PanamaTimes

Tuesday, Feb 20, 2024

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

PanamaTimes
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has died at the Arctic prison colony
The President of Argentina Javier Mile does not fly private, he flies commercial, with the citizens he represents. And they LOVE him for it.
Bitcoin Reaches $50,000 for First Time in Over Two Years
Belo Horizonte: Brazil's Rising Carnival Hotspot for 2024
In El Salvador, the 'Trump of Latin America' stuns the world with a speech slamming woke policing after winning a landslide election
Tucker’s interview with Putin is over 50M views on X within the first 5 hours.
Finnish Airline, Finnair, is voluntarily weighing passengers to better estimate flight cargo weight
President Nayib Bukele has proudly announced El Salvador's remarkable achievement of becoming the safest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Former Chilean President Sebastian Piñera Dies in Helicopter Crash
This farmer seems to understand science a bit more than the event organizer, Klaus Schwab.
Facebook turns 20: From Mark Zuckerberg's dormitory to a $1trn company
The Coolest Dictator in the World" on the Path to Victory in El Salvador
Macron, France and fake news
Indian-Origin Man 'King' Arrested For Smuggling $16 Million Drugs Into US
Can someone teach Americans that not every person with slanted eyes is Chinese?
Europe's Farmers Feeding the People, Protesting Against Politicians Who Do Nothing for Their Country and Serve Only Themselves at Taxpayers' Expense
Paris Restaurant That Inspired 'Ratatouille' Loses $1.6 Million Worth Of Wine
Brazilian Police Investigate Bolsonaro's Son for Alleged Illegal Spying
Police in Brazil Raid Residence of Bolsonaro Associate Over Allegations of Illegal Spying
Border Dispute Escalates as Texas Governor Vows Increased Razor Wire
OpenAI Enhances ChatGPT-4 Model, Potentially Addressing AI "Laziness" Issue
The NSA finally acknowledges spying on Americans by acquiring sensitive data
Report Reveals Toxic Telegram Group Generating X-Rated AI-Generated Fake Images of Taylor Swift
US Border Patrol States 'No Plans' to Remove Razor Wire Installed in Texas
Bitcoin Experiences Approximately 20% Decline in Value
Klaus Schwab recently appointed himself as the Earth's "trustee of the future."
DeSantis Drops Out, Endorses Trump.
Nikki Haley said former President Trump is "just not at the same level" of mental fitness as he was while president in 2016.
Residents of a southern Mexican town set the government palace on fire in response to the police killing of a young man
Samsung Launches AI-Driven Galaxy S24, Ushering in New Smartphone Era
Judge Questions SEC's Regulatory Overreach in Coinbase Lawsuit
The Ecuador prosecutor who was investigating the television studio attack, has been assassinated.
Is artificial intelligence the solution to cyber security threats?
Vivek Ramaswamy suspends his US election campaign and endorses Trump.
Viral Satire: A Staged Satirical Clip Mistaken as Real Footage from the 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos
The AI Revolution in the Workforce: CEOs at Davos Predict Major Job Cuts in 2024
Ecuador Reports 178 Hostages in Prison Gang Standoff
The Startling Cuban Espionage Case That Has Rattled the US Government
Two Armed Men in Ecuador, Dressed as Batman and The Joker Storm the Streets.
Armed Gang Raids Ecuadorian TV Station Following State of Emergency Declaration
Anti-Democratic Canada: Journalist Arrested for Questioning Canadian Finance Minister on Support of Terrorist Group
Ecuador's 'Most-Wanted' Criminal Vanishes from Prison
Mexican Cartel Supplied Wi-Fi to Locals Under Threat of Fatal Consequences for Non-Compliance
Border Surge Leads to Over 11,000 Migrants Waiting in Northern Mexico
Outsider Candidates Triumph in Latin American Elections
As Argentina Goes to the Polls, Will the Proposal to Replace the Peso with the Dollar Secure Votes?
Fatal Shark Attack Claims Life of Boston Woman Paddleboarding Near Bahamas Resort, According to Police
Former Bolivian President Evo Morales Denied Eligibility for 2025 Re-Election
Venezuela's Maduro Condemns 'Provocation' as UK Sends Warship to Guyana Venezuela's President Maduro has condemned the UK's deployment of the warship HMS Trent to Guyana as a hostile act amid ongoing border tensions
Colombian Hometown Unveils Impressive Nearly 21ft Bronze Statue of Shakira
×