Quitting my job in London should have felt like a big deal. For me, the fact that it didn’t made me sure that it was the right decision.
There was nothing wrong with my job; on paper, it had everything I wanted. The other people on my team were amazing, and I worked with a chef, so I got to eat amazing food every day—a huge plus! The office was cool and comfortable, the dress code was casual and we had relaxed summer hours so I could leave early on a Friday.
But I wasn’t happy.
Try as I might to convince myself that I was enjoying it, after about 18 months, I upped and left, deciding instead to go travelling around my favourite country with my partner.
People have asked me since then if I’d been thinking about leaving for a long time, and the answer, weirdly, is both yes and no. I had always wanted to spend some time either travelling or living in Italy, so in that respect, the answer is a resounding yes.
But when I look back more closely at the situation, it was quite a snap decision.
My partner and I had no money saved up, as the rent for our flat in London was taking up most of our paycheques. He doesn’t speak any Italian, but there was no doubt in our minds that that was where we wanted to go.
About two weeks after first chatting about it, we both handed in our notice at work and started trying to figure out the logistics.
How, when, and where would we live?
A couple of months later, we were there.
We spent a few days relaxing in Florence—we deserved a treat!—and then went off to start our adventure.
We started by volunteering on farms and farm-stays in exchange for food and a place to sleep.
This was—I really want to stress this—totally out of my comfort zone. I had never worked outdoors before (not even any gardening); and I actually have a chronic illness that makes it difficult for me to know when I’ll have enough energy to do things.
But it wasn’t just the work part that was making me nervous.
Moving into a house full of strangers is, I’m sure you’ll agree, quite an intimidating thing to do. Throw in a language barrier, and it’s another step up. Luckily, all the people and families we stayed with were amazing. Kind, welcoming, patient; and happy to give me the time and space I need to do my freelance work on the side.
I’m working as a freelance copy editor and proofreader, and for me, working remotely has been exactly what I’d hoped it would be.
I have the freedom to work from anywhere, which has allowed me to travel around Italy and work to a schedule that suits me. The work is my own, and I love being completely responsible for myself. There’s nobody to tell me when to get started, when to have a day off, when to stay up late finishing a project.
It’s all down to me.
We have spent the last few months renting short-term apartments instead of working on farms.
I’m currently living in Rome. I still work roughly five days a week; sometimes more, sometimes less. But I have the freedom to take “weekends” whenever the weather looks nice. I work the hours I like and spend my free time exploring the Eternal City.
I don’t want to paint the picture that freelancing is all sunflowers and daisies. Some days, it’s hard to find the motivation to get started on a new project. At times, if I haven’t found enough work, money can be tight. If my illness flares up, I don’t have sick pay, so I won’t make any money at all.
It can be scary.
But overall, the benefits of so much freedom totally outweigh the negatives for me.
I love being able to travel, to explore, to meet new people and experience new cultures while I work. Freelancing pushes me to be better than I was yesterday, and to live in the moment.
A life like this isn’t for everyone, but it definitely works for me.