Meet 5 More People With Awesome Unconventional Lifestyles

  • July 30, 2009 by Corbett Barr
  • 17 Comments

walking-in-istanbul

When you think about people who are able live in multiple locations each year, what do you imagine they do for a living?

You might automatically assume that nomadic and location independent people are rich or retired. If not rich or retired, you might assume they run an online business or otherwise rely on the Internet to make money.

The reality is that all kinds of people have designed unconventional lifestyles for themselves that allow them to live and work where they choose.

As I wrote before, I’ve met far more nomadic and location independent people while traveling this year who work in “regular” jobs than people who are rich or retired or who earn a living online.

The people Iā€™m going to tell you about below are real. Each of them has designed a unique and unconventional lifestyle that lets them live just how they want to. I’ve changed their names to maintain their privacy.

The Bar Owner

Jeremy just celebrated his 40th birthday, but you would guess he was in his early 30s because of his energy level and appearance. After going to graduate school for journalism and writing for a regional newspaper, he decided he wanted to pursue a completely different path in life.

One year over a decade ago, he visited a small beach town South of the Border. He’s been back every year since and has become well known throughout the town. He now even speaks Spanish pretty well. Jeremy fulfilled a lifelong dream a few years back when he opened a bar in town. The bar affords him enough to live on for half the year down there, and he returns back to Oregon during the summers to coach high school soccer.

The Language Teacher and the Musician

Barb and Ken are quite an interesting couple. They’re both in their 60s and never had kids. They spend winters in Mexico and Summers in Vancouver, Canada. Maybe they haven’t saved enough for retirement or maybe they just like what they do. She’s an actor, singer and teacher, and he’s a musician and sound engineer.

During the summers, Ken works as a freelance sound engineer while Barb teaches acting at the college level. In the winter in Mexico, she teaches English to tourists, and they play jazz together every week (she sings and he plays guitar) at a popular restaurant.

The Innkeepers

Bonnie and Bob split time between their two favorite locations each year while sharing the experience with dozens of guests. They own two small inns, each with room for 6 to 8 guests. One is at the beach in Mexico and the other is on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.

Bob was in real estate for many years and Bonnie ran a small chain of hair salons. Their kids are grown, so they wanted to spend winters down in a warmer climate. Since they weren’t ready to retire, running the small inns was a great way to live in two places while still earning an income.

What’s Your Formula?

The exciting part about meeting all of these people for me has been the realization that it’s possible to live a unique, unconventional and interesting lifestyle without being rich or retired, and that there are lots of ways to go about it. I’m really inspired to create my own unique situation that lets me live how I want to now.

What do you think? Do you have a lifestyle design in mind that doesn’t rely on the Internet to earn an income? Please tell us in the comments!

photo by robokow

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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J. D. Bentley July 30, 2009 at 9:52 am

As a web designer/developer, I’m definitely more inclined to online business and I think from just observing most of my mentors and heroes I’ve started to associate location independence and unconventional lifestyles with online endeavors.

In some sense, I’ve only had half the mindset for independent living. It’s very obvious to see how online business can support non-conformity, but for some reason I had thought what these people *are* doing was difficult or impossible. Hearing about this really opens me to new opportunities. Maybe I’ll take on some real-world projects.

For some reason, I feel like “they play jazz together every week” sums up nearly everything I’m aiming for in life.

Thanks for the awesome post, Corbett!

Corbett Barr August 2, 2009 at 10:58 am

There are probably some interesting opportunities to become location independent (or semi- LI) by earning an income partially from something online and partially from something more “traditional.” I’ve met a lot of people who do different jobs depending on where they’re living during part of the year.

John Bardos - JetSetCitizen July 30, 2009 at 9:43 pm

It is great to hear stories about people like this. There are so many opportunities to design the lifestyle we want.

Like J.D., I am a little online focused, only because I want to have more mobility. However, it would be nice to “settle down” and run a little cafe or jazz bar in a cool city somewhere.

The choices we have now really are endless!

Andy Hayes August 1, 2009 at 2:08 am

There’s too many good choices! John’s suggestion of a jazz bar sounds fab.

Elizabeth August 1, 2009 at 3:06 am

Ah, formulas, I hope to have one solidify sometime soon. In the meantime, the goal goes something like this: spend several summer months/year in southwestern China to build up Mandarin skills and contacts there while working on projects in the region; several months at my studio in Sicily to make artwork and visit/host European contacts and family; and the rest of the year in Hong Kong, where my studio base and assistant will be. HK is an easy place to register a business and hire affordable (if they’re young and living with their parents), multi-lingual, well-educated employees. Rent is reasonable if you’re willing/interested in living in offshore islands or in villages outside the central areas.

In the meantime, I’m still technically based in Sydney but have many projects planned in Asia over the next 2 years. My work? I’m an artist, travel-writer and illustrator, with most paying projects done for a publisher based in Hong Kong/San Francisco. So my work’s done offline, is sent and (our books are) mostly sold online, and I promote it online. It’s a manageable mix of online and offline work.

Corbett Barr August 2, 2009 at 11:05 am

That’s a pretty impressive plan, Elizabeth! It’s great that you’re able to live and work wherever with an offline career. Thanks for sharing such a unique example of an alternative lifestyle that doesn’t rely on the Internet for income.

Rasheed Hooda August 1, 2009 at 8:56 pm

I am a balloon artist and I am starting to teach how to make money doing what I am doing. I can practically do this work from anywhere in the world. However, I intend to use online store to generate sales of my book (currently being written) and DVD’s (under production).

Corbett Barr August 2, 2009 at 11:07 am

Balloon artist? That’s one I definitely haven’t heard of before! I love that you’re working on a book and DVD to expand the income potential. Let us know how it goes!

Kirsty August 2, 2009 at 5:46 am

Nice stories and nice blog, too. I’ve only just stumbled onto it. I’ve nmet a lot of people during my travels who are funding their loves abroad by working online in some way (designers, programmers, web marketers etc.) and have probably met even more people who have upped and left their homes and set up business in their new destination.

I haven’t met many though who fall into your list where they have two homes on the go and sort of hop beween them depending on the time of year. While I am location independent, I think a part of me would love a little place to call home somewhere affordable, even if just for a few months a year, to stash some stuff, unwind and connect with and become a part of the community.

Corbett Barr August 2, 2009 at 11:12 am

I agree that having a home someplace but also being partly location independent makes for the best of both worlds. My ideal lifestyle involves having a solid home base where I spend about half the year (not necessarily continuous). The other half year I would like to spend partially traveling, and partly in favorite places that we return to every year. Having a vacation home in one of those places might also make sense.

NomadicNeil August 3, 2009 at 12:26 am

When I was backpacking in South East Asia a couple of years ago I had my guitar with me. In Thailand I would walk along the beach and all the bar tenders and restaurant owners would ask me to sit inside and play music in exchange for free food and drinks.

It was a great way to cut down on expenses!

David Walsh August 3, 2009 at 5:47 am

Inspiring mix of vignettes Corbett – posts like this gently call into question the assumptions around what actually counts for an ideal lifestyle. It’s far less about having massive bank accounts and more about the choices we make on how to spend the time once we’ve recaptured it.

If I had to find a common thread in the lives you wrote about, and the ideal lifestyle in general, it would be this: they are all grounded and living in the present, rather than aggressively striving for “what’s next”. Running a small bed & breakfast isn’t the same if you’re obsessed with turning it into the next Hilton. That chill bar in Mexico is far less fulfilling when you’re obsessed with buying 2 more. Striving, hustle, ambition – however it’s labeled – is one of those things that’s essential for fulfillment, and at the same time, can rob you of it entirely if it’s not balanced with a grounding in the present.

Solid post.

David

Graeme January 14, 2010 at 4:14 am

I am currently stuck in corporate world, 42 years of age on call 24/7.
I love this concept however I feel I cannot follow, married with 2 kids, the eldest is about to starrt school in two weeks!
Everyone else on here seems child free :(

Tim June 14, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Graeme,

Don’t give up hope, I started my journey this lifestyle while I was married, had a high stress sales job in silicon valley and two little kids, you can do it too! It’s been the best decision I ever made,

Natalia January 11, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Great post, it inspired me when I was developing my own project Roads Less Traveled, a web video series about people who choose to live unconventional lifestyles.

Until recently, an unconventional independent lifestyle seemed impossible. Exotic and difficult to envision, it was something that only a few people dared to attempt. Today a lot more people are doing it, and it seems like everyone else would like to. It all starts with breaking assumptions and asking oneself exactly one question: Why the hell not?

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