Thursday, December 13, 2012

Location independence, going home and other thoughts

A big reason we quit our jobs, sold all our stuff and headed out to Thailand was to create a location independent lifestyle. I first heard about "location independence" 5 years ago when I came across Lea Woodard's location independent blog. Seeing Lea and her husband travel the world and live and work wherever they chose was inspiring.  I have always loved travel and seeing new places and a lifestyle that gives you the choice of where  to live and work was and is really appealing.

In 2012 Now it's clearly growing trend.  Particularly among web designers,  web developers and programmers. Christine and Drew from the popular blog Almostfearless created a documentary "The Wireless Generation" where they interviewed 18 individuals holding down a 9-5 jobs while travelling the worlds. Watch the video below from their kick-starter campaign and I'm sure you'll be wishing you could do something similar.


I feel proud that Neil and I stuck our necks out and were brave enough to see if we could make a location independent life work for us. When we told people what we were planning on doing, they said things like "you're brave" and "that's a bit risky."  We were brave but we did it partly because Neil needed to get away from programming for health reasons, we were due to move out of our apartment, Max was still very young and the timing just felt right.  

We didn't have time to set up a business that was income generating before we left the UK as all the advice recommends.  We either had to go then or we would probably never have gone . Despite Neil being a programmer and having a skill-set perfectly suited to a location independent business he needed to move away from programming. Unfortunately my skills are in the legal field and there isn't really much opportunity for freelance legal work.  

So we have spent our time abroad coming up with ideas, trying different projects out and  dismissing  lots of things.  We  have made some big steps forward it terms of working out what is is we could actually do and want to do.  It is a work in progress but it is progress. 

We have decided to return to the UK in April when our 3rd visa runs out. We haven't let go of the idea of location independence.  It is still very much a goal. It's still our aim but having this time abroad has made me realise that location independence is having the "choice" to choose where you want to live and work.  I actually want the UK to be our home base.  I want our son to be near family and friends (I think it is important). I am also craving a home to call our own.  I find myself staring dreamily over my Ideal Home magazines and gazing longingly at the gorgeous interiors on Houzz. In an ideal world we would have a home base in the UK and travel for 1 or 2 month periods, 2 or three times a year or as and when we please. A location independent business would give us this freedom.

Being back it the UK will mean I have to return to work initially and Neil  will continue with our business ideas. I will be sad  to leave Max in childcare as I have loved being with him everyday for his first 2 years.  But he will love playschool I am sure.  Hopefully the start we have given ourselves by coming abroad and working on our location independent dreams will be bear fruit in the coming years.  Even if it doesn't we have had so much fun taking this little adventure together as a family in Max's early years.  It is something not many people get and we are so very grateful.

Visa run plans

We are going on a visa run on Boxing Day which should be an adventure!  We are flying from Chiang Mai a Udon Thani and then taking a shuttle bus or taxi to the Laos Friendship bridge.  The flight is only 1 hour and twenty minutes which is great, as anything longer and Max might get  too fidgety.  When we arrive at Udon Thani the bus journey is under an hour and so is preferable to having to do the 9 hour return bus journey in 1 day which was our only other option for our budget.

As we will be returning on the same day we have deliberately chosen a late flight which means we will have a good few hours to kill in between.  The good news is that we can get to Vientiane  in half and hour and hang out at Common Grounds (a cool little coffee shop we found when we went last time).  It has a little playground perfect for Max to toddle about it and as a bonus they do yummy foods and healthy shakes.  We also have the option to check out Udon Thani which from my research has quite a few things to see. Although to be honest we would probably just end up finding a coffee shop and hanging out in the malls.

This will be our last visa run for our trip and in all honesty it's a relief.  Having to exit the country every 3 months can become tiresome!  Why they don't just let you pay for an extension and check in at the immigration office beats me.  Our previous visa runs have been fun though. With the exception of the 9 hour return bus ride from Chiang Mai to Mae Sai which we did for our first re-entry. Luckily at the time Max was breastfeeding and slept most of the journey so now he is a chatty toddler I'm quite relieved we don't have to do that.

I'm actually quite looking forward to this visa-run. On paper it doesn't sound too daunting but we will have to see on the day.  Hopefully we can get him to do this...