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Off topic: Living the dream, freelancing
Thread poster: Harvey Beasley
Harvey Beasley
Local time: 13:53
Japanese to English
Mar 13, 2007

Hello everyone!

Living the dream of a freelance translator...

No office to go to, a job that you can complete from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection...

Free to live anywhere in the world...

As an established freelance translator, once could just up and move to Jamaica without missing a beat!

Or so the legend goes...

I assume that this isn't as easy as it sounds, but are there any translators out there who are actually living this dream in one way or another?

I would love to some day use translation to allow me to up and move to New Zealand or some other country of choice to relax... while still paying the bills.

What does everyone think of this luxury translator myth?


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
moving etc. Mar 14, 2007

Hello, Harvey:

I can't comment on moving outside of one's native country, but I have made 2 major moves. I left a desk job in California, and moved to Tucson, where I started freelancing full time. It turned out to be just the right choice.

Then last year, it suddenly hit me: Hey, I don't need to live in the city!! So, I found an inexpensive house in a relatively rural (although suburbanizing) area of SE Arizona (that has high-speed Internet access, of course), and now I co-exist with free-range cattle and rattle snakes.

But, be forewarned: sometimes it's lonely without the "office crowd," and a lot of the free time I envisioned having ("I'll grow my own food!" -- yeah, sure!!) never materialized. Nevertheless, I feel fulfilled, and I wouldn't go back to where I used to be.

I say: DREAM BIG, HARVEY!

Patricia

PS Just one other thing: If you do decide to move to your "translator's dream place" be prepared for some flak from friends and relatives. Most people don't understand what I do, can't figure out how I stay alive, and think I'm crazy because I don't live near a shopping mall. It has taken a lot for me to quietly but doggedly do what is right for me in the face of opposition from people I care about ...

[Edited at 2007-03-14 03:27]


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Satu Ilva  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 07:53
English to Finnish
+ ...
If you stay for a while, then ok... Mar 14, 2007

I guess I am sort of doing that, as I've been moving around with my dive instructor fiance. We now live in Thailand. However, as with everything, there are realities to be thought of - I would say that having a constant internet connection is pretty much a requirement and this may not be as easy as you think. I don't think that connecting here and there at internet cafes will do the trick. You need to be available, be able to respond quickly, sometimes there are large downloads/uploads involved, and the connection you use should be secure and fast. When we lived in a remote part of Indonesia, I had no chance of working due to having no access. While we travelled in Australia and NZ, I didn't work because we were constantly on the move and I had no permanent internet access. Here in Thailand I couldn't really start until we had adsl installed. Getting adsl here can be easy or hard, depending on who you rent from; if the landlord gets it or guarantees it, no problem, but if you have to do it yourself, it's a lot more hassle. I imagine similar issues will be present in any country you are not a resident of.

I don't think working as a freelancer is easy if you are constantly on the move. If you take some time and set up in one place at least for a while, then maybe. Also, where do you set up your business? Mine is still officially in Finland, which means I pay taxes and social to Finland even though I'm not living there. If we stay longer in Thailand, it'll be worthwhile to try and set up a business here, as the costs would be lower, but until we decide to stay, I have to make do with the Finnish business.

Getting established is another thing... it takes a while. Don't expect to pay the bills with your freelancing straight away unless you have clients already lined up.

Having said all that, I am actually very happy to be doing what I do. I take this seriously though and if we do move, I will do my best to set up quickly in the new place so as to offer uninterrupted services. But I can't go back to living in hotels and moving every other day if I want to keep this business going.

Hope that gave you some insight...
Satu


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 23:53
English to Russian
+ ...
Absolutely! Mar 14, 2007

Let me share a not so resort-oriented but somewhat relevant personal experience. Before I brought my elderly mother to the States from Russia last year I had to live between 2 countries for 3 years jumping back and forth every 2-3 months as she couldn't handle it on her own any more. All my US clients stayed with me, I set a full office in Russia. The whole ordeal was quite a burden on my finances, it did drag me back (the tickets alone!) but I have survived and mom is here! No way this could have been done with any office job, I would have been broke a long time ago or... Any 'ors' would be too dreadful even to think about.

It took me 10 years to build my clientelle and as long as they are there, I can be anywhere. All beaches of the world are yours to enjoy as long as you set your priorities straight and don't lose any sleep over a Bently missing in your garage:-). We don't really need all that much, we just have to learn how to enjoy life and what is really important.

There are many ways for a freelancer to use that freedom, including a temporary escape. Speaking of tropical islands...

One much younger friend of mine, a freelancer with 3 languages, is seriously considering accepting a pretty low-paid front desk position at a quiet but rather high-end beach resort in one banana republic to work every other day and keep translating. For now she plans to do it for 1 year just to relax from some tough times. I think it's a great idea. She does not have to report to her clients about her "low" job - her education and credentials will remain true and valid, the rest is none of their business. We both know that she can do without that job but she just does not want to work too hard at the computer for a while and go through a full moving deal. As she says, "this stupid job will guarantee a room, a cotton skirt, a T-shirt, a swimming suit and a sandwich, and that's all I'll be needing for a while." Just like me, she does not give a damn about any fancy careers or snobbish attitudes. She loves life! If things will work out, she could save at least 1K a month for a fresh start in a big city should she decide to go back to her current lifestyle. Or maybe she'll get married, or decide to become a translating beach girl:-) forever. She is her own boss. If things won't work out (I can't imagine why unless she gets nostalgic right away or finds herself totally unfit for the job or the job unfit for her) - at worst she'll come back sooner to do what she has been doing very successfully for 8 years, without suffering any truly tragic or nonrepairable losses. Freedom all around, and she'll get to live on a beach for at least a month or 2 anyway:-). Yes, her income in absolute figures will be reduced but the freedom of freelancing enables her to find the way to put the health of her mind and body ahead of everything else without going bankrupt, eating up her savings or, most importantly, losing her clients. She does not plan to be a front desk queen for the rest of her life:-). Her expenses will be much lower too - no rent, a car is not a must. Her overall risks are no higher than usual - life can play a joke on anyone who never even risked leaving his beaten couch... Let's risk!

FYI - I'm not so sure I would want to move to Jamaica (been there:-)).

PS - in many cases it's not the money but all kinds of obligations that tie us to our current places. Freelancers are no different here.

Chase your dream!
Irene


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:53
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Go for the (rational) dream! Mar 14, 2007

Harvey Beasley wrote:

Hello everyone!

Living the dream of a freelance translator...

No office to go to, a job that you can complete from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection...

Free to live anywhere in the world...

As an established freelance translator, once could just up and move to Jamaica without missing a beat!

Or so the legend goes...

I assume that this isn't as easy as it sounds, but are there any translators out there who are actually living this dream in one way or another?

I would love to some day use translation to allow me to up and move to New Zealand or some other country of choice to relax... while still paying the bills.

What does everyone think of this luxury translator myth?


Go for the dream, Harvey, but, as the others have rightly said, weigh it up rationally first.
Yes, a reliable internet connection is essential for freelancers today, and of course a reliable electricity supply, so "just anywhere in the world" isn't absolutely valid. And yes, a degree of regular personal availability and reliability is essential too. Clients need to know they can get in touch with you quickly. If you're constantly on the move they are likely to find someone else in this increasingly competitive field of "endeavour".
But yes again, you can do it. I did it - well I don't live on a tropical island, but I do live in the place I love best in the world - beautiful West Cornwall, by the foaming Atlantic - the self-styled "Cornish Riviera", about as far from London as you can get in England. My office window overlooks Mounts Bay and a charming sub-tropical garden where, as I write, the sun is sparkling on magnolia trees in full bloom. (It rains a lot, though, to be honest).
It wasn't easy to get back here, but I was determined to leave the horrid city life and much-hyped office bustle - I've done all that, having lived and worked in New York and London for years, and I don't miss it one bit.
Unemployment is high in Cornwall and pay is low, but being a freelancer means I can earn a good living which I couldn't do here otherwise.
So, it was a success for me.
Go for it!
All the best,
Jenny.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:53
Flemish to English
+ ...
Living the dream, freelancing, yes, but.... Mar 14, 2007

Freelancer, yes, because your income is not determined by others. But freelance translator (the jobof a loner) for the rest of my life? No, thank you.
It is difficult to get into freelance conference interpreting, but I prefer the stress of the moment. When the day is done, the money is earned. You meet interesting people, usually highly skilled professionals. No pennypinching or nagging about word-choice.
Or freelance programming on the basis of a project-based contract which lasts 3 years at 500 euro per day combined with freelance programming, the latter not against a tight deadline. Payment on time.


[Edited at 2007-03-14 08:28]


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Maaike van Vlijmen  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:53
Member (2009)
Italian to Dutch
+ ...
Hawaii... Mar 14, 2007

Hi Harvey!
I am living that dream I am Dutch and more than three years ago I met my boyfriend, who is Portuguese and was doing his PhD in astrophysics in my country. After he finished, he got a job in Portugal, so we moved there. We lived there 1.5 years and I loved it (the people are very nice!). Then he got offered a job in Hawaii... so we went. It is not as fantastic as everybody thinks, but it is a great experience. Since we still didn't get married, I cannot stay longer than 90 days. Two months ago I came back to Holland to finally finish my studies and to be with my friends and family for a while. It is difficult being apart, and I cannot wait to go back on May 23rd. Every three months I will go back to Holland for a few weeks, until we will move again (or decide to get married). Our next stop will probably be the UK or Sweden (I would loooove to go to Sweden!!).
I often think of how lucky I am, since my job allows me to work anywhere. It is a very fortunate coincidence. I feel free and when I will finally finish my studies (such a burden) I will feel it even more.
The downside? My cat, whom I love very much, didn't come with us to Hawaii. Tough decision!! He lives with my mother-in-law in Portugal for now, until we can take him back. I cannot wait, I miss him so much. Also not having a fixed place with our own furniture makes me sad sometimes. All my stuff is in boxes, in Portugal and Holland. One suitcase in Hawaii... I miss my books
Patricia wrote: most people don't understand what I do - I can relate to that. Even my own parents don't understand my life and work. People are so used to the regular office desk job, that it's hard for them to imagine there are other possibilities. My life is different...I like it


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Monica Diaz Trias  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:53
English to Spanish
+ ...
It's never too late to change one's life and makes dreams come true!!! Mar 14, 2007

Hi everyone!

This is the first time I write here and I’m doing it because I want to share my very own dream with you.

I am an English to Catalan and Spanish translator. I got my degree many years ago. For many years I worked as in-house translator and assistant in several companies. I was single, had to support myself and well, to be honest, once you get a regular payroll you get used to it, so I continued like this for… oh, about ten years! (yeah, hard to believe, eh?).

One day in 2005 I unexpectedly had the opportunity to move to NYC for six months and I found myself giving up my job and starting a new life! Living in NYC was a wonderful, unforgettable experience. When I came back to Barcelona (no possibility to stay in NYC) I got another regular job (still had to pay my bills!) but very soon met my now fiancée, a terrific man who believes in me more than I do myself and who supported my growing idea of establishing myself as a freelance translator, an idea that had been chasing me ever since I came back from the States.

So, I took the plunge and in January 2007 I gave up my job and now I’m establishing the bases for my new job as a frelance translator.

Now, instead of travelling to and from Barcelona every day (investing three hours of my time each day, plus all the headaches of traffic jams and a very annoying boss) I live with my partner 50 km. far from the city in a lovely house with a garden, a wonderful dog, great views…

... and the will of working hard to earn my living with the profession I most love in the world.

So, I did chase my dream and know that only great things are ahead for me.

In my case I know that I wouldn’t have done it without the incredible support of my partner who apart from believing in me is more than willing to assume a drecrease in our income (we must be realistinc, here, and money is somehow important, in he end!) while I get established and start working.

For this and many other reasons man, do I ever love him!!

Conclusions: chase your dreams, everyone! They're waiting for you!!

Mònica.


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Stefanie Sendelbach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:53
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Another forum thread Mar 14, 2007

Hi Harvey,

Here is another forum thread that you might find interesting. It talks about house swapping: http://www.proz.com/topic/65582.

Go for your dream! I am sure you'll be able to fulfill it.

All the best,
Stefanie


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