how to be a location independent family, part 1

A while ago I was reading Location Independent Living, and I came up with three questions that I had about actually implementing it with a family. Most of these questions probably would arise reading the now-famous Four Hour Work Week, too, but I have yet to read it. First, a lot of people say they want to travel but what does that really mean? Second, is it really possible with children? And finally, what kind of financial situation do you need to be in if you do it? I’ll address each of these questions in a separate post.

What Does Travel Really Mean?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Joshua Davis (

Take a look at this list of “travels” that I’ve done and think about which of them would appeal to you. This is not an abstract question, but an attempt to try to make you think about what kind of traveling you would prefer to do if money and time and commitments and so on were no object.

– A cruise to a generic Caribbean island.
– Camping in the hills, living in tents and eating food cooked over the fire.
– A hotel in a shabby part of Paris, but near a subway that gives you quick access to the heart of the city.
– Staying in simple accommodations in a small town in central Europe.
– Primitive hotel accommodations in distant Siberia; no shower, minimal heat, no TV.
– Visiting relatives in a town about 7 hours away by car.

Travel usually means one of two things to most people: a desire for new experiences OR relief from day-to-day routines. I don’t think there are many other reasons to travel, because almost any motivation can be put in one of those two categories, or both. If you want to become a location-independent person, though, you should be motivated by the desire for new experiences. If your motivation is relief from day-to-day routines – nonstop – then you may be disappointed eventually. Even if you travel constantly, routines will develop. As I’ll discuss in part two, routines may even be necessary. If your idea of perfect travel is staying on a cruise ship or in a luxury hotel where maid services take care of making the bed and the minibar magically refills, you will eventually grow tired of this new routine.

On the other hand, if you are looking for new experiences, traveling as a location-independent family would be liberating. You can stay in a location until it gets boring for you, then move to the next location. Your routine may be the same in each place (doing your remote work, schooling the kids, going grocery shopping), but the experience will always be new. You can do this by learning your timeframe for change, and planning ahead. Obviously if you have a routine built into your daily life, but your location changes once every six months, you will have new experiences. Grocery shopping in Irkutsk will be different than grocery shopping in Surabaya. However, you will have to do it. You will not have concierge service everywhere you go that will allow you to sleep until noon and party all day long.

Traveling in general, though, is liberating. As I said, I have made all of the trips I listed above and each has its own appeal. However, going to a new place for the first time is always tremendously exciting for me. I would rather go to Croatia than France, simply because I’ve BEEN to France. Similarly I would rather go to a small village in France, though, than go to the same city in Croatia twice. Some people enjoy one place; they have a timeshare there, or friends, or simply love it too much never to visit again. If you are like this, maybe you don’t really want to be location independent: maybe you just want to MOVE. It’s a critical difference, because they are two very different lifestyles. If you love France, for example, just move there and live there for a few years. Don’t move there planning to move on in 3 or 4 months; you’ll regret it.

I think the biggest part of this lifestyle would be making sure that you are doing it for the right reasons: for experience, not for escape. You can find escape without traveling – by getting a different job, exploring a new hobby or even learning something new. Experiences, though, have to be sought after, and being a location independent family would be a great way to continually invite those experiences into your life.

In the next part I’ll talk about traveling with children.

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11 Replies to “how to be a location independent family, part 1”

  1. Nothing is ever simple. For many that cruise would sound good, but I would rather stay home than go on a cruise. Too regimented and you never really get to be part of the culture of the island. Physically seeing the sites is only part of the equation for me. I also like being part of the culture, even if it’s only for a few days.

  2. Location independent living has always held a certain appeal for me. Traveling around somehow seems – romantic. Or adventurous.

    The problem for us is we have a pretty strong social network where we live. We have great friends that we depend on, and there are plenty of people who depend on us. This inter-dependency is what has prevented us from being mobile like this. I would feel like we’re leaving part of ourselves behind, and we’re also taking something from someone else.

    Inter-dependency has it’s advantages, but mobility is not one of them. It would be interesting if you could address this in a future column.

  3. As someone who caught a nasty cold last weekend on his flight back to the States from Prague, right now travel doesn’t seem that appealing. I’m sure my outlook with improve in a few days.

    However, I have a friend who sold his software company here in New England for a modest sum (not enough to retire on) in this early 30s and moved his family to Bonaire. He trained for and became licensed as a patent agent, and travels the world from his base in Bonaire as a patent consultant and expert witness in patent disputes. Much of his work is done long-distance, thanks to the Internet.

    He, his wife, and two children travel frequently. I believe they do a combination of in-school in Bonaire and home schooling, with the travel an integral part of the education. They recently returned from a three week Mediterranean sailing cruise, with stops in a dozen different ports to explore cultures and histories.

    The downside is that he’s platinum elite on two airlines and gold elite on three others. I’m gold elite on one, and that’s more than enough.

  4. Brip Blap,

    I never though about traveling the way you described it. I would love it if you could post more thought provoking articles like that in the future.
    I myself this that I want to be location independent. I think that the whole idea of passive/alternative income really meshes up perfectly with the idea of location independency. For example, you could travel accross the globe and still be able to write articles for your blog while earning money from your advertisers.

  5. I also want to go to places that I haven’t been to before. It feels like every time I here of a place, I want to go there. But I don’t know that being location independent would suit me full time. I like to have a home as well.

  6. Like weiszguy said, I am too invested in the social network in my community. I love to travel, but I really cannot see myself away from my home for more than 1 month out of the year. I like my home and I like my friends. It took a few years to establish this after moving here. I am not sure I am willing to give that up just yet.

    My husband is does not fill every social role that I need in my life. I think that if you are location independent, you have to be satisfy with whatever social role your spouse can fill. My husband is my best friend and we can talk for hours. But he cannot fill the role of my girl friends where we get together and talk about the things that he will never understand. Sure, you can talk on the phone with your friends, but it is not the same. You do not connect the same way as you do with a face to face conversation.

  7. My family is working on these very same issues. In part out of necessity due to the economy and it seems an appropriate time to re-create ourselves versus beating our head against the wall in the hamster cage doing the same stupid stuff every day that seems meaningless and uneventlful to provide an opportunity to the do the exactly same thing tomorrow (and so on).

    The 'Four Hour Work Week' was inspiring, but not entirely realistic. In part because the learning curve for the type of work that would provide substantial income can be quite high. But it is a lofty goal non-the-less with success being measured by a hybrid of income strategies (jobs).

    A wise man once told me, “It takes one full year to start or stop any ONE thing”. This could not be more true. We have actively been working since November of 2007 to stop the hamster cage cycle and break down the barriers to being location independent- which includes exploring income opportunities both labor and intellectual related.

    Planning, adaptability, and diligence are imperative to swimming against the social current.

    I enjoyed the post.

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