Creating Location Independence – Work From Anywhere
Today we bring you an awesome guest post from Laurie who blogs over at TheThreeYearExperiment. They have set a goal of reaching location independence in just three years, which they document on their blog.
They have spent the last year sharing their plans to double their net worth, sell their house, and transition to remote and/or international jobs over the next few years.
They are going to tell us how they plan to achieve that goal.
Without further ado….
How to Cut the Cord
Have you ever woken up to a truly terrible winter day, with snow and sleet pouring down, gray clouds and cold everywhere, and thought, “Get me out of here! I want to live somewhere warm and tropical!” before you pulled the covers back over your head?
We currently live in the American Northeast, in snowy New Hampshire. It’s a lovely state and a great place to raise kids. Winter just lasts a long, long time. November to April long. No Spring long. Summer starts in July long.
More importantly, we left our families scattered between two continents, nowhere near New Hampshire. My family’s in the South, and my husband’s is way South, in Chile.
One day, just over a year ago, around my birthday, my husband asked me what I wanted. “What I really, really want?” I asked. “I really, really want to spend half the year with your family in Chile and half with mine in the Carolinas.”
Once I spoke those words aloud, a dream was born. One I couldn’t unsay or unthink. “What if,” I asked my husband, “we could somehow double our net worth before I turn 40—that’s three years from now—and then that would allow us to take on jobs that pay less and we could achieve location independence?”
We haven’t decided yet just how our location independence will look. Will it mean an international post for my husband (who goes by Mr. ThreeYear now) or an international teaching position for me?
Will it mean a year or two of traveling, then resettling in the US while our kids are in middle and high school (we have two boys who are currently 10 and 7)? One thing we know—our family loves to be together, so wherever we end up going, we want to have the adventure together.
If you’ve ever dreamed of cutting the cord on your life and traveling for an extended period of time, or even just giving yourself the possibility of moving somewhere new, take a look at the things we’re doing to create location independence for our family. It’s worth it to create a life that moves!
How we are creating location independence
We Killed Our Debt
Mr. ThreeYear and I started our financial independence journey in 2009, when we paid off $38,000 of debt. We’ve avoided debt since then, but we did take on a car loan in 2014 (we told ourselves it was for cash flow reasons—No! Never again!), and we were still paying the mortgage on an apartment we own overseas.
So this December, we finished paying off both of those debts, and freed up a huge amount of money to channel into our savings and investments each month. How much could you save if you didn’t have any debt payments? For us, the answer was a lot!
Because we’ve eliminated all of our debts except the mortgage, and we will eliminate that once we sell the house, we won’t have any debt yokes hanging around our necks to keep us tied to a specific job or place. It also means we need way less money to live on.
Eliminating debt can feel like a slow, never-ending process, but if you start now, and stay focused on becoming debt free, you will achieve your goal. Read our Ultimate Guide for Getting Out of Debt for more tips on how to finally get rid of debt for good.
I’m Starting an Online Business
I am an ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) Teacher, and I currently work part-time in two different school districts. I love my job because of the flexibility—I have summers and school vacations off, and if there’s a snow day, I don’t go to work either.
But I don’t love that I have to be at a certain school, at a certain time, in order to get paid. That doesn’t allow me to work from anywhere. So, I’m currently developing several businesses that I can do from anywhere.
Luckily, as an English teacher, there are a lot of options for working online. They don’t pay near as well as my school district jobs, but they are consistent. QKids and VIPKid are both services that have native English speakers teach children online in China.
They pay anywhere from $16 to $20 an hour. Classes are generally 30 minutes, and there are set schedules, so you could teach every day at the same time, if you wanted. Other companies have higher rates, especially for teachers with TESOL Certification.
It’s amazing how much is being done online these days. Google your profession + online, and I bet at least one result will come up. Doctors are able to read X-rays and consult with surgery online.
Consultants are able to provide insights online. Virtual assistants are able to get people organized from the comfort of their at-home offices. If you have the will and a modem, chances are, you can figure out how to work online.
We’re Taking Lots of Trips
One way to make sure that location independence is for you is to practice doing it. Our family just took a practice trip to Santiago to visit family this Christmas. We spent three weeks living in a tiny apartment, taking side trips, and practicing living a different way from normal.
Three weeks was as much time as both Mr. ThreeYear and I could take off at once during the school year. But we’ve decided to take another big trip a year and a half from now during the summer (I have summers off as a teacher), so we can spend four or five weeks somewhere different, living in a smaller space, eating different food, and speaking another language.
I recommend renting a house or apartment during your stay, as a home base. We’re fortunate to have family who live in Santiago, so we were able to borrow their apartment during our stay. That way, you get a much better sense of every day life while you’re there.
We woke up each morning and did school work with the boys, then spent much of the day sightseeing, swimming in the pool, buying food at the outdoor market, and otherwise hanging out.
It was a slow-paced trip interspersed with more intense travel, and it was a more realistic picture of what location independence could look like for our family, if we decide to travel for long periods of time.
We’re Selling Our House
We plan to sell our house before the end of 2019, the “official” end of our experiment, but recently, we’ve contemplated selling it before then. We realized, after our stay in such a tiny apartment in Santiago, that we need less room than we think to live.
We also did the math, and realized that we could save over $8,000 a year by selling our house and renting a condo. It would also bring all kinds of welcome benefits, like access to a gym, heated indoor pool, and lake amenities in the summertime.
We love our house, and it’s served us well for the last 6 years, but we certainly don’t need all of the space we have (3,500 square feet) nor do we need the associated headaches of maintenance and upkeep.
We realized that a huge amount of our annual expenditures go into our house—mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, and maintenance, plus the higher costs of propane, electricity, and a housekeeper that come with such a large space.
Could you sell your house and downsize? It’s definitely counter-culture to sell your house and rent, that’s for sure. But are you more interested in keeping up with the Joneses, or being free? If you really think about it for more than just a minute, I bet it’s the latter.
We are going to take advantage of geographical arbitrage
Being location independent also helps you with geographical arbitrage. If you can work from anywhere in the world, why not choose somewhere with a super-low cost of living? One of our favorite possibilities is Thailand.
It would only cost a few thousand dollars a month to live very well in Bangkok, and even less in a city like Chang Mai. You’d eat extremely well and be in the center of Southeast Asia so you could travel all over.
Being able to move to such a low-cost of living area gives you the flexibility of taking on a more flexible, but possibly lower-paying job. That’s the beauty of online gigs, though. You’re not as tied down and handcuffed to one location.
Location Independence – What a Dream Gives You
When our family started talking about reaching location independence, and either moving internationally or traveling for months at a time, it felt scary. It felt impossible. It still feels scary and impossible. But it also feels doable.
We started taking action towards this pipe dream of ours before we were completely ready. Mr. ThreeYear still isn’t sure if he wants to leave his job.
But we keep talking about and working towards our dream, and we start figuring out new ways to make it happen (“I could take an international assignment in X country,” he recently told me. “Or I could open a new office in X”).
Taking action towards something is powerful. It teaches you, at a subconscious level, that change is possible, and that you can do hard things.
Sometimes, it takes more time than we’d like to start a new habit or pursue a new goal. But just because you don’t achieve a goal in Year One doesn’t mean you stop trying! It doesn’t mean the goal was bad. It just means you weren’t quite ready.
Try again the following year. And if you still fail, try again the following. If you still haven’t done it, only then should you reassess the goal to see if it no longer makes sense for you.
Change is slow. It’s slower than we’d like. But it’s also powerful. When we start to change small things in our lives, those small changes build into an avalanche, sweeping through our days.
So if you’ve ever thought about creating location independence in your life, pick a tactic from the list above. Make a change or two in your life. And watch what unfolds! For more of our changes and stories, make sure to visit us at www.thethreeyearexperiment.com. Happy travels!
What about you guys? Do you have any location independence goals? If so where would you want to go?
As for us, we are open minded. Between me and Mr99to1percent, we have already worked in 5 countries. Should another great opportunity come our way, we will jump on it.
We have family members and friends who also have international jobs and they really love it and enjoy it. And some of those jobs come with ridiculously high salaries and top notch benefits.
Thanks for reading. Please feel free to comment, share and subscribe! We love ya and wanna get to know ya!
Don’t forget to check out Laurie’s blog TheThreeYearExperiment
Do you want to guest post for us? We will promote your post as much as we promote ours, and our rules are pretty simple and straight-forward:
- No plagiarism. The article must be original content and it must not have been posted anywhere else
- The article must be about money/finance/career/saving/investing/relationship/business/…
- Ideally it should include a personal story, so that our readers can relate to you.
- Ideally it should at least be 1,000-1,500 words
- Links are allowed but at least half of the links should be linking our articles/resources
- No drafts. Must be final version.
- You agree to reply to comments
- If you are a blogger, you agree to share the guest post on your social media platforms, and link to it on your blog.
Do you want an easier way to manage/track your finances/investments? The Personal Capital app can help. Do you want to start blogging? Bluehost can get you started. Make sure to also check out other resources that we recommend such as books that have helped us get where we are.
Do you want to learn more about us? If so, you can also read these other posts:
- About us
- How We Increased Our Annual Income From $0 to $160K to $400K+
- How we live on 15% of our income
- Joining the Million Dollar Club/Challenge and So Can You
- How To Pay Off A Mortgage In 5 Years
- Our Biggest Money Fight and 9 Lessons Learned
- Our 6 Financial Mistakes and 15 Lessons Learned
- How I Paid Off My $40,000 Student Loans Before Graduating
- The resumes that bring in $400,000+/year (Samples Provided)
You may also like...
[…] If you haven’t read our complete story, it was just featured on the blog 99to1Percent. […]
[…] Creating Location Independence – Work From Anywhere […]
[…] 99to1percent.com wrote a really good article a while ago (back in February) about location independence, something that I struggle with quite a lot (since I have to commute a total of nearly 3 hours every day, while I should really be able to work from home – or anywhere else really – according to the kind of work I do): https://99to1percent.com/location-independence/ […]
Great post and congrats on your progress.
All good points about how to create / utilize location independence. The geographical arbitrage you mentioned is one I love.
Thanks for the post. – Mike
See my comment below–I meant to reply to you directly! 🙂 Thanks for your kind words!
Thanks for passing by Mike. Glad to hear you like the article
I think if a lot more people were honest with themselves they would see that location independence is more alluring than retirement! Its also way easier to attain! Awesome story Laurie!
Thanks Rocky. I agree–the idea of being able to travel anywhere and have that freedom is really appealing. And you’re right, it’s a lot faster to get to as well!
So true Rocky. Location independence is like making money while vacationing = Best both of worlds 🙂
This post reminds me once again of the importance of having goals. When you are living with a purpose you are either living the life you want or are on a path to get there. I really enjoyed reading this. Good luck with your plans.
Thanks Jason! We are biiig fans of goals in our house! 🙂
Very true Jason. And the journey and destination can both be fun 🙂
Nomadic lifestyle? Love the idea and Thailand should to be a great choice. Just like you, my plan is to get out of this cold winter in Chicago. The plan is not to totally abandon living here but to at least work somewhere warm during winter season. Currently, the Philippines is my country of choice. Good luck.
I love it! We were in Thailand two years ago and it was such a nice country. We didn’t get to visit the Philippines but I hear it’s a great choice, too, in terms of low cost of living, weather, and friendly people! 🙂 Good luck to you too!
Hi Bernz, sounds like a nice plan. Hopefully we can do the same thing in the near future and be able to escape these harsh winters!
Hi Mike! Thanks so much for your comment. It’s so cool to see how people can make their dollars stretch so much farther in other countries. Another one of my favorite benefits of travel is seeing that we don’t need as much as we think we do to live the “good” life. When our relatives in Chile call a house “enormous” when it has 1500 square feet, it makes me realize how wealthy we really are. We feel a lot less pressure to have certain things or maintain a certain lifestyle living abroad. 🙂
Sounds like you have a fun & exciting life!
I live in a fairly LCOL area, plus I like where I live, so I don’t intend to leave the area any time soon. Also, I feel you on those car payments. The last car I bought (which I am still driving to this day) I let my mom convince me to buy brand new. Never again – I could’ve bought just a good car with less money.
Glad we’re not the only one who’ve made car mistakes out there! Sounds like you live in a great area. What an awesome thing to love where you live. Thank you for saying our life sounds fun and exciting! When it’s the middle of winter, 9F, and we’ve been stuck indoors for a week, it feels anything but! 🙂
Hi Joe, sounds like our moms can get along very well 🙂 My mom is currently campaigning hard to convince us to buy new cars, upgrade the house,…
That was a really fun read. Thank you! I sometimes daydream about moving somewhere else. We’re in Minnesota – which is also great for raising kids, but the winters are a bit of a drag.
You’ve got some great ideas about housing. We live small for our income, in 1500 finished square feet of ranch goodness. It’s plenty even for our family of four.
Best in your journey towards the split time goal – Chile sounds fantastic.
Daydreaming is good. Life without dreams would be very boring 🙂
Thanks Cubert! Your house sounds ideal!! Yes I think those tough Minnesota winters would get to me, too. But you’re hearty stock out there!!