These days internet has spread to the far corners of the globe, and ambitious youngsters from formerly third world countries eagerly take on the opportunities it offers. That means that anyone working online is more than ever competing on a global scale. For entrepreneurs and aforementioned youngsters it is wonderful, but if you are living in a developed, expensive, high tax country it means you will have to be a little more creative.
Broadly speaking, for your career it matters more who you know than what you know. Online freelancer platforms on the other hand minimize personal contact between the bidder and the freelancer. Here it all comes down to skill, which by itself is a great thing. However, it does make a lot of difference to your hourly rate whether your rent or mortgage is a thousand per month or just two-hundred. So what to do when you live in an expensive country?
- Move to the countryside
The beauty of online work and an important reason for people to choose it is the freedom to be able to work anywhere. So why live in an expensive, overcrowded place if you can live more rural, closer to nature, and perhaps most importantly, much cheaper? Generally speaking, by moving out to the countryside (which includes small towns) you cut your costs in half. If you are in a position to move to another country altogether the difference can be staggering.
2. Don’t own more than one car
As a freelancer, you don’t need to commute, so one cheap car is enough to get your groceries and maintain your social life. For small errands, a bicycle or a scooter is an option too. In some high tax countries it might be reasonable to completely live without a car.
3. Be a creative consumer
As a freelancer, your hours are flexible, which means you can take advantage of town markets and other special offers that you can’t make use of when you are working from 9 to 5. If you get your groceries cheaper and fresher, both your wallet and your body will benefit.
4. Become handy
Many maintenance jobs do not require a professional, all you need is an internet connection and some tools. Youtube is full of tutorials. But if you still think something is too difficult, try the next option first before seeking professional help.
5. Get to know your neighbors
Small towns where people help each other and know how to do stuff, they still exist. Take advantage of the fact that you can walk over to your neighbors’ house any time, and perhaps fixing your car will only cost you a six-pack of beers. Favors for favors of course, there might be times your neighbor would call on you for something (such as help with their computer).
6. Look for a side business
Whether you live in the city or in the country, it is always good to have a gig on the side. Rent out a room on AirBnB. Have a critical look at your hobbies and see if you can earn money with them. If you have a garden, use it to grow fruit and vegetables and have a few chickens. Personally I love the combination of gardening and computer work, for the exercise gives me great pleasure and helps to focus.
7. Think of holiday alternatives
Having a holiday doesn’t necessarily mean spending a lot of money. First of all, as a freelancer you have more liberty traveling off-season. Secondly there are many forms of cheap accommodation and cheap transport. Think of house exchange, house sitting, many forms of volunteer work, couchsurfing, budget camping, AirBnB. Also there many apps for getting the cheapest flights, bus rides, special offers and ride sharing services. Now for some sitting on a beach and doing nothing is the ultimate holiday experience, but most will find this kind of travel much more fulfilling.
8. Tax savings
What you don’t spend you don’t have to make, and when you manage to maximize your freedom on a minimal income, you will save on taxes too.
Following these guidelines, my wife and I manage to live of €600 per month, which in turn allows us to compete with the many talented people from all corners of the globe.