Tom Kerr writing on online income

These days, I work from home…or from wherever I happen to be. I don’t owe anyone a cent and make enough money freelancing to support my simple, debt-free lifestyle. I live in a rustic home in the woods of western North Carolina next to a magnificent river and within commuting distance of a small city, in case I need anything urban life has to offer.

Within the past few hours, my visitors included a rafter of wild turkeys and a stately whitetail deer. From my porch I can usually spot a gray heron and a family of wood ducks…and Canadian geese frequently fly overhead, as do watchful and graceful hawks.

Winters are cold here, but I heat with wood and stay nice and toasty even when there’s a power outage in the area. I often cook in my fireplace and have a supply of fresh water from the well. There is sufficient firewood in the shed to weather three hard winters and, in a few weeks, there will be enough vegetables in the garden to prepare a feast for a dozen friends.

But I haven’t always lived this way.

Twenty years ago, I lived in the mega-city of Houston, Texas in a cookie-cutter suburb. I sat in traffic for hours every day while driving back and forth to my corporate sales job inside a fluorescent-lit, glass-box high rise.

I began to question my purpose in life and my sense of self.

I quit my job, gave away or sold most of my belongings, moved to a little, remote cabin in the mountains of Appalachia, and embarked—cold-turkey—on a lifestyle that I wasn’t sure I could endure.

I learned to grow cold-weather vegetables and to cut, split, and properly stack firewood. Soon I knew how to sharpen my hand tools with a file. I baked apple cobbler in a Dutch oven, over a fire pit, and used the ashes as nutrients to grow bigger potatoes.

Over a period of two years, living almost like a hermit, I reinvented myself in a more natural and sustainably harmonious way. The chronic health problems and hacking cough from the city disappeared and never returned. Along the way, I discovered the incalculable and incomparable value of a more independent lifestyle. Eventually, I moved to a small city about 100 miles away, to be closer to friends, but I took a lot of valuable lessons with me.

Then the journal-keeping I had begun while living as a hermit evolved into freelance writing—and that developed into a new career covering music, art, and entertainment events for newspapers and magazines.

When it occurred to me that freelance writing was a portable career, I invested in a laptop computer and airfare and began to travel. I could submit my assignments to editors from anywhere and support myself financially without the legal requirement of applying for a work permit or special visa.

Living more independently affords me luxuries that I can’t buy in the marketplace. Pursuing that kind of lifestyle also guides me into experiences that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Please don’t get me wrong. Life isn’t easy. But in my experience, a more independent and unfettered life can definitely be easier—and much more pleasant, exciting, and fulfilling.

Image: ©iStock.com/a_crotty

Editor’s note: Find out more about how Tom, and others like him, took the first steps to a better life. Independence Monthly is packed with ideas and information for anyone who has had enough of long hours, heavy debt, and demanding bosses. They’ve joined the “uber” economy. Here’s how you can, too.

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