Is Exotic Travel The New Bootstrapping Technique? – With Lea Woodward

Sleeping in the office is one way to save money in the beginning days of a startup.

lea-woodward-pic

Lea Woodward introduced me to another. She and her husband decided to travel so they could take advantage of the lower cost of living in other parts of the world. She came on Mixergy to tell her story and to teach you how to be location independent.

Video excerpt


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About Lea Woodward

Lea Woodward - Location Independent

Lea and her husband Jonathan run Kinetiva, a company dedicated to creating a network of progressive online communities for people who want to create the careers and lifestyles of their choice. You can read about their journey and how you can do this on their site Location Independent.

Text excerpt: How Lea became location independent

Andrew: Where have you lived and worked?

Leah: Since we left the UK in early 2007, we’ve traveled to and lived in Panama, Buenos Aires, Grenada, Toronto, Dubai, Thailand, South Africa, and Hong Kong.

Why did you become an entrepreneur?

I left the rat race a year or two before we decided to leave the UK. Then my husband Jonathan was laid off. That was the third time his career was threatened in about two years. We just finally thought we’ve had enough of someone else controlling the income and someone else controlling how much we earn and decided to set up in business on our own.

Okay, but why travel at the same time?

We were living quite a nice lifestyle. We tried cutting down, and we tried cutting back. I just thought this isn’t that fun. I don’t want to have to do this for the next two or three or five years until our business is really up and running. What we found is that obviously the cost of living in certain places is a lot less. So typically in places like Thailand and Southeast Asia, you can live for a lot less. You can live a really nice lifestyle for a lot less money, which means that when you’re running a business–and certainly if it’s a new business–it takes the pressure off of having to generate quite so much income.

If Mixergy readers did this, won’t they lose customers?

In terms of remote working, it’s a lot more common these days obviously. So whilst we might be halfway around the world, someone in London might be used to working with someone in Scotland anyway–in which case they wouldn’t necessarily see them that frequently. So people are a lot more used to remote working and working with people who don’t necessarily live in the same city that they do.

The full program includes

  • How you can be a digital nomad too.
  • 3 key points you need to know to get your work done.
  • How to get your business ready before you leave.

Suggested comments

  • Are you a digital nomad too? Tell me about it.
  • What’s keeping you from doing this?
  • What issues were missing from this conversation?
  • How valuable is this program for your business?

[This program was suggested by reader, and Mixergy reader and supporter Cody McKibben. Thanks!]

Get the full program

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  • Joel Spolsky

    Her eye movements make me not trust her

  • http://mixergy.com AndrewWarner

    Olivia and I have been talking about traveling like this because the noise and distractions in Santa Monica are driving me nuts. We need to wait till after the wedding though.

  • Khuram Malik

    This is why my business partner and i re-geared our business at the beginning of this year, because i dont want to settle in the UK. Im much fonder of other countries out there. And with the advent of Skype, Webcams, Cloud infrastructures, and as this lady proves, its all very possible. I'm really looking forward to working up to that.

    Bali in Indonesia is a great place. There are alot of expats already out there. Dont quote me, but i remember reading somewhere that it has the largest collection of entrepreneurs from the US, UK etc that want to “get away from it all”. I'll try to get more info on that bcos im not 100% certain my information is correct.

    I've been to Malaysia and Dubai and these places are developed enough for one to run their internet operations from. Especially in Malaysia. People are so much more friendly, every man is not out for himself. Well not at least as much as in the West, and there is a more sense of community going on. Life runs at a more relaxed pace, which i think we all need.

    Im going to Turkey, hopefully next week, and im going to see what that place is like to work from.

  • http://mixergy.com AndrewWarner

    I've wanted to go to Turkey too. What a great trip.

    I was so skeptical of the whole Digital Nomad thing. Now I'm finding more of
    them than I could possibly interview here on Mixergy. Seems like a growing
    trend.

    Though I still wonder if it's as easy as it seems in my interviews.

  • http://www.subvertmagazine.com PaulMagee

    Great interview, thanks Andrew and Lea.
    I'm thinking more and more about this as my son get's older and we have been working on making every aspect of our business workable remotely.

    I was surprised at the house prices Lea quoted, but I suspect rental accomodation with things like wifi is always going to be targeted and priced at wealthier travellers. I know places where you can hire a beach house for a year for $2000 but you won't find any wifi.

    There is also something very appealing about the minimalism of this sort of lifestyle. That self imposed simplicity, getting rid of all the junk we buy to impress people we don't like or to fit in at jobs we don't want to do. In fact I think my life is due for a de-clutter today.

    I also love Lea's references to the rat race. The footer on every page of our site has my favorite tagline – The problem with the rat race is, even if you win, you're still a rat!

    Was it just me or did the sound go out of sync in the second half? Still an inspiring interview.
    Thank you guys.

  • http://locationindependent.com/blog Lea

    Hi Khuram – I have heard good things about Bali too – although I'm not 100% sure on internet stability/speed if you need that for your business. We've found sometimes that even when somewhere claims to have “high speed”, it can mean 256k or 512k which can be a bit frustrating!

    I'd be interested to hear what Turkey is like too…

  • http://locationindependent.com/blog Lea

    Hey Paul – you're right about rental prices…we made a conscious decision to look for places with internet included and also somewhere a bit more upmarket since neither of us very good at “making do”!!!

    It is definitely possible to live for a lot less & find accommodation for a lot less than we pay – but we wanted to try & replicate the lifestyle/quality of life we had back in the UK and don't mind paying a bit more for it.

    We're still learning as we go though…so you never know – we may discover some kind of luxury villa for a fraction of the price in some remote, exotic paradise that still has wi-fi :)

  • CathD

    LOL! $1000 a month for rental accommodation in SA would get you a super-posh pad: no scoffing at that! (I'm from Cape Town, South Africa, and I know Lea and Jonathan were staying in Cape Town). You really don't have to live like a hobo if you want to be location independent.

    But it's not for everyone. Lea focuses on teaching people the business development angles and other practical tips they'll need to know, but that's because she's already got the mindset that'll make this sort of lifestyle enjoyable. It's become trendy to be location independent, but it's not for everyone. I think you'll only enjoy the traveling location independent lifestyle if you have a particular mindset:

    The mindset:
    - “building a fort” and having loads of stuff feels confining to you. You feel liberated by the idea or experience of only having to steward the bare essentials in terms of “stuff”. You're happy for “stuff” to come and go/ pass it on (and you don't get attached to “stuff”), and you don't feel the need to express who you are through “stuff” – you can find other ways to be self-expressed. If you didn't have this sort of mindset you'd feel deprived with only 30kg of stuff, and you'd go through agony trying to decide what to take with you and what to get rid of, and you'd feel really sorry for yourself when you see all the “nice stuff” that other people have surrounded themselves with.
    - You love change. Some people like change, and they even feel frustrated and confined if they don't have enough change in their lives. Other people find change difficult and find that they enjoy life more when they have routines. I think you need to enjoy change if you're going to enjoy the traveling location independent lifestyle.
    - You need to be able to question assumptions: because it's not a “standard” way of living or working, you're going to get some flak about it from people who don't understand or share the same values. You need to be the sort of person who can continue with confidence, even if other people aren't affirming your choices.
    - You need to have mental and emotional flexibility and the skills to easily get yourself out of a “funk” or to think creatively and work productively even when your circumstances aren't ideal – otherwise the unpredictable stuff that can happen while you're traveling will really knock you around. At the risk of sounding cliche', you need to be emotionally mature and be able to take responsibility for the way you're feeling and not let other people or circumstances “make” you feel a certain way. For Lea and Jonathan to work together without driving each other crazy shows they obviously have this sort of emotional maturity.
    - You need to have a bit of tolerance for uncertainty and not knowing, and even enjoy the challenge of being in less structured environments, and living with shorter-term, flexible goals, and living a lifestyle where you're not trying to control everything. Some people are happier and work better in a structured environment with long-term goals and alot of consistency – they won't be happy as a traveling LIP.

    If you can run a location-specific business successfully, I'm sure you'll have the smarts to run a location independent business successfully… if that idea appeals to YOU, and if you have some of these mindsets of a happy LIP. Otherwise it'll just be a chore and you'll wish you stayed at home.

  • http://www.subvertmagazine.com PaulMagee

    But if it does have wifi, can it still qualify as an exotic paradise? :)

    My vision of the ultimate freedom doesn't require constant
    connection, maybe a daily “plug-in”, but there's something unhealthy
    (and whatever the opposite of Free is) to being tied to a computer
    all day. I think staring at a screen in rainy Manchester or sunny
    Bali is still staring at a screen.

    Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself :) but I'm trying, I have had a
    couple of very productive creative sessions this week, in the park
    and in the woods. I took nothing but a legal pad and pen. I had a log
    for a desk/chair and a herd of cows in neighbouring field for the
    “community feel”. I thoroughly recommend it.

    BTW. I'm actually simplifying my office right now, inspired by your
    “office in a bag” concept.
    But I stopped when I heard your comment ping. Guess I've got a long
    way to go to that whole breaking free of the machine thing ;)

  • http://getpaidtowriteonline.com Sharon Hurley Hall

    Great interview! My husband and I are both able to run our working life from wherever we happen to be, which is a great feeling. I may still be a rat, but at least I now own the cage. It's true that you can live on a lot less in some places. For example, in Barbados water rates are cheaper than the UK, though electricity is dearer. For me, a good internet connection is also essential, but I have learned that it's possible to run your business even if you only have access to dialup.

  • frankaye

    Andrew, just a thought, you could incorporate a 'Mixergy-world-tour' into your show? Travel the world, and while your at it interview entrepreneurs in there locations around the globe? I know I would tune in.

    Also just read your blog post about the Mixergy show being a 'mission' – just thought I'd add my 2cents and say how much I've learned from your show. The points you make about “…business “gurus” who've never really been in business.” & “… give you teachers who are real business people” are exactly why I tune in. If you mission was a religion I'd be a full-fledged member :)

    - Francois

  • http://mixergy.com AndrewWarner

    I can't myself getting closer and closer to being a rat.

    Something about Santa Monica makes me feel like I'm back in the useless
    maze.

    Wish those $2k places you mentioned had wifi.

  • http://mixergy.com AndrewWarner

    Cath this is very helpful.

    Your comment is smarter than many of my posts. I'm so grateful to you for
    this.

  • http://mixergy.com AndrewWarner

    Wow. It's amazing to see that people are actually doing this. I used to
    think the digital nomad lifestyle was a myth.

    And I love this line from your comment: “I may still be a rat, but at least
    I now own the cage.”

    Andrew Warner
    Founder, Mixergy.com

  • http://mixergy.com AndrewWarner

    I've always wanted to travel the world and interview interesting business
    people about how they built their companies.

    Right now I'm focusing on making my interviews more useful and learning how
    to research and post each interview faster. After I get some more
    experience, I plan to do a trip like this.

    Would be fun to meet people from all over the world who read the site too.

  • frankaye

    Looking forward to episodes like ….'Mixergy in Mumbai' & 'Internet start-ups in Istanbul'

  • http://mixergy.com AndrewWarner

    Me too!

  • http://www.technomadia.com/ Technomadia

    It is so awesome to see more and more folks talking about and doing digital nomadism!

    My partner and I are digital nomads, or technomads. We both gave up our fixed locations (me in Florida and him in San Francisco), and run our tech consulting business very location independent. We roam the USA in a small solar powered travel trailer, soaking up cellular signal to feed our internet hungry mobile devices. It's a great confluence of our ideals – wanderlust, life, family, community, technology, adventures, new experiences and volunteerism.

    We just marked our two year 'nomadiversary' together last week. And we see no end in sight. Although, we'll probably mix it up in the future with other forms of travel.

    – Cherie

  • http://funkysuccess.com/ mat siems

    Great post! It is possible nowadays with good use of tecnology and social media.

  • http://mixergy.com AndrewWarner

    Wow. I just saw your site. The picture says it all.

    It's inspiring to know people are doing this.

  • http://mixergy.com AndrewWarner

    Yes. I'd feel much better about being a stranger in a strange city if I had
    social media to help me meet new people and stay in touch with my friends
    back home.

  • http://www.Nile-Cruises-4u.co.uk/ Nile Cruises

    We've long thought that we would take our travel business “on the road” and as our business is totally online the technology is now in place to do it pretty easily. But, as we now have children at university we've found ourselves unable to take the plunge.

    However, its' great to hear about people who have. Who knows when our kids have left uni and are settled we may take to the open road ourselves.

    Great interview!

    Colin

  • http://mixergy.com AndrewWarner

    That's one of the reasons Olivia and I are thinking of doing it soon after
    our wedding. We feel the window of opportunity could close as we get older
    and take on more responsibilities.

    Thanks for the comment Colin.

  • http://www.daradics.com/ kurt daradics

    I'm thinking about doing the same thing. I just spoke with my CPA about the pros and cons of selling my place and going mobile. I just got back from http://www.roadtwip.us and i've got the travel bug. My sense off the emerging future is that it's going to be increasingly off grid and online.

    Maybe I could convince Andrew to join the traveling road show for a stint or two

    c'mon!

  • http://mixergy.com AndrewWarner

    That's encouraging. I was worried that once out there, the lifestyle would
    be harder than we expected.

  • http://www.geoffreyemery.com/ Geoffrey Emery

    I have done this life style before myself. The key is finding a place with internet which is becoming easier and easier. Panama is one of the more expensive places i have been.
    cheapest place to stay Thailand. I had a 90 dollar places a month. She sounds like she went posh. i would say a nice standardplace would be around 300.

  • http://mixergy.com AndrewWarner

    Geoffrey, I can't believe I've known you for this long and didn't know you
    lived the digital nomad lifestyle.

    And $90 a month! Really? Wow.

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  • http://www.peltours.com/egyptsmed/hotels.html peltours

    Hey, great post, very well written. You should blog more about this!

  • TrishaOsborne

    I think that if I would have to choose an exotic location to travel to and live there, I would choose Malaysia. They the cheapest food and a very good legislation when it comes to healthy nutrition so: healthy and cheap food. And all the people there speak English so… it would be a nice choice.
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  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Would be fun to go there next. Thanks for the suggestion.

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