“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.” -Albert Camus
I am a freelancer once again.
Like many other digital nomads I know, I, too, had an office job before. It wasn’t long until I realised that it wasn’t really for me.
I worked as a content writer until 2014 (I was 26 at the time) and have freelanced since then.
In 2016, I returned to being a full-time writer at an international company based in Malaysia. 11 months later, I left my job and became a freelancer again.
My resignation was a wakeup call for me. I realised that sitting at my office desk all day long on a daily basis was sucking the life out of me.
In spite of me not feeling fully satisfied with my previous job, I am glad that I had the opportunity to work with everyone in the company. My colleagues were nice, friendly and inspiring people. I really enjoyed my time there. I was surrounded by hardworking and talented people every day. It was an experience I won’t forget.
I’ve never really discussed with my colleagues about why I left, though. One thing I made very clear was that I enjoy being location independent.
10 reasons why I prefer to work from wherever I want:
1. I like to be in control of my own time.
You see, I don’t like the idea of having a 9-to-5 job. I mean, if I could work on my computer and get everything done with it, I don’t see the need to be in the office. Well, at least not every day.
Remote working allows me to manage my time better and be more accountable for my own work. I can choose to start work anytime I like — whether it’s 8 am, 9 am or even 12 pm — just as long as I get my work done. That’s all that really matters.
So if I want to start work as early as 7 am tomorrow, I can. If I choose to eat lunch at 3pm, I can. If I want to finish work at 4 pm instead of 6 pm, I can.
And if I want to finish work at 11 pm to catch up with deadlines, why not? All that is possible because I get to have full control over my own time.
2. It’s easier and cheaper
By working remotely, I can choose to work wherever I like; from home, in a coffee house, even at the beach. As long as I have the internet and a computer, I’m good to go.
It’s the 21st century after all. With today’s technology, we can get a lot of things done through our computers, from paying our bills to voting for our future leaders.
A couple of years ago there was no such thing as Uber; neither was there the term ‘digital nomad’.
If you hate to work all day at an office desk, you can work from home like a freelancing, location-independent, remote working digital nomad. Welcome to my life.
As a remote worker, I get to save more money on food by cooking my own meals and on transportation by working from wherever I am. Furthermore, I don’t have to worry about the way I dress. No dress code to follow — how cool is that?
3. I don’t always enjoy stability
You might think I’m weird for saying this, but I learnt that I’m not a big fan of the ‘stable life’. I just don’t like it; I don’t hate it either, but I think it’s not really for me.
A stable life does offer me a more relaxed lifestyle in the sense that I don’t have to worry about my income as I know that I’ll be getting the same salary every month. Unlike with freelancing where I never really know how long I’m going to be tied to a contract or a client, or if my income stream is going to be stable in the next few months.
Perhaps that’s why I enjoy being a freelancer or a remote worker. It’s pretty much like being in an adventure. And I love adventures.
There’s nothing wrong with living a stable life. Some people, or at least most of the people I know, like routines. I have my own routines, too, like taking a bath, making breakfast, reading and working, but I don’t enjoy doing all these things because I am obliged to do so. That would make me feel restricted or trapped.
But if you think I don’t like commitments, you’re wrong. I can commit myself to something as long as it makes me happy.
4. I am a wanderer
Anyone can travel, if they want or if they can. How often they travel is another story.
Just like me, most of my friends love travelling. While some of them travel as much as I do, some don’t. And when my non-frequent traveller friends see me travelling often, they tend to think that I’ve got so much money. But in reality, I don’t.
A lot of people also think that I have a laid-back lifestyle. For that reason, some of them judge and criticise me for not taking my future seriously. I don’t blame them for that. People have the tendency to question things they don’t understand.
The reason why I get to travel so often is because I don’t have a lot of commitments that hold me back.
I don’t own a car, at least not anymore. I don’t have any mortgage. I’m just renting a room for now. And the rental is less than a $100 a month.
I don’t owe any bank any money, and the only debt I have with the government is my student loan, which I may be able to settle in 5 years.
I’ve got no kids (well, not yet). The only people I’m currently supporting right now are my parents. Still, it’s so much cheaper than caring for a child.
The fact that I have very few commitments make it easier for me to live a simpler life and at the same time I get to travel more. I’m a budget traveller. I don’t spend much money when travelling. Even when I sometimes spend money on fancy things, I still consider myself a frugal traveller.
Since I always work remotely, I get to move around more often. The fact that I get to work while travelling justifies why I would rather work from anywhere rather than working in the office. I haven’t travelled the world by foot yet, but now’s a good time for me to explore the wayfarer inside of me.
I can still remember myself being in the office doing my 9-to-5 job. Life was indeed more stable but also more expensive. And it got boring as days went by.
I need to spread my wings and fly.
Life is more exciting when you’re always on the go.
5. I have nothing to lose
What I mean by saying this is that I don’t have anything that I can’t afford to leave behind. As mentioned earlier, neither do I have a car, a mortgage nor kids.
I’m currently single. It’s not that I don’t like relationships, but my partner needs to understand why I do what I do.
If you’re dreaming of becoming a long-term traveller or a digital nomad, you need to ask yourself if you’re willing to make sacrifices such as:
(i) not having a long-term relationship with someone
(ii) constantly saying goodbye to your friends
(iii) living outside of your comfort zone
(iv) being physically far from the people you love
But don’t worry; long-lasting relationships and great friendships can still be established even when you’re a wandering soul.
Based on my own experience, I think it’s important to be able to live in the moment and learn how to let go. I had to learn all these the hard way.
No regrets, though.
6. I get to eat healthier
One of the advantages of working from home is the ability to cook your own meals. Of course, there’s always time for tea.
I don’t know about you but one of the things I often hear people complain about while at work is what to eat. Fully-employed people often eat outside for lunch. Not because they’re forced to do so, it’s just that many of them don’t make time to prep their own meals.
Everyone’s got their own reasons for not bringing their own lunch from home. But usually, eating out is the easiest and quickest way to eat, especially for busy people. In contrast to the west, eating out in a country like Malaysia is rather popular simply because it’s affordable.
Because working from home allows me to cook in between work, I now cook more often than ever before. Home cooking is always the best — and the healthiest.
A lot cheaper, too.
7. I can save more money
Remote working has helped me save more money on food and transportation. I don’t need to put money aside for eating out and daily commuting anymore. It’s not that I don’t go out at all. I do.
I will work in a cafe whenever I feel the need to be surrounded by people, because I do not want to be stuck at home every day.
Although remote working often means less pay or salary, the quality of life that it can offer is often satisfactory. I don’t mind getting paid less if it means I get to enjoy a more quality and fulfilling life; what I consider as a worthwhile trade-off.
With less money spent on my daily commute and eating out, I get to save more money for things that are more important to me.
And more travelling is one of those things.
8. I have more time for family and friends
Since I travel so often, I am rarely at home.
As I am always on the road, my friends and family find it challenging to catch up with me. Thanks to social media, I can simply share my stories and whereabouts with my loved ones.
Even though it’s not always easy for my friends and family to keep up with me, I always make time for them whenever I am back in town. And I do like to make time for the people I care about.
I could be in the UK tomorrow. Who knows? Perhaps I’ll go have dinner with Rob and Simon in Manchester.
I could be in Sarawak next week. Who knows? Maybe I’ll go on a road trip with my aunt and my mother like how we always do whenever I’m in town.
I could be flying off to KL again after that. Who knows? I might stop by Joey’s house to say hello.
You see, wherever I go, I will always try to make time for my friends and family.
I’ll try to be home for Christmas — attend my best friend’s wedding — or visit my parents more often. And the list goes on.
I can do these things because I can work from wherever I want.
9. I get to do more things I want to do
Remote working allows me to have more control over my own time. I can work on more freelance projects and gain experience in different fields, with different companies. I can work at my own pace, as long as I stick to my project deadlines.
Speaking from experience, remote working also has taught me to be more independent at work. I get to learn a lot of things on my own this way. It also has made me a better researcher, as there is no one spoon feeding me with information. Somewhere along the road I have picked up several new skills.
Apart from all that, remote working has also helped me make more time doing the things I love: blogging and making music.
Previously, I rarely had the time to do these things. My energy was drained mostly from working overtime and going through daily commutes.
Thanks to remote working I get to wander around new places or go abroad. Along the way I find new opportunities for myself. I’ve come across all kinds of opportunities, from being employed to falling in love. The possibilities are endless.
10. It has forced me to grow
One of the reasons why I choose this kind of lifestyle is because I am aware of how easy it is for someone to go from being employed to unemployed.
My mother has always tried to convince me to work for the government as they typically offer job security regardless of their small salaries. To many of the people I know, having a job with the government means a more secure future and better retirement options as opposed to employment in the private sector.
I do have a fear of losing my job should there be an economy crisis. With that in mind, I am always looking for ways to help me make money. Should I lose my job someday, at least I will be prepared for it.
Today’s technology has opened doors for more people to make more money. As a writer, I have learnt how to offer my writing skill in exchange for money.
To do this, I’ve needed to find people who were willing to pay me for my services.
These essential business skills are things I’ve needed to learn as a remote worker.
I can understand why some people would want to work in the office. For them, it’s more productive to work in an environment where there are familiar people around who will help them stay focused and accountable.
Just to make it clear: I am not against full-time employment. I wouldn’t mind having an office job again, but I prefer remote working to a traditional 9-to-5 job.
What about you? Do you want to be a remote worker, too? Share your comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
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An ENTP who’s always thirsty for new adventures. Apart from music and writing, I’m also passionate about travel, art and entrepreneurship.