For 6+ years, my life has focused on working remotely while spending 30-90 days living in different cities. So, experience plays into my answer to the commonly asked question, can you live anywhere if you work remotely?
The short answer to this question is: no.
This might surprise a lot of people. I am taking the work from anywhere slogan very literally but, it is the reality.
Of course, you have more options and no longer have to live in one location, but not every country is good for working remotely.
There are a few different reasons why you cannot live anywhere.
Employer legal standpoint
If you are an employee for a company in a Remote job role, there might be legalities around you not living in your tax registered country.
Tell the company during the interview process that you would like to live abroad. You do not want any surprises in your contract when hired.
Time zones can be problematic
Some employers (and clients) might want you to work in a specific time zone. Living on the other side of the world can cause problems. While living in Tokyo and working for a US company, they wanted me to work EST. This meant working late into the early hours.
You have to be flexible.
If you want to live in a country for more than three months, you could find yourself with visa limitations. In many countries, the only way around this problem is to apply for a residential pass and, this could have implications on your tax and residential status in your home country.
Depending on your passport, some countries are very strict with the length of stay. There’s also the grey area of, should you be visiting a country on a tourist visa, when you are working remotely.
We will not get into that debate in this guide.
Some countries are just not set up for remote working. Regular power cuts can occur and, this makes working remotely more difficult. While living abroad, the worst countries were Vietnam, Greece and Slovakia.
You have to live in a place for a month or two to really experience this.
Of course, there are always solutions, but if you are working with deadlines and the electricity goes out for 4 hours, you need a fully charged battery to make sure you can continue with work.
Then there’s the internet. A fully charged MiFi or mobile phone is needed to tether to your laptop.
Many countries do not have the luxury of the National Health Service in the UK. Until you travel abroad, you do not realise how lucky we are. Healthcare in some countries can be very poor.
Then, there is air pollution. This is an issue in many SE Asian cities due to the amount of traffic on the road. All these are important to factor in.
Islands often have the worst internet, but surprisingly some of the world’s most populated cities can be bad.
Tokyo is one city that comes to mind.
When you work with teams from all over the world, you notice messages in Slack from colleagues struggling to work due to internet issues. More often than not, it is colleagues from the UK and USA.
Internet in SE Asian cities like Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur has some of the fastest speeds experienced.
A lot will come down to how many devices are connected and the type of work you do. If it’s a browser based task, then you will be good with 10mbps download speed. For group video calls or download/upload large files, then, you need to have good upload and download speeds.
The Bahamas and other islands might sound like a tropical paradise to live and work remotely in, but crime can be high. You only have to read up on the stories on Thai islands like Phuket and Koh Tao to know that islands are not necessarily the safe haven you might think they are.
Corruption is rife.
South America is an attractive continent for remote workers, but many of the cities have some of the highest crime rates in the world.
Research your destination
All this said, it is essential to research the places you are thinking of living and working remotely in. For the past three months, my home has been in Albania, where crime is low, the internet has been very reliable, but electricity and water cuts can occur from time to time, especially during the Summer months.
The point of this guide is to bust the myth that you can work from anywhere, and you need to do your research before choosing a place to live and work remotely.