The dream of location-independent work
Media live on selling dreams. For this reason, emigration programs on German television are booming about people who want to start a new life abroad. Appear in the “Zeit” and on Spiegel Online Article about travel bloggers.
And even the more conservative media magazine reported on several pages at the time about the journalist Meike Winnemuth, who had won a considerable sum from Günther Jauch and then spent a year traveling the world.
Freedom with bad pay?
So off to paradise and everything great - how to organize it, we know the latest since “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss. Or?
Some time ago, I received the press release from a call center service provider who advertised that you could do the poorly paid job from anywhere in the world with maximum personal freedom - that's exactly the benefit of this form of work.
Disadvantages of location-independent work
Above all, I see disadvantages: In addition to the measly payment, with which one can only live well in cheap, usually non-European countries, this “free” work also blocks all network opportunities and opportunities for advancement. And the annoying call center work is the same even with a beautiful view.
Incidentally, this applies to many forms of location-independent work, which today promise eCommerce platforms such as eBay, Amazon and Co. Above all, such platforms benefit from the platforms, which in some cases have huge margins and whose conditions one must orientate themselves on.
Working in paradise - a reality check
In the Italian Emilia-Romagna, for example, I met Helga Schenk. Helga, qualified translator, has lived and worked at Rimini for over 20 years. Italy was by no means her dream destination; love brought her here, she still had to learn the language. It was a big problem for her to set up local networks, since Italian culture works very differently: "You don't just go for a coffee," she says.
She managed to make contacts and make friends, as a singer in a choir. "Music and sport are areas in which socializing works completely independently of the social class," explains Helga.
It was also helpful that she initially not only relied on freelance work, but was still looking for a part-time job - for example as a translator in court, in a hospital or for a facade construction company. "The fixed half-day jobs regularly brought me money and good contacts," says Helga, who quickly noticed that sending resumes in Italy is of little use: "You get jobs by listening to contacts," she reports.
Nevertheless, Helga, who comes from Stuttgart, has contact with her Süddeutschen Never completely lost home. She regularly visits friends there and has regular visitors: “When we bought the house, I made sure to have space for guests,” explains the translator, who also values the geographical proximity to Germany. In any case, one appointment per year is firmly booked: a visit to the Frankfurt Book Fair.
The whole world as a market thanks to Internet
The Internet, says Helga, has made her job considerably easier: “In the past we had to send translations by post or fax, today everything is faster. I don't have to go to work. I can apply for jobs anywhere in the world, and it's only about what I can do - my high-quality training benefits me ”.
But for this to work, one condition must be met: “You have to stay connected to the world”. The Internet can only be a support here.
Conclusion: complete freedom remains a dream
I have met many expats over the years and listened to their stories. My conclusion: Working where other people go on vacation can work. But it is actually work.
Also, you're never so completely independent, because you need clients, customers or platforms where you sell your work. The total freedom - just open the computer and get started, as some people imagine - remains a dream.
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German edition: ISBN 9783965960749
English version: ISBN 9783965960756 (Translation notice)
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