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How do you handle working with clients remotely?


by @ld | 6yr  | 16 comments

Hello, everyone!

We are confused at how living in another part of the world from your clients will work. We are from the USA, do software/dev stuff, and having almost daily client calls (or with whom youโ€™re contracting) at like 10pm if we were, say, in Italy doesnโ€™t seem like a very ideal lifestyle. But sourcing clients or contracting from another part of the world will most likely pay less.

If your career is client or contracting based - how do you handle this? Do you just handle your calls at midnight? Pay your high home taxes while making less with a foreign income (as we assume would happen to us)? Avoid calls?

Despite all the blogs I read about traveling and how to make it work, it seems this topic is hard to find solid, applicable responses, or answers seem to point to making travel itself your career focus. Start a blog, do our own independent work, diversify our income, etc are all kind of unnecessary when we make good money as is, we just canโ€™t see how to make that work abroad with a different time zone.

We want to remain focused on our careers and slowly travel, but doing this in a smart way seems illusive!

i appreciate your input!

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@littleshiva | 6yr

Iโ€™m a graphic designer with US clients. Iโ€™ve been working from Europe since 2007. The clients whoโ€™ve stayed with me after I moved overseas know me, know Iโ€™m extremely responsive on e-mail and can live without phone calls, skype sessions and anything that requires my virtual presence at the same time as them. I discourage that anyway. When itโ€™s really necessary I make arrangements for it to happen: usually I ask if they can do an early morning call: 9am EST is 3pm in the places where I work in Europe, so we can usually make that work. If I ever pick up any new clients, I make sure to give them some facetime (via skype or whatever) in the beginning so theyโ€™re comfortable dealing with me, then we switch to slack or e-mail, as they prefer.

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@lightmotif | 6yr

Itโ€™s worth remembering that legally speaking, your clients canโ€™t tell you exactly where and when to do your work (if youโ€™re 1099 or a corp). Itโ€™s true that youโ€™ll want to accommodate calls and meetings, but I think if you offer reasonable options, that shouldnโ€™t be a big deal.

Re: the other issue (money) - earnings and taxes. Iโ€™m self-employed and will take the FEIE this year. I also plan to claim Iโ€™m โ€œitinerantโ€ (no tax home, even though my business is registered in the U.S.) because Iโ€™ve been moving around a lot. I will owe SE tax. Regarding rates, I do favor US clients only because of this issue โ€“ Iโ€™m just now considering working with a European client, and donโ€™t know how that will go rate-wise.

My much bigger issue is that the gigs Iโ€™m seeing advertised for my field of self-employment for 15 years, UX, want to role 3 huge jobs into one (and only ask for a couple years of experience, usually). Iโ€™m not qualified for that and donโ€™t think itโ€™s the best way to work. It does make me wonder if the people considering remote resources are just very cheap with labor and trying to squeeze a lot out of one person, a recent grad. Itโ€™s discouraging.

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@mule5 | 6yr

[quote=โ€œsuuzin, post:13, topic:4270โ€]
Itโ€™s worth remembering that legally speaking, your clients canโ€™t tell you exactly where and when to do your work (if youโ€™re 1099 or a corp).[/quote]
I totally agree. Most of my clients did not know I wasnโ€™t at home. It wasnโ€™t any of their business, and with cell service, skype, vonage, email and the internet in general, I performed my job just like anywhere else. Truly nomadic. Theyโ€™d call my US phone number and it would ring where ever I was. No difference. I remember coding on my laptop via a cell phone tether in Italy as my wife drove 120+ kph on the autostrada del sole on our way back North from Sicily. No hiccups, no issues. Ok, one hiccup, a speed camera in Switzerland sent us a bill almost 6 months to the day after returning home. :frowning: We had 6 days to pay it left on the demand (which was 6 months to pay), before it would have been prosecuted and cost much more.

[quote=โ€œsuuzin, post:13, topic:4270โ€]Re: (money) - earnings and taxes. Iโ€™m self-employed and will take the FEIE this year. I also plan to claim Iโ€™m โ€œitinerantโ€ (no tax home, even though my business is registered in the U.S.) because Iโ€™ve been moving around a lot. I will owe SE tax. [/quote] Iโ€™d be interested in your experience. The SE tax is the only item we could not mitigate, even without using the FEIE.

When speaking with some friends and random co-working people I have met during the 5 month nomadic test run, I have found quality/senior coding rates to be higher than I am charging in the US. At least that was when the exchange rate was around 1.35 - 1.40 USD to purchase a Euro. I was told hourly rates were above 150 euro/hr, of course this is all second hand, I didnโ€™t work for any Europeans during my trip so I canโ€™t confirm. My existing clients keep me fully engaged.

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@wanderingdev | 6yr

Iโ€™ve been working for a company but Iโ€™m going to have to figure out the freelancer thing at some point. Iโ€™m not looking forward to it. Keep in mind that if you use FEIE it might impact your retirement savings options. I was told I couldnโ€™t do a non-employer sponsored retirement account because my income was effectively 0 so I didnโ€™t qualify. Just something to keep in mind while youโ€™re planning.

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@mule5 | 6yr

You should still be able to place money in an IRA (non-employer sponsored) even if you have 0 taxable income, but there isnโ€™t an immediate tax benefit to do so for a traditional, since your deduction is against zero tax due (you wonโ€™t get a credit), you will however benefit from tax free growth in an ROTH though, if it makes sense to lock up 5.5k for that benefit.

Source: https://www.fidelity.com/retirement-ira/contribution-limits-deadlines

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@wanderingdev | 6yr

No because eligibility is based against your AGI which is 0 after the FEIE. You can only contribute as much as your AGI is, up to the max. If your AGI is 0, your contribution can only be 0. But, you can take it out via an employer plan because itโ€™s removed pre-tax.

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@mule5 | 6yr

I am a developer too. I tried a 5 month work abroad test last year, staying almost a month in each Iceland, Germany, Spain, Italy and France, and visiting other countries during the trip.

I enjoyed the time zone difference while in Europe for the 5 months last year. In fact, I was able to radically increase my productivity and billings. The time shift worked out great for my dev work, allowing me to really get tons of work done before clients on the east coast came online or were even awake :smile: . It was difficult when US west coast clients wanted some off hours work done, but itโ€™s easy to schedule and a tiny adjustment. I loved having my free time being early morning/day with my 3 kids, exploring, traveling, or even just going to the grocery store or public markets, or doing the necessary errands, like banking, then working afternoon to midnight. Most of that time my kids are sleeping anyhow, so I feel like I am missing out less and I can be more involved. I am a night person anyhow so it works out better for me than when I am on the west coast, usually 3 months out of the year. I hate being up and available for my clients 9am ET when itโ€™s 6am PT, and dread the 8am ET meetings/conference calls. I am trying to figure out how I can get my family to Hawaii for a number of months to test things out. I hadnโ€™t been back there for more than 20 years and Iโ€™d like to share that experience with them.
Most of my clients are in the US on the east coast, a few on the west coast and middle US, and one in Japan. Most communication is over email, then skype, then phone. Use Vonage, project Fi or similar to bring your phone number where ever you go. My business is all about providing excellent customer service, and I always answer my clients calls, even at 3am, regardless of time zone.
As for taxes - I have not found a good solution. I am hesitant to setup a foreign corporation, that would employ myself and wife. Currently we are both self employed. So that means we are stuck paying the SE Tax. From my understanding, the FEIE would only apply if we were employed by a corporation, not self employed. As it stands now, with deductions, i401k and retirement savings, we are only hit with a 12% overall tax. Iโ€™d love to see this reduced, but having found a practical way to do it yet, plus we havenโ€™t been out of the us for the 330 days to qualify in any given tax year.
It would be great to find some other like minded families that wanted to setup a collection of pied-ร -terre in various countries to inhabit in a round robin fashion to perpetually travel and explore.

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@wanderingdev | 6yr

You can still apply the FEIE if youโ€™re self employed though youโ€™ll have to cover more taxes than someone who works for a company. But if you donโ€™t meet the qualifications thatโ€™s an issue. Keep in mind though that qualification isnโ€™t per tax/calendar year. Itโ€™s a rolling calendar so itโ€™s 330/365 day period, no matter when it starts. And, it can be prorated for the year you initially left.

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@mule5 | 6yr

Agreed. Yes you can apply the FEIE to reduce income tax - but the SE tax is calculated on the net income, including income excluded by FEIE. Our taxable income is very low, but we canโ€™t mitigate the SE Tax without creating an offshore corporation. I donโ€™t know what those annual costs would entail, and the hassles to get my clients to pay that entity off shore rather than my checking account. There are other trade offs as well, if we are being paid by our offshore corporation, weโ€™d need to develop other savings vehicles, while now we are maximizing as much as allowed in i401k + IRAs (Qualified retirement contributions) to reduce income tax load.

Source: http://www.efile.com/foreign-earned-income-and-income-exclusion/

Do I Owe U.S. Self-Employment Taxes For My Business Overseas?

In general, if you are abroad and you are a self-employed U.S. citizen or resident alien, you are subject to the self-employment tax. This is a Social Security and Medicare tax on net earnings from self-employment of $400 or more per Tax Year.

Your net self-employment income is used to figure your net earnings from self-employment. Net self-employment income usually includes all business income minus all business deductions allowed for income tax purposes, while net earnings from self-employment is a portion of net self-employment income.

This amount is figured on Schedule SE, Self-Employment Tax, The actual self-employment tax is figured on net earnings from self-employment. You must take all of your self-employment income into account when figuring your net earnings from self-employment, including income thatโ€™s exempt from income tax because of the foreign earned income exclusion.

I am interested in hearing from other freelance/self employed americans on how they are setup and handling their tax burden.

@wanderingdev Are you self employed or have you setup an offshore corporation?

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@ld | 6yr

Wow, thanks so much for this response! Itโ€™s a valuable perspective, and glad to hear that youโ€™ve made the time difference work to your advantage. If you can make it work with a family, I really have no excuse :stuck_out_tongue:

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@eddie | 6yr

I do client based work in the US and Iโ€™m planning on leaving to SEA next month, so I know where youโ€™re coming from. Iโ€™ve already told all my current clients about the move and how it will impact my work. Honestly, not much will really change since Iโ€™ll be at a co-working space and will be working somewhat regular hours.

About 90% of my client interaction is email right now anyways. When I move, anyone who needs to talk on the phone will need to make an appointment at least a day before and Iโ€™ll have certain hours that Iโ€™ll take calls (done on Skype).

From where I am (Wisconsin), Italy (in your example) is 7 hours ahead, so you could always take calls from 8AM-11AM which would only be 3PM-6PM in Italy. Just make yourself available for calls during certain hours of the day or maybe even certain days of the week,

Not only will this help your productivity, but will help let your clients know to keep calls for more vital info and to keep them more concise. There is always email and many different online project management tools to keep track and manage work.

Regarding taxes, there are many ways to minimize or even eliminate taxes. Some nomads qualify for exemptions (Foreign Earned Income Exclusion). Otherwise by documenting business expenses and having a good accountant can help as well. Last year I didnโ€™t pay any taxes, actually I got a $800 refund. So, if youโ€™re paying โ€œHigh taxesโ€ maybe you should consult with your accountant on how you can minimize what youโ€™re paying.

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@ld | 6yr

Thanks for this input, really good points. I agree about the tax situation - thereโ€™s room for improvement with business and other write-offs helping.

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@wanderingdev | 6yr

everyone does it differently. and a lot depends on how needy your clients are. i donโ€™t even have a phone number so clients canโ€™t call me. :slight_smile: we communicate via email. I have set business hours and give them a response time estimation that accounts for time zone issues.

re taxes, look into the FEIE to help with that.

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@ld | 6yr

Thanks for your response. Your simplicity gives me hope!

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@fiberopticnow | 6yr

Excellent. Do you know any accountants who specialize in digital nomads?

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@wanderingdev | 6yr

canโ€™t give recs without knowing where youโ€™re from as every country is different

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Read and participate in 14,118 discussions on Nomad List

Suggested topics

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Are co-working spaces a good way to meet people in a new city?


by @donaldbough | 2mo 2 months ago | 1 comment

My fiancรฉe and I are most likely moving to NYC (maybe DC) in August, and as a technical startup co-founder I'd love to meet new people that are also into startups. Would joining a co-working space be worth the money to do this?

I work for a big tech company that has an office in NYC, but it's mainly sales so I wouldn't be able to meet others that are related to any of my 9-5 work or likely into tech.

If co-working spaces, post covid of course, aren't a good way to meet business starting people in a new city, what is?

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Are restaurants, cafes and malls working in Mexico City taking into account COVID situation?


in Mexico by @thateverdmitriy | 4mo 4 months ago | 1 comment

I am planning to travel to Mexico City next weekend and stay for 7-10 days there. I wonder if cafes, stores and other places like these work? And if cafes work, do they work as usual or only for take away&delivery? Will be very thankful if someone can help here.

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Video chat coworking solutions?


in Brazil by @essentiallyint | 6mo 5 months ago | 2 comments

I am new to working out of coworking spaces. My business entails a lot of video conferences. I haven't chosen a specific coworking space yet but generally, what are the potential solutions for this? I have a microphone and headphones but still fell like it may be inconsiderate to take the calls anywhere in the coworking space. For a solo person, what are some general solutions? Are there usually options to rent a private room by the hour with just enough room to set up my microphone and laptop? Sidenote: any coworking space recommendations in Florianapolis, Brazil would also be appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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Best place for solo UK traveller for surf, sun & working between Oct and Dec??


in Tenerife, Spain by @leojb | 6mo 5 months ago | 0 comments

Hey Nomads, would love to know any thoughts here.

Top of the list are currently Tenerife, Lagos/Ericeira (Portugal) & Malta??

Would love to know if anyone can vouch for these at this time of year.

Beautiful beach would be the dream. Basically European Bali! I'm sure something many of us are searching for.

Thanks a million. Much love.

Leo

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Driving from Italy to Croatia..how to handle passport?


in Croatia by @ld | 8mo 8 months ago | 3 comments

Hello, we are US citizens that have been able to stay in Italy past our standard visa stay due to covid. Now we must leave. We want to drive to Croatia as our โ€œout of EUโ€ stay. But Iโ€™m now wondering what considerations I need to take care of for my visa. I wonโ€™t go through an airport and get my passport stamped. But I assume I need to get my passport stamped as a way to prove Iโ€™m out of the EU.

Anyone else travel in and out of Schengen zone via car? Or know what I should do to properly handle the visa situation? I get unclear answers online. Hmm.

Appreciate your help!

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How do you ensure that you have good WiFi for working whilst travelling e.g. in places like India?


in India by @davda1546 | 9mo 9 months ago | 4 comments

We are hoping to travel later this year and we will be working remotely - how do you ensure you get good WiFi in places such as in India where the signal isn't always great? Do you have any tips on where to go/ what equipment you have to get?

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Any attorneys working remotely?


by @rohitsn | 10mo 9 months ago | 3 comments

Transactional Attorney with a focus on US Immigration. Burnt out doing the law firm thing. Trying to leverage skill to get on this digital nomad tip. Love the traveling experience, hostels, seeing new places, new cocktails etc etc.

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What do you use to work together remotely?


by @artofwarbiz | 12mo 11 months ago | 6 comments

What do you use to work together remotely with your team?

I know Slack, Hipchat and Hall.

Which ones do you guys use and why?

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Any nomads working on startups?

 

by @mattlock | 12mo 11 months ago | 33 comments

Hoping to see all the cool stuff people are working on while they live an extraordinary life.

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What have been your biggest challenges working remotely in your team?


by @wanderer | 12mo 11 months ago | 2 comments

My interest in DN lifestyle started when half of our company have been taking 1 month for remote work @ Ko Samui. It was truly cool but we observed quite some communication challenges. Communication seemed just โ€œriskierโ€ when online.

What were your worst situations caused by misunderstanding while communicating online with your teammates? What do you do to avoid misunderstandings?

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What's the first step now that I can work remotely?


by @mariaplslourdes | 2yr 1 year ago | 4 comments

Hi everyone and nice to e-meet you!
finally, after so long I found a job that allows me to work remotely.
But now? Do you have any practical advice that I can use to approach this new world?
In particular, I have to put my tax situation in order, do you know a good tax advisor from whom I can ask for advice? (Iโ€™m Italian but I live in Franceโ€ฆI donโ€™t know how long it will beโ€ฆ) )
Beyond that, any advice is welcome.
Thank you!
Maria

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What are wise ways to handle health insurance, as a USA person


by @azurio | 2yr 1 year ago | 1 comment

Hi! Iโ€™m still struggling to figure out how to handle health insurance.

What handy guides have you found to help figure out USA health care?

Iโ€™m struggling with:

  • When itโ€™s okay/wise to go without coverage while abroad, these days.
  • What other type of insurance I want while traveling, and whether it needs to be a supplement to USA insurance or if it can be a replacement.
  • Etc.

Above all, I think I want out. I wonder about success stories in moving to some other system/location, and the method youโ€™d recommend: additional citizenship, a special visa, etc.

I have searched this topic and struggled with it, so summaries and clarity are super helpful. I appreciate any and all help with this. Thanks so much!

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Co-working space in Shanghai WITHOUT monthly payment


in Shanghai, China by @katrin | 2yr 1 year ago | 0 comments

Daily/hourly pass needed.
Canโ€™t work in normal cafรฉ because having clientโ€™s laptop for security reasons, canโ€™t use open networks. Working for R&D. Also laptop is so huge it doesnโ€™t fit normal cafe environment because itโ€™s far from discreet.

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What are the most comfortable and affordable coworking places in Amsterdam?


in Amsterdam, Netherlands by @frosay | 2yr 2 years ago | 2 comments

What are the most comfortable and affordable coworking places in Amsterdam?
I donโ€™t like noisy cafes and high prices of Spaces.

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Is there any good and safe coworking space with fast internet in Costa Rica?


in Costa Rica by @sven | 2yr 2 years ago | 7 comments

Everything is in the title.

Iโ€™m working on a big project so I will need fast internet (>15 mbps).
If itโ€™s close to the beach, it would be even better.

Thanks !!

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What are the best coworking spaces in Playa del Carmen, Mexico?


in Playa del Carmen, Mexico by @simone_scarduzio | 2yr 2 years ago | 1 comment

Would you recommend โ€œWork Zoneโ€ http://www.oficinasplaya.com over Nest?
Do you have other coworking spaces there you would recommend?

And where is a good place to stay (i.e. coliving)?

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Foreigner owned Coworking business in Malaysia


in Malaysia by @newyam | 2yr 2 years ago | 0 comments

Heyo folks! The idea to open up an own coworking space in Malaysia has been on my mind for quite a while and I would like to reach out on foreigners being a business owner/co working space owner in Malaysia, there are a lot of questions that would follow up but most importantly is to reach out to someone with experience.

Ideally would be someone who runs a coworking space in Malaysia, second best would be to just come in touch with a foreign business owner in Malaysia.
Cheers
Yamin

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Is there a US bank for easily creating new business checking accounts remotely?

 

by @tylertringas | 2yr 2 years ago | 23 comments

Every accountant is going to tell you that you really should be keeping separate accounts for all your businesses and even projects that may one day become businesses. But in my experience setting up a new account associated with an actual business entity is a pretty annoying process involving an in-person visit to a bank branch, proof of residence in that branchโ€™s region, etc. Has anybody seen a bank that letโ€™s you easily create a simple business checking account online and more importantly that would let you add additional accounts and transfer funds between them?

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How do you manage working in different time zones?


by @clusk | 2yr 2 years ago | 12 comments

For those constrained by their businessโ€™ time zone, how do you manage this?

My home office is in Los Angeles โ€“ though I could swing anything in Central/South America, Iโ€™m looking at going to Lisbon or Chiang Mai for a bit. Both of them are >=8hrs difference potentially wreaking havoc on the work + social life + sleep split. This is a common question for nomads but there doesnโ€™t seem to be a lot of posting on the site about it.

What do you guys think? Any Americans working in Asia or Europe that does it well? I could likely negotiate with my supervisor to work in Eastern standard if I was in Lisbon/Europe, which wouldnโ€™t be too much of a stretch. Noon 'til 8pm. A bit more manageable than Chiang Mai or Bali.

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Best cafes in Budapest for working?


in Budapest, Hungary by @dobredecatalin | 2yr 2 years ago | 3 comments

Hi there, I am planning to work remote from Budapest for about 3 weeks. I typically like to work from Starbucks so I wanted to find out which ones are the largest and better for working.

The ones that I found so far that seem a bit bigger are this ones:
goo.gl/maps/y9kFXwAc2NA2
goo.gl/maps/hUUg9ghtr8K2

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