What does it really mean to be location-independent?
In 2007, I sold my gallery because I wanted the freedom to be away for more than a week or two at a time. I designed a more mobile livelihood, gave away anything that wouldn’t fit in my VW camper-van and leased out my California home.
For the first two years, I spent long stretches traveling, living in campgrounds and working in my van by the beach or outside public libraries. I spent the winter of 2009 in my Florida house between tenants, then hit the road again. At one point I felt like I needed a base for a couple of months so I rented out an ocean view studio two blocks from my Cambria home. Then I hit the road again.
A couple of years ago, I I was ready for a bigger adventure but wasn’t sure what that meant. The eventual destination surprised no one more than me.
For nearly three decades I’d lived in beautiful areas and had businesses that allowed me to indulge my wanderlust, but I was thousands of miles from family. Frequent trips home always ended too soon so I decided my mystery adventure would begin with a cross country drive and un-rushed time with family. No hurry to catch return flights. Just an open-ended odyssey.
I spent time with my sister in Nashville, my son near Asheville and my niece in Athens, Ohio. I went to Cincinnati where my mom had recently moved and my little sister lives. That was as far as I’d planned.
I started thinking about what it would be like to walk dogs with my sister, Wendy, have Sunday brunch with my mom and be a day’s drive from my son, Todd or my sister, Pam. But would that mean “settling down”? It’s easy to be mobile from the central coast of California where I can be comfortable without climate control year round, but to be anywhere within a few hundred miles of family meant dealing with weather. (translation: must have indoor digs.) So, I leased a small apartment with a gorgeous community office space, purchased minimal furnishings and spent winter days working in cushy chair in front of the clubhouse fireplace.
Using my Ohio apartment as a home base, I continued to make frequent road trips and flew back cross county several times, but I couldn’t bring myself to admit I had “settled” in. Friends and clients envied and looked up to my nomadic lifestyle and I felt like giving up my mobile status meant I was a fraud.
The last couple of months I’ve been feeling antsy and I know it’s time to get back on the road. What I’ve learned about location independence is that there is no freedom in feeling like you “have to” do anything, whether it’s stay put or keep moving. Being truly “free-range” means you make the rules and you can change them. Better yet, forget the rules.
As always, your comments are invited and encouraged. Tell me: What does being location independence mean to you?
Two UK-based friends who describe this phenomenon well are Marianne Cantwell and Selina Barker Check out their blogs.