Where do you live, what do you do?

This question isn't always straightforward to answer (though part of it is for me)

A generation ago, things were different. You would probably say, "I am a civil servant in London," or "I am a nurse in Milan," or whatever and wherever you lived and went to work. Everyone knew what that meant when they heard the answer, and unless you had something in common or wanted to be specially polite or interested, that was generally it, a closed question and answer.

But today, a simple query like this can be a conversation starter, or a conversation stopper. (In a good way. Not the where are you from, you don't look properly British cringeworthy way of a certain elderly racist we won't mention... 🤦🏻‍♀️)

What's great about this conversation now is the way people answer it tells you so much about them and the choices they make, about who they are, and the role work plays in their lives. How do you answer this question?

In times when what do you do always meant what do you work as, it was also expected that you would show some apology and self deprecation if you were not working. If you were 'just' a housewife or 'still' a student. Life transitions - graduation, retirement, etc - were hard-edged permanent changes of state, which dictated your social strata and lifestyle unequivocally, whether you liked it or not.

Nowadays our roles are often more blended and complex, and often convey more about us than our paid work if we so choose. In Spain we ask ¿a qué te dedicas? which suggests a much more self-defined answer - you can be dedicated to your work, but also to raising your grandchildren, or tending your garden, or creating great art...

And of course the 'where' might be impermanent, and it may or may not relate to what is being done.

The freedom of choice we get to make about this has opened so many doors, and not least to my podcast guest this week, John Lee, who has enjoyed a truly nomadic lifestyle with his young family, and visited more than 60 countries.

I wanted to speak to John because he's been working on one of the BIG problems facing those who don't like to live and work in one place all the time, and that is the vexing question of tax residency.

Estonian e-residency solves the problem for your business - but what about personally? And what about businesses who want to hire contractors and freelancers, who are seeking a compliant way to do that?

John's new startup 'Work From Anywhere' has the answer, but as he points out in our conversation:

"Don't live your life by tax. Figure out yourself what you want out of your life, what's important to you, what's important to you, and where you want to travel to."

Because between John's new tools, Estonian e-Residency, and the explosion in remote work and digital nomad visas, there will be some way to make it happen, and make the choice you want to, about where to live and work and enjoy your life. You can move around, or stay in one place, as you choose.

More than 12 years ago, we chose Spain.

We wanted a different lifestyle for ourselves and for our (then) young family, and I am glad we succeeded, in offering them a childhood in a small Mediterranean town, playing on the beach and enjoying an outdoor-oriented family-friendly lifestyle.

We arrived in the middle of the last financial crisis, and muddled our way through the cascading exchange rates and what passed for broadband in Spain in 2009, while seeing the devastation in both the local and immigrant communities. So many small businesses going to the wall, jobs lost, and many Spanish dreams over - at that time, being able to live and work remotely as we did was such a rare privilege, and we were just surviving ourselves and could do little to help other people.

Things are so different now though, and that's why I am proud to have launched a community educational initiative for anyone interested in remote work here (whether employed or self-employed):

Remote Work Spain is brand new, and I will be sharing practical information about remote work opportunities and tactics, which I hope will be helpful to audiences beyond just Spain, as we shift into a truly global marketplace. We have a great Facebook group too.

I will still be writing this newsletter fortnightly, to coincide with the podcast release, so please - stick around! And do tell your friends 😊 as the saying goes!

And alternate Fridays (starting next week) I will be publishing a brand-new free email to Remote Work Spain subscribers, including job opportunities for remote workers - so please do sign up for that if you are seeking more work:

I hope that wherever you are, and whatever you do from there, you are going to have a great weekend, and enjoy this transition into the season of advent, or post thanksgiving, or just being cold and looking forward to the days getting longer again at the end of this month!

with very best wishes

Maya Middlemiss