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moving abroad

Definitely not Kansas

The early reviews I’ve gotten so far on A Better Life for Half the Price echo something I heard a lot when I put out Travel Writing 2.0. In essence, “Don’t expect a lot of sugar-coating.”

I like sugar. I probably eat too much of it. But I try not to spoon any onto the information I’m giving out, especially when someone could be making big life decisions based on what I’m telling them.

cheap living abroadLife is like a box of chocolates as Forest would say, but part of the appeal of escaping your boring predictable life and moving somewhere completely new is, you get a much bigger box. You get a huge variety of surprises on a regular basis instead of one or two a month at home. (Ooooh, a new TV series with my favorite actor! Look at that, a new Chipotle at our strip mall!)

Thailand is not Nicaragua and Bulgaria is not Mexico, but here are a few commonalities expatriates or location independent nomads run into when they move from the familiar to the new.

Upsides to Moving to a Developing Country

You spend far less on living expenses and have more disposable income.

The costs of restaurants, clubs, and entertainment shows are lower so you can enjoy them all more often.

Domestic help is drastically cheaper, so you can afford a maid, tutor, gardener, frequent taxi rides, or a weekly masseuse.

The weather will probably be better—unless you already live somewhere warm and sunny.

You’ll probably be healthier, due to less stress, cheaper healthy food, and lower medical bills. Most non-U.S./Canadian cities are also more pedestrian friendly, so you’ll probably walk more.

You’re not deluged with the constant negative and bickering non-news that the 24-hour cable channels dish out every day.

Your life will get much more interesting. Every day you’re hit with new and different stimulation of all five senses, and you’re regularly meeting new people who aren’t like you.

USA beer selection

Portland, not Pokhara

 

Downsides to Leaving Your Rich Country Home

You won’t be able to buy 24 types of mustard and 48 kinds of beer in a local supermarket.

You will not have the breadth of clothing or cosmetics shopping variety you have in a typical first world city.

You will pay more for electronics than you do in the USA unless you move to China.

You may not have the lightning fast internet service you’ve gotten used to.

You may have to communicate in a different language.

You may have to put up with more garbage, more graffiti, more paperwork, lazier bureaucrats, corrupt policemen, and sewage systems where you can’t flush the toilet paper.

You may not be able to drink the water from the tap.

You will probably miss some things about home that feel like a part of you, such as:

– The greenness, the mountains, the changing seasons, or the colors of changing leaves.
– A lush garden full of plants you know and recognize.
– Your local friends and community.
– Your favorite grocery store, the local bar, your regular restaurant.
– 248 channels of TV in English plus a DVR with a terrabyte of storage.

overcoming obstacles abroad

Are You a Good Hurdler?

In the end, no matter how many things you have in one column and how many things you have in the other, a lot of it comes down to attitude. Are you someone who wants an interesting life and thrives on adventure? Or are you someone who prefers routines and predictability? Can you deal well with uncertainty and a need for patience? Or do you get flustered when things move too slowly for your tastes and when everything is not prim and neat?

Most things worth doing in life require some work, and the overcoming of obstacles. Staying put and doing nothing is the easy choice, of course. Making a big move requires some commitment and a willingness to meet new challenges.

That attitude can be influenced, of course, by finances. If you spend most of your time figuring out how to reduce your tax bill and where you’re going to dock a larger yacht, you are probably just fine staying where you are. If you have trouble finding enough cash to pay the bills each month though and never seem to get ahead, cutting your expenses in half could have a life-changing impact on your future.

If you’re in the latter camp, follow this link.

Louisiana travel

Are you my mother?

The November ’14 issue of Perceptive Travel is out, with some of the best travel stories on the planet from book authors on the move. This month we’ve got tales from Louisiana, Greece, and Southeast Asia.

Judith Fein goes traveling in order to put aside the recent death of her mother, but keeps finding reminders of not-so-dearly departed mom when she explores the swamps of Louisiana. See Did I Have an Alligator Mother?

James Dorsey ventures to the top of a rocky outpoint in Meteora to find a gifted Greek monk creating religious masterpieces in obscurity. See Painting as Prayer in Greece.

ziplining Laos

Michael Buckley goes zipping through the canopies in Southeast Asia and even zips to and from his treehouse lodging in one spot. He finds that ziplining in Thailand and Laos may not be the worry-free soft adventure pursuit it is in countries that have been doing it a lot longer. See Zipping Into Big Trouble.

William Caverlee checks out two new travel books on long-term journeys and one on the rape of Tibet (by Mr. Buckley above).

Graham Reid spins some new world music albums worth listening to from Mali to Mongolia to Scotland.

Win Some New Luggage!

granite-gear1Each month we give away something cool to our loyal readers at Perceptive Travel and boxes of Kind & Strong bars are on their way to three people who entered last month.

This time we’ve got a brand new, just-came-out, hybrid carry-on bag from Granite Gear. It’s a suitcase, it’s a backpack, it’s a rollaboard duffel/backpack! If your sad suitcase could use an upgrade before your holiday travels, check your inbox if you’re on our newsletter list already. Sign up here for future ones if not. Meanwhile, you can follow us on Facebook and see the entry details there several times in November.

And don’t forget, several times a week our regular writers post something new on the travel blog. It’s full of stories you won’t read elsewhere, whether that’s a Portland Brewcycle tour, the mountains of Nebraska, music-focused North Ireland road trip, or where to eat in Canggu, Bali.

Martinique

It’s time for the October issue of Perceptive Travel, home to interesting travel stories from wandering book authors. This month we visit three exotic sounding places with lyrical names but go beyond the usual lyrical waxing about attractions and icons.

Beebe Bahrani returns for another tale from Spain, this time in Tarragona. She and a friend sit down for a lovely lunch in an outdoor cafe, where all goes great…for a while. See A Spanish Death in the Afternoon.

After years of talking about it but never making it there, I finally spend some time in the Mexican city that is a dream destination for food lovers, mezcal aficionados, and handicraft buyers. See Handmade in Oaxaca.

garnache Oaxaca

Darrin Duford visits the Caribbean island of Martinique and tries to trace back the places music heritage while ignoring the smog in paradise. See Following the Grooves in Martinique.

Susan Griffith checks out new travel books on Asian food, motorcycling and memorable walks.

Laurence Mitchell spins some new world music albums from Europe, the USA, and South America.

Perceptive Travel Readers are Winners

Each month we give away something cool to our readers who take the time to enter our contest (not a ton, so your odds are pretty darn good). Last month I gave away a Committed package and a book copy for A Better Life for Half the Price. Congrats to Brenda R. and Mark G. who came out of the randomizer.

savory snack barsThis month we’re giving away something that everyone with a mouth can enjoy: three, yes three readers from the USA or Canada will win a box of 25 Strong & Kind savory snack bars from Be Kind. Hey, get your 10 grams of protein every day and they’ll last you almost a month. I tried these at an event where they were pairing them with different beers and I can attest that even if you don’t think you like healthy snacks, these are delicious.

As always, if you’re on our newsletter list, you just watch your inbox (or check your bulk folder) to find the monthly newsletter. If not, you can follow Perceptive Travel on Facebook and hit the “most recent” option on your timeline so you’ll actually see the notices.

 

living in Guanajuato

A morning view from my office

“What are you doing down there?” is the first question I get about living in Mexico. (Half the time followed by “Is it safe?”)

“Same thing I was doing in the other places I lived,” is my stock answer. I worked for many years to put myself in a position of being location independent, so all that changes from a work standpoint is how fast my internet connection is and what kind of view I’ve got outside my window.

There are lots of people in my position though. Graphic artists, translators, online professors, marketing consultants, sales reps, technical writers, systems analysts, and on the list goes for at least a hundred jobs. Then there’s the big one: entrepreneur. Create your own job and say adios to the cubicle forever. You can then cut your expenses in half (and lengthen your start-up runway) by moving somewhere cheaper. That’s what I talked about with Jen Leo, Gary Arndt, and Chris Christensen on the This Week in Travel podcast. You can get it on iTunes or click on the pic below to stream it:

This week in travel podcast

OK, first we talked about fights over reclining airport seats and a public statue you can get sued for publishing a photo of, but after that we get into lots of info about moving abroad. After you’ve listened, go here and you could win a free copy of the book or the Committed package: This Week in Travel promo.

Sabbaticals and Long-term Travel

But what if you only want to take off for a while, not permanently? That’s fine too. I’ve done it many times. Here’s a great BootsnAll article from a year ago that I and lots of other people were quoted in with their experiences. It’s called Why a Travel Break Can Be the Best Career Move You Ever Made and it dispels some of those myths about how your career will take a nosedive if you go traveling for more than two weeks.

A gap on the resumé? Better to have actually done something during that gap than to have been one of the millions who sat around waiting for the phone to ring. If you spin it right, that trip or living abroad experience can set you apart from the pack also. For many it’s more of a positive than a negative when they go back to the grind.

Where to travel for cheap? You’ll have to close the “50 Hottest Sex Tips” pop-up ad to get to this Men’s Health slideshow article, but there are some good ideas on bargain destinations from yours truly. (They decided I knew more about that than how to pick up women or get six-pack abs.)

You need to hold onto your money though and keep it from prying fingers. I’m quoted in this article from Nora Dunn on 14 Ways Travel Experts Carry Cash While Traveling.

Speaking of safety—and false perceptions—I’ve said before that a lot of people avoid Mexico City for outdated reasons. Here’s an article I wrote for American Airlines’ magazine on how to have a great 48 hours there.

Burma boy monks

Yes, it’s time for a new issue of Perceptive Travel, bringing you interesting travel narratives from wandering book authors since 2006.

This month we visit three continents and explore areas that aren’t usually on the tourist map. Camille Cusumano returns with a recounting of her time teaching tango to disadvantaged youths in a rough part of Kenya’s capital. With the program running on donated funds, it’s not a happy dance when the money starts lining pockets. See Dance of Betrayal in Nairobi.

Michael Shapiro exits the well-worn pagoda trail in Myanmar and visits Kalaw, once a British hill station. He lucks upon a two-day event meant to anoint new monks to be, from ages 4 to 11, before they enter the monastery. With parades, grand costumes, and head shaving, it’s a colorful glimpse into local culture. See Rites of Passage in Myanmar’s Tribal Highlands. Farmer Tom

Becky Garrison goes on a very strange press trip when she hooks up with Kush Tourism for a “Cannabis Grow Tour.” With Washington State being the next in line to legalize marijuana, farmers and vendors are gearing up for a green gold rush. See the full story here.

Every month we feature round-ups of new travel-related books worth checking out and dive into some world music worth downloading to take on the road. William Caverlee reviews a book on riding the seas on a gargantuan warship, going from the top of Everest to the sea by paraglider and kayak, and yet another pictorial list book from Lonely Planet.

Graham Reid does the music honors, spinning a rare union of NYC and Guinea, time-travel in India on a collection from the vaults, classic old soul from Africa, and a surprisingly good compilation of African blues from Rough Guides. See them all here.

better life abroadEach month our newsletter subscribers and Facebook followers have a shot at winning something useful and in August it was Don L. of Alaska. He scored a new pair of Pickpocket Proof nylon business pants, which are my current faves. He’ll be holding onto all his valuables when he heads off to Southeast Asia next month.

This time we’re giving away my new book, A Better Life for Half the Price to one reader, while another will get the Committed package that comes with a lot of extra insider access goodies ($89 value). If you are already on the newsletter list, watch your inbox. If not, pay attention to the Facebook feed. Subtitled “How to prosper on less money in the cheapest places to live,” it’s essential reading for anyone contemplating a life upgrade by moving abroad.