Location, location, location!

About a year ago I started reading the Location Independent website. Now, I’m not a regular reader; I probably only check in once every couple of weeks. I honestly do find their website incredibly informative, I just never have the time to browse as much as I like because of my busy schedule.

I am not affiliated with the LIP website in any way, shape, or form. In fact, I’ve never even talked with the owners of the site or any of their members, although it is something I plan on rectifying in 2010 as my wife and I expand the horizons of Complete Writing Solutions. But that’s neither here nor there. What I really want to talk about today is location.

Location as it refers to this particular article is the place where you live. Where you live determines many things in your life. Your cost of living, for one. The opportunities available, for another. But one of the things I really want to talk about is the myth that you are somehow “not allowed” to move outside of your location and break away from the traditional way of doing things.

Now, while I’m not 100% location independent in the sense that I do have a permanent place of business (our home), I would say that we have accomplished many of the things that the LIP lifestyle allows you to do. Which is actually how I found their website last year, because at the time I was preaching about the benefits of moving abroad as a freelancer in the digital media medium.

Too many people have become trapped in this mentality that they “aren’t allowed” to live their life before they are 60 years old. You are expected to go to college, graduate into a starting position, and work your way up the ladder over the next 30 years of your life. You are expected to be several hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt the majority of your life between your car payments, your house payment, your credit cards, and your school payments, and barely have your house paid off before your SS and IRAs start becoming available. As a result, you become a slave to this mentality that you have to make X dollars per year because you have become a slave to your possession, and that you aren’t allowed to enjoy the freedom of a debt-free existence until you are 65+.

There’s an old saying: your possessions cease to be possessions when they possess you. Take a look at that in closer detail.

Are you in debt? What do you owe money on? A house? A car? Two cars? Credit cards? School payments? Do you live in an area of the country/world that requires you to make 60 thousand dollars a year or more JUST TO BREAK EVEN?

You, my friend, are a slave to consumerism. Your possessions have come to possess you.

The best part about the Internet is the ability to work from anywhere in the world if you happen to be someone who enjoys a job in the digital media medium. Digital artists, freelance designers, freelance writers, etc. The world is not limited to Western countries where the cost of living is outrageously gross. In fact, almost every modern city on the planet boasts the same amenities as those in the Western sections of the world, at a fraction of the cost.

Why wait until you are 65 to have your house paid for? Why not have your house paid for by the time you are 35? Instead of having a cost of living that is 50-60k a year for you and your family, why not transition into an environment where your cost of living is 10-15k a year?

To put it into perspective, Evy and I lived in a decent apartment in Colorado. Between her school payments, our rent, the cost of living, and various other sundries, the cost of living for the two of us between 2005 and 2007 was close to 60 thousand a year. We lived what you could call a “middle class” life. Here, in Sofia, we have the exact same amenities…but our cost of living is a fraction of what it was back in Colorado. Our apartment is 100% paid for. We are 100% debt free. And we aren’t even 30 years old. Our total cost of living, including entertainment, is around 10k USD a year.

That’s right. 10k USD a year. Even if we had rent, we would still only be around 20k USD a year for our TOTAL cost of living. That means our cost of living is forty to fifty thousand dollars a year less than what it was when we were living back in Colorado.

We spend our money traveling all over Europe. We generally take 5-6 trips a year. And before you cry foul…I still pay US taxes, just like every other American citizen. The only thing I did was shed the belief that I’m somehow “required” to live and work only in America, and that I’m somehow bound to the restraints of a consumerist society. In one year we have put more money into the savings then we did in 5 years in the U.S., and on top of that we have been on over a dozen trips in the past 2 years to places like Turkey, Italy, Paris, Macedonia, Greece, and all over Bulgaria.

Many Westerners have developed this mentality over the years that if you don’t live in the West then you aren’t really living in a civilized society. This is one of the biggest farces on the face of the planet. Look at how many countries are a part of the civilized world now. Almost every country has Internet. Iphones. X-box 360s. WiFi. Health-care. I could go on.

The question you have to ask yourself is this: if you compare the two side by side, which is more beneficial? A country where the cost of living is 60k a year for two people or a country where the cost of living is 20k a year (at most)?

The beauty of digital media is that you can work from any country, any city, any place on the planet as long as there is an Internet connection. Combine that with the fact that you can spend your money how you want to spend it, rather than being told you have to spend it on what they want you to spend it on. Then add in the fact that you can be debt free long before you are 65. Suddenly the world is a lot bigger than it was when you were still working that 9 to 5 job with a 50k a year salary and a cost of living that barely allows you to put a few grand away every year into the savings account.

At the very least you cannot deny the simple math. If you make 60k a year in a country where your cost of living is 60k a year and you are 300 thousand dollars in debt, are you really free? Compare that to a country where you can make 60k a year and have a cost of living that is 10-20k a year. Suddenly you are putting 40-50k a year in the bank. In ten years you could have half a million dollars. A million in 20. And that’s just saying you make 60k a year. Imagine if you make 100k a year.

Take a closer look at your location. You could find your life changed in ways that you could previously only dream about.

T.W. Anderson is the founder of Complete Writing Solutions, and is a freelance writer specializing in travel writing, website content, interior design and home improvement, green-related topics, as well as anything else potential clients need him to be.

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