Last week, I spend 4 days walking around the street of Chiang Mai. I literally went from one nursery to another, trying to find the best choice for my 1-year-old daughter.
It was tough and frustrating as there isn’t a lot online about this topic. Still, it’s exciting every time to reach a new destination and explore it like a local.
This is part of what location independence has to offer. Settle in a place and get to know it like a local vs. like a tourist. It’s not always an easy experience, but I like those challenges and discoveries it brings.
I CHOSE to live this way, what’s your choice?
My wife and I have been keeping a few principles in our lives that brought us to the point where we can live as digital nomads (This is the term many uses now instead of location independent).
Frankly, our families think we are not really normal in our approach and sure, I get why they think this. “How about just settle down?” But for us it’s the optimal way of living. With the least stress and the most flexibility.
So, first what is a digital nomad?
As I mentioned, a digital nomad is a person who is location independent. Digital nomads make enough income to support themselves while traveling.
We don’t travel all the time. But we are now about to do a long 2.5 months term of work+vacation. Flexibility is the name of the game. Let me tell you how we do this.
So, are we really a Nomadic family?
First, a little background for you to get the picture.
We always liked this flexible lifestyle. We are now exploring the digital nomad community in Chiang Mai. This is 2.5 months long trip, with a business hop for me to Taiwan beginning of March for some meetings and MOX demo day.
By the end of March, we will be back in Israel.
Our base right now is in Israel, and we prefer it to be this way because of being close to our families.
We, of course want that our 1-year-old baby daughter will spend as much time with them.
But we certainly can live anywhere we want as long as we can afford the expenses.
So, I can’t say we are living the vagabonding life and travel indefinitely.
But what I can say is that we do have the flexibility we want to move to a new place and try it out when we want.
The ability to do that didn’t all happen in one day, though. There isn’t a certain moment I can say that we became “nomadic”.
However, we build our life and keep a few principles that keep us flexible.
And if you want to do the same you need to work on those principles to keep this flexibility.
Here are our 5 principles
1. Choose to be location independent
we CHOOSE to work remotely and looking for those kinds of jobs and opportunities. I run AppInChina remotely for 2 years now, since we left Beijing. My wife used to work for a Chinese company who kept hiring her even after we left to Israel.
She worked there up to 10 months ago and now gaining expertise in coding and QA (Quality assurance).
She had to switch to a new expertise. Why? The reason is that you can find a lot of remote jobs in programming and QA. It’s much harder to find a remote product management role which is what she used to do.
Find a job that you can do the work remotely. If you can’t find one, learn the skills to do it.
2. Smart investing
We are trying to let out capital work for us. This is to ensure that we have as much passive income as possible.
The importance here is starting early. Avoid getting into analysis paralysis of what to invest in. I’m oversimplifying here obviously, so don’t invest in a business selling ice to Eskimos. Or should you?
Once you know what’s your sentiment to risk you are good to go with investing.
We mainly invest in small real estate projects overseas and the stock market (Had a wonderful 38% increase in 2016).
Step #1: Understand what’s your sentiment if you lose money. How much of it are you able to lose and still sleep at night.
Step #2: Start investing as soon as you can. It’s not easy but you’ll have to jump into the water and swim at some point.
Tradeking is where I manage my US portfolio. They have the lowest commissions I could find.
3. Maximizing resources
You got resources that can make you extra cash. I’m talking about your car, your house or apartment. Even different appliances you have in your house can be a source of income if you rent those out when not in use. When was the last time you’ve used your drill?
With today’s shareable economy it’s a no-brainer to do it. It does take some of time. But when you think about it, it’s worth the effort.
The way you should look at it is as something to increase your investments capital. So, you’ll have more money the earliest that gains the compound interest. Then it makes a lot of sense!
Here is how we do it
(we are spending a lot of time with family, so the house is empty anyway).
This is where we live:
Something we are doing as well but wasn’t proven to be successful yet is listing our car for a short term rents. Also, offering paid rides (There are a few apps you can do that in Israel) when we use our car anyway.
4. Minimizing expenses
We are not huge spenders. We barely buy new stuff, let it be clothing, furniture or toys for the baby. This lets us spend less and save more and then…invest more.
Most of the things we buy are 2nd hand or we just get from different people.
There is a popular website called Agora (a ‘penny’ in Hebrew) in Israel where people give away things they don’t need, some of them are almost new.
We are also giving away things we don’t need, which brings me to the next point.
Your Takeaway: Buy things on the 2nd hand market or get things for free when people don’t need it. People really throw new usable things sometimes. It helps your financial bottom line and saves our planet.
5. Being minimalists
We got to the conclusion that we don’t need a lot of stuff for living. Less is actually more, way more.
Think about it. All the stuff you own, require storage space and so it makes your rent higher. If you plan to buy a house it requires you need to buy a larger and more expensive place then.
Also, you need to pack your stuff when you are moving which takes more time. And time is the most valuable resource. It’s irreplaceable.
Here is how we do it.
Our rules for new furniture. It needs to fit in on one of the following categories.
- We can move it by ourselves. No need for a special truck.
- We don’t mind leaving it behind when we move.
- We don’t mind giving it away at some point.
So, we rented places that already had furniture, bought 2nd hand furniture, or got those for free.
The only things we have that don’t fit in our tiny car (cheap to buy, cheap on gas) is our refrigerator and our bed both 2nd hand (cost: ~$150 and ~$37 respectively).
On the last 4-5 times we moved to a new place, we didn’t rent a truck to move, and it feels great!
We really don’t mind selling those or even giving them away when we would like to move to a new place.
Also, we are always thinking what we can get rid of and not keep it in the house. Don’t get me wrong, we still have boxes with stuff and we don’t use EVERYTHING in our closet. But we are on a constant mindset of ‘how we get rid of stuff’. So when a box goes away, that’s something to celebrate.
Your Takeaway: Be lean. You really don’t need everything you possess. Buy folding furniture or such you can take apart by yourself and move. Or just rent a furnished house or apartment, so when you move you have only boxes and you are good to go.
BTW, here is an excellent TEDx talk about minimalism if you want to learn more about it.
This is it!
I hope you understand better the flexible and lean mindset right now and I inspired you, even a little. Call it digital nomad or anything else, it just makes life much simpler.
Now over to you
What’s blocking you from being lean? If you are on the flexible mindset, what other things you do to be more flexible in your lifestyle? And most important, if you’ve got any questions for building this kind of lifestyle for yourself add those in the comments, I”ll answer them directly there.
Main image credit by Phalinn Ooi