retired at 30. a year on…
'a year of unbelievable experiences, happiness & finding the
beauty in everyday life. like a bird i can fly wherever i want'.
I'm writing this in the hopes of helping anyone thinking of early retirement/career break or becoming a digital nomad to understand that you have nothing to fear. fear was the main obstacle that i came up against when i first started talking to friends & family about leaving my great job in london working in high fashion to become a nomad. the most prominent question you will come across is that of money. but how will you survive? you need a job right?... technically you don't need a job it just depends on what you have done to prepare yourself for the nomadic future ahead.
the money situation...
this is the most common question i am asked when i meet new people around the world. the answer is i invested my life-saving in a stable but high yield sector. this enables me to live in any country i choose around the world without the worry of a monthly pay slip, it's basically a monthly salary without the 9-5. now, I'm not saying everyone needed to do it this way. actually, their are plenty of ways. you can become a digital nomad by using your skills working with companies remotely. i mainly met people doing this around the world in such industries as coding, marketing, and graphic design. all are positions that do not need your presence in a specific location for a period of time or at all.
i also met a guy in romania who was working for a silicon valley company doing remote telesales via skype. every evening he would set up his computers yes two of them in the lobby of the hostel & call prospective clients, they had no idea he wasn't in the usa. his salary may not have been enough to live in silicon valley but it sure was to live in most countries in the world especially eastern europe. if your passive income is not that high you can also work at the hostels you stay in return for a free bed this makes life much easier as your main expenses are accommodation, food, travel.
in the western world, the fear of not earning enough money is woven into society. but how much is enough? i have spoken, visited and lived in so many countries that now i have a better understanding. there is a big difference from country to country.
i have visited here four times in the past year for different purposes. met people from alot of different states around the country and there seems to be a commonality to most whom i meet but certainly not all. it is to earn as much as possible as quickly as possible. the drive to become rich seems to be endemic in the society. it may be due to the lack of comprehensive free health care like in europe or having to pay huge sums to go to university also again free or very small fees in europe. but i just get a sense that nothing is ever enough but i can tell you now yes there is such a thing as enough.. i think to live a decent life in the usa on average you would need to earn ($5,000)pm for a household.
i was brought up in england. over the years when i was a child i could see the mentality of the people change concerning material positions and consumerism. so it depends on what you value material possessions, time or quality of life. in london, for example, the minimum to have a decent life and your own place as a couple would be ($4000pm). this would give you a decent life but you would still have some money worries. it would also be difficult to save. to have a good life in london ($6000)pm for a household would give you the opportunity to save.
i recently spent a lot of time visiting and living in different parts of poland. i can honestly say it is one of the cheapest places to live in the world. especially if you're earning from outside the country like me. for digital nomads, this is the perfect country. i stayed mostly in wroclaw in the west of the country. i will give the averages from this city but other areas may be slightly cheaper and others slightly more expensive. for an average life here ($700pm) a good life ($1000pm) and a great life ($1300pm).
i have visited india many times and what a country. it simply attacks all the senses in every way. here you can get a meal for $0.50 and a chai tea for $0.05. depending on the city. on average you could live a good life here for around ($400-$500pm). depending on the lifestyle you want to live. if your a big alcohol drinker the north is not for you as its super expensive compared to everything else.
as i write this i am living a fully nomadic life. living and visiting countries for however long i like with no need to worry about expensive it is. of course countries like usa, japan and uk are expensive but i have off set those with cheaper countries like india, poland, ukraine & south america. nomadic life is fantastic as i have not seen a winter for nearly 2 years now. it gives me the freedom to explore countries and areas that i simply would not have time to do if i had a permanent country to live in. it has some drawbacks like loneliness on occasion but the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. like a bird i can fly wherever i want.
my highlights this last year...
well.. there have been so many. i always dreamed about traveling the world ever since i was young. i have now made my dream come true and i can honestly say i am living every moment to the fullest. i have climbed volcanoes in guatemala, rode a motorcycle around northern india into the foot hills of the himalayas, had out of body spiritual experiences in aamritsar, seen the total transformation of once the most dangerous city in the world; meddilln colombia, a hot air balloon ride in lithuania, driven a tank & shot a gun in ukraine. ahh and chernobyl a highlight of the year. but also had the chance to live in poland and hike the tatra mountain range. some truly unbelievable expericences and as i write this I'm on my way to chile/argentina patagonia.
me as a person. how have i changed..
i left england with a general feeling of unfulfillment in life. nearly everybody around me in london was either super negative or generally depressed when there was no need. i have seen poverty on a scale in india that is hard to put into words but they still smile. we have come to complain so easily in the western world about the smallest and stupidest things. i found my self getting caught up in that mentality and that is one of the reasons why i left.
when people ask me whats it like not to work a classic 9-5 i say to them it like being a bird you can fly where ever you want whenever you want. it's the feeling of total freedom that i have never felt before and it's made me into such a positive person as i have nothing to complain about. so now i try and spread that positivity to as many people as i can. you can truly do anything you want as long as you truly believe in it.
have a purpose...
for the first few weeks i arrived in mexico. it felt like i was on holiday but as the weeks went on the holiday mode faded and a lack of purpose fell upon me. I'm a photographer and i was taking photos of everything that interest me but i was not using this passion and skill wisely. so i thought i would try and work with companies and charities to give me a purpose, it worked. i work now directly with hotel/hostel brands, tour companies, technology companies. even had contracts to write articles on destinations as my website & instagram have a good following. so if your thinking of this style of life make sure you have some kind of purpose it doesn't need to make money just something that keeps your brain ticking.
firstly i have to say i love ryainair in europe. you can travel the continent for than a meal in a restaurant. one of my first trips was to morocco i got a return flight from london to rabat for $25 return crazy.. but that's the beauty of not having a traditional job you are very flexible in the dates you can go. i find tuesday and wednesday are the cheapest days to travel but also make sure that you book ahead for all type of transport from flights to trains or buses. i took a bus ride 9 hours from poland to vienna, austria for $8 all because i booked in advance and i have the thought that if i dont use it, its only $8, not a big deal!
first and foremost thing about long term travel / being a digital nomad is spend wisely you never know when those extra costs will hit you. it will be when you least expect it. i remember getting a tax bill for over $1500 and only had 24 hours to pay it. in the end i managed to but it was close. so my advice is to always keep $1k in your account for the inevitable snag in the road.
un-necessary bank fees... i found my self-getting charged crazy bank fees for using my card abroad at atm's and stores.
i then found the curve card. its a travel currency card that has the lowest fees on the market only 1%. it also gives you so many security features through the app that traditional banks cannot offer. download on the app store. use promo: LINFB to get £5 free credit.
how can you do it..
a lot of people along my journey have asked me this question. the answer is simple, but you have to be truly motivated. i am a big believer in the power that a person can possess when they truly motivated. i remember only have $50 left in my bank account in the summer of 2011. i was 26 at the time before i was offered a good job and decided on how to make my newly earned savings work for me.
if you need it in a list format...
1. figure out what you going to do for money (above).
2. quit your job
3. book a flight
4. go explore
so many lessons. from dealing with loneliness at times to plumbing and electrical work on a house in the united states. but most importantly i have learnt to be happy with what i have. when you visit certain countries one being india. you start to realise what you truly have. I've seen poverty and desperation on a scale that most people could only imagine but through all that the people of india still smiled through the hard times unlike a lot of european countries. we always seem to complain about the smallest things. so throughout this journey i have started to be appreciative of the smallest things in life. i can honestly say that i am a 1k times happier than i was one year ago before i started this trip.
countries i visited.
usa, mexico, guatemala, costa rica, panama, colombia, japan, india, poland, spain, england, finland, estonia, latvia, lithuania, belarus, ukraine, poland, slovakia, czechia. 20 countries in all.
that's the thing. it can be anything... i will continue travelling but find a base in europe to call home and start on one of the biggest dreams i had from when i was a kid, becoming a pilot.
my highlight photo reel: