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I'm a physicist, but I've been working as an employed software developer for several companies in the past seven years, and I've already been a part-time programmer during my university studies. For quite a while now I've considered becomming a freelance software developer, but never dared taking that step.

What holds me back is that whenever I hear people talk about freelancing in the software / IT field, it always includes travelling a lot. I would not mind going to customer sites every now and then, as I do so now as an employee, too, but having something like a four-day consutling week far away from home is something I neither want nor could actually realize (due to familiy constraints etc.)

My question is, do I have to expect that I'll need to accept on-site jobs from clients far away from my place? I do live in a metropolitan area in Germany, so there might be enough local offerings, but as software development is a very specialized field, the 'right' jobs might not be here after all (in my case, the skillset is mostly C++ and C# in classical desktop client-server applications, some database and web stuff, too).

Is it possible to estimate the chances for finding local jobs somehow before starting to freelance?

2 Answers 2

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Fellow physicist here, though living in the US. I freelance for clients worldwide and I almost never (say once every other month) have to go see a client in person. I'm convinced anybody with programming + English skills and flexibility to sometimes work odd hours (due to time differences) can get remote freelance jobs, living basically anywhere. So no need to look for 'local' jobs.

My recommendation is to first build a set of (worldwide) clients that give you work while you're still doing your day job. You can find clients using Upwork or another freelancer site. Once you've a base that can support you, you can quit your day job and freelance full time.

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It really depends on what you define as "IT" and "Software development". From my experience in IT it really depends on the client, the project size and your abilities. If the project is massive, it could be the case that they want you at their office. This will be the case if the project is complex and requires many different departments or people in the process.

What I would do is pretty straightforward. Let your client know that traveling is no option and that the entire thing is done via video calls only.

In case you feel like you need a personal meeting, make sure that the travel expenses are paid and that this is only a real exception. Otherwise they will find reasons to keep you there.

It should be written in the contract that the project will be done via video chat and that in case of a meeting (proposed by yourself) it will be fully paid. Companies will keep this in mind and can still back up if they desperately want you in their office.

TL;DR:

add following things to the contract and mention them specifically:

  • Meetings etc will only be done online
  • In case of a in-person meeting, charge them for travel expenses
  • The in-person meeting is only voluntarily offered from your side only.

Hope this helps you a bit.

Greetings from the south

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