I don’t think I could have made the move overseas were it not for the fact that I had a portable business. The key component to that business is my laptop. I have been using laptops for at least 15 years now and they have enabled me to work from just about anywhere. Even when I had a dedicated office space back in Florida, I used a laptop. I don’t do heavy graphics or gaming so I don’t need the processing power of a tower set-up, though there are days the poor laptop kind of groans at me as if saying, “REALLY? You really expect me to do all this at once?”
I don’t have an office in my apartment in Portugal. (My dining room table is proof of that.) Here, I find myself spending most of my working hours sitting in my recliner with the laptop on my lap and typing. Sometimes (wait for it…) I move to the couch. Yep. I know: It’s a crazy life.
My first Airbnb in Portugal was a small one bedroom apartment with a kitchen comprised of four feet of counter space, an odd shaped living room, small dining area, and a bathroom. The bedroom itself had just enough room for the bed with about sixteen inches of free space on two sides. In the living room/kitchen area there was an uncomfortable love seat and some sort of high sitting area (think “you need to climb”) that doubled as a bed complete with storage drawers that held extra linens. There was no place to sit comfortably. Working involved shifting from one place to another every thirty or forty minutes, trying to find a spot to sit that didn’t hurt my bones or my butt. Not a lot of work got done.
My second place was a bit better with a good-sized bedroom, about five linear feet of kitchen (I could tell it had once been a closet), and two low, black leather modern sofas. They were not as uncomfortable as the loveseat at the first place, but not at all comfy to sit on for hours at a time. There was a dining table that wasn’t too bad (usually they are too high to type comfortably) but I ended up doing a lot of work from my bed, which was LOVELY. It also had a view of the ocean, so bonus.
My third place was even better. A real apartment with a real kitchen, well outfitted and comfortable. I was only there for a month, but I could sit on the couch and get my work done.
My permanent digs came furnished. The sofa is comfortable, but not comfortable to work on. I do some work there from time to time, but sitting on the sofa is mostly saved for evenings watching Netflix (also on my laptop). I bought and assembled (all by myself—I’m very proud!) a recliner that has become my working spot. I don’t even push the seat back most of the time, just sit with my legs crossed, laptop balanced on my lap.
I know if I had a “real office” I would not use it except for the occasional podcast interview or initial client meeting on Zoom. When I travel, my laptop fits easily in my backpack, and I plug in wherever I am, usually sitting on the bed, not using the little desk set-up most hotel rooms have.
The beauty of having a laptop is that you really can work from anywhere with access to electricity and wifi. The trick, of course, is to build a business that allows you to work from anywhere. That may be freelance writing, whether it’s writing books, content creation, editing, blogging, etc. You can also teach online, do coaching or consulting, or run an ecommerce site with downloadable or drop shipped products.
But it can be done. While it is not as easy as pushing a button (beware the gurus selling you systems to get you to SIX FIGURES IN 90 DAYS!), laptops make building a portable business—and lifestyle—that much easier.
I was fortunate that I had already—and unknowingly—built a portable business. I can work from anywhere with access to wifi. For those of you who want to live abroad and are not retired or independently wealthy, the key to making the move is to have a portable business.
In truth, the laptop is just a tool to run my business. But without it, I wouldn’t be here. It was my ticket to freedom.