Be your own boss. Travel the world. Sip umbrella drinks on the beach. Sounds like a dream life, right?
For some savvy entrepreneurs like Colin Wright, it's simply another day at work. When the branding-focused designer realized all he needed for his business was a laptop, he decided to take his lap to Buenos Aires.
"I'm spending about $1,000 less per month than I was when I lived in LA," he says, "and I can't emphasize enough how good the travel is for my stress level." Apparently, a Latin-American culture where people go out to dinner at 11 and tango into the night will do that for a guy.
Wright's "Exile Lifestyle" not only lets him work virtually, but has also enabled him meet with potential clients from all over the world in person, presumably accompanied by the charades-like hand gestures needed to cover any language gaps. But Colin emphasizes the need for minimalism: he owns just 72 things. Which might not prove practical for families, right?
Tell that to Lea and John Woodward, whose seventh-month old daughter has already lived in Thailand and Dubai. The Woodwards became "location independent" when John was laid off in 2006. They now run a number of online communities, including locationindependent.com, a site for entrepreneurs whose businesses enable them to live and work anywhere they choose. Like Colin, Lea emphasizes the savings of international living, actually posting the cost comparisons for both 2007 and 2008.
She also posts advice on finding "an income you can earn anywhere - which means either an online business or a job you can perform remotely."
But getting an online business up and running might take a while, particularly for those of us who still can't find the "any" key on our computers. In the meantime, we can still use the US as a base camp, like writer Chris Guillebeau, who is on a five-year quest to visit every country in the world. So far, he's gotten to 122 out of 192.
(I know, I had no idea there were so few countries. Those puppets at Walt Disney World are right,: it is a small world, after all.)
Chris's personal mission is "to help people live unconventional lives, make their own choices, and change the world" while offering his readers practical financial tips like using round the world plane tickets.
"I also like to mix things up a little," he says, "sometimes I fly First Class before checking into a $9-a-night hostel in Southeast Asia. Sometimes I fly on airlines like Air Moldova and JetStar Asia before sleeping on the floor of the airport."
Okay, I admit that sleeping on the floor of the Moldova Airport is not my dream life. Still, you'd think that professional nomads like Chris, Lea and Colin would have stories full of high-stakes danger. But beyond some red-tape immigration hassles , none of them have encountered any trouble worse than they would have gotten into in the U.S. And for the occasional mishap, they can receive health care that is both cheaper and often better than what they'd get at home.
Whatever objection you might have to living abroad, Chris has an answer for you, particularly for those who say they'll travel when they retire. "I see nothing wrong with the general concept of delayed gratification," he says. "I have an IRA, I look both ways when I cross the street, and it's reasonable to give up something now in expectation of greater future benefit. What is dangerous, however, is when delayed gratification becomes an excuse for not living the life you want."
Because a life of adventure could be sitting right in our laps.
And that, my friends, is The Upside.
WARNING: This article may make you quit your job, pack up your family and move to Fiji