Do you dream of sitting on a tropical beach, sipping a fruity cocktail while you work? That’s the dream of many who want to be location independent or digital nomads. But is it the reality? Not exactly. Most tropical beaches don’t have Wifi and not everyone does their best work with a few shots of rum in their system. A more realistic scenario is being able to do your work from anywhere, or nearly anywhere, and stroll down to that beach for a few hours anytime you need a break. So what do you need to make that work for you? Here are a few tips.
Find Your Calling
The best way to be location independent is to do work that you enjoy and will stick with even if you aren’t tied to a schedule or an office. Today there’s a lot of different ways to deliver your work to somewhere else in the world. In fact, some work only exists in that digital space that you access through the internet. If you can find the thing that drives you and then work out how it can be done either on the internet or through the internet you’ve taken a big step.
Don’t expect it to be an overnight process though. Unless you happen to be one of those world experts on a subject already, you don’t have a built-in customer base for your talents. You’ll need to work up to success in your particular calling. Build a reputation and a following before the income will follow.
Know Your Skills
Until you can make a living strictly on your passion, you need a realistic inventory of your skills which will support you in the meantime. Figure out all the things that you can do that will earn you money. Some will be completely in line with your new location independent lifestyle, while other might be tricky to make work.
Don’t ignore easily transportable skills, bartending for example, that can be used in a number of places for a quick infusion of cash to carry you over a rough spot. But the bulk of your skills need to be usable over a distance. There are websites for a variety of quick jobs, such as Fiverr, that can be delivered through the internet. Picking up a few quick tasks there can utilize your skills to keep you afloat while your central business grows.
Reduce Your Debt
When you decide to head out on the road, there are a number of things that will tie you to your old stationary life. Some you want to keep, friends and family you want to stay connected to, but others you definitely want to leave behind with no connections. Debt is one of these. A steady drain on your income is a terrible way to remember your old life. Do everything you can to reduce or eliminate any outstanding debt before you take up the vagabond lifestyle.
This may mean working an extra year at the job you want to leave, so balance the amount of debt you are willing to bring with you with the drive to change your life and make a decision you can live with, even out on the road.
One piece of debt that you might keep is your mortgage. Deciding if you should sell your house or keep it is tough. There’s more to it than just economics. Consider a less drastic step of renting it out while you travel. Property management companies can take care of much of the day to day and month to month work associated with a rental, leaving you free to read their updates in whatever country you’re in this week.
Establish Independent Income Streams
Just like any other freelance professional, it’s possible for you to have a lean month where there’s no work available. Making sure you have more than one type of income can help balance these out, keeping the money coming in from another source until the dry spell is over. The best of these, the Holy Grail of location independence, are passive income streams, where you don’t need to trade your time for money each month. Passive income requires an investment of time in the beginning, then allows you to continue to make money on that initial investment.
A good example would be an author whose books continue to be sold even after they’ve finished writing them, or a photographer whose pictures will still earn royalties as long as people want to use them. One of the tricks here is to create a permanent location where your work can be found. Setting up a website and choosing a domain name allows you to have a fixed home on the web while you roam the globe.
Do Your Homework
The kind of permanent travel associated with location independence needs some attention to detail. Some familiarity with the language, the customs, the taboos, and even the food and drink can make living in a country much easier than going in blind. But there are a number of other pitfalls you need to avoid. Here’s a quick list of some you may need to consider:
- Credit card with no international exchange fees
- Credit monitoring service against identity theft
- Unlocked phone able to use multiple carriers and systems
- Skype forwarding number (or some other service)
- Travel insurance for emergencies
- Storage unit for everything you can’t sell or take with you
- Long-term pet care (international travel with pets is to be avoided)
- Network with locals before you arrive
- Know where you’ll stay before you arrive
While this won’t guarantee you a life of luxury on that sandy beach, it will get you started in the right direction for a life of location independence. The kind of life where you can live where you like, for as long as you like. Even near a tropical beach.