It’s very easy to day-dream about ditching your office job, hopping on a one-way flight, and taking up a life where you’re completely location independent.
But like any daydream, it’s also easy to forget all of the work and planning that goes on behind the scenes.
I’ve been location independent since I graduated college at around 22 years old.
But getting there took a lot of trial and error, and I certainly made some mistakes along the way!
So today, I’m covering how you can become location independent if you want to give this lifestyle a try.
I’m still learning what this lifestyle entails as well, but I hope this guide and some of my lessons help you make the leap to becoming location independent!
What Does Location Independent Mean?
Before we jump into how to become location independent, let’s cover what this term even means in the first place!
In a nutshell, being location independent means there’s nothing tying you down to a particular place.
For most people, this means you don’t have a desk job that forces you to live in a certain city year-round.
But for others, location independence is more extreme and means you truly have nothing to keep you in one spot, including things like a car, house, or sometimes family.
Now personally, I consider myself fully location independent because I can choose to get up and leave my condo in Guelph Ontario anytime I want and nothing in my life changes.
I still have family here, a condo, and a mortgage, but I feel a spirit and sense of location independence.
And that’s the first thing I want to highlight: everyone has a slightly different definition, but you have to strive to live a lifestyle that you feel is right for you!
How To Become Location Independent
If you’re wondering how to live a location independent lifestyle, here are the exact steps I took to accomplish that by 22.
1. Start Planning
The blunt truth is you don’t just wake up one day and finally find yourself free to travel the world without any obligations to chain you down.
Well, maybe if you win the lottery, but this isn’t the case for most people!
So, the first step in achieving location independence is to plan for it. Seriously.
You need to make an outline of the places you want to go, what sort of work-life balance you want to have, and begin making decisions that point you in that direction.
I’ll give you a personal example: I studied psychology in college and absolutely hated it. I also had no idea about what I was going to do when I graduated.
But after starting a blog and landing a job at a digital marketing agency, I realized I wanted to create a lifestyle where I could make money on my own terms and live abroad.
So, my planning began, and 3+ years of working towards that goal made it happen in the end.
The takeaway is to start with an end goal in mind, which is becoming location independent, and begin building the foundation now.
2. Organize Your Finances
Another critical step in reaching location independence is to get your finances in order.
And I’m not saying you have to be rich or land a six-figure job.
But learning to live frugally and eliminating all or as much debt as possible will help you when you live remotely.
Living abroad can get expensive, and it’s also nice to have a cushion of cash to fall back on in case your adventures abroad go South (figuratively, not actually down South!)
When I was working my first job and finishing up my degree, I realized I wanted a location independent lifestyle. So, I buckled down on saving and slowly built up a travel fund.
Even if you can put a few extra hundred dollars away every month, eventually, this is enough to provide some peace of mind when you hit the road.
3. Learn Location Independent Skills
When you eventually make the leap to living all over the world, it can come as a bit of a shock.
Additionally, you will encounter roadblocks and challenges you normally wouldn’t encounter simply because you’re in foreign places and are learning the lay of the land.
So, I think an important step in figuring out how to become location independent is to build a set of hard and soft skills that will help you when you’re away from home.
A lot of these boil down to travel skills like:
- Learning how to book and plan trips in the first place
- Learning how to navigate a new city
- Figuring out what to do when travel plans go wrong
- Learning how to meet people while you travel
Additionally, I think some of the skills you have to learn in order to thrive relate to your professional skills that actually let you make money while traveling.
So, let’s dive a bit more into that topic!
4. Find A Location Independent Job
I became location independent when I quit my office job and went all-in on freelance writing and blogging.
But you don’t have to be a writer, blogger, or YouTuber to reach location independence.
In fact, there are numerous popular location independent jobs that let you make money all over the world, including:
- Customer service jobs
- Graphic design
- Virtual assistant
When I lived in Medellin, Colombia, most of the digital nomads I met were software developers and programmers.
And, in my own freelance writing network, I know loads of location independent editors and marketing folk who make great money while traveling.
The great news is that you also have plenty of options for finding location independent jobs.
For starters, you can just see if your current job will let you go remote.
This is what I did when I took my first extended trip to Daytona Beach, Florida and tested out the lifestyle.
Alternatively, you can apply to location independent companies that don’t even have offices for you to work at!
5. Build Multiple Income Streams (Optional)
While this is an optional step in becoming location independent, it’s what I did and I think it relieves a ton of stress if you can pull it off.
If you just rely on a location independent job, you can still feel somewhat trapped when you’re traveling. And, having only one income source can restrict travel plans slightly if that work prohibits you from entering different time zones.
Really, having a few irons in the fire gives you more flexibility.
Currently, I have five main income streams that I use to earn money while traveling:
- Freelance writing
- Video content creation
- SEO consulting
- My blog This Online World
- My YouTube channel
It took several years to grow my blog which is what created all of the other income sources, which is once again why planning is so important!
Even if you start a new side hustle or online business that makes a few extra hundred dollars per month at some point, that makes budgeting for travel plans so much easier. PLus, it’s kinda fun!
6. Conduct A Trial Run
Alright, so you have a location independent job, or a job that will let you go remote, and you’ve been planning and saving.
Well, before you make the leap, my advice is to conduct a trial run first to figure out which areas you need to improve upon and to see how you like it!
I did this for my first trip down to Florida when I started working remotely.
I also lived in Montreal for a while with friends while working remotely.
My trial run taught me that I have no idea how to pack, how critical good WiFi is, and the importance of budgeting while you travel.
By the time I went to Dubai, trip planning and working remotely felt like a breeze (I even went skydiving there!)
You can use your vacation time or some time off to test out the location independent lifestyle, but definitely do this before making the leap!
7. Minimize Your At-Home Expenses & Downsize
If you think the location independent lifestyle is for you after your trial run, don’t go quitting your day job just yet!
In my experience, there are a lot of ways you can trim costs and downsize back home that save a ton of money while you’re living abroad.
The obvious examples are selling your home, car, and most personal belongings, but you don’t have to be that extreme of course if you still want to have a home base somewhere.
But, whenever I go live elsewhere for a while, here are some cost-saving measures I take:
- I cancel my internet
- I cancel or pause my phone plan
- I call my car insurance company and put my car into “storage.”
- I cancel my local gym subscription
This alone saves $100-$150 per month, so if I’m gone for a couple of months, that’s like $500!
8. Take The Leap
If you have money in the bank, a list of countries to see, and income coming in from a location independent job or other source, you’re ready to go!
Really, the next part is just to get your affairs in order back home and to then begin your travel adventures.
My advice is to go somewhere a tad familiar for your first stint of being location independent, but hey, you do you!
You can also consider going to some digital nomad friendly cities, like Medellin or Chiang Mai.
Wherever you go, just remember to book accommodations in advance, find good internet, and to maintain a sense of work-life balance while you’re working remotely.
Extra Reading – 50+ Best Digital Nomad Quotes.
Pros & Cons Of Being Location Independent
I’ve been location independent for a few years so far, and I don’t think I’ll ever work an office job again.
But, this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and there are certainly some pros and cons to consider.
- You get to see more of the world
- Location independent jobs can often pay as much or more as desk jobs
- You meet new people
- You often find new business opportunities
- You might be happier (I sure am!)
- You can feel like you’re living out of a bag
- Budgeting while traveling is a bit more tricky
- It might be hard to date or find love while endlessly moving (preach.)
Honestly, the pros outweigh the cons in my mind.
I grew to hate going into my office job, and the feeling of being able to leave and explore the world is what makes me happy. I hope that it helps you feel the exact same way!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How Do You Create Location Independent Income?
The most common way to create location independent income is to find a remote job that pays you without caring about where you live.
However, you can also make money while being location independent by freelancing or running your own business.
2. How Do I Start A Location Independent Business?
Most location independent businesses are online businesses because you don’t have to worry about managing a brick-and-mortar location while you’re on the road.
So, you could launch an ecommerce operation, try dropshipping, or even start a blog or YouTube channel.
For me, blogging has opened the door to becoming a digital nomad and being completely location independent. My blog earns through affiliate income, display ads, and sponsorships.
But as mentioned, starting a blog is just one path you can take.
You can also start a traditional business, but you have to ensure you can delegate and outsource work so you’re not chained down and forced to run the daily operations.
I hope this guide on how to achieve location independence helps inspire you to make some lifestyle changes and start your remote adventures.
Honestly, I truly believe that anyone can become location independent with how powerful the internet is these days.
But, building this lifestyle takes planning and work, but there’s never a better time to start than the present!
With a solid location independent job and some travel plans prepped, you’ll be ready to take off and see the world in no time!