With numbers this high, you probably fall into one of these two categories:
You can currently work from anywhere
You will soon have the option to work from anywhere
I fall into category number one. I can work from anywhere. I think that’s pretty cool.
(This post was written by Will Lipovsky, one of our excellent staff writers here at Life And My Finances – ENJOY!)
The Best Place to Live as a Telecommuter
One of the major advantages to working from anywhere is you can pick the best place to live based largely on your personal desires. There’s no need to live somewhere largely because of a job.
Though once you realize you can live anywhere, it’s actually kind of paralyzing. It was for me anyway. The world is yours but where should you go? It’s a rather large question to unwrap.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s look at the money. Since your income is pretty independent from your location, where can you go to save? Where is the best place to live as a telecommuter? Here are the expenses to examine:
When I realized I could work from anywhere, I first thought about moving abroad to avoid the expensive US taxes. I thought I could tour the world without paying US taxes. After all, my business could thrive without the US – so why would I have to pay taxes if I don’t currently live there?
As much sense as that makes, you actually always have to pay taxes as a US citizen. This is true even if you’re not residing in the country. Unless you renounce your citizenship, you’ll be required to pay. That is, unless you pay another country’s taxes – and their taxes must be as high or higher than what the US charges.
Bottom line: Moving abroad won’t save you money on taxes.
I then looked at state tax. If I can’t avoid federal, I can at least avoid state, right? Right. There are currently seven states with zero state income tax (some even have zero income tax on corporations): Nevada, Washington, Alaska, Texas, Florida, South Dakota, Wyoming. I’ve considered this topic so much I’ve memorized this list.
But there’s still a bit of a catch. States must make money somehow. So although these states have no income tax, many make up for it with high property taxes and/or high sales tax.
After doing hours and hours of research, I’ve kind of realized something. There is no rich person’s tax haven. Not all the rich people choose one state over the others. This obviously means there aren’t great monetary gains by choosing one state over another.
Most desirable states have high taxes. It’s like the old saying, ‘You gotta pay to play.’ I’ve had to remind myself that taxes are in place for a reason. Sure, they are annoying to pay but we do have it pretty great – no matter where in the US we live.
Since tax savings are kind of a bust, you may want to look at housing. Since housing is your biggest expense, perhaps move to a state where housing is cheap. I’ve thought about moving to a place that’s still experiencing the 2008 housing crisis prices. Having a house that appreciates will earn me more of a net gain than living in a no tax state. It’s something worth considering.
Ages ago, I worked at a recruiting firm. One thing we all knew was that people have internal homing beacons. That means that the older we get, the more nostalgic we get for home. As a recruiter, I would find out where someone grew up. I knew that was nearly as important to where they currently live. Because I knew I could pitch them jobs back home and they’d be nearly as interested as a job down the street. The older people get, the more they want to go back home.
Don’t be surprised if you move away as a telecommuter just to find yourself wanting to move back home 1-5-25 years later. It’s natural.
Also remember that you’ll have to fly/drive home for family events/holidays/emergencies. Flights add up. So you could be saving money on taxes or housing but if it all goes to the airlines, you’re not gaining anything.
This is hugely important. One thing I’ve been tempted to do is live somewhere where the cost of living is extremely low. But I need to keep reminding myself that it’s not a good move. That’s because where the cost of living is low, so is the opportunity.
You and I could go to tons of small towns and buy a house for $75,000. How would that be? We could retire early, knowing our housing is covered! But, for most of us, that wouldn’t be a fulfilling life.
As digital nomads, we need to remember about the opportunities outside of our computer screens. Will your kids have a good school to attend? How is the local entertainment? Where is the nearest airport? Are there other successful people living in the area? Make sure you’re not living in an undesirable place just to save money. Happiness > money.
The best place to live…
I think the best place for a telecommuter to live is probably right where you live now. Exciting, right? BUT you do know that you can move anywhere whenever you would like. It wouldn’t be a huge deal. That’s relaxing to know.
Where I think this lifestyle really shines is that you can travel anywhere you want – pretty much whenever you want. When I travel, I stay for however long I want. I simply work from my location. Have laptop, will travel.
Do you think there’s an optimal place to live as a telecommuter?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.