Last Sunday, my husband, kids, and I met friends at a local resort. We had a laid-back afternoon: swimming in the resort pool, walking on the sand, eating vegetarian food from their extensive menu. As the evening came upon us, the winds picked up—warm with a kiss of coolness—the palms waved above us, and I watched the silhouette of my children playing on the beach.
In these moments, I have to stop and remind myself how lucky we are to be living a fully location independent life.
Location independence means we can be anywhere at any time. It doesn’t mean we don’t have roots—it’s different, in my view, from being a digital nomad, where you travel around the world and only stay places for bits of time. Our family’s version of location independence requires a level of stability that allows me to stay productive, and allows our children a sense of home. So far, our version of location independence means moving to a new place for a period of a year or more, and then taking trips to explore that country or region, always coming back to our home base. This allows us to form a community, make true connections, keep our daughter’s education steady, and really get to know a part of the world.
Location independence doesn’t necessarily mean you’re living internationally or even moving around. Once you’ve reached location independence, you might stay put, like we did for nearly eight years in the States. Or, like a friend of mine, you might join your spouse on business travel. You might take extended family trips, like our friends who visited recently. But there is freedom in being able to move without permission, to decide on a whim to go somewhere or even live somewhere.
It’s freeing to be able to look at my husband and say, “I’m ready to go somewhere else for a while.”
And go somewhere else we did. The life we’re living right now is a far cry from Boise, Idaho, in the northwest of the United States, where we have all four seasons and no ocean. Back home, we also didn’t have 49 nationalities at my daughter’s school, unplanned visa runs to Malaysia, wats (temples) within a mile of our home, night markets, Lunar New Year celebrations, banana trees in our yard, wild monkeys, elephants walking along the main road, and friends from all over the world.
Boise is a lovely place, don’t get me wrong. It will always be my home. I feel at peace there, and I know we will return someday. But right now, there is nothing I want more than to be out in the world, experiencing all it has to offer, sharing this beautiful planet with our children and helping them grow into brave global citizens.
When we first got serious about moving to Thailand, it felt so big. We set a date but kept nudging it out. Finally, one day, we said, “Let’s choose a date, buy our tickets, and figure it out from there.” So we did. We picked a date about six months out, booked our travel, and then organized our move and life around that date.
Those six months, and the few months after we moved, were stressful. I’m not going to downplay the amount of effort that went into that move. I hustled, sorting through items in our home every night, getting rid of things we couldn’t take or didn’t need. Once we arrived in Thailand, it got harder. There we were, alone in a new country. Our kids were hospitalized with food poisoning. We knew basically no one other than a few people we’d connected with online prior to our move (and one family went out of their way to help us even though we’d never met in person).
But humans are nothing if not adaptable. And now, six months after our move, I can say I’d do it again. We will do it again. Our commitment to Thailand is for one year—but after that? Well, that’s in progress as I write.
Location independence is not the easy route. It’s a hard, long, difficult path that eventually leads to a full, flexible, choice-driven life of my design. It took me ten years of strong vision and hard work, with a supportive partner, to create this life. (Knowing what I know now, I could have done it much faster, but I’ll save that for another day.)
Still, with all the work and effort, I count myself extremely fortunate. I don’t wake up and rush out the door and commute to work every morning. I don’t sit in a desk someone told me to sit in and attend meetings someone said I have to be in. I don’t have to ask for a raise or hope my boss gives me one. If I don’t like a project or I’m not inspired to work with a particular person, I don’t have to say yes. I’m not required to request time off for vacation or check with anyone (other than my spouse) when I make travel plans. I don’t have to cross my fingers for a promotion or a better job or a big break, because I can make all of those things happen for myself.
Every day, I make a choice to be all-in on this journey we’ve taken, and I’m grateful I chose it—and that I continue to choose it. I’m also grateful I have a life partner who is crazy bold and willing to leap with me.
Life is good, and I’m full of gratitude.
Do you aspire to be location independent? If you are already location independent, what gets you out of bed every morning? If you’re not, what do you love about your life? Please share with me in the comments. I read each one and truly love hearing from you.