By 2035 there will be over 1 billion digital nomads. Covid19 demonstrated to the world that working remotely in Mexico is for more people than freelancers and entrepreneurs. Now 82 percent of US companies are planning to allow remote working after Covid19. That’s a huge opportunity for many more people to become digital nomads. But if you’re not a digital nomad yet, or haven’t been working remotely in Mexico before what do you need to know? We identify 15 essential tips for you get the most out of being a digital nomad.
Digital nomads are remote workers who travel. Often to different places. Perhaps spending 3 months or so at a time in a place before moving on. For the majority, as long as they have good wifi they can work wherever. Be it from a café, a library, their front room, or a beach bar.
Digital nomads traditionally were freelancers, entrepreneurs, and the self-employed. And they’d often fall into two distinct age ranges. Most were either in the 25-35 age range, often with no kids. Or they were in the 50-65 age range. This latter group was largely semi-retired and their kids have grown up, allowing them the opportunity to travel.
But now that’s all changed. Covid19 has demonstrated that most people can work remotely in Mexico. So many more people can become digital nomads. For example, one recent study found that more than one-third of jobs in the United States can be done entirely remotely. And a survey of company leaders found that 82 percent plan to offer remote work after the pandemic. So now digital nomads aren’t restricted to young freelancers. Or to semi-retired professionals and business owners. As well many people have been selling their homes in the city and buying homes in more picturesque locations because they can work remotely. But if they can work remotely in the USA or Canada, why can’t they become digital nomads and travel while they work. At least for part of the time? The number of digital nomads is about to increase dramatically. So much that by 2035 it is estimated that there will be 1 Billion remote workers. And those new to it need to know what to look for to get the most out of their travel/work time.
There are many benefits to being a digital nomad. Many digital nomads find that they don’t get caught up as much in trivial things. Being in a gorgeous place offers them the opportunity to explore and have more fun. Often, they are so motivated to explore their surroundings that they get their work done as quick as possible.
A lot of digital nomads cite one of the benefits is not being tied down to an office cubicle. Instead, you have a host of places you could call ‘your office’. And you can change it up every day. And there’s no commuting! Or dressing up.
Most digital nomads love the flexibility of their workday or workweek. Many working remotely in Mexico scheduled around their non-work activities. For example, often working for a few hours in the morning. Before taking time off to explore the place they are currently living in. Then going back to work later on in the evening, or on a weekend because it fits better with the things they want to do outside of work.
Another, often cited, benefit of being a digital nomad is the weather. You don’t have to be stuck in a climate with freezing temperatures for several months a year! You can instead choose to be where the sun is, enjoying a warm tropical climate, year-round.
And it’s proven that digital nomads are more creative. Neuroscientists have shown that creativity happens when you integrate unrelated concepts. And a new idea forms. This is called synaptic play. Working in different places gives you more diverse experiences and your brain creates more synapses. Which your brain can use to make more creative ideas.
Mexico has become a popular destination for digital nomads. For one it's convenient, with lots of direct flight connections. As well the time zone works well for those who have to connect with others across North America. And the climate is great year-round.
Other reasons why many digital nomads spend time in Mexico include
Most digital nomads need a quiet space to work at least for part of their working time. It is fine to work in a café, beach bar, or other crowded areas at times. But many remote workers, need a quiet space to work at least for some of the time. So, make sure that the place you rent has a quiet location and several different places to work from. These spaces could be a dedicated bedroom/office, or a quiet rooftop terrace, pool deck, or balcony.
Nowadays everyone needs reliable wifi service. For working remotely in Mexico it’s essential. And there are several good wifi providers. But the best is Telmex. Even so, you want to make sure that your wifi connection comes from a fiber optic cable into your main working space. The last thing a digital nomad needs is to stay where the wifi comes from an unreliable repeater.
While the internet connection in Mexico is either very good or improving, there are still periodic power outages. No matter where you are. So, you need to ensure that your electronic devices are protected against surges. You can go to the expense of buying your own surge protectors and installing them. But try to find rental accommodation that has installed hard-wired surge protection into the building. There aren’t many places that have. But those that do are thinking of remote workers and digital nomads. They have gone to the extra expense of installing surge protection into the rental. This can save you $$$$ by protecting your devices and more importantly your data.
If you are an original digital nomad such as a freelancer, this likely doesn’t apply to you. But if you are the new generation working remotely in Mexico then this is very important. You never know when you might need to get a flight at short notice to make an urgent meeting. So, you need to make sure you are within reach of an international airport. One with lots of direct flights to the company you work for. Having a large airport, such as Cancun International Airport 60-90 mins away can be a lifesaver. You never know when there’s an emergency meeting you have to get to. And being able to will give you, and your employer, peace of mind.
When deciding on your remote working destination take into consideration the time zone. Freelancers can pretty much work in any time zone. But if you are working for a company, they will want you to be available online during their working hours. For example, if your company is in a central time zone, it's okay to be a few hours removed. But if you decide to work remotely from Thailand, you’ll be a full 12 hours out of sync. Starting a Zoom call at midnight while your coworkers are starting at lunchtime might not be too practical. This is one reason why Mexico is so popular or North American digital nomads. For example, if you are staying in the Riviera Maya with its spectacular beaches and warm ocean, you are within a 2-3 hour difference of any time zone in North America.
While wifi connections are good and improving all the time you need to make sure you have some backup. Both for if the wifi is down, but more likely for when the power is out. So, while you likely won’t need to use it that often, make sure you have a couple of backup locations nearby. For example, is there a Starbucks where you can go and hang out? Somewhere that’s close enough to be easy to get to, but far enough not to be in the area of the outage.
Mobile plans in Mexico are inexpensive. So, you may want to get a plan with Telcel which offers good coverage across Mexico, or a similar provider. The rates are very reasonable. For a month I pay less than 200 pesos (~$9.50 US). For this, I get unlimited calls within North America, unlimited texting, and a bunch of data. If you still need to have your non-Mexico phone too, consider enquiring about forwarding your voice mails to text and email. That way you don’t pay any extra fees when people call. Your caller leaves a voice message which you get as a text and/or email. So, you can call them back within seconds using your Mexican phone plan.
One of the reasons Mexico is such a great place for digital nomads is their accommodating visa requirements. You have 2 options. The first is to enter on a tourist visa. This is valid for 180 days (6 months). And as long as you aren’t taking the job of a Mexican national, it's ok to work during your stay. So, if you’re a freelancer, or working for a company outside of Mexico, you are ok. But make sure when you enter the country that you check the tourist box on the immigration form. And you need to keep this document safe as you will need to present it again on leaving the country. If you decide to stay for longer than 6 months then you will need to leave the country and return again to get a new tourist visa. If you are staying in the Riviera Maya for instance most people drive a few hours south to Belize. Spent a day in Belize and then drive back across the border again getting a new 6-month tourist visa along the way. However, there is also a second, little-known visa option. Mexico also has a visa called ‘no lucrativo’ (non lucarative). This is a visa especially for entrepreneurs, individuals, retirees, and digital nomads. Those who can prove they can financially support themselves by living in Mexico. Sometimes it is called a ‘visa temporal’ (temporary resident visa). It allows you to live and work online in Mexico for a year. At the end of each year, you can apply again. And in the third year, you are eligible to apply for permanent residency. The advantages of the temporary residency visa are that you can have a Mexican bank account and driver’s license. And all the perks that a Mexican national can have.
As remote workers and digital nomads, we are often connected to public and semi-public wifi networks. Such as at hotels, the airport, or the local café. On these networks, anyone can gain access to your unencrypted data. To combat this install a VPN (a virtual private network). It encrypts your data and provides a secure pipe between you and the website you are connecting to. As well as encrypting your data, you can change your virtual location and IP address. And it can allow you to use apps that might be restricted in Mexico. And besides making your data connection safe you can watch streaming services. Such as Netflix, and HBO, which you might not be able to get outside of your host country. Also, certain banks won’t let you conduct some online transactions if they think you are outside their country. So a VPN can help with that too.
The last thing you want to be concerned with when you are working remotely in Mexico is your personal safety and the security of your property. Many places in Mexico are very safe, but as with any country, some areas are safer than others. The last thing you want is to have your laptop or other device stolen. So select a place to stay that is safe and secure. You can always venture out to other areas in between working. Safe in the knowledge that your belongings are safe and secure. Definitely err on the side of caution. Especially if it’s the first time you are staying in a particular area.
Many people find the cost of medical procedures or prescriptions in Mexico to be very inexpensive. So a lot of people pay for the medical expenses as they go. Unless they have a medical plan that already covers them. Yet what if you don’t have insurance coverage and you’d rather not pay as you go? This was an especially important question during Covid19 as quite a few travel insurance policies didn’t cover it. But there are insurance policies created for digital nomads. One such policy called Nomad Insurance by Safetywing also includes coverage for Covid19. And covers you in any country in the world. Make sure you decide how you are going to cover any medical expenses you incur before you travel.
Another consideration in where you decide to travel to while working, is the access to business services. For example, what if you need to print and courier several reports to people as part of your work. Is there a reliable printer, and courier service nearby? Think about the business services you might need from time to time and make sure you have access to them. That’s one of the reasons the Riviera Maya is such a popular place for people working remotely in Mexico. It has access to Playa Del Carmen or Tulum, both of which have Staples and others business services.
It can be exhilarating to think of all the places you can travel to in a short space of time while working remotely. But many digital nomads realize that moving every week or two isn’t sustainable. The upheaval of moving so frequently often results in unnecessary stress. And poorer work performance. As well you often don’t get to see that much of your destination to truly explore it. So many digital nomads pick a destination and stay for at least a month. Then often extend their stay for a few months more before moving on to the next destination.
For some digital nomads it's really important to go to destinations where there are thriving ex-pat communities. In many parts of Mexico, there are ex-pat communities such as this one for ladies only in Playa Del Carmen. These are often places where you can find like-minded people who will help you integrate into the local area. These are especially good if you don’t speak, and don’t want to learn a lot of Spanish. You can find a support network to help you integrate and ease your transition to your new location.
Lastly when choosing a destination to begin, or continue your digital nomad life, consider the weather. Mexico has great weather. But not all parts of Mexico have great weather all the time. Places such as Akumal have a year-round consistent tropical climate. Where the temperature only changes a few degrees throughout the entire year. While it is often 26 C (79 F) in the Riviera Maya in December and January, it can be only 5 C (41 F) in Mexico City. And the state of Tabasco has 2,400 mm of rain a year. That’s over twice that of the Riviera Maya.
So now you’re all set to be a digital nomad. Working remotely in Mexico will be a breeze if you follow our 15 tips on how to get the most out of being a digital nomad. And if the Riviera Maya interests you as a destination check out Travel and Work Remotely in the Riviera Maya. Make sure you ask about the apartments specially designed for digital nomads.
About Our Blog
Exploring The Riviera Maya is Ocean Breeze Akumal's Blog. Here we explore the diversity of Mexico's best tourism destination to highlight the best beaches, cenotes, restaurants, attractions, Mayan ruins, etc., etc. We provide information to help you explore this spectacular part of the world and give you tips and tricks that only the locals know. Helping to give you the vacation experience of a lifetime.
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