How traveling the world actually helps this freelancing couple save money

Right here’s a query so that you can mull over: Is it doable to journey the world and get monetary savings?

This was one thing my spouse, Karen, and I started pondering in late January 2017. It began when a university good friend posted photos of his travels all through Central and South America.

“What the heck are you doing nowadays, Scott, that permits you to journey a lot?” I requested.

Following an hour of back-and-forth texts, through which Scott shared his distant enterprise mannequin and the alternatives he’d made to domesticate a touring way of life, I went from dreaming of two-week holidays overseas each few years to pondering the probabilities of taking my freelance enterprise on the street full-time. And it didn’t take a lot.

Scott forwarded images of his rental house above Lake Atitlán in San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala — a wonderful two-bedroom house within the shadow of majestic Volcán San Pedro with a patio overlooking the lake under. It was jaw-droppingly spectacular. When he requested me to guess the month-to-month lease for this upscale house, I anticipated he was setting me as much as be shocked, so I guessed what I assumed was a low-ball quantity: $1,200.

Not even shut.

He was paying lower than $600, which included utilities, water, trash elimination and web, to not point out a maid and gardener coming over just a few instances every week. Then Scott texted the life-altering assertion: “You understand, along with your jobs, you and Karen may do that, too.”

He was proper. Since I used to be a contract author and Karen labored remotely for an organization in South Florida, we may work anyplace on the earth so long as we had dependable web. We had been already dwelling the remote-employee way of life since shifting from South Florida to Seattle in 2009; we merely wanted to ponder the probabilities of dwelling and dealing remotely outdoors the US.

The wheels had been in movement, with one main thought inspiring us: With a month-to-month rental price range of $600, like Scott’s, we may spend a 12 months overseas for a similar quantity we spent in Seattle in two months.

Analysis, analysis, analysis

Inside an hour of ending my dialog with Scott, I had a number of home windows open on my laptop computer, looking cost-of-living information for international locations around the globe. I stumbled upon two assets that offered a wealth of information.

The primary was, which supplies value comparisons between two locations of your selecting. I plugged in Seattle to see how our present bills stacked up in opposition to different international locations. A number of had been equally or dearer, which was somewhat disheartening — however my first spherical included well-known vacationer locations like London, Amsterdam, Paris, Sydney and Hong Kong. All had been dream areas for us, however every was too wealthy for our price range.

Then I checked cities in Central and South America. Bam! Bells began ringing, and my eyes popped extensive open. Relying on the nation and metropolis, we may scale back our month-to-month price range by as much as 60% as in contrast with Seattle.

I used to be so excited I may barely include myself, however Karen advised I maintain digging, which led me to the second useful useful resource: Worldwide Dwelling’s Annual World Retirement Index.

Whereas neither of us deliberate on retiring anytime quickly (I used to be 54, and Karen was 50 on the time), we had been searching for data to assist us higher perceive our choices. We pored over the 2017 index to find out a possible touchdown spot, had conversations with expats, researched visa choices, and watched quite a few journey movies that includes Central and South American dwelling. In October 2017, 9 months after speaking to Scott, we traveled to Quito, Ecuador, for a scouting journey.

Why Ecuador?

Our preliminary plan was to remain in a rustic for an prolonged time period, and Ecuador allowed a three-month vacationer visa adopted by a six-month extension. We figured 9 months in a rustic would permit us to ease right into a long-term, slow-travel way of life, leaving loads of alternatives to discover coastal cities like Olón, Manta, and Salinas; the Andean cities of Quito, Cuenca and quirky Vilcabamba, and the out of doors journey capitals of Mindo and Baños.

Along with favorable visa necessities, Ecuador was best for different causes:

  • The forex is the U.S. greenback.

  • 4-hour flight to South Florida for Karen’s biannual workplace visits (shorter than a six-hour nonstop from Seattle).

  • It’s within the Jap time zone, the identical as my purchasers and Karen’s workplace.

  • Thriving expat communities in Quito and Cuenca.

  • Low value of dwelling.

The scouting journey was an enormous success. We hung out in each Quito and Cuenca and cherished the ambiance in each areas. Quito had the hustle and bustle of a thriving trendy metropolis, which we each get pleasure from. Cuenca was extraordinarily welcoming to expats, with a smaller group really feel and good-looking colonial structure within the metropolis heart. After 15 days in Ecuador, we had been comfy with the thought of kicking off our journey in a rustic with 12 hours of daylight for twelve months a 12 months.

Upon our return, we had conversations with buddies, household and employers to ensure everybody understood why we had been doing this. The why was very clear: We each like to journey, and we’d save hundreds of {dollars} yearly by touring the world.

As loopy because it sounds, it’s 100% true. We might earn a U.S. earnings and spend cash in international locations with a a lot decrease value of dwelling. This allowed us to pay down debt quickly, in addition to speed up our retirement financial savings. Win-win.

As a substitute of assembly with resistance, almost everybody was excited for us, together with our employers. I say “almost” as a result of just a few people didn’t perceive why we needed to depart the US for an prolonged time period, which, itself, is comprehensible. We, however, couldn’t wait to launch our journey in Might 2018.

Adaptability is important for long-term journey

A lot for greatest intentions. Because of a movie mission I started engaged on in early 2018, it made extra sense for us to remain nearer to the U.S. As a substitute of suspending our journey plans, nevertheless, we pivoted.

Mates we made on-line throughout our analysis part had a rental accessible in Akumal, alongside Mexico’s Riviera Maya between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It was a brief hop again to the States, and solely 80 minutes by airplane to Karen’s firm in Florida.

It wasn’t our authentic plan, however it allowed us to start our journey journey with a minimal delay. The brand new departure date for Mexico: July 31, 2018.

A very powerful lesson we discovered main as much as our departure was the necessity to adapt to no matter got here our method. Once you plan on touring to a number of international locations over the course of months, years or many years, you want to be versatile.

For instance, we deliberate to be in Mexico for 5 months. After three months having fun with the seashores, seafood and cenotes in Akumal and Tulum, we spent a month in Mérida, a metropolis that joyously celebrates its Yucatán and Maya heritage.

Then we had been off to San Miguel de Allende for a month however prolonged our keep one other 30 days since we fell in love with the sunshine (best for photographers and painters), the pleasant folks, the music (Gil Guitérrez’s guitar taking part in at Bistro Mi Casa and Zandunga is a should!) and the at all times endearing appeal of this Pueblo Mágico.

Overlook the unique five-month plan; we weren’t finished with Mexico but. After San Miguel de Allende, we spent two months in Mexico Metropolis and Oaxaca, exploring quite a few Aztec ruins, wandering museums (Mexico Metropolis has extra museums than some other metropolis on the earth, with the Museo Nacional de Antropología, Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul and Museo Soumaya must-visits) and filling our bellies each day with the perfect meals possible.

By the tip of our time in Mexico, we’d spent 9 months there (a quick go to to the States allowed us to reset the 180-day vacationer visa and prolong our keep), visiting greater than 15 cities alongside the way in which.

Whereas our preliminary plan was to remain longer within the international locations we visited, we realized throughout our time in Mexico that we cherished shifting round to expertise completely different cities and cultures. We had been adapting, and we cherished immersing ourselves in a group for a month or two at a time, dwelling like locals as an alternative of ticking containers as vacationers.

South America or bust

In Might 2019, we arrived in Cuenca, Ecuador. It was a 12 months later than we had initially deliberate. Quite a bit had modified for us since our early planning days. We’d discovered so much about ourselves as vacationers, thriving in our need to maneuver to a brand new location month-to-month. We additionally found that we didn’t like planning too far forward, wanting to depart room for prolonged stays in areas we cherished.

Our six weeks in Cuenca and 6 weeks in Quito felt like a repeat journey, since we had already hung out in every metropolis. And whereas we explored every area deeper and loved our time, we had been excited to discover one thing new.

From Ecuador, we spent 5 months in Peru, visiting Huanchaco, Lima, Ica, Cusco and Arequipa, earlier than heading to Reñaca and Santiago, Chile, for six weeks.

We spent a month in Mendoza, Argentina, earlier than shifting on to San Carlos de Bariloche within the northern tip of Argentina’s Patagonia area. The aim was to spend a month in Bariloche earlier than venturing additional south to discover El Calafate, Torres del Paine Nationwide Park and Ushuaia earlier than heading to Buenos Aires.

Then COVID arrived. The plan had been to proceed our journey via South America, visiting Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia and Colombia via the tip of 2021. However the longer the pandemic endured the extra obvious it turned that ongoing journey in South America wouldn’t be a near-term chance.

Since we didn’t know when the lockdown would actually finish, we started trying to find journey choices outdoors of South America and had been lucky to safe passage to Edinburgh, Scotland. We had been required to quarantine for 14 days, however that was a snap contemplating our lockdown in Bariloche had lasted 4½ months.

We’ve had loads of time to replicate on our journey up to now, and we’ve got zero regrets. In reality, we sit up for touring extra ceaselessly as quickly because the world opens up.

Above all, we owe an enormous thanks to our good friend Scott. We wouldn’t be the place we’re at present if it wasn’t for his light nudge. We hope that, after studying this, you’ll really feel a nudge, too.

This story originally ran in International Living. | How touring the world really helps this freelancing couple get monetary savings


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