What Is Location Independence?

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What Is Location Independence?

^Photo by Irvan Smith on Unsplash


Table Of Contents

Location independence is the ability to work online without any company-mandates or tax-obligations tying you to a specific country or region (for example, the EU). While the concept of location independence doesn’t always imply remote work, location independent individuals have a remote job, passive income or a large amount of money saved up. Or they’re a trust fund kid.

The Traditional Work Model Vs Location Independence

The traditional work model, with its fixed hours and often-stuffy office environments, can leave you wanting more. More inspiration, more flexibility, more “I feel like a human”. And look - some offices are genuinely good places to work. But if yours is not, there’s no amount of cold brew on tap or pizza parties that’s going to change that.

And if you’re good with the office vibe, more power to ya. But if you want to transition to become a remote worker, while you’re searching for remote roles, you should be well-aware of the concept of location independence.

Key Characteristics of Location Independence

  • Location flexibility: Work from anywhere with a reliable internet connection, whether it's your hometown cafe, a co-working space in another city, or a vacation rental halfway around the world.
  • Schedule control: Set your work hours, schedule client meetings around time zones and manage your time effectively to create a life that aligns with your goals.
  • Income source: Location independent individuals almost all have an income of some kind, such as remote jobs, freelancing, online businesses or passive income.
  • Lifestyle focus: Location independence is great because it allows you to live where you want, how you want. That may be in your home town, or that may be in Rio de Janeiro. But location independence is so great because it allows you to explore hobbies that would be otherwise geographically inaccessible. For example, you’ve always wanted to surf, but you live in Iowa? That’s going to be a hard go.


Location Independent Work vs Remote Work

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All location independent jobs are remote jobs, but not all remote jobs are location independent. If you'd like a more in-depth view on remote work, check out our "What is remote work?" resource.

Similarities Between Location Independent Jobs & Remote Jobs

  • Both location independence and remote work involve working remotely and not being tied to a physical office.
  • Both utilize technology (video calls, project management tools) for communication and collaboration with colleagues and clients.
  • Location independent jobs and remote jobs involve a higher level of trust between employer and employee; trust that parties are doing what they agreed to.

Differences Between Location Independent Jobs & Remote Jobs

Location Independent Job Specifics:

  • Employees are not tied in any way to any geographic location. They’re free to move down the street or to a remote Pacific island, as long as they have a reliable wifi connection and the time zone difference doesn’t interfere with their work.
  • Income can come from various sources, not just traditional employer-employee relationships.

Remote Job Specifics:

  • Often tied to a specific employer and set schedule, with occasional office visits or location limitations.
  • Income typically comes from a salary or hourly wage from a single employer.

Common Location Independent Jobs and Careers

^Photo by Hunter Newton on Unsplash


While many jobs can be done remotely, some remote jobs are more popular than others.

Location Independent Freelancers/Contractors

As freelancers and contractors are not W-2 employees, these individuals are usually location independent. If you’re a US citizen, you’re a freelancer or contractor if you use a 1099 tax form, instead of a W-2.

Popular location independent freelance jobs:

  • SEO consultant
  • Marketing consultant
  • Content editors
  • Content creators
  • Graphic designers
  • Web developers
  • Virtual assistants
  • Podcast editor

Location Independent Online Business Owners

Entrepreneurs and business owners with small and even medium-sized companies are often free to be location independent. Location independence becomes an issue with large companies as there are tax implications, boards of directors, etc etc.

Popular business types for location independent business owners:

  • E-commerce stores
  • Online course instructor
  • SaaS company
  • Dropshipping
  • Accounting

Pros And Cons Of A Location Independent Job

Pros Of Location Independence

  • Freedom and flexibility: Work from anywhere in the world, design your ideal work-life balance, and travel when it suits you.
  • Improved work-life balance: Control your schedule and integrate work and personal time more seamlessly.
  • Ability to pursue geographically-dependent interests: Location independence means you can move to Italy to learn how to make old-world wines, Japan to study calligraphy or to Australia to surf.
  • Potential for cost savings: Living in areas with a lower cost of living to potentially reduce your financial burden.

Challenges Of Location Independence

  • Loneliness and isolation: Location independence can mean moving a lot, which can be isolating for anyone, let alone someone who’s not extremely extroverted. Constant moving requires proactive effort to build connections and a sense of community wherever you go in the world.
  • Self-discipline and time management: Staying focused and meeting deadlines is part of the drill when it comes to location independent work.
  • Fluctuating income: Freelancing and business ownership can bring with it multiple and uncertain income streams. If you’re coming from the W-2 world, this income-uncertainty is not an easy thing to stomach.
  • Visa limitations & gray areas: If you choose to travel to different countries and work, you’ll need to juggle visa applications and requirements with the uncertainty of current digital work laws throughout much of the world. You’re “technically” not allowed to work in many countries throughout the world without a work visa. But then again, Jack Sparrow would say that’s more like “guidelines”...

4 Steps To Prepare for Location Independent Work

^Photo by Magnet.me on Unsplash

Step 1: Assess Your Skills and Interests

 Ideally, you would do this before you quit your W-2 job. But you need to identify your strengths and passions, and you can use this as an opportunity to get to the bone of how you want to make money. When you know what you want, you can determine how your current skills will get you there.

Side note: For what it’s worth, I was once given a great piece of advice when it comes to determining how I should view a career/making money. It boiled down to finding the intersection of my passion, my skills, and what the world needs.

I actually don’t recommend you try to figure out the “where” yet. If you’re dreaming of living in Leavenworth so you can climb every day, without first determining how you’ll fund that lifestyle, you may end up in that office job you were trying to escape in the first place.

Step 2: Skill Up

 So by now you should understand your skills and have a clear vision in your mind of how you’re going to make money. Do your current skills fit into that plan? Or do you need to skill up? Most likely, you need to skill up a bit.

That’s where online resources like Coursera and Udemy come in. These are great resources to learn skills and get certificates to show off how much you know.

Step 3: Build Your Online Presence

You can build your online presence while you’re skilling up in Step #2 as well. A strong online presence is invaluable to anyone looking for a location-independent position.

Building your online presence means different things, based on your end-goal. If you want to be a graphic designer, use this time to build and enhance your portfolio. If you want to be a consultant, establish yourself as a thought-leader on LinkedIn (just please don’t be one of those overboard Linkedin influencers).

If it makes sense for your desired field, jump into Reddit and Telegram communities and offer useful insights. Just don’t advertise yourself there. That’s asking for an instant ban.

Step 4: Action The Income Streams 

 You have the vision, the skills and the presence, now it’s time to take those to market to dissect tangible ways you’re going to generate income.

This is when you execute on your goal. Whether you’re a freelancer getting work on Upwork, getting a fully location-independent job somewhere like remote.co or working as a contractor in your desired field - this is when the rubber meets the road.

Location Independent Work: Other Practical Considerations

How To Choose Your Location

Things to consider when you’re figuring out where to work remotely;

  • Cost of living: This isn’t a “find the cheapest place you can live” vibe. But if you’re just starting to build your income stream, you probably don’t want your first stop to be Zurich.
  • Internet connectivity: Ensure a reliable and stable internet connection is available to support your work needs. Video calls, file transfers, and cloud-based applications all rely on a strong internet connection. If you’re not on a fiber optic connection in a city, make sure you’ve got access to Starlink.
  • Cultural experiences: What do you like to do? Do you like outdoor experiences and camping? Miami is probably going to rub you the wrong way. Conversely, if you like partying and night clubs, you’ll be a bit disappointed by Boulder, CO.
  • Visa requirements: Some countries may not have any restrictions, some may require work visas, and others may have limitations on remote work for foreigners. Look into this before you head out.
  • Short-term rentals: Best-case scenario is you’ve already booked a remote-work friendly short-term rental before you arrive at your destination.


Setting Up Your Remote Workspace

If you move around a lot, then this may be the most difficult thing to do as a location independent worker. And whether you’ve got a WFH office setup or you’re popping in and out of cafes, here are some remote work tips to stay comfortable while you’re working from anywhere;

  • Chairs with lumbar support: Whether you’re going to a cafe, a coworking space, or you’re staying in your accommodations, make sure your chair has lumbar support. If you walk into a “minimalist” cafe - run. They’ve never heard of chairs with support of any kind, and that wildly average coffee will be $32 thanks and make sure to tip.
  • Lighting is crucial: Do everything you can to avoid bright, white light at night. At the same time, make sure you’re not working in a cave during daytime hours either.
  • Avoid distracting spaces: Don’t set up for your workday in a cafe on the main drag. There will be tons of foot traffic and loud vehicle traffic, and you’ll likely have a tough time focusing. Duck into a cafe that’s one or two streets off the main shoot.
  • Ergonomic accessories: Loading up on ergonomic laptop accessories like TILT are going to help you work comfortably no matter where you are.

Managing Finances

  • Get the right cards: If you’ll be in and out of different countries, the last thing you need is to be locked out of your account. Make sure you’ve picked out one of the best travel debit cards and credit cards for international travel.
  • Health insurance: Most “standard” healthcare policies in your home country aren’t going to cover scuba diving in South Africa. Check out providers like Safetywing or World Nomads to insure you against catastrophic accident while you’re traveling.
  • Understand tax implications: Take a look at the tax implications of working remotely in different countries. Tax laws vary greatly, and talking to a tax professional who specializes in taxes for remote workers is definitely key.


Prepare In Advance

  • Packing list: If you're location-independent and plant to move around a lot, you may want to check out a digital nomad packing list to make sure you've got everything you need for life on the road.
  • 2FA/OTP: You probably need your home country number to access 2FA messages abroad. If you have a US number, make sure you’ve taken steps to keep your US number abroad if you do need access.


Location Independent Jobs Q&A


Q: How much money do I need to be location independent?
A: There's no one-size-fits-all answer, as it depends on your lifestyle, chosen location, and where you're financially at on your journey. However, there are places in the world you can work a location independent job and live comfortably for ~$1,200 USD/month.

Q: Is location independence right for me?
A: “Know thyself”; if you prefer stability and are uneasy with uncertainty, a location independent job is probably not for you.


Q: What are the challenges of location independence?

  • Self-discipline: Time management and focus are crucial for staying productive without an office environment. Develop routines and utilize time management techniques.
  • Fluctuating income: Freelancing and business ownership can have variable income streams. Plan for financial fluctuations and have a financial safety net in place.
  • Visa limitations: Research visa requirements thoroughly to avoid legal issues while working remotely internationally.
  • Loneliness: If you work a location independent job and move around a lot, it can be difficult to establish community. So get out of your accommodations, go to meetups, go to coworking spaces, and go meet people that are just like you. Because chances are - there’s a lot of them wherever you are.


Q: What’s the difference between location independence and remote work?
A: While it is a form of remote work, location independent work means you’re not geographically bound to a specific country or country bloc. Many W-2 remote work jobs, on the other hand, require employees to be geographically located in a specific country or country bloc for tax or cybersecurity purposes.

Q: Is it possible to be location independent without a job?
A: Yes, if you have investments that provide passive income, you have a large savings or you’re a trust-fund kid, you can certainly be location independent.