While some workers are starting to return to the office this year, others have been given the opportunity to work from home indefinitely. Twitter, Dropbox, TUSEN, and many other tech companies will allow employees to move completely or almost completely remotely, freeing them from commutes and crowded elevators.
Yet what are the travel options and the realities if you are now working remotely? Should you become a digital nomad? Moving to a new city or staying put? Is it really possible to work in a hammock on the beach, or does it get uncomfortable?
Many new remote workers are excited and overwhelmed by the options. Here we outline five important considerations to keep in mind when taking the next step to working remotely while traveling (or not).
1. Should you stay or should you go?
If your work is remote, are you automatically a digital nomad? Not necessarily. Typically, digital nomads don’t have a specific home and bounce from place to place in search of cheap accommodation and fast Wi-Fi. As a digital nomad myself, I can tell you that most of us spend uninstagrammable time in our parents’ house.
One of the first things to consider once your job gets far away is where you want to live and how often you want to travel. At one end of the spectrum is complete digital nomadism. On the other hand, stay exactly where you are. And in between, a myriad of hybrid options, including:
Slow Madism: Rather than constantly moving, some remote workers take longer, spending long periods of time in each location. This can be a great way to start, as it allows you to explore and get to know the pace of life in each destination.
Original base: Even remote workers who call themselves “digital nomads” often have a home base to return to between trips. This offers some convenience, but also a lot of potential expense.
Snowbirding: Although generally attributed to well-tanned retirees, the term “snowbird” refers to anyone who migrates to warmer climates for the winter. Whether you are driving in a VR or take a flight to Mexico, this is an attractive option for remote workers looking for vitamin D.
The big challenge with each option is to find a balance between quality of life and costs. For example, keeping a household base means you can keep your stuff, but it can also get expensive. And renting furnished accommodation as a nomad can be more expensive than you might think.
Each situation is unique. If you already own your home, you may be able to use it as a base of residence and rent it while traveling. If you are renting, you may need to stay put or move out completely. Get out the spreadsheets, get creative, and set a budget that works for you.
2. What about taxes?
It’s not the most exciting aspect of working remotely, but taxes are an important and often overlooked factor in deciding where and how to live. Local and state taxes differ so much that they can affect the cost of living in a particular area just as much as the cost of transportation or housing.
For example, the cost of living in Minneapolis and Austin, Texas is roughly equal, according to TUSEN Calculator. Yet that ignores state income tax, which runs at 6.8% in Minnesota for an individual earning $ 100,000 per year and 0% in Texas. That’s a difference of $ 6,800 per year, or $ 566 per month, enough to have a significant impact on your budget.
Additionally, the tax rules for nomads bouncing between locations are extremely complex, varying from state to state. Be sure to consult a tax professional if you plan to work in many states in a single year.
3. Can you live abroad?
Living on the beach in Thailand has been the dream of digital nomads for decades, but can you swing it? And you want it?
The biggest advantage of living in another country is the reduction in the cost of living. After enjoying a banh mi in Saigon for $ 1, it’s hard to get back to US prices. And for those who can earn a salary in the United States, living elsewhere can be a financial dream come true.
Yet working remotely while traveling abroad comes with many complexities and important considerations. From tax rules (which vary by country) to visa considerations, it’s not as easy as packing a bag and leaving the country.
Also, your job might not allow it. Be sure to check with your HR team before you expatriate, as many companies require their employees to stay in certain countries for administrative reasons. Plus, it can be difficult to work collaboratively when you are 12 hours ahead of your coworkers.
4. Do you have to move to a cheaper location?
Surf in Zillow is the waste of time of the day. For workers who have been stranded in expensive cities because of their work, it can be tempting to see how much you could afford in other cities.
“If we move to Akron, we can buy a mansion!”
But don’t let the cost of housing guide your entire decision. Usually, cheaper places are cheaper for a reason, and buying a dream home in a random city isn’t necessarily a recipe for happiness. Consider spending some time as a “slo-mad” in a cheap city before you move there.
5. What do you like?
This is the last consideration on our list, but it really is the most important. Remote working offers options, and which option you choose will depend on what you enjoy. Do you want to be close to the family? Or to friends? Do you want to live on the cheap and retire early? Or do you want to make the most of the money you earn now and live in a vibrant, vibrant city?
Many people never have to face these questions. They just live close to their work and get the most out of it. Shifting to a distant mindset can – and should – prompt tough questions about what matters to you and how you will build your life to maximize those values.
Remember: very few decisions are permanent and you can always try something new and turn the tide. Try experimenting one variable at a time (for example, if you want to keep a permanent home) and see what works and what doesn’t.
The bottom line
The pandemic has changed many aspects of daily life, ranging from the mundane to the monumental. And if your job has given you the opportunity to work from home permanently, you have the opportunity to change the very structure of your life – or not.
Romantic notions of working remotely while traveling aside, there are several important financial considerations to keep in mind when planning the next step. If you want to travel more, make sure you don’t pay the rent or mortgage twice at home. Make sure you understand the tax implications whether you are staying in the United States or moving abroad. Don’t let the cost of living dictate your entire decision, and be sure to maximize your personal values.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
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