Before 2009, I had never heard of a portable career, laptop lifestyle, digital nomad or location-independent lifestyle.
If I ever considered work and not being tied to a place in the same thought, it was to dream about someday writing a book. After all, that’s something you can do no matter where you live.
Then in 2009, I lost my “safe” job.
After applying for about 200 positions and garnering one whole interview, and an appalling three-month stint in a call center, I decided to revitalize my freelance business.
Some years before, I had written for a couple of magazines and newspapers on a freelance basis. I had also done some lightweight design — brochures, newsletters and the like. All for local clients.
Of course, that was PI – pre Internet.
Today my closest client is about 100 miles away, and that’s only due to an accident of geography when I happened to move about 600 miles closer. My largest client is in Montreal, Canada, and I’ve worked for companies as far away as Australia.
I’ve found I actually prefer long-distance clients, for a lot of reasons.
- They don’t expect me to get dressed up, drive somewhere to meet with them, or spend time in traffic
- I can be more efficient
- I can work during the hours that work for me
- I can wear business attire, shorts and a tank top, or my pjs. They neither know nor care
- I can move and they don’t even have to know about it
When we moved to Panama in 2012, I told one client ahead of time. That was only because I wanted to make sure they could pay me via PayPal instead of the paper check they’d been sending previously. Some of my clients never knew I’d changed my address.
Today, there are many kinds of work you can do from anywhere in the world, as long as you have an internet connection.
And the work doesn’t need to be freelance, either. In the past year, I’ve talked with (and worked with) people in Poland, Spain, Romania, Australia, New Zealand, Ecuador, Panama, Canada and the US who work full-time, remotely, for companies in distant locations.
So who are these people with the laptop lifestyles? They are:
- Customer service reps
- Video editors
- Life coaches
- Travel writers
- Travel bloggers
- Social media marketers
- Recruiters and HR specialists
- And more… lots more
What kinds of companies employ these far-flung workers?
For example, Buffer, the company that helps you collect and schedule social media posts, says this on their “Join the Team” page…
You will work in the place that makes you happy, that inspires you daily, and helps you to become the person that you wish to be. You will work daily with team members scattered around the world and across time zones to build a better culture and product.”
What sorts of roles do they want to fill? A “happiness hero” (might be called a customer service rep in another company), a “community champion” (social media expert), a “content crafter,” a “product creator,” “product designer,” and “developers” in a variety of flavors.
Or how about Trello, maker of an awesome project management tool? While they do maintain an office in New York City, they tell prospective hires:
Remote work welcome
Computers and networks are pretty good nowadays. There’s no reason you should have to uproot your personal life when you can do your job at home. We’ll set you up wherever you are so long as you’ve got a quiet place to work, a good Internet connection, and we can legally pay you where you live.”
They’re currently looking for account executives and an IT specialist.
Remember, these are actual, full-time jobs with benefits…
But it’s not just “online” companies who hire full-time remote workers.
Last January, FlexJobs published an article titled, 100 Top Companies with Remote Jobs in 2015.
The list doesn’t include all tech and online companies, either. Among the top fields for remote workers? Medical and health, customer service, sales, computer and IT, administrative, education and training, and marketing.
Now, naturally, if you’re a doctor you’re not going to move to another country and expect to practice there. But with a bit of planning, you can probably figure out a way to work remotely. I noticed several openings for docs to review diagnostic images, for example.
But the number and type of jobs that can be done today from off-site locations is booming.
Forbes published an article recently highlighting three well known companies that hire remote workers.
So if you’ve been delaying your overseas move because you need to keep earning, that’s no longer a valid excuse for many of us. Maybe even most of us.