Maintaining a permanent address is a challenge every location independent individual has faced at some point. In this guide, I explain how to solve it and share my own strategy.
The need for an address
Easy access to a mailing address is something most people take for granted. For those of us who are constantly on the move, however, it can be a major challenge and a great source of friction. Why the need for a permanent mailing address though? While the obvious answer may seem to receive mail, the reality is a bit more complicated.
Every bank and financial institution you have an account with needs to have one on file to comply with KYC regulations, the credit agencies need one to accurately track you, the majority of business registers require one and most foreign governments you will deal with will want one (landing forms, visa applications etc). Using temporary addresses that have to be updated every time you move is not a practical idea and can even lead to account closures and unwanted scrutiny. You may also miss important mail. Using a family member or friend’s address is not ideal either, especially if you expect to receive large volumes of mail.
Fortunately, getting a permanent mailing address from a solid service provider is both easy and cost-effective thanks to a fast growing mailing industry.
The way most mail service providers work is simple, you are first offered a choice of a residential or commercial address. Any mail that gets sent to your chosen address is scanned and a notification is emailed to you along with the scan. You can then have it physically forwarded to your actual location or safely shredded. Pricing-wise, there is usually a monthly fee and a per action fee (that you pay when mail is processed).
My own strategy
I maintain a vast network of mailing addresses, one for each country that I bank or do business in. Each address is rented from a mail service provider.
Because I am constantly on the move, I have set some of my addresses to function as hubs. For example, a few weeks before I am set to fly to London I will have all my mail forwarded to my UK hub (from my global network of addresses). A few days before my flight, I will have everything forwarded from my UK hub to my hotel for collection upon check-in. Sometimes I will have it forwarded to a nearby post office and will collect it there instead (as poste restante).
As a side note, I strongly recommend getting a Curve card. This will allow you to use your debit and credit cards without ever having to physically receive them. A simple scan from your mail service provider will do. This will prove very convenient when they come up for renewal. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay can also help but are not as widely accepted (and can rarely be used to withdraw cash).