How This Digital Nomad Balances Her Career and Traveling the World

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Wouldn’t you love to make money while traveling the world?

That’s exactly the lifestyle Nicole Fu set up for herself. With her remote career, Nicole works online from various corners of the globe.

As a successful — and self-taught — full stack marketer, Nicole partners with a variety of tech startups. At the same time, she’s visited over 30 countries and counting.

Learn what Nicole has to say about the benefits and challenges of this lifestyle, along with her advice for aspiring working nomads.

How Nicole became a digital nomad

Nicole was coming up on five years living in Montreal when she got the itch to travel. Fascinated by the idea of working from anywhere, she daydreamed about remote careers.

When her cash-crunched tech startup starting laying people off, she took it as a sign to make the leap. Nicole bought a one-way ticket to Singapore and started marketing for companies online.

Nicole is a full stack marketer, meaning she offers services in the sales, creative, and technical sides of marketing. She helps with social media, business development, copywriting, analytics, HTML, and CSS, among other areas.

Plus, Nicole took an Adobe PhotoShop course to learn graphic design. By expanding her skill set, she’s been able to stand out from the sea of marketers and secure steady work.

“For me, [developing my career] is about being bold and jumping in the deep end, which forces you to learn and grow,” Nicole says. In addition to marketing, she also writes about working remotely on her blog.

How ‘geo-arbitrage’ helped Nicole get started

Once Nicole moved her work online, she says “the pressure was on to build repeatable, scalable income.” She spent much of 2016 in Asia, taking advantage of geo-arbitrage to build up her savings.

Geo-arbitrage, a concept popularized by Tim Ferriss in “The 4-Hour Workweek,” involves taking advantage of the economic differences between two locations. Nicole was earning money in a strong currency and living somewhere where her money went far.

Because her cost of living was so low, Nicole was able to establish herself as a working nomad. Today, she’s back in Canada and preparing to spend the next year traveling and working around Europe.

Why she loves the digital nomad lifestyle

For Nicole, the ability to work from anywhere is all about freedom and flexibility. “I love not setting an alarm [and] setting my own schedule,” she says.

She might fit her day around a yoga class or meet up with friends mid-day for coffee. If she wants to work for half a day before visiting an art gallery, she’s able to do that, no matter the time. “Remote work gives you the ability to have great work-life balance,” she says.

Plus, she’s driven by an urge to see the world. “If you’re at a regular job with two to three weeks off a year,” Nicole says, “you’d only be able to visit one to two new cities a year.” For her, that limited vacation time wasn’t enough.

She prefers to travel slowly, spend a lot of time in one place, and immerse herself in the culture. By moving her work online, Nicole can stay in one place for however long she wants before moving on to the next country.

Challenges of working nomads

But working nomads also have their fair share of challenges. If you’re entirely reliant on the internet, a shaky connection could derail your day.

Finding good Wi-Fi has been one of the biggest challenges for Nicole as she travels. In Australia and Laos, she struggled to find hotels or cafes with reliable internet connections.

Once during a visit to Alcatraz, she had to take an important call from a client. They had trouble hearing each other over the wind and screaming kids in the background.

Besides finding work-friendly spaces, taking time off is also a challenge. “Because I’m my own boss, I’m always working,” says Nicole.

She doesn’t typically take vacations or sick days. Even though she gets the chance to explore the world, Nicole doesn’t ever feel “truly on vacation” as she would with a traditional job.

Keeping track of your finances is key

When constantly changing locations, your expenses will go up and down. To track her spending, Nicole relies on the money management app Mint.

Mint gives Nicole an overview of her finances by monitoring her credit cards and bank accounts. She can keep tabs on her income growth. Plus, she sets savings goals, whether for an emergency fund or a trip to Cuba.

Nicole also used the app Trail Wallet when traveling in Asia. Since a lot of her transactions were in cash, she manually inputted them into the app.

By keeping careful track of her income and expenses, Nicole was able to become her own boss. Plus, she could see exactly what steps she needed to grow her net worth.

Anyone can start working remotely

Remote careers are more popular than ever. In fact, over 43 percent of workers spend at least part of the week working remotely, according to a recent Gallup poll.

You don’t necessarily need to change your career to move it online either. “You can become location independent with whatever skills you currently have,” says Nicole.

Web development skills are in high demand, but they’re not the only ones that let you telecommute. Nicole recommends the website Clarity, where anyone from doctors to lawyers can offer their expertise and get paid by the minute.

Or you can share your knowledge in a certain area. “If you have a passion for gardening, painting, whatever it may be, you can create an online course on that subject matter, write an eBook, offer consulting sessions over Skype, [or] build a niche website,” Nicole says.

Finally, you can search for a telecommute job from a website like We Work Remotely or FlexJobs. Whether you work in education, human resources, or customer support, you can find opportunities for remote careers.

If you can balance your working hours as you travel, you can join the group of working nomads like Nicole. Even though her path may be unconventional, Nicole loves the freedom of working online. “I have this one life,” she says. “And it’s mine.”

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1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
2.57% – 5.87%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.80% – 6.38%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 7.52%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 7.99%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.57% – 6.65%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.17%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.