The Undeniable Perks of Location Independence – I Made $21K In May

Today, I have a post that I’d like to share from one of my new favorite bloggers. Christine is awesome and she made over $21,000 in MAY from her online work. I’ve always known I wanted to travel. New Zealand was a wonderful country to grow up in, but by the time I was a…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: October 14, 2014

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morocToday, I have a post that I’d like to share from one of my new favorite bloggers. Christine is awesome and she made over $21,000 in MAY from her online work.

I’ve always known I wanted to travel. New Zealand was a wonderful country to grow up in, but by the time I was a teenager I was ready for something bigger.

After studying my degree, which I’ve never used, I made my way to Asia on a whim. I spent three months backpacking through Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before branching out to India.

My original trip stretched across continents and took up a total of 2.5 years. I worked along the way, teaching English in the Czech Republic, was an au pair in Spain and started a travel blog. Eventually the money ran out and I found myself broke, but still madly in love with travel.

I wasn’t going to let money get in the way of my dreams. 

I started freelance writing online and in time my travel blog built up some momentum. Now, a few years on, advertising on blogs is enough to sustain my entire income. Despite building a relatively successful business from scratch, that travel itch has not gone away. On the 30th of July, my partner and I will be moving overseas, indefinitely.

We will become location independent.

I suppose, technically, we’re already location independent because it doesn’t matter where we are, we can earn a living. I feel like we’re not taking full advantage of this as there are so many perks to being location independent.

While we’ve still got a very long way to go to become financially independent, we’re loving the fact that we’re location independent and looking forward to the following perks when we leave New Zealand:


1) Not Paying Tax.

I am grateful to come from a country with affordable schooling, free public health care and excellent roads. However, I am not particularly interested in donating my tax money when I’m not in the country and thankfully I wont have to. The plan is to not be a tax resident of anywhere, set up our banking in Dubai – and perhaps set up a company there too – in order to remove our tax liabilities in New Zealand.

I pay about 30% of my income in tax, so this will be an excellent way to quickly boost the savings account and dramatically change our financial future.


2) Leveraging the Currency.

New Zealand is expensive. I read a lot of finance blogs and am consistently shocked at how affordable America seems compared to New Zealand.

My partner and I spend at least $1,000 a month on groceries and that’s not even including any money we spend eating out. Our small apartment is $360 per week. The list goes on and the expenses all add up really quickly. Thankfully we earn enough to live comfortably here, but I don’t feel like we get good value for money. Many parts of the world, including Spain, Portugal, Eastern Europe, Asia and Central America offer exceptional value compared to New Zealand.

In Asia you can eat out in a restaurant for a lot less than you’d pay to buy the ingredients and make the meal at home yourself here. In New Zealand an hour long massage costs $120, in Asia you’re looking at $6-10. I see many massages in my future.

Leveraging the currency will be a great way for my partner and I to increase our quality of living while decreasing the cost.


3) You get to see New Places.

I love exploring – there’s something so fascinating for me about wandering streets of a new town, getting lost in the new smells, sounds and sights. I really enjoy engaging with new cultures, learning more about the world and where I fit into it.

When you can work anywhere, you can explore anywhere without putting your career on hold or ravaging your savings account. This is a pretty big bonus for me.


4) Excellent Weather

While I know some people love winter, I just don’t! I would much rather be on a beach, sipping on a coconut waiting for my next massage while watching the waves crash. I often joke that I’m “solar powered” and require a certain amount of sunshine to function, but I think there’s some truth in that. I am much happier and more productive when it’s warm and I can soak up some rays. It’s coming into winter here in New Zealand and it’s my cue to leave.


There are lots of perks to being location independent and I’m very much looking forward to starting this new chapter in our lives. As you can see, there’s two pretty key financial aspects to being location independent that are going to help us save a lot of extra money. Considering I paid over $6,000 in tax last month alone, the savings my partner and I will incur from being non-tax residents of New Zealand will be considerable.

Throughout the coming months I’ll be posting updates on the process of becoming a non-tax resident, location independent, what I’m taking along on the road to work productively and a host of other topics. I’d love for you to drop on by and see how this exciting adventure goes.

Have you ever heard of location independence before?

Is it something you would like to pursue for a year or two?

Let me know if you’ve got any questions – I’d love to answer them.


Author bio: Christine Berry is a finance blogger at Wealth Way Online. You can follow her journey to diversify her income, become location independent, travel the world while volunteering and building up considerable personal wealth. In the month of May she made over $21,000 in online income.


Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Very cool Christine! This is something my wife and I have thought a lot about since we run our own business. We can work from anywhere we can get a wifi connection so in theory we can go pretty much anywhere. We have young kids though so we’d have to wait until they got a little older to do something like this, but it’s definitely something we want to potentially pursue.

    1. Hey John, thanks so much for your comments. Location independence is pretty cool. I’m good friends with a travel blogger who is a traveling family. She has a 3 month old and a 4 year old and they’re heading off again. If you like, check out her blog. I don’t know how she does it, but they travel slower and it works for them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I would love to be location independent. I do understand not wanting to pay so much in taxes, but I’m a little torn on it, personally. I know I’m in the minority, but I honestly don’t mind taxes. It isn’t a donation, so much as contributing your share to society. Whether you’re home or not, you still took advantage of the infrastructure while growing up, and once you start earning, it only seems fair to do the same. Just my two cents ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Lauren,

      My accountant is actually of the same thoughts as you, however I wasn’t even born in New Zealand, so should I have to pay taxes wherever I go? I also don’t like our government at all and my tax bill for the year will probably be around $70,000 – so a life changing amount if we could save that over 5 years. I wish I wanted to pay taxes as I do believe in contributing to the society, but if I’m not there I can’t seem to feel OK with shelling out that kind of money! I would much prefer to contribute to the global world by setting up a school in Cambodia or India (one of my dreams to do by the time I’m 30… tick tock).

      I think if we were only going a year or two we wouldn’t worry about taxes, but as we’ll be gone quite a few it’s worth doing. Thanks so much for your comments; it’s always nice to hear a different perspective ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Melissa

      Lauren, I agree with you! I feel uncomfortable with the reference to taxes being a ‘donation.’ Like you said, you grow up in a country, probably got a free education, traveled on safe roads, ate uncontaminated food and breathed pollution-free air because of government regulations. It’s not a donation, it’s being a responsible adult.

      I don’t like the slippery slope line of thinking that ‘I shouldn’t pay taxes because I don’t use -that- stuff anymore.’ I like Christine’s other comments and of course I’m impressed by her work ethic, but I don’t agree with the ‘hooray no taxes!’ line of thinking. Taxes do have a purpose.

      1. Fair enough Melissa, I totally respect everyone’s views on taxes. Are you American by chance? America has a completely different relationship with taxes, as in that no matter where in the world you are, you’re still responsible for taxes. Perhaps growing up in different places has shaped different opinions on taxes?

        I think it’s a bit sad that our tax bills are increasing yet the national debt of most countries is increasing. I don’t see that the government is spending my money wisely! It looks like I’ll be moving to Panama to minimise my taxes and will be contributing some taxes there, although a lot less than to New Zealand. I am very unattached to my country and if my partner was open to it, I’d never live there again. Meanwhile our politicians are buying $100,000 bottles of wine…!

        Anyway! Thank you for your comments, it’s nice to have a different perspective ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve been reading a book about taxes and it’s crazy to think how many months people have to work of the year just to pay off their taxes. I.e. in parts of Europe where the tax rate is around 50% you have to work 6 months before you earn any money for yourself! Crazy to me.

        1. Melissa

          Hi Christine, sorry if it seems like I was piling on you. Yes, I’m American, and I completely agree with you about our wasted taxpayer dollars (in every country, apparently). In my opinion, it seems like a lot of Americans complain a lot about taxes going to the ‘lazy’ poor, when in reality, it’s not the poor who are stealing from taxpaying Americans. I get annoyed by people who don’t want to help their fellow countrymen, yet don’t see anything wrong with companies like Verizon that get away with paying absolutely 0% in taxes. I’m sorry if I misjudged your motivations; you’re clearly not avoiding taxes for any malicious reason.

          Also, you’re right again about the ‘different relationship to taxes’ type thing. I, obviously, get caught up the American way of thinking, and I have to remember taxes are different in different countries. For goodness’ sake, I was horrified by the VAT tax when I was in Europe, but it’s not a whole lot different from our sales taxes.

          And yeah, ~30% of my income goes to taxes. I’d totally prefer that 30% to go to things -I- prefer, but that’s the beauty (and horror) of democracy… we have to pay for things we really disagree with! I’d like to avoid it too, sometimes ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Ummm Christine is basically my new idol. Making great money and travelling the world with your partner? Sounds like an absolutely incredible experience. Thanks for introducing her to us!

    1. I know, right? I think I’ve fallen in love with her haha ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Thanks so much for the group love, ladies ๐Ÿ™‚ I think it’ll be lots of fun Charlotte, I’m really excited!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

        1. I wanna join the club! We could call ourselves the ‘berries’. Ugh that was almost too corny to type lol.

  4. Thanks so much for having me, Michelle ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you for sharing this article with us ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. This is what you call “living the life!” I have to admit I’m a little jealous, but instead of staying jealous I’m going to try to join you. I just have to play my cards right and give it some time.

    1. Hi Aldo, definitely join me! It’s not that hard, if you’re persistent. A few years ago I read the 4 hour work week by Tim Ferris and it totally changed my life. It’s not a blueprint of how to get where I am, but it opens your mind up to the possibilities. If you have any specific questions I’m more than happy to try to answer them ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck!

  6. Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore

    Man oh man! That is awesome ๐Ÿ™‚ Way to go Christine!!

  7. $21,000 in one month is great. Hopefully I can get there in a year or 2. I want to be location independent one day. I have dreams of living on the west coast and in Europe for a little while. For that to become a reality I will have to make it happen.

    1. Jason, you can DEFINITELY do it. If you have the drive, it’s possible. You’ve got the benefit of being surrounded by a bunch of finance blogs of people who are DOING IT. Take Michelle, for example, she has a GREAT online income that is diverse ( something that I lack). I think you could get there in a year, to be honest. If you have any specific questions, feel free to drop me a line – more than happy to help where I can ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Thanks for the words of advice.

  8. What an inspirational story! So happy for you.

    1. Thanks Melanie ๐Ÿ™‚ I really appreciate your kind words.

  9. Kim

    That’s wonderful that you made your dream work for you in such a big way. That amount of income is amazing. I don’t know that I’d want to not have a home base. I like where we live as far as being a good place to raise a child, but I think the idea is really cool. Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Hey Kim, thanks so much for your comments! I have a feeling I might get a bit more “nesty” if/when I have children, but I also like the idea of them being very worldly and exposed to a lot of cultures from a young age. I feel the world is becoming more and more global quickly so gifting your kids travel would be an amazing foundation, I think!

  10. Ah-mazing post as always, Christine!

    Solar powered… lol.

    1. I totally am! Wait and see how productive I get in 5.5 weeks when that hot Bali sun is shining down on me!

  11. I regularly read Christie’s blog too – she’s definitely living the dream! Her income per month is insane – if I can ever reach even half that, I’ll be doing well.

    1. You’ll get there in no time, Nicola ๐Ÿ™‚ I think half the challenge is believing it’s possible and you’re already there!

  12. Poor Student

    You really are awesome! I’d love to be location independent so I can explore the world and you’re my new inspiration! By the way, you said that you want to set up a company in Dubai — if you do, aren’t you then become tax liable in UAE? And why Dubai exactly if I may ask?

    1. Hi Poor student (great name, I can relate haha).

      I’ve actually done a bit more research and it turns out the best place for me to focus on is Panama. There are lots of countries in the world including Panama, UAE, Hong Kong etc that don’t charge tax on overseas income. As my income is derived from the UK, AU and occasionally the US, in any of those countries I mentioned I would be considered to be earning income from “overseas” therefore it wouldn’t be taxed.

      It is quite easy for me, as a New Zealander, to set up a company in Panama and apply for a friendly country visa with Panama which would make me a perm resident. If I’m not a resident of anywhere else, traveling a bit but also spending some time in Panama, then my personal/sole trader income would be tax free as they don’t charge income on overseas income.

      I would have to put some money through my Panama company to set it up and that would be charged tax when it comes to me from the company, but it would be a small percentage of my overall income.

      I may still set up a company in Hong Kong or Dubai and get paid into the company so I can have the protection of a LLC and then pay myself in Panama. There’s lots of different ways to do it, depending on what works for you.

      For example, Facebook only pay 2.5% tax on their international income and they’re generating millions or billions of dollars….

      If you send me an email: I can email you a book I read recently on the matter if you’re interested ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for dropping by!

  13. This is definitely a dream for me. I’m definitely doing it in baby steps now. I leave for a vacation in Mexico tomorrow, but the laptop is coming with me so my income isn’t interrupted.

    1. Haha I know that feeling! I just went on a three day weekend holiday and brought the laptop too – but I tried not to work. I like my work so it doesn’t feel like a chore to do it on holiday but it can be challenging balancing ‘holiday’ and ‘work’. I’m sure you can become location independent if you really want it. Use this trip as a tester! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Sune @ Extra Income Blogger

    I’ve never heard of location independence before now but I would also definitely love to be location independent! I live in South Africa and have found the tax percentage that I need to pay, and the cost of living, extremely high!

    1. Hi Sune, lovely to hear from you. I imagine that it is similar to rates in New Zealand! Do you work online? Location independence is certainly possible if you can generate enough income to be “jobless”! There are parts of the world that are cheap and very comfortable to live in, so you’d save a lot of money even if you were still paying taxes in your home country. The world is changing very fast ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks again for your comments!

  15. Hi Catherine, thanks for your comments. I’m assuming you’re American as you’re calling it healthcare? There are a few options for us. Thankfully, New Zealand doesn’t charge tax on income if you’re a non-tax resident so we wouldn’t have to give up our residency in order to enjoy the no tax perks. Furthermore, I was born in Australia so I have access to that passport too. I don’t have to give up my access to health care here, although I would rather just pay for local health care coverage wherever we are based most.

    For healthcare we’ll get comprehensive travel insurance which will cover things while we travel. If we get permanent residency in Panama (part of my tax plan) then I’ll probably get local coverage. There’s also an international health coverage you can buy which might be wise for me/my partner if/when I decide to have children as it will cover all those costs.

    When I lived in Europe for a year, the Czech Republic, I got local healthcare insurance which was somewhere near the $800 mark for the year. It was necessary as part of my working holiday visa.

    There are certainly a few options, though if you want to move to a specific country in Europe they’ll probably want you to get coverage from their own provider. Comprehensive travel insurance isn’t enough because it doesn’t include coverage for alcohol related injuries and suicide… go figure!

    Thanks again for your comments ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Hi Dan, thanks for your comment. My income is ALL advertising. This month I did an hour’s worth of writing because things were a bit slow, but otherwise it’s all advertising. For me, writing seems to inefficient compared to advertising. I have created a job for myself, now I am trying to turn it into a business that can function without me.

    If you have any more specific questions, feel free to ask – I’m happy to answer them best I can. Thanks again for your comments ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. That. Sounds. Amazing. I feel like I haven’t been making the most of my location independence, but I’m really looking forward to getting back into it. How’s the Caribbean? I’ve not been but have always wanted to! Yay for location independence ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s so cool to hear someone else doing it as most people in my social group aren’t that interested!