If you work in the technology field, in many cases all you need to do your job is a computer, an internet connection, and some voice communication (cell phone or VIOP). In theory you can bring a laptop almost anywhere in the world and fulfill those needs. Since I started working for myself over five years ago, that type of freedom has always been a highlight to the often stressful and risky life of being an entrepreneur (or contractor or consultant). However, I’m also married, with a house, and until last Christmas a cherished pet and so other than some vacations here and there, I largely worked from my office and my home. It was comfortable, safe, and known.
After the unexpected passing of our pet, I was looking for a distraction; a silver lining to the tragedy, etc… and realized that we could go almost anywhere, and I could work normally from wherever and we could live there for weeks or months.
I have two concerns about this type of ex-pat living:
- That being away from home and the things I’m used to for extended periods of time will be stressful and difficult. I won’t have my XBox, or my bed, or my car, or my friends, or my family, or a first rate hospital, or Domino’s delivery, or a great Indian place down the road, or a nearby Apple store, or ANY of things that I’m used to on a daily basis. I love a 1-2 week vacation, but will being gone for a month or more drive me nuts and make me homesick?
- That I won’t be able to work effectively. As the founder of an amazing startup who’s market opportunity is expanding massively, this is no time to be slacking or playing hooky. If I’m unable to produce the same quality and quantity of work while I’m living abroad then it’s not a very viable option long term. Will I be able to keep focused and not get lazy? Will my remote location and potentially slow internet hinder my ability to work and communicate with my team and clients?
So to validate the viability of some ex-pat travel we’ve started off, dipping our toes in the idea of some ex-pat style travel, by moving to Sayulita Mexico for a month. Sayulita is a small surf town on the Pacific Ocean, about 45 minutes North of Puerto Vallarta (PVR). We’ve rented a small, but lovely, house near the beach, and I will be working from here for the next 30 days. We picked Sayulita for a few reasons: my wife is a surfer and this is a surf town, it was amazingly affordable to rent a great place in a great location for a month (we’re partly in the off-season), flights were also very affordable and not too long, we both speak a little Spanish and are learning more (much easier than learning Japanese for instance), Sayulita has a decent ex-pat and tourist/surfer community which means many people here speak English, the timezones aren’t totally out of whack with Spark::red’s offices, and I wanted a quiet relaxing location for this trial run.
I will be making several blog posts about my preparation and my actual experience here. I hope you like what I have to share.