The cost of living as a full-time digital nomad couple is a topic we get asked about fairly often and one I’ve long wanted to blog about in more detail.
However, we don’t keep track of out budgets and spending with fancy spreadsheets and rapt attention. Props to those that do, but it’s not something I enjoy doing nor found as a useful investment of my time. I’m more a “glance at the credit card bill at the end of the month” kind of guy.
Notes on the cost of nomad living we track
So, for the following series there are a few notes to keep in mind:
- I will never include travel between places in my average daily cost of us being somewhere. I will try to report that alongside the cost of being somewhere, but I think about those things entirely separately* and hence will report them separately
- I never include “costs back home”.
- While we don’t pay a mortgage or rent back home, we do have some of what I term “costs back home”. Those costs include insurance (health insurance, renters** two cars parked in California), credit card fees (annual fees for premium cards), nor buying random things like clothes, shoes, computers, etc… You get the point this isn’t a meticulous accounting of every dollar, euro, bhat or rupee we spend
- I’m not going to do this for every week or month of our lives, I’m so sure I’d fail at that that I’m not even setting that as a goal.
- If you’re curious about something specific, don’t be shy, just ask.
A few more notes on tracking cost of living as a digital nomad
* When people ask about the cost of living as a digital nomad they often start thinking we spend a ton of money on airfare. We don’t. In fact, I spend so little on airfare I rarely even think about it. There are a few reasons for that:
A) It’s less frequent than you’d imagine. We just don’t fly around the world every week. We fly from Los Angeles > Paris ($270 pp o/w, hang out for a month, Fly/Train to Spain ($100 pp o/w, hang out for a month, fly/train to Portugal $100 pp o/w, hang out for a month, then fly home (let’s assume $330 pp o/w). Add all that up and it’s $800 pp for 3 months, or $266 pp per month, or $8.88 pp per day for both of us.
B) When we do fly we have a LOT of leeway as to when and where, so we can carefully pick lower cost times and routes.
C) I play the “Airline Credit Card signup bonus game”, so we earn a lot of points that we can use effectively because of B above. We run most of our day to day personal expenses through our Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card. I also run a lot of my business expenses through my Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. In short, most of the time I pay for air travel with miles or points, but even when I don’t it’s almost trivial in the scheme of things because:
D) We run most of our day to day personal expenses through our Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card and I also run a lot of my business expenses through my Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. Both earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points which I can use to pay for cheap revenue (as opposed to mileage award) tickets.
** Our “Renters Insurance” through USAA insures our stuff globally and it’s cheap (under US$20 a month). You just need to have an address in the US to tie the insurance policy too. That can be anyone from family to a friend that’s willing to let you “live” there on paper.