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Lifestyledesign: not the easy way.

Don’t let them fool you. Contrary to what some books and sites may tell you, lifestyle design isn’t an easy task – it’s not just about having the guts.
So let’s presume you do have the guts …… now comes the hard bit – making your dreams a reality. For us, that meant going Location Independent for (at least) a year.

“Cool !”, I hear you say. Yes, indeed – but think again. It also means renting out the house, selling the car and preparing clients. Somebody posted a comment in a previous post, “….isn’t ‘nomadic’ about just packing, leaving and coming back when you run out of money?”

Sometimes I wish it was. The lifestyle we’re opting for isn’t about that. In fact, our main objective is to come back with at least as much money as when we left – and preferably more. In particular, unlike when travelling, we’ll actually be living in a different place; renting an apartment, doing the shopping, cooking and working. This is quite different to a holiday.

Going on a gap year/taking a year long break and being Location Independent are two completely different things. For the former, you save up as much as you can, spend it during the year, and indeed come back after resources have run dry – or you call mum ;).

Being Location Independent, on the other hand, is all about working while you’re away. It’s about keeping clients and finding new ones. In our case, it’s about transforming a successful business into one that is just as successful on the road.

I guess this explains why so many untemplaters and lifestyle designers are so young. Perhaps their lives are already internet-based, or they’re just embarking on a career from scratch, and they have nothing to lose. Few of them start out with a mortgage and a family.
In our case, we both had properties in Belgium; one that was rented out, and one that was just perfect for us. Well designed by my personal interior designer, it’s in good shape and recently renovated. Many people have said we are crazy to rent it out, but the tenants seem to be extremely happy with it :).
We had a car, a motorcycle (which I still have because ……. well, nobody bought it yet), and a job …… we had everything except for kids and pets.

We can assure you that leaving an established life behind is quite different from leaving immediately after having graduated. Once you’ve established a lifestyle with a house, job, insurances, telephones, television, etc., you then have to dismantle and “disconnect” from all of that.
It all seems so simple when you first consider the idea of leaving, but then the less- fun stuff starts …the things that need to be done before you start your untemplater life that many forget to mention…….

-Be prepared for several tough weeks, working together on all sorts of stuff – working for your clients, getting all the administrative tasks done, and at the same time packing your belongings and selling stuff.

A good piece of advice would be to take some time off for this. Taking a vacation for such a purpose is as boring as hell, but you might drown otherwise (we did… ;) )
Also, don’t be tempted to think that you’ll be able to do all this in a single month (unless you’re still living with mum, that is). Administration’s a bitch; so be prepared to handle “her”.

-Be ready to adapt to your new lifestyle.
So you’ve left and begun your new life. Think again; adapting to this new way of living certainly won’t happen overnight. Although you’ve turned your back on the 9 to 5 lifestyle, this lifestyle definitely had a routine; a strict one maybe, but a structured routine nonetheless.

The untemplater life, as the word implies, doesn’t have a template or structure. You’ll have to figure one out for yourself, otherwise you’ll find yourself totally immersed in stuff that isn’t work related.

-LIP and travelling are two distinct things.
When you draw up your budget, make sure you take into account journey time and time off. Many guides will tell you that LIP is less expensive than living at home and travelling. But this is only the case if you decide to rent an apartment and live the local life.

If you also want to travel, check out places, or do the fun stuff whilst exploring other countries, make sure you include the cost of this in your budget. You might discover that Thailand isn’t that cheap any more, and that life can be as expensive as back home, albeit much more exciting :). We had to learn this the hard way too!

-Don’t make the mistake of ending up living like you did at home.
Some online sources say that being a freelancer is so much more rewarding than a 9 to 5 job. I totally agree. I’m able to organise my life how I want; I get up when I want to and I work when I want to. No, not really, because I’m a freelancer and my clients expect me to do stuff when they need it.

Don’t make the mistake of becoming a slave to work, and end up in another country as an untemplater without actually seeing it.
Set limits and build bridges, set a realistic timetable, and get a program like Billings to evaluate the work you do, and how much time you spend on it. Be prepared to say “no” to certain clients, whilst promising and delivering the best to those who you accept. It will be so much more rewarding.

-Prepare for your arrival in a new country.
We definitely made a mistake in wanting to take a two-week vacation discovering the new country. We could have spent our time much more effectively by using those same two weeks to find the perfect spot to settle down; because after that fortnight’s holiday we longed for such a place.

It turned out OK in the end, but we could have done this at home and saved ourselves a whole bunch of money! And it would have been less stressful.

-Cut each other some slack.
Either you start out alone on this adventure, or you’re a partnership like us.
 At home, there are a whole lot of ‘others’ to do stuff with, but abroad you only have yourself or each other. (Well, the idea is that you’ll make friends along the way… but you start out with just each other). If you’re alone, try to do things that get you in contact with people. If you’re a couple, expect things to get tense every now and then. Be prepared for this, give each other space, and try to plan things that you can do independently.

As you can see, LIP isn’t the easiest route to take. Things do get difficult at times and there can be very stressful moments. But all I can say is that it has been the best decision we’ve made in many years. We totally love this style of living, with all its advantages, and we gladly cope with the disadvantages. :)

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