Have you ever thought about working from overseas? Not just for a week or two but for a year or … even permanently? Sound too hard? Doesn’t have to be!
If you’re keen to try living overseas for a while, having a business that allows you to work from anywhere makes this not only possible, it allows you to go somewhere and live as a local instead of staying in hostels and being on a tight budget all the time.
This is what my husband and I did in the first year of starting my online law firm business – we spent the year living in France and Hawaii.
With good planning and some flexibility, you can do something similar too. Here are our top Do’s and Don’ts:
- Plan ahead: Researching the countries and areas where you want to live and getting a good understanding of the cost of living, safety, security and visa requirements is important. Most Schengen zone (EU plus) countries permit 90 day stays in a 180 day period on a tourist visa. In some countries, if you are self-employed with a regular income, you can get a non-working residency visa. If you have children you may also want to research local schools or home schooling options.
- Ensure there is fast and reliable internet: Reliable and fast wi-fi is fundamental to your business and income so make sure any place you decide to stay includes this or has accessibility. We found many of the European countries have very good infrastructure in this regard and include it in property rental. Unless you’re working in more remote areas, most places have fast and reliable internet readily and cheaply available.
- Be contactable: Forwarding your business number may be difficult so consider Skype or another service that offers local business numbers, forwarding, video and conference call facilities. Time zones may be tricky but if you are prepared to manage it and be flexible, anything is possible. Be prepared to work odd hours and remember, you don’t need to be available every second of the day or night, just available!
- Protect your tools of trade: Do not scrimp on insurance. Make sure you get the best possible travel insurance that specifically covers loss or damage to your business equipment (photography, computers, other tools of trade). You normally have to list these as additional inclusions in most standard policies to ensure they are covered.
- Be financially creative: Try to add to your income by renting out things you will not be using for the year to cover costs. For example: you can rent out your house or apartment as a holiday or full time furnished rental. Or consider renting out your car and/or car parking space while you are away to increase your cash flow and cover property fees.
- Move around too much: Settle into one spot for at least three month periods, learn the customs and culture and become a local. Don’t spend half your time on a plane, train, trying to figure out how and where to settle. Have stability and enjoy your vacation location for less stress and ease.
- Rent out your home without a contract, suitable insurance and a reliable manager: Do it properly and not ‘on the fly’. You don’t want or need to have to deal with stressful situations from afar or worse, have to travel home because that’s the only way to sort something out.
- Take everything you own: Don’t feel as if you need to take everything with you. Depending on where you choose, you may find you can buy things cheaper than it will cost for extra luggage or even the pain of taking it with you. Printers are so cheap in Europe these days, they are almost disposable!
- Plan to run your business on your mobile or iPad: You have a professional business so be professional. Spend the money on getting a good laptop with a good screen size, if you don’t have one already.
- Work 24/7: Schedule days off to travel, sight see and enjoy the culture – this is why you are doing this!
So set yourself up well from the start, and be prepared to be flexible (and eat unusual food!). And remember: if you can work from home, you can work from Rome! Have fun!
Have you tried going overseas with your business? Any extra tips to add?