Ditching that desk-job here in the UK to head for sunnier or more adventurous climes is a dream for so many of us but most people believe they lack the essential skills needed to go freelance and become location independent.
The reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
Making a living on your own terms is not reserved for the privileged few who possess niche knowledge, high in demand for silly prices. The days of being location independent are no longer solely for specialist consultants, software developers and freelance writers.
The following guide is for anybody who wants to choose where they live, by pursuing one of the best paid location independent jobs.
- 1 A Guide to Location Independence and The Best Paid Remote Jobs
- 2 What is a Location Independent Job?
- 3 Types of Location Independent Careers
- 4 Affecting The Change: How to Become Location Independent
- 4.1 Assess Your Skills
- 4.2 Make Your Skills Portable
- 4.3 Change In Attitude
- 4.4 Get Practical
- 4.5 The Jump Off Point
A Guide to Location Independence and The Best Paid Remote Jobs
If you want to escape the confines of the British Isles and experience the thrill of working wherever your heart desires, whilst still earning enough through a remote job to fund a lifestyle of adventure, then there are plenty of ways to make this reality come true.
In fact, we’d go so far as to say that the only thing stopping anyone from achieving this dream is their own appetite for change.
What is a Location Independent Job?
A location independent job (or remote job) means exactly that; your work can be done in any location.
For some, this means they can work on the move but for others it means that they can establish the work they do in whichever country they are in at the time. So, unless you are lucky enough to maintain a position within a global operation that allows you to work whilst you travel, freelancing is the only way to secure such a nomadic lifestyle.
Not for everyone, freelancing does require a certain amount of dedication and focus in order to ensure that you maintain an adequate income stream to support yourself.
It also requires you to be organised about your earnings so that you don’t fall foul of taxes.
Freelancers must wear several different hats at once including sales, advertising and customer service on top of whatever their actual job is. They must constantly look ahead to keep work coming in and they must look back to make sure that invoices are paid.
In this age of global connectivity all of these tasks can be completed on the move or outsourced to others so nothing can stop you from making the move to becoming location independent.
Types of Location Independent Careers
Let’s start off by saying that every single one of the jobs that we suggest below are already keeping thousands of people in the nomadic lifestyle they longed for.
These are real jobs that can be done on the move.
Most of these jobs pay enough on their own to be able to provide a comfortable income whilst some nomads prefer to have plenty of irons in the fire and manage several revenue streams. The choice is up to you. However, as with any job, what you get out of it (money, satisfaction and further opportunities) depends on what you put into it. Of course, one of the main rewards of choosing location independent work is the flexibility and freedom to go where you choose and to live a lifestyle free from the constraints of a regular 9-to-5; but remember, it’s still a job.
Being able to provide administrative services whilst on the move is quite easy.
If you currently have a desk job tinkering with spreadsheets, typing up reports or doing research online then you can transfer these skills to a location independent job. You’ve probably already thought that you could do the same job from your own home so what’s the difference with doing it from a co-working space in Rio, a hotel room desk or on the veranda of your rented home in Phuket?
Finding the work is the key and we’ll cover how you can do this in our section below in Affecting the Change: How to Become Location Independent.
If you are lucky enough to be able to speak a foreign language fluently, then becoming location independent can offer some more opportunities.
Translation services are always in high demand in both the public and private sectors and you can either choose to work by translating documents remotely or you can offer your services directly to companies, schools or government departments in the country you are currently travelling through.
You could also become involved with Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).
You don’t have to be fluent in another language to be able to make the most of your language skills, after all, you already speak at least one language.
Tutoring English doesn’t require you to have a teaching qualification and many students who are learning the language will happily pay for private coaching. Lessons can be taught one-to-one or in a group using an application like Skype or you can meet up with your students. Many just want a chance to talk to a native English speaker so they can brush up on their conversational English and improve their pronunciation.
With just a small investment of time, effort and good advertising your earnings could either become a main source of income or supplement other avenues.
Web Design / Development
Like a lot of the remote jobs we’re covering here, most web designers and developers will be able to ply their trade wherever they can get an internet connection as long as they have a good laptop. In the section below, we’ll look at the essential tools you need to make the change to the nomadic lifestyle.
There are many sorts of writing that can earn you a good freelance living and you don’t need to be churning out bestselling novels. Technical writing, academic writing or writing articles, eBooks and web content all pay well and can be done wherever you have your laptop and an internet connection.
If you have specific industry knowledge on a subject, then you can find that blogging is a good way to make money by monetising your blog.
There is always the obvious choice of travel writing which can also earn good money. Whether you choose to approach suitable companies (travel agents, airlines, travel book publishers etc) directly and pitch an idea or choose to self-publish or blog the pay can be very rewarding.
If you don’t think that writing is your thing but have a good command of the English language, then you could always turn your hand to proofreading or editing.
There are plenty of opportunities for talented photographers to be able to work independent of a fixed location; from selling photographs to online photo banks, being commissioned to take photographs for events or working as a photojournalist.
With digital photography, you don’t need an expensive studio and many freelance photographers work wherever they find themselves next, providing images for businesses, news agencies and individuals.
Monetising a website is a good way to earn a passive income and, when done well, can make some serious cash. Setting up a website or blog from which to earn money can take some time and effort but the significant returns it can provide could be well worth the investment.
The premise is straightforward and involves setting up a website that gives an audience something of value; this could be free eBooks, information about a niche subject, a repository of advice and tips or anything else that can drive a large volume of traffic. By using affiliate marketing programs that relate to your site you embed links and adverts which users use to click through to online stores or other sites.
If they make a purchase on one of these sites, then you receive a commission. The key to success with this idea is maintaining relevant and up to date content on your site and investing in good advertising streams to build up an audience.
Even if you can’t write then you can always commission others to do so on your behalf, using that content to populate your website.
The internet has changed the way people communicate and sales is no different. It is perfectly acceptable these days to conduct the majority of our communication digitally; either by email or using teleconferencing like Skype. If you can establish yourself with an organisation to receive commissions, then freelance sales is easy to manage without a permanent location.
Retail / Ecommerce
Another way that the internet has revolutionised the way we do business is the ability to run a retail operation without the need for a traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ shopfront.
Take Shopify, for example. The ability to launch a fully fledged ecommerce store with little to no infrastructure of your own is the ‘new norm’.
Many entrepreneurs are using this means to generates thousands (indeed millions) of pounds, by selling private labelled products or their own creations to a gigantic global audience.
In addition, global distribution networks such as Fulfillment By Amazon can enable businesses to operate without even being part of the traditional ‘logistics’.
It might seem like a long shot but plenty of people have talents that they can use whilst being on the move.
From singing to playing poker, crafting to dancing all these skills can be turned professional.
Whether you decide to use these skills to create a blog or vlog and monetise the site (YouTube videos can earn a good income), find a circuit to tour with, or hawk your trade in whichever town you pitch up in, they can all earn you money.
Believe it or not but over 10,000 people make a living by playing poker professionally.
With online gaming and international circuits for big money, those that can play well can make a very reasonable income. Of course, gambling isn’t your normal kind of job nor is it particularly secure but by investing winnings and treating it professionally there is no reason why it couldn’t be.
If your current role involves a specialism of any sort, then you can always look at how you can make this pay for you in a freelance role.
Plenty of countries lack local knowledge and skills in areas that could present opportunities for people who can provide them. Sectors such as construction, transport and utilities are always highly transferrable markets for consulting.
Affecting The Change: How to Become Location Independent
Let’s say you’ve made the decision to throw in your day job and pursue a lifestyle of location independence.
Where should you start to make it all work with a remote job?
Naturally, there are both pros and cons to this new lifestyle (as the video below from freelancer Chris explains).
There are some steps you can take to give yourself a fighting chance of success.
Assess Your Skills
Establishing a change in work circumstances should always start with a cold, hard analysis of the skills that you have to offer and, as importantly, what you want out of your next job.
There seems little point ditching a job you hate only to take the same role back up again in paradise.
On the other hand it makes no sense in starting from fresh in a skills market when you are about to make much bigger changes to your lifestyle.
Take the time to write down all the skills that you have which could be applied to a job and then make a wish list of the jobs that you would most want to do. What you are looking for is a correlation between the skills you already have and those that you need.
The third list should be based on what skills you can outsource and those that you can’t.
Again, there is little point in looking at a job that requires you to have a degree if you do not already have one. However, if you are looking at creating your own website but have no skillset in web design and maintenance then this is easily something that you can outsource.
Make Your Skills Portable
Once you have put together a list of your skills you will need to identify those that can be made portable and those that cannot.
For instance, if you are a researcher then you may only need a laptop, internet connection and digital access to an online library.
Maybe you are a dental technician making implants… taking this kind of work on the move might be tricky but you could always bring your knowledge and experience to bear with consultancy or blogging.
Decide what things you need to be able to work on the move: laptop, camera, specialist equipment.
Any skills that you can’t make portable, consider how you could outsource or delegate these to others.
Some skills, like accounting, you will want to delegate regardless!
Change In Attitude
The number one reason that so many don’t take up the opportunity to become location independent is the fear of change.
We become used to the ready mantras of working for a secure and fixed income in order to save for our futures. We are not casting any judgment on this way of looking at the work/life balance but, if you want to experience a life where work can not only provide for your future but also fund an exciting present then you might need to abandon the traditional logic.
Changing jobs and moving house can be a stressful thing but doing this to a new country and potentially one you’ve never been to before, let alone lived in, can be daunting.
However, if you are well-prepared and have a good back-up plan then you needn’t be worried about the risks.
Of course, there is a gamble but no job in the UK is 100% secure either.
Stability, security and a steady pay check are no more guaranteed here in Britain than anywhere else in the world. In some cases, you could say that being a freelancer is a more secure place to be as you call the shots.
Our advice here is to be prepared, be positive and give it your best shot.
Once you have made plans of what skills you have, what you need to make them portable and those things that you can employ others to do (also on a freelance basis) then you need to put together a practical plan of how to achieve location independence.
The details of your plan will be individual to you, the job you are looking at and which country(ies) you are planning on working in but should cover:
- Researching the required income to support your desired cost of living.
- Researching the levels of pay you can expect to receive from your chosen job.
- Establishing a fall-back plan both financially and practically to allow you some ‘buffer’ room when you first set-up. This is important for peace of mind but for many countries you will need to demonstrate how you intend to support yourself financially before you are allowed to enter.
- Securing an income stream.
- Getting your new business set-up.
- Establishing payment of taxes.
Researching Cost of Living
Using websites like Numbeo https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/ can be a useful way of researching the cost of living in your chosen country.
From popular cities like Rio de Janeiro, Singapore and Athens to roads less traveled you can find up-to-date information on the costs of rental, transport, utilities, groceries and consumer goods.
Researching Rates of Pay
Once you have an idea of how much money you need to live on you need to work out whether your job idea will pay you enough to support this lifestyle. If you are working remotely and can continue to deliver your output to the UK, then this will be a known quantity; you simply need to work out the rates of tax and apply an exchange rate.
If you plan to bill your work locally then it is important to research what kind of money you can expect to earn. There is a huge difference in the salary expectations of a photographer in Reykjavik than there is in Bangalore.
You may have to make contact with locals in your chosen profession to get a good idea.
Establish a Plan B
Once you’ve made your decision to go location independent you may decide that you need to save for a couple of months to have a secure rainy-day fund.
Or, you may decide that you want to sell up your assets here in the UK, invest a proportion in a property to rent out whilst you are away or cash-in a pension early. Whatever your circumstances, have a well-prepared plan that you could demonstrated to the relevant immigration teams of any country that you are not going to require the assistance of their nation during your stay.
Securing an Income Stream
You may be lucky enough to be able to simply transfer your existing business (with its customer base) to your new location independent position. However, you may well be looking at a change in career and therefore starting a business from scratch so this will need to form a part of your planning process.
The world of freelancing isn’t new and the global marketplace for trades and skillsets is abundant. Depending on the type of work you are looking at covering there are numerous websites where you can secure sales.
Competition is tough but there are some great marketplaces to secure regular work.
A couple of successful proposals could net you a regular income with from things such as finance, law, creative design and software development through to translation, PR, marketing and business support.
The key to success with freelancing is always to plan enough work for a good six weeks ahead; part of your day job, however busy you are, should be on pitching proposals for new and advance work.
Getting Your New Business Set Up
If you are looking at establishing a career that requires advertising or you are setting up a website from which you want to earn a passive income then part of your planning will require establishing the groundings.
Opportunities like Fulfilment by Amazon will also require some organisation prior to you making that big move so plan this time into your schedule.
Establishing Tax Liabilities
Depending on the type of business you are setting up, where you are working and how you transact your money you will need to be aware of the tax obligations that are relevant to you.
As this may vary considerably you should always seek the advice of an international tax specialist to help you.
The Jump Off Point
Pursuing a lifestyle of location independence is one of the most empowering decisions you could ever make. And there are no shortage of remote jobs for making it pay off.
Is it a risky decision? Yes.
Might it be one of the best you ever make? Possibly.
Success or failure, the opportunity is all about what you make of it.
If you have made the jump from a full time traditional career to location independence, we’d love to hear your stories. Particularly the struggles, challenges and ways you overcame them.
If you are still undecided on whether a remote career is right for you, what are the things holding you back?
Let us know below.