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Top 5 Reasons to Escape the Cubicle and Work From the Beach

Here are some exciting job titles I’ve had “Advertising Sales Associate,” “Death Benefits Customer Relations Coordinator,” and “Customer Service Center Representative.” I know you’re asking, “Where do I need to study to get these coveted positions?

These are exactly the types of jobs one falls into when they don’t have a roadmap. You want this type of job, then just go to right now and apply. There are always truckloads of these positions being advertised.

They need bodies to put in office chairs, with heads that can wear headphones, and hands that can type 55 words or more per minute. Without a goal and without a plan of action, you too can have this type of job.

Or, you could quit the race through the cubicle maze, step outside the average, and design a lifestyle you want, a career you love, and a business you can’t wait to wake up to and work in everyday. And yes you can do all this from a beachfront location with a stunning view.

I did it. You can too.

Here are the 5 top reasons to escape the cubicle, quite that job you don’t have a passion for, and work from the beach.

1. Fluorescent Light Just Isn’t Sunlight

I remember the drone of florescent light, it actually makes this annoying hum of a sound, and gave me dull feeling inside, which matched the gray rows of cubicles I used to work from. To be honest, it matched my demeanor at that time as well—let’s call it a lost decade of my life.

Large office spaces just aren’t natural. They don’t fill you with energy and vitality. The sun gives us a full spectrum of light—one that spans the whole of the visual range. It radiates with healthy warmth on your skin.

You can give your life to the thirteenth floor of a corporation or take control back. You can choose to live healthier—soaking up sun on the beach. There is such a thing as a healthy work-life balance.

The Big Move

There are moments, that in hindsight, brightly stand out as life defining.

In 2007 I gave away all my possessions. I quit my job, moved to South America, and started working online. I stopped punching a clock.

Living in a beach front town, I swam at noon, and ran on the beach in early evenings. I spent lots of quality time with my family. I lost 25 pounds in just a handful of months. I quite smoking, had more energy, and felt alive again.

I worked online, built a freelance business as a graphic/web designer, later as a writer/blogger. I crafted a business, built it around creative work I was passionate about making, and structured it to serve my lifestyle.

There is opportunity to be seized if you’re willing to make bold moves and significant life changes.

2. The Beer is Cheaper in South America

If you reduce the cost of your lifestyle, you can get by with less, and have more freedom. You can forgo Starbucks coffee or cable television in order to reduce your costs. You can move somewhere cheaper and make the transition to earning a living online quickly.

I had less than one thousand dollars in the bank. My wife and I had just had our newborn son. We had maxed out our credit cards. The winter was cold in Connecticut and my son was colic, crying endlessly for weeks.

We needed a fresh start. I was working in a customer service job I didn’t enjoy, didn’t see a future in, and paying for a lifestyle that didn’t allow me to spend quality time with my family, or give my wife the help she needed to take care of our baby.

Money Isn’t Everything

My wife is from Venezuela—a particularly beautiful part of that South American country on the Caribbean coastline.

We moved there in January of 2007, replaced snow covered landscapes for the sand of beaches. Warmth replaced cold. Time together replaced time apart. My baby son recovered, my wife recovered, and I started to shed the years of cubicle life from my soul.

It was cheap there. Our money went so much further. I only made about $20,000 my first year working online down there, but we actually got out of debt with that. In year two my income doubled and has since done so again.

Jumping online and putting all my energy into work that I care about deeply paved a path that continues to open up opportunities. But it’s not about making as much money as possible, but rather my work supporting my family’s lifestyle.

3. Beach Sand Feels Better than Office Carpeting

Working in a job that you don’t enjoy is stifling. It’s painful even. Okay they provide health insurance at your job. They should because a job you hate makes you sick. It physically hurts to be there.

Is Your Work Slowly Killing You?

If you feel the pains of going to work on Monday, then you don’t have the job you want. If you look at the next five years and see a path of uncomfortable depression, then do something about it.

I tried all kinds of remedies for depression from prescription pills to acupuncture—from modern science to homeopathy. But it wasn’t until I took control of my own life, when I was able to structure my daily schedule around my rhythms, live more healthily, and work according to my needs, that I felt a cloud lift.

Make the major shifts in your lifestyle that you need. Beach sand feels so much better than office carpet.

4. Beachfront Waves Beat Office Meetings—Every Time

On that Caribbean water coastline, near Isla Margarita, I’d walk through the surf, feel the tiny shells roll over my feet, as I listened to blue waves beautifully crashing. It’s hypnotic and therapeutic.

Even Bad Memories Fade

I’d occasionally flashback to Monday morning office meetings, the pressure of a call center—always on—never ending phone calls. A boss listening and recording every nuance of my performance.

I’d uncontrollably replay those problematic exchanges with customers in my mind. Over time those memories were replaced with the gentle crash of coastal waves.

You can craft a new career or launch a thriving business you care about from anywhere, replace a job you despise with the lifestyle of an online business owner. In time, those traumatic cubicle memories will fade.

5. It’s Just More Fun at the Beach

Working online, building a thriving business based on your creative passion is just more enjoyable.

It beats any casual Friday. Rather, you can wear whatever you want, everyday.

Wouldn’t you rather just be yourself all the time. Work when you want to work. Live when you want to live.

The First Steps of Freelancing

Before getting deeply involved in blogging and teaching business online, I ran a graphic and web design freelance business. There’s no quicker way to bringing in cash, then to sell your creative services online.

You can get started quickly, create a portfolio site, and begin adding clients and income. It’s rewarding. You provide services directly to business that need them and have the flexibility to choose your clients.

Freelancing is a job of course, but it’s so much more rewarding, and holds more flexibility than most corporate positions. You can leverage freelance experience to build all types of online businesses.

There’s a real sense of fulfillment to do creative work that you love doing.

Where is Your Beach?

My origin of getting starting making money doing what I cared about online was literally moving to the beach in South America, but really this is a metaphor. Your beach could be anything and anywhere. It’s your ideal lifestyle, business, and career designed to meet your needs. It’s your dream, your journey, and your ideal.

Where is your beach? What are you doing to get there?

You don’t have to quit everything at once like I did. You don’t have to take a huge risk or make an enormous change immediately. You don’t have to push people out of the way as you run from your cubicle.

Set goals. Make moves towards your dream. Start building an online business that supports your lifestyle goals.

If you’re having trouble taking your first steps, then reach out. Leave a comment below or email me through my contact form.

I lived down in Venezuela for two years before moving my family to a suburb of Orlando, Florida—trading sunshine for sunshine—and continuing to work online. Every story of breaking into business online is unique.

If you’re unsure about how to land your first freelance client, struggling to bring attention to your blog, trying to launch your first offer, or unsure about the next step you want to take with your online business, then reach out. I’m here to help.

Also, I’d love to hear your origin story. What was the year you started making a living online? How did you make your first dollar? How did that feel? What does it mean to you today?

Graphic Credit: Island designed by Athena Manolopoulos from the Noun Project.

  • Matthew Eaton

    Very motivating here. I remember the cube farm very well, though I have only replaced it with the machine farm so far.

    Your words give me some ideas, that for certain (though I’m more of a winter person than a beach person…that’s what I get for being raised in North Dakota).

    Thanks for sharing this with us, very cool!

    • Sean Hodge

      Hey Matthew, oh man North Dakota that’s really cold winters. But yah, where we grow up feels comfy as our home—as it should.

      Yah, there are many difficult jobs out there, the cubicles are just one. I did some machinist work as well for awhile—battling lathes and drill presses. If any job is feeling suffocating, it’s empowering to work on an exit strategy.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  • Sarita Harbour

    Sean – love the post. Had to laugh – you quit your cubicle life to move to the warmth of a South American beach – me, I left a bank job near Toronto, Ontario and I’m now way up north near Yellowknife, NWT – ever seen Ice Road Truckers or Ice Pilots NWT?

    To put it in perspective, it was -35 degrees Celsius here this morning. When my husband was downsized from his job several years ago, our older children were all pretty much on their own or in university, so we bit the bullet and changed our lives completely. After a brief stint in the oil sands of northern Alberta, we now live in an off-the-grid cabin on a lake in the wilderness. I work from home as a (very busy) freelance business, tech, and finance writer – and I only work online. My view is amazing – no more cubicles for this gal!

    I made my first dollar online in 2010 writing for Demand Media Studios …a content mill. However, it gave me some great clips and good experience, and I’ve just gone on from there. While I was used to getting paid for giving advice (I was a financial adviser) I LOVE getting paid to write. And I love being able to spend more time with our family.

    Oh yeah, and the fresh air agrees with us. To everyone’s (meaning our parents and our kids who are in their twenties) amazement, we now have two more children. Just goes to show, you never know what can happen once you cut the cubicle ties….

    • Sean Hodge


      Congratulations on making on those changes. The area you live sounds really beautiful. I grew up in Oregon, in the middle of the woods between Portland and Mt. Hood, so have a real appreciation for that kind of isolated peace that the wilderness brings. You environment must help with your writing. Love how you’re helping people live off the grid as well.

      Yah the early days of jumping into freelancing can be tough, especially if you start at the bottom. I did the design equivalent of content mills at first. My first year was mostly funded by 99 design contests and clients I landed through that route. That’s a tough path, but doable.

      Great to hear you pulled through that. The business, tech, and finance writing is a great niche, lots of good paying writing there. I edit a Business dedicated section of a popular online educational community here

      Amen to cutting the cubicle ties and your success story really resonates. Congratulations on your children. We just had our third, just two months ago.


    • Stephanie Wasylyk

      That sounds like heaven! I’m Canadian too, but instead of moving north I moved to Australia. Looking forward to being back home soon though.

  • Louise Busija Jones

    Sean, can you read my mind? I’m sitting here in my cubicle, about to post a vinyl wall sticker of a window scene onto my stark white wall, while my colleagues laugh and joke about my office decorations. Meanwhile I’ve been planning my online business for months (years even), it’s been up and running for 8 weeks, I’ve had one paid client thus far with a few enquiries but no bites, and I’m just so waiting for that CRUNCH when I can quit, leave and wake up every day in a job I LOVE doing for my community, not for the man! But I’m OK, I’m working on it, and I’m networking, and developing and marketing and loving it and the publicity is growing around my community, so it’s getting there. But it will be one of those “overnight successes that took 10 years to build” right? 😉

    • Sean Hodge

      Hey Louise,

      I hear you about ten years to build an overnight success. Starting an online community that you are really passionate to be involved in takes quite a bit of time to get the engine humming, but there is that tipping point when things start moving. Sounds like you’re getting close to your project taking off.

      Yah, it’s much more responsible to keep your day job and build your community in and around that as much as you can. Make sure your bills are paid, while you leverage the time you do have to make things happen.

      Those cubicle decorations do make a difference, help you get through each day and remind you of what that job is funding—your dream.

      Quick tip:

      One avenue to slowly move away from your job, is to phase it out. It’s unlikely that the community you’re building will suddenly replace your income completely. But you might reach a point that you could cut your work hours down as the income from your project comes in. I’ve had close friends do that successfully. Of course, it only works if your job is okay with that. But it allows you to put more and more of your time into your project as you slowly exit the cubicle.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

  • Tony

    Hi Sean, I am not in an actual cubicle, but my part time job feels just as claustrophobic. It also takes away valuable energy and time I could be spending working on my online business. I am close to taking the plunge and it feels reassuring to hear from someone who has done it with no regrets.

    • Sean Hodge

      Hey Tony,

      Any job that makes you feel claustrophobic it’s great to work on planning that exit strategy. It’s so much more rewarding to do work you love. Great to hear you’re getting close to taking the plunge. Sounds like you’re working hard on making it happen. Keep me updated. I’ll love to hear when the big moment comes. And if you hit any roadblocks along the way reach out. Thanks.

  • colin linnett

    Wow Sean, what a great post! I was actually smiling through most of this post as it really hits home with me.

    I currently work part time in an office, and yes I hate it with a passion. You have motivated me so much, I just need to decide what beach to go to now.

    Great inspiring post..

    • Sean Hodge

      Colin, great to hear the words here hit home for you. I really enjoyed your recent article as well, especially the story of preparing for and giving a speech, and how tapping into your life experiences is where our most potent stories lie—as well as where our potential business ideas are found. That’s the stuff we have to share with the world and help people. I look forward to chatting more buddy. Thanks.

  • Johanna Lemke

    Hi Sean, I loved you post, it made me smile, it takes courage to achieve what you have done, I find it inspiring. I totally relate to what you say, I still work in an office and blog around my day job but it’s great to know that you can create radical change in your life for the better, thanks for sharing.

    • Sean Hodge

      Hey Johanna, blogging around your day job is a great way to get started on this path. Glad to hear you’re making a commitment to blogging around your job. That time you invest now will lead to those life changes down the road. Thanks.

  • Nathan Russell

    I love this, Sean. Number 3 certainly resonates with me and that is why I have begun my journey towards a better, more productive life. Thanks for sharing – now I’m off to read more of your website!

    • Sean Hodge

      Nathan, thanks for stopping by. I love your site “Smarter Happier,” really resonant name. Your about page reads great as well, where you state “I am changing my life for the benefit of the people I love, so that I can better enjoy my work and live a longer, more purposeful and happier life.” Love the mission. I look forward to reading about your journey. Thanks.

  • Doug Wojtczak

    Hi Sean,

    Those florescent lights in Number 1 and the hum and flickering that they made in a past job are certainly one of the things that I did not enjoy. I can still hear the humming sound in my head as I type even though I haven’t been there for two months.

    The fact that you took a big risk and are now living the life of your dreams is inspiring and something that I hope to do one day.

    The sand instead of carpet sounds nice too!


    • Sean Hodge

      Hey Doug, you can definitely make the jump or ease your way forward! Keep me updated on your progress.

  • Daryl Gerke

    Hi Sean,

    Great post – you made me chuckle! You also reminded me of my own cubicle days MANY years ago.

    Made my break for freedom (as a consulting engineer) the day the market crashed in 1987. The FIRST day in business was the WORST day in business — all the rest have been better. Been quite a ride – no regrets at all!

    Like you, now blogging (since 2010) to help inspire others to make their break. It CAN be done.

    Keep up the good work. And keep drinking beer!


    • Sean Hodge

      Daryl, thanks for stopping by. I love hearing stories from people that made this change and have been at it for years—inspiring.

  • Michael Allison

    Fantastic post. My wife and I run a corporate training company in China at present. This coming winter we are heading to southern Spain for 2 to 3 months with the purpose of finding a nice place where we can eventually wind down a bit.

    The work that we do as soft skills trainers and management coaches can be done as freelancers anywhere in the world, so I completely understand and agree with your ideas.

    All the best to you and love your blog! :)

    • Sean Hodge

      Michael, all the best to you as well. I had a friend that lived in southern Spain for a couple years, putting that freelance flexibility to work for him and his family. Good luck to you. It looks like a great place to live.

  • Stephanie Wasylyk

    My partner is a geologist, and consequently I’m never really sure where we’ll end up living. That’s why I decided to build myself an online coaching business so it would be portable wherever we went. It’s still in the building phases, but I’m loving it. I live in Australia, and although I don’t live on the beach I can completely relate to your post. And as a mini-break next year we have a cabin booked in the French countryside for 3 months before (probably) moving back home to Canada. Why would anyone want a day job??! I did my time in a cubicle, but that phase is over forever.

    • Sean Hodge

      Stephanie, great idea to build a flexible job to fit around a travel-bound partner. Your site is looking good. Great to see the authentic testimonials on your breakthrough session page. Sounds like you have some exciting travel plans lined up. The French countryside, now that’s a must-have summer.

      • Stephanie Wasylyk

        Thanks Sean. I wish it was summer! It’s cheap because we booked in winter. Still fine by me though!

  • Ulrike Schuermann

    thought provoking post – I can relate, have never liked fluorescent lighting in offices, it really does make people stressed and sick.. love the notion: where is your beach because we all have another idea of paradise – the main thing is that we need to pursue it.

    • Sean Hodge

      Ulrike, yah lot’s of people have numerous obligations, so even incremental steps add up over time. Consistent pursuit is where results are found. If you can put your passion into a side business you love doing, especially one with flexibility online, then you’ll open up opportunit

  • Jim Hayward

    Hi Sean
    Very inspiring post. My wife and I are planning to sell up and move to Spain for a year with our 2 young children. Have signed up. Looking forward to more. Cheers

    • Sean Hodge

      Jim, good luck to you and your family on the move—exciting. Thanks for stopping by and singing up. I’ve got more resources on the way!

      • Jim Hayward

        Great. Looking forward to reading more. Cheers

  • The Plumbette

    My beach is being with my two little girls by being a stay at home mum but eventually I will need to return to the workforce to bring in a small amount of pay to pay the bills. I drank in every word of this post and you filled me with hope that I can find the perfect freelance scenario for me so that I can live the life I want to. A great top 5 post!

    • Sean Hodge

      @The Plumbette, it’s tough to balance bouncing little ones with freelance work, but doable. Is there some down time that you can take advantage of? A perfect freelance scenario rarely just arrives, but it’s something you can carve out, much like chiseling into a stature that you shape and form over time. Is there a creative passion or technical skill you’re working on that you could potentially build a business around? Keep me updated on your progress. Thanks!

  • flyingdrunkenmonkey

    Fantastic post! I was made redundant after having my first daughter which pushed me out of the office environment. I started a blog which isn’t a big money earner but keeps my mind and skills active. I’m studying bookkeeping in the hope that once I finish I will be able to become a Virtual Assistant and work from home around the kids. That’s definitely my beach!

    • Sean Hodge

      Hey, that’s touching that your kids and working from home are your ‘beach.’

      Yah, working virtually gives lots of freedom. I’ve worked with some VA’s and one of my neighbors does virtual assistant work from home. There is lot’s of opportunity.

      All those skills you had in a traditional office can be leveraged online to map out your career. Long term, if you get a certain client type, and start to specialize you can increase your hourly rate as well. Also, there are many related online careers that are really just an extension of a virtual assistant position. I do quite a bit of editing and that’s one example.

      Even if you’re not seeing a big return on income from blogging, it is a good gateway to exposure and building a long term brand.


  • YawnCentral

    I love posts like these. They make me really hopeful of what the future brings when you become more financially independent. I want to be able to work traveling and talking to different people while sharing positivity. Also taking photos along the way is the icing on the cake.

  • Taboose

    Great article…. But do you have any advice on how to get new clients? I’m doing freelance graphics but clients are few and far between and some of them are cheapskates that are not worth dealing with. I want to get better clients before I sell my soul and become a hot dog vendor at Universal City!