How To Transition Into Location-Independent Working

September 3, 2021

Location-independent working takes remote working to a new level. It’s definitely not for everyone. For some people, however, it can be the ultimate in work-life balance. If it’s something you’re considering, then it’s advisable to do a lot of preparation first. Here are some tips to help.

laptop sitting on a table in a cafe.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Commit to outperforming at your current job

There are three good reasons for going the extra mile in your current job. Firstly, it may convince your employer to support your plans for location-independent working. From their perspective, it may not be what they want but it may be a lot better than losing you. Secondly, it’s always best to keep doors open if possible.

Thirdly, having a stellar reference from one job can make it a lot easier to access further opportunities. This doesn’t necessarily mean a new job. It can mean freelancing work or just contact-building. Also, remember that references don’t need to be formal to be effective. Informal nods in the right direction can also open doors.

Figure out your tax situation

Tax is both very important and very dependent on a person’s individual situation. If you’re seriously considering location-independent working then it’s advisable to get professional advice on what that would/could mean for your taxes. This is particularly important for U.S. citizens as you need to satisfy the U.S. tax authorities even if you live permanently overseas.

It’s also highly advisable to keep verifiable records of where you were located throughout the tax year as well as your income and expenses. Do this even if you’re a location-independent employee. It only takes a little effort and could potentially save you a lot of hassle with your taxes.

Review your insurance coverage

Decide what insurance cover you need then make sure that your provider covers you even if you don’t have a fixed address. If you’re not sure what cover to get then the basic golden rule is to ensure that you’re protected if you need medical help and/or legal representation. After that, think about veterinary care for pets and protection for any key assets you have.

You might also want to think about insurance for protecting your income if you become unable to work for any reason. This is particularly relevant for location-independent working as you may not have a support network around you. If you’re far away from family and friends then you may need to pay for help with basic tasks instead of just getting your social network to help you out.

Work out how you’re going to stay contactable

person holding a phone with a laptop on a table in front of them.

Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

Staying reachable by phone is generally pretty easy. Your challenges are likely to be post and internet. Post can generally be divided into two categories. These are regular mail and parcels. Often the easiest way to deal with regular mail is just to use a mail-forwarding service. Choose one that opens and scans letters. Decide for yourself if you still need the originals.

With parcels, you either need to have them sent somewhere you can collect them or schedule deliveries very carefully. If something really matters then the first approach is best. The reality is that even if you pay for a “guaranteed” delivery slot, there’s always a chance of delays. The chances of delays go up significantly if an item has to go through customs.

With the internet, realistically, you should be prepared to pay a premium for the best connectivity you can get. That’s typically going to mean buying a MiFi and a hefty data package rather than relying on your cellphone. Cellphones are fine for basic functions like checking messages but you don’t want to rely on them for anything heavy-duty like watching videos or Zoom calling.

Never rely on having access to public WiFI free or chargeable. Firstly, it’s not guaranteed. Secondly, it can be a major security risk. If you must use it, then always use a VPN and make sure that your cellphone/tablet is protected by a reputable security app.

Have at least one trial run

Take some short trips and see how you get on with getting yourself set up for work. Don’t actually schedule any work or at least not any urgent/important work. Just try to get a feel for how well you’re adapting to your setup. This is your chance to notice the details that could make a whole lot of difference to your overall experience.

For example, you may discover that you find it hard to focus without the familiarity of your usual workplace. You may therefore need to carve out a new dedicated workspace and get used to working from that. You might need to figure out how to reduce noise (or increase it) or how to work ergonomically. You want to have all this under control before you finally become a full-time remote worker.

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