Live Abroad episode 6: This podcast gives you the RAW Pro’s and Con’s of living in abroad in countries in Central America and Southeast Asia! We talk about some of the frustrations and challenges one can go though living in a foreign country. We also talk about scams and countries where foreigners cannot own real estate. Education, housing, car ownership, cultural differences, language. Watch this episode to get more insight. Please subscribe to our channel and don’t forget to “like” and “share!”
The staff at Compass Group International has a deep passion for world travel and exploring different parts of the globe. We do not receive any compensation for producing our podcasts and videos, please support us by “liking” “subscribing” and “sharing” our podcasts with your friends & family. Also, feel free to share this on any of your social media sites! Many of our audio podcasts have accompanying videos on our youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/wroadhouse
Aug 20, 2015: by Will Roadhouse, CEO | Compass Group International
Living on $1,000 a month: Pre-Move Strategies! Part 1
Today’s article we’ll discussing an ongoing topic, “pre-move strategies!” I feel this is an instrumental part to a successful transition to another country. Most articles revolve around one thing…statistical information of a specific country/city, why you should move there, and what are the next steps once you’re moved in. These authors forgot one important factor…THE Pre-Move Strategy! You will see many articles, podcasts and videos from all our social media channels emphasizing these strategies. I feel these topics will save you and your family, a lot of time, money and frustration! Also, please remember that each of these articles will have an accompanying podcast and/or video to supplement this article. There, we will go much further into detail of each topic of discussion. All of my articles will quickly get to the POINT with bullet points to highlight each topic. This ensures you will get to the heart of the matter quickly without the FLUFF. Let’s get started.
A one week vacation doesn’t mean you will enjoy living there!
Mexico, Belize, Fiji…were all great vacations – I had a wonderful time in my two weeks in each country filming for HGTV’s House Hunters International. But, when I analyzed my needs as a future expat…none of them appealed to me. Mexico’s coastal cities are over priced, foreigners CANNOT legally own real estate in Mexico, and there’s too much crime. Belize was beautiful, but just too boring – everything closed too early, and the cost of living was higher than I expected. Fiji has some of the nicest people in the world (that’s a big plus), but I found the cost of living to be high and it wasn’t as culturally diverse as I hoped. My tastes may be different than yours – these are just my opinions.
I’m not a big fan of island get-a-ways as a permanent residence. They’re great vacation spots – that’s it! I can see and experience just about everything in these islands within a week or two…after that – I’m bored! Sitting on a beach and “baking” all day…every day…is not my cup of tea. My point is, just because you had a great vacation doesn’t mean you will like living there.
I need to be in a foreign country with many things to do (entertainment, nightlife), low crime rate, and the living costs need to be extremely LOW! What’s the point of living overseas in a 3rd world country if the prices are the same as North America? This is why I enjoy countries like Costa Rica and Thailand. They have large beach cities and the country’s capital has plenty of things to keep me entertained. For example, if I’m in San Jose, Costa Rica or Bangkok, Thailand…the nearest beach cities are just an hours drive. Both cities are rich in cultural diversity, low cost of living, great nightlife, bars & restaurants, and inexpensive healthcare. I can’t be in a city where everything closes at 10pm!
You have to ask yourself in your pre-move strategy…will I get bored? If I’m not ready to retire, is there enough opportunities for me to generate additional income?
The most important factor most future expats forget to analyze is their current lifestyle. Take a deep look into your daily habits and where you reside, I bet you live in a big city. If you think that living in a tiny island or small beach city is just what you need…you’re WRONG! You will get bored! Remember, one of the most important key’s to longevity is making sure you’re always socially active…not isolated.
Imagine going to the same coffee shop, bar, restaurant and beach…seeing the same people every single day? I get annoyed…I need more! For example, Taiwan is a small island…but there’s over 24 million people in this country, and there’s always something to do! I need international grocery stores, movie theaters, easy access hospitals, nightlife, live entertainment, inexpensive and high end Michelin starred restaurants to satisfy my needs.
I want Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Greek, Lebanese, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, American, Mexican Food! I want great selections of wine and craft brews! I want access to fresh “daily caught” seafood, chicken and excellent cuts of beef & pork. You may think that most expat destinations have these simple things…you’re wrong! I DON’T WANT TO SACRIFICE!
Based on over a decade of experience in traveling the world selling and marketing international real estate; buyers that purchased in isolated locations tend to visit their 2nd homes less and less each year…then, they eventually sell it and move to a larger city. Also, appreciation is much higher in larger cities as opposed to isolated cities.
To sum up this pre-move strategy, you need to ask yourself:
Analyze your current lifestyle and pinpoint the parts that you love…and don’t want to give up. For example, I love eating, so dining out and eating different types of cuisine is very important to me. I love to explore, I want the convenience to visit other parts of this country by hopping onto a bus or car without having to fly. I have to be in a cities that’s rich in cultural diversity (a melting pot)…I want to see and interact with people from other countries. I love going to first run movies. Many small beach cities don’t even have movie theaters. And lastly, I don’t want to see the same people every single day!
Can foreigners own real estate in this country? Countries like Mexico and Vietnam does not allow foreign ownership…leases only. I predict that Vietnam will change this very soon.
How long can I stay in this country on a tourist visa? Do I have to make “border runs to renew my visa?”
What is the residency requirements? Is it tough to establish residency?
What is the local healthcare like? For example, Cambodia has an extremely “low cost of living” but the healthcare is terrible!
Is it difficult to get to my location? If so, I can assure you friends and family will seldom visit you. Then again…maybe that’s what you want;) Also, keep this in mind, if you’re in a “life or death” situation the more isolated you are…the higher chance you will not get the medical attention (in time) to survive!
If you want to start your own business, does the country make it difficult for foreigners? For example countries like Costa Rica and Thailand require business owners to employ a certain amount of locals for every one “foreigner” working in your business.
Do you have to learn a second language? Big international cities like San Jose Costa Rica, Bangkok Thailand, Manila Philippines do not require one to speak the native language because these are high “tourist” cities, many locals speak English.
If you have children, where are the schools, and how is the local education system? What are the costs? For example, in Thailand American private schools are just as expensive as the US…but in countries like Costa Rica, private school tuitions are a fraction compared to the US.
What do you do during the week?
What do you do during your weekends?
Trace your daily steps, write down what were the highlights…then make sure these amenities are available in the country/city you’re looking reside in.
These little “tid-bits” add up, and will make or break your full enjoyment living in a foreign country.
Please tune into our podcast that supplements this article: Living Abroad episode 2: How to plan a move overseas! Pre-move Strategies! Subscribe/follow to get updates on our latest releases.
In the last 24hrs I’ve been getting this specific question, “Will, can I really retire with a $1,000 a month?” Some believe its some sort of marketing ploy, but I can assure you – it’s not! I’m going to give you a brief explanation because I don’t want to type-out a whole book. I will have a full-length podcast to answer this question in more detail on our Compass travel/lifestyle Podcasts at:
I love producing podcasts – I find it more effective in educating the public than videos:) And, our followers/subscribers seem to prefer podcasts over videos…don’t worry – we’re still producing our travel/lifestyle shows for our video channels!
Let’s talk about housing. Living on $1,000 a month can be easily budgeted in 3rd world countries in Southeast Asia and parts of Central America. Some may say, “I don’t believe its possible, because I’ve researched online and all the housing seems high.” First of all, most listing online are on the high side because they’re marketing to UK & North Americans that make more money than your average local in these 3rd world countries. For example, you can find (fully furnished) 1 bedroom condo’s/apartments in Southeast Asia in the $200 dollar range. But, you will rarely see them in online. What does this mean? You need to go to the country and hook up with a local realtor/property management to find these…and trust me – there are a bunch! We will talk more about how to find housing in our podcasts and videos.
With this example, $200/mo goes towards your housing, you now have $800 for other expenses. I’ve been living abroad for over 15yrs, and I’ve never purchased my own vehicle…I use public transportation. It’s inexpensive and safe! Also, in these countries, I have the pleasure of never having to cook for myself. My average meal in Southeast Asia is around $1.50 – 2. These are no bullshit numbers – this is very real! The food is healthy and damn good! Local healthcare is a fraction of the cost compared to the US. I can walk into any pharmacy if I’m sick with no wait…or co-pay! I don’t have a gym membership because the buildings I live in have a nice gym. If I want to see a new run movie I pay an average of $2-3. If I want to hangout at a coffee shop – my double shot espresso or cappuccino is $1. Asia is a non-tipping country, so there’s also another cost saver. If I want an hour massage – I will pay between $7-10…I usually get a massage 1-2 times a week. I’ve never felt like I’m sacrificing any part of my life living in these countries!
Head to our channel on Soundcloud and iTunes to listen to our latest podcast. Soon we will have a dedicated podcast for those seeking early retirement for $1,000 a month. And, families looking to move abroad.
“Retirement is not about scraping by and sacrificing. It’s about rewarding yourself for a life of hard work!”