Many people romanticize the idea of location independence as a freelancer. They envision Boba Fett from Star Wars. He was a freelancer. He was super cool. His spaceship could go anywhere. I bet he didn’t have a mortgage.

Yes, being a location independent freelancer can be pretty awesome. It’s pretty incredible when you can work from wherever, whenever. It may sound unnerving to some but it’s actually freeing – knowing you’re not limited to a 9-5.

But this post is about why location independence isn’t as incredible as you first may think. Let’s explore why. You can come to your own conclusion as to how big of a perk location independence is for you.

Most People Don’t Do Well with the Location Independence Lifestyle

Just think about it for a second. We’re not a nomadic people. We like to set down roots and put our heads down at the same place each night. And I think we can credit our success as a society to planting roots. Agriculture, infrastructure, relationships – all are rooted in a location-driven society.

It’s hard to develop habits if you’re constantly moving around. Ask anyone who travels for business. They’re likely overweight and they blame having to eat in restaurants all the time. While this isn’t a valid excuse, it does make things challenging. Exercise, drinking plenty of filtered water, making friends and raising a family are all complicated should you decide to be nomadic. There’s a great power in habit. We can harness that power best if we stay in one place for the majority of our time.

It’s Expensive to Keep Moving Around

Even if you slow travel, it’s still expensive. Yes, you can find deals on plane tickets but they are still hundreds if not thousands of dollars. When traveling, your food bill will be much higher. You won’t know where exactly to find the best deals on groceries. Restaurants will hearken to you. Each time you move, you may have to get rid of possessions. For instance, you may work best with an Aeron office chair and a large computer monitor. It’s hard to travel with those things. That means, in order to work your best, you’ll have to buy/sell these things with each place you go. This is true as well if you like to ride a bike, etc.

Time Zones Are Still a Thing

If you’re a successful freelancer, you’ll still probably have conference calls, Skype calls and even troubleshooting team issues which need immediate attention. If you’re globetrotting, it may be hard to work these into your schedule. It’s possible but it may mean waking up really early or staying up really late for team calls/important calls.

Also, it takes much longer to get things done as a team usually. If your team is in Los Angeles and you’ve decided to summer in Ibiza, Spain, that means there’s a nine hour time difference. Communicating from this distance kind of feels like using the USPS. Communciation takes much longer than an email. There’s just a huge delay. Not in technology but in people’s ability to reply. At times, you’ll respond to someone hoping for a quick answer. Then you’ll realize it’s 11 PM where that person lives. It can be a major pain when you want to get things done quickly.

Buying a Home Isn’t Practical

Buying a home is usually a wise move. It gives your life stability and, over the long-term, it almost always makes sense to buy instead of rent. But if you’re living a serious location independent lifestyle, buying a home isn’t practical. Being away from a home over long periods is bad for the home. You may have maintenance issues arise while you’re away: a leaky pipe, the heating may break down without you knowing, etc. Or, you could buy and just rent the house out a lot. But after you have someone manage the property, you may be better off renting. Though keep in mind, then you will have lost the money-saving power of buying in the first place.

You Can’t Escape US Taxes

No matter where you go, you have to pay US taxes. Though there is one exception. That’s if you make less than a certain amount and are able to prove you’re paying at least the same amount in taxes to another nation. Some freelancers want to go freelance to escape their tax burden. It’s impossible to do so legally without renouncing your citizenship. But if you want to, you can. Just don’t expect to get it back without a fight.

What do you think?

I’m a freelancer and I do love the independence location aspect. Mainly knowing that anywhere I can go, I can work and stay however long I like. But I think the benefits are exaggerated by some. Running a business from a village in Africa while you pass out vaccines, for instance, isn’t a great idea.


William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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