Sunday, July 13, 2008

Potential Deal Breaker #2: Unreliable Internet

This entry is the second in a series. You can view Potential Deal Breaker #1 here, which can be summed up as "I don't want to die." Potential Deal Breaker #2? It can be summed up as "I don't want to lose all my clients and become destitute."

This one's a no-brainer for freelancers and telecommuters who have deadlines. It is also probably the only “absolute deal breaker” I have. To put it plainly, I must live somewhere with reliable high-speed Internet (which as I’ve now learned, requires continuous electricity). After all, my virtual office - and my livelihood - are dependent on it.

How dependent? Well, I use the Internet to speak with my clients (my business telephone number is an inexpensive, portable SkypeIn number that rings through to my laptop), IM/email with clients, send and receive electronic faxes, conduct research, fact-check, pay bills, produce monthly e-newsletters and submit writing assignments.

This is the deal breaker that put the kibosh on San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, where I lived for a few months in 2006. The Internet was passable (it was a rapidly developing tourist area), but the real problem was that the electricity was out several times a week due to rolling blackouts. Therefore, Internet was down several times a week, and always on an unpredictable schedule. Not workable, period.

So despite its rock bottom cost of living, much of the Third World is out, and I can’t go too rural even in the US. (Dial-up won’t cut it. I need to be close enough to a city to have DSL or cable Internet.)

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