3 Ways to Become Location Independent

3 Ways to Become Location Independent

The idea of becoming location independent sounds great to most people. Who wouldn’t want to be able to live and work anywhere you choose?

The hardest part about reaching your goal of location independence isn’t in having enough desire to do it. The hardest part is earning an income that doesn’t require you to show up to work every day in one place.

Plenty of people are showing that it is possible to be a digital nomad. Many of them are even writing about it and sharing resources to help you break free too.

Which brings us to the question most people have about lifestyle design and location independence in particular. How do people earn an income that lets them live and work anywhere they choose?

Here are three ways people become location independent, along with some resources to help you get there too:

Entrepreneurship

“Entrepreneurship” is a broad category. It basically means you organize a business venture and assume the risk for it. For people who want to become location independent, not just any form of entrepreneurship will do.

Running a franchise, a restaurant or bar, a venture-capital backed company or any company with employees usually requires that you spend a lot of time in one particular place. Those businesses often also leave you with little free time, even if you can get away.

To be an entrepreneur and become location independent requires planning and special attention to the structure of your business. To make it work, you’ll probably need to be more of a microbusiness or solopreneur.

Most location independent entrepreneurs run some form of online business. Countless sites out there will try to tell you how to create “passive income” online. Beware of scams and fraudsters. For some legitimate advice, check out Tim Ferriss’ description of a “muse” in his book the Four Hour Work Week.

Depending on your website development skills, you may not have to buy a special course or pay a lot for information about how to run an online business. You’ll probably need to spend more time convincing yourself that it’s worth leaving your comfortable job behind.

Freelancing

Freelancing is another source of income you may be able to earn from anywhere in the world. Whether you can use freelancing to become a digital nomad depends on a number of things including the type of work you do, and your relationship with your clients.

Being a freelancer doesn’t automatically mean you can work from anywhere. You’ll need to pay special attention to making your freelance career work from long distance.

How do you get started in Freelancing if you aren’t already doing it? There are numerous great guides out there about starting. After you get things set up, you’ll need to find some gigs.

Remote Work Agreements

Instead of quitting your job to start a business or become a freelancer, could you simply negotiate an agreement with your employer to perform your job entirely offsite?

It is definitely possible. Luis Suarez, an evangelist for social computing at IBM is a great example of someone who lives and works anywhere he wants, but is employed by a big company.

Could you negotiate an agreement to work remotely? It depends a lot on the type of work you do. If you’re a knowledge worker, why couldn’t you do everything you need to independent of a specific location?

Putting it All Together

The truth is that many digital nomads are working on multiple projects at once. The goal of a four hour workweek is great, but in reality it may take a year of 60-hour weeks to get there. The important thing is that you are actively working to develop the lifestyle you want to live now, instead of waiting to become rich or retire.

What other creative ways can you become location independent while still making a living? Please share in the comments!

photo by _neona_

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  • http://kojobaffoe.wordpress.com Kojo Baffoe

    It is always the simplest things that are the most effective as well as the hardest to get one’s head around. I’m a big fan of the Four Hour Work Week & believe that becoming Location Independent is very possible but recognise that it needs work. I am working with two of the three ways, namely Entrepreneurship and Freelancing and enjoy your posts in how they assist in designing of the lifestyle I want. It isn’t about getting rich but rather being able to live with the comfort I desire.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      You’re right, Kojo. It’s definitely possible to become location independent, but it takes hard work and money is obviously not the big attraction. As you said, what’s important is living with the comfort you desire. Freedom is hard to put a value on.

  • http://www.morphoware.com Mitchell Allen

    Corbett, this is a very nice introduction to your blog. I ran across your site’s name while setting up for the Location Independent Group Writing Project.

    I’m glad I stopped by to get your insights.

    Of the three, I shudder at Remote Work Agreements, because you’re not 100% in control. I’m sitting here imagining all kinds of scenarios, but that just means it’s not for me :)

    Cheers,

    Mitch

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      I agree about remote work agreements, but for some people who don’t want to give up the “security” or benefits of a regular job, it can be the best of both worlds. Good luck with the group writing project. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Ross

    SALES!!
    Why doesn’t anyone talk about doing location independent sales. Sales, sales, sales. Almost any sales job can be done over the phone. I’ve been traveling for 3 years (currently in Amsterdam) and sell for a company in Denver over the phone. Every article I read about digital nomads does a horrible job of thinking outside the box on employment. We promote this life of freedom but still don’t make it seem accomplishable. C’mon. There are too many opportunities. Think people think!

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Now that’s a high value comment! Thanks very much for making us aware of this possibility. Since I don’t have a sales background, I hadn’t really thought much about it. I’m glad you’re able to make the location independent lifestyle work.

      Did you have to negotiate a special arrangement with the company in Denver? Are there any difficult aspects to performing your job remotely?

      Thanks, Ross!

  • http://ExileLifestyle.com Colin Wright

    I’m working on several aspects of becoming location independent right now, and the toughest part for me is breaking away from the skill-oriented trades (design, development, illustration, etc) and moving toward more scalable work (creating digital products like ebooks and podcasts, import/export, consultation work, etc). It’s very difficult for a hands-on person like me to let go of these things so quickly, though, so I’m aiming for a mix of the two.

    Part of why I’m becoming location independent, too, is to make a point about technology and what it can do for people in regards to telecommuting (which is a topic I feel very strongly about). Many companies are wasting gobs of time and money while at the same time reducing potential productivity and destroying their employees’ morale. There are bajillions of pro-sustainability results from a company going virtual, as well, and I’m hoping to show companies all over the world that this is a viable option (I run a solo design and development business, as well as a virtual studio with about a dozen contractors, and I will continue to run these businesses while living overseas).

    Something for everyone to consider; especially those who are currently working for someone else.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      I love your point about sustainability and remote workers. I’m guessing you’ve heard about the Best Buy ROWE program? Check it out if you haven’t already. We tend to focus on the individual benefits of location independence, but companies stand to benefit a great deal as well from remote workers in the right situations. Cheers!

      -Corbett

  • http://www.ebriel.com Elizabeth

    Found you via Cody McKibb on Twitter. I’m currently a Location Independent artist & travel-writer, and do visual/written projects mainly for a single publisher http://www.thingsasianpress.com (hope it’s ok I put in the website, feel free to delete).

    After 6 years working “on-the-ground” in several Asian countries (Korea, Cambodia & Hong Kong), last year I scaled down my art teaching commitments to just 2 days/week, all I needed to live on, while my freelance work went into savings/my personal travel fund. When my partner got a job in Sydney, I already had some projects lined up in Asia, and decided “now is the time to go 100% freelance” rather than look for work in Sydney.

    How did this get started? Lots of dedication and work for years led to contacts with this publisher who kept an eye on my blog. Eventually, I was offered one project, then another…

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      That’s an inspiring story, Elizabeth. Thanks for explaining how you worked up to 100% freelancing. People are often curious about how to do it. It sounds like it took quite a few years to be completely self employed, which is pretty common. Congrats on the transition!

  • http://www.istockphoto.com/fontmonster Fontmonster

    Hi, one great way to be location independent is to get your camera going on your travels. It can start small on your holidays and around friends and family but it can soon grow. iStockphoto is a great way to continue a growth market of your own creative output whilst enjoying yourself at the same time. I started iStock and got serious about a year ago. I’m now in a position to think about going self employed. I don’t recommend you go out and spend thousands on camera equipment as it may not be for you but as a sideline and learning curve it’s a good start and interest initially. Get a budget SLR only if you can afford it and should you find it’s all not for you you can sell it on ebay.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      I think lots of people think about writing about their adventures (and possibly earning some money from it), but photography is a great idea. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • http://www.nunomad.com Carmen

    Nice article. I agree very much with what you’re saying. It has been my passion in writing about location independent people (what we call “nunomads”)and interviewing them that a message not be given that this is lifestyle is only for people who are “digital” in their careers. There are many people who are finding ways to support themselves as they travel the world without being part of the cyber culture.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      It’s funny that you wrote this comment just now. When I read it, I was in the process of writing an article specifically about nomads who aren’t technologists. I agree, and in fact most of the people I’ve met who spend months away from home each year don’t work with technology.

      It’s just that people who write about location independence often do so in the blog format, or are involved in online businesses, so we get the impression that everyone is part of “cyber culture” as you called it. Thanks for writing!

  • http://www.symantec.com Charrese Edwards

    I am lucky enough to work for a company where my leadership team is completely okay with whereever we choose to be just as long as we are productive and show results. I am based in Portland right now but plan to move to DC sometime this year and I don’t have to look for a new job when I get there.

    I love to travel, especially during the long and dreary Portland winters, in fact this year alone I have traveled to and worked from London, Mexico, and New Orleans and next week I will be in Philly and I will be working.

    What do I do? Recruit. And what is recruiting if not sales? I sell the company I represent to potential candidates and then sell the candidates to the hiring managers and, like Ross said in the comment above, sales can be done from anywhere. Yes, with a phone, a laptop and the flexibility to adjust my hours somewhat according to the time zone I am in, I can be anywhere I want to be. Granted, it can be a bit of a nuisance when in London working with candidates and jobs in California or in Portland working on jobs in London, because the time difference is fairly substantial. But, then again, what’s so bad about a little late night or early morning work when the reward is to enjoy my morning coffee sitting in a cafe on the Portobella Road in August (the best people watching spot in London) or sip my evening drink watching the sunset on the beaches of Mexico in February.

    Thumbs up to recruiting as a career and a big thumbs up to working for a progressive and dynamic company like Symantec.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Recruiting (especially at Symantec) sounds like a great path to location independence. It’s great that some companies are progressive enough to value results over face time. It really is better for both employees and employers.

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  • http://laidoffusa.com/blog Jack White

    Don’t you think it’s impossible if you have kids? I had two daughters a little later in life. I’ve got one about to enter high school and another who’s 7. You just can’t be dragging them around.

    I always wondered how kids who grew up in military families were able to stand all the moving. If not for the kids, I’m sure I could simplify my life and get on the move, but alas, it’s not meant to be.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Hi Jack. I don’t think it’s impossible to be location independent if you have kids. We’ve met a number of people who are on extended trips with kids ranging in age from 2 to 17.

      It just depends on what you want your children to experience as they grow up. Most people home school while they’re on the road, so you also have to be prepared for that. The kids we’ve met all seem to enjoy the traveling, but some do eventually want to live in one place so they can experience “regular” life and make long-term friends.

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  • Welner

    Hey corbett nice post! I would like to know where in Mexico that place is?

    • Corbett

      Which place, Welner, the photograph? That’s just a creative commons licensed photo from Flickr. Not sure the origin.

  • Kulwant Nagi

    I am working hard to live that lifestyle and for sure going to achieve it in next 3 years..

    Cheers !! ;)

Up Next:

How to Live a Part-Time Location Independent Lifestyle

I'm writing this from our apartment in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco, but the truth is I could be writing it from anywhere in the world. My business and life are location independent. That means I can live and work from anywhere, as long as I have a laptop and an Internet connection.

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