Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ten years too late to be location independent

When I left Perth to live abroad and travel in 2001, the internet was definitely around, but not always easily accessible. I couldn't afford to have home internet access in Japan (I did manage in Slovakia and Germany though) and mobile devices like the iPhone just weren't there. I'm guessing that's why I feel like I was just about a decade too early to hop on the coolest traveller's bandwagon there is at the moment - being location independent.

This very trendy phrase - to be location independent - is all about being able to do your work from anywhere in the world. So yes, you might imagine someone doing freelance work over the internet from a balmy Pacific island and there are certainly a few people doing just that! For example, one of my blogging friends, Nora from The Professional Hobo is currently "working" in the Caribbean, combining some crewing on sailing boats with several months housesitting on Grenada, all the while keeping up her blog and writing work which generates enough income to sustain this dream lifestyle - yes, she's location independent. And she's just one of many, many bloggers (and other freelancers) I know about who are taking up this location independent lifestyle.

My temporary "location independent" office in Germany
I was lucky, of course, to be able to move around to three different countries and combine working as an English teacher with some freelance writing and blogging work. Now that I'm back in Perth, although I run a small consulting and training business, a lot of my work is online and I am free to arrange my time and work as I want, and that gives me some similar advantages to the location independent bloggers and freelancers I'm feeling a bit jealous of - such as on my recent trip to Melbourne, when I could keep up with my regular work at night on my laptop while my son slept.

But that's the key here - my son! While there are people who wander the world with their kids, and I love following their blogs, we've decided to "stay put" while our little boy's growing up. I'm happy with this decision, and of course there'll still be plenty of trips, but there's just a little part of me that wishes for a time travel machine that would have put my decade of travel a little further forward into the internet age so I could have become a true "location independent". I think I would have been good at that! Though if it had been up to me, I would have coined a cornier phrase to describe it.

I'm opening this up to your daydreams now: if you could be location independent, what kind of remote job would you do, and where would you do it? Would you rush off to find cruise holidays (they have WiFi on those cruise ships these days, right?) and sail the world while writing computer programming code at night? Brush up some graphic design skills and spend your mornings in Parisian cafes sketching up new logos and sightseeing in the afternoon? Become a travel photographer, wandering the world and supplying some stock photo agency with a stream of incredible pictures from places nobody else goes to? There are numerous possibilities and I'm sure you can dream up some more for me. Let me know your location independent fantasy in the comments below.


16 comments:

  1. I wouldn´t mind having a job that involved travelling the world - maybe as a photographer.
    I always feel jealous of those TV Travel program presenters who get to travel to exotic locations and try out fancy hotels and restaurants...How lucky are they?

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    1. Yes, getting paid to regularly travel to exotic locations, that does sound rather nice ... though I bet they just complain about it!

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  2. I have worked as a location independent translator and copywriter for the last year - ironically, I am thinking about making this work while staying put in one country and it seems much harder to do. Travelling is cheaper than paying rent and all that.

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    1. I've certainly heard that a few times Steffi - that actually staying put is more expensive than just wandering the world! There are a lot more "fixed" costs once you put down roots. Strange but true, I agree.

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  3. Being location independent is becoming more and more possible for more and more people. I think It's becoming a case of 'if you can dream it, you can do it.' We didn't exactly live a location independent life but we did live in 11 countries as working ex-pats while our children were growing up. To answer your question though, I'm happy to be in one place for a while and WA is great!

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    1. Living in 11 different countries is an impressive record, I didn't realise it was so many! And I very much agree with your comment that anyone who really wants to can do it. Just a bit of faith, hard work, and a little luck.

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  4. If I was talented enough I would like to be a travel writer. I would housesit continuously and write. Not a good time for me now either as I have elderly parents whom I would not like to abandon. But in another time.....

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    1. Continuous housesitting is an excellent plan, Jan. And also something I might try one day later in life ...

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  5. We felt torn with the 'to travel or not' (long term/ live abroad)with small children and decided that stability was what they needed in the short term. we hope to live abroad with them when they are older and can appreciate the experience.
    If i could be location independant I guess I would hope it had something to do with writing although I doubt I will ever make a living (or even a pittance) from that! It would be great to have longish stints in various places but continue to move around.... what a lovely dream!

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    1. Rachel, wash your mouth out! You will definitely make more than a pittance from your writing!! Anything is possible these days :-) and I agree re the small children and stability bit. Although some days I'm not sure - the small boy freaks out if the swimming teacher changes, but swoop him interstate for a week and he spends the next month asking to go back there!

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  6. That's pretty cool. You can travel anywhere whilst being an English teacher, and a freelance blogger and writer. That's like not having to worry about punctuality in an office, coz that's quite the hassle sometimes. You can even have to expose yourself to your favorite surroundings while working to help reduce stress.

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    1. All true, Rosie. Thanks for stopping by.

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  7. It's my dream to be location independent. These days I'm taking steps towards achieving this. I'm hoping it'll be reality in the near future.

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    1. Good on you Samuel - by the looks of your (very professional) websites I'm pretty sure you'll make it!

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  8. If you're a decade too late - I'm 2 - I did most of my long-haul travel in the late 80s - early 90s. I make a living online and we did do a 2 month trip where I ran my business from the road which worked OK.

    But I'm not totally convinced. Travel is my passion - I don't really want to compromise it while working. I've travelled for work before - it was awful (3 months in LA awful). I now see some travel bloggers who can't travel without access to good WIFI - I find that ironic!

    I can see a semi-nomadic future for us - my partner will hopefully retire this year - and I'd like to spend at least 6 months a year out of the country.

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    1. Definitely a good point there Lissie - I do certainly think that the "good old days" when you could barely access the internet on the road were not so bad - now there's an expectation that you'll be in touch (and blogging etc) all the time.

      A semi-nomadic future sounds lovely! Especially if the 6 months you miss out on are all winter (in my opinion!)

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