TechDigits

Tech news
Monday, Feb 06, 2023

A 29-year-old part-time remote worker living abroad and making $4,000 a month explains how she finds work and affords her lifestyle

A 29-year-old part-time remote worker living abroad and making $4,000 a month explains how she finds work and affords her lifestyle

Michelle Checchi has been working remotely since 2019. She says her lifestyle is "much more affordable" than she'd expect to have in the US.

When Michelle Checchi, 29, left the US in 2019, she planned to be gone for only a few months — as long as it took to drain her savings account.

Today, she's still traversing the globe, working remotely as a freelance writer and video producer and making $4,000 in the typical month while working 15 to 30 hours per week, bank documents reviewed by Insider showed. 

"Instead of just feeling stuck in my one place of living, I live in an international environment that's international for me, where I am still a traveler and a visitor," she said.  

She is among a growing number of digital nomads, or remote workers who travel for weeks, months, or — in Checchi's case — "for the foreseeable future." Over 15 million Americans describe themselves as digital nomads, up 42% from 2020 and 112% from 2019, MBO Partners' 2021 State of Independence study found. Driving this trend is the growing flexibility of remote work, a longing to see the world, and the desire to cut costs.

As of June, over 25 countries had introduced digital-nomad visa programs aimed at luring remote workers and their wallets. The World Population Review said that only two countries — Bermuda and Switzerland — have a higher cost of living than New York City, where Checchi grew up. For her, living abroad has been a budget saver.


Making more money than ever


After graduating in 2015, Checchi enjoyed her job as a local news producer for four years, but she had a persistent desire to "travel and experience freedom," she said. In September 2019, she sold most of her possessions, drove across the cross, and hopped on a one-way flight to Tel Aviv, Israel.

In her first months abroad, Checchi traveled to Cyprus, India, and Nepal, where she tried to stretch out her savings for as long as possible, she said. But after about three months, when it looked like her fun was coming to an end, Checchi had a "spark of an idea": What if she found a way to make money working remotely? She began browsing Upwork and other platforms for freelance writing gigs. 

"I was thinking, 'If I'm going to get a full-time job, it's going to root me down to one place,'" she said. "I really wanted to create a lifestyle where I could maintain my location independence."

While she found some work, money was "not good" early on — a few hundred dollars here and there, not enough to put off her return to the US for long. But slowly, her workflow began to grow. After about six months, Checchi was making just as much as she had in her news job — which paid about $50,000 per year — while working about half the hours, not to mention traveling the world as she did so.

She surpassed her old salary a few months later, breaking $10,000 in income some months — including $17,000 this past June when she did on-site video production for a convention. Checchi also has over 68,000 followers on TikTok — where she posts her travel highlights and tips — though she said she only recently began to make "a little bit of money" via social media. Checchi said she used to wonder how digital nomads could possibly afford their lifestyle.

"I was really surprised," she said. "I was like: 'Oh, OK. So this can be sustainable.'" 

While she continues to do freelance content writing — "ghostwriting blogs, articles, and web copy" — she's begun skewing more toward her video-production roots. Although her clients vary, she often films and produces content for companies in the tourism industry — projects that typically pay for her travel.

Checchi said it's strange to look back at her time as a local news producer, when she felt her skills weren't transferable anywhere else.

"Now I'm like, 'Wow, there's so much that I can do with my skills when you think outside the box a little bit,' she said. 


The challenges of a nomadic life


When she's not traveling, Checchi has a home base in Tel Aviv, which she chose in part for its accessibility to both Europe and Asia. While Tel Aviv can be quite an expensive place to live, Checchi pays $871 per month to rent an apartment with a couple. She typically sublets her room when traveling for an extended period. She tends to stay in hostels and Airbnbs, which helps her stick to a monthly housing budget of about $900. That's a big savings compared to the average June rent of $3,100 for a studio apartment in New York, where she previously lived.

Airfare is her biggest expense, but given that she doesn't cross the Atlantic Ocean often to see her family, she's able to travel relatively affordably from place to place. There's also more competition in Europe's airline industry compared to in the US, which helps keep her flight prices lower. 

But it hasn't all been roses. During the pandemic, she had to return to the US and stay with her family in Staten Island, New York, for a time. Aside from that, she said, she doesn't see her family often — though she's now making an effort to return to the US every three to four months. These flight costs add up, but she said they were well worth it, and that if need be, she could seek out extra work to offset them. While her best friends are in the US, Checchi has friends "all over the place," she said, adding that traveling alone has been a "great way to meet new people."

While she doesn't think a nomadic lifestyle is for everyone, she has no plans to give it up anytime soon: "I'm living for myself at this point in my life."

Newsletter

Related Articles

TechDigits
Close
0:00
0:00
Charlie Munger, calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the US, following China's lead
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
What is ChatGPT?
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
Corruption works: House Financial Services Chair Waters doesn't plan to subpoena her donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, to testify at hearing on FTX collapse
Yellen hints at ‘national security’ probe into Twitter purchase
Elon Musk reinstates Donald Trump's Twitter account.
George W. Bush and Barack Obama will hold back-to-back disinformation conferences
Solar + Powerwall ensures you never lose power, even if the grid goes down
This man paid for strangers' grocery and it moved them to tears
Meta introduces a new version of Mark Zuckerberg
Virtual Reality on billboards: BMW advertisement on Times Square
Apple CEO Tim Cook says coding should be taught as early as elementary school: 'It's the most important language you can learn'
Apple Executive Resigns After Viral TikTok Shows Him Making Crude Jokes
Huawei is not only better technology, but also protecting users better: Apple Warns Of Security Flaw For Iphones, Ipads And Macs
Mark Zuckerberg warns many teams will ‘shrink’ as Meta revenue drops
Elon Musk reportedly begged for forgiveness after his affair with Google co-founder Sergey Brin's wife
J.P. Morgan’s wealth management guru has some advice for recent college graduates on managing money and building wealth
Pentagon widens scope of UFO-hunting unit
Bezos' girlfriend Lauren Sanchez gives $1M to group focused on migrant kids at US-Mexico border
Hong Kong gets its first metaverse churches with avatars and virtual preachers
The ‘Dirty Quid Pro Quo’ Between Democrats and Big Tech
Elon Musk swore in March not to sell any Bitcoin, but Tesla cashed out 75% of its Bitcoin holdings amid the crypto winter just months later
Crypto winter continues at Gemini as another round of layoffs hits Winklevoss crypto exchange
Ex-CIA engineer Joshua Schulte convicted over massive data leak
EU to build new top-secret bunker
Elon Musk fathered twins with one of his executives last year
Apple launches Lockdown Mode to block spyware attacks on at-risk users
Australia floods worsen as thousands more Sydney residents evacuate
Women's own body dissatisfaction appears to influence their judgment of other women's body sizes
Hacker claims to have obtained data on 1 billion Chinese citizens
British Army's Twitter and YouTube accounts restored after hack
Google will delete location history for visits to abortion clinics after overturning of Roe v. Wade
Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Other Top Billionaires Lose $1.4 Trillion In Worst Half Ever
Philippines orders critical news site to shut down
Social media companies could be sued for addicting children to their digital-drug in California 
Airport chaos: European travel runs into pandemic cutbacks
The teen who tracks Elon Musk's jet agreed to stop monitoring Mark Cuban's flights on Twitter after the billionaire offered business advice
YouTube Shorts Claims 1.5 Billion Global Users As TikTok Rivalry Heats Up
×