Cost Comparison of Nomadic Lifestyles

By Kate

Ever wonder what the actual cost of a life on the move is? You’re certainly not alone in that. Many of us daydream about breaking free from the routine 9-5, picturing ourselves exploring far-flung corners of the world with nothing but a laptop and backpack for company.

Yet there’s always that lingering doubt – such freedom must surely come at a considerable expense, mustn’t it?.

Indeed, we’ve found ourselves pondering whether dreams of globetrotting are merely fantasies for those without substantial means. Nevertheless, after delving into extensive research (and yes, spending more time than we’d like to admit watching international nomad vlogs), we stumbled across some rather surprising information.

For instance—were you aware that between 2013-2019, the average monthly expenditure for living this coveted lifestyle was around $2,700 US? With revelations like these at our disposal, our objective became crystal clear: To dispel myths and illuminate real costs involved.

Through sharing narratives from personal experiences combined with pragmatic advice—we aim to show you how managing your finances whilst indulging in worldwide adventures is indeed possible.

Fancy discovering some revelations? Read on!

Key Takeaways

  • People living a nomadic lifestyle spent around $2,700 US per month on average from 2013 to 2019. This shows that travelling the world may not be as expensive as some may think.
  • Costs can vary significantly depending on where you choose to live and travel. In Southeast Asia, for example, you can find meals for $1 and accommodation for about $200 a month, which is much cheaper than Western Europe.
  • Managing finances wisely by using budget trackers and staying longer in one place (slow travel) helps reduce costs significantly – making nomadic life more affordable.
  • Frequent movement increases expenses. By opting for regional travel and less frequent relocations, nomads can save money on transportation.
  • Nomads fund their lifestyles through various means including remote work, freelancing, entrepreneurship, and generating passive income streams. These options offer the flexibility needed to explore while earning.

Understanding Nomadic Lifestyle

Jumping straight into the heart of our adventure, let’s unravel what a nomadic lifestyle really means. Picture this: swapping your static home for the world as your backyard, where every sunrise could greet you in a different city or even country.

It’s living on the go, embracing flexibility like it’s going out of fashion. We’re talking about making remote work and location-independent jobs our bread and butter. Fancy having an office by the beach today and maybe by a bustling city cafe tomorrow? That’s our reality.

We thrive on not just seeing but living in various cultures – tasting exotic foods that cost us as little as $1 a meal, finding accommodations that won’t break the bank (yes, we’ve found places for $200 a month), and proving wrong anyone who thinks you need to be made of money to live this life.

The average monthly spend? About $2,700 US per month from 2013-2019 — far from millionaire territory! Each day brings new faces, experiences, and maybe the odd challenge (like trying to find decent Wi-Fi in remote locations) – but isn’t that part of the fun?.

Factors that Influence Nomadic Living Costs

Ever wandered into a posh café, laptop in tow, ready to embrace the digital nomad life, only to find your wallet weeping at the prices? Turns out, where you choose to roam and how swanky you want your lifestyle can really shake up your bank balance.

Regional Cost Differences

Prices can swing wildly from one region to another, like a pendulum that can’t decide where to stop. In Southeast Asia, for instance, we’ve found treasures in the form of $1 meals and accommodation that barely scratches $200 a month.

Talk about living the dream on a shoestring! This starkly contrasts with our jaunts through Western Europe where the cost of living had us clutching our wallets in despair. A simple coffee there could set you back more than an entire day’s expenses in Vietnam.

We’ve learned to pivot our plans based on regional cost differences – an essential strategy for sustaining this lifestyle without breaking the bank. Swapping out Parisian café au laits for Vietnamese pho hasn’t just saved us money; it’s enriched our experiences and filled our lives with unexpected adventures.

It’s astonishing how these financial assessments become second nature, guiding us towards decisions that keep us exploring longer.

Lifestyle Preferences

We all have our quirks and comforts, right? Choosing a nomadic lifestyle means we get to decide what those are on the move. Some of us love fancy meals while others are happy with street food costing around $1.

It’s all about preferences, which heavily dictate how much cash we’re parting with monthly. Imagine spending only $200 on accommodation because you prefer a minimalist approach, living in smaller spaces or even sharing rooms.

Now, onto the thrill of moving from place to place – frequency of travel kicks in as another crucial factor shaping our expenses.

Frequency of Travel

Talking about lifestyle preferences, it’s like choosing between chocolate and vanilla – everyone has a favourite. But then comes the frequency of travel, a whole new flavour to consider.

Travelling often seems like part of the nomadic DNA, right? Jetting off here today, there tomorrow. It sounds thrilling but hits the wallet in ways you might not expect.

The more we move, the more we spend. Simple maths. Frequent flights, buses, or train tickets add up quickly. Imagine zipping across continents every month—the adventure screams loudly but so does the expense tracker without even mentioning those last-minute bookings during peak seasons (ouch).

Now picture this: settling down for a bit longer in each spot could actually be our secret weapon against high costs. Less frequent travels mean fewer expenses on the go and deeper cultural immersion—win-win!

Initial Costs Involved in Adopting a Nomadic Lifestyle

Diving into the nomadic lifestyle? Prepare your wallets, folks – there are a few upfront costs we need to chat about. First off, there’s gear. Think lightweight but durable; from backpacks that can survive a cyclone to gadgets that keep you connected on the go.

It’s all about quality over quantity here, lest you end up with a broken strap in the middle of nowhere or a dead phone with no power outlet in sight. And let’s not forget travel insurance – because while living on the edge has its thrills, being prepared for anything is our mantra.

Next up, getting from A to B isn’t free. Whether it’s booking those initial flights or securing transport for the first leg of our journey, these expenses add up quicker than sand through an hourglass.

Plus, settling visa fees and having some emergency cash means less sweating over unexpected bumps along the road. Now with bags packed and spirits high – what comes after setting off into this adventure? Well, ongoing expenses of nomadic life await us around the corner!

Ongoing Expenses of Nomadic Life

Just when you thought your wallet could take a breather, think again – the nomadic life has its own set of bills to pay. From dodging pricey hotels like a game of financial Tetris to hunting down that elusive cheap plate of food, every day is an adventure in budgeting.

Accommodation Costs

Finding a place to lay your head at night doesn’t have to empty your wallet. In fact, accommodation might be the sneakiest way to save big. Imagine this: A cosy room for $200 a month or a bed under the stars—okay, maybe not literally under the stars, but you get what we’re driving at.

With the world as our backyard, who says you need to spend heaps? We’ve stumbled upon places where meals cost merely a dollar. Makes you think twice about that fancy latte, doesn’t it?.

Travelling from one corner of the globe to another shakes things up, especially with travel expenses waiting just around the bend. Ah, but don’t let that deter you; we’ve got some tricks up our sleeves and stories to tell that’ll make navigating those costs seem like a breeze—or at least more manageable than you’d imagine.

Travel Expenses

Travel expenses can surprise you – in both good and bad ways. One day, we’re splurging on a last-minute flight deal that feels like winning the lottery, next thing you know, we’re coughing up cash for unexpected baggage fees.

It’s a wild ride! Keeping track of all these costs is crucial. We use budget trackers to ensure our adventures don’t turn into financial nightmares. Let’s face it, no one dreams of spending their evenings combing through credit card statements.

Moving from place to place also means constantly adjusting our travel strategies. Sometimes, opting for slower transportation options not only saves money but offers us breathtaking views we would’ve missed at 35,000 feet in the air.

Sure, there are moments when spending extra on convenience seems worth it – until we remember that awesome street food meal that cost less than a dollar and was way more memorable than any taxi ride.

Speaking of food..

Food Expenditure

After sorting out our travel expenses, we turn our attention to food expenditure. Here’s the deal: eating while on the move doesn’t have to drain your wallet. We’ve found meals for as low as $1 — yes, you heard that right.

Picture this: a steaming bowl of noodles from a street vendor in Bangkok or a hearty empanada from a market in Buenos Aires, all without breaking the bank.

We often cook our own meals too. Local markets are treasure troves of fresh ingredients and unique flavours, offering both a cultural experience and budget-friendly options. This way, we not only save money but also get to experiment with local recipes—oh, the joy of cooking something new under the stars!

Choosing wisely can make food costs manageable, even exciting. It turns out that splurging occasionally on that irresistible gelato in Rome or mouth-watering sushi in Tokyo adds spice to our nomadic life without emptying our pockets completely.

Each bite becomes part of the adventure—a delicious reminder that exploring global cuisines is an integral part of living nomadically.

Insurance Costs

Insurance costs sneak up on us, like that friend who always says they’re just around the corner but shows up an hour late. Health, travel, and equipment insurance become our shadowy companions on this nomadic journey.

For us explorers hopping from one country to another, health insurance often morphs into a global plan. And let’s not forget – these aren’t your run-of-the-mill policies. They promise worldwide cover but at a price that makes our wallets wince.

We dive into the world of travel insurance with a mix of hope and scepticism. It’s like buying peace of mind – or so we tell ourselves as we click through terms filled with more twists than a mountain road.

Then there’s equipment insurance because, apparently, laptops and cameras decide to take unscheduled leaps of faith off tables in far-off lands.

But here’s the kicker – managing these costs doesn’t have to feel like navigating a minefield while blindfolded. With some savvy shopping and comparing plans like it’s Black Friday every day, we find deals that don’t break the bank.

It turns out; flexibility is key, not just in where we go or what we see but in how we manage those pesky yet crucial insurance bills.

Financial Flexibility and Management in a Nomadic Lifestyle

Managing money on the road feels like juggling oranges while riding a unicycle. We’ve got to keep our eyes peeled for falling expenses and unexpected costs. It’s quite the performance, really.

Our budget tracker becomes our best mate, always by our side, whispering sweet nothings about expense tracking and cost comparisons. With an average monthly spend of $2,700 from 2013-2019, we quickly learned that financial flexibility isn’t just a fancy term; it’s survival.

Oh, the places you’ll go.. with a bit of savvy spending and cunning cost management! We embrace remote work and digital nomad gigs as if they were life rafts in an ocean of potential debt.

The beauty of this lifestyle? Real-life examples show us thriving on $30K a year for two people—talk about stretching a dollar across continents! Budgeting tools aren’t just accessories here; they’re essentials in navigating international travel costs without sinking financially.

Common Sources of Income for Nomads

Ah, the life of a nomad—where your office could be a beach in Bali or a cafe in Paris. But here’s the twist: money still doesn’t grow on palm trees or croissants.

Remote Work

Remote work has become our golden ticket, folks. Picture this: working from your laptop on a sun-drenched beach in Bali or nestled in a cosy café in Paris, sipping the best coffee you’ve ever had.

Sounds a bit like living the dream, doesn’t it? Well, for us nomads, that’s just another day at the office. With location-independent jobs, we’ve kissed goodbye to dreary cubicles and fluorescent lighting.

Now our workspace views can rival postcards – quite the upgrade.

The magic of digital nomadism lies in its flexibility. We’re talking about making money while exploring ancient ruins in Rome or jungle trekking in Thailand – all during what used to be those dreaded office hours.

But it’s not all Instagram-worthy sunsets and exotic foods; finding stable remote work requires effort and savvy networking skills. Luckily, with tools like budget trackers and expense tracking apps designed for digital nomads, keeping an eye on finances becomes part of the adventure rather than a chore.

Harnessing the power of technology lets us earn wherever there’s Wi-Fi which means virtually anywhere on this big blue planet. From freelancing gigs to running an online business – opportunities are endless if you know where to look (and let’s face it – Google is everyone’s best friend).

Plus, considering that some international vlogs have documented expenses as low as $2500/month for two people leading fantastic lifestyles abroad.. well, we’d say becoming digitally nomadic might just be more attainable than most think.


Freelancing has become our bread and butter, really. We dive into tasks from anywhere – a beach in Bali or a cafe in Paris, tapping away at our laptops as the world unfolds around us.

It’s remarkably liberating, yet it demands a robust discipline that we didn’t anticipate at first. Picture this: sipping on a freshly brewed latte while finishing up a project, only to glance out and see life bustling by – there’s an irony in working amidst freedom.

The beauty of freelancing lies within its flexibility; it allows us to earn while exploring different corners of the globe. We’ve encountered moments where Wi-Fi becomes our nemesis, often playing hide and seek at the most crucial times.

Yet, these challenges add flavour to our nomadic lifestyle, pushing us towards creative solutions like local SIM cards or cosy co-working spaces filled with fellow digital nomads.

We juggle deadlines with travel plans – managing clients across time zones while trying not to miss that scenic sunset cruise. It sounds hectic – because it is – but wouldn’t trade it for the world.

The key is balancing client expectations with our wanderlust desires.. easier said than done, but definitely part of the adventure.


Moving from freelancing, entrepreneurship opens a whole new chapter for us nomads. It’s not just about getting gigs anymore; it’s building something of our own. We dive into creating businesses that travel with us, anywhere our hearts desire.

Think digital products or services that need only a laptop and a solid internet connection to flourish. Yes, the start might require more effort and possibly a bit of investment, but the payoff? Oh, it can be sweet.

We’ve seen folks manage their ventures on beaches in Bali and cafes in Paris – talk about an office view! This path gives us control over our work and financial freedom if done right.

Sure, there are challenges like any other job – finding clients or customers can be tough at first. Yet the thrill of steering your ship is unmatched. Plus, embracing tools like budget trackers helps keep the finances in check while we chase this dream under the vast sky of possibilities.

Passive Income

Jumping from the hustle of entrepreneurship, we delve into the realm of passive income. It’s like planting a garden; you do the hard work upfront, and then let it grow with minimal upkeep.

Imagine earning while you’re exploring a new city or sleeping under the stars in a remote village. Our adventures have taught us that streams of passive income can be a game-changer for nomads.

Creating digital products, investing in stocks, or owning rental properties back home might sound daunting at first. Yet, these are just some ways we’ve seen money flow in without clocking into a nine-to-five job every day.

It’s all about finding what works for you and letting it support your journey across continents. Trust us – there’s nothing quite like getting an alert on your phone about earnings coming through as you’re setting off to your next destination!

Essential Strategies for Budgeting and Saving Costs

Mastering the art of stretching every penny, we, nomads, must become wizards of budgeting and saving – it’s a thrilling game where planning meets spontaneity. Let’s dive into the magic formula that keeps our wallets happy while we wander – trust me, you’ll want to hear this..

Creating a Nomadic Budget Plan

Crafting a budget plan for our nomadic lifestyle sounds as thrilling as watching paint dry, right? Well, not quite. Let’s face it – we’re adventurers at heart, but even Indiana Jones had to budget for his whip and hat.

Our mantra is simple: know what you spend, so you can spend on what you know. We keep track of every penny, whether it’s splurging on a dreamy beachside bungalow or grabbing a $1 street food feast.

With an average monthly cost of $2,700 US from 2013-2019 for living the nomad dream, keeping an eye on expenses isn’t just wise; it’s essential.

We dive into expense tracking like it’s the last slice of pizza. Accommodation can dip as low as $200 a month if you’re savvy enough – think local apartments over tourist traps. Travel costs? They fluctuate more than moods before coffee but hear us out; slow travel not only saves bucks but enriches experiences too.

That digital nomad life doesn’t have to break the bank when flights are booked smartly and meals are local cuisine rather than international fast-food chains. Honestly, who needs another burger when there’s pad thai for pennies? And let’s be real – comparing prices becomes second nature quicker than learning to say “budget” in five languages!

Slow Travel for Cost Efficiency

Jumping from one place to another quickly racks up costs. We’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, that slow travel saves money. Staying longer in one spot often means lower accommodation prices and fewer transportation expenses.

It’s a bit like finding a temporary new home where you get to know the local baker instead of constantly hunting down free Wi-Fi spots for your next move.

We soak in more of each place, which surprisingly cuts down on spending. Eating at the same cheap eateries locals frequent or walking instead of taking cabs everywhere makes a huge difference.

Our budget doesn’t just breathe; it starts singing! Plus, this way we dodge that tourist price hike—it turns out, staying still can be quite the financial adventure strategy.

Regional Travel to Reduce Transportation Costs

Exploring nearby countries seems like a no-brainer to cut down on those pesky airfares, right? We found ourselves hopping from one border to the next, marvelling at how our travel costs plummeted.

Picture this: breakfast in Portugal, lunch in Spain, and by dinner – you’re feasting on French cuisine. Not only does your wallet thank you, but it feels like you’ve unlocked a secret level in a game where the prize is saving money.

We often overlook the beauty that’s just a stone’s throw away because we’re dazzled by far-off lands. But let me tell you – regional travel has been our golden ticket to keeping costs low without skimping on adventure.

Trains and buses become our best friends, offering scenic routes not seen from 30,000 feet in the air. And here’s the kicker – sometimes these journeys cost less than dinner at a tourist trap restaurant! It turns out; you don’t need to fly halfway across the globe for unforgettable experiences or drain your bank account for exotic views.

Use of Budgeting Tools for Financial Tracking

After cutting down on transportation costs by choosing regional travel, we dove into the world of budgeting tools for financial tracking. These apps and websites became our best friends on the road, always there to remind us where every penny went.

Picture this: sitting in a cosy cafe in Rome, sipping espresso, and checking our expenses with just a few taps on the phone. It almost feels like playing a video game, but instead of scoring points, we’re saving cash.

We found that sticking to our $2,700 monthly goal wasn’t just possible; it became easier with each passing day. By categorising expenses into ‘accommodation’, ‘food’, ‘travel’, and more, we could see exactly where to tighten the belt..

or when we could afford an extra gelato! The trick was choosing a budget tracker from the ultimate nomad lifestyle guide which suited our needs – easy peasy!

No matter where in the world we were – be it lounging beside Bali beaches or navigating through bustling Tokyo streets – these digital nomad tools kept us on track without missing out on any adventures.

They turned what used to be guesswork into an efficient (and oddly satisfying) part of our nomadic routine.

Comparing Costs: Nomadic vs Sedentary Lifestyles

Right, let’s cut to the chase and talk money, shall we? When weighing the scales between a nomadic and a sedentary lifestyle, it’s a bit like comparing apples to, well, oranges. Both have their charm, but the taste, or in this case, the cost, differs widely. Here’s a cheeky breakdown:

AspectNomadic LifestyleSedentary Lifestyle
Initial SetupMinimal (A backpack, a laptop, and you’re golden)Hefty (Furniture, downpayment or rent advance… need we say more?)
AccommodationFrom a frugal $200/month to skies-the-limitConsistently pays the landlord’s holidays (Just kidding, or are we?)
FoodStreet food delights at $1 a meal to splurging in bistrosWeekly grocery hauls, plus that Thai takeout you love
Travel ExpensesVariable, but who’s complaining when home’s where the heart takes you?Petrol, insurance, and those weekend getaways to escape the mundane
Insurance CostsNomad Insurance can cover you worldwide, surprisingly affordableHealth, home, car… the list goes on
Lifestyle & EntertainmentNew friends, free walking tours, and beaches for officesMovie tickets, gym memberships, and that coffee shop next door

Here’s the kicker – the average monthly dough for living the nomad dream hovers around $2,700. Not too shabby, considering this includes zigzagging across continents. On the flip side, managing a sedentary life, with all its predictability, can still set you back a pretty penny, often more than venturing around the globe.

What flips the script further is realising you could be funding your global escapades with less than the cost to stay put. Oh, the irony! Living out of a suitcase, or let’s say, a stylish backpack, doesn’t necessarily mean breaking the bank. It’s more about embracing freedom, with a bit of savvy financial juggling.

And hey, remember those nomad vlogs outing expenses at $2500/month for two? Talk about a bargain for a duo on the move. Comparatively, playing house doesn’t always promise the same bang for your buck.

In essence, it’s not just about the price tag attached to each lifestyle. It’s about the richness of experiences versus the comfort of stability. And, as we’ve laid out on the table, sometimes, wandering actually keeps more coins jingling in your pocket. Who would’ve thought, eh?

Real-life Cost Examples of Nomadic Living

We met a couple living the dream, their monthly budget? Just $2,500. They trotted the globe, finding gems where accommodation cost them no more than $200 a month—yes, you read that right.

Meals for a steal at about $1 each in some places; who said you need to break the bank for authentic pad thai by the beach? Their secret sauce: choosing locations wisely and a knack for bargain hunts.

Our own adventure paints quite the picture too. From bustling cities to serene beaches, we’ve managed it all under an average of $2,700 per month over six years. Talk about debunking myths – owning or renting doesn’t always win against smart nomadic living.

We’ve seen firsthand how swapping homes can halve your expenses; staying put might actually be pricier!

Exploring Cheaper and More Expensive Locations for Nomads

Deciding where to unpack our bags next is like spinning a globe and stopping it with a finger—exciting but unpredictable. Southeast Asia, for instance, treats us to lavish lifestyles on budgets that would barely cover groceries back home.

Imagine renting beachfront bungalows for less than the cost of a city parking spot or indulging in street food feasts for the price of a latte. It’s not just about finding cheap eats; it’s about living large without breaking the bank.

On the flip side, cities like New York, London, or Tokyo have us tightening our belts and reconsidering that second cup of coffee. Here, sky-high rents make us nostalgic for roomy apartments we once thought small and prices at local cafés prompt double-takes more often than not.

Yet, there’s something thrilling about figuring out how to hack these expensive locales—discovering budget-friendly corners in sprawling urban jungles and proving that with some creativity, even the priciest cities can be tamed by nomads like us.

Next up: How managing finances smartly keeps us roaming freely around this fascinating world.


Living the nomad life, we’ve seen it all – from luxury to budget living. Who knew that swapping a house for a suitcase could actually save us money? Fancy meals turned into street food feasts costing less than a coffee back home.

Every penny counts, and surprisingly, those pennies added up to more adventures abroad than we ever had while anchored in one place. Truth be told, comparing costs shows us the real value of experience over possessions – and honestly, wouldn’t trade this lifestyle for the world.

For further guidance on managing your finances while living the nomad life, explore our detailed guide on how to create a nomadic budget plan.


1. Is living in a van cheaper than paying rent?

Yes, but remember, your romantic dinner now comes with a side of petrol station views.

2. Can I save money by travelling the world instead of having a home base?

Sure, if you think swapping rent for flight tickets and visa fees is saving… go for it!

3. Do digital nomads spend more on technology than regular folks?

Absolutely – because nothing says ‘budgeting’ like buying the latest laptop to work from a beach café with spotty Wi-Fi.

4. Is food more expensive when you’re constantly on the move?

You bet, especially when your culinary adventures turn into daily quests for Wi-Fi friendly cafés serving avocado toast.

5. Are there hidden costs in living a nomadic lifestyle?

Oh yes, like suddenly needing travel insurance because you decided to ride scooters in Bali without prior experience…

About the author

Hello there, fellow travellers! I'm Kate, one half of the Chandler's Travel duo, and my love for travel is matched only by my love for sharing it with others. For me, every journey is an opportunity to learn something new, be it a local tradition, a tasty dish, or simply a new way to see the world.