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5 years ago I decided to become a digital nomad and it worked


It’s mid-morning on a Friday and for work today, I’m at a coffee plantation in Colombia. No, I don’t grow coffee for a living… I’m here to evaluate the plantation’s suitability as a tourist attraction. Not surprisingly, it’s excellent – there’s delicious coffee, breathtaking views, and passionate people working their craft.

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The reason I’m gauging the tour’s entertainment value is because I’ve started a travel program where people from all around the world can live together, learn to code, and explore Colombia’s natural attractions. We have just 8 months until the first class begins, so here we are doing the hard work of rating tourist attractions.

The beginning of my journey to achieving a digital nomad lifestyle.

My life wasn’t always this rosy. Just 5 years ago, I had the boring but stable desk job that my parents had always envisioned for me. It was interesting work, but there was no way I was going to sit in that cubicle for the rest of my life. I knew I had to make a change. And in that moment, I decided on the lifestyle that I wanted – to earn a living while traveling the world.

A quick self-assessment subconsciously lead me to believe that I needed to learn some new skills. There was no way in hell that my degree in Electrical Engineering was going allow me to earn money while traveling and exploring the world. So, I quit my job and began to learn new skills.

Starting to learn how to earn a living while traveling the world.

I read blog upon blog, of writers who called themselves “Digital Nomads.” I followed the success stories of marketers who had found ways to make hundreds of thousands dollars a year by teaching others internet marketing. I tried everything from SEO to PPC, blogging, and even used my engineering background to prototype a few physical products.

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I didn’t get it – everything people wrote about in their blogs made it seem so easy! Yes of course they had been doing it for longer than me, but if they were making $50,000 per month, I should at least have been able to make a percentage of that.

At the end of the year, I had managed to make a few thousand dollars online, but that was less than my living expenses for the year. I was chasing the dream that Smart Passive Income and Steve Pavlina had sold me. but it still remained elusive. But deep down I knew that I wasn’t going to get rich overnight by following the footsteps of these bloggers.

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Changing gears to make it a reality.

And that’s when I started learning to program. I followed online tutorials and asked friends for help. I practiced and practiced and eventually went to a coding bootcamp which really accelerated my learning.

Long story short, the coding bootcamp was a huge success. I ended up landing a job just a few weeks after graduating from the program, and I was earning a higher salary than I ever thought was possible in my lifetime. I even kept a daily blog during the bootcamp documenting the day-to-day details.

Learning to program gave me career success, but I was back at square one – sitting at my desk wondering if weekends and 3 weeks of vacation per year was the best life had to offer. So I saved up some money and took the plunge once again.

This time I didn’t look back.

Here I am, 9 months later. I’ve been to Chile, Peru, and am currently residing in Medellin, Colombia. I’ve worked a few freelance jobs, consulted for a tech recruiting company, and am now teaching at my coding bootcamp in Colombia.

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Bill Gates said: “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.

Nothing has been more true for me than that quote by Bill Gates. While at times I felt that nothing I was doing was working, these were simply thoughts in the heat of the moment. In the end, the big picture was that of a journey heading in the right direction for 5 years.

I did it! I became a Digital Nomad. It simply took a little longer than I thought it would.

You have to play the long game.

While I can’t attribute my success to patience, because I am utterly impatient, I can say that never lost sight of what I set out to do. This kept me going, and while at times I had to take a few steps backwards to make progress forwards, in the end it all worked out.

Most importantly, I couldn’t have done it without surrounding myself with people on a similar journey. At the coding bootcamp, I made lifelong friends with other people who weren’t afraid to change their careers. On the road, I’ve met Digital Nomads from around the world who continue to inspire me to keep going even when times get tough. In the end, the friends I’ve made along this journey have been crucial for success, and in fact, are the reason it’s all been worth it.

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Written by Andrew Wong

Andrew Wong is a Digital Nomad who found success in web development after failing to earn a living from writing, marketing, and eCommerce. In addition to freelance web development, he now teaches at Destination: Dev, a travel abroad coding bootcamp where students learn the web development skills to launch their own nomadic journeys.