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How I Became A Digital Nomad Living Abroad in Italy

Growing up, I always knew I was going to travel. I didn’t necessarily know in what capacity it would look like or when it would be, but I definitely had a few places in mind. 

After graduating college, I was sitting in my gray cubicle in Corporate America and thought – “This is it? I climb the corporate ladder now? No way.”

I quickly decided that wasn’t going to be my life and quickly started making moves to get out. I asked myself what was it that I always wanted to do? What was my dream? It didn’t take long to get to my answer – travel, of course! 

Becoming an au pair launched my digital nomad journey

A few months after realizing my dream of traveling, I boarded a plane to live with a family and be an au pair in beautiful Italy.

I lived there for a little over a year, and it was one of the most amazing times in my life. I fell in love with the pace of life, the scenic streets, the delicious foods, and the Italian culture.

Back to corporate America and my gray cubicle 

But then… I was back. I was back in America applying for jobs. Jobs where I’d most likely be sitting in yet another gray cubicle, doing the same thing day-in and day-out. I hadn’t even gotten a job yet, and I was already bored out of my mind. 

I found myself hopelessly applying for positions I didn’t want and dreaming of starting a job for the sole purpose of making money and earning enough PTO to go travel again. 

I honestly didn’t see a way out and figured that was going to be my life. I planned to find a great company with fantastic employee benefits. 

But Italy still had my heart, and all I could think about was living there again.

A few months into job searching, my best friend told me about the idea of becoming a virtual assistant. I’ll be honest – I wasn’t sold right away. I was very hesitant about the virtual work world. Wondering – “Is this legit?” Will I make enough money to sustain myself?” “What happens if I can’t find clients?” “Can I really travel and work at the same time?” 

But then I realized becoming a digital nomad checked all the boxes.

How I decided to become a virtual assistant

Work I love? Check. Ability to have time off that I wanted? Check. Flexibility around my day-to-day schedule. Check. The ability to do it anywhere in the world? Double-check. 

It turned out that the possibilities of what could be outweighed the what-ifs. 

Eventually, I pulled the trigger and took the course. That’s when everything changed for me. 

I finished the three-month course in two months and even got my first client before I fully completed the course. A month after that, I booked another client and saw the actuality of working remotely. Over those first few months, I continued to work my full-time job and do my virtual work after work and on weekends so that I could test out to see if it was actually going to work. 

It took me a while to find my niche, but six months into virtual work, I found out about online business management, and it turns out – I’m really good at it! Now, I am a full-time Online Business Manager (OBM), and I love it! 

Nicole and Lara exploring Bologna, Italy. Photo: @the.nomadic.diaries

The ultimate dream life made reality 

Along the way, my entire goal and interest in doing this line of work was two things –

  1. To have flexibility in my schedule, and
  2. To be able to travel! 

A little world-wide-pandemic stopped the second goal from happening as soon as I would have liked it to, but it allowed me to focus on my business and get to a place that I felt comfortable in before jet-setting across the world.

That entire year of 2020, my best friend and I worked hard at growing our virtual businesses and dreamed every single day of living abroad in Italy together. (She is actually the one who showed me the course we ended up taking and is a digital nomad as well.) 

Finally, a full year after completing my course, I was boarding a plane on my way to Italy to meet up with my friend so that we could put into action the whole idea of nomadic living. 

Where I’m at now in my digital nomad journey

We have officially been living in Italy for over two months now, and it is everything we dreamed it would be. 

I typically start my morning by working for a few hours in a cafe sipping on a cappuccino, and eating a brioche. Then, I go home for lunch and work until about 3:00. After that, my friend and I usually relax, then get ready and get a spritz in town. 

I’m so content. I’m getting to do work I love in a city I love, at a pace I love.

I have the flexibility and capability in my work to take a Friday off and spend it at a beach club in Lago di Garda or take a gelato-making course in Verona on a Saturday or take a long weekend to spend an extra day hiking in the Dolomites.

All those long nights, scary leaps of faith, and moments of doubt have led to this incredible experience, and I wouldn’t take them back for anything.

There are small things to adjust to when living abroad. You don’t have those homely comforts, the community is something you have to make a considerable effort for, and time zones can be tricky. Still, everything is manageable with a good attitude. And, hey! I am living in Italy, after all. There’s not too much to complain about. 

How and why you should become a digital nomad too

I have had SO. MANY. PEOPLE. reach out to me and say things like – “Oh, you’re so lucky.” “I wish I could do something like that.” “How do I do what you’re doing?”

The simple answer – just go for it! 

If not now – when?!

If you’ve ever doubted that living abroad is something you could do or questioned the validity of actually making something like that happen – I’m here to tell you that you absolutely can make it happen! There are SO many ways to successfully live your dream (and make money while doing it)! You just have to start. 

I’m so passionate about this and about helping people make their dreams become a reality because I genuinely believe we only have this one life! You can’t spend it in drudgery only to get to the end wishing you had done it all differently.  

If you have any concerns, questions, or are skeptical about it all like I was – feel free to send me a message and pick my brain. I’d love to help you make the decision that’s right for you so that you can start living your dream as soon as possible.