Early Twenties: Do This

You see it all over Twitter and you hear it from Prof Galloway:

The best move for an ambitious twenty-something is to live in a city, preferably NYC or SF. Network effects, blah blah.

It’s actually solid advice. For most people it’s truly the best choice you can make. (The list of cities worth moving to is changing though, as places such as Austin and Miami become tech hubs.)

But I believe there’s an alternate option. Read on.

For many entrepreneurs there is a stage where building is more important than connecting, or even selling. By creating something great before scaling, you can avoid selling something awful (whether it’s a service or a SaaS). 

Or maybe it’s a skill you’re developing, such as Search Engine Optimization. You’d be smart to become at least good enough for your clients to refer you to others. You’d be really smart if you developed systems and processes before you take on too many clients and end up disappointing them.

What you need is focus. Networking is important, but at this stage it takes second place. Dating is not a priority. And $18 avocado toast in SoHo is very far down the list of things you really need to be doing.

Which means that maybe your best move isn’t to move to that city just yet. If you’re bootstrapping, you could actually be shooting yourself in the foot by living a $4000/mo life in Brooklyn. After all, it’s hard to focus on building a business if you can’t cover rent. Which brings us to option two:

Your best option might be to move abroad for six months or a year. 

Why would you do this? Price and focus, mainly. 

If you do it right, you can live abroad for under $1500/mo easy, while improving your quality of life. Yes you’ll be far away, but it’s 6 months to set yourself up for the next decade.

Not all overseas destinations are created equal. You’ll want to find a place with great WiFi, low rent, and central enough that you’ll do fine without a car. Use NomadList to filter by cost of living and other factors. 

If your work involves programming I’d strongly recommend Eastern Europe. Technical talent there is top-level and the network you build while there will be valuable once you’re stateside.

You’ll want to find a good coworking space. In many foreign cities, a flex desk at a coworking space will be around $200/mo. 

Now you’re in a new environment, no friends, no distractions, no baggage. Just you and your work. Deep work mode. Chrysalis mode. 

Thank me later.