There are a ton of upsides but I wouldn't go back to it full time. For one, it's surprising how few of the digital nomad types are really that interesting, and while integrating with local populations is fun, you'll still find yourself missing the familiarity of people from your own culture (or similar, Western cultures, assuming you're a Euro or American)
Once you get used to life on the road it's grand. Still, nomad nests like Chiang Mai are insipid and full of scores of people hustling their drop ship schemes. More power to them, but it's just not my vibe.
I dunno. Go nuts, travel, see a bunch of shit, just don't assume the beach is going to be as stimulating as the (very likely) metro urban environment you're living in now.
1. Always having to make plans for the next place to sleep was stressful for me. I'd arrive at some city and have to start planning the next city else I'd be homeless once my hotel/apartment term expired. I started booking longer (4 weeks, 6 weeks, more) but even then just the fact that I have a place I don't have to think about is less stressful for me.
2. No hangout buddy or really close friends. Some people are great at making new friends and I did make a few in certain cities but I'm at least a little introverted and felt pretty lonely quite often.
3. There only so much tourism I can take. At some point it just got boring seeing yet another old church, yet another museum, etc. Some recent book claimed you should take several shorter vacations than fewer but longer ones. They recommended no more than a week at a time.
4. Not being able to buy/own anything. That might appeal to some but not to others, it means no shopping, something that many people enjoy while traveling. It also means no PS4, no Vive/Oculus, no gaming rig, no tools, no food supplies. Sure if I rented an apartment I could go buy a few things to cook but when I have a permanent residence I have tons of utensils and spices and other things in my kitchen that I just don't have the time to gather in a temporary place. Similarly I had drawers or closets full of parts and tools, something I didn't have digital nomadding.
Of course that's all just me. I've met others who really enjoy that lifestyle. Good for them!
I hate solo travel. I'm naturally very quiet, introverted, socially awkward and get social anxiety, so travelling alone is stressful and I don't end up exploring new places much and meet rather few new people because I find it incredibly hard to just start a conversation with strangers (doubly so if there's a language barrier).
I'd love to go on extended travels, working from coffee shops while exploring new and interesting places, seeing new things and meeting new people, but to feel comfortable doing that, I would need someone to join me and I simply don't know anybody who would do it with me. :(
I just finished a two week honeymoon less than a month ago, and we did it as a traveling and sightseeing vacation. We started with a week in New Orleans and the surrounding area (and mostly did sightseeing instead of partying, it was a honeymoon), and were going to head up through Atlanta and see more of the South. We decided after that first week we were not looking forward to more sightseeing in the humidity, so we made a beeline for Florida and went to Disneyworld for a few days instead. Even though we were a little underwhelmed with Disneyworld after building up expectations for so long(we go to Disneyland often, and I would say they are comparable depending on the type of vacation you want), we didn't regret it.
Like many things, the wonder becomes commonplace if you are subjected to it consistently for long enough. That seems to start happening for a lot of people around about a week.
We did spend a day in Savannah after that though, and that was gorgeous. Mixing up the vacation probably let us appreciate it more.
As for tools, yea that was always a bummer. Some cities have hacker barns or whatever but it really depends on where you are. As always, I recommend digital nomads that like buildin shit to check out Taipei, the maker crowd is HUGE there (relatively).
Anything you buy is just more weight to move to the next place. If you enjoy technology and novelty it hurts, think about all interesting that can come out of IoT, you can't just get a new thermostat or put a smart mirror in a place you don't own and need landlord approval.
It gets worse if you are living as a hardcore nomad moving from place to place within a few months, you need to have a limited supply of clothes, shoes and other similar things.
But you CAN game in a laptop that doesn't require a backpack-sized power adapter now, and that's great. They're just not the most economical choice.
I haven't even got into the upgrade angle.
Sounds like you're pretty set on being settled down, but if you ever do choose to travel again, definitely check us out! I myself have mostly settled now, but still like to get away for 1-3 months per year. A large segment of our community has that mostly-stationary lifestyle accented by stints of medium-long travel :)
Where's the connection?
In some formal sense the mechanics are very similar to an American running a lifestyle business from a beach in Crete, but culturally it's different from the "digital nomad" lifestyle.
In the case of the American running a business from Crete, how does that work in terms of taxation and residency? People seem to get away with it in the far East, but (mostly) you can't just stay in a country indefinitely, mooch off the cheap system and pocket the difference.
That said, there it is not difficult to overstay the standard 90-day EU visa and simply pay the fine when leaving / on the next entry.
As far as taxes go, I would wager that any American in Greece is only paying taxes in the States. The Greek tax system is notoriously insane.
Don't do this. Customs officials really don't like it when you show a flagrant disregard for their laws. Also, you can create permanent problems for yourself if you ever decided to return.
But the chatter in the Greek expat forums specifically describe the purely financial nature of the Schengen zone penalty: pay-to-play. The punishment comes in the form of the fine amount, which in a range is left to the discretion of the customs agent. Evidence of "flagrant disregard" or an otherwise spoiled attitude might get the maximum fine, whereas an honest mistake (or an engaging attitude) might cost only a few hundred euros.
Canada, for example has a Working Holiday visa which lets you remain for up to two years, travel and find employment (if you wish). There are restrictions: age, nationality and there are a limited number, but it's essentially a free ticket for 24 months.
If I'd known about this when I was young enough, I would have spent year in each of a dozen countries.
Any idea how long your friend took to gain traction?
What do they do to find a community of fellow techies/dropshippers/SEO mavens/whatever in Greece?
Do they ever talk about moving back to north Europe?
I agree with you! Back in March I finished a 15 month trip around the world while working full time. I travelled to 40 different cities in 15 countries and while some places where difficult to adapt to and the conditions where I worked from were challenging, I can say that my productivity didn't diminish.
Since I came back (I live in Barcelona) I've attended retreats in the Alps (Austria for skiing + Italy for hiking just last week) plus 2 weeks in a very nice countryside house 2 hours from Barcelona where we worked together with 10 people from the office and in the afternoons we did hikes, wine tastings or went to the beach.
Well, regular working is not traveling at all on the other hand.
It might be convenient, but hackers for decades had just had 14" (or less) monochromatic monitors and they've built masterpieces on them.
If "dual 27 inch monitors" are so important to your work, then (a) I don't see how you'd be able to be a programmer in the 80s and 90s when those things either didn't exist or costed a fortune, (b) fine, don't travel.
The "very heavy" part (for the 17" laptop) doesn't matter, as you're not supposed to backpack everywhere with it. Just keep it at your hotel/rent house/bangalow in the different cities you visit and work from there. You can still visit the city and explore all the other hours.
Besides, if it's that important, then anywhere you go and stay for a month or more (and nomads can spend several months on each country or more), you could buy a $200 24" monitor -- and then just give it away to some friend you've made, charity or sell it.
Its like saying, oh you like your power steering, and automatic transmissions? Well then you couldn't drive a Model-T.
That viewpoint that progress makes you weak is a very bad way to view the world. Progress makes us all better at what we do by making us more efficient.
No, I think it's more like saying "most of those efficiencies are probably cargo cult" especially since programmers with just a 12" laptop and Vim can (and do) run circles around people with double and triple monitor setups and fancy IDEs.
So nothing especially efficiency improving that wouldn't be trumped by simply more skills.
(Not saying that you don't have skills. You might be better than Linus. Saying that multiple monitors are not the reason for that).
Yes, it's nice to have a big screen, but not really essential. As for the second screen, it gets all marginal returns from there.
FWIW, a 24" monitor in original box will fit in a checked bag-- takes up half of the medium-large hardshell luggage I have-- and yes I've traveled with an extra screen.
Consider it like traveling with a bicycle, which people do quite successfully.
Get the portable Asus MB168B+, goes in your backpack. Lugged this bad boy around 13 countries over the past 2 years. No Flux support though!!!
To me 1-2 week vacations per year though is not a large enough chunk of time off. I sometimes wonder if I'd rather forgo weekends, accumulate all of that time and then take 2-3 months off all at once.
That said, I get antsy if I'm "in the office" (physically or otherwise) for too long and, when traveling, there does come a point where I'm ready to get back to my house rather than living out of a travel backpack.
These days I find it much more practical to take a couple of 1-2 week vacations and spend some time around business trips than to take a huge chunk of time off. But circumstances will vary.
Travelled through much of SE Asia, but lived in Thailand for a couple months. India (travel) Spain (living) and so on.
Planning to work remotely laster this year and will definitely pick a spot and stay parked there for weeks.
I personally want a lifestyle business but for my lifestyle. That is wake up late, enjoy the day, maybe go for a road trip or hike, work in the evenings, work till midnight or so. Or if I feel like it, take a day off.
Go on vacations but not worry about return date. Bring the laptop and if needed, work. Otherwise just enjoy the vacation.
Also about what you said about others not being very interesting; I completely agree.
I didn't find that to be true. I miss foreign people and cultures after settling back down. If you want to find people from your own culture while on the road, stay at a hostel or take a break from roaming at any backpacker/nomad/tourist trap.
Maybe that's what I should have been more clear about. You'll end up hanging out with boring people because you miss home after a bit. Before I went traveling I would have expected that community to be a lot more interesting than they were.
16 months on the road through the backwaters of SE Asia and India as well as the expat nests is plenty of time to get the "authentic" experience and mingle with locals. rolling eyes emoji
The idea that you can afford a house and a boat and time with your kids on a single upper middle class income in, say, Missouri is called "normal" outside of SF/NYC.
The difference between running a lifestyle business and just "median American lifestyle" is owning the business (although, effectively you are living a median American lifestyle). I've always likened it to building a successful contracting business, car dealership, or chain of donut shops. Ideally letting you live upper-middle class, fairly steady (businesses rarely are long-term), and possibly something you could sell off when you retire.
A lifestyle business is the next goal. I've been doing part-time contract work for almost 5 years now in addition to a 9-5, and I'm really just dying to be my own boss and not have to commute (a whopping 10 minutes) to the office 5 days a week, as well as not have to deal with startup bureaucracy and artificial feel-goodery.
You probably don't really need the fastest Internet connection at home, cable/satellite TV, an unlimited cell phone plan, a new(er) car, to eat out more than once a month, to buy local/organic all the time, the newer technology things, or pretty much any monthly subscription services.
Go play outside and run around with your kids. Go to the library (they probably have lots of books, movies, music, and even video games to borrow for free!). Cook all your own food. Fix your own car/bike. Borrow things from friends/neighbors when you need a special tool. You can do it!
I think this is trading off too much for cost of living vs income. As I said in a sibling thread, our family is on one (software engineer) income in central Austin. We walk to most things, we own a big home and a yard, but I don't optimize for cost of living, I guess. Austin pays well enough, and we live with all the amenities on a single income.
In reply to your comment, we also have a super fast internet connection, unlimited cell phone plans, and go out to eat often. None of these things add up to even close to the difference in salary we get in Austin vs being in the middle of nowhere. I am all for reducing the time you spend working so you can be around family, but if you are working ~40 hours for a low salary and making up for it by cutting corners -- I'd much rather work my 40 in Austin and have it all.
If you're working 15-20 hours in the middle of nowhere and cutting corners, then that's another thing altogether.
Reminds me of: https://hired.com/state-of-salaries-2017
My strong feeling is that most places with a robust employment market price most single-income households out b/c the expectation is now that you at _least_ have two earners. Kids take another chunk out of your "competitiveness" because of childcare, cost-of-living, and increased demands on your time (making it harder to really "excel" at work).
But it does not quite balance out - households rarely have two good incomes, and the time costs still hurt.
This lifestyle isn't for everyone though, myself included, but definitely seen many European families move to suburbs of Houston for energy jobs and they seem to enjoy the different lifestyle (pool in backyard, heat, etc)
I live in (very) central Austin with my wife and kids on one income. I escaped the suburbs of my childhood, too, (and wouldn't recommend them to anyone) but I don't understand how a software engineer income doesn't support a family in an urban area between the coasts.
I think its a grass-is-always-greener thing. You want what you didn't have growing up.
I spent so much time and effort getting out of TX, and now I'm going right back. Ironic.
Urban Austin and a Houston suburb are barely comparable.
Yikes. That marketing campaign is so overblown. If you really found Austin weird I'm curious what your day to day is like.
> if I could find parking
Urban vs suburban. I'm willing to walk and want my kids to feel the same way. I remember suburban life well, and don't miss the superficial need for parking within 30 seconds (or 2 minutes) of your destination.
A procession of people crossing the upper level I-35 in wheelchairs... is weird.
Non-homeless and non-drunk people just sitting/laying down in the middle of the sidewalk on 6th Street, S Congress... is weird. I get it, it is too hot to walk in the summer, go inside, or to the springs.
Semi-Jokingly: Republicans in Austin... is weird.
But more than these specific things, its a lot of little oddities that didn't occur in more traditional places like Houston.
That said, I moved to NYC in 2015, so I can't claim Austin was THAT weird compared to what I saw every day for a couple of years before moving upstate.
We have two incomes but we could easily keep up our lifestyle on just either one of our incomes. We currently save about 75% of our combined incomes.
Of course this means that we have to be frugal at times, but the dividends it is paying in our three children's development is worth it.
Now combine two median incomes. You can very easily earn $80,000+ in a household, doing routine jobs without a bachelor's degree (a high school diploma is required), in thousands of typical mid-size locations in the US that are dramatically less expensive to live than the coastal cities.
Meanwhile, job openings have jumped to an all-time high. While the supply of labor is at a very low level.
Pairing two median incomes delivers an upper middle class life, and does so easily given just a few years of continued improvement after reaching the median. That enables you to buy a good house in those other parts of the country (99% of the nation that is) and it enables you to live quite well if you're at all prudent. So there's your target: figure out how to get into the top 50% among the employed, not exactly a high bar.
It doesn't even need to be a lifestyle business, nor in flyover country. I live on the Maine coast working for a large company. We even have a big office here! I'm mid 30's, wife, kid, and we have a nice balance. Yeah sometimes I work a bit more than I'd like, but 40 hours per week is normal, and for the times I work more than that, it's more than offset by my 20 minute traffic-doesnt-exist commute. I feel very fortunate to live somewhere that other people visit on vacation, but getting here isn't really that challenging.
Portland (the original!) has a small but growing startup scene if that's your thing. It also has some of the best food and beer in the country, which is a distraction I admit.
Hot Suppa was an especially delicious place to eat.
Plus, not far from some excellent (downhill and cross-country) skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing.
The winter is harsh, which is probably the only reason for our low population density. It's really not that bad once you get used to it, though, because the roads are pretty well cleared and maintained, you find things like skiiing/skating to do, and employers generally have common sense about when to tell folks to stay home.
I grew up in a much larger mid-Atlantic suburb that didn't have nearly the character or variety of things to do that we have around Portland. My wife's biggest complaint is the lack of shopping, particularly "nice" stores, but Boston isn't that far.
That's like, full time employment.
At the same time I can also see the appeal of a stable income and family, raising your kids in some nice suburbs, going to their soccer games or whatever. It was the life I had growing up and I'd like to give that to my kids someday.
Your comment seems pretty closed-minded, and also belittles the op for no reason.
OTOH, what would you do with that valuation delta that working yourself to the bone would hopefully bring? Would it adequately compensate you for missing the children's birthdays or Paris with your SO?
I never see articles that encourage: "Here's why you should dedicate your life to starting a company and try to dominate an industry." It's like these posts are fighting against a boogeyman that isn't there.
I think 99% of all small businesses are "lifestyle businesses" where the founders aren't trying to build a market dominating billion dollar company. So who are these articles target to?
Is it simply the amount of press that surrounds VC and hyperscale companies that these folks are rejecting? I don't think any VC or founder has ever claimed that the only way to be happy/make money/do good is by trying to create a massive market dominating company.
I'm honestly not sure what those authors are doing as a "main" job that they can dedicate such time to side projects, seems like some people like to conflate "bootstrapped startup" and "side project".
You miss one framework, you worry you're getting left behind. Then it gets deprecated and you realise you just saved yourself a couple of months' worth of work. You miss a few more, then pick one up and realise it's exactly the same as one you used in university but with all the buzzwords renamed. And that's when you understand that nothing of value was lost.
Also IMHO sharing a way of doing things / a philosophy / an opinion doesn't always mean being against everything else. For example I prefer riding the mountain bike vs a road bike. Doesn't mean I'm against road cycling and the people doing it.
That said, to comment on what one of the siblings said, obviously these posts are being written with the intention of bringing more attention to what we're doing, also known as "marketing". I wouldn't however call it clickbait, as it is based on genuine thoughts and ideas and we've actually been doing it for real with a 20 people team for more than 5 years already.
I think that's disingenuous. The title "Why A Lifestyle Business Beats a Startup" is clearly saying that a "lifestyle business" is better than a "startup." Further, many points in the article make it clear that you are directly comparing lifestyle to a startup and saying that a startup is inferior...
"...especially when compared to launching and building a startup."
"The reality is that in a startup you are not the boss."
"It is a misconception that the only way to make money is to launch and then grow a startup with the aim of selling it later"
There are a ton of the typical strawmen in there, and unfounded assertions around trying to build a massive company.
obviously these posts are being written with the intention of bringing more attention to what we're doing
Hey I totally get that it's content marketing, so congrats on being successful with this post - I have no beef with that at all. I am just wondering why is that the content? Bugfender isn't just for freelancers, so it's not like those are the de facto target demographics. Do you want more people to start lifestyle businesses for some reason?
True. The whole point was to compare the two. And that one comes out better than the other is from my personal point of view. But again, just because I think mountain biking is better (for myself and other like minded people) doesn't mean it's the only way and road cycling is not acceptable and needs to be banned. But I guess we understand each other :-)
> I am just wondering why is that the content? Bugfender isn't just for freelancers
This post was actually originally created for another side project of mine (O4H) but we thought it also partially applies to one of our big audiences at Bugfender which are solo developers (freelancers), so we decided to cross post it.
However in general we share a lot of our work-life philosophy on our Mobile Jazz blog https://mobilejazz.com/blog/ and despite not addressing our target audience specifically, we've managed to create a lot of awareness for our company and brand and through that indirectly generated many interesting leads and people ended up working with us because of that.
Happiness: happiness being a very abstract word that I chose on purpose. Because it means different things for different people and it also changes over time.
Right, that's it's uniquely identifying characteristic. Literally that's why people come to SV, do to that kind of business. It's self selection. If you come to the valley you are trying to build/join an insane rocket ship. I mean that's what VC and the last 30 years SV is all about.
so the small lifestyle business concept is the outsider in this world.
Ok, and? Is there some lack of knowledge that there are businesses that aren't hyperscale? I can't imagine.
Its not though. It's the rarest of companies that even tries to get on the VC train. Most software companies are tiny and servicing only a handful of local companies with things like website design, hosting and SEO.
Go to any industry conference and you will see dozens if not hundreds of niche software services companies that only to some tiny thing for that industry.
That's not software. Also, getting those funded are almost impossible.
> Go to any industry conference
Go to the startup hubs and you'll see more.
Also, ycombinator exists as an incubator specifically for companies that are trying to create a massive market dominating company.
The "boogeyman", as you put it, is at the very core of who and what ycombinator and hacker news are all about.
> If you wanted to get rich, how would you do it? I think your best bet would be to start or join a startup.
( http://www.paulgraham.com/wealth.html )
He also argues in other essays that now [2001/3/now] is a great time to start a startup -- and since doing so is such an all-in proposition, it seems reasonable to infer that he is also arguing that it's better to start a startup _than some other option_.
Really? Much (most?) stuff on HN is to do with "scaling" (ie. growing as fast as possible whether it makes sense for the business or not), rounds of venture capital, handling shares, all leading up to an "exit".
The fact that a profitable business with a dozen employees which is growing at a steady, sustainable rate is considered a "lifestyle business" at all is a symptom of this bizarre mindset.
Try to look for older articles. There is a reason so many people are replying to them, it's because they not only existed, but even used to claim that either a "lifestyle business" in IT was impossible or that nobody would want it.
Pretty much every blue collar tradesman runs a "lifestyle business" or "freelances"
There's an inherent advantage to tech work in that it can be done remotely and asynchronously. This gives you the freedom of choosing almost any lifestyle you want.
At least that's what I imagine as the difference between a "lifestyle" and small business.
People that own their own small businesses (other than an LLC for legal reasons) don't generally do this because you need to stay where your customers are but I know electricians, HVAC guys, plumbers and carpenters who will get a job working on something (e.g. HVAC for a factory) for a few months, park their trailer local to that job, line up another job before that one's up and possibly include time for a week of sightseeing and vacation in-between.
On the other hand, they guy who owns the scuba shop and uses the (hopeful) profits to be a ski bum for the winter probably does have a lifestyle business if that's his thing.
Only ever doing one in your life without the other is unenviable, and makes it hard to fully enjoy and appreciate, or even excel at, whichever one you've chosen.
If they moved their coupon code, would that change the content of their article? Or would it just set you at ease temporarily because you are jaded (rightfully so)?
Can't imagine being somewhere nice but glued to a laptop, or getting anything useful done without reliable wifi etc, or being part of a team where the boss has gone on holiday but still showing up in slack etc.
I'd hate to feel like I wasn't part of the team for not getting our kids together or not wanting to holiday or spend a day off with colleagues. I'm not impressed by instagram or medium posts from perfect looking beaches giving business advice.
Not sure when a lifestyle business went from being a business that fits around your lifestyle to making the appearance of living an idealised lifestyle everybody else's business.
This may be simply a cultural difference. In the past five years I've worked in a office, we did that about twice a year, if that.
either someone is ridiculous at managing at all of this (kudos!) or something is slipping somewhere. Even in custom-dev it can be cutthroat, especially with large-scale projects and demanding clients.
I do miss the constant travel, there is always something coming up to look forward to. When you are in one place, not constantly traveling, you have to make your own fun. Which is why I've taken up other things like riding motorcycles, brewing beer, and speaking at my local Python meetup.
All that year I was working full time as a Python Developer while traveling constantly. Every weekend was an epic adventure. It's an amazing lifestyle if you can pull it off, but its not for everyone can definitely will wear on you after a while.
When you work remotely, you can treat both your lifestyle business and your gig the same, insofar as you have the freedom to take an hour off your gig to do some calls for your lifestyle business in the middle of the day, or you can test particular technologies on your lifestyle business before you commit to it in your startup.
I find them both to be healthily married.
I still have the freedom to hang out with my kid at lunch, or work from a far away place, while at the same time achieving my career goals and attaining financial independence.
I hate the term lifestyle business and articles like this one are part of why. I have given my POV previously here:
My recollection is that Plenty of Fish was started by one guy who never took VC money, so he got to keep all the money when he sold for millions. Articles like this don't mention examples like that when justifying their biased opinion that "lifestyle business" = good and "startup" = bad. (In part because of the lack of VC money, I assume that Plenty of Fish was not a pressure cooker. Upon rereading my comment, that assumption does not seem clear.)
Ok, that's all well and good. But some of that "automation" will inevitably be delegation to the founder's employees. So the employees have to work. The founder doesn't have to work. How can the founder possibly show good leadership and build a strong team if his goal is to work as little as possible?
As a founder, you are responsible for the well being of your employees. That's why they're employees, not independent contractors. If you're working four hours a week with a team of employees, there is a high chance you're shirking some responsibility toward them.
And if you decide to be a full time boss, then you're still building more than a business. You're building a team that you are responsible for. That is, you "answer" to other people - your employees. At this point, the advantages of a lifestyle business over VC funded business ("low hours," "not beholden to anyone") start to lose their luster.
If you're interested in building a team, and a lasting enterprise, then it becomes more logical to just take some seed funding so you can safely pay your employees and ensure an early growth trajectory. Whereas if you're only interested in a totally automated business to provide you and your family a stable income, then you should avoid hiring employees because you'll just end up beholden to them.
Thus the ideas of a "fully automated lifestyle business" and a "lifestyle business with a strong team" seem at odds with each other.
So the premise seems very clear, you can earn enough money with a lifestyle business to enjoy life without having to aim for unicorn-hopeful-hockey-stick-growth.
I only read about the money, the hours, and the hobbies, but what happened to you know, building a business to address an issue and solve a problem? Help people?
Even so, the term lifestyle business sounds to me like a smaller workload sustainable living of entrepreneurial minded individuals regardless of what their employees think so you can travel to white sand beaches while the cashflow continues, but some people have fulfillment in building a business, creating a workplace, a culture where others will thrive and and enjoy life themselves.
Also, we organize two types of events. Remote offices where the focus is on working from a remote place (Thailand, Cape Town) but also retreats (Ski trip) where the focus is on team building and there's little work. It's always easier for people with families to integrate in the second.
VC backed startups seem to just give you a new set of bosses.
For some folks, a lifestyle business is better suited for them as they are looking to get more time out of their lives to do other things.
For others, a startup might be better because they have more control over whatever product/service they are providing.
This probably excludes a lot of product types that are highly competitive or time critical, but there's still a lot left to work on, especially niche products. In our case that niche are developer tools, which all came up organically as we built our own developer tools for ourselves anyway.
Not trying to demotivate you, but that's just not gonna happen. I'm a developer who works on 'consultancy' basis. I've worked in multiple organizations and all of them have bureaucracy and office politics. As a developer it might sometimes feel even worse, because you're supposed to be the technical guy and not meddle with business, but you're still impacted by all the shit that's going on.
Unless you manage to get a job at a well funded, hardly managed, early stage startup in the burn phase, it'll be like many other jobs. And even if you do get to work in a startup like that, you'll see that there are also downsides to it.
My advice; first see if you actually like programming and have at least some feeling for the analytical thinking required to be able to do it. Do this after work and during weekends. Pick any language and follow an online course start to end. Then build something you think of yourself, anything, it can be useless and stupid, but it should be yours. You'll find out whether you like it while doing it. If you don't, then don't switch jobs.
I'm thinking of relocating somewhere that isn't expensive, find a job that's cognitively not as challenging to have spare time to learn and build stuff. I need a change in my day to day right now.
Most people underestimate the desire of humans not to think. We all need to do research when we're buying something we're not familiar with, nobody wants to spend time thinking and comparing and figuring out what the best option is - save them time and you'll eventually develop a lifestyle business.
It's important to note that it takes time, perhaps up to 3 years to really get going, but once it gets going, it's like a flywheel that's hard to stop.
That doesn't make it any less feasible if you find yourself dissatisfied with your current path. Just don't fall for an illusion of greener grass on the other side of the fence.
For a personal view: I was programming in BASIC at 12 and coding HTML not long after. And while my professional journey has been... meandering (I'm whatever the opposite of a Type A personality is), after 10+ years (not contiguous) of having some variation of web development as my primary job responsibility, I'm pretty well bored and unmotivated at this point. I've made more than I do now and been less happy and I've made less and been happier, had more/less autonomy, and in a relatively wide variety of environments: large corporation, small businesses, not-for-profits, freelance, healthcare, verticals, consumer-oriented.
And frankly, if I had ideal working conditions and made double what I do now, would I happier in general? Sure. But I wouldn't necessarily be any more excited to wake up and do that work than the day before. Because the factors you cited, while not inconsequential, can vary and change due to factors entirely out of your control. And they have no causal relationship to any particular work.
In other words, if you've eliminated all bureaucracy and office politics from the equation, and you secure a generous income, it still doesn't mean you'll feel different when your head hits the pillow at night and your eyelids lift to greet the morning.
With a 12-24 month timeframe, you may want to reflect on what your core values are—what really drives and motivates you.
To give you a bit of background, I'm an immigrant in the UK (from a 3rd world country, one of these: Brazil, China, India) as a sponsored employee. This means that I've been stuck in a job I didn't want, to be to be able to live in a country I wanted to live in. In the next 6-8 months, I will get a permant resident permit allowing me freedom to work anywhere I like without restrictions on minimum salary (like I have now). This is huge because I've been in a job I don't like for 5 fucking years!
After 5 years, I kind of feel like a slave and just want to spend a year (at first) doing things I think I might be good at, while doing things I know I like doing and I want to do more of.
(If it wasn't obvious already, background is firmly rooted in white, male, American privilege. My family wasn't the Western stereotype of rich but by any reasonable measure, I was unquestionably fortunate.)
> it's super exciting to be able to create as a job. I feel like problem solving as a job sounds like a good fit because that's something I'm good at
I'm right with you on both the creating and the problem solving, both are key for me as well. As others have said, explore the various languages, platforms and such to discover which might click for you. Could be that you find operating as a generalist the best route or you may find a niche that you dive deep into. There are so many possibilities that fall under the umbrella of "developer" at this point, the sky literally isn't even the limit any longer.
Sounds like you're in a good place to make the leap soon and I wish you the best in finding an opportunity to land on!
Your idea of starting an online diary is also very interesting - I'll definitely consider doing everything in public. I'm just a bit paranoid about putting my (sometimes opinionated) thoughts out there for future employers to see. Maybe it can be a strictly advice, wins and losses.
Just a thought...
You may be able to keep a heads-down position with limited political exposure, but you'll cap out relatively quickly, and easily be beaten by colleagues with better instincts. Your mobility across employers will be limited. Developers, like all groups of people, are subject to psychological forces too.
"Politics" are what happens anytime a group of 5+ people get together and engage. Throw in things like a paycheck and the stakes shoot way up very quickly, and that's never going to change. It is better to accept this perspective and learn to prosper within it than to live in denial and try to cling to a white-collar career maintained by sheer force of intellect (e.g., the inept developer).
I think I understand your point. I haven't really had many jobs and the one I have right now at age 30, I'm allowed to go in when I want, wear literally ANYTHING I want and not questioned very much, and I get paid around £42k a year (including bonuses). Thing is that I can't stand it. I need to experience what a job that I like or I'm interested in is like.
They tended to work 6-12 month contracts followed by 3-6 months off. This works great in a good economy, when it turns sour its more difficult.
The other happy group worked in mines or oil rigs on a month on month off schedule. They got paid tax free and had 6 month long vacations a year to travel.
I think I prefer those options to working while travelling.
Certainly it doesn't happen in Europe.
Lifestyle business in this sense is a traditional business with minimal / zero external investment, no pressure from greedy VCs and people who have no lives and thus live in the office. A business where you can take a break at any time.
Why do people here equate this with people who travel around the world with a smartphone, clothes and some food?
It's a business a person starts to provide a reasonable level of income to themselves and their family, to maintain a certain lifestyle.
So this is what lifestyle business means for us: having a good time with great people.
Nothing against small consulting/design/etc. small businesses. But if they're fairly typical, at least figuratively, 9-5 gigs in the office or at customer sites with a few weeks off a year, it's hard to see them as lifestyle businesses.
A startup's main aim is growth. Most VCs won't accept an idea that doesn't have the potential to be worth a billion dollars. One amazing investment must have a 10x return to pay for the 9 shitty investments that failed.
A lifestyle business' aim isn't growth. It's aim is to provide enough money and use a small amount of the founder's time, so the founder can enjoy their life.
Most days you just want to eat well, exercise, meditate, do a good job, try'n make some money, spend time with family, and sleep well. The odd day you do feel adventurous just take off on your motorcycle or hop on a plane.
No great scenic view will make your life automatically better. The scenic view in itself is only benefit there is. That I have to agree!
In knowledge work, how can one really spend more than 40 hours producing quality output? It becomes an unhealthy compulsion to sate a hyper-stimulated existence instead of a strategy for creation. Whichever way you choose to work, focus on health and ample rest. The rest will take care of itself.