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No matter how affordable the destinations we talk about are, the simple fact is: You can't live anywhere for free...
But what if you had an income that went with you? An income that could give you the freedom you need to just pick up and go?
You could spend half the year in your own cottage on the beach… work in the mornings and snorkel and relax in the afternoons. Maybe spend the other half of the year up in the mountains where it's cool... and get paid while you're at it...
With this kind of flexibility, it doesn't matter where you're based. That means you can travel whenever you feel like it. You could rent a place in Paris or Buenos Aires for a month or two of vacation, work from home a few days a week and spend the rest of your time enjoying the city...
You could earn an income from back home while you go live someplace where the cost of living is much more affordable. That way you put dollars in your pocket, but you spend in a place where those dollars really stretch.
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Getting a small business loan can be a challenge anywhere. It’s especially tough in a new country where you may not have a credit history or collateral. Fortunately, there’s a way to raise money for your business abroad that bypasses banks altogether. It’s called reward-based crowdfunding. With crowdfunding you fund your business idea without taking out a loan, going into debt, or sharing equity with a financial partner. It’s a perfect solution for many expats because it enables you to fund your business across borders. You can raise money from backers anywhere in the world for a business activity in the country of your choosing.
A few decades ago, going abroad for medical or dental care, especially surgical procedures, was practically unknown. But today, fueled in part by the rising cost of health care in the developed world, medical tourism (including dental care) is growing by leaps and bounds…and by some estimates it’s already a $100-billion business worldwide. Expats in Latin America and Asia—where costs are low and health care quality often high—have launched businesses that cater to the growing demand for medical tourism. Others—often those with medical-related training—have found different ways to earn a living abroad in this industry.
Eighteen years ago while we were getting evicted from our home, I couldn’t see a money-making opportunity anywhere. I was broke. But then I discovered the secret of e-books and today, I see money-making opportunities everywhere. I don’t watch a lot of television but when I did I kept seeing ads by Larry the Cable Guy (ok, I’ll admit, I love his crazy humor). They were for a product I’d never heard of—Prilosec. And they came on so many times I could see Prilosec had spent millions of dollars to air them. That led me to find out what Prilosec was—a remedy for heartburn and acid reflux. So what, you say?
When I was getting started in the e-book business, I thought it would be a long time before I could create an actual book (I’ve since learned shortcuts for doing it quickly). Part of my solution was to use books from the public domain for free—as I told you about yesterday. That works for older material, but a strategy that provided me with more contemporary books was licensing existing print books…converting them to an e-book format…and paying the author part of the royalties I collected.
What if I told you that Walt Disney built the foundation of his multi-billion dollar business on public domain books written by other people. Ever heard of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid? Blockbuster Disney movies, right. But before that, they were public domain books written by other people.
I’ve made a lot of money from e-book publishing…which I think would come as a surprise to my college English professor who gave me an ‘F’ in her course. But you don’t have to be a writer to make money in this marketplace. I’ve published almost 50 books written by others. Some were books I took from the public domain, which means I didn’t pay for them, and some were written by ghostwriters I hired for little more than the cost of a great night out.
For Olley Ollerenshaw, living in Cusco’s historic artisan district of San Blas has allowed a childhood fantasy to come true. “I’ve always been interested in maps of the world, maps of all kinds. Maps are symbols of adventure as well as functional tools, and for anyone like me who grew up daydreaming about visiting exotic places, maps hold a special allure,” says Olley.
Before moving to Italy, Georgette Jupe had what many would consider a glamorous life: She was living in star-studded Los Angeles, working in public relations, and rubbing elbows with the B-list celebrities that her firm represented. She had a good, steady, lucrative job. And who doesn’t want to live in sunny, coveted southern California? To the untrained eye, Georgette had it all. But secretly, she was missing Italy— where she’d spent one beautiful year studying abroad in pretty Florence back in her college days.
No matter how affordable the destinations we talk about are, the simple fact is: You can’t live anywhere for free… But what if you had an income that went with you? An income that could give you the freedom you need to just pick up and go? You could spend half the year in your own cottage on the beach…work in the mornings and snorkel and relax in the afternoons.
It was 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. I had just finished drinking a cappuccino with a friend at a local café. Now, I was going to meet a client and spend about an hour getting them set up in their vacation rental. Then I would go back to my home office to spend another 30 minutes or so answering emails.
I’d wanted to visit Ecuador for almost 12 years before I finally set foot there. At the time, I didn’t realize it was going to be my new home. I thought I was just visiting… But when you’ve got a portable income, vacations go on forever. Money wasn’t an issue and I could easily afford to stay in Ecuador. I picked up a new apartment…a weekly cleaning lady…and lots of new friends. I had both the funds and the flexibility to be as social as I wanted. And I settled into a new kind of life in the colonial city of Cuenca—one that I truly, truly love.
I discovered the potential of ecommerce 14 years ago when I started my online maternity store…from my kitchen table. At the time, I was searching for a business that offered me the freedom to work from anywhere and the flexibility I needed to care for my young children after my husband was diagnosed with cancer. I found it in ecommerce. In its first month, my first site brought in $7,000. I was ecstatic. And it grew from there. I turned my online business into a multi-million-dollar business in a short amount of time.
“My dream was always to live on the beach with palm trees,” says Peter Ottinger. “And here on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula the climate is an endless summer.” A far cry from snowy winters back home. “When I first moved here, to Santa Teresa, it was a very small community. In the beginning there were hardly any foreigners. But since 2004, it’s grown a lot,” says Peter. “Now we have a very international community.” It’s a booming haven of backpackers and even mainstream travelers in search of a laid-back and bohemian off-the-beaten path beach destination.
Everyone loves the beach…the feel of warm sand between your toes…the sound of waves lapping on the shore…happy people laughing, playing, and relaxing all around you. Some folks love the beach so much they can’t bear to leave. They want to head down there every morning and spend each day close to the ocean. All very well, you say, but you have to do something to pay the bills, right?
It was thanks to a health scare in 2009 that I finally took the big step to becoming my own boss. For 25 years, I had worked as a magazine publishing executive for companies like Forbes, Times Mirror Magazine, and Crain’s New York Business. Even though I loved my career, even though it was fulfilling and I was successful, it was still a job, and I still didn’t control my own time.
Strange things happen when I tell people at a dinner party that I “write” for a living. At first, they’re excited…thinking they’ve just met a famous author, journalist, or screenwriter. “What have you written? Anything I might have seen or read?” I answer, “Maybe, but probably not. I’m not ‘that’ kind of writer…” I can see disappointment sweep across their faces.
The other day, my friend Rony asked me if I wanted to go to the neighboring island of Koh Samui for a little R&R. It sounded tempting, but I wasn’t feeling like making the trip. So I politely declined and told her that I had to get some work done here on Koh Phangan. Then, she completely busted my objection.
Our balcony in Costa Rica looks out at the tops of the trees, giving us a perfect view of the forest. Toucans, tanagers, and tropical birds I’ve never seen before gather there every morning. Three-toed sloths graze in nearby branches, while the Pacific Ocean laps in the distance. As my husband and I sip coffee and watch the show each morning, I can’t help but be thankful for my good fortune.
The smell of fresh paint is just one sign things are changing in our Cuenca apartment these days… There’s new furniture. New towels, linens, and dishware. From top to bottom, this place is in the middle of getting a post-wedding makeover as I settle into the married life.
As a 14-year-old schoolgirl, I didn’t know life would turn me into a travel writer and a wine enthusiast. So I didn’t appreciate Bad Dürkheim as much as I should have. When you’re treated to a meal inside the world’s largest wine barrel, you should at least remember what you ate and drank.
Last year I traveled to nine countries. I stayed in Costa Rica for six months and Mediterranean Malta for three months. This year, I am once again dividing my time between Costa Rica and the Mediterranean…as well as visiting seven other countries. Right now, I’m in London, taking a break from the tropics and the glorious island life. My days are filled with visiting attractions like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the London Eye…while stopping off at quaint English pubs for lunch and perhaps a beer or two. By night, I’m enjoying the buzz around Piccadilly Circus.
My next trip is Las Vegas. No complaints—I’m one of those sinners who enjoys Sin City. The trip is for an International Living conference where I’ll speak on Italy and its sweet life. I’m not wearing my travel-writing hat for this conference, but I’ve visited Italy so many times—at least 20—I’ve gained a great insight into places unknown to the tourist hordes.
In our 14 years living and working abroad, my wife Suzan and I have often marveled at how much less expensive it is…not only for day-to-day living but for doing business. We’re writers and editors, which means we can work at our craft from anywhere there is an Internet connection, which nowadays includes most of the planet. And we’re not the only ones doing it.
Penny Hierons didn’t think she was capable of learning another language. Now she makes a living as a Spanish-to-English translator…and she lives on the beautiful southeastern Mediterranean coast of Spain. “I assumed I just didn’t have the bit of the brain that involved doing languages because I’d never shown any inclination or talent for them. But that wasn’t true.”
At 5.45 a.m., the Paris Metro is nearly deserted and we have our pick of open seats. Across from me, Marisa is hunched over, her forehead teetering on the top of her tripod. Sleepily, she lifts her head and opens one eye to survey me in my bright red, 1960s prom dress. “One more stop,” I say, and she goes back to napping on her tripod. She’s not a morning person. But she knows this is going to be good.
Licensed attorney Ashley Blaylock thought she had her life all mapped out. She was planning a legal career, specializing in corporate and tax law. But prior to taking a summer program in international law and human rights in Costa Rica in 2003, she took a vacation to Nicaragua. And that changed everything for this Houston native. “As a kid you have a vision of paradise, and when I saw Nicaragua, it was exactly like the vision I had,” explains Ashley. “It’s a gorgeous country, with mountains, verdant green countryside, and miles and miles of unspoiled ocean.
Ten years ago I was one of the millions of middle management, middle-aged people commuting into the big city. I was exhausted, bored, and stressed; deeply frustrated that I didn’t get to spend enough time with my young family. I was a walking stereotype. Today, I still work for the same employer, but I live on the other side of the world. I have spent the last eight years living by the beach in Australia, while being employed full-time by a company in London. My employer is a digital sports broadcasting company, and I’m a graphic designer, creating promotions for the various sporting events that we broadcast.
Places where expats and tourists gather are good locations for a food enterprise that gives them a taste of home— particularly when it comes to a daily staple like bread. Central America simply doesn’t have the same bakery tradition as the U.S. or Europe, which means you can find a hungry market for European-style loaves, pastries, wholegrain, sourdough, croissants, and more. Belize is a case in point. With tourism increasing more than 10% year-on-year since 2011 and a real estate boom reaching even into the less expensive areas like Corozal, San Ignacio, and Punta Gorda, the market for specialized bakeries is strong country-wide.
After her daughter left for college, New Yorker Judy Ganes Chase began to look at the possibility of moving overseas…and getting involved in a new business venture. She chose a frozen yogurt franchise and is now the first franchisee in Central America for the Chicago-based chain Forever Yogurt. She has two outlets in Panama City. But Judy has gone a step further and purchased the franchise rights for all of Panama. She plans to open five additional locations in the next two to three years.
It is common for children to develop language skills much more rapidly than their parents. So do all that you can to develop your own language skills, or they will be effectively “on their own.” If your child is by nature more timid and less excited about this adventure, I strongly recommend moving them slowly into the host culture by finding a school for expats or home schooling. Children of this nature are typically slower to develop interests outside of the family and may prefer more solitary activities such as reading or artwork. An unfamiliar culture may serve to exaggerate this trait… particularly in the beginning.
When my husband Jamie and I left our U.S. home in Lake Tahoe, California for our new lives in Argentina, we were looking to learn a new way of life, meet new people and explore a new culture. But we needed income, and both being entrepreneurial souls, we knew that to live our life to the fullest while living abroad we needed to create our own businesses. In the past 12 years we’ve created and run nine successful businesses, from managing a vineyard in San Rafael to creating a bustling vacation-rental company in Patagonia. To say the least, we have learned a few lessons along the way. Here are seven tips to help you create your own successful business abroad…
Getting into retail without having to invest in stock is a great way to cut down on your initial investment and more quickly make a profit. And it can be very easy. Consignment shopping fits right into that mold. And, as a very American concept, there’s not a lot of competition for it in other parts of the world. If you’re gathering what others don’t want—and finding a market for it—you have a good business model for short-term or long-term retailing. Essentially, with a consignment store you offer a space for others to sell their items in exchange for a cut of the money when the product sells.
If you visit Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s masterpiece of a home, you will most likely come away with a favorite memory. While the gardens are spectacular and the house filled with clever inventions, my favorite is Jefferson’s office, which adjoins his bedroom. He could roll out of bed and get to work at his desk. Of course, in Jefferson’s time, home-based businesses were more common than long commutes. But still, he must have created the shortest commute ever. During the decades following World War II, home offices all but disappeared as people went off to work in someone else’s office.
Eileen McRae has lived in Spain three times. And during those trips her Spanish has gone from passable…to conversational…to fluent. It has allowed her to play basketball with a local team, visit Spanish friends in their own homes, and pick up a job as a nanny.
Rodney Evans’ tale of wanderlust includes midnight buses through Tijuana, Mexico…traveling around Europe and the Americas, making friends and playing music. Along the way he taught English in Spain and elsewhere. If you like Europe and its history…its romance and culture…then where better to base yourself with a live-anywhere income like teaching English than Spain?
I’m sitting on the patio of the Villa Nova Inn in Cuenca, Ecuador enjoying a few beers. I’m watching the sun go down, looking out over the manicured grassy banks of the Tomebamba river. I can hear the laughter of children in the new Parque de Madre just across the river.
Spend any extended amount of time in Spain and you’ll likely walk away having learned two of life’s important lessons: how to live in the moment and how not to sweat the small things. Spaniards are famed for their friendly and relaxed attitude, and their commitment to always putting family and friends first means life becomes fabulously freewheeling.
When Anke and David Doehm, both 53, were looking for a place to open their clothing boutique, they had a few requirements. It had to be in a spot with good tourist traffic, be a safe location, and be a nice place for their four kids to grow up. And as residents of Hawaii for seven years, they figured a beachside location wouldn’t hurt, either.
Upon arriving in Koh Samui, Thailand, on vacation in 2003, Jacqui Ashley knew she’d found the ideal location to raise her children abroad. “As soon as I landed, I had an overwhelming feeling of being home,” she says. “We were greeted with smiles from the Thai staff at the airport, and during the holiday we were overwhelmed by the friendliness of the people.”
The great part about being an English teacher is that you can do it just about anywhere. When I told people that I was moving to Scotland to teach English, I got confused looks. Didn’t they already speak English?
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The conference far exceeded mine & Maria’s expectation!! John Curran’s delivery was exceptional. We gained much insight after talking directly with Suzan Haskins, and John & Sue Curran about Ecuador. We can’t wait to visit after the first of the year. My only constructive critic would be to have lighting light up the speakers when they were on stage. I am a fan, and see the benefit of being an IL member!! – Robert (Sonny) MorrisRead More Testimonials