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How to become location independent

Table of Contents
I.Here's how to become location independent 
1. 1.Find a remote job
1. 1. 0. 1.Already have a role in a company you love?
1. 1. 0. 2.Don't have a remote job?
1. 2.Choose your lifestyle
1. 3.Organize your finances 
1. 4.Plan your trips
1. 5.Embrace uncertainty
1. 6.What are some of the most popular location independent jobs?
1. 6. 1.Technology/software developer
1. 6. 2.Engineer
1. 6. 3.Design
1. 6. 4.Customer service & sales
1. 6. 5.Social media & content marketing
1. 6. 6.HR & recruitment
Our physical location once played an integral part in our professional careers. Nowadays, your skills and ideas will set you apart more than where you are based.
Location independence is all about freedom; no longer being attached to one place by a job, mortgage or static opportunities. Whether you want this so you could travel more, move out of an expensive city, or be closer to your friends and family - remote work is a great solution.

Here's how to become location independent 

Depending on your current circumstance, there are many different paths that will lead you to the lifestyle you want to achieve. We outlined a few and offered resources & advice on how to become location independent in the most efficient way possible.
First, let’s take a quick look at the benefits of this lifestyle and why you might want to optimize for it:
  • Flexibility: There is profound freedom in not being tied to a particular city/country. If your dream is to live in the countryside, remote work will allow you to move out of the expensive city. You are generally able to travel freely, work from multiple locations, see friends and family when you want, and ultimately live life on your own terms.
  • Quality of life: For the price of a studio apartment in Brooklyn, you can get a 2-3 bedroom house outside of the city. Not to mention cutting down on expenses by moving to Latin America or Asia. If you have a specific hobby, like surfing, you can choose to be based by the ocean instead of waiting for your summer vacation.
  • Family & Friends: If you currently live far away from your closest friends and family because of work, this is a great reason to consider switching to remote.
  • Work-life balance: With the control of your own schedule, you can lower the chance of experiencing burnout, work at the times you’re most productive and have more time for your hobbies.
  • Increased productivity: Working in the same environment time and time again can stagnate our creativity and negatively affect our work output. However, with the freedom to work from a cafe in the morning, a new co-working space in the afternoon or head to the beach at lunchtime, we can keep our minds active and alert throughout the day.
  • Continuous learning: One of the biggest drawbacks of repeatedly working in the same office or city is the difficulty to learn and grow through new experiences and surroundings. With more flexibility and opportunities to travel, you will be adding a wealth of knowledge and experience to both your personal and professional life.
Like anything in life, location independence isn’t something that will happen overnight. Here's a guide you can follow that will make the transition smoother.

Find a remote job

The first and most important thing that you’ll need to do to secure location independence is to find a job that doesn’t require you to be in one specific location or time zone. The growing landscape of remote jobs and companies employing remote workers means that there are a plethora of remote roles out there.
Here are a few ways you can find the right opportunity for you:

Already have a role in a company you love?

If they're not already remote, ask your manager if that's a possibility for your role. If your work can truly be done from home, or anywhere else in the world, it's worth asking your current employer for a more flexible agreement before quiting.
Although this is the fastest way to become location independent, there are, of course, certain roles that can’t be done remotely, and some employers may be reluctant to grant you remote worker status. But, as more and more companies are beginning to see the benefits of allowing their employees to work remotely, this isn’t such a farfetched request as it once may have been.

Don't have a remote job?

If your current role doesn't allow for any flexibility in terms of working outside of the office, consider:
  • Trying to find a hybrid solution: While this won't get you the location independence you want, it will allow you to work from home at least a few days a week. If this arrangement works out well for you and your company, consider asking for an even more flexible contract.
  • Find a remote role: Check out this list of remote companies and the benefits they offer to their teams. You'll find active remote roles in the next section of this article.
  • Rethink your career plans: Do you want to work in a team? Or are you hoping to start your own business? This could be the push you've been waiting for.
  • Self-employment: There is no shortage of freelance opportunities, and although this is one of the most precarious ways to forge a career, it is one of the best ways to gain location independence. While working for yourself is undoubtedly one of the harder routes to take, it may give you the most freedom in the long run. Whether you are working as a freelancer or offering your services to a variety of companies online, self-employment gives the freedom to choose when and where to work - creating the ideal professional environment for location independence.
Things to look out for Not every remote company will allow for full location independence. For example, Spotify recently announced their "Working from Anywhere" program, agreeing that "Work isn’t something you come to the office for, it’s something you do." But this agreement comes with a few stipulations - they have specific regions you can work remotely from that function best with their team.
Full async companies, like Almanac, are usually the most flexible. You can work from anywhere in the world without worrying about meeting schedules.
Make sure to ask how flexible the company's remote policy is during the interview process. Here's a our team page at SafetyWing showing our fully distrubuted team!

Choose your lifestyle

What makes you happy?
When you’re looking into how to become location independent, it’s important to understand what kind of lifestyle you want. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to location independence, and many people choose this lifestyle for different reasons. 
Planning how long you want to live a digital nomadic way of life is important. Is this a permanent change, or are you planning to travel for a certain amount of time and then return to your older way of life? Asking yourself these questions and having a clear outlook from the start will go a long way in making the transition a smooth one. 
It can also help to plan whether you are going to leave your home base and live completely nomadic, or travel a few months at a time. On the other hand, you may choose to keep your home base and rent while you're away.

Organize your finances 

As you move away from traditional employment, you may find that you need to reorganize your finances. For example, saving enough funds before you leave your current job to start life as a digital nomad, or creating a new structure for your taxes. 
If you plan on spending the majority of the year outside of your home country, you might be able to set up your tax base somewhere more favorable. Tax laws can differ from one nation to the next and can also be affected by the citizenship that you hold. These different rules and regulations can take some time to understand - take a closer look at setting up taxes as a remote worker here.
Being a self-employed freelancer or remote worker will test your resolve when it comes to money management and financial organization skills, as you’ll need to keep close track of your finances and file your own tax return. In the long run, this will provide you with a far better skill set and improve your money management, all of which will give you far more financial independence.

Plan your trips

Getting yourself ready for a life on the move and working in a foreign country can be just as fun as it is tasking. 
Aside from the preparations of finding yourself a remote job, choosing how long you will be working remotely as a nomad and organizing your finances, you need to prepare for entering a new country. The requirements for visas can be wholly different depending on where you are entering and your own nationality. Some countries, including Estonia, now offer digital nomad visas, which are similar to tourist visas, but normally with a few more benefits and requirements. The main difference with a digital nomad visa is that it will allow you to stay much longer and ​​work during your stay, provided you do not enter the local labor market. However, many nomad visas require you to earn a minimum salary each month and be able to prove it.
For entry requirements and Covid-19 restrictions, check Borderless before your trip. 

Embrace uncertainty

One thing that you can’t really prepare for, but must embrace, is the uncertainty. There is no guarantee that becoming location independent will be a success for you, yet this is exactly where the excitement comes from. 
It’s key not to apply the same approaches to your remote working role and life that you have to your location-dependent lifestyle. Welcoming in fresh and new ways of working is all part of making this change and may leave you with much better results. All in all, expect the unexpected and remember to enjoy the process, as it is one that will bring you long-awaited change and freedom.    

What are some of the most popular location independent jobs?

Finding a remote role isn’t always easy, and the landscape is getting more and more competitive every year. Location independent jobs cover a wide range of fields, from software developers and customer service roles to content marketing and more.
To give you a bit of a head start with your search, here are a few active roles we found:

Technology/software developer

Engineer

Design

Customer service & sales

Social media & content marketing

HR & recruitment

Alternatively, there are some location independent jobs that don’t require you to work for one company alone.
  • Teaching: Working as an online teacher has never been easier. Teaching remote language classes have been very popular for the past few years, and are a great way to earn money on your own schedule.
  • Writing/Copywriting/Journalism: One of the most popular self-employed remote careers for nomads is writing. Copywriter contracts and journalistic contracts go hand in hand with location independence and travel.  
  • Social media marketing: Harnessing the power of social media for marketing has never been easier. Monetizing social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Youtube has become a popular way to earn an income remotely. 
  • Start your own business: For true independence, both location-wise and professionally, starting your own business can go a long way to achieving both. With your own business, you can find a missing gap in the market and provide a product or service that is needed, something that could take your nomadic life into places you’ve never dreamed of.  
  • Blogging/Affiliate marketing: Combining skills as a writer and marketer, blogging and affiliate marketing is a profession that was born out of the internet and information-sharing culture of the past few decades.
  • Knowledge sharing: Offering courses, books or live speaking gigs as part of your business & brand can turn knowledge sharing into a remote working profession.
No longer are we bound by the limits of a neighborhood, local employer or even a nation’s borders. This modern renaissance of a nomadic way of life has swept the 21st century’s global population and has in many ways freed us from the bonds of social and financial immobility.
As the fluidity of the global workforce grows, we will no longer have to make a choice between seeing the world or climbing the career ladder.    
Building Remotely is a resource that focuses on sharing knowledge for a better life and career - starting with how to become location independent, to building and scaling a company remotely. Share our blog, podcast or book with anyone in your network that is hoping to take this step.

About the author

Lily Jones

Guest Writer
A Lil Guide to a Long Road
Lily Jones is a freelance travel writer and copywriter currently living in London, UK. Starting with a charity expedition through Mexico and Belize at the age of 16, her love for travel and exploration of different cultures only continued to grow and influence her life and work. She managed to turn her lifelong passion into a full-time job — creating travel content and publishing travel guidebooks while staying on the road and working remotely.