The 4 ABSOLUTE BEST Websites to Find Remote Work and Work Abroad

 

The Internet is full of listicles and advice on “How to Make Money While You Travel,” “How to Earn Money Traveling While Working Remotely,”or “How to Get a Job Abroad.” You’ve probably clicked on a few of these articles yourself, in your idle time (or on your employer’s dime). And if you’re anything like me, these articles are usually disappointing—they lack solid details, or the sites they recommend don’t have any opportunities for anyone but super-skilled software developers. They’re the results of a $10/hour content writer who has been charged with slapping together an “SEO-friendly” article about “remote work,” “Location Independence,” “Working while traveling,” and similar search terms. In other words: they lack both authority and investment.

How to Find (REAL) Remote Work and Travel Jobs Abroad

I’ve spent the last 18 months of my life looking for remote work, working while traveling, and job-hopping. I have actively been searching for new and different roles throughout that 18 months—because despite what some sites might tell you, it’s not a quick and easy process.

So I’m not going to present you with a long, meandering list of websites and strategies to try. Nor am I going to recommend UpWork. Instead, I’m going to give you the cream of the crop. From my own experience, these are the four, absolute best resources for finding remote work, travel jobs, and/or international jobs which will sponsor your visa and relocate you to a foreign country.

I hope it helps you chase your dreams!

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Should I become a digital nomad straight out of college?

Graduation Gown Caps at Ceremony

PROBABLY NOT

I’m going to drop some real talk, which is rare amid the ENDLESS lifestyle porn of the “digital nomad” space.

I run a blog called “this is youth.” I’m 23. I’m a college graduate, tech-savvy, and self-motivated. I had never left the United States prior to this trip. I had a remote job lined up, and basically needed nothing except a little courage to step into this lifestyle. To be location independent was a serendipitous confluence of my professional goals and personal desires.

I still wouldn’t recommend the lifestyle to other young people. Here’s why:

Go join everyone else your age, and hit the backpacker trail

James Bond Island

There’s no wifi on that boat.

Look, I’m constantly called an “old soul,” told that I have my shit together, or asked for advice on “how to adult.” I don’t spend all my money or all my time binge-drinking, and that creates a bit of a disconnect for me sometimes. I’m not the most social person. But even with all that, I’m still jealous of the backpackers. I want to put down the laptop and go join them. Let’s hike to the waterfall. Let’s go out for beers, then have another one. And another one. And another one. And I want the people I’m with to understand that reference.

Nomads, by and large, wouldn’t get it. That’s because,

Digital Nomads, the successful ones, are mid-career people.

Young people in the U.S. romanticize travel. It’s a growing trend, I think largely due to the popularity of social media and the growth of travel blogs. Everyone wants to travel. “It’s just too much money,” or “I don’t have the time.” Being a digital nomad seems like a perfect solution to this problem.

And it is. But it won’t solve the problem in a way which will allow you to really see the world in the way you are imagining. Most of your time as a nomad is spent sitting in front of a computer, thinking about Twitter followers, and reading about growth hacking. Your peers are upper-middle class white people, digital marketers and entrepreneurs.

MOST of these people tried the office for years and years before embracing this lifestyle. Their perspective is very different from yours, a person who maybe, has never spent a day of your life in an office.

Yes, there are some young people out there trying it out, and a smaller portion making it work. There are many of these people in Chiang Mai. Leave the most famous and accessible digital nomad hub, and those young people start to fall off, quickly.

Suddenly, the only people your age are backpackers, and they look like they’re having a hell of a lot more fun.

Again and again, you will meet a young backpacker at a foreign coffee shop. You’ll strike up a conversation, and she’ll say “Wow! You’ve been here for two months?! I wish I could do that.” Then she’ll ask, “Have you hiked the volcano yet,” and you’ll have to say no. You’ve been working.

She’s off to the Gili Islands in two days.

You’ve gained twelve Twitter followers.

It’s really lonely

Look: everyone mentions this. “Being a digital nomad means you have to leave behind your friends and your life at home, but in the end, it’s totally worth it.” That’s the line, or whatever. Everyone acknowledges this. It comes at the end of a 1,000-word post telling you all the great things about the lifestyle— travel, culture, entrepreneurship!

What you don’t see online is a real, true telling of this isolation. It’s crushing— the constant movement of people and places presses on you, on all sides. Especially when you first start out, and the urge to move countries frequently is almost irresistible.

The friend you met at the coworking space, and the last two days talking to nonstop? Headed to Saigon in a week. Meanwhile, you’ve booked tickets to Chiang Mai already. Well fuck. See you on Facebook, I guess.

Spend a month in a place, start learning a few words? The shopkeepers start recognizing you, going beyond just “can I take your order please?” Your visa expires. Gotta go. Sawasdee!

This is happening to everyone around you, at all times. The rejection is almost total. There is little spontaneity— although with enough time, your paths may cross again, or you can plan a meetup in some foreign city. This is a cool sentence to write, and an inspirational one to read— but it’s simply not fun to live, day-to-day.

Those who choose to stay in a city for six months or more can avoid this, to some degree. But even six months doesn’t match up to a friendship at home, usually developed over years of near-daily contact. Your life at home will move on without you. Your college friends will get jobs, up and leave town, and you won’t even be there to buy them a beer at their going away party. And it gets a lot harder to make friends, after college. You want to hold on to the ones you have.

But I REALLY want to travel

If international travel is really the only thing you want to do, that’s fine. If you’re a startup-techy-marketing type of person who is ok with long stints of serious loneliness, you might be ok for a while.

But for most young people, I’d recommend working hard, saving up, then hitting the backpacker trail like everyone else your age. You will lack millennial peers as a digital nomad, and you’ll be adding more stress than you expect to your travel experience.

The Nomad lifestyle is only going to become more ubiquitous

Blurry Focus Coffee Cups on Hooks

Right now, being a digital nomad is still kind of cutting edge. With the huge shift towards distributed teams, it is becoming more commonplace by the day. The most commonly-cited studies say half the U.S. workforce is a freelancer of some sort, and that’s only likely to increase. Work-from-home is on the rise, and while most people will never go further than their neighborhood coffee shop, anyone with a remote job can technically be a digital nomad.

As visibility and understanding of this lifestyle grows, so will the number of companies willing to accommodate it; and the number of services designed to facilitate it. In 10 years, it will be considerably easier to be a nomad. You will be considerably further along in your career, and probably have less opportunity to drop everything and go travel without obligations for months on end.

So take advantage while you have that opportunity. Leave it all behind, and I mean ALL of it. You’ll never get those gap years of your youth back. Live it up. There’s plenty of time for work, later.

Top 5 tips for a cash-strapped digital nomad

 

I had the misfortune of losing my job this past week. After two years of surviving cut after cut, the endless layoffs at Inside.com finally got me. That’s startup life, I suppose. And truthfully, it was probably time for me to move on, level up in my life and in my career.

I know it’s a weird thing to write from a foreign country halfway across the world, but I had gotten complacent.

Life as a digital nomad looks a lot different once your income stream dries up. Things get a lot more stressful. I’m lucky enough to have saved up a nice little cushion, so I’m trying to treat this break as a vacation, rather than an excuse to panic. Still, money suddenly became a lot more precious to me. Here are the top five things I’m doing to save money while traveling (as a digital nomad, specifically).

Get free water at your coworking space

Since nomads often frequent undeveloped countries, bottled drinking water is one of those little expenses that can quickly add up. Especially in a place like Bali, where we are currently experiencing 90 degree days with alarming regularity. You have to drink to avoid dangerous dehydration— but you don’t necessarily have to pay for that water.

If you are using a coworking space, almost all of them offer water coolers, with safe filtered water. Use them. Get a water bottle and fill it up every day before you leave. Bring it back the next day, and fill it up again.

It’s also smart to stop buying coffee, and use the free stuff provided at the coworking space. As a coffee lover myself, I find it hard to consistently obey that last rule, but I am trying. If you make use of the free water and coffee every day, you can often more than make up for the cost of your coworking.

Of course, if you are truly budget strapped, then it’s often more economical to just

Drop your coworking space

In Bali, this is simply not feasible— Internet speeds are awful in most places on this island. You can’t rely on a coffee shop, and most hotels, homestays, and guesthouses can barely handle your Facebook uploads.

However, in a place like Chiang Mai or Taipei, it’s worth asking yourself: is a coworking space a necessary expense? You can work just the same from your apartment. It might not be as social, but skipping the trendy coworking can save you anywhere from $50 to $300 a month.

You might have less cool Instagram shots, but you will have more money to eat and experience the local culture. Which is the reason you’re abroad in the first place, right??

One option here is to

Replace your coworking with a mobile hotspot

Since I don’t need blazing fast Internet, I’ve opted to supplement my basic coworking with pay-as-you-go mobile data. I use tethering on my iPhone to beam the connection to my computer. In general, it’s a lot cheaper. Here in Bali, 4 GB of data on Telekomsel costs 100.000 rupiah (~$7.50 USD). 25 hours of coworking at Hubud costs $60 USD. Guess which lasts me longer?

4G tethering through my phone is almost always faster than the free wifi offered at the cafes and restaurants throughout town.

Plus, Telekomsel has coverage throughout the Ubud area. I’ve actually been quite pleased with the coverage here: it’s fast (4G), and rarely do I drop coverage. I think Telekomsel must have invested some serious time and money into their infrastructure, because prior to arrival, I had heard their coverage was slow and spotty. That hasn’t been true in my experience, at all.

Eat local

This is a tried and true travel tip, or course. Local food is always cheaper, and often better, than the Western food on offer. When you have money coming in though, it can be easy to treat yourself; this is why its not uncommon for 20-somethings living in big cities to drop fifty, sixty, seventy dollars on brunch. Why not?

Why not is you’ll get just as full on a $1.50 dish of Nasi Goreng as you will on a $12 green shake with eggs and toast. Granted, you’ll get really sick of– and possibly from– the Nasi Goreng by the time to leave Bali (ahem), but over the course of a month, you’ll save enough to be able to afford a plane ticket to your next destination.

Plus, when you return home, you’ll be able to explain the ins and outs of Indonesian food, which will make it seem like you actually went somewhere, and did something.

Set aside an emergency fund

This is something you should do BEFORE you start your trip. Not everyone has this luxury, I know. But IF POSSIBLE, you should set aside at least a few hundred dollars in case things go sideways. Ideally, this fund should contain enough for a plane ticket home, and then a few hundred on top.

I understand a lot of people like to live life a little riskier than that, and that’s fine. It’s certainly possible– and probably a better story– to work yourself out of that hole, learn to survive, and find a way home from the verge of bankruptcy.

But for me, I prefer a little more stability. My savings account means I have a few months of runway to seek out freelance work, affiliate income, or a new full time job before I have to head home with my tail between my legs.

In the meantime, I’m taking all the steps above to reduce my burn and increase my runway, but I’m damn glad I have the safety cushion.

Living in a Ski Town as a Digital Nomad

Fresh groomers Vail Chair 4

When I graduated college, I was already employed in my field. I was working remote, freelancing for a news startup called Inside.com. I was being paid peanuts: a contract rate that effectively worked out to well below minimum wage. I told the hordes of well-wishers at my graduation party that it wasn’t really a “real job,” just something to pay the bills and build the resume. I was looking. Fifteen months, several raises and rounds of layoffs later, I still work for Inside. At the time, I definitely didn’t realize how lucky I was. Although Inside has never paid me too much, they do allow me unlimited flexibility, a perk which absolutely cannot be overvalued.

So, with a remote job in my pocket, I uprooted and moved to Vail, Colorado.

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