How to Become a Digital Nomad in Australia
Updated: Aug 21, 2019
Australia is one of the best countries to become a digital nomad, so you can travel around the country with your family, while earning money along the way. Let me tell you why:
Have you ever wanted to live the life of a digital nomad, but felt like you couldn't because your kids are enrolled in a good school and you have a mortgage up to your ears? Well dream no longer, because I'm going to tell you how you can travel around Australia for 6 months to a year, while earning money (and teaching your kids so they don't fall behind) and then come back to your family home and the life you left behind to travel.
What is a Digital Nomad?
A Digital Nomad is basically someone who travels and works online for a living. They usually stay in Airbnb's for a month or so at a time, or they housesit for people and look after pets, water gardens or collect mail in return for free accommodation. Sometimes Digital Nomads travel around in a campervan or motorhome that they have hired or bought cheaply.
The perks of becoming a Digital Nomad
Becoming a digital nomad definitely has it's perks. You can work on a beach with a drink in your hand, you have the opportunity to spend some quality time with your partner (or kids), you can create a work/life balance and find some time to de-stress and visit all the places you've always wanted to see. You can turn up to work in your bikini and a pair of thongs and no-one will care. There are no commuting times and no silly office politics. Sounds perfect doesn't it? So what are you waiting for?
“Choose a job that you like, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius
The downside to being a Digital Nomad
Of course there are downsides to becoming a digital nomad as well. They could include kids being bored of being on the road all the time, no wifi connection, small spaces, missing the luxury of having a bedroom door to close when the kids are fighting, missing your own bed, or getting sick of camping all the time.
Why Australia is the best country to become a Digital Nomad
If you are already an Australian resident, Australia is the perfect place to become a Digital Nomad before jet-setting overseas. You can already speak the language. You know all the laws of the country. You can drive on the correct side of the road, have the correct drivers licence and already know all the road rules. You don't need to set up a different sim card in your mobile phone to contact people. You don't need a passport. You can access all the public hospitals free of charge, if need be. You don't have to exchange money or get charged fees for international transfers and you don't need to carry traveller's cheques around in a bumbag.
How to become a Digital Nomad in Australia
You might be wondering how you can pick up your family, set off on a trip around the country for a year, and come back to the home you love without all the setbacks of having to sell everything, travel and then start all over again with no money. Here are some top tips on how to become a Digital Nomad and then return to normal life, back in the suburbs.
1. Get time off work
The first thing to do when planning a trip round the country, is to decide when you want to go and put in for annual leave (or long service leave if you have it). If you haven't been working long enough to apply for long service leave, you will have to take unpaid leave. If this is the case, and you still have to pay off your mortgage, plus all the rest of your bills, you will have to find a job that you can do on the road.
If the company you work for has several offices or locations around Australia, you could ask to be transferred to a new locations while you're planning on being away, or work remotely from wherever you end up, and still get some sort of an income from your current employer. If not, you will have to take unpaid leave and find something else that brings in an income for the meantime.
2. Find a job that you can do remotely
If you want to become a digital nomad and you can't work remotely with your current employer, you will need a job that you can do while on the road. Now, when I say "on the road" this could be on the beach, in a cafe, or from a hotel. Whether that be as someone's personal assistant or doing data entry, providing photographic services, graphic design, being a social media influencer and earning money from sponsored posts, being an accountant or book keeper, or another professional who can #workfromwhereever, you will need to set yourself up so that you can work while you're travelling.
Upwork has loads of jobs that you can do remotely if you have the skills needed. If you want to join all the backpackers, you could even pick fruit in the right season.
3. Get yourself a good dongle
Most McDonalds, hotels, public libraries and good cafes in Australia will have free wifi, but if you want to become a digital nomad and work from a beach or a park while your kids play, you will need a good internet connection. You may also need to set up Skype if you want to be able to talk to people face to face.
4. Decide where you want to travel to
Next - grab a map of Australia and decide where you want to travel to, and what you want to see while you're travelling the country. Ask each family member what they would like to do in each area and plan out your trip before you set off, so you have some sort of idea on which areas of Australia you would like to see first.
5. Find a house-sitter or rent your house out
You have a few different options when it comes to your family home. You can rent it out on a 6 month or yearly lease with a Real Estate Agent and earn an income from leasing it to tenants. (You will have to pack all your stuff and put it into storage while you're away if you choose this option. Or you could rent it out fully furnished, however you would still need to pack your personal belongings away or leave them at a friends house.)
If you lease your house to tenants while you're travelling, you won't have to work as often while you're on the road, to pay your mortgage and all your bills. Don't forget to keep in touch with your Real Estate Agent and let them know when you will return, so they can give you tenants notice at the end of their lease, when you want to move back into your house.
If you completely own your own home and don't need to pay off a mortgage or don't need to rent it out for some other reason, there are so many housesitting websites on the internet where you can find someone to look after it for you. If you register with a few of them, you can not only find free accommodation for your travels, but also someone to look after your house while you're away too. House sitters can keep gardens tidy and water plants, collect mail and look after pets (however if you have pets I wouldn't suggest leaving them in someone else's care for a year, unless you have a trusted family member who would be willing to do this for you.)
You can register for a few different sites and book back to back housesits for your travels, for a fairly low registration fee per website. You can find houses all over the world on these websites. Who doesn't love free accomodation?
6. Decide how to get around
The next thing you will have to organise is transport. How are you going to get around during your travels? Will you pack up the family car and stay in hotels, hostels or Airbnb accommodation the whole way round? Or will you purchase a campervan and stay in caravan parks and free camping areas? Or will you decide to travel via public transport? Or are you planning on jumping on your push bike and peddling across the country with your tent? If so, you will need to pack very lightly!
The best way for a small family to see Australia cheaply is by campervan. You can purchase a campervan for as cheap as a few thousand dollars - depending on the size of van you want and what luxuries you want inside. Depending on how many beds you need, you can buy something simple like a hippy converted econovan, hightop campervan or something a bit larger such as a motorhome.
Some good websites to purchase a used campervan from include:
If you want to take the family car and stay in accommodation the whole time, you can usually book hotels or Airbnb's at cheaper rates for longer stays.
7. Learn how to negotiate
There will come a time when a good bed is needed instead of the trusty old campervan and I've got some great tips on how to negotiate a discounted Airbnb room when needed.
Plan your stay beforehand by looking at all the different types of accommodation in the area. Choose a place with high vacancy rates and negotiate a better price for a whole month. Owners will usually accept reduced offers for a long period of time rather than a higher rate for a night or two.
Ask if there is anything that you could trade in return for discounted accommodation. Some places will give you cheap (or free) accommodation in return for some lawn mowing or gardening. I've offered owners professional photography of their houses in return for discounted rates before. Some hotels might even give you a free nights stay in return for you taking some photos and posting them on your social media channels and recommending them. To get free rooms for a recommendation, you would have to have a good following though. They're not going to say yes to someone who only has a couple of hundred instagram followers.
If you haven't stayed in an Airbnb before, visit my blog post before you sign up and Receive AU$55 worth of Airbnb Credit for Free
8. Set up a travel blog and monetise it
If you want to set up a travel blog and make some money out of it, or use it to gain discounted accommodation, car hire, activities, and products, you will need to set this up before your big trip so that you have a good following, before you ask suppliers for free stuff. Most hotel owners won't even consider giving you free accommodation unless you have a few thousand followers and a can get their brand out to the general public en mass.
Good ways to monetise your website include:
- affiliate marketing
- sponsored blog posts or giveaways
- social media recommendations
- sell ebooks, lightroom presets, t-shirts or online courses
- join stock photography websites and sell them your travel photos
Do a few free blog posts and social media shoutouts to brands that you like, so that the brands that you want to earn from, can see what they would be getting in return for their money. If you like a certain product or hotel, take some photos of you using it or enjoying the facilities and write about what you liked about it and where people can get it from. Include links back to their websites and encourage people to visit them. Upload it on every platform that you have, including your blog, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter and create a media kit to send out to people with the examples inside.
9. Enrol your kids in homeschool
If you want to travel for an extended period of time and you have kids, you will need to homeschool them, because it's actually illegal not to have your kids (aged between 6-16 years old) enrolled in school. You will have to learn what and how to teach your kids so that they're learning the National Curriculum, but there is a course you can do and many support groups available if you get stuck.
10. Have fun!
Travelling is all about enjoying your time off and spending quality time with your family - so enjoy it. Don't spend the whole time working, otherwise what's the point in going in the first place? You can stay at home and do that. Make sure you take the time to do fun activities and see things that you normally wouldn't get to see. And don't forget to take photos along the way so you can blow them up and hang them up on your wall when you get home to remind yourself of the awesome trip that you took with your family.
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If you do decide to become a Digital Nomad in Australia, please look me up on Instagram or Facbook and connect with me. I'd love to meet you as you're travelling past Brisbane. Let me know the best places you've visited and what you recommend doing, so maybe I can travel there too. Happy travels! :-)