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.
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See below for inspiring articles from expats who have opened many different types of businesses in countries around the world.
- IL Radio Episode 39: Building a Business from the Ground in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Posted on November 20, 2013 by Dan Prescher
Hi, I’m Dan Prescher. Building a business from the ground up is a challenge no matter where you try it, but Ralph and Renda Hewitt managed to do it in beautiful San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, and now they operate one of the most popular inns on the bay. But that’s not the only iron Ralph and Renda have in the fire, as you’ll hear…
- IL Radio Episode 38: Start a Business in Granada, Nicaragua
Posted on November 19, 2013 by Dan Prescher
Hi, I’m Dan Prescher. Seven years ago, Warren Ogden relocated to Granada, Nicaragua, but not to retire. In fact, Warren is a few decades away from retirement age, so kicking back was definitely not on his radar. He saw Granada as a new home, not only for him, but for his health and wellness business as we. Now Warren’s gym, spa, and yoga studio, Pure, is a fixture of the Granada scene staffed and used by expats and locals alike.
Sihanoukville wasn’t on Joe Royle’s list of semi-retirement destinations when he came to Southeast Asia looking for a new life in 2005. In fact, he didn’t even know that Sihanoukville, a beach town of 250,000 some 140 miles southwest of Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, even existed.
For every substantial, bricks-and mortar business set up by an expat overseas, there are hundreds of small enterprises that people operate from their own homes with very little investment. Within a year of starting their micro-enterprise overseas, Jim and Mariellen Wiemann are making a profit and supplementing their retirement income. “The business allows us to purchase the things we might otherwise not have. We are planning some vacations abroad, and the business will support those adventures,” says Jim.
- Escape to Warmer Climes and Live off Your Property Investments
Posted on November 5, 2013 by Sarah Booth
I purchased my first rental property in the ski resort village of Whistler, BC, Canada, when I was 23-years-old with a very small down payment. At the time, I was working as reservations manager for a property management company so I had first-hand knowledge of the strong returns that could be achieved through rentals. Over the following eight years, I proceeded to buy, renovate, rent short-term, and ultimately sell nine Whistler properties.
I had a cute house with a backyard, a great job, a wonderful marriage, and two beautiful little boys. I was living the American dream, but it didn’t feel like it. The long hours at work meant I didn’t have time to enjoy gardening in the backyard. Our sons Diego and Dante spent more time in daycare than with us. My husband and I were once so stressed that we both forgot our wedding anniversary.
- The Allure and Profit of Café Culture in Penang’s Historic Mile
Posted on November 1, 2013 by Keith Hockton
Tanya Mimbres loves food. It’s one of her top interests when she travels. A native of New Mexico, she has lived in Paris and Barcelona. But when she moved to Malaysia five years ago she felt right at home. “Lots of my friends were traveling in Asia and were a bit shocked that I hadn’t been there,” she recalls.
Laying under a palm tree on a tropical beach is a fantasy many people only act out during vacation or retirement. Sure, we would all love to live in paradise long before our twilight years, but, so the thinking goes, it’s far from feasible. Not so. In fact, more and more hard-working North Americans have begun to redefine their life parameters and are moving abroad to exotic locations before retirement. How? By opening businesses that support their lives abroad in the country of their dreams.
- Falling in Love with This Charming Colonial Town in Colombia
Posted on October 18, 2013 by Michael Evans
As the bus rounds the bend, a town appears in the distance—perched majestically atop a mountain, surrounded by deep green forests, cattle ranches, and coffee farms. White-washed walls reflect the golden afternoon sun and a church bell tower rises into the heavens. This is where expats go to live a stylish country life.
Canadian Andrew Blyth first came to León, Nicaragua, seven years ago to look after some properties his parents had purchased. The family had visited back in 2003 and fallen in love with the city. “Their eventual goal is to retire down here and open a bed and breakfast,” explains Andrew.
There are communities in many parts of the world where arts and crafts are still made by hand…and markets in other parts of the world ready to pay good money for them. Bringing them together is the perfect way to create an income for yourself while enjoying a life of travel or living overseas at a lower cost than back home.
“We decided we needed another start,” says expat Hellmut Pedersen. “Our lives in Washington were becoming too complicated. Prices kept going up, bureaucracy became more difficult, and the stress was too much. So we sold just about everything and arrived in Panama in 2005 with five suitcases.”
- Creating Wealth from a Wellness Business in Costa Rica
Posted on September 5, 2013 by Camille Willemain
Seven years ago Kristin Gilbert Ramirez was living the American Dream. She had a full-time teaching career, health benefits, a home, a car, and fancy electronics. And she was pursuing her master’s degree in the beautiful countryside of Maine. Only it wasn’t her dream.
- They Pay Well for This Overseas (You Already Know How to Do It)
Posted on September 4, 2013 by Greg Lucre
It’s not necessarily about having specialist training or qualifications. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of thinking outside the box.
Combine your creative talent with the craftsmanship and designs of another country and you could find an opening for an interior design business. In Jacó, on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast, Lynn Gensemer, 56, of Chungo Interior Designs, eschews expensive imported furniture and fixtures from the U.S. in favor of working with local craftsmen to create custom designs.
- Taking Face-to-Face Sales Skills Online in Costa Rica
Posted on September 1, 2013 by Jason Holland
Despite his many years working as a car-insurance salesman in Portland, Oregon—and making good money— Caelan Huntress always considered it a temporary gig. Today he has thrown out the cubicle, tie, and daily commute…and taken his sales skills online. He lives and works from his home in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone—a region on the southern Pacific coast, near the border with Panama. The beach is 45 minutes away. Shopping and quality medical care is just 15 minutes down the hill. And the verdant green mountains of the interior are an even bigger draw.
We’ve all gone on vacation and fallen in love with a place. You promise that you will visit again…but really you wish that you never had to go home at all. But of course you do have to go home, even if it’s just to quit your job or close up your house. And while these thoughts are going…
Dedicating your life to the service of others can open up a world of possibilities. You could become an activist to save small family farms. Maybe live in Nicaragua for a year. When you can bake to-die-for pies, you might even open a restaurant in Cuenca, Ecuador
When Cliff Wilson Jr. discovered that his parents were leaving San Francisco to move to Belize and set up a sailing business, he had just one reaction: “Can I come too?” At the time he was working as director of a ski resort in Tahoe, but the sparkling waters of the Caribbean were impossible to resist.
Watching kids play at running imaginary businesses has convinced me that the entrepreneurial spirit is more inherent than we have been led to believe. They are such naturals at trading. They want to buy and sell because that’s one of the first activities they witness their parents doing. It’s engaging and creative. You can set up your stall and then draw in other kids and willing adults to act as your customers.
- “We Earned up to $7,000 a Month from Our Food Blog”
Posted on August 1, 2013 by Bjork Ostrom
In March 2012, my wife Lindsay and I decided to quit our jobs, sell our cars, and move to the Philippines for a year. Lindsay would teach at a school for orphans called the Children of Hope School, and I would help the orphanage with their website. I knew that it would be a life-changing experience and a chance to see a beautiful part of the world. I also knew that it would be a time when we’d see a decrease in our income. But we had a solution.
Consumer trends in America have a very good chance of doing well in other countries. And if you can get in early enough, you can make a very successful business selling something that has already proved its worth back home. Food is a case in point and we’ve highlighted the opportunities in this month’s cover story. But rather than starting from scratch, how about working with someone who has more success than they can handle.Here’s an opportunity to join forces with a pioneer who has shown there’s a hungry market in Ecuador for that great American staple, the bagel.
John and Ellen Lee consider themselves to be the luckiest people in the world running their small hotel and restaurant in the Belizean beach paradise of Placencia. Back in the U.S., John, who’s from Australia, and Ellen, who’s American, believed that because they had invested 20+ years in their careers, they had to stick to them.
Argentina is as famous for its economic and political woes as it is for the tango and its Malbec wine. Nonetheless, its booming wine industry offers countless business opportunities, especially for entrepreneurs who are sensitive to the needs of foreign tourists. I’m not going to recommend you plant a vineyard, build a winery, and export Argentine wine to North America or Europe—although there are people doing that successfully.
Sometimes the most successful ideas for setting up a business overseas are right under your nose. Sometimes they are so simple, you overlook them.The very easiest thing you could produce may well have a hungry market just waiting to snap up your output. And you could be well on your way to profits with the most basic product of all—American-style food.
- The Fastest Way to Become Your Own Boss and Make Money Online
Posted on August 1, 2013 by Jennifer Varner
There was a time when being successful in retail was all about having a bricks-and-mortar business in a good location. Not only would you be paying rent or mortgage on your store; you would also have to keep your stock in a large storeroom or warehouse. Your business was about bulk buying, stock control, and supply-chain management.
- Walking Tours: “I Get Paid to Explore Places I Love”
Posted on July 1, 2013 by Susan Aris
I’ve made a business out of leading groups of people on walking tours and the year ahead is looking good. I am going to visit two wonderful regions of Colombia where English-speaking tourists are almost non-existent. Then there’s a trip to the Ecuadorian Andes that incorporates stunning vistas and a shopping extravaganza at indigenous markets. Following that, I’ll enjoy a magical walk in Peru on Inca trails that aren’t under the spotlight of big tour companies. The plan is to extend that trip to explore the Nazca region, famous for the figures etched in rock only visible from the air. I turned 60 a month ago and will celebrate my 40th wedding anniversary this month.
Weddings bloom in magical locations all over the world… sunset on a Caribbean beach…a spectacular hilltop in Spain…in front of the romantic Eiffel Tower in Paris. And you could be there, making money while fluffing the bride’s gown, basking in compliments, and popping open Champagne.
Chances are, you were not brought up to think you could explore countless possibilities. Most of us who arrived after World War II were counseled to follow a narrow path in life. Pick one thing and stick with it, no matter what. That has been the message we inherited. But this was not always the case. Consider Leon Battista Alberti, who lived in Florence in the 15th century. He was an architect, author, classical scholar, musician, stage designer, and town planner. He was also known for his elegance, personal style, and athletic ability—and he was reputed to be able to jump over a man from a standing start.
Few places on Earth ignite the romantic senses like Italy—it’s a country people dream of visiting, and once they do, they dream of returning. From the mouth-watering food, the exquisite wine and classic art, to the rolling hills of Tuscany, the glittering Mediterranean Sea and la dolce vita lifestyle, Italy is the stuff of dreams. While most visitors only fantasize about returning, some savvy expat food-lovers have found a viable way to make that dream a reality…
- Tea Shops: Opportunity is Brewing in Latin America
Posted on June 1, 2013 by Rogelio Martinez
You probably remember a time when the U.S. wasn’t heaving with coffee shops. Back in the early 1980s, Starbucks was just another place to get a coffee in Seattle. Then they tapped into the trend of European-style cafes. Within 10 years Starbucks had more than 400 stores in the U.S. Today they have almost 18,000 stores worldwide.
If you’ve ever dreamed of escaping to an exotic place and opening a small hotel in your retirement years, you’re not alone. But many folks never get past the thought. Expats Kim Macphee and Tony Clark made the dream a reality; they got started after their employer laid them off in 2006. They used their free time and severance pay to map out a strategy for the future…
About three years ago my husband, Scott, and I started talking about leaving Indiana and moving abroad, possibly to Central or South America. We had both traveled there and loved what it had to offer in the way of lifestyle.
Ecuador, Costa Rica and Belize are three of the Latin American countries in the “cocoa belt”—the 10 degrees either side of the equator where the cacao tree grows. Here you’ll find a burgeoning cottage industry devoted to this type of chocolate making.
- Panama: Ripe with Opportunities for Your Tourism Business
Posted on May 1, 2013 by Marcie Miller
Panama is a great place to start a business. It’s easy, everyone uses the dollar, and you can tap into a well-educated English-speaking workforce. That last point is crucial if you want to start a tourism-based business—and you should.
- Planting Our Kid in Rural Panama…and Watching Him Grow
Posted on April 26, 2013 by Jessica Ramesch
When Elizabeth Ballard Slagle and her husband swapped Florida for rustic Panama five years ago, they wanted to extend their youngest son’s childhood and give him a different perspective on the world. She and Larry—an ex-bartender—run a restaurant called Big Daddy’s Grill in “downtown” Boquete.