Busting the Location Independent and Designer Lifestyle Myth

I started writing this post while sitting in the local pub in Ohakune on Friday, a small New Zealand ski village, sipping on a cold cider and listening to some chilled out background music. I finished it off in the Brisbane airport after an awesome 36 hour short holiday. That is what I call being truly location independent and why I feel it’s time to write the truth.

It’s been on my mind for some time you see. I believe there are one too many people lying about their designer lifestyles. About their ability to just work when they feel like it because they only need to send one email to rake in loads of cash. People who try to make us believe there is such a thing as the Four Hour Work Week, when even Tim Ferris doesn’t work that little.

Those people who like to conjure up images of them sitting on the beach, sipping on a cocktail while making millions from affiliate advertising, outsourcing everything to the Philippines, several niche websites or a series of information products they’ve produced.

I’d like to call them out on it. I’d like to state publicly that I believe they are lying.

They are lying to you, they are lying to me and more importantly they are lying to themselves. It’s time to call bullshit on the countless con-artists who are trying to make a buck out of selling the designer lifestyle, the location independent dream when in reality they are either just struggling to make ends meet, or they’re working like dogs to make big money.

You see I am set on living my life by these values – creating freedom in business and adventure in life.  Not working as little as possible and becoming a millionaire. Life would be very dull with all that money and time on your hands. Half the excitement and sense of fulfillment is in the challenge of continuing to reach your potential, and then extending yourself even further – don’t you think?

If you’re like me and other location dependent freedom seekers, then you work hard but usually smart. You create systems (that work for you), that make you more efficient so you can work on what you love doing more often. You choose where to travel next based on whether that makes you feel happy, energized and alive. Sometimes you do it for the challenge, or the adventure and sometimes because it’s practical.

You are equally as comfortable sleeping on the floor or a couch as you are staying in a swanky 5 star hotel, because in reality it’s the company you keep, the people you meet and the attitude you choose that counts, in business and in your personal life. It’s the things money can’t buy that truly make you feel lucky to be alive.

The Truth Is You Choose Your Own Reality

If you aspire to earn millions and own a luxury yacht, million dollar mansion and have a new pair of designer shoes each week then good luck to you, and might I suggest you’re in the wrong place if you’re reading this.

This blog is all about making the most of every single moment, not wasting time stuck in a situation you hate, and instead choosing to live your best life, by doing what you love, turning that into something you can profit from to the extent that you will be ridiculously happy and make others feel the same.

Business and pleasure can and do mix very well – if you choose to let them. Here’s the truth:

There is no such thing as a four hour work week

Really, there isn’t. I’ll tell you why. Who on earth only wants to work for four hours in a week? What can you possibly achieve that would be meaningful, and make a difference in your world and that of others? If you love your work why would you cut it down to 4 measly hours?

Why on earth would you outsource everything you love to do (and the stuff you don’t) so that you can sit on a beach, telling people you’re sitting on a beach with no work to do? Who else is sitting on that beach with you? I can guarantee no one you’d really want to be sitting there with as they are all off working or playing!

Perhaps it’s just me but the day I have it so sorted that I no longer need to work will be the day I stop living a life that matters. I am definitely not condoning 70+ hour work weeks where you slave away and realize that you’re only paying yourself $4 per hour.

The Truth

I do believe you should choose to spend your hours on this earth pushing yourself to live your best life and constantly innovating, producing, shipping and achieving as well as having a ton of fun. If that’s 10 hours per week working and 20 hours per week playing and 10 hours per week giving then you choose. Just know what your ideal lifestyle is and then set your goals to head towards it each and every day.

Money Is Not the Be All and End All

I feel rich, yet I’m not – not in the sense that other people would judge by. And I’m happy to say I don’t hang out with those kind of people where they judge by what material possessions you have and what you earn. More and more people seem obsessed with money, wealth and earning as much as possible with little regard as to what this actually buys them.

Yes money can buy you independence, it can buy you a sense of freedom, it can buy you a whole lot of things that you don’t really need (property, fancy cars, designer clothes, kitchen gadgets, extra shoes, the latest gimmicks). But it can not buy you happiness.

The Truth:

That honestly comes from within. It comes from accepting that without all matter of material possessions, titles and status, you are just another human being who loves, eats, sleeps and shits like everyone else. The best thing you can have in life is your health, your happiness and your loved ones.

Having No Fixed Abode Isn’t Always That Sexy

Living in different countries, travelling when you feel like it, cruising the world on a yacht, buying an island to party with your friends all sounds pretty awesome – and to be fair those things are the major benefits to being location independent and designing your own lifestyle.

True it’s great to know you can work from anywhere you choose, when others are slaving away at a 9-5 job or still roaming the streets they grew up in, having never set foot outside their city let alone their state.

The Truth:

What people tend to dismiss is the constant state of being packed, of living out of a suitcase, of not having one home base. You neglect to think about the friends you may make on your travels that you then have to leave behind, of constantly having to discover where your local services are and establish a routine for yourself that works for you.

The Suitcase Entrepreneur lifestyle

Natalie’s Suitcase Set Up- Travelling Light And By Train

It’s about the challenge of setting up in a new location, it’s about learning new languages, discovering rich cultures, figuring out what to do when the local bank doesn’t recognize your bank cards, when the local restaurant won’t serve you a vegetarian meal, when you’re left stranded in a location you have no idea about.

It’s also about appreciating what you have when you’re back home, or the last location you lived in, and being grateful for what you do have when you visit places where they have so little.

Is this Your Ideal Life?

The next time you say to someone who seems to be living the lifestyle you want – ask them what they think is the best thing about their life and decide whether it’s really for you, or whether the thought of that life is what appeals most.

If their eyes light up when they describe their passion for what they do, how much they love how they live then you have likely hit on a true location independent, digital entrepreneur with the right mindset and sense of fulfillment you desire. Buy them a drink and find out how you can join them.

PS If you meet me around the world feel free to buy me a drink and I’ll happily tell you why I love my life!

  • Kirsten Lodge

    Hi Natalie

    I’m new to your blog. Just read this post and it really rang true with me. I have *just* started out as an independent (hopefully soon to be location independent) health writer after wading through corporate crap for far too long. It’s terrifying but at the same time extremely gratifying. I’m in the process of building a blog so will read yours with sincere interest.

    Loved the article.
    Kirsten :)

  • http://johnfalchetto.com/ John

    AMEN! Natalie, you know this is something I have been preaching for a long time.
    Unfortunately the words lifestyle entrepreneur and location independent seem to have been taken over by a whole bunch of unscrupulous people.

    To living a life we love, wherever that may be or how many hours of work it requires :)

  • http://www.MarkandZoe.com Zoe

    Oh Natalie

    I absolutely love this post and absolutely hear you! Love to buy you that drink while we swap stories 😉

    Cheers – Zoe

  • http://www.seanogle.com Sean

    Natalie – extremely well written post. Your bring up some topics that NEED to be addressed much more frequently. I try and do it from time to time at Location 180, but need to spend more time addressing these issues.

    First off I think 90% of the “lifestyle designers” out there are essentially people taking time off, traveling for a year, and using that as an excuse to call themselves entrepreneurs. Most of them will go back to real jobs when they run out of money or when the economy turns around and it’s more appealing to do so.

    Not having a home is DEFINITELY not always sexy. I couldn’t do permanent travel. I’m out Portland 3-4 months out of the year, and it’s enjoyable to me because I DO have a place to go back to and settle down.

    The Four Hour Workweek Does NOT exist – for almost everyone. Sure there’s always some weird exception, but I spend far more than 40 hours a week on my business. I work 7 days a week. Hell I’m on one of the most beautiful islands on Earth right now – working. Well atleast until I stumbled across this post :)

    Money is NOT the be all end all. I’m far, far from rich. I can support this lifestyle, but personally I think hacking the rich lifestyle is way more interesting. You don’t have to be a millionaire to live like one, and the truth is, money has very little to do with happiness – as long as you realize it. To many people who are unhappy with their jobs/life, money IS everything. Because it allows them to buy the stuff that makes them forget about it. Once you force yourself out of that mindset, things change in a hurry.

    Thanks for sharing this – spot on.

  • http://www.alexisgrant.com Alexis Grant

    Great post! Reminds me of one I wrote about the myth of getting paid to travel: http://alexisgrant.com/2011/02/07/the-myth-of-getting-paid-to-travel/

  • http://chrisguillebeau.com Chris Guillebeau

    Nice job, Nat. Well said and I agree with Mr. Ogle too.

    I love my life as well. Hopefully we can have that drink one day and exchange stories.

  • Natalie

    So lovely to have you here Kirsten. Wohoo. I’m glad it rang true and I’m sure your journey will be your best experience yet, even with the challenges you will no doubt encounter. It certainly makes you feel alive building any business, especially one online. I’m sure you’ll find some great resources on my blog – including this one http://suitcaseentrepreneur.com/byob

  • http://www.heatherthorkelson.com Heather Thorkelson

    LOVE it and shared it. i’m actually happiest when i’m working hard (which these days means from 9am to 10pm-ish) but it’s on my own terms and in service of what i believe in and what makes me really happy. thanks for this awesome post, Natalie.

  • http://www.nomadtopia.com Amy Scott

    This is fantastic, Natalie. I’m sure it’s no surprise to hear that I agree 100 percent with your thoughts on this issue! I especially love your point that if you love what you do, why would you want to do it for only four hours a week? So true!

  • http://www.timokiander.com/ Timo Kiander


    Great post!

    Just makes me wonder … did Mr. Ferriss meant the title to be taken literally or was it just an metaphor …

    Anyway, I would feel quite empty inside, if I had to give away (outsource) my passion and what I love to do.

    I feel that everyone of us here on earth are for a reason. We have a certain skills that we should develop further, so that we are able to serve each other the best way possible.


  • http://businesstooligans.com Chase Sherman

    Natalie, great post. Clearly you enjoy the experience of writing.

    In terms of fancy stuff, I’m definitely into it, but I also see your position very clearly… and I agree with it.


  • http://loveyoursmallbusiness.com/blog-3/ Jo Foster

    Really refreshing writing and I love that you’re challenging the unsaid.
    thanks Natalie!

  • http://theherohandbook.com Matt Langdon (@theherocc)

    But who are you talking about? Who are you calling out? I see at least a couple of people that I thought you might be calling out agreeing with your post in the comments. I’m confused.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michellerudge Michelle

    Coming to Whangarei any time soon? I’d love to buy you a drink and hear about why you love your life… it’s probably the same reasons why I too, love your life! 😉
    My life ain’t all that at the moment, which is why I’m busting my gut to make it something I truly LOVE.

  • http://www.expatwomen.com Andrea Martins

    Natalie, absolutely brilliant post! I think it’s one of your best. Congrats for being brave enough to say what so many of us think behind closed doors. Andrea

  • Natalie

    Oooh I’d love to come to Whangarei – name a time and a great spot for a drink and I could make it happen. I’m glad you love my life – touched actually but there’s no reason why you can’t love your own. Busting your gut is exactly what you need to do – nothing great was ever easy to do – trust me I hustled so much last year and it’s all paying off now.

  • http://globalniche.net Anastasia Ashman

    There is no magic bullet. Life is work. Love is work.

    Location independence to me is not about being mobile per se but rather being able to live and operate the way you want despite your surroundings. In fact, even though my notion of a Global Niche is inspired by the lifestyle design movement and location independent thinking — it’s also born out of 14 years of expatriatism, and the pains of personal and professional displacement that I’ve experienced. So I rarely think of my approach as a glamorous or work-free solution even if people on the outside see it that way. I hope I don’t present it that way, since building a life that works for you is the most serious project I can think of.

    As for your final suggestion, Natalie, I wonder if it might be more useful instead of asking “what’s the best thing about your life” we asked “what’s the hardest part of living this kind of life and what makes it worth the effort?”

  • http://www.synchronicityhouse.co.uk Barbs

    Wow, great Post Natalie – thank you. I read Work a 4 Hour Week – some of it’s great and hit some buttons; so glad you are saying what I kind of thought overall. Enjoy your awesome life, thanks for sharing your ideas.

  • http://thekickstartbiz.com Suellen

    Great post Natalie. So refreshing to read the truth! For those of us working to build a business, it can feel very demoralising at times thinking we are doing something wrong because we can’t do it in 4hours by the pool. Loved the skiing video :)

  • http://www.maholler.com Nick

    Very well written article (as all of your posts tend to be!), but I have to throw 1 thing out there that I think is just unfair: Tim Ferris SHOULD NOT be mentioned in the same sentence as any true Location Independent. He gives the people that are actually living – OK, to be fair – TRYING to live this lifestyle a really bad name. He is the walmart to the local bakery.
    Let me break it down simply, and give everyone a way to easily tell the difference between a tru LI and a ferriss:

    – a true LI will give you solid advice, tips, and share ideas that are based on what they are doing or have actually done. Most of which will be very transparent in the validity of what they write and teach.

    – a ferriss is a get rich quick scheme shooter. The “lessons” that are so quickly thrown out there are ludicrous at best. It’s also presented in such a way that readers feel silly or stupid for not having realized or tried this practice before. It’s a sales pitch.

    Tim makes his money by being a Bull in the sales pen. You know what? Good for him, but please don’t mention him alongside true LI’s that are trying their best to live their life to the fullest and hopefully write an article, or build a product that might enable or inspire someone else.

  • http://www.kairosbusiness.com Maureen

    Love the way you think, Natalie! Next time you’re back in Vancouver, let me know. I’ll let you buy ME a drink :)

  • http://onhighheelz.com Donina

    This is great, Natalie! You have (and are) personally proving being location independent – the good and not so ideal. You totally rock! Thank you for being so aspirational.

  • http://www.fiordicamomilla.org Elena

    Natalie, “Truth” is the best medicine :-)))

    very nice article


  • http://www.facebook.com/michellerudge Michelle

    Really?!? You’d come to Whangarei?
    Well if you’re swinging by this way then the Parua Bay pub has a great view over the harbour, pretty decent food and lovely locals. ANY time, you tell me when and I’ll make sure you enjoy your visit!
    Michelle :-)

  • http://www.stealthisprocess.com Eleanor

    This is my first time here, but I think I’ve heard of you via The Empire Building Kit.

    I *really* appreciate the honesty in this, it is totally refreshing…I think I need to hang out here a little more!

  • http://www.smallbusinessfinanceforum.com/blog/ Nicole Fende

    Thank you Natalie for highlighting the good, the bad and the ugly of being location independent. I remember the first time I saw the picture of you with one (ONE!) suitcase and thought – geez I couldn’t fit a fraction of my book collection in there. (Yes some people collection shoes, I love books). While I’ve built my business to allow me to work from anywhere I LIKE have a permanent home. I love traveling (have hit 6 of the 7 continents) but also love coming home.

  • Pingback: 35 Photos to Inspire You to Get Busy Traveling()

  • http://www.shebrand.com Liz Dennery Sanders

    Thanks for writing this post, Natalie. It was time for the truth to be told. It continues to sadden me when I see otherwise smart entrepreneurs blindly follow the promises that are being thrown at them, only to come up empty on the other end.
    The overly-templatized, “get rich quick” version of online marketing needs to be exposed for what it really is: a lie.
    Thank you for eloquently sharing what many of us have been thinking for a long time now.

  • http://www.platinumlynx.net Chas

    Very well put, Natalie. I think Liberty is really what most people are seeking, even if they claim it is something else they are after.
    PS- thanks for dumping the other comment form- I feel more willing to participate in your site, now.

  • http://www.karlenecameron.com Karlene

    I discovered that I do need a home base to come back to. I can’t just be without a home. Living in a country with no defined place to go back to felt like I was in an airplane circling in the sky with nowhere to land…

  • http://www.tomacedonia.com Kenneth Ashley


    I like this post because alot of people don’t really understand all that goes into being location independent. There are some downsides. but if you can overlook the downsides then go for it! I too am trying to become location independent.

    Best regards,

    Kenneth Ashley

  • http://ellyearls.com Elly Earls

    Hi Natalie,

    Great post – i couldn’t have put it better myself! I went location-independent a couple of months ago and although I’m loving it so far, it definitely makes me miss things about living a more normal life.

    It’s also made me realise that no matter where you are in the globe, your problems have a nasty habit of following you!

    Having said that, I wouldn’t give it up for anything, and love the thought that I have no idea what’s round the next corner.

    If you’re ever in Bangkok, I’d love to buy you a Sangsom bucket and find out a bit more about your life :)

  • http://2globalnomads.info/ Global Nomads

    When people ask us why they should travel, we tell them they shouldn’t. Travelling has no value in itself, or being location independent as you write. But if it helps you be freer and happier, go for it.

    The truth is a funny thing because all of us have our own truths and they are often very different from other people’s truths. The only truth we sign is that there is no truths, just opinions.

  • Pingback: Something Big 2013 » sophiaworld.co.uksophiaworld.co.uk -()

  • Pingback: The Entrepreneur’s Equilibrium | Martina Mariu()

  • Hayley Carr

    Cool post Natalie, My favourite part was when you said “You choose where to travel next based on whether that makes you feel happy, energized and alive. Sometimes you do it for the challenge, or the adventure and sometimes because it’s practical.” It really struck a chord, and reminded me of how much choice I have every day when I can go wherever I want . xo

  • Pingback: 30 Day Blog Challenge | up2unique()

  • Pingback: 30 Day Blog Challenge | up2unique()

  • Pingback: 34 Online Mavens Reveals Their Greatest Success Secrets | Free Life Pursuit()

  • I’ve Got Moxie

    Thank you for not sugar coating the location in dependent lifestyle. I have read all about the people who supposedly work only 4 hours a week while making loads of cash. It is refreshing to read that it takes hard work to get a freedom based lifestyle. I am on that path as we speak and I enjoy hard work! Thank you for this post!

  • http://postfeminine.com/ Erika Awakening

    Hi Natalie, Thanks for a refreshing post – it’s thought-provoking even for me, and I spend a lot of energy on keeping a very clear value system to guide my life. Technically I am a location-independent entrepreneur yet I actually keep two permanent home bases, one in San Francisco and one in Tahoe. This article made me think of one of the major benefits of no longer having a day job and having great flexibility of how I spend my time. It’s true that after I paid off all my debt, I started working less and making less. Yet the time that got freed up I have been able to devote to applying my healing method to a number of issues that had been “sidelined” when I was too busy to deal with them. So while my income went down from last year, it doesn’t really matter because my standing monthly payments also went down and I have the luxury of focusing on what really matters to me. Would love to connect with you. I’m thinking of doing some interview series in the next few months, one of which would be for location-independent entrepreneurs. Maybe we could connect with that. Cheers.

  • Alex

    Thank you for this comment. You made it very clear :-)

  • http://mindset180.com/ Mike Collins

    There’s no place like home, Boston, Massachusetts. No matter where I roam, this is home. Thank you for calling BS what it is. Adventure is awesome. Culture rocks but if someone tries too hard to sell me on their lifestyle it raises a red flag. I definitely want a portable, transparent business to work whenever, wherever but that doesn’t mean I want the coffee shop to be my main office.

  • https://plus.google.com/+Intercomrepairny/about?hl=en ryan

    I love this post great point

  • Pingback: 34 Online Mavens Reveals Their Greatest Success Secrets | Live On Your Own Terms | Seek Freedom,Have Fun And Live Fulfilled()