When I stumbled into self-employment, I accidentally created what is apparently a very coveted form of entrepreneurship: running a location-independent business.
Nearly all of my time spent working could be done anywhere (with an internet connection). On a day-to-day basis, I don’t have to be anywhere in particular, and I spend my time writing, producing videos, talking to people over the phone/Skype, rehearsing my presentations, and interacting with people through social media. On a few days per month, I travel to speak at US universities, so obviously on those days it doesn’t matter from where I’m flying in.
My business isn’t 100% location-independent because I do have to go to these speaking engagements from time to time – I probably couldn’t live in Thailand with this model – but it’s pretty darn close.
There are a number of well-known bloggers with location-independent businesses, such as Michelle from Making Sense of Cents and Paula from Afford Anything, who speak frequently about their ability to work while traveling/vacating. They make it sound very glamorous and attractive! But I don’t have that same lifestyle, whether or not my business would allow for it, and I like it that way.
I like that I’m in my (new) city most of the time. I like that I can choose where I work (and most of the time I choose to work at home). And I like that I can take my work with me when I do travel.
Seattle Is My Home Base
I wouldn’t adopt a fully location-independent lifestyle to constantly travel or live in a low cost-of-living city/country because Kyle is not location-independent. The nature of his work (software development and in silico experiments) would actually allow him to work from anywhere, but the culture of the start-up he works for requires him to be in the office during work hours. Maybe that will change for him with time, but we don’t expect or even necessarily want it to. So to be with my husband on a daily basis, I need to live where his job is, and that’s fine by both of us!
I Choose Where I Work
Given that I want to be home for dinner every night that I’m not traveling, I could still work basically anywhere in the city that I would like. A coffee shop (no shortage of them here!) or co-working space is an option, and I have scoped out the library in my neighborhood as a potential workspace. Recently, I spent an afternoon working from the park that is two blocks from our house, which was lovely.
But I’m honestly happy to spend basically all my work time in the living room and office of our apartment. I have privacy for my calls and video recording, stay in my pajamas for much of the day, have ready access to food, and can do the occasional load of laundry – and you can’t beat the commute! (I’ve been spouting off about how lucky Kyle is to have only a 3-minute walk to work, but really mine is better!) Now that we aren’t paying for air conditioning, it seems pretty frugal to be in the house all day (especially compared to having to buy a beverage or snack I don’t really want at a coffee shop).
Since I’m naturally a homebody, I’m really happy with this arrangement for now. I get out of the house most days of the week to see friends, exercise, run errands, etc., so I don’t feel too cooped up. The only thing I would really like to do more of outside of the apartment is to connect with other local entrepreneurs/solopreneurs.
I Can Work While I Travel (Theoretically)
I have taken advantage of my location-independent business on a few occasions, to various degrees of success. It is definitely nice to not have to take full days off of work to travel, as I would have to with a typical job, or to be able to fit in a few hours of work when traveling for personal reasons.
Traveling for my speaking engagements takes a lot of time (especially when I’m going to the east coast), but of course I am able to work when I am in transit, in hotel rooms, and on campus. I actually enjoy the break I have from the internet when I’m on a plane (I haven’t started springing for in-flight Wi-Fi yet!) because many of my typical distractions are naturally limited and I can focus on writing.
While I haven’t yet demonstrated that I can work while traveling for personal reasons (working on our cross-country trip/move was not very successful), I have hope that I will be able to at least keep up some minimal work during those occasions. My next opportunity should be when we travel over Thanksgiving to see family, and I might extend my trip to keep my flight prices down, taking the extra few days as normal workdays in a new location. I’ve even been joking with Kyle that I’m going to escape the dreary Seattle weather we expect to arrive soon by “wintering” with his parents in southern California.
All in all I’m very happy that I have a location-independent business, even if I choose to exercise its independence by working out of my living room the vast majority of the time!
Is your work location-independent, and if so how do you take advantage of it? If you had location-independent work, where would you do your work?