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Today we're chatting with Jill Stanton of Screw the Nine to Five about her location independent lifestyle.
Tell us a bit about your business and how you keep it location independent.
We [she and her husband, Josh Stanton] have a few businesses, but our main one is our affiliate marketing business. Essentially we have a network of 24 affiliate sites that make us the bulk of our income. Now these sites range from 4 pages to over 300 pages, with some only selling one product and others selling a variety. We like to keep it interesting!
On top of that we have also started incorporating different products, programs, and services into Screw the Nine to Five which has allowed us to increase our income even more...which is always nice! Ha!
What does an average month/year look like in terms of your location (we assume there's no average day!)?
We don’t really have an “average” month by any means. For example, in 2013 we lived on an island in Thailand for 2 months, then took off to Malaysia for 2 weeks, headed to China for a week, and settled back in Thailand in a city in the mountains called Chiang Mai.
But throughout the 10 months we lived in Chiang Mai we explored 3 other islands, went back to Malaysia for nearly a month, spent a week in Cambodia and then moved to the Philippines.
Starting in 2015 we are thinking about potentially choosing a country to stay in for a year and using it as a base to travel from - right now we say that is going to be Spain...but that could always change!
Do you call some place home? Do you have a lease or own a place anywhere?
We actually own a condo on a tiny island in Thailand called Koh Tao so I guess that would be our closest thing to a “home”, but we will only ever spend a month or two per year there as it's easy to get island fever...and we like to explore too much!
We initially bought it as an investment property, so we prefer to rent it out, but it is a beautiful place to escape to here and there 😉
How do you handle the logistics of working while traveling (finding reliable internet, being available, time differences, etc)?
Finding reliable internet is ALWAYS our biggest priority. In fact, we made the mistake of not double-checking the web speed in the Philippines before moving there for 3 months and found that it is something straight out of 1997! Haha!
After that experience we made a pact to only settle in places where the internet is fast, reliable, and will allow you to at least load your email!
As for time differences etc… we are fortunate to run enough of a hands-off business that timezone differences or travel days don’t mess with our sites too much. Just another reason we love affiliate marketing!
How do you balance making the most of travel while still staying on track with your business?
We are big believers in the power of routines. So no matter where we are we always try to get up by 7am (jet lag permitting, of course!), workout, eat a healthy breakfast, get ready and head out to either a co-working space (luckily these are becoming more and more popular!) or a coffee shop and put in about 5-7 hours each day.
We also have an amazing team that works with us and helps things on track and functioning, and best of all, keeps the business growing. We would be lost without them!
Because we have these systems and people in place, we can choose to skip out on work for a week or two if we really want...but we're currently too in love with our businesses to take too much time off.
Any location independent myths you want to bust?
Yes!! A lot of people think it costs a lot to live this kind of life, travel the world, and run your business, but that couldn’t be further from the truth!
In fact, it is because we moved to South East Asia back in 2013 that we were able to hire the different people on our team, really scale up our business, go out for dinner whenever we wanted, take trips whenever we felt like it, and still save money!
We just didn’t have that opportunity back in North America because the cost of living can be quite steep - especially in the big cities!
What are your business/travel must haves?
For our business we have started relying heavily on different online tools to help us keep everything (and everyone!) in line and on task.
As for travel, we really love Trail Wallet, which is a handy little app that allows you to keep track of your budget while traveling. It also has the cheekiest little messages if you go over your budget, which I love.
Finally, one thing we can't do without—and this may seem so obvious—is a really good (and waterproof!) carry-on backpack with space for your laptop. Because we travel so much, if we are going on a quick 1 week trip we would rather just fly carry-on instead of checking bags and waiting at the baggage carousel.
Having a really solid and sturdy travel backpack makes it all so much easier for us to bring both our work stuff (laptops, cameras, and microphones as we like to record videos on location) as well as enough clothes for the two of us for a week.
What are some of your favorite resource sites for affordable travel and/or location independent business?
I think Natalie Sisson over at Suitcase Entrepreneur does a really great job at listing out a ton of affordable and handy travel resources. That woman travels all. the. time and seems to have found a ton of hidden gems I would have never been able to find.
I also love the website Making It Anywhere which is run by the hilarious couple Mish and Rob! Their site is full of amazing travel and lifestyle tips to help anyone make this life a reality.
What do you think the future holds for you (staying in one place, periods of travel, being a full-time nomad, etc)?
You know, we've tried to figure this out, but each time we come to a decision we change our minds! I think we are just going to play it by ear and if we ever find a place that we love enough to stay in permanently then we'll consider setting up a base there.
But I doubt we'll ever stop traveling and stay in one place forever....our feet just get too itchy to live that conventional of a lifestyle.