The 26 Character Blog

The 26 Character Blog

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What Happens When You Can Work Anywhere? You Just Might Leave California

For the first time in years, I don a hat, a scarf and a pair of gloves. It’s April in Kansas City, Missouri and it’s 9 degrees outside. Back home in California, it’s sunny and 72 degrees. But yesterday there was a 5.3 magnitude earthquake off the coast of California, so that’s not a place without risks.

Today my husband has a job interview with the University of Central Missouri. We’ve rented a
townhome in Sedalia, Missouri (where my husband’s family lives) and we’re moving here after our daughter graduates from preschool in June.

As long as that townhome has an internet connection, I’ll be able to continue doing my job as a
freelance writer. And I’ll be able to charge my clients less if needed, because our cost of living will be so much less than it has been in California.

The way we work is changing. More people are working remotely than ever before. And that’s good news for business owners, who will be able to acquire outstanding, diverse talent for potentially cheaper rates.

I have lived in California my entire life. I’ve never shoveled snow or scrapped ice off of my windshield. But some things are more important than awesome weather. In California, I have to pay about $1.00 more per gallon for gas, and I have to sit in traffic if I want to go anywhere.

We’ve wanted to live close to my husband’s family for a long time, and now seems like a good time for a move. Even though my husband and I bought our house in the suburbs of California with the intention of sending our daughter to public school when she turned 5, I’ve been looking around at the kids in restaurants in California, staring at screens while their parents eat and play with their phones. I’ve been thinking that getting out of California could be a good thing. My mom and brother plan to remain in California, and I will miss them terribly, but my mother, a Los Angeles native herself, told me, “If I was just graduating from college, there’s no way I’d choose to live in California. It’s crazy here.”

Tonight I will sit around a dinner table with my husband’s mom, my sister- and brother-in-law and their children. We’ll talk about my husband’s interview and our plans for our move. This is just one of many family dinners I’ll have to look forward to after we move here. They say home is where the heart is, and isn’t it amazing that we can now live and work pretty much anywhere in the world?

Many years ago, I read Dan Pink’s book, “Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself
[http://www.danpink.com/books/free-agent- nation/] and it inspired me to become part of the growing gig economy, which is now estimated to be about 34% of the workforce and expected to be 43% by the year 2020, according to Intuit CEO Brad Smith. After being laid off by the investment company I worked for (thanks to the Great Recession), I’ve been proud to call myself a freelancer since 2011. Several of my freelance gigs have involved working a normal 8-hour shift at a Los-Angeles- based investment company, so I haven’t necessarily felt like a true freelancer, and I’ve only officially worked out of a home office for a few months at a time. Now that we’re moving to Missouri, that is likely going to change. I’m going to have to get used to not seeing coworkers (I’ll be seeing my daughter and my extended family every day instead).

It will be a mini-retirement of sorts. I think of it as grabbing happiness. For more on mini-retirements, I recommend Tim Ferriss’ book, “The 4-Hour Work Week.” [https://fourhourworkweek.com/] Ideally, we should be spending our time doing things that make us happy. Yet, we still need an income in order to pay the bills. Why not live in a place that gives you less stress, a shorter commute or any number of the other benefits you might think of when considering a move?

In Dan Pink’s latest book, “When,” he talks about the U-shaped dip in happiness levels that occurs in middle age (people tend to say that they are happier in in their 20s and in their 60s, and less happy in their 40s and 50s). Yet, oftentimes due to family and mortgage obligations, we feel compelled to stay at jobs that don’t make us happy and may not be the best fit for our skillsets. In light of the growth of the gig economy, there may be more flexibility in our career choices than has ever been possible.

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You’ll have to assess for yourself if you’d be happier as a member of Free Agent Nation or as an

employee of a brick-and- mortar company. There are pros and cons to both. The pros of Free Agent Nation include flexible hours, no commute and the ability to choose your own clients/work. The cons are that the income stream can be somewhat inconsistent and there aren’t any company benefits.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be a member of the gig economy, while being married to someone who worked at job that provided his family with benefits. But my husband didn’t want to stay at his brick-and-mortar job forever, and we wanted to try something new for our family. Our daughter still enjoys being with her parents. We don’t know for how many more years that is going to be the case. We don’t know what life has in store for us, and for us, it just makes sense to move to Missouri. Sure, I’ll miss my family, the California weather and In-N- Out burger, but, come June, we’re officially moving to the Heartland. And I, and many other members of the gig economy, are open for business. Come work with us!

Lisa

Based in Los Angeles, Lisa is a writer, editor and consultant focused primarily on the investment management industry. She has nearly two decades of experience in financial services. Her investment management clients include Capital Group, Western Asset Management, Analytic Investors, Harris Financial Advisors, Beacon Pointe Advisors, Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors and AUM Partners. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Claremont McKenna College with a B.A. in Economics and Literature. She has written for Claremont McKenna’s alumni magazine and hosted workshops on business writing. Lisa began her career working in advertising agencies, specifically in account planning and consumer research. Lisa believes that the more you understand your audience, the better your writing will be.

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