Building A Location Independent Lifestyle
I’m not quite sure why but over the past few months, I’ve been trying to build some sort of income for myself which I can make without a physical presence at a job. It’s perhaps the allure of freedom and being able to work from any location I want.
The Laptop Life Isn’t Ideal
There are those who want to be perpetual travelers, they blog about traveling, dream about traveling and they list traveling as a hobby on their dating profile and can recall the number of countries they’ve been to. That’s not the case with me, TSA cavity searches, long lines, traffic and crammed planes are as appealing to me as another refresher residency.
Computer programmers and graphic designers who work from home, from their laptop or desktop, don’t rave about the freedom of working from home or being ‘location-independent’. Just because there isn’t a physical job site that one must report to, doesn’t mean that you are location-independent. Your ass might be parked on a bench seat in Italy, but your eyes are glued to that MacBook made in China.
To keep location independence realistic and easy, I must consider my free time, income and overhead when trying to make that e-dollar.
Advantages Of Location Independence
- Rent your home out in a high-demand economy
- Live somewhere cheaper
- Explore rest of the world with your family or mistress
- Learn new languages
- Pursue a business overseas
- Escape shitty weather
- Be closer to extended family
- No commute
- Transition to a new career
Disadvantages of This Kind Of Work
- Lack of time flexibility
- Losing your local network
- Cost of travel once those mileage points run dry
- Decreased income
- Feeling disconnected
- Unreliable internet connection
- Technology failure or tech theft
- Working at night because your ass is in the Philippines
- Limited to only destinations with solid internet access
- Increased cost of reliable work locations
Separating Home And Work Space
For any person who hasn’t completely been brainwashed by FB pictures, it’s an obvious fact that if someone has a picture of themselves on some tropical gorgeous beach with their laptop in hand saying “Working remotely!”, they are probably stuck in a tiny, dingy office space, a decent walk away from the beach, working feverishly from their laptop without even being able to look up for a few minutes.
You will impress a few people by throwing out slang like digital nomad, suitcase entrepreneur, hotel commuter, global office worker, digital commuter, laptop lifestyle, office on the beach etc.
It’s akin to telling a veteran ED doctor that their job must be awesome because of all the exciting things they see every day. After the drug seekers, coughs/colds, back pains and homeless are cleared out of your ED, you might be left with a few ICU admissions and maybe a couple of foreign body removals, usually from repeat customers.
To do location independent work properly, you need a home base, a group of people you can befriend, and lots of flexibility. If you start using your apartment/hotel as an office you might soon become stir-crazy. There are international shared office spaces, such as wework, which you can use for reliable internet access and an appropriate environment to professionally perform your work.
What’s The Appeal Of Working From Anywhere
Everyone will have their own answer to this. For some it’s a terrible thought, they love the comfort of their own home or office. Polling my friends, this is what I got:
- making income while overseas doing mission work
- not having to commute to work
- less stress than being in the clinic/hospital
- taking the kids on a cross-country trip
For me, the appeal is that I enjoy living in new places, not just visiting them for a few weeks but actually settling down somewhere and learning the language, the culture and making friends there.
Eventually, I’ll be okay with having one place of work, even if it’s a physical location. But right now I feel confined by the thought of just being in one place day in and day out. I think the feeling got amplified once I became debt free – almost like there is this opportunity out there that I shouldn’t pass up on.
The Critical Income/Expense Equation
Living in another part of the country means moving, travel costs, adjustment costs, socializing, entertainment and the cost of maintaining whatever you leave behind.
If you keep your house/condo back home, even if paid off, you will have carrying costs for that property. If you own vehicles then you will have expenses for storing them and keeping them operational.
For most of us, it will be quite hard to replace a solid physician’s income with digital work. Being able to live on less is an important skill to have, as if I haven’t beaten the shit out of that horse already. I think I’m able to keep my expenses low overall, but adding in the cost of travel and securing new accommodations is important to consider even for the most anemic budgets.
If I can make around $3,000 per month from my digital work then I should be able to live in most countries, in fairly desirable neighborhoods.
With my current inflows, it appears that I have been able to successfully create this kind of income. Remedy is paying me around $3,400/month for the work that I do with them. I have a few other income sources, mostly consulting which is thankfully quite flexible.
Initially, I suspect that Remedy will be my main income source but it’s important that I don’t start trying to trade my time for income like I did before as a jobber. I am building my own virtual practice up as well, but I don’t want to see more than a handful of patients a week in that – no need to get crazy with it.
My US Expenses
Regardless of where I end up, I will have some expenses in the US. I will owe taxes on any income I generate since I am a US citizen. I will owe property taxes if I keep my condo and I will have some costs with maintaining the property, whether I rent it out or leave it empty.
Storage. I’m the most anti-storage person there is out there, I would sell most of my shit if I was going to be gone for a year. Alternatively, I would rent my condo furnished and be able to ‘store’ my belongings for free.
Coming back. If I sell everything and leave then I could get financially shafted once I return, having to replace my home, furnishings etc. Should inflation be higher by the time I return (likely), I would negatively impact my net worth.
In general, unless you are committed to a specific lifestyle, it’s wiser to just do it on the side, carry some of the higher costs and the pull the trigger once you know it’s the right fit.
A Few Other Advantages Of This Kind Of Lifestyle
A lot of this is just mental talk, it’s been kicking up dust in that vast empty space that’s my cranium, so I thought I’d share it on here. Just because the possibility exists or is created doesn’t mean I have to capitalize on it.
I could see an opportunity arising somewhere else which might require my physical presence, another reason to have this kind of lifestyle figured out.
At times a local economy can be hit hard for various reasons, in particular affecting the value of local currency. If such an event takes place then I can always leave for a few years until things settle down.