changed our addresses, switched to paperless billing on all our vendors, and more.

The idea of working remotely and traveling full-time is a very romantic one. But, what a lot of people don’t realize is that there are a lot of things you must do to set up your life of perpetual travel. We still pay and file our taxes every year and have to have a physical address!

Digital Nomad Newbies

When we finally moved into our new home, the first two weeks was a true test of our ability to handle the lifestyle. Ah, the newbie stage. For about a week or so we took cold showers because we couldn’t figure out how the hot water heater worked! Our official walkthrough of the camper and its inner workings provided no insight (even after filming the entire thing). There were no online guidelines available from the manufacturer and YouTube tutorials were at best informational, but not instructional. A lot of what we currently know about our camper is self-taught by trial and error.

So we did what any digitally connected couple would do. We completely immersed ourselves in RV lifestyle—joining Facebook groups, following others like us on Instagram, and reading up on popular nomadic blogs. Luckily, we found ourselves part of a large, helpful community of others who had rough starts just like us. For the most part, everyone was willing to lend their helpful two cents and we felt a little less alone.

In fact, we have more friends from all over the country now than we ever did living a solitary lifestyle. It’s like having pen pals all across the nation.

The Mindset a Digital Nomad

The “good” always outweighs “the bad” and “ugly” for us. But I think it’s important to talk about every aspect because it’s still such a taboo in our society today. Though I do think that taboo is quickly fading:

This lifestyle is NOT for everyone. There will be times when things go wrong, break, set you back, and change your plans. But if you think about it, those same things can happen when living in a house or apartment. You need the right kind of mindset to live the life of a digital nomad. These characteristics include but are not limited to:

  • Persistence
  • Patience
  • Spontaneity
  • Optimism
  • Hard Work Ethic
  • Self-Motivation
  • Self-Discipline
  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Reliance

Whether you have these characteristics or not when you start doesn’t matter much. A lot of these skills took time for me to develop even AFTER I had already become a digital nomad. I’m still learning so much and will continue to learn each day.

But just like any other lifestyle, the way you life your life is one of design by your choices and your will to do so. I was determined to travel and work remotely. I worked hard and made difficult decisions and sacrifices to live the life I live today. The stories in this blog have accumulated over 5 years. It takes time to pursue your ideal lifestyle. But if it is your dream to travel and work remotely, I’m here to tell you today that it’s possible for you too! If you have the patience, will, fortitude, and make active decisions towards your dream, then it will come to pass.

If you liked my post, please share it! If I’ve inspired you, please comment below! I’d love to hear from you.

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