Fifteen years ago, after a series of bad decisions I was broke. The kind of broke where I’d lost my job and my family and I were being evicted from our home and having our last automobile repossessed. I didn’t have a cent to my name and that year my income placed me below the U.S. poverty level.
There’s nothing quite like waking up in your own little paradise—and realizing it’s not a dream. That’s how my husband, Casey, and I felt in our first home abroad, Puerto Vallarta. It was just a small place, perched on the mountainside, high above the bustling palm-lined malecón. Just big enough for the two of us, our crazy dogs, and a flop-eared Siamese cat named Tomás Cruz.
Jim Sayers considers himself a very lucky man. “I have lived in three Central American countries—Panama, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica—and am in love with each one,” he says. “In each the people are so friendly. Add to that a wonderful year-round climate and most of the stressful issues associated with living in Canada or the U.S. are virtually non-existent.
Travel videographer Tom Reissmann makes a very comfortable living—pulling in about $80,000 a year—making short videos while traveling the world and living wherever he pleases. And, after following Tom for a week in Paris with a group of fellow beginners, I found out how easy it is to learn to create professional-looking videos you can sell in less than a week.
I am a full-time travel videographer, which means I get paid to travel the world and shoot videos for travel companies. I’ve been doing it for the past 10 years and I’m now making about $80,000 a year at it. Being a travel videographer is a dream job. I had always dreamt of going on safari in Africa and capturing the wildlife with my camera.
Dr. Haywood Hall is on call. It’s a mild summer afternoon, and he’s sitting in the garden of his house in Guanajuato, Mexico. His laptop is open on the table in front of him, and his cellphone sits beside it. He checks the phone periodically for messages, tapping out quick replies as needed. He’s dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, and he’ll likely still be wearing these if he greets any patients this afternoon. That’s because Haywood works in the growing field of telemedicine, and his “meetings” with patients will be long-distance—a verbal consultation over his cellphone.
Isla Mujeres is small. At five miles long and a half-mile wide, Valerie Pasnau feels it provides the perfect lifestyle for her and her husband, John. It’s easy to understand why they would choose the picturesque Caribbean island just eight miles off the coast of Cancún, Mexico. “The island has everything we need and almost everything we want,” she says. “What we don’t find here, we can find in Cancún, just a short ferry ride away.”
“What I love the most about Paris is every day brings an opportunity to see and do something new. It stimulates the brain. Every street you haven’t traveled down before leaves you room for discovery and learning,” says Texas native Leah Walker.
A while back I ran into an expat friend here in Mexico who was in a quandary. He’d just been offered a commercial space in a popular neighborhood to open a coffee shop, an extension of his original café. The thing is, my friend already had some other projects in the works, so he was feeling stretched a bit thin. But the offer was very appealing…not to mention flattering. After all, it was a vote of confidence from another business in the area.
What did you love about the work you have done in the past? What do you never want to do again? How can you take the parts you love and put them to work in an exciting new way? Those are the kind of questions Kate Butterworth asked herself when she moved to Athens, Greece. Kate had a background in education but there were already numerous programs available for students wishing to learn about ancient Greece.
Last December, my husband and I were bundled up in our tiny apartment in Chicago, mourning over the snow and sub-zero temperatures, when we came up with a crazy idea: Let’s sell all of our stuff and move somewhere tropical. When we sat down to talk about the things we truly wanted, it simply came down to creating a life where we control our time and spend it doing things we enjoy. Sometimes, it seems a bit surreal that we now live a five-minute walk to the Pacific Ocean, learning the pura vida way in Costa Rica.
In 2005, I decided to leave the U.S. for good and move to Panama. The tropical climate is perfect for me—especially the Caribbean isles of Bocas del Toro. Near Panama’s northern border, Bocas is what you picture when someone says “paradise on earth”—white sands, jewel-toned waters, swaying palms, and a slow pace of life. Bocas is just one of Panama’s many, many treasures. If I wanted to I could spend every single day of the year on a different isle or mainland beach.
“We could be at the office,” my friend shouts from across the water. It’s 8.30 a.m. on a Tuesday and here we are out surfing on a glorious Costa Rican morning. The sun is shining and the turquoise blue water sparkles as it catches the rays of the morning sun. This is my paradise and also my home. In fact, I only have a 220-yard walk back to the house after my morning session.
Retiring to Lake Arenal in Costa Rica almost four years ago was one of the best decisions my wife Beaty and I ever made. We lived in the little East Texas town of Crockett and the kids were all graduated from college. After practicing dentistry for 38 years, I was hitting the point where I was ready to get out. Beaty had already retired from her physician’s assistant job.
People are brewing small quantities of beer in garages all across America….but some of them have taken that passion for “home brewing” overseas and turned it into a livelihood. It seems the whole world is waking up to the higher quality of craft beers, and the market for them is growing. If you’ve been in a bar recently you know about the thirst for craft beers
Imagine if work involved saddling up and taking to the trail instead of being stuck in morning traffic, heading into the office. You don’t need to have a lot of money to work with horses overseas. If fact you don’t need to own much land or spend a fortune buying horses to set up your own business.
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.
In 2009 the financial crisis swallowed my California business and my home. After I paid off my employees I was left with only a Social-Security check. Where could I live comfortably on $1,240 a month while I rebuilt my fortunes? I did some research and decided on Thailand. Peaceful, warm, beautiful, prosperous, and welcoming to retirees, it offered me the best balance of lifestyle and affordability. I packed my belongings into duffel bags and bought a one-way ticket to Chiang Mai, a city in northern Thailand.
Last week, I had one of those moments when I realized how fortunate I am to have the life and career that I do. I am a freelance copywriter living Paris, which means that not only do I live in one the most beautiful cities in the world, I have the flexibility to actually enjoy it and my life here.
I guess you could call me a maverick English teacher. You see, for the last 10 years I’ve traveled and lived in many exotic destinations around the world, including Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, the Czech Republic, France and Spain. All this was achieved just by using the power of my words. You might be wondering what I’m talking about. How can it be possible to just use the power of your words to travel the world?
The early morning sky is cluttered with color. The large crowd that woke up as early as 5.00 a.m. to be here oohs and aahs in unison as yet another balloon inflates and calmly lifts off the ground. There must be nearly 30 of them up in the skies of north-central Mexico by now and many more to take off.
Most people have to work for a living. And only a fortunate few get out of bed each day excited to go to the office. It’s sad how many Americans are unhappy with their job. In fact, I used to be one of them. Then everything changed in one day. Thanks to America’s Great Recession, I was called into HR and terminated. Immediately. “Stop what you’re doing and pack your things,” I was told.
Almost every business now has—or wants to have—a lively and informative website. Making a website is much simpler now than it was in the early days of the Internet. The process has improved so much that, these days, just about any business can afford one… And that’s why there’s a great (and growing) opportunity for you if you’re good with words.
Shern Darcheville has a pretty nice deal. He splits his time between his Caribbean homes in tropical Jamaica and St. Lucia. But Shern isn’t some independently wealthy millionaire. He has a job just like the rest of us. It’s just that in Shern’s line of work, you’re not tied down to any one place. He can clock in from wherever he likes.
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. He is just one of many expats who has found that opportunity knocks loudest when your boots are on the ground abroad.
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.
Nine years ago I threw in the towel on a 25-year business career and a six-figure income to go in search of adventure. My life changed forever on September 11, 2001. Friends and business associates died that day. They hadn’t needed more money—they needed more time. Suddenly the savings I was working to accumulate for retirement didn’t seem so important.
Last year, I made the decision to move from Thailand to the fast-growing beach town of Sihanoukville, Cambodia. I knew moving to Sihanoukville wouldn’t be a problem for me or my career. That’s because I’m a freelance copywriter…and when you’re a freelance copywriter, it makes no difference where you live or work.
The number of different ways you can work and earn overseas is expanding rapidly for one reason—the Internet. Online job opportunities are exploding and with the right know-how, anyone can plug into them and start earning money using the skills they already have. Unfortunately, many people, especially those of the “Baby Boomer” generation, will let this opportunity slip past them…
What’s the best job in the world for income-minded world travelers? In my opinion, there’s no doubt…it’s freelance copywriting. Copywriters can work from almost anywhere in the world. If you’ve got a laptop and an Internet connection you’re good to go. What’s more, you set your own hours.
The instant I saw the ad I knew I was set for a life of adventure. But I never imagined just how far my native language could take me: All the way from leafing through the classifieds section of The Globe & Mail, in Toronto, Canada, to a new life in exotic Hong Kong. In between I picked up teaching posts in Istanbul, Turkey and Seoul, Korea. Both were incredible experiences.
We live in an emerging, international economy…one based on knowledge, information, and skills. One where employers are no longer interested in giving you a nice air-conditioned office, administrative help, free coffee and lavish benefits. Here’s the silver lining: One segment of the workforce has seen an explosion in growth: Freelancing.
the best thing about being a copywriter is that it allows me to enjoy the type of lifestyle that I’ve always wanted. Right now, I’m living and working in Southeast Asia—in a sunny, laid-back little beach resort town called Sihanoukville in Cambodia.
Ever since my first extended trip overseas back when I was a student, I dreamed of landing the “perfect” overseas job. I craved new experiences in faraway lands. And I was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen. At first, it didn’t matter what the job was. As long as it gave me a chance to support myself while living in a world-class overseas destination, I was in.
Carol Romano owns an online business and a store in Mexico’s San Miguel famed for its eclectic vibe and its unusual, one-of-a-kind merchandise. But the story of how she came to own her own business started a decade earlier…with a trip to Morocco.
Not everything is yet labeled “Made in China.” Throughout the world, artisans still produce handcrafted objects of desire that carry serious mark-ups when resold in North America and Europe. And if you like something, chances are other people will like it too.
What do a sushi chef in Memphis… a flower-petal merchant in Bali… and a Chilean goucho have in common? Nothing, really… except that each prompted an idea a traveler like you turned into a paycheck. And that happens all the time, as Steenie Harvey (a frequent IL contributor) and I just explained to a group of potential expats gathered to hear about fun, easy ways they can fund their lives overseas.
For me, with my own company doing project management for large Information Technology infrastructure deployments, my job was a means to an end. I worked to earn money to travel and take photos of interesting and exotic places. But I longed for a job I could do from anywhere, which would permit me to travel as I worked.
Howard earned a good salary as an I.T. engineer, but he knew deep down that this was never his calling. Howard wanted to be a photographer. His nine-to-five was so far removed from his dream job that he thought he would never be able to make the switch. Aged 32, he decided he needed a change.
I arrived on vacation to Buenos Aires, Argentina and was seduced into staying. You see, I figured out how to hemisphere-hop for free. This way I get two summers a year plus the snowy New England Christmas I couldn’t give up. I’m not a true expat. I’m a cheater. At first I lived off savings, and then pieced together an income from freelance writing and editing.