Successful Nomad: Norbert Figueroa

In Successful Nomads by VirginieLeave a Comment

This post is part of the Successful Nomads series

Have you even wondered how people can travel and support themselves at the same time? It’s not as difficult as it seems! To show you that there are already plenty of people doing it, and that you can do it too, we’ve interview different kinds of nomads. They were all given 30 questions, with a minimum of 10 to answer.

Norbert Figueroa is the one answering them for us today! You can find him at

1) Where are you from?

I’m from Puerto Rico. It is a small island territory of the United States famous for its beaches, nature, and Ricky Martin. (Yeah, Ricky Martin is the most recognized international reference to Puerto Rico when presenting myself during my travels)

2) What is your background?

I studied Architecture and obtained my Masters in Puerto Rico. Soon after I moved to New York to work there as an Architect; a career that stayed active for five years before I decided to quit it all to travel the world. Well, quit it all is a bit “harsh,” I mostly changed the way I wanted to see and approach architecture. Instead of doing the typical architectural job in an office behind a desk, I wanted to explore more of it in person and hopefully mix both of my passions: travel and architecture.

3) What is your job?

At the moment, I work as a travel blogger and architectural consultant. I mostly freelance as I travel, whether it is by writing articles to other publications or by designing small projects. It all various all the time, but it always ranges in the prism of architecture and travel.

4) How much money do you make per month?

It varies drastically. Some months I can make $1,000+ while others surpass $3,000+. It depends on how many projects/collaborations/articles I have at the moment.

5) How long have you known you wanted to be a digital nomad?

While I always wanted to do a round the world trip, the idea of becoming a digital nomad came barely a few years ago, after I left my job to travel. Even though I set the “ digital nomad/location independent” wheels in motion when I decided to quit to travel, I didn’t realize I was developing that lifestyle until about six months to a year on the road. It was when I truly realized that I didn’t want to go back to the office (at least for now) and that this was now my lifestyle.

6) How did you start your online career?

It was by chance, I must say. I started a blog when I was still working in New York, and developed it further for over a year before quitting. During that year the blog grew and with it opportunities came in form of press trips and collaborations. Through those collaborations, I managed to network even further and establish myself as someone people in the travel industry could work with.

7) Where are you right now?

I’m currently in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. This is my home base for the next few months.

8) How often are you on the road?

For the past four years, I’ve been traveling non-stop. Still, I do take my time to slow down and relax by settling somewhere for a month or two (or maybe more) to work, relax, and save money. This is what I’m doing at the moment after traveling all over South America for the past four months.

9) What is your favorite place in the world?

It’s so hard to pick one since I have a few favorites for different reasons, but let’s say that Thailand has a very high spot on my list, and I think it is the place I’ve visited the most in these past four years.

10) What is the most important thing when it’s time to choose where to go next?

Money!! Well, let’s say it is how feasible it is for me, economically, to reach that destination and travel there without overspending.

11) Are you a carry-on person or a checked luggage person?

Both. Depends on where I’m going and what I’m doing. For example, if I’m doing a long layover somewhere and want to explore the city, I’ll check my bag; but if I’m just traveling light and want to do the “airport process” quick and smooth, I’ll go carry on.

12) What do you always have on you that you couldn’t live without?

My iPhone. It’s been stolen twice on this trip, and I’ve bought it twice again since I feel so “naked” without it. I do everything with it!

13) What kind of lifestyle are you living with the money you make?

I make enough money to travel to most places with a backpacker/decent budget. I’m the kind of person who prefers to save money by sleeping with 18 people in the same dorm room and eating on the street, but then splurges on experiences like diving, bungee jumping, or summiting Kilimanjaro. So, it’s a mix of cheap living with adventurous experiences.

14) How much time do you spend on your business versus how much time you spend exploring the place where you are?

Honestly, when I’m traveling at a fast pace on the road, I pay little attention to the business side of my travels, but when I settle, it is all business. So it is a switching schedule of travel for a few months, work for a few months.

15) Follow your passion or follow the market?

Passion! The market changes all the time, but your passion will always be there. Besides, what’s the point of following the market if you’re going to be miserable ignoring your passion?

16) Money isn’t always consistent. What is the best way to deal with that?

I have to be honest by saying that I’m not the best saver in the house, but saving is important. Money is not consistent as a freelancer or self-employed, so you must have some cushion to help with any rough months, income wise, or any expensive months, travel wise, that you may have. What I started to do not long ago is to save 25% of my income for cushion, emergency, and any other unexpected spending.

17) What do you have to say to people too scared to leave their day job?

Don’t be scared of taking action and moving forward with what you really want to do in life. It’s scary to think you might fail after quitting (believe me, I thought that myself), but what if you don’t fail? I think it is more fulfilling to take action and succeed, than to stay put in the dissatisfying comfort zone that made you think of quitting in the first place.

When you take action, you feel responsible for everything happening to you and around you, so you will work hard to succeed, no matter how hard the process may be.

18) What are the awesome benefits of being a digital nomad?

The beauty of traveling the world at your own pace and calling several places your home, even if it is temporary.

19) What is the downside that nobody sees?

There’s A LOT of work behind it and you need to be dedicated to it. Most people think I’m sipping a drink on the beach every day, but the truth is that I spend a lot of time sitting in front of my laptop, working. Sometimes, when I travel with friends, they ask me out to party or whatever, and in some occasions I have to say, “Sorry, I have to work.” It’s the reality. Still, I love this lifestyle and I do enjoy the places I visit!