Category Archives: Location Independence

Busting the Top 15 Digital Nomad Myths

Visiting the Acropolis...on an average day 'off' work

Visiting the Acropolis…on an average day ‘off’ work

So you think you want to be a digital nomad…until you meet someone who bursts all your bubbles by listing 101 reasons why it’ll be impossible. Let ‘em. Let them finish talking that is, but never let them burst your bubble!

There are countless myths flying about on jut show difficult it is to create a location independent life. Well I’m here to tell you that most of them are complete and utter rubbish, some are somewhat valid and a select few are spot on, but only if you happen to be partial to pessimism.

Want to know the truth? The only thing that will ever stop you from achieving any goal (including that of becoming a digital nomad) is fear. Fear will stop you dead on your tracks and prevent you from taking forward steps to making life-changing choices. Manage to remove the element of fear to your decision making and you’ll be surprised how many problems you’ll be able to solve.

Time to bring in the myth-busters…

Myth #1: Traveling around the world as a digital nomad is expensive

I’ve been traveling for almost 10 years and have been a digital nomad for the last two. In the last 12 months I’ve spent a total of € 6,000 ($8,400 USD). Yes you read that right; less than most people spend on a two week vacation. Granted I am a motorbike overlander: I enjoy camping for most of the year and lead a minimalist travel existence. I do this because I enjoy it very, very much, yet the financial benefits are rather obvious too. No, this does not mean you should follow suit, but it does mean that if you open your eyes you will realize that traveling the world can be as cheap or as expensive as you’d like it to be. Always has been, always will be.

Myth #2: Working whilst traveling ruins your ‘vacation’

One of the hardest myths to bust is that which leads people to believe that digital nomading, and long-term traveling in particular, is just one looooong drawn out vacation. I’m not on a holiday here, this is my life. It includes work, entertainment, cooking, cleaning, food shopping and playing. There’s a perfect time for each and every one of my activities. Does your job ruin your life? As much as I would like you to answer ‘no’ to really drive my point home…if your answer is yes then you should definitely consider becoming a digital nomad!

Myth #3: The life of a digital nomad is a lonely one

I have been lonelier in a room full of people who didn’t share my way of thinking and my philosophies, than I have ever been on the road. I have also been lonelier during week-ends at home (where all my friends were busy with family commitments) then I have ever been as a traveler abroad. Not only can you be in constant contact with people who think like you and live like you (they’ll be sharing your hostel dorm or working as digital nomad themselves in your chosen city), but you will also have the freedom to control your exposure to people. You get to hang out only with people you really like! How’s that for fun?

A recent study has shown that there is an increase in depression among adults in the world’s most developed cities; this is due to the fact that people are working harder and ‘living less’ than ever before. I dare say you will be no more lonely as a digital nomad abroad than you would be working your butt off at home. For someone else.

Myth #4: You’ll get bored with moving around all the time

If there is one thing which absolutely bored me to tears in my previous life (as I like to call my pre-digital nomad period) was the fact of being in the one spot ALL.THE.TIME. Driving to the same office every day, lunching at the same place, doing the same thing every day in and out…SHOOT ME NOW! Is what I wanted to scream by the time I hit 30. So, if the thought of living in a new place sounds utterly boring to you then perhaps no, this choice may not be for you. Most digital nomads rate the extra stimulation of new places as the top perk of their lifestyle choice.

Myth #5: You’ll get homesick and miss your family and friends

This myth introduces an interesting conundrum in the life of a digital nomad. Yes, in fact, you will get homesick but the feeling will be temporary and, besides, there are loads of ways you can combat it. First of all, what digital nomads miss in fact are people, not places per say. Luckily, people you can talk to! Make regular Skype dates with the loved ones in your life and plan for yearly get-togethers. You’ll be surprised just how many of your friends will take advantage of your new found lifestyle and come visit you. YEY!

Myth #6: Changing your lifestyle takes years

From the day I woke up thinking ‘Enough now, it’s time to make a change’ to getting on that plane, only four months had passed. In that time I sold my flat, quit my job, sold off most of my belongings and convinced my mother not to lock me in my room forever. Last one was the most time consuming.

It may take you years to decide to change your life, but if you’re a cunning organizer and multi-tasker you can work down your to-do list in just a few weeks once the decision has been made. Promise.

Myth #7: It’s harder to be a digital nomad with a family in tow

Whoever came up with this myth must have been a real genius. Well of course quitting your routine home-life and moving abroad will be more complicated with family in tow, yet that is only because LIFE is more complicated with family in tow!! This isn’t even a myth, it’s just a simple, logical conclusion; but I can tell you that I have met plenty of young families who have found a way to make it work. Simply because they wanted to. Want to know the truth? Their kids were the most open, experienced, mature and philosophical children I have probably ever met. The sheer amount of extra stimuli and cultural experiences shaped them into incredible human beings indeed. If you want all the extra benefits for your children as well as yourself and your partner then I know you’ll find a way to do it. Very simple really.

Myth #8: Being a digital nomad is not something you can do/be forever

Here’s another myth for the recycle bin! At the risk of sounding a bit too esoteric, I shall state that, at the end of the day, you can be anything you want for as long as you still want it. Other than that, logic also tells us that technological advances mean this kind of life will simply get easier with the passing of time rather than harder. Make the transition for location independent and I dare say you’ll never need, or want, to return to a ‘normal job’ ever again.

Myth #9: Working on your computer abroad is just like being at home. (What’s the point?)

There are infinite points actually, but I’ll just mention a few here. I may be sitting in front of my computer right now (which is what I would do at ‘home’), but the moment I shut down the PC and walk out the door I will be in the middle of the Caucasus Mountain range…not in the middle of a suburban Sydney street. Yes it’s true, when I am ‘zoned’ into my work I could be anywhere, but the convenience and excitement of knowing I am in a foreign country is not only amazing to know once I stop work, but it also helps me enjoy my work a lot more. I never resent my job because it allows me the freedom to travel where and when I like.

Myth #10: Digital nomads can only enjoy fleeting, superficial friendships

Oh how wrong this is! Some of the deepest and most intense friendships I have ever made have been with fellow travelers I met for just a few days. Let me explain how this is possible.

There is a certain mysterious pull which bonds like-minded travelers together and makes their connection intensely intimate in a very short period of time. I call travel ‘the BS-filter’, if you’ll pardon the expression. Meet people on the road and you’re bound to be sitting down together and philosophizing about the meaning of life within just a single day. This is something which hardly ever happens at home, because people’s lives are decorated with fluff small-talk like ‘gosh I had a tough day in the office today, and do you like my new shoes and how about those Mets uh?’

Once distractions are removed you are free to communicate with a person at a much deeper level, much faster. I must admit that I have had more deep and meaningful conversations with new on-the-road-friends than I have had with some of my best buddies back home.

Myth #11: There is an age limit to this lifestyle

Incorrect: there is absolutely no age limit to this lifestyle. If you can type on a keyboard and (most importantly) you still want to, then by all means feel free to disregards this myth. Does it get harder the older you are? I imagine so, yet mostly because one’s desires can alter the more time passes. My own travels are changing slightly as the years pass yet so are my desires. I no longer want to travel super-fast and prefer to stop in one spot for longer than a few weeks. What hasn’t changed is my happiness-level. You can still do what makes you happy till the last breath you’ll ever take.

Myth #12: You must work in IT, Internet marketing or be a writer to be a digital nomad

At the risk of sounding repetitive; nope…this one’s not true either. The limitations of your online work opportunities are only restricted by your imagination and your ability to think a little laterally. Over the last few years I’ve met freelance teachers, accountants, editors, marketing analysts, graphic designers and quite a few therapists, psychologists and even yoga teachers who conducted their appointments over Skype. Nowadays, there is not much one can’t do remotely and, to be completely honest, you can be an anything– nomad, you are not even bound by the digital part of it at all. If it’s location independent you want to be, then your options are just as numerous offline. I’ve also met plenty of jewellery makers, masseurs, hairdressers, beauty therapists, podiatrists and all sorts of colourful characters who made a perfectly respectable living offering their freelance services wherever they happened to stay awhile.

Myth #13: Digital nomads are not as productive as those who work in an office

This is a really difficult subject to broach because it’s the one which digital nomads feel most passionately about. We don’t like this one at all. Not only have we worked damn hard to establish our reputation as reliable professionals but, if anything, we believe we are more productive than our in-office colleagues simply because we are happier to work. Having a relaxing and friendly workspace has been proven to improve productivity; and what better place than the one you create for yourself? Digital nomads also have extra incentives; not having the protection of an employer who pays into health insurance funds or covers sick leave means we are in complete control of our work output. The less productive we are, the less we earn; if that doesn’t create an environment beneficial to productivity…then I don’t know what will!

Myth #14: You need a large cash injection to become a digital nomad

Just as you don’t need much money to live overseas as a digital nomad, you also don’t need a lot of money to get started. The accepted rule of thumb is that you can feel free to set off as soon as you have secured your yearly minimum income requirement which, if you’re planning to spend the first six months in a cheaper country like Thailand, can be as low as $500 a month. Of course, having a financial buffer is ideal, yet at the end of the day many people leading ‘normal lives’ never have this luxury either; most people live payslip to mouth so, as long as you are apt at finding alternative work (bar-tending on week-ends for example) in case your digital work falls short, then you won’t need much at all to start with.

Myth #15: Being a digital nomad is the ultimate life dream

I was quite adamant that I wanted to add a ‘positive myth’ to my list and I do believe I’ve found the perfect one. No, this is not true: not everyone dreams of being a digital nomad. This is not any sort of utopian existence, but rather just one of many other lifestyles one could choose to lead. Believing this could work for anyone can be a dangerous thing because it may lead people to believe they are missing out if they don’t consider it. Stability and home comforts are extremely important to some people and if there’s one thing I dislike is if someone believes I am critical of them just because they love their 9-5 jobs, big homes and nice cars. Hey, I’m not here to judge anyone! All desires are valid and all dreams worthy…being a digital nomad was simply mine.

If it also happens to be yours, then rest assured nothing could ever stand in your way.

Written by Laura Pattara

1 Comment

Filed under Digital Nomads, Location Independence, Motivation, Working Remotely

Budgeting for Your Breakaway: How to Determine the Costs of Moving Abroad

The big cull: if it didn't fit into the back of the bike...it was sold!

The big cull: if it didn’t fit into the back of the bike…it was sold!

Budgeting for a big move is a prospect often fraught with angst. Whilst I agree it may well be the hardest thing you’ve ever done up until now…it need not be all that difficult. I’ll start by admitting that helping digital nomads determine the actual cost of their move is a futile exercise, considering the endless contributing factors: where do you live now? Where do you want to move to? Are you single or with kids in tow? Are you planning to ship your car and a container full of belongings? Etc etc. You get the gist.

Instead, I think the best option is to share some tried-and-tested tips on the best way you can determine the cost for yourself and (perhaps more importantly) include some insider tips on how to reduce these costs.

After all…I’m going to go out on a limb and assume this may be everyone’s priority 😉

Separate the must-costs from the maybe-costs

Your first priority should be to make a list of all the costs you envisage for your move. Things like flights, above-mentioned container shipping; apartment and/or car rental and so on. Then, think long and hard about which costs are avoidable and which are not. Yes you will have to get yourself there somehow, so flights are (for the majority) unavoidable. Tick.

Apartment rental? Nope, don’t need that yet (more on this later.) Car? Definitely not at first. Double tick.

Now your turn.

Get at least three quotes on all the must-costs

Once you have determined what you must absolutely pay for (if you’re still undecided keep on reading) then best to get quotes as soon as possible. Making the move during low-tourist season in your target country can keep flight, shipping and accommodation costs down for example, so always keep this in mind when doing your research and you could save a small bundle right off the bat.

Sell more…take less

You know how I mentioned getting a quote for shipping all of your personal belongings? Yeah…not. Stop right there.

I know how enticing it is to want to duplicate your life at home once abroad but this does contrast with most of the reasons you decided to make the BIG move in the first place. This isn’t about duplicating, this is about reshaping. If you do want to take ALL of your material possessions and envisage placing them in your new home overseas, you may want to rethink your reasons for moving. It’s a hell of a lot of hassle just to get away from the mother-in-law! Just kidding…

Placing everything in storage and leaving with the bare necessities is a great option, although if you can stomach the idea, I suggest you actually sell off as much as possible before you leave. Not only will this generate more cash (there’s your flights!) but the psychological impact it will have on you may allow you for greater flexibility in your new home-country.

I did in fact leave all my belongings in storage before going travelling. The next time I saw them was three years later when I dashed home to sell it all off: I had spent $2000 a year on storing things I never thought about, nor needed, ever again.

Food for thought? Goodie.

The dreaded housekeeping

One of the hardest decisions you’ll make will be whether or not to keep your house, if you happen not to be renting at home. This is definitely a tough choice to make. Due to my fatalist philosophies I will come right out and advice you to get rid of it; the only thing it will gift you is hours and hours of worry and work; both things you can do without. However, I also understand and accept that this may be easier said than done. Well, I did do it and it was rather easy, but you get my point.

Factoring in the costs of keeping your home at home can be hard-going. Will you rent it out? What about unexpected repairs? Will you leave someone else in charge of managing it? What about the extra expenses: can you factor them into your digital nomad income?

It will soon will become painfully obvious that keeping your home is a huge commitment, one which is hard to maintain if you happen to be on the other side of the planet; and this is just taking practical matters into consideration. I can only imagine how many digital nomads have lost countless nights’ sleep over a major issue with their homes. I don’t envy them one bit.

You’ll need less than you think

This particular credo works for just about everything you can think of. Please excuse the hanging preposition.

First of all, let’s talk high tech gizmos. By and large, I would suggest that whatever you need for one full day of working remotely from Starbucks is all you’ll ever need. I’ve seen digital nomads look like walking computer stores, whilst all I own is a small netbook, an external hard-drive and a couple of memory sticks. All three, by the way, can be purchased in almost every corner of the globe. I keep things stored on Dropbox and continually email my work to myself. Should the inevitable happen (things also go walkabouts in every corner of the globe) I won’t be jumping out of a 4-story window in despair.

Here’s something else to think about. Just because you can’t go down the road to buy milk without hopping in your car, it does not mean you ought to export this habit to your new home-country. Living without a car is not only possible and incredibly refreshing; it is also much easier to do it from the moment you arrive, when you have not yet become accustomed to the luxury of depending on one. Shipping your car overseas can be an awful waste of your heard-earned cash so I suggest you don;t even contemplate it. Likewise, leave the car rental/purchase expense in your new home country for a few months down the track. Unsurprisingly, most digital nomads who live abroad never even make this step, even after many years.

Homes are highly overrated and I do mean this in the nicest possible way. Yes it would be nice to land in Calcutta and head straight for your rental apartment, but the problem with this is that you’ll never really know how good a choice you’ve made until  you’ve seen it, smelt it and lived in it. Food and accommodation are life’s basics costs, yet holding off just a wee while on the latter can see your initial costs reduced drastically. First of all, you may want to spend a few weeks scouring suburbs of your intended abode and decide which one suits you best. Secondly, I don’t care what expat blogs/guide-books say, you are the only one who can determine what is good/bad for YOU so you do need to see it all for yourself.

Spending a few weeks in a cheap hostel will not only reduce your initial moving costs but it can prove to be highly beneficial in lots of other ways. I love hostels because they give me the convenience to stay in the heart of a city or town whilst giving me the freedom to suss it all out. You can get a private dorm to yourself/ves and enjoy the convenience of cooking your own meals, thus saving you money on food consumption as well. Most hostels will discount for long-term stays so consider it a bona fide genial option. The great thing about doing this is that you don’t need to yet budget for a rental-apartment deposit within the first few weeks. Give yourself some time to recover financially from the move before forking out even more cash and you’ll be a much happier digital nomad.

Budgeting for your move abroad is a task best tackled with nerves of steel and a sunny disposition; although most seasoned digital nomads will tell you to just chill right out. The whole point of this life-changing decision is to simplify your life and get back to the basics.

May as well start your spring-clean today.

Written by Laura Pattara

Leave a comment

Filed under Digital Nomads, Finances and Budgeting, Location Independence, Preparing to Breakaway

Location Freedom is the Primary Objective, Not Necessarily Digital Nomadism [VIDEO]

There is a lot of hype around the Digital Nomad lifestyle, definitely a good thing, but it isn’t for everyone. For most people, having location freedom would be life changing in the most positive way possible and they won’t need to be on the move all of the time. I spoke with a woman yesterday whose interest in the Remote Control Project was because she simply wants location independence to see her children more who live in 3 cities.

Learn how to work your existing job or business from anywhere in the world. Change your location, not your financial situation. Become a Remote Professional by establishing location freedom with your current income stream in tact and have the freedom to go and live wherever you want.

Leave a comment

Filed under Location Independence, Motivation, Videos, Work and Business, Working Remotely

Arthur C. Clarke Predicting Digital Nomads in 1974

A great quote by Arthur C. Clarke in 1974 talking about computers and basically predicting the internet and location independence.

“They will make it possible to live really anywhere we like. Any businessman, any executive, could live almost anywhere on Earth and still do his business through a device like this,” he says. “It means we won’t be stuck in cities. We’ll live out in the country or wherever we please and still carry on complete interactions with other human beings as well as computers.”
– Arthur C. Clarke, 1974

Leave a comment

Filed under Digital Nomads, Location Independence, Technology, Working Remotely

Creating the Perfect Exit: Leaving Your Job (If You Must)

Image

Iguazú Falls, Argentina

In my post Creating the Perfect Exit: Preparing, I talked about the importance of getting ready for making a big move. Once you are prepared, the next step is to either leave your work permanently or propose a way you can have more freedom but still work for the same company. As a nurse, there are several options for working remotely if you work with a travel nurse agency that sends you to locations for only short contracts. When I decided I wanted a change, however, I was a long term employee of the hospital I worked for making it difficult to find remote work options. When I decided to make my big move, I had been working for the same hospital for four years, and I wanted a break or a change, but I wasn’t sure if I officially wanted to leave my job yet. I also wasn’t sure if I still wanted to be a nurse. Here are a few of the options I explored which apply not only to nursing, but other jobs as well. Eventually, I decided to quit my job, but it is always good to explore your options first before severing your main source of income.

Ask for a leave of absence: I had been working as a nurse for about three years when I first asked for a three month leave of absence to travel. My leave of absence was not accepted, but I know several people who have done it successfully. Depending on where you live, people can usually take anywhere from three to six months off but still have a job waiting for them when they return. This is a nice option if you need something a little more stable and enjoy the work you are already doing. If you have vacation pay, you can use this usually during your leave of absence to provide you some income even though you are not working.

Look forward to layoffs and voluntary separations: In the current economy, people cringe when they hear the word layoff, but getting laid off might just be your ticket to freedom. Several countries provide aid to those who have been laid off while they search for a new job. Apply for the appropriate programs if you can apply to receive aid and travel while you search for your new dream job. I took a voluntary separation from my work which means that my job asked people to voluntarily quit in exchange for a chunk of money. The benefit of a voluntary separation for a business is that they can avoid the dirty word “layoff” while still getting rid of people and trimming the budget. For me, the chunk of money I was given was just what I needed to get started on my travels.

Retire early: After four years of working and investing 3% of my pay check into a retirement account, I decided to take all that money out and invest it on living the life I wanted to right now. I used the money to pay off the remainder of my loan debt and to travel the world for a year without working. I have met too many people who waited to explore the world until retirement only to have grandchildren to care for, cancer to treat, and foreclosures on their home. I know few people who by the time they retired had the time, money, or health to go on that after retirement trip around the world. Retirement accounts are good to have while you are working at a place for a long time, and I recommend investing in one, but don’t feel obligated to keep an account until you are too old to enjoy it. You will be penalized for taking the money out early, but there are ways around additional fees for the early withdrawal such as removing the money the next year so it does not count towards your overall income of the previous year when you do taxes. Also, you can often take loans out from your own retirement account up to half the amount of your total investment. Of course these things will vary from one retirement account to another, but just make sure to ask about your options. If you take out a loan from your retirement account, you will have to pay monthly payments and interest. However, these are monthly payments and interest to yourself, not to a bank or the government, and there are no penalties as long as you repay the loan by the designated time. In the end, you won’t loose money, you will gain money, and you can fund a retirement lifestyle right now instead of waiting for a far-off date.

Written by: Beth Ann Nyssen

Leave a comment

Filed under Location Independence, Preparing to Breakaway, Work and Business

Making the Decision to Go Remote | Location Independence [Video]

Research shows we put more weight into how we may later regret a decision than we actually do if it ends up being a bad choice.

More importantly, we regret NOT making decisions to do things above all else.

In other words…DO IT.

Subscribe to the RCTRL YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/remotecontrolnoel

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Location Independence, Motivation, The Decision, Videos

Breakaway…how to free yourself from those invisible shackles

Breaking free from my previous life was not easy...but boy was it worth it :)

Breaking free from my previous life was not easy…but boy was it worth it 🙂

The decision has been made. You’ve spent months (sometimes years) debating with your soul about what it is, exactly, that you want from life. Once you’ve finally realized that breaking free is your ultimate goal, you think all your problems are over. That’s it! The hard part is over! You’ve made the decision to cut the shackles which are holding you back and to set off into the sunset; oh how wonderful do you feel right now?!?

Forgetting something? Not so fast there cowgirl…

Yes it is true that the hardest part, for me personally, was coming to the realization and making the final decision, that long-term travel was what I craved most. Yet this does not mean by any stretch of the imagination, that what came next was pure bliss. It wasn’t. It was a bit hellish actually. I had an apartment to sell and the contents to store, I had to disconnect from everything in my life, hand in my resignation, pay off my credit card, close all my accounts and, if all that wasn’t enough, I had to break the news to my mum. Once you learn my mum is Italian, then you’ll understand my angst ^_^

Handing over the keys of my former abode to the real estate agent felt like a huge relief. Sort of. You see, everything about the ‘breakaway’ was immensely contrasting for me: I was elated yet hesitant, adventurous yet cautious. Nothing about it was black and white and, to tell the honest truth, nothing has been ever since. I love travelling with every inch of my soul but at times I get homesick, friend-sick and mamma-food-sick. Whilst I cherish making new friends every day I miss having D&Ms with my life-long friends. I dare say that life for most long-term nomads is one of contrasts and contradictions, so I suppose the internal turmoil I felt when I was in the midst of reorganizing my life  was Mother Nature’s way of telling me ‘well you better get used to that kid…there’s a lot more where that came from!’

Being virtually homeless at the age of 31 felt a little scary although having a 3m³ storage space full of my ‘stuff’ helped alleviate my fears. This was my back up plan, my fall-guy, this was my way of saying that while I very much wanted ‘out’, I did also want to leave the door ajar. Just in case.

Considering that the next time I saw my stuff was when I flew home three years later to sell it all off, one would think that I’d be an ardent advocate for complete and total initial sell-off. But I’m not. Sure, sometimes I kick myself at having spent $6,000 over three years to store things I never needed nor wanted again, but I do think my gradual detachment from what I sometimes call my ‘previous life’ was exactly the right recipe for me. I’ve had people ask me how one just breaks away completely and sets off, but fact is I have no idea how anyone could do that either! I did it in steps and it worked a treat and this is something I would highly recommend to anyone who feels a little nauseous at the mere thought of ridding themselves of their life-long’s possessions. I can plead and beg and swear to you that you won’t give two hoots about them in two years time, but fact is everyone needs to get there on their own.

I left my car with a friend who paid and maintained it whilst she used it (sold that two years later), consolidated all my accounts into one and took a debit VISA card with me (incidentally this is still the only bank account I have) and I did take out an emergency MasterCard for the unthinkable. Knowing that I could buy a flight home at ANYtime helped put my mind at ease.

Those who are intending to live an expat existence in another country will probably have an easier time I dare say, but of course cutting off from the emotional attachments in our lives will always be the biggest challenge. It really does help to keep in mind that, this being the 21st century and all, one can get back ‘home’ in two days from just about every corner of the globe. Your chosen financial step of choice (do you live off your savings a while, make virtual connection before you leave etc?) will also determine just how nervous you’ll be at the airport, yet I imagine that even the most organized wannabe-nomad will suffer many sleepless nights.

Taking all the necessary steps you need to free yourself from your restrictions is never going to be the easy part. Emerging from the other side unscathed however, will definitely be the most rewarding.

Welcome to your new life.

Written by Laura Pattara

2 Comments

Filed under Digital Nomads, Location Independence, Motivation, The Breakaway, Working Remotely