Becoming Location Independent and working from anywhere in the world, is it possible?
Yes it is, people are doing it and they are called the ‘Digital Nomads’. Digital nomads are people who earn a living online and therefore have the freedom to work from any location they choose. This allows them to follow their greatest passion of travelling and discovering the world. They can work from a coffee shop in South East Asia for several months, move on to a beach in Australia and then go back home to spend Christmas with their family all while working online and planning their next exotic trip.
People no longer have to spend years saving up or wait till they retire to take a trip around the world. If they can make enough money to pay and sustain their travels they can go as soon as they have set up an income source. You will find the digital nomad working on laptops in coffee shops, hotel lobbies or anywhere that has a public wifi connection. The digital nomads are travellers at heart and don’t feel like they fit into a 9 to 5 office environment. Although it sounds like it is all just fun and games, the digital nomad lifestyle is anything but easy, you have to work hard to earn your fun.
Different Location Independent Work Styles
Having location independence in your work life sounds idealistic but it is becoming more of a reality than you would think. Not everybody that pursues a location independent life and work style wants to be a Digital Nomad and wander around the world. There are plenty of people who work remotely where they still have the benefits of a fixed salary and benefits but don’t have to commute to work. There are those who want to choose their projects and working hours because they like the flexibility and, yet others who run their own online business so they have the freedom to choose which ‘home’ they work from.
The ever growing technological advancements provide us with the opportunity to work from a location other than the typical office environment. This of course is not suitable for jobs in every field. Some examples of location independent jobs are: photographer or videographer, writer, graphic designer, web designer or developer, coach, eBay seller, Blogger, Scuba, skiing or snowboard instructor, social media manager or consultant, virtual assistant, day trader, yoga teacher or personal trainer, tutor or translator, e-commerce entrepreneur and language teacher for online classes.
Location independence in your work does not mean you have to become a digital nomad and wander around the world. There are various types of digital nomads with all slightly different preferences and needs. To give an impression of the various types, I will describe four different Location Independent Work Styles.
The Digital Nomad
A digital nomad is someone who makes a living online and because of this has the freedom to work from anywhere in the world. They use the latest technology to create their own profitable income stream. This allows them to follow their greatest passion of travelling and discovering the world. A digital nomad is a self-taught multi-pede. Because you are running a business within a virtual environment you won’t always have access to suitable facilities, you will need to constantly come up with new creative solutions. Due to limited financial resources, you will also need to teach yourself to manage all aspects of a business. YouTube tutorials and free webinars become your best friends.
The Remote Worker
A remote worker is someone who works for an employer but completes their work in a different place than the workplace of the company. They can work from a home office or any environment they see fit. A remote worker has flexibility in what time of day they work as long as their work is completed and they meet their deadlines. A remote worker has all the benefits of a regular employee. They have a fixed contract, with a fixed salary and the benefits offered by their employer. They have fewer distractions because it’s easier to focus on work when it can be done in the comforts of a home office.
The Location Independent
A location independent starts their own online business that is focussed on providing goods or services solely online. To run their business successfully they are not bound to one location, they can work from anywhere. A location independent person will have their main focus on running a profitable business, enjoy working from home and plan their own schedule so they can travel whenever they want. A location independent usually has a home base or several home bases where they can live and work. They are more inclined to rent homes than buy in order to maintain global mobility.
A free-lancer is someone who is self-employed and typically works on projects for various employers. They sometimes work for agencies who advertise their skill set to employers or they approach employers with their own CV or portfolio. The online Free-lancer provides their services solely online. The main advantage of being an online free-lancer is that they can choose which and how many projects they would like to work on. They also choose which employer they would like to participate with in a project and can express their preferences and terms within each job. Being entirely flexible in what hours they work and deciding if and when they take on a new project is of course also an added bonus.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The main advantage of a location independent lifestyle is that you have the freedom to design your own work and lifestyle. Rather than having your life revolve around work and only having strict holiday times this new lifestyle allows you to travel or spend time on your hobbies and passion project as well as work.
Some people choose a location independent work style so they have more time for their families, not having to commute to and from work gives you more time to see your kids grow up. Once the kids go to school, they can work during school hours, pick up their kids from school and put in some more work hours once the kids have gone to bed. This means less money spent on day care and more quality time with your kids.
Having global mobility and designing your life in such a way that you can also travel around or at least go on several longer trips gives you the cultural insights you would never attain from reading and studying about intercultural communication, much less just visiting a country for a brief holiday. You will now have the time to immerse yourself in cultures and to build a global network both personally as well as professionally.
Next to the wonderful advantages, there are obviously numerous challenges as well. Without a working visa for each country you travel to the length of your stay will be limited, meaning you have to keep moving from place to place. Your business will usually be registered in your home country and this is not always easy to manage from a distance. When outsourcing tasks or looking for affiliates it is difficult to find other professionals who understand your chosen work style and who can meet your needs. Needless to say, the location independent lifestyle does not provide you with any stability not professionally or personally. You are responsible for generating your own income and budgeting accordingly. This means you will live a somewhat minimalistic life, possessions will be few because you want to maintain global mobility.
Once you have started a location independent life, it is very hard to go back to a regular job and to live in one place. This usually becomes a topic of discussion once you start a relationship with someone who is not location independent or when you are a couple and the topic of raising kids arises. Age and health are also factors that play into seeking a more stable life.
The concept of ‘home’ becomes somewhat fluid. When you move around from place to place or have several ‘homes’, your sense of belonging changes. Becoming a global citizen means you don’t truly feel at home in any one place anymore. Family and long time friends will always stay dear to your heart but as you start seeing new things and adopting new customs from other countries and cultures it becomes harder to connect to your original ‘home’. Although the love within families is unconditional, the understanding and connection becomes less. You’ll have less and less in common with friends who have settled into a more traditional lifestyle. Your new community soon consists of other nomads and location independents. But because everyone has a nomadic lifestyle it is still hard to maintain a stable social life, because everyone keeps moving on to other destinations.
So where do you work and live as a Location Independent? You cannot possibly afford to maintain many houses with home offices. The answer to the growing trend of location independent work and living are the co-working and co-living spaces. All over the world co-working spaces rent out desks and provide access to meeting room facilities by the hour or day. In Asia and South America, you can find co-living spaces where like-minded nomads enjoying their global mobility, reside with you in a temporary ‘home’.
Why do people pursue a location independent lifestyle? There are rumours that the typical digital nomad is a millennial. They feel that with all the new opportunities created by the fast developing world of technology, there is no need to work in a 9 to 5 office environment. They are innovative thinkers who want to take advantage of the evolving trends and earn their living while benefitting from these advantages. You do not have to be a millennial to create or desire a Location Independent lifestyle, being experienced in a regular job adds many advantages to creating a location independent online business. Having had a mature and stable life should also not prevent you from pursuing this lifestyle.
We can say that the type of person that pursues the nomadic part of the location independent lifestyle is often someone who feels they didn’t fit into the environment they were born and raised into. For some this lifestyle was born out of necessity. The urge to leave their home country, the urge to pursue an alternative life and work style comes from the restless feelings they experience when trying to fit in to the ‘norm’. Some nomads find that they never truly fit in anywhere and remain a nomad for the rest of their life. Or there are those that are curious by nature, they make several moves and then find a place to settle.
All in all there are many different work and lifestyles and with the ever growing technological advantages there is no need to choose a traditional work style anymore.
If you want to know which of the four different Location Independent work styles suits you, take the Workstyling Quiz. After completing the survey we will send the specifics of your profile and more information about our training on how to design your Location Independent work and life. Workstyling is a collaboration of Global Nomad Coaching and Without Boxes. We have designed a complete strategy to create an extraordinary location independent lifestyle.
By Gaby Kamp, full-time Global Nomad and founder of Global Nomad Coaching