The term digital nomad is one that conjures up images of people sat by a pool, with a laptop earning their living. The term is somewhat synonymous with travel blogging and is a dream for many. But whether they are on a beach, up a mountain or in a coffee shop, they have one thing in common, that laptop.
If you are about to embrace the location independent lifestyle, then you need the right machine for the job. In this post, we will be sharing some simple tips on finding the best laptop for becoming a digital nomad.
What is a Digital Nomad?
A digital nomad is someone that is location-independent and relies on technology to do their job. More and more, we are seeing companies embracing freelancers and employing remote workers to utilize skills they may struggle to find locally.
While it sounds like a dream, it isn’t always as glamorous as it seems. Although the images shared are of beaches and mountain tops, you can almost guarantee about 90% of their work takes place in a rented flat or hotel room. In many ways, you may actually end up missing the luxuries of an office desk and coffee on demand.
But, I’m not going to lie. As a digital nomad myself, it’s awesome.
What kind of jobs are there for digital nomads?
If you can do it on a computer and charge for it, then pretty much anything. I find that digital nomads fall into two categories. There are the remote workers, the ones that still have a job and committed hours, they can just do them from anywhere. And then there are the self-employed jobs such as freelance writers or bloggers. Both types have pros and cons.
Digital nomads are people who are location independent and use technology to perform their job.Investopedia
In the employed world you are giving up some of your freedom to work when you want, but in exchange, you are getting a guaranteed income. That is flipped if you are self-employed, you have no promise of regular money, but you can really embrace the freedom to work when you want and where.
One thing is sure, taxes
However, as a great philosopher once said, only two things are sure in life. Death and taxes. No matter where you work if you are making enough money, you will need to pay tax somewhere, and it can get quite confusing.
I actually work as a combination of both. I have a full-time job for a company in the UK, and I also have a travel blog that I generate a small amount of income from, mainly in US Dollars. But I live in Spain. To avoid paying tax twice, I had to set myself up as a business in Spain and pay all taxes to the Spanish Government. If you want to know a little more about how to pay tax as a digital nomad read this post from The Professional Hobo. One of my favorite travel bloggers.
What is the best thing about being a digital nomad?
How do I become a digital nomad?
But we know earning money is not simple. Becoming a digital nomad is not like blogging on a website and gets paid, it is more than that. But it is possible.
If you wish to go the freelance route, you need to start establishing credibility in your chosen filed right away. Owning a successful blog or being a top copywriter takes years of investment and work to build up experience and testimonials. If you are not sure what you would want to do, check out this post with 99 ideas for digital nomad jobs.
However, if you wish to go the employed route and currently have a job that can be done entirely online, just have that conversation with your boss. That is how I ended up moving to a different country but keeping my job, I asked if it was possible.
A third option is to find a new job. There are places that companies advertise remote work positions. But be aware, the competition is huge, so be prepared to stand out.
Choosing the best laptop for becoming a digital nomad
So now you know what a digital nomad is and a few tips about how to reach for that dream, now your just need to select your tool to make it happen. So let’s look into choosing the best laptop for becoming a digital nomad.
The price will be the number one factor when making your choice. You can find laptops or Chromebooks for as little as $200 or over $3000. You really need to have a rough budget in mind before you start your search.
Based on the usage and your needs, choose the best option which will suit your budget though. Make sure your purchase makes sense to your job.
As your laptop is what you are earning your living from it would be worth investing a little more in it to make sure it doesn’t let you down when you most need it. With the correct investment and looking after, there is no reason a reliable laptop can’t last you 5 or more years. The chances are your longing for a cool, new laptop will be stronger than the need when you come to buy your next one.
Something I would like to add is that you should be wary of any offers that and deals that seem a little too good to be true, especially when it comes to Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions.
It’s not unheard of for companies to create laptops just for these promotions. They stick in an excellent on paper processor and add a bit of RAM and sell at a crazy low price.
On the specs sheet it stands out like a fantastic deal, but everything else inside is cheap parts, so the overall performance is not very good. Always check out user reviews, especially of the cheaper laptops, before making your final decision as these are real users. Amazon is always an excellent source for user reviews.
So now you have a budget in mind, what should you look for?
Workload and Usage
When you are purchasing the laptop for your remote career, it is essential to consider the specifications you need for. What will you need from your computer?
The specification you need will depend heavily on the tasks you will be fulfilling. Will you be editing 4k videos? Working on 3D projects and graphics or even coding? If yes to any of these you will be requiring a laptop with a lot of power to handle the tasks you are expecting of it.
However, if you will be using your system mainly for writing, social networks, emails, or WordPress, you can go for something more compact and save money on power. Maybe even consider a Chromebook to get the most bang for your buck.
If you want to focus on writing and low intensive work, I think you can get a reliable machine in the $600 – $700 price range. As low as $200 if you were happy to consider a Chromebook and going up to $1200 if you want a high spec, good looking machine.
If you are looking at high intensive work such as graphic design, 4k video creation, or 3D modeling, I wouldn’t expect to find anything that will do a great job under $1200.
The above all comes under your professional and personal needs.
Portability is one of the most needful factors digital nomad should consider in their every buy of the gadgets.
As a travel blogger or digital nomad, you need small and light gadgets to carry around the places for hours. Whether you carry it on international flights or take it out for a beach in the evening, all you need is to be light.
When buying a laptop, the size and weight are all matters first. I have seen 13″ laptops are mostly used size around coworking places and if you travel a lot is the size I would recommend. Although 15.6″ is also the right choice.
Make sure you choose a laptop that is comfortable for you.
Don’t forget to think about battery life. If you plan to work outside, then you will need a laptop that won’t let you down after a couple of hours. Look to 8 hours being a minimum.
Processor and RAM
This will once again be dependant on what you plan to do with it, and it will also heavily influence the price of the machine. If you would like to know a bit more about choosing the right processor, check out our other post about laptops for blogging where we break these tips down into a little more detail.
If you plan to be working outside a lot if it worth bearing this in mind when deciding on a laptop. Glossy screens can be a real killer for productivity as they reflect the light and are difficult to use. Matte screens are by far better for outside use, but you can also find laptops with displays that are enhanced with outdoor usage in mind.
Final thoughts on finding a laptop for becoming a digital nomad
I hope you have found the above useful and are ready to take the leap into location freedom.
When looking for the right tool to do your job, keep in mind that it is a business purchase and the laptop will make you money in the future. It is worth putting a few extra bucks on a computer that can improve your productivity and help you get the expected results. It needs to be a machine that you love using as somedays, it will be your only friend.