Kaushal Karkhanis has been living the location-independent lifestyle since 2007. He discusses passive incomes, world travel and how to take a leap from the corporate life and join the New Rich.
When and why did you decide to redesign your lifestyle?
Great that you ask! In fact, only after I stepped into this world did I realise that I was not alone – the location independent lifestyle community is growing rapidly and for me, it was more of serendipity while treading the ‘road less traveled’.
Coming from a middle-class Indian family, I’ve lived with my parents till I was 24. Later, I moved to Bengaluru for two years to work with Microsoft. By mid-2006, I had worked in the corporate world for more than 8 years and I was raring to do more and test my potential (incidentally “your potential, our passion” was Microsoft’s tagline then!).
Less than a month after quitting the corporation, while flirting with dozens of opportunities – be it job offers or business partnership offers, I realised I wanted to get out there and explore new horizons and not be bound by a committed job profile any more (though I was definitely grateful for the merits and the platform it offered me so far!).
As if the universe were to give me a nod of approval, I stumbled upon an interesting section of Crossword bookstore at Garuda Mall, Bengaluru – and one particular book stood out, as though it was personalised for me – Leaving Microsoft to Change the World by John Wood. It talked about Wood’s journey from being a high ranking executive at the firm to starting his remarkable NGO Room to Read, which provides libraries and schools for children in developing countries. I was hugely inspired and able to relate to him completely.
Not far from this book was The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss (more on this book in later posts). Although I didn’t pick it up then, I got the plot quickly thanks to the summary. This entire “whoa” incident was an eye opener. My journey (into location independence) began from there.
The seeds of a new lifestyle were sown, and as I packed my bags and moved back to Mumbai, I was already thinking… what next? – consider all the awesome job offers? Start a company? Travel? There were too many things on my mind and I needed clarity. This is when I remembered my bucket list which I had created online – things that were my goals and things that would give me utmost gratification. To crystallise this and work on my goals, I needed space, so I spent a week alone in Goa in early January 2007.
At the airport, my next serendipity awaited in the form of the book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki… and finally Losing My Virginity by Sir Richard Branson (autobiography).
This solo trip to Goa is where it all culminated. My personal goals + Wood’s inspiring story + Tim’s kickass formulae (Pareto’s law and the 80/20 principle) + Kiyosaki’s financial advice + Branson’s amazing lifestyle was a heady trip indeed. The new vision was clear now… Lead an organic life based on pivots I discover and like, while being location-independent.
How do you earn a location independent income?
Everything I do could be split into 3 areas –
 Creative services,
 Products and
The creative services mainly include branding and advertising, web design and marketing, content writing and photography.
Describe the roadmap of the haphazard leaps of faith that got you here.
Besides saying no to plush jobs for which people called me crazy, an interesting and key turning point in my life was a trip to South America in mid-2008. At the prodding of my Ukrainian-American friend, I planned a 40-day random trip (over 3-4 mere Google Talk chats with her) which would cover Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.
After spending about a week in Sao Paulo, something made me change the ‘plan’ and I decided to go all out, staying back for almost 6 months in Latin America, even as I skipped Bolivia and Peru for another time.
This was a very crucial decision for me, a life-altering one because right there and then I had liquidated my investment portfolio and wiped out a majority of my savings, to lead a life of my choosing. (In hindsight, this was a good market decision as the dollar went up and the stocks I sold fell later).
In the grand scheme of things, this big decision was to condition my mind into setting big goals and achieving them. It morphed the fabric of my personality in a big way.
What non work-related goals have you completed?
Dreams, goals and priorities keep changing, so I often update my bucket list. I’ve learnt a bit of salsa in Colombia and forro (a hip-swivelling form of dance) in Brazil. I’ve also partially succeeded with my fitness goals, thanks to boxing classes I took while living in Goa.
Most life-changing travel spot.
Definitely South America – it was liberating, self-inspiring and tremendous fun! The experiences I had, the things I learnt (Spanish and Portuguese, mixing up a mean caipirinha, kayaking) and the amazing people I met, is difficult to put into words easily.
Favourite holiday experiences.
I have vivid memories of Tokyo. I want to revisit it. The lush beauty of Bhutan is perhaps the closest one could ever get to paradise. It was my first experience with snow and trekking there was wholesome refreshment. I could also keep harping about South America endlessly, but if I have to choose one favourite holiday location, it’s closer home — Goa.
Advice to those taking a jump from corporate life.
(a) Exit in peace – Assuming you’re in a job you actually like, it’s always good to have back-up plans. So, don’t burn bridges…. it’s a small world!
(b) Figure out who you want to be – Freelancer / entrepreneur / personal brand / part-time employee? – you could be any of these and still be location independent (sometimes, even full-time employees manage this, international marketing/sales folks, for example)
(c) Save for a rainy day – Make sure you have enough savings (besides investments, ideally) to last you for at least 6 months if you didn’t make a single buck. I made the mistake of wiping off most of my assets for my South America trip and it took me a while to recuperate. I was well aware of how long it would take me to recreate the wealth, and let me tell you, it’s not been a cakewalk. If you need stability, ensure you’re covered. Over-estimate your spending and under-estimate your income. Then, if you outperform, celebrate.
What resources would you suggest to our readers who want to become location independent?
Today, there’s no dearth of information, guides and communities about location independent living. At the top of the list are:
(a) The book 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss and its website FourHourWorkWeek.com;
(b) The Art of Non Conformity, a blog by Chris Guillebeau on http://chrisguillebeau.com/;
(c) YourStory.in – Entrepreneur community topical to the Indian geography;
(d) MegaLiving by Robin Sharma – the book is a personal excellence guide;
(e) I Will Teach You To Be Rich – personal finance resource in simple English by Ramit Sethi. It has gone on to become a New York Times bestseller;