Personal Tools for Location Independence

Some people want the backpacker’s life, and others want the ability to move around here and there without dealing with a lot of bureaucracy.

I’ve picked up on some useful tools for location independence over the past three years while running Bitfountain as a remote company. This post will focus on the tools I use to manage my personal life. I’ll write another article on the tools I use to run a remote tech company.

Virtual Post Mail

My biggest frustrations with moving are missed mail and updating my address with services and government agencies. Virtual Post Mail gives you an address in California that you can send all of your mail to. They email you when you have new parcels and will email you a scanned copy or forward them to whatever address you want. Plans start at $5/month.

Unlocked iPhone

You will want the flexibility to use SIM cards from different carriers. Whether you are abroad and need a local SIM, or you are home and want to use a carrier offering a better deal, your iPhone needs to be unlocked. You can usually get an unlocked iPhone by purchasing it directly from Apple.

Do not bind yourself to a long term contract from a carrier. Cancelling these contracts is a huge hassle and you’ll likely end up losing a lot of money. T-Mobile has 4G data plans in the US that you can cancel any time.

Airbnb

I’ve been living exclusively in Airbnb apartments for three years. You can book short and long term rentals. I love the flexibility of booking an apartment for a precise amount of time. For example, maybe I’ll be living in Paris for 9 months. I do not want to sign a year long contract and deal with finding a subletter for the remaining three months.

Another benefit of Airbnb apartments is that you don’t need to deal with the usual bureaucratic documents involved with renting an apartment — credit score, past pay stubs, recommendation from previous landlord, etc. Airbnb eases the process into something simpler for both tenants and landlords: do you have the money to pay; have previous hosts left good reviews on your profile.

American Express Platinum Card

Two reasons: 1) No foreign transaction fees. 2) No need to call them before you travel so your card doesn’t get flagged.

The Amex Platinum has a lot of great benefits but those are the two that are most important for location independence.

Skype Phone Number

Give one phone number to everyone. Similar to changing addresses, changing phone numbers is also a huge headache. A skype phone number will let you receive calls and get voice messages if your family or your bank need to get in touch with you.

You can also make calls to landlines and mobile phone, however, I recommend Google Voice for that since it is free for domestic US calls even if you are calling from abroad.

Transferwise

Banks charge high fees for transferring money abroad and/or into a new currency. Transferwise helps you make those transfers for a low fee and favorable conversion rate.

I’ll update this list if I integrate new tools into my life.

There are still some problems I have yet to figure out:

  • need to find an online number that allows you to receive sms from short-code numbers like Bank of America safepass confirmations.