What Is Location Independence And How Can You Achieve It?

by Stephanie Walsh · 11 comments

in The Digital Nomad Life

What is Location Independence?

You’ve probably heard the term flying around the internet in recent years but what exactly is ‘Location independence’?

What is Location Independence?

Location Independence is a way of living. It’s a lifestyle choice chosen by those who wish to have more freedom in their work and life. Being location independent means that you are not tied to any one place in order to work or receive an income. Naturally, the easiest way of becoming independent of a working location, is by taking your work online. Thousands of people are now doing this with their careers, allowing them more freedom to move and travel around the world as they work.

Being location independent provides great freedom to those who achieve it. They can work from practically anywhere in the world, provided they have access to high speed internet and a computer (preferably a personal laptop). You don’t need an office, you don’t need to go to the same place everyday and you don’t have anyone telling you what to do.

Location independence is a beautiful and idealistic concept that succeeds to prove how technology has changed the working world.

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Location independent workers are becoming more common nowadays and, for me, they represent the future of work.

The majority of location independent ‘digital nomads’, as they often call themselves, are either traveling freelancers or traveling entrepreneurs. Some are both and some don’t really travel, at least in the traditional sense. Location independence is not about traveling. It’s about the freedom to move, if you feel like it. The freedom to get up and go half way across the world, pick up your laptop and continue from where you’d left off.

Many location independent people live in different countries around the world for extended amounts of time. Developing countries are, of course, popular locations for digital nomads, as their cities can provide a high standard of living at very low costs compared to those in the ‘western world’. What’s not to love about the idea of moving to Thailand, Mexico, the Philippines or Argentina, while working for yourself, creating an online business and living out a great life?

How Do You Become Location Independent?

The advantages of living a location independent lifestyle are obvious. Freedom to be your own boss, freedom to travel and experience new cultures, your own working schedule, your own choices when it comes to what you want to do in your work and life and amazing new life experiences.

Being able to control your career is exciting. Being able to control your working schedule and location is even better. Imagine working from Colombia for one month and Thailand the next. As long as you’re making enough money to do so, there’s no reason why you can’t.

Naturally, you don’t need to move or travel abroad to start your location independent lifestyle. You can work from the comfort of your home either, as you start to build your career online.

However, if you do want to move somewhere cheaper, to help give your business the best possibility of succeeding, there are tons of places around the world that are suitable to location independence. With the increasing availability of high-speed internet globally, it is now more possible than ever to create and forge a viable career online in almost any location.

What is Location Independence?-2

One of the more beautiful (but awkward) places I worked from in the last year - Tribu Hostel in Isla Holbox, Mexico

It’s amazing to think about how it really just boils down to two simple things; a laptop/computer and an internet connection. These two things have allowed me to live abroad in Colombia and Mexico for the last year and a half (along with a lot of savings of course…keeping it realistic!). Who would have thought this amazing opportunity would be possible just 10 years ago?

This year I have managed to become location independent. It has allowed me to live in Colombia, and to come home and visit my family in Ireland, while continuing to build my freelance career online, almost entirely uninterrupted.

The good news is that there are an increasing number of careers that can be carried out exclusively online. Jobs like writing, web design, software engineering and programming, graphic design, social media marketing and interesting ‘new’ forays in the online world like blogging, affiliate marketing and website creation, have allowed an ever-growing amount of people to move and travel as they work.

The Reality of Location Independence

While all that sounds great and like something from a fantasy land, you should be aware of the realities of this ‘lifestyle’ choice too, before you decide that it is for you.

Becoming location independent is difficult. Like most things, it sounds a lot easier than it actually is. It takes a lot of time (more than you would likely work in a full time job), hard work, consistency and dedication, but it’s completely possible.

The main pitfall of a location independent lifestyle is, of course, the insecurity of your income. This aspect can be a big turn off, especially if you are the type of person that gets comfort in predictability.

There are few people who take pleasure in not knowing where their next paycheck will come from, but some people do thrive on the unknown and it motivates them to work harder than any normal routine job ever could.

For me, one of the biggest disadvantages of working for myself, is the lack of a social life that comes with the type of work I do (freelance writing). With previous jobs I’ve had, making friends and working with other people has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of the job. Working with people can allow for great creativity, help keep you motivated and it’s always useful to have another set of eyes around. Not to mention the pleasure of having some who understands your work and can bitch and moan with you. 😉

When you work as a freelancer, you tend to work alone, from home, in a coffee shop or library, most of the time. All of these locations are isolating and can be lonely, even if you are surrounded by people.

How to become location independent

I'm not a fan of working outside or on the beach (as that's kind of impossible anyway), but I'll take the plastic tables and chairs with a great view every so often...as long as there's a fan...

Another important disadvantage of being location independent, is that all responsibility for taxes, health and savings fall on your own shoulders. There is no system in place for digital nomads to fall back on should something go wrong, unless you go out of your way to set it up for yourself.

The same goes for your income. Unless you have a great passive online income set up, you won’t get paid for a week if you decide not to work for a week. This is why most ‘traveling’ digital nomads spend more time being static in one location (even if it is a far-off, exotic land), rather than engaging in the act of traveling.

Location independence means responsibility and lots of it!

What Type Of Life Do You Want To Create For Yourself?

I think it’s extremely important to weigh your options and compare the good and bad aspects of working as a location independent digital nomad before deciding whether or not it’s for you. As the main man behind the whole concept, Tim Ferriss, suggests, you need to design your life.

That means deciding on what you want to do, how you want to do it, where you want to be and of course, why you want to do all of this.

If having a life full of new travel and cultural experiences, while working hard on your passions is more important to you than making lots of money or having a job title that you think gains you a high societal status, then this lifestyle can be extremely rewarding.

If you would prefer to work on what you love, for a LOT less money (at least for the first year or two) than a regular/desk job, then location independence is for you.

If seeing the world, experiencing a new and interesting way of life and making the most of your time is important to you, then location independence is for you.

So, what’s your decision? Are you going to join us, or have you already got there? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anwar October 21, 2013 at 9:25 pm

You are right, its not easy, but if that is what you want, then it certainly is rewarding. Good on you for becoming location independent, I look forward to reading and following your journey.
Anwar recently posted..Friday Photo: Walking along the wayMy Profile


2 Stephanie Walsh November 7, 2013 at 7:39 pm

Thanks Anwar! Yeah it has been an incredibly educating and interesting year and I hope that I can continue to be location independent for as long as I enjoy it 🙂


3 TammyOnTheMove October 24, 2013 at 1:30 am

I have been location independent for two years now, mainly working as an NGO contractor, but since the beginning of October I have also been working as a freelance writer and I have started making money with my blog. So when I don’t have an NGO contract I can fall back on that to bring the money in. So far it has been good and I love my freedom, but I agree with you on one thing too. It can get a bit lonely. I always liked chatting to colleagues over a cuppa.
TammyOnTheMove recently posted..My Cambodia homestay experienceMy Profile


4 Stephanie Walsh November 7, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Thanks for your comment Tammy. I know, I do love the social aspect of working in a more traditional job too. Delighted to hear that you have been location independent for two years now and you’ve started to do freelance writing. That’s great and what I have also been doing since last October. It has its advantages and disadvantages like anything else but overall I have been very happy with my freedom and lifestyle over the last year. I think the opportunities that are possible with this lifestyle is one of the most exciting aspects of it! 🙂


5 Kate Robson November 28, 2013 at 5:37 am

Interesting concept. A great way to combine working with seeing the world. I love the bright colours of your Mexican hotel photos.


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