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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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Beautiful Buenos Aires entices with easy-going weather, friendly people, and an endless parade of cultural activities and dining spots. But, as delicious and fresh as traditional Argentine food is, it can be difficult to find something more exotic and inspired than the standard steaks, pizzas, and empanadas.
It’s 6:30 in the morning and I’m busily packing my camera bags into my Honda Pilot in our garage. My wife, Jennifer, pokes her head out the back door and smiles, “Going on another field trip I see.” I smile and continue packing, realizing that over my 34-year career; I’ve gone on hundreds of field trips, thanks to my profession.
Arlene Gibbs was on-set in Toronto, working on a movie in production, when she realized she needed a life change. The two months she spent on location was the longest period she had been away from Los Angeles since she began working there 10 years previously. “Everything in L.A. was about ‘The Business’,” she says. “Everyone I interacted with at work…at the cafes…even at the gym was involved in the movie industry.”
I ’m putting my three-day weekends in Europe to good use. I’ve visited Germany, Britain, Belgium, Ireland, Sweden, Portugal, and the Netherlands…all from my Spanish base in the beautiful city of Salamanca in the region of Castile and Leon. Everywhere I go, I seek out cheap places to stay, eat, and play. I love traveling and my job gives me the opportunity to do so while still making some money.
If you’re ready to move overseas…with all the promise it holds of warm weather, being your own boss, and working just a few hours a day…but the prospect of actually packing up your worldly goods and getting on that plane sounds intimidating, let me tell you something. You have a sister. Right now, I’m packing up for an extended trip to Europe. At the end of it, I’m going to give seminars in London on the benefits of self-employment. I love this part of my work…meeting new people, visiting new cities, and spreading a message that I truly believe in. Best of all, I’ve discovered that the entrepreneurial spirit has no geographic boundaries. Every day enterprising folks all over the world are putting their ideas into action.
Like many expat business people, Eric and Stephanie Slater spotted an opening in the market and came up with a business idea to fill it. In their case, it was a need for good bread. It’s an issue across Central America but particularly in San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua where the couple decided they wanted to settle down. San Juan is a beach town with a ready market of hungry surfers, backpackers, and other travelers.
When I was 14, my parents informed my sister Jacquelyn and me that we would be moving to Panama, where my dad was planning to take advantage of opportunities in property development. Back then, we lived in Roswell, Georgia, and I was your average braces-wearing pre-teen, with big plans to enroll in the local magnet high school, where I’d become an artist or actress of distinction. If we were going to move anywhere, I would’ve preferred it to be England, as acquiring a British accent was then a major life goal. So Panama proved quite the bombshell.
Few places are more excitingly diverse than the classroom of an international school, and this is where many expats choose to earn their living while exploring the world. There are now thousands of such schools offering opportunities to live and work for an academic year—or longer—overseas. Your position will typically include a housing allowance… travel back to your home country at least every other year… bonuses…work visas…sometimes health care…a nine-month work schedule…free education for your children…and other perks.
Belize is a small country, with only 330,000+ residents. Ninety percent of businesses here are small or microbusinesses, making it a good place for an overseas venture. I’ve lived here full-time for six years now, and I know expats running all types of businesses. It’s surprisingly easy. For example, Frik De Meyere, owner of Belize Wind Energy and a real estate agent with Mannsfeld and Associates, says he spent 80% of his time on paperwork back in Europe. But in Belize, paperwork only takes 10% of his time.
The hotel’s website wasn’t lying. There really was a 180-degree view of the ocean from every room. And the view was amazing—enormous rock formations dotted the coastline, crashing waves, seabirds everywhere. We arrived just in time to shoot the sunset and get a feel for the place, before settling into our suite for the night.
It is another beautiful morning in San Miguel de Allende. My husband is always the first one up, and turns the fountain on in the courtyard so I can hear the trickling water fall into the pond below it and smell the coffee brewing.
The Southern Zone is about three to four hours from Costa Rica’s capital, San José, depending on what part of the coast you’re going to. It starts roughly at the funky surfer town of Dominical and goes all the way to the border with Panama. Most expats, including everyone from retirees to business owners with young families, live between Dominical and Ojochal, a village in the jungle about 45 minutes south
The sun was setting in Northern India as we crested the hill, making our way to Ranthambore Fort. Birds exchanged their evening chatter from the treetops, now turning gold in the low sunlight. Along the path, a bearded man appeared in a temple door, inviting us to remove our shoes and receive a blessing.
I worked in advertising and marketing for over 20 years and it was a career that for the most part, I enjoyed. But on a vacation in my 30s, I took a good hard look at what I wanted and liked to do in life. I stayed at a small retreat hotel and participated in a group travel experience.
I found a way of traveling to the most amazing places in the world…going on safari in Africa…floating over Australian vineyards in a hot-air balloon…mingling with the rich and glamorous in Europe. I’ve been doing this now for four years…and all along the way I was making money.
During my travels through Costa Rica in the last couple of years, I’ve met expats of all stripes, including many who decided to move overseas…and go into business at the same time. There are young families, middle-aged couples, single folks, and people of retirement age who definitely aren’t ready to quit working…all seeking opportunities in this little Central American gem.
People often ask me what I love about travel and the answer, I think, lies in certain memories that stand out more than others. Riding in the back of a pick-up through the Peruvian jungle—a hundred miles from the nearest village—I caught a glimpse of an ancient temple. It wasn’t on any map. The mist dissolved before me and there it was—a palace of crumbling stones, laced with creepers. Howler monkeys cried from the treetops.
Growing up in a small farming community in Nebraska, I had always been interested in growing food,” says Ron Miller. “And when I was older, I saw a display of how food would be grown in the future and fish would be farmed. That inspired a vision of what it would be like to grow veggies and raise tilapia fish.”
Though the inn is small, just nine rooms, Mieke and Bill like to be onsite as much as possible, helping guests organize tours and transport and answering all kinds of questions about Panama. “We absolutely love this part of Panama City,” says Mieke of the Balboa area. Located in the capital’s Ancón district, this area is a world away from the city skyscrapers.
How can you make moving overseas easy? You really want to go. Everyone keeps talking about the lower cost of living…the warm, tropical climates…the lovely people…cocktails on the balcony overlooking the ocean.
I’m a writer. And in the age of the Internet, that’s a great thing to be. I didn’t plan it that way, of course. In my case it was just dumb luck. After a dozen years as an undergrad searching for something to hold my interest long enough to actually get a degree, I stumbled on journalism.
Wanted: intrepid explorers…adventurers with a thirst for different cultures…must be willing to taste new and exotic foods…have a deep and friendly smile…age unimportant…you choose your working hours but remember to leave enough time to travel, an instant social life filled to the brim with colorful people who will genuinely try to make your life as easy as possible and you’ll even get paid!
The smell of fresh tamales mingled with whiffs of sweet atole and my stomach grumbled. Throngs of people of all ages were crammed into the dark plaza with lighted brujas (lamps) as the only source of light. Someone came onto the stage: a roadie setting up a mike. An excited murmur moved the crowd.
Six months ago, Lester Herrera, 31, was unemployed in the San Francisco Bay area…a victim of “down-sizing”, despite having a business degree from USC. He had been laid off from a non-profit organization where he worked as a career counselor. After several attempts at finding another job, he decided to retire early…to Spain.
Have you ever had one of those days where you wake up and wish you could change who you are, where you are, and what you do? I used to have those days too, until I realized I could make all of that happen by cashing in on a skill I already had. A skill that thousands and thousands of people, in nearly every country on the planet, are desperate to acquire, and will pay to learn.
Canadian Andrea Pellegrino, 38, came home from work one winter night to find her partner Julio Carta, 35, bursting with excitement over an ad on Craigslist. “You have to check this out,” he said. “We can run a brick oven bakery in Nicaragua.”
For most of her adult life, my archaeologist sister Nancy lived in Athens and Rome while I spent many of those years being secretly jealous of her. It wasn’t just because she was living her dreams in glamorous locales, however.
Michael Crowther has been working for the same company for years now. Last year he was able to persuade his employer to let him keep his job…but work remotely from Costa Rica. Now every weekend is an adventure in a tropical paradise. In the past month, the family went zip-lining in Manuel Antonio on the central Pacific coast…peered into the crater of Poas Volcano…sat in the hot springs in the shadow of the Arenal Volcano…and went snorkeling in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
Nick Fawcus-Robinson wakes most mornings well before the sun rises. Padding around his bungalow in bare feet to make a cup of tea, while the cocks crow outside, I’m sure he ponders his past life now and again. Maybe.
Nick was an officer in the army for many years and a highly paid corporate executive in the tobacco industry after that.
From 1993 to 1999, I traveled and lived all over the world. And during that time, I got to experience wonderful places like the white-sand beaches of the British Virgin Islands…the cafes of Aix-en-Provence, France…the wild summer parties of Corfu, Greece…the exotic culture of Bali, Indonesia…and more.
Here are a lot of reasons why you should try your hand at travel writing. It’s Fun! You can relax by the pool at a beautiful seaside resort and call it work, and then eat out at a 5-star restaurant and call it research. You get paid to do things you’d gladly pay for yourself. Publications will cover many travel expenses, and hotels and restaurants typically will roll out the red carpet for travel writers.
Every time I open a travel magazine I flip past the first pages of advertisements, pass the index and the editor’s notes, and head straight to the contributors’ page. This is the page with the list and photos of the writers contributing to the issue at hand. As long as I have been devouring travel magazines I have wondered about the lives of the travel writers. Who sent them over?
The trip to Buenos Aires was only meant to be a quick one. Success for a Tour Guide Photographer in Argentina Amelia McGoldrick, who hails from Toronto, had always been attracted to Spanish-speaking countries and decided to make a trip to experience the city for herself in 2010.
Michael Crowther has been working for the same company for years now. Last year he was able to persuade his employer to let him keep his job… but work remotely from Costa Rica.
Canadian Andrea Pellegrino, 38, came home from work one winter night to find her partner Julio Carta, 35, bursting with excitement over an ad on Craigslist. “You have to check this out,” he said. “We can run a brick oven bakery in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.”
When we took our lunch break during a seminar I was teaching recently, our group walked a few blocks to the student union. Nicole Relyea, the youngest member of our group, turned around to face me, but kept walking—backwards. “I’m thinking about being a tour guide,” she said. “I gave campus tours when I was in college and I enjoyed it. I can walk backwards for two hours.”
Nadege Thomas lived in Toronto, Canada for 22 years where she was a successful financial planner. But as the pressures on her sector mounted and the cold weather wore her down, she began to yearn for an easy life in a balmy, tropical environment. “After 22 Canadian winters, I had had enough of the cold and was looking for a warm place,” she says.
Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula is a place set off from the rest of the country, as peninsulas often are. That helped it keep its distinct Maya culture… and a culinary culture that is now making waves. As cooks and food enthusiasts seek out the origins of various ethnic cuisines, they are looking to Yucatán for answers.
On a typical day in Tulúm, Mexico, I get up before the sun and come out onto the beach to watch it rise. Then I come back in, check my emails, and have some breakfast. After that I go for a run, have some more breakfast, and go back out to watch the water. Some days I go into town and get a bite to eat. Other times I drive up to Playa del Carmen, which is 45 minutes away, for provisions. Most of the time, I just hang out here at home.
Thanks to a climate that features warm weather year-round, a stable democratic government, excellent health care, low cost of living, and a laid-back lifestyle, Costa Rica has been welcoming expats looking for a pleasant place to live and retire for more than 30 years—and is still going strong.
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