How to invest like a digital nomad

Invest like a Digital Nomad revenue land

Digital Nomads often feel smarter than the average population but

…when it comes to investing they have “a bug”

➕ How should a Digital Nomad invest his money?

How many Digital Nomads are planning their retirement?


If you are a Digital Nomad and you don’t know how to invest your easy-earned money (..was it hard? hmmm) YOU are reading the right post.
I will warn you about a terrible Digital Nomad’s BIAS and I will tell you what I would do if I were in your ..flip-flops!
Call it unwanted advice…

Why do I care about investing like a Digital Nomad

My “worries” about how Digital Nomads face investment issues and retirement started two years ago.
Why should I care?
I am part of many Digital Nomads communities online and offline because I believe it’s cool people and that most of the content they share is valuable from many points of view.
I’ve been traveling a lot, something like 75 countries so far, so I have experienced many “nomadic problems” first-hand.
I am also rather “digital” since most of my work and some of my passions are related to the web world.
⚠️ But beware!
This does not make me a true digital nomad in the true sense of the word, since I have an address, even if I am often on-the-road.
I like to have a place to call “home” lately but I consider this a romantic weakness rather than a cool thing.
Are you a Digital Nomad?
Are you sure?
My Travel MAP:
my travel map
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 take advantage of the web and of arbitrage to get a lifestyle most people can only dream about

But all that glitters is not gold, because ⤵


What are the main problems for a Digital Nomad?

  1. Loneliness

  2. Keep in touch with loved ones

  3. Sentimental life mess

  4. Parenting

  5. Having pets

  6. Tax residency choice

  7. Wi-fi quality abroad

  8. Keeping safe

  9. Visa extensions

  10. International banking

  11. Medical insurance 365

  12. Working in noisy environment

  13. Keep working routine while away

  14. Keep fit

  15. FOMO

  16. Nobody understands you, so your friends end up to be other DN

  17. Getting paid abroad

  18. Credit cards

  19. Wasting time instead of working when in the Coworking spaces

  20. Travel work balance

Here is a list of the most common sources of frustration for DN.
Please add more issues in the comments below if you have any!

Digital Nomads and technology

Digital Nomads believe to know a lot about the web and whatever technology is bringing us.

Very often they are right and they are ahead of times.

This is because travelling makes you open to listen and to learn.

Digital Nomads are early adopters and out-of-the-comfort-zone walkers Click To Tweet

Curiosity: If you are a marketer you know that “early adopters” is also a Facebook ADS targeting category.

Before being known as a FB ads category, Early adopters were to indicate the group of people that gets into the next big thing before others.

Apple computer is about to boom? Early adopters were there already (this is 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 latest mobile. Real early adopters and DN would get very upset if you do.

So, if you want to know what’s trending don’t ask Google. Ask a DN.


Digital Nomads & their crypto-BIAS

When you work on the internet, you travel a lot and you get to know about the coolest next things regularly before other people, you may get a distorted view of some subjects.

When the Bitcoin broke the 5k level wall in 2017 a “digital gold rush” started.

usd-btc-chart-revenueland

Many other new cryptocurrencies started to compete and price was skyrocketing. Everybody was happy.

As a trader, I was 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 world they have heard of Bitcoin since 2009. This caused a huge Fear of Missing Out.

There was a 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, because from what I was reading on the communities in that period a lot of Digital Nomads invested in Cryptos successfully.

Great money making ideas born in the few months following that rush:

  • Some advanced DN started trading Cryptos
  • Other even smarter prepared to sell courses on “how to invest 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 in the following months and most investors weren’t able 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.

Two big Digital Nomads problems would be solved the day some Crypto would become a major currency:

  1. Accepting payments in a universal currency (solving the exchange and banking issue forever)
  2. Make peace with international fiscality

The BIAS was caused by:

  1. I am a DN, I know how the web works
  2. I am a DN, I know how to profit from online activities
  3. I am a DN I don’t like the old banking system

…ergo, I certainly know how to trade cryptos ..or hold it ..or spend it ..or whatever is better for me.

Everyone wanted Bitcoins and cryptos, but very few knew why and what to do with it.

  • No target price
  • No time horizon
  • No market ready for it
  • No-thing

Big mistake.

big-mistake
Many Digital Nomads regretted investing in cryptocurrencies

 

As I said before, I love Digital Nomads and I feel very close to them.

What surprised me was how, smart and experienced web professionals would have believed to be able 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 have to be competitive, job marketplaces are competitive, but believe me, the financial markets are pure madness.

It’s good to know that cryptocurrencies:


I fell in love with bitcoin, so I’m gonna invest in them

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 do you want to have Bitcoins”?

Most of the answers were: “Because blockchain is the future and one day the world will use Bitcoin instead of dollars”.

So, people were in love with the idea 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 bit of :

“let’s do some trading”…

There was no previous study of the price patterns or whatever would have given a slightly more scientific way to forecast the future price change, if the goal was making a profit from selling it at a higher price.

In addition to this, cryptos do not distribute dividends or any other benefit to the holders.

Taxation can be a nightmare…or not a problem at all for some.

Being in love with an idea is very dangerous when it comes to investing Click To Tweet

When we fall in love with an idea we will naturally be led to think that this idea will conquer the market, even when this is not true or not yet true.

The 4 old ways to profit from the crypto-boom:

  1. Buy cryptos low and sell it high (trading)
  2. Buy and hold ( …how long for? Hoping that one day we will wake up rich ..if we sell it)
  3. Mine Bitcoins (not every country is good for this)
  4. Start your own ICO (Initial Coin Offering)

Not many of the people I know have the necessary skills to do one of the above things. Not even if they are Digital Nomads.


Digital Nomads investing BIAS

When I went on YouTube to write this post and see what was the main video content about “Digital Nomads” I knew I would have found something valuable for my search.

This is the most significant / most viewed video on Digital Nomads on YT:

Working online and traveling the world – digital nomads | DW Documentary

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.

She mentioned:

  • 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.

Digital Nomad retirement plan

The best way to retire DIY is:

  1. To save a huge slice of what you earn on a regular basis
  2. Invest it properly
  3. Let it grow

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 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.

Perpetual traveller

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.

In the Newsletter there are more details about this.


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”.
I’d start by reading some up-to-date D-I-Y guide to digital investor, I will scan through the opportunities and study the subject before making any decision.
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).

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.
Some time ago I also found this co-ownership project for DN. I have no idea if it is worth checking out.
One more clever option is building co-working spaces.
Why?
What’s the next trend?
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.
digital-nomad-best-cities
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.
Accept it.
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.
The most famous tool to invest in loans in Europe is called Mintos, but there are many great p2P platforms I am happy to use.
Rates starts from 8% on yearly basis.
p2p-lending-digital-nomad
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?
Some examples of social lending for a better world?
  • Trine.co 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?

Flipping websites

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.
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.
The strategy is simple:
  • 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

digitalnomad-business

Where are this flipping websites?

Here are some examples:

  1. Flippa
  2. Website broker
  3. eBay
  4. Trademysite
  5. Freemarket
  6. Afternic
Buying and selling domains is another activity between investing and working that can be suitable to generate profits to some DN.
How to buy and sell domains?
  1. Head to GoDaddy
  2. Register and go to GTLD search
  3. Find useful domains
  4. Check prices also on Hover
  5. Subscribe to auctions
  6. Start small, make tests
  7. Learn by doing

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.
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.
Beware also of insurances. Most of this products mix investment, retirement and LTC.
Just don’t mix.
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.
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.
Another very good idea is to save as much as possible and invest as much as possible.
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.

What are your challenges?

Are you a Digital Nomad that wants to build his financial future?
Let me know in the comments below!

3 thoughts on “How to invest like a digital nomad

  1. MichelFrance says:

    Nice read. I think I am a true DN since I travel from 19 months. I am interested in investing and saving since I didn’t think much about it so far. Most people I meet on the road are worried about their financial future.

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