The 5 Layers Of Location Independence

We grow into this life with a lot of preconceptions. Things that we learn and then take for granted, and then do them just because that’s how learned. For instance, we attach to a place that we call home, and then we don’t want to leave that place, because, well, that’s what we learned.

I think we’re very close to a time in the human history when the concept of “home” will be disrupted. Not only because how easy it is now to travel, but also because more subtle developments are creeping in. Government-on-demand, sea-steading or just location independence are just a few of these tendencies.

And if you’re reading this now, it means you’re interested at least in one of them: location independence. I promise I will get back to you with more info on the more exotic concepts of government-on-demand and sea-steading, but for now let’s stick with location independence.

There are many ways in which this can be described, and many approaches to reach this status. What follows is a short description of what worked for me, or how I understand this concept and apply it.

Income Layer

This isn’t layer one, it’s layer zero. Oxygen. Without this, nothing else works. Location independence is based on a steady source of income, decoupled from the actual place. That’s what the word “independence” in “location independence” means, after all. So, without a steady income, independent of the place where you live (yes, that means you don’t have to go to an office too), forget about it.

One of the side effects of the Covid-19 was also the change in status of remote working. Things that were inconceivable just two years ago, like working for Google or Facebook from home, are now a reality. The fact that tele-work is more accepted as a way to provide value should make the transition to location independence a lot easier.

Legal Layer

This is all that is related to identity, social insertion, address, tax and your papers arrangements with the legal structure you’re living in. Please note I didn’t say “country”, I said “legal structure”. Right now, the concept of “country” is still prevalent, but I don’t expect things to remain the same in the next decade. Anyway, regardless of the actual name of the structure you’re living in, there should be a layer of information that you need to process and comply to.

In this area are, for instance, things like passports, identity cards, tax affiliation, and so on. You need to be ok with that, otherwise it will be very difficult to stay more than a few weeks, or months. The average duration right now is about six months, after that you need to leave if your legal layer is not in good order, but regulations vary a lot depending on the country.

Social Layer

This is about social circle, friends, going out, mingling. Without this layer, you can’t really say you’re living somewhere. You may go on a retreat (in Buddhism there are retreats as long as three years, three months, three weeks and three days) but you won’t be location independent.

A very important part of this layer is language. Being proficient in the language of the place you’re living in, or at least in two major international languages, one main, and one for backup, is paramount.

Here again, the social layer needs to be well oiled for a nice existence: too little of it and you’ll be a recluse, too much of it and you’ll get sucked in, burning too fast.

Contribution Layer

Once you have a steady income, your legal status is stable and you have a decent social circle, is time to start thinking about what can you provide, how many jobs can you help, or can you generate, how are you making that place better. It may be as little as always buying from local businesses, up to large scale investments, if you can afford.

I find the contribution layer very important. When I move into a new country, and start my life in a new city, a new neighborhood, I already start thinking how can I leave that place better than how it was when I got in. There’s a very subtle benefit of this, hard to understand in the beginning, because it’s counterintuitive, but the more you support the place you’re living in, the more opportunities to live in other places you’ll generate.

Entertainment Layer

The last, but not least, layer is about exploration, enjoyment and fun. It’s not compulsory, as it’s not necessary something that I chase, but it’s nice to have. I don’t get touristy, unless I’ve spent a decent amount of time in a place, ranging from a month, to sometimes even a full year.

Entertainment can mean enjoying your morning coffee at your preferred coffee shop, eating out, going to a show, a flea market, walking across an entire country, and so on and so forth.

As you can see, it’s all like a 5 layers cake, and, just like in any cake, you need to start building the layers from bottom to top, and have just the right amount of sweetness in any of them.

Photo by Miti on Unsplash

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