1. How and why did you choose to go nomadic?
The first 22 years of my life were largely limited to Southern California. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and then attended San Diego State University.
Most people dream of living in Southern California, but I was eager to get out and explore the world. The fastest and easiest way to do so was to achieve location independence by becoming a full-time freelancer.
Truth is, I kind of fell into full-time freelance by accident. In college, I studied journalism, and worked in the media for five years as well. I started working at NBC in San Diego during January of 2012; five months later, they offered me a promotion, so I quit. I decided the corporate world wasn’t for me. However, I didn’t have a backup plan, so I moved home with Mom.
Needing income fast, I approached a restaurant at which I worked in high school about being a delivery driver until I could find another full-time job. When I went to their website, I realized they didn’t have someone managing their social media accounts, so I pitched them on creating this position. They accepted, and I became their part-time marketing and social media manager.
A few months later, I started to attract more clients via word-of-mouth; within six months, I had five clients, making around $3,000 each month.
In January of 2013, I went on a free 10-day trip to Israel through a program called Birthright Israel. I instantly fell in love with Tel Aviv and decided to stay on a whim. Most of my clients didn’t mind me working overseas, and I’ve picked up clients in Israel, Europe and China ever since.
2. What was it like leaving your home country?
It was pretty liberating, especially because I didn’t really leave the country growing up. My international traveling experience was limited to Mexico and the Caribbean before I moved abroad. I was excited to see other parts of the world and interact with different cultures.
3. What are your biggest struggles? Fears?
My biggest struggles are patience and perfectionism. I want success right now, on-demand, at my fingertips. During the last year, I’ve learned to embrace the marathon instead of trying to sprint. I’ve found that sprinting leads to burnout.
My biggest fears are failure and being average. I have very high expectations for myself, and I don’t want to fail. Especially because, in my eyes, failing means the possibility of going to work for someone else, which is the last thing I want to do.
It’s not that I’m a rebel and can’t deal with authority; I just can’t subscribe to the notion of working hard for someone else’s benefits and happiness.
4. How are you funding your lifestyle and what projects are you working on?
I still have a client-service business, mostly focusing on digital marketing consulting and strategy. I also have a membership-based service called the Small Biz Social Club, and I recently launched a new course at Epic Freelancing.
5. What is the estimated monthly cost of living for one of your favorite locations? What lifestyle does that afford?
Tel Aviv is pretty expensive, relatively speaking. I’ve been living a middle class lifestyle on about $5,000 / month. This includes a studio apartment (about $1,200 per month), eating and going out a lot, and traveling to different countries a few times each year.
I also visit my family in Los Angeles once or twice a year, so that can get kind of expensive. The good thing about Tel Aviv is you don’t need a car (so no car payment or insurance) and health insurance is a fraction of what it costs in the U.S. The cost of food and dining out is basically the same as it is in Los Angeles ($12 to $15 per meal).
6. What is your top tip for someone who aspires to earn money online and travel?
Don’t have a backup plan. I know everyone says you should have a plan B, but I’m a firm believer that you give yourself the option to fail when you have a plan B.
When you only have one plan, you’re forced to make this plan work. It becomes survival at this point, and most people have enough survival instincts to make it work one way or another.