Digital Nomads usually feel smarter than the average population however
…when it comes to investing they might have “a bug”
How should a Digital Nomad invest his savings (or his salary)?
How many Digital Nomads are planning their retirement?
And what about DN tax?
If you’re a Digital Nomad and you do not know how to invest your easy-earned cash (..was it hard? hmmm) I am happy for you because you’re reading the right post.
I will warn you about a terrible Digital Nomad’s BIAS and I will be able to tell you what I’d do if I were in your ..flip-flops!
Call it unwanted recommendation…
Why do I care about investing like a Digital Nomad?
My “worries” about how Digital Nomads face taxation problems, investment issues, remuneration problems and retirement started 2 years ago.
Why do I care?
I am a part of several Digital Nomads communities on-line and offline because I think it’s cool folks and that most of the content they share is valuable from several points of view.
I’ve been traveling a lot, something like seventy five countries to date, so I actually have experienced several “nomadic problems” first-hand.
I am also rather “digital” since most of my work and a few of my passions are associated with the online world.
However beware reader!
This doesn’t make me a real digital nomad in the true sense of the word, since I actually have an address, although I’m often on-the-road.
I like to have a place to call “home” lately however I take into account this a romantic weakness instead of a cool factor.
Are you a Digital Nomad?
Are you sure?
If you travel one or two of months each year along with your laptop and a free VPN you’d better don’t tell anyone you fell sort of a Digital Nomad because you aren’t…
The strangest places where I have been?
Livingstone, Vilankulo, Al Ahmadi, Palmira, Jericho, Stromboli, Capo Reinga, Zamami, Camiguin, Piranhas, Neuquen, Chiloè, Hampi, Cao Bang, Al Farafra.
What do Digital Nomads do?
Most Digital Nomads benefit of the web and of arbitrage to get a life-style most of the people can only dream about
But all that glitters isn’t gold, because ⤵
What are the main problems for a Digital Nomad?
- Wi-fi quality abroad
- Keeping safe
- Visa extensions
- International banking
- Medical insurance 365
- Keep in touch with loved ones
- Sentimental life mess
- Working in noisy environment
- Keep working routine while away
- Keep fit
- Nobody understands you, so your friends find yourself to be other DN
- Getting paid abroad
- Credit cards
- Having pets
- Wasting time rather than working when in the Coworking spaces
- Travel work balance
- Tax residency choice
Digital Nomads and technology
Digital Nomads believe to know a lot about the web and whatever technology is bringing us.
Very often they’re right and they are a lot ahead of times.
This may be because travelling makes you receptive to listen and to learn.
”Digital Nomads are early adopters and out-of-the-comfort-zone walkers”
Apple computer is on the brink of boom? Early adopters were there already (this may be a stereotype that i love…).
CouchSurfing is trending? Nah. They were already traveling free on CS 10 years ago.
And so on..
We all have friends who are early adopters, but please don’t confuse them with the boring “tech fans” cueing out the Apple store for the newest mobile. Real early adopters and DN would get very upset if you do.
So, if you would like to know what’s trending don’t ask Google. Ask a DN.
Digital Nomads & their crypto-obsession
When you work on the web, you travel a lot and you get to understand about the coolest next-things regularly before others, you may get a distorted view of some subjects.
When the Bitcoin broke the 5k level wall in 2017 a “digital gold rush” started.
Many other new cryptocurrencies began to compete and price was skyrocketing.
Everybody was happy.
As a trader, I was to be amazed to see the new army of forex traders and wannabe crypto expert that emerged in that period.
Since Digital Nomads are the most up-to-date people of the planet they have heard of Bitcoin since 2009.
This caused a huge Fear of Missing Out.
There was a brand new technology they already heard about (blockchain) and now they wanted to be among the first to make money out of it… and they virtually did.
From what I was reading on the communities in that period plenty of Digital Nomads invested in Cryptos successfully.
Great money making ideas took life within the few months following that rush:
- Some advanced DN started trading Cryptos
- Other even smarter prepared to sell courses on “how to take a position in cryptos”
- Brand new affiliate on Forex trading and CFDs were booming
- Bitcoin mining popped up
And so on..
But then most of the cryptos lost value within the following months and most investors weren’t ready to manage to exit on time and bear the stress of being potentially losing money.
There was a dumb silence on the Bitcoin subject.
The contagion was also fault of two other reasons.
The BIAS was caused by:
- I am a DN, i do know how the web works
- I am a DN, i do know a way to exploit online activities
- I am a DN i do not just like the old banking industry
…ergo, I certainly have the skills to trade cryptos ..or hold it ..or spend it ..or whatever is best on behalf of me .
Everyone wanted Bitcoins and cryptos, but only a few knew why and what to do with it.
- No target price
- No time horizon
- No market ready for it
As I said before, I really like Digital Nomads and i feel very close to them.
What surprised me was how, smart and experienced web professionals would have believed to be ready to play and win it the most competitive markets ever invented. The financial and forex markets.
Working in SEO is competitive, to be a marketer you’ve got to be competitive, job marketplaces are competitive, but believe me, the financial markets are pure madness.
It’s good to know that cryptocurrencies:
- Represent the 0,0-nothing% of the investment opportunities out there
- Are extremely risky
- Could be worth zero in the future (unlike other assets)
- Are extremely volatile (only experts and mentally challenged people can withstand high volatility)
I fell in love with bitcoin, so I’m gonna invest in cryptocurrencies
Here is the second BIAS many DN experienced from what i was able to observe.
If last year I’d have asked to Bitcoin fans: “Why does one want to own Bitcoins”?
Most of the answers were: “Because blockchain is the future and someday the world will use Bitcoin rather than dollars”.
So, people were taken with with the concept of a decentralized currency and wanted to investing it to support the idea but also to make money out of it.
The investment strategy was:
- “buy and hold”
- with a spoon of “see what happens”
- plus a touch of : “let’s do some trading”…
There was no previous study of the price patterns or whatever would have given a rather more scientific way to forecast the longer term price change, if the goal was taking advantage of selling it at a better price.
In addition to this, cryptos don’t distribute dividends or any other benefit to the holders.
Taxation may be a nightmare…or not a problem at all for some.
”Being in love with an idea is extremely dangerous when it comes to investing”
When we fall in love with an idea we’ll naturally be led to think that this idea will conquer the market, even when this can be not true or not yet true.
The 4 old ways to take advantage of the crypto-boom:
- Buy cryptos low and sell it high (trading)
- Buy and hold ( …how long for? Hoping that at some point we’ll wake up rich ..if we sell it)
- Mine Bitcoins (not every country is good for this)
- Start your own ICO (Initial Coin Offering)
Not many of the people i know have the required skills to do one of the above things. Not even if they’re Digital Nomads.
Digital Nomads investing BIAS
When I went on YouTube to write down this post and see what was the main video content about “Digital Nomads” I knew i might have found something valuable for my search.
This is the foremost significant / most viewed video on Digital Nomads on YT:
The smart girl in the video has an enviable lifestyle.
She is an influencer and says many interesting about overworking and being aligned with her true purpose in life.
She does what she likes to do and she performs very well because of this.
She also mentioned one smart thing (from a DN point of view) that is planning to become fiscally resident in Cyprus.
Other observations on investing were “not so balanced” from my boring point of view.
- Investing in an organic coconut farm in Colombia
- Pouring some money in startups and small companies
- Buy a property in Panama to apply for dual citizenship (..only residency is allowed)
She did not specify how much of her total assets are about to be invested that way.
The first two are high-risk activities that should not represent more than 5% of a normal portfolio, even if an aggressive one.
Panama is still a convenient country to buy apartments to rent and I know people who did it successfully. The price to rent ratio in Panama City is 11,29 so it can still be convenient (below 15 is ok).
The issue with real estate and small investors is diversification. If most of one investor money goes into one apartment in a single frontier market country I’d say it may not be a very balanced choice.
The cool guy in the video says he runs a rather frugal lifestyle so if he will make enough money with cryptos he co-buy some land in Asia and will start a hostel or a coworking somewhere.
Beware, I am not judging the choices, nor the people. I am only making a boring analysis from a long term investor point of view, I don’t have enough data and I may be wrong.
Digital Nomads retirement plan is on F.i.r.e.
When one does not pay the social security in his home country (or in some specific place) he will probably not get a fabulous retirement check.
Unfortunately even if one is contributing steadily may not get that much, but this is another story.
The best way to retire DIY is:
If this commitment is started very early in life it can bring to huge rewards.
Retirement is subjective. What’s retirement?
Retirement may be to be able to stop working and spend less of what one is earning without active work. So one can retire at any age.
The key problem is to lower the expenses by living in a low-cost country and build a reasonable safety net to deal with the unexpected.
Another option is to earn more money and save even more, but incredibly this is very difficult to achieve while living in a first-world country.
This knowledge is at the base of the brilliant F.I.R.E. movement.
Where do Digital Nomads pay tax?
If you live as a DN you might enjoy becoming a fiscally perpetual traveller!
If you design your life so that you’re not the legal resident of any of the countries in which you spend most of your time you may become a PT.
When one is a perpetual traveller, so he doesn’t stay more than 183 days per year in any specific country, in theory, he might try to detach from any fiscal/legal/obligation.
This statement needs to be proved, and as a matter of fact, most perpetual travellers end up getting residency in countries like Thailand, UAE, Georgia where tax is zero or almost zero.
Tax is a main worry for most digital nomads I am not a tax consultant but I know some websites that share information about it.
Invest like a funkin’ digital nomad
If I were a DN and I was wandering how to invest, I would follow some common sense and apply some known rules like any other investor.
Even if I am “very digital” maybe my investment style doesn’t necessarily have to be “too digital”.
Yes, investing take some effort, but it is worth it.
Real estate for Digital Nomads
In general, people are obsessed with buying properties as a solid investment, but this is not easy to achieve for a perpetual traveller.
Two options are available to those DN obsessed with real estate investing:
Check out the most popular options for real estate crowdfunding available for international investors.
The one I like the most is EstateGuru (12% year).
One more clever option is building co-working spaces.
If I’d chose to invest in a residence as a DN I’d prefer to do it where it will be easy to rent it out the time I won’t be there. Even better if I could rely on the help of some trusted locals.
Since working from home is lonely and not efficient for many, co-working spaces may be skyrocketing soon also out of the classic Digital Nomads HUBS.
What’s the next trend?
Emerging DN destinations are: Palma de Mallorca, Cape Town, Tarifa, Budapest, Koh Phangan, Rome, Canggu, Phnom Penh, Tbilisi.
It can be wise to ride the trend of a world where more and more Digital Nomads will travel, live, work, invest and trive.
Stock market for DN
As I said, being a DM does not mean to be able to trade securities.
Trading is an art that needs time, passion, testing and knowledge to be achieved.
The easiest way to invest in stocks long term and lower the risk is learning how to do it from Vanguard founder, Mr Bogle.
Social Lending for Digital Nomads
This is one of my best options especially for the low-manteinance needed.
Social Lending is booming but I still find it convenient for my needs.
Peer to peer lending is all about the oldest way to make money with money: by borrowing it.
The latest technologies made the operation of borrowing and lending directly rather simple today.
Rates starts from 8% on yearly basis. P2P lending is a very “digital” activity but it cannot be the only investment, not even for a Digital Nomad.
Many DN support a sustainable living and care about the world as one entity.
This is great, but why not to make some profit while supporting ESG?
- Trine.com is for investing in solar power off-grid in emerging countries
- Lendahand.com is crowdfunding tool used by entrepreneurs in developing countries. They pay good interest and fight poverty at the same time
- Kiva.org is a no profit business loans platform ( but I love to mention it)
Don’t know where to start?
Some examples of social lending for a better world?
Well, this is not for every DN out there, but it is a new and profitable activity. It is somewhere between investing and working.
As you already know, profitable websites, data and digital assets are the new gold.
I invest in data-centers for example, since it easy to forecast that there will be more need of data space in a near future.
- Go to websites marketplaces
- Scan the websites on offer
- Find something that fits your taste/knowledge
- Make sure you can improve it
- Make an offer to buy it
- Renovate and improve UX and profitability
- Keep it or sell it
It is a dangerous activity but if you work online and you are specialized in building or marketing other people business, it may be a good time to start checking if you can buy and flip some small online business.
Where NOT to invest as a DN
As a Digital Nomad I’d avoid to make things too complex.
I’d avoid focusing my investments on small business abroad if I am not able to assess the risk properly or if I don’t have someone that does it for me.
Beware also of insurances. Most of this products mix investment, retirement and LTC.
I have found myself involved in small projects in frontier countries but believe me, even if we know people there and we trust them it is still extremely dangerous and the chances of losing money are high.
When a financial product is too complex, it is very sure that it is not good or that it is too expensive.
Keep in mind that not having a LTC in some countries may be devastating for your finances.
It is better to ask for help and make an informed decision. Or to avoid.
Another very good idea is to save as much as possible and invest as much as possible.
I always thought that it can be dangerous to rely entirely on our active work for living. It is always a good time to start building a safety net (the bigger the better) on a separate bank account that we don’t use for daily activities.
During our lives it is very normal that our wages or our hourly rate will grow over time.
The trick is not to rise the expenses accordingly, but to rise our savings rate to the maximum….and invest properly.
Written by Salvo, a traveller with 75+ stamps in his passport, that has been a profitable trader 37+ months in row. Originally published at Revenue Land.