Is your current work or dream location-independent? Is the only thing tethering you an Internet connection? If not, can you make it so? Then this is for you.
We live in an age of unprecedented movement and opportunity. Stop taking it for granted.
In medieval Europe, lives were so fundamentally tied down to a single location that it was not uncommon for people to take on the name of their village or town as their own last name.
The War of 1812 was fought for months after the Americans and British had officially ended it. Why? The ships sent to relay the Crown’s orders to its soldiers took months to crawl across the Atlantic. Whoops.
And here we are, exactly 200 years later, able to cross the Atlantic in 5 hours, treated all the while to an endless stream of video entertainment. Wherever you are in the world, you can be somewhere entirely different within the scope of a single workday. The world is smaller than ever before, small enough to fit well within the bounds of big dreams.
TRAVEL IS FOR MORE THAN FUN.
Okay, so you know that travel is easier, cheaper, and safer than ever before. Cool, but you don’t need me to convince you to go on a vacation.
Stop thinking of travel as an escape.
Yes, travel can be an effective, if temporary escape from the rigorously scheduled life. Yes, travel should be fun and full of vibrant interaction with the local culture and people and history. But it can be so much more. Travel can help you achieve your dream. Long-term travel let’s you choose a set of circumstances where you can more effectively dedicate yourself while avoiding unnecessary stresses and constraints.
Think of travel as a way to maximize your freedom and earnings while minimizing risk.
If you’ve decided to grow some courage and chase your damn dream already, then follow these two simple steps to maximize your chances for success.
Identify whether you are actually location-independent, or if you can be.
Examples: writer, artist, some entrepreneurs, freelancers (tech, marketing, web design), educator (in most countries there is a demand for foreign language teachers), among others.
If you are location-independent, then move to a developing country.
Cue the record scratching and flash-zooms of confused faces.
MOVE TO A DEVELOPING COUNTRY.
Having spent a considerable amount of my life in India, and the majority of my life surrounded by the comforts of suburban New England, USA, I can tell you that life in the developing world is fucking awesome if you have an open mind, live in a big city, and stop acting like a bitch.
“But what about my friends and my family and my life and even though I’m miserable where I’m at and unsatisfied with where I’m going I can’t let go and I love television programming here and I can’t give up my nicely furnished apartment and foreigners are scary because I don’t understand them and never took the time to understand.”
– Coward #27658
Look, you want this dream? Listen up.
A high cost of living kills the dreamer.
Imagine that you’ve saved up $5000USD to live off of while you pursue your dream. You’ve quit your day job. When you run out of money, you plan to return to the 9-to-5 grind until you have saved enough and feel confident enough to strike out on your own again. Okay, that’s a reasonable gameplan. Let’s do some calculations.
Assume that the cost of living per month in the United States will be at minimum $800, somewhat below minimum wage. You will be completely slumming it. Quality of life will be extremely low. This is below the poverty line in the USA, but I’m underestimating just to prove my point. At $800 per month, you have ~6 months to make something happen with your dream before returning to the 9-to-5 grind.
Now let’s compare to cost of living in Mumbai, India to Boston, USA. You may just barely scrape a living in Boston with $800 per month. Regardless, let’s continue.
Instead of coming up with my own numbers, I’ve used a website which compiles price indices for consumer goods and rent and groceries, among other necessities of life. Mumbai, the largest and most cosmopolitan city in India, is ~65% cheaper considering all consumer goods and services, and ~70% cheaper when it comes to rent. Let’s just make it simple and average the two. Thus, we get that overall Mumbai is ~67.5% cheaper than Boston.
With the same $800 per month in Mumbai, you will run out of your savings in ~19 months.
Boston → 6 months
Mumbai → 19 months
A difference of more than 3x the amount of time to get your shit together and make your dream a reality.
This was of course using less-than-minimum-wage, below-poverty-line numbers to start with. If we are more reasonable with the allotted costs of living per month, then life in India (and, correspondingly, in other developing countries) becomes overwhelmingly more comfortable compared to the same life in the United States. As an example, you can have several hours daily, on-call domestic help in India for roughly $250USD per month. That’s not even an option in the United States unless you’re willing to pay many thousands.
Even better, if you’re able to make money remotely — whether in the process of pursuing your dream, or through the work that you’ve taken with you — the money you earn will put you in an income and social bracket well above what you would be in the the Western world. The purchasing power parity is in your favor to the degree of +41.5%. Every $1 you earn makes you $1.42 richer in the Indian context, not taking into account the vastly cheaper cost of living.
And let’s not forget, you will be rewarded with a bevy of fascinating experiences, the chance to meet incredible new people (expatriates and nationals), and loads of inspiration with which to draw on.
Why don’t more do this? People are risk-averse creatures, afraid of change.
Don’t be a slave to fear, of risk or of the unknown. Make drastic changes. Be brave.