Location independence, at its very essence, is about tailoring your work to your lifestyle rather than letting your lifestyle be defined by your work.
More and more people want the freedom to travel without jeopardizing their ability to hold a career, or without limiting their travel to a few weeks a year.
More and more people are choosing to do meaningful work that lets them set their own schedule, to allow more time for the things they love.
But building a location independent lifestyle takes time, hard work, risk, and even a dash of luck; so before diving in headlong, it’s worth considering whether you’re the type of person capable of weathering the challenges that come with it.
What Is Location Independence?
In the simplest terms, location independence means having the freedom to move about as you please because you are not tied to one particular geographic location by a job, possessions, or any number of other obligations.
Location independence can be a sustainable form of long-term travel, but travel is not necessarily always the goal; for some, it just means working from home in order to spend more time with loved ones and set their own daily schedule.
It also means you have the ability to support yourself financially from anywhere in the world because you earn income by working online—often through freelance work or a web-based business. Anyone who refers to themselves as a “digital nomad” is living a location independent lifestyle in which travel is a significant priority.
In a later section, we’ll discuss the three most common routes people take to build a location independent lifestyle: Remote work, freelancing, and entrepreneurship.
“Is location independence for me?”
If you’re wondering whether the location independent lifestyle is worth pursuing, ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Would I enjoy working from home?
- Would I enjoy having more flexibility in my schedule from day to day?
- Would I enjoy having the ability to travel anytime I wanted and for as long as I wanted?
- Would my happiness be positively or negatively affected by these things?
- Would this positively or negatively affect my family and other personal relationships?
- Would I be able to perform up to my own standards without a boss or a structured workday?
- Would I miss the office environment and my coworkers?
- Would this hurt my ability to continue advancing in my chosen career path?
I’ll be the first to admit, a location independent lifestyle isn’t right for everyone. If you’ve considered some of the questions above and are still interested, keep reading to see if you’re well-equipped for this drastic lifestyle shift.
Thriving in a Location Independent Lifestyle: Do You Have What It Takes?
The following are some of the traits that a person must possess in order to succeed at building a location independent lifestyle:
1. A high tolerance for risk.
Make no mistake, location independence is not the safe route when it comes to building a career. The challenges are great, and the uncertainty is greater. It is a risky move to strike out on your own; in many cases, it’s like building a career from scratch–a career that may not even pan out.
But you know how the saying goes: The greater the risk, the greater the reward. And for those of us who take the risk of building a location independent lifestyle, the reward is worth it, and that uncomfortable period before we’ve reached our individual definition of success is just par for the course.
2. The ability to self-motivate.
Working as a freelancer or entrepreneur, you are the boss. Not only that, but you wear all the company hats at once–you are the CEO, the secretary, the marketing manager, the project manager, the billing department.
There will be no one to scold you if you start the day late, finish a project late, forget to return a call or an email, or publish an article that’s sub-par. There will be no one looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re not wiling away hours on Facebook, reading celebrity smut, or playing Candy Crush instead of working toward your goals. It all falls on you.
If you can’t motivate yourself to do the necessary work, you will not succeed, plain and simple.
If you are the type of person to call it quits at the first sign of hardship, then a location independent lifestyle is not the right choice for you. In the case of building a successful (read: profitable) travel blog, for example, the time spent up-front before reaching your goals could be a number of years.
When teaching yourself the ins and outs of a new industry, the learning curve is steep and the hours are long. You must understand where there is a demand and how you can meet it, commit to pumping out useful, quality content on a consistent basis, and figure out how to grow an audience that is not only interested in what you have to say but trusts your opinion enough to purchase goods or services from you. None of this happens overnight.
The majority of new bloggers give up within the first year because they did not achieve the “success” they were after. But, if you want a location independent lifestyle badly enough, you will push through when you want to quit, you will pick yourself back up after every failure, and forge onward even when it truly feels like you don’t know what the $&!# you’re doing. Because you will feel that way–often.
4. An insatiable appetite for knowledge.
Not a day goes by when I don’t seek out new information that will help propel my business to the next level. A voracious appetite for knowledge, a deep-seated love of learning, a burning passion for wisdom, an everlasting affinity for erudition–without it, it’s easy to stagnate. Especially if you’re a part of an industry that’s so new, there are few rules or governing guidelines (such as blogging), you’ll need to be constantly growing and evolving in order to keep up, much less stay ahead of the curve.
In business, as in life, stagnation is death.
One of the most important things I’ve learned through this process is that building a location independent lifestyle can’t be done alone. You won’t know everything when first starting out–you’ll know very little, in fact, and as time goes on you’ll only learn how much more you don’t know. You must be willing to ask for help.
Check your ego at the door if you plan to become location independent and find yourself a mentor who can guide you through the process. Learn how to take constructive criticism and ask for it regularly. Admit when you’ve made mistakes and learn from them. Arrogance will get you nowhere.
6. The right mindset.
Have you ever noticed how some people seem to consistently reach their goals while others consistently fall short of them? It all comes down to having the right mindset.
The fact is, everyone faces challenges, frustrations, and setbacks. The path to success is not a smooth one, nor a straight one. But while one subset of people focuses on how much farther they still have to go, the other subset is focusing on the progress they’ve already made.
Psychology tells us that we are motivated by wins (even small ones) and demotivated by failures; when we focus on the wins, we feed into a cycle that propels us forward.
Those who consistently recognize and celebrate their small wins along the way to their big goals, stay motivated and ultimately reach those goals, while the people who focus on the distance still to go often get left behind.
Choosing Your Path to a Location Independent Lifestyle
Now that you’re well-versed in the most important traits a person must have to survive and thrive in a location independent lifestyle, let’s take a look at the three most common ways to get there.
Working remotely (also called telecommuting) could mean working from home, or it could mean working from a different time zone from your company’s headquarters.
People who choose remote work as their path to location independence enjoy the security of a regular paycheck and employee benefits while forfeiting much of the flexibility that freelancing or entrepreneurship can offer.
For the risk-averse, this is often the most desirable path. Remote work is also one of the easiest ways to transition from a 9-5 to a location independent lifestyle.
Remote jobs exist in a wide variety of industries and cater to both entry-level applicants and highly-skilled workers alike.
Freelancing allows you to leverage an existing skill to provide clients with a service they need. Freelancing can certainly be creatively fulfilling, but it’s also considerably more challenging than remote work.
Freelancing requires you to hustle day in and day out–you must find your own clients, maintain a healthy client roster, communicate with clients swiftly and effectively, and chase down invoices–not to mention manage your own finances and tax obligations.
For some freelancers, the steepest learning curve is getting comfortable with marketing themselves and their services, and understanding (and commanding) what they are worth.
If you’re new to freelancing, it might be worth building up a client list as a side hustle before making the transition to full-time.
Entrepreneurship is the most challenging path to a location independent lifestyle, but can also offer the most freedom in terms of creativity and flexibility.
Online businesses can take many forms, and it can be tough to stand out in the crowded online space.
However, if you can find the sweet spot of solving people’s problems while doing something you’re hopelessly passionate about, it will be the most liberating and fulfilling thing you’ll ever do.
If you are ready and willing to take on the challenges that come with pursuing a location independent lifestyle, then let’s get there together.
My ebook, Take Your Life Back: Finding Freedom Through Location Independence, can be your guide.
Which Path is Right For You?
Still not sure which path is right for you?
To help you determine which path suits your personality the best, I’ve devised a short quiz. Jot down your answers to the following questions:
1. How important is it to you to be your own boss?
a) Not important
b) Somewhat important
c) Very important
2. How comfortable are you with the possibility of financial instability?
a) Not comfortable at all
b) Somewhat comfortable
c) Pretty comfortable
3. How important is it to you to exercise creative control in your work?
a) Not important
b) Somewhat important
c) Very important
4. How many hours a week are you willing to put into your work to achieve your goals?
a) No more than 40 hours
b) More than 40 hours would be okay
c) As many hours as necessary—who needs sleep?
5. Do you consider yourself to be self-motivated?
a) No, I prefer to have someone give me tasks and deadlines
b) Sometimes I am, but other times I need some encouragement
c) Hell yeah, I always keep a mental list of what needs to be done next
If you answered mostly As…
Remote Work – You want the freedom of location independence, but without the risk and instability of working for yourself. You want a consistent schedule from week to week along with a consistent paycheck, and you’re okay with not having total autonomy over the type of work you do. Remote work could be the perfect path for you!
If you answered mostly Bs…
Freelancing – You’re less risk-averse than some, but not totally comfortable with putting it all on the line to start a business. You’re willing to put in some extra hours to build something that’s uniquely your own, but having some structure from day to day and some direction from clients feels most comfortable to you. Freelancing might be the happy medium you’re looking for—give it a go!
If you answered mostly Cs…
Entrepreneur – You’re ready to take on all the risks associated with entrepreneurship if it means you can have total autonomy over your work, your schedule, and your life. You’re willing to go the distance to build something that you can be proud of; long hours and learning curves be damned! Entrepreneurship might be the perfect route for you.
Of course, this is just to give you an idea of where to start—your goals will likely change over time, and starting out on one path doesn’t mean you can’t switch things up down the road.
At the end of the day, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination!
Are you ready for location independence? Download Chapter 1 of my ebook now!