From Panama to Thailand to Italy…With Zero Accommodation Costs

When my husband Clyde and I decided to leave the U.S. and retire to Panama in 2011 we thought that would be our forever home. But after our first trip to Europe a few years later we were overcome with the desire to travel.

While we had plenty of time for our explorations, we didn’t have the money. But we knew there had to be a way to travel for less…we just needed to figure out how.

Once we discovered the trick to living rent free around the world, we started our travels close to home in Latin America, since we already spoke Spanish. First stop was the Andes mountains of Ecuador, where we lived among the indigenous Andean people who set up roadside stands selling home-made goods and handicrafts. From our apartment in the town of Ambato we could see the smoldering plumes rise from the Cotopaxi volcano.

Back at sea level, we embraced the warmth of the monkey-filled palm trees along the beaches of Costa Rica. Just minutes from the beach in the town of Parrita, we enjoyed our free accommodations with a pool and use of a car.

Next, we lived in a Mexican casita while we ate our way around the Lake Chapala area of Mexico. We roamed the cobblestone streets, sampled cheap tacos, and picked up fresh coffee beans for our morning brew.

But living rent free throughout Latin America was just the beginning and we both had our sights set on destinations further afield. So we decided to sell our home in Panama and become fulltime nomads. Without a house, we were free to roam around the world

Our wanderlust took us halfway around the world to the Land of Smiles, Thailand. Our free apartment in Bangkok was in the hip and trendy Ari neighborhood from where we had views of Buddhist temples dripping with gold and monks, wrapped in burnt orange robes, sitting crossed legged as they chanted in prayer.

Next we followed our hearts to Europe where we found ourselves living among the locals near Venice, Italy. The rustic, old home we lived in overlooked a fertile, green valley. Vineyards and olive and apple trees dominated the landscape while the melody of the local church bells filled our ears hourly.

In Tuscany, we stayed in a medieval, stone farmhouse on a traditional Italian piazza. And in romantic Chianti, our home was a 20-room restored farmhouse where we enjoyed fresh olive oil and wine from the owners’ private stock.

We’ve been living in Italy for three months now, all rent free. We love our new nomadic lifestyle and see no end in sight. Next we are headed to the United Kingdom where our journey begins in London and will end in Scotland.

It is always fun to see how people react when we tell them we are “homeless” by choice. The world is our home and new experiences are around every corner.

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