Everyone wishes that they could open their own business wherever in the world they choose…but nobody actually does it… Do they? Well, the short answer is…Yes, they do. And we’ve met them.
We know expats who run their own B&B in Mexico...opened a bagel café in Panama... started a tour business in Chile...operate a yoga retreat in Costa Rica. The fact is, being your own boss will provide you with the flexibility to work the hours you prefer and pick a schedule that best fits your lifestyle and priorities. So take that leap and open that business of your dreams in an overseas location of your choice.
Join our Fund Your Life Overseas e-letter today, and you'll hear from us five times a week, telling you about ways to earn income that lets you live anywhere, travel anytime… and give you the funds to make your overseas dream real.
Sign up to the Fund Your Life Overseas e-letter now and we'll send you a FREE report about ways to earn money abroad. Simply enter your email below and we’ll send you this free report: Fund Your New Life Overseas With These 6 Portable Careers. (We value your privacy. You can unsubscribe at any time.)
Enter your email address below
See below for inspiring articles from expats who have opened many different types of businesses in countries around the world.
Sarah Towle never meant to become an entrepreneur. when her husband James’ job brought their family to Paris in 2004, she thought she’d enjoy kicking back in the City of Light for a while, then return to her career as a linguistics teacher. “At the time, his assignment was for two or three years, so I didn’t think it would derail my career completely, just put it on hold for a little while. Besides, who could say no to Paris?” Sarah says. “well, after about 18 months of being a trailing, non-working spouse and mother, I really couldn’t stand it anymore. Although Paris fascinated me, I missed having a professional identity.”
When you move overseas it’s the perfect opportunity to reinvent yourself. You can adopt a new lifestyle and totally change what you do for a living,” says Virginia native Lee Greenberg. The 39-year-old embraced this philosophy wholeheartedly when he moved to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, six years ago.
Moving abroad is a great way to make a fixed income go as far as possible. When you’re living someplace where the weather is warm… utilities are cheap… taxes are low… and medical care is affordable… you can transform a pension or Social Security payment (that in the States would be barely enough to scrape by on) into a comfortable monthly income with cash to spare.
Scott Dinsmore, 47, and David Russell, 52, keep busy running their Spanish colonial-style boutique hotel, El Castillo, on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. It sits 600 feet above the beach in the jungle-clad mountains that rise sharply from the deep blue waters.
You wake up early for work. But you’re not slapping at the alarm clock in disgust, then rushing out the door for a long commute. You want to get up…you’re looking forward to the day. You get to enjoy that first cup of coffee as the rising sun makes the Pacific glitter…watch wildlife—toucans, parrots, even monkeys—make their morning rounds in the trees…and bask in praise from departing guests…
Tired of the risks and weary of working for someone else, Craig dreamed of opening his own beach bar. “I was sick of jumping out of bed each day to an alarm clock and fighting the crazy traffic. And each year, when the weather began to turn in the fall, I found myself wishing for the warmth of a tropical climate,” Craig says. So when a friend suggested he look into Belize, he did exactly that. “My friend had heard it was a great place to make a fresh start…”
After 25 years as a union glazier, Craig Pearlman was ready for a change. “I installed windows in commercial buildings, sometimes as high as 42 stories up,” says the 47-year-old New Jersey native. “We worked right on the window ledge of high-rises in Jersey City and Hoboken. I almost fell a couple of times. That scared the hell out of me.”
For Janice and John-Marc Gallagher (ages 52 and 58) the opportunity was too good to pass up. They had moved to Granada, Nicaragua, in 2003 after spending almost seven years in Costa Rica. “We had fallen in love with Granada many years before,” Janice says. “So we moved there after we sold our business in Tamarindo.” And then life took a turn.
I probably work 30% less than I did in the States,” says Jesse Schoberg. “It’s not that I’m getting less done, I’m just more efficient. Besides, there’s more to life here.” When Jesse and his wife Laura moved to Panama City they were looking for a warm climate, a lower cost of living and the adventure of a new culture.
- Building My Hotel Dream on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast
Posted on January 24, 2013 by Jason Holland
When he was 35, Colin Brownlee had an epiphany—a life-changing moment. He was staying at a small hotel on the beach, on Hawaii’s Big Island. The landscaping was lush and tropical, there were hammocks slung between palm trees. It was a homey place that guests raved about when they got home and came back to year after year. Colin knew that one day he had to open his own hotel just like it. At home in Vancouver and back in his advertising job he dreamt about the hotel he would open. “It haunted me that I might not do it because of fear of failure,” says Colin.
- From Shoveling Snow in Canada to Owning a B&B in Panama
Posted on January 22, 2013 by Terry Coles
“I never dreamed I’d take up fruit farming, learn a new language or open a B&B in a foreign country,” says Phil Dankiw. “But after 28 years of owning my own businesses in Canada I needed a change.” After years of visiting Latin America, Phil decided to sell his home and snow removal business in Burlington, Ontario. It was time to make the big move.
When Willy and Monika Krauskopf visited Costa Rica’s Lake Arenal 20 years ago, it was a life-changing event. The couple spent 10 days driving around the country. But they found themselves especially drawn to Lake Arenal because of the natural beauty and unhurried pace of the area.
- Your Own Farmhouse in Italy (That Generates an Income)
Posted on December 11, 2012 by Valerie Fortney Schneider
When American Diana Strinati Baur and her husband, Michael Baur, started dreaming of living in Italy and owning a bed and breakfast, postcard-perfect images of la dolce vita and easy-going hospitality filled their heads and fueled their plans. “Fantasy is important,” says Diana. “Unless there is fantasy there will never be a reality. But there’s a time to let the fantasy go. It’s important to reckon with reality when doing a project like ours.”
When American Diana Strinati Baur and her husband, Michael Baur, started dreaming of living in Italy and owning a bed and breakfast, the postcard-perfect images of la dolce vita and easy-going hospitality filled their heads and fueled their plans. The end result has brought them greater pleasure and more opportunities than they ever imagined.
There’s something about having that paperback on the bus or on the beach that a gadget can’t replace. Sure, Kindles and iPads are handy, but nothing beats the smell and sensation of pulp. I know plenty of travelers must feel the same way, because expat Troy Fuss makes his living selling books to them in Granada, Nicaragua’s historic colonial city.
Sara, “70 and proud of it,” lives on a former cattle pasture she has reclaimed for Costa Rica’s diverse wildlife. Her 723-acre Finca Dos Lados, or “Two-Sides Farm,” is so named because it straddles the Continental Divide, featuring both Atlantic and Caribbean wildlife habitats. A retired flight attendant, Sara bought the property in 2002. For several years prior, she’d visited Costa Rica…
After a trip to Costa Rica in 2003, Isabelle and Robert knew they wanted to move permanently to somewhere in Central America. “We missed living in nature, surrounded by nature,” Robert explains. “Central America seemed to have the natural lifestyle we were looking for.” They explored Costa Rica and considered Nicaragua. But it was after a visit to Panama that they fell in love.
Once you’re in a new place, entrepreneurial expats report, it’s not hard to spot niches or gaps in the market that you’re perfectly suited to fill. You may end up making money in a way you’d never have predicted back home. To prove that point, we’ve collected the stories below from expats abroad who happily fund “the good life” through ventures they discovered—or created—overseas.
Michigan natives Kristie and Jim Worrel moved to Paris 21 years ago when Jim worked for Total Petrochemicals. Jim’s contract was for five years but rather than leave their adopted country, which they had grown to love, Jim sought another job, and the couple successfully stayed on in France permanently. But it wasn’t until five years ago, as retirement neared, that the couple finally began the search for their dream. “It had always been a lifelong ambition of ours to buy and renovate an old historic house…
Jim Finegan didn’t set out to make Panama his second home. While traveling through Costa Rica with a couple of his bartender employees from his home state, Pennsylvania, Jim went to a Columbus-Day celebration and made a lucky $50 bet that netted him $5,000. Armed with an unexpected extension to his travel funds, Jim and his buddies decided to head down the coast to Panama.
Many retirees fund their lives overseas through savings, Social Security, and pensions. But those aren’t your only options. In this golden age of the portable career, we know readers cashing in with freelance work from every corner of the planet. But earning from a laptop doesn’t suit everybody. And that’s just fine. Because many expats report that—once you have boots on the ground in a new place—it’s easy to spot money-making opportunities.
Café Tal “was born of the need for decent coffee in Guanajuato,” says the 53-year-old from Tucson, Arizona—a classic case of spotting a need and satisfying it. Today Café Tal, in operation for nearly eight years, is a favorite with both locals and expats. But Greg didn’t start out planning to be a coffee mogul.
“I started this business with $10,000,” says Pittsburg native Armon Demarco. His distribution company, operating in his adopted country of Panama, now does about $2 million worth of business a year. Is he a serial entrepreneur? Not really. A business whiz? He doesn’t think so. And Armon doesn’t have any formal business training, either.
At 6,000 feet, Costa Rica’s tropical climate has given way to cool. Temperatures are generally in the 60s F year-round, 50 F on a cold day. Yet Sara Clark, who lives on Poas Mountain above the Central Valley towns of Grecia and Sarchí, calls her homestead paradise. “I live up in the clouds with the angels,” she says. “My family always prided itself on self-sufficiency and Yankee ingenuity,” explains Sara. She’s brought both with her to Costa Rica, where she’s content among the few families who live on this part of the mountain.
Growing habanero peppers wasn’t on my bucket list when I first visited Mexico. Nor was developing a 48-acre forest. In fact, when my wife Janet and I crossed the border in 2005, it was to explore our retirement options. Janet was 59, I was 64, and we wanted to explore Mexico, get to know its people, and see if living there was something that could work for us. I had visited our daughter in Mexico in 2004, where she was on a student exchange. It was summer and the balmy weather meant we ate outdoors. The food, full of peppers and tropical fruits, was outstanding. I fell in love with the culture—slow-paced, quiet, dignified, and peaceful. I had started and managed my own businesses in the U.S., but connecting with the land, a culture, and its people had always been my passion.
Rising early to prepare a complete French breakfast doesn’t bother Kristie Worrel one bit. She and her husband Jim are living their dream, owning and operating Villa La Riante, their bed and breakfast just minutes from Paris on a regional subway ride. In English the name “Villa La Riante” means “the charming, or pleasant villa.” In French culture, their home is une vieille dame, one very classy, elegant old lady built in 1869.
- Find Your Niche When Opportunity Knocks in an Overseas Paradise
Posted on October 22, 2012 by International Living
In the U.S., you cannot do what I have done here in Ecuador… you’d have too much debt to worry about,” says Kevin Sheehy, who bank-rolled his first venture—a Vietnamese restaurant—in the cool-weather capital of Quito with just $14,000. One business opportunity led to another, and today his success overseas means that Kevin enjoys the flexibility to live in a place he loves (the weather is spring-like year-round) and spend four months every year traveling.
- The Perks of Owning a Business by the Beach in Costa Rica
Posted on October 6, 2012 by Jason Holland
When Brian and Stephanie Gough went on vacation in Tamarindo, a stunning stretch of palm-fringed shoreline on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, their lives changed forever. They had such an incredible time that they couldn’t bear the thought of going back to their old lives. So they bought a local restaurant. “We fell in love with Tamarindo,” says Brian.
As the saying goes, if you want something done right, do it yourself…When expat and coffee lover Greg Stavroudis first moved to Guanajuato, Mexico, there wasn’t a coffee shop in town that made a proper cup of java, he says. So he opened his own café. Café Tal “was born of the need for decent coffee in Guanajuato,” says the 53-year-old from Tucson, Arizona—a classic case of spotting a need and satisfying it. Today Café Tal, in operation for nearly eight years, is a fixture with both locals and expats.
“Fish don’t live in ugly places” is Captain Ron Saunders’ motto. And that’s certainly true of his home of seven years, Lake Arenal, in the highlands three hours west of Costa Rica’s capital, San José. The 50-year-old former custom cabinet-maker from Las Vegas is living his dream here. A lifelong ﬁsherman, he turned his passion into a business—charter ﬁshing…
After just a few months in Ecuador, Julian and Casandra bought a property just outside Otavalo, the hometown of one of South America’s largest indigenous markets. Their dream was to turn it into a bed & breakfast where they could indulge all of their interests at the same time. Rio Blanco Bed & Brew was born. “I love to cook,” says Casandra.
On a dusty corner in Panama City’s Casco Viejo sector, there is a bar/restaurant. It doesn’t look like much, but the name on the sign makes passersby stop and puzzle: Mojitos sin Mojitos. In English it means, “Mojitos without Mojitos.” Weekend nights, the place is full to overflowing. There are hipsters from the local art scene…young bankers from the financial district…backpackers from France.
“I ﬁrst came to Costa Rica in 2001. Right after college, some friends and I—and my Dad—drove down in an old school bus and opened a surf camp on the northern Paciﬁc coast,” says Joe. The camp has slowly grown into a pretty large operation, and that meant Joe was ready for a new challenge. The key to making it happen began when he struck up a friendship with fellow expat J.P. Cazedessus…
“Fish don’t live in ugly places” is Captain Ron Saunders’ motto. And that’s certainly true of his home of seven years, Lake Arenal, in the highlands three hours west of Costa Rica’s capital, San José. The 50-year-old former custom cabinet-maker from Las Vegas is living his dream here. A lifelong ﬁsherman, he turned his passion into a business—charter ﬁshing—that allows him to do what he loves each and every day.
Costa Rica is well known for its beautiful beaches, lush, wildlife-ﬁlled jungles, and ideal climate, not to mention low cost of living, bargain real estate, and low-cost medical care. “There was only one problem with Costa Rica,” says California native Joe Walsh. “No pale ale.”
Not far from the historic Bastille, in the trendy Marais district of Paris, is an unlikely restaurant. While most people associate the French capital with ﬁne dining, foie gras, croissants and steak tartare, one Texas woman has made her mark with slow-smoked pulled pork and beef brisket, topped off with spicy house-brand Kick-Ass barbecue sauce.
The Blues Bar-B-Q diner is the dream come true of 55-year-old Diana Darrah, who left Dallas for a new life in France nine years ago. “I always felt comfortable in Paris and thought to move here one day. My mother was Parisian. I ﬁnally took my opportunity to move in 2003. I was divorced and my two sons were grown up. I felt the need for a new life, to rediscover myself and my talents.”
Living in Boise, Idaho, Rick ran the state drinking water program and Darla had a career in radiation oncology. In 2000, they took their customary two-week vacation and visited Belize. “It was our first visit to Central America and we were impressed with the beauty of the country and easy pace of the residents,” says Rick.
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme do well in Crete´s sweltering climate, but if ‘70s songsters Simon & Garfunkel came to chill on Greece´s largest island, they´d probably have an urge to add lavender to their list. “The local people are fascinated—they see us as Martians.”
David and Wendy DeChambeau had what many people considered an ideal life in northern Idaho…beautiful natural surroundings, two handsome and talented young boys, a nice home with all the trimmings that make up the American Dream. Yet, they were searching—seeking better economic opportunity, a lower cost of living, and a better climate.