When I first read ‘The Four-Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss, I was surprised to find much of the content strangely familiar. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a terrific book, and I highly recommend it. It gives you a completely different perspective on what your life can be, if you choose.
As I leafed through its pages, I discovered that I was already doing much of what Tim recommends. That is, living a different kind of life. One with more freedom and less work.
For much of my life, I followed the same trajectory as many of you. After high school, I went to college. After college, I got a job. And I worked in my chosen profession (the media) for decades. I moved across the country as I climbed the ladder: Halifax, Winnipeg, Vancouver.
In 1997 I was part of the team that launched Vancouver Television (VTV), which is now CTV Vancouver. It’s where I first met Jody.
These were fun years both inside and outside of work. I’d travelled a bit by this point in my life, enough to be bitten by the travel bug. But, given the confines of a three-week allotment of vacation time, I couldn’t travel as much as I wanted.
When work became less fun, I knew it was time to go. In 2001 I left my full-time job at CTV and became a freelancer. I ended up splitting my time between CTV and CBC – sometimes working a day shift at CBC and then running up Robson Street to do an evening shift at CTV.
While I was working more than I did when I was full-time, I could also travel for longer periods. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. And it’s more costly than it appears.
It didn’t take long to realize that if you travel and you’re not bringing in any income, you’re draining your savings (or increasing your debt) fast.
You could spend a month spending money on the road, while not earning a cent, and covering the costs of everything back home. A triple-threat. That’s not sustainable.
I was lucky. Given my background in news and marketing, plus up-to-date technical skills, I was able to find work that didn’t require me to be in a fixed place. At the same time technology improved to the point where, if you worked online, you could do it from almost anywhere.
There are several names for this: location independent, digital nomad, working traveller, mobile bohemian (MoBo).
Being location independent isn’t for everyone, but I love it. It allows me to visit places for as long as I want and continue to earn a living. But, I can hear you asking, isn’t gallivanting around the planet irresponsible? Hell no! In fact, I have to be more responsible – I’m running a business, keeping clients happy, meeting deadlines and doing it all from a suitcase.
I’ve learned how to lower my costs at home and recently, I’ve discovered another way to make the dollars go further: house sitting. It started by accident, looking after the pets and homes of travelling friends. And then, through referrals and house sitting websites, I was able to put together a string of interesting destinations where, in most cases, I pay nothing to live.
House sitting is a trade off. I trade my time for accommodation, and the homeowner trades their home for the peace of mind that their pets and property will be looked after. Win-win.
In just the last two years, I’ve spent extended spells in Guatemala, Nova Scotia, Ireland and Scotland. As long as there’s internet, I can work. And as long as I can work, I can visit new places and, because I stay for weeks or months, I get to experience these destinations as a local.
Along the way I’ve learned a lot about location independent living and travel – from budgeting to finding cheap airfares to which apps you must have on your phone. In the coming months, I’ll write about my lifestyle and the places I visit. From Chernobyl to the Isle of Mull and everywhere in between.
Tim Ferriss was right, you can escape the 9-to-5. Let the journey begin…
Doug Murray is a storyteller, digital marketer and traveller. Based in Vancouver, he’s been to more than 50 countries and lived in West Africa, Mexico, Guatemala, Ireland and Scotland. Doug has written for all of Canada’s major media outlets and dozens of international publications on a variety of topics including travel, business and current events. He now creates content for Slice TV, HGTV and is the digital marketing manager for Volunteers Around the World (VAWGlobal.org).
Follow him on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/doug.murray_travels/
HOW I MET JODY: I moved to Vancouver in the summer of 1997 to be part of the start-up team for Vancouver Television (now-CTV). We worked together in both the marketing and news departments. She took me to Joe Fortes for the first time. Garlic mashed… yum!