My Digital Nomad Expenses – Travelling South America vs Living In London

On the 7th March, I got on a flight to South America. I had given up my flat in central London, given away most of my possessions and decided to try the life of a location independent minimalist nomad.

For the previous five years, I had been living in central London. One of the most expensive cities in the world, and with absolutely no need to be there. Everything I do that earns me money can be done remotely.

The theory was that I should be able to travel the world while living the same quality of life for much cheaper.

I’m now back in London for a few weeks, to see friends and family and to work on the coffee shop. I’m finally working through my digital nomad expenses to see if the theory matched reality.

My trip lasted three months encompassed Argentina, Chile and Brazil:

Buenos Aires -> Mendoza -> Santiago -> Valparaiso -> San Pedro Da Atacama -> Salta -> Puerto Iguazu -> Foz do Iguazu -> Rio De Janeiro -> Florianopolis -> Sao Paulo

 

my trip

You can see the pictures from it on my Instagram feed.

Unlike most articles about how much it costs to be a digital nomad, I am not a budget traveller. I stayed in the best areas, ate out most meals and didn’t say no to anything because of the price. This is a like for like comparison. Living the good life in long-term stable accommodation in London vs living the good life on the road in Airbnbs, hotels and hostels.

Alright, enough of an introduction. Let’s dive into my digital nomad expenses.

Three Months Expenses Of Living In London

  • Rent + Bills: £3,000
  • Eating Out: £692
  • Groceries: £610
  • Shopping: £463
  • Nights Out: £339
  • Travel: £338
  • Gym: £327
  • Presents: £251
  • Subscriptions: £152 (amazon prime, phone contract, Netflix)
  • Admin: £96
  • Cinema & Theatres: £76
  • Uber: £32
  • Mixed. Cash Expenditure: £260

Total: £6,636

Average: £2,212 ($3,153) a month.

Notes:

Three Months Of Digital Nomad Expenses In South America

  • Accommodation: £1,479
  • Flights & Long Distance Buses: £1,317
  • Eating Out: £1,221
  • Nights Out: £411
  • Touristy Stuff: £405
  • Gym (Jiu-Jitsu): £270
  • Groceries: £206
  • Spanish Course: £130
  • Uber & Other Taxis: £98
  • Subscriptions: £81
  • Local Buses: £65
  • Insurance: £22
  • Other: £172

Total: £5,877

Average: £1,959 ($2,798) a month.

Notes:

  • Other includes shopping.
  • Flights are partly so expensive because I missed my return flight and had to book another.

Well, it did work out cheaper. But not much cheaper.

However, there is one big expense in the list that really jumps out. The cost of long distance travel. I visited 12 places in three months which is not a pace I’m going to keep up. I expect that cost to be significantly lower in the next three months.

On a side note. While my expenses were lower, by work output was also much lower. I probably did about a quarter of the amount of work I would have done had I stayed put in London.

  • Teri Robertson

    Your not factoring in the experience and knowledge of geography and people. If you can get your work output up enough, and are enjoying the traveling, then that has to be considered on the pro side.

  • Roy

    Hi Sam, interesting post as always!
    When you say that you “gave up your flat”, did you sell it??!!

    • Hi Roy. I rented a flat in central London. So by ‘gave up’ I meant I stopped renting it. The place I referred to in this post was just an investment and is being rented out.

      • Roy

        Ah ha! Gotcha!
        I’m considering travelling next year, and am hoping that I don’t revert to type by merely continuing to move from one (fairly lucrative) contract to another in my job as a consultant in banking.
        Reading your blogs is always interesting, often eye- opening and always a pleasure. Keep up the good work man!
        R

        • Yeah I know what you mean! I often think that people in low paid jobs that they hate, can have a real advantage. For them to quit and go and start a business or travel the world, isn’t much of a sacrifice or risk. Wheras for someone earning a lot more it is going to take a lot more work to replicate the same standard of living. I still think it’s worth it!

          Cheers for the kind words about the blog, I really appreciate it.

  • jack flower

    Hey Sam , My dream is to travel everywhere my Goal is to be able to fund that travel, the question is ‘How’ .

  • p2pinfo

    £3,000 for three months rent and bills is remarkably cheap for Central London. Did you share a flat or perhaps live somewhere in Zone 2?

    • Yeah I was flat-sharing with two other people. It would have cost a lot more to live in the same quality of accommodation on my own!