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The Expat Chat: Lifestyle Travel and International Living

The Expat Chat is a weekday podcast where we interview inspiring expats who have thrown off the constraints of western congestion to enjoy their dream lifestyle in other parts of the world...often for a fraction of their cost of living back home. If you want the travels of Rick Stearn with the freedom of Tim Ferriss this podcast is for you.Subscribe today.
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The Expat Chat: Lifestyle Travel and International Living
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Apr 7, 2016

 You might like the idea of an RV holiday for a couple of weeks – but how about living permanently in a van? For Drew and Brittany Neumann the decision to quit their L.A. apartment for a new life on the road was an easy one. Their adventure so far has taken them all over the U.S.A in the last 12 months and with their recent wedding behind them the adventurous couple are now heading for a new van life in the Europe.

We caught up with them in Florida making last minute wedding plans ahead of their next adventure and discovered their lifestyle, how van life has given them freedom without much of the everyday costs of living and how to find great places to camp for little or no money.

You can follow their journey, catch up with their social media channels and find out more about Brittany’s book Heartfully Healed at their website www.mrandmrsadventure.com

 

What I learned from Drew and Brittany:

  1. Set your goals before you start. Like Kyle Brady and Olivia Gould these guys set some goals and timeframes around what they wanted which made it easier and clearer to reach their objective.
  2. As Brittany likes to say when one door closes another one opens. Their original plans of teaching English in South East Asia were modified by the opportunity to borrow a family members van and do some touring. A new opportunity was born and vanning became their new preferred alternative.
  3. Putting yourself out there creates chances in so many ways. Their chance meeting with friends of John Lee Dumas led to an invite to an interview on his podcast show, one of the largest on the internet (which will be airing soon) and the opportunity to lift their blog to a whole new level. Their chance meeting with a Canadian musician has led to him joining their wedding to perform a unique twist on their wedding song. These things don’t happen by chance!
  4. Vanning is the ultimate relationship test. It might not suit everybody but can be a great way to find out how your relationship copes with confined spaces.

 

Mar 31, 2016

For many people living in a place that is 99% Muslim, in a city of over 15 million people with Syria on your border and 2 million refugees pouring into your country – this would be well outside your comfort zone. For Leonard Durso it’s just another experience of life in Turkey.

After becoming dissatisfied with life in Academia (see Claudia Tavani interview) Leonard moved permanently to Turkey in 2010 and has come to love the people, the lifestyle and the affordability of the country known as the crossroads between Europe and Asia. In this fascinating interview he shares his experiences of Turkish hospitality, the affordability of his adopted home, and why he isn’t troubled by the recent events in his neighboring countries.

You can find out more about Leonards life at his blog http://leonarddurso.com

What I learned from speaking with Leonard:

  1. Istanbul ranks higher on the affordability scale especially if living on the Asian side. Leonard has a 3 bedroom 150 sqm apartment with views of the Bosphorus for around $US600 per month - a snip compared to what the same would cost him back home
  2. Despite the proximity of unrest in neighboring Syria and the large number of refugees entering the country Leonard feels safe and at home. The people have been courteous and welcoming to him which has only served to raise the already high opinion he has of Turkish people before he moved
  3. Being an expat has enabled to understand what it’s like to be the “ other” – the minority in a majority country. It is a unique perspective that we should all learn to experience at some stage
  4. Leonard’ s experiences only serves to underline a common theme that comes through with many of the people we interview. That the view of the world that the media portrays doesn’t necessarily represent the truth and that we are guilty of grossly over generalizing about groups in society who are really no different in their wants, needs and priorities than we are.
Mar 14, 2016

Living an Expat lifestyle and leaving the 9 to 5 routine doesn’t necessarily meaning not exploring your own country as part of the journey. For Alabama native Kyle Brady and his partner Olivia Gould their old lives left them feeling trapped and not going anywhere. They had a desire to see more of their own country – Olivia hadn’t even seen a mountain prior to going!

The couple started their planning in September 2014 and after 12 months of downsizing and saving up (they set aside $300 per week by, amongst other things, not eating out) they hit the road with their renovated 16 foot RV and haven’t looked back. As Olivia rightly said, “Why live somewhere when you can live everywhere!”

We caught up with them at Slab City California where they detailed the process of their planning and preparation and how their Etsy store is able to provide them with enough income to sustain their monthly journey.

You can follow their blog at www.drivinandvibin.com and check out their Etsy store at https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheWoodenEarth   

What I learned from Kyle and Olivia’s interview:

  1. Having a vision board (this worked for John and Monika Mundell as well) is a great way to focus on the outcome you want and can be a wonderful reminder when things get tough as to why you are saving money or throwing out that old dress you used to love. It helped having the extra incentive of a free pizza from their friends but is an exercise worth doing yourselves.
  2. You can RV with a dog. Although they are restricted from taking their pet into national parks they can generally find somewhere that will mind him for the day while they head off on a trip
  3. Check out Etsy as an option for funding your new lifestyle. Like Micah and Jenna Kvidt these guys have found the online world can help fund their lifestyle – in fact the $2000 per month they are making will cover their total costs.
  4. If looking to go the Rv route there is a wealth of online information available to help you and Kyle and Olivia have found a supportive network on the road as well. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when others have the answers for you
  5. You can work RVing to your budget. These guys spend mostly on camping and food however there are places you can camp for free and they are self-sufficient with cooking. They can slow the speed of travel to save on gas.
  6. You don’t have to leave the country to enjoy an expat lifestyle. Like Chuck and Lori Ros and Heath Padgett Kyle and Olivia have learned to appreciate what their own country has to offer. Every country is an expat community to somebody!
Mar 14, 2016

 Leon Logothetis was a London stockbroker working in the city. On the outside he had it all but on the inside he felt miserable and depressed. His future looked set in stone until one day he watched an inspirational movie called the Motorcycle Diaries and he realized that his future was not going to improve unless he changed. Inspired he headed off on an adventure to travel the world spreading kindness along the way.

Leon has gone on to visit over 90 countries and inspire thousands with his books and television series including Amazing Adventures of a Nobody and The Kindness Diaries. His work tabling the generosity of others has featured on CNN, Good Morning America and television and newspaper around the world.

We caught up with Leon where he shares his philosophy on kindness and tells us some of the incredible people he has encountered on his journey. You can check out what Leon is up to on his website http://www.leonlogothetis.com

 

What I learned from talking to Leon:

  1. Bhutan measures its national happiness…shouldn’t all countries do that! Im not sure how they measure it but the fact that they do is a big head start for me. Better put it on my list of places to visit.
  2. We talk often on the show about how travel confirms we are more similar than we think. We also are often amazed at the generosity of others while traveling and Leon’s adventures confirm this. His stories are uplifting and a tribute to humanity. Sometimes we do get the formula right.
  3. Small acts of kindness can leverage into greater benefits to all. Leons story of the homeless man in Denver who offered him shelter led to a $60,000 crowdfunding campaign for the man and the opportunity to leverage the generosity to a higher level.
  4. Trust your 6th sense for danger. This is your body’s intuition and shouldn’t be ignored. Travel is one the best ways to develop this sense further.
Mar 1, 2016

From Greeks Islands to the Emerald Isles; Our Family Sabbatical in Greece and Ireland

Tina Lavelle had traveled Europe when she was younger, and the urge to return had never left. Her husband Ralph had grown up in Ireland and both felt a desire to leave their suburban Australia lifestyle for some freedom abroad. In 2015 they packed up their two children, rented out their home and firstly headed to the Greek island of Zakynthos where they enjoyed 4 sun filled months before heading for Dublin where they are now settled in.

We joined Tina to discuss the process of schooling her children locally in both countries, how accommodation sharing sites like Couchsurfing and Helpx have provided them with much more than saving money and how you can self publish a book of your adventures while away.

You can check out their blog at http://kouklahouse.com where you’ll find their book “ On a Greek Island; A Season in Zakynthos”

What I learned from talking with Tina:

  1. Kids are so adaptable when it comes to schooling. Tina’s children have spent time both in Greek school and now in Irish ones during their journey. Like the Wagoners , Scarlett Thomas and Danna Bowman they found their children can adapt quickly to a new environment in local schools
  2. If you’re looking to earn a little money from your adventure then why not write a book and self-publish? Tina’s husband has written a story of their life on the Greek island of Zakynthos and published via Amazon. Although not likely to fund your entire journey it can provide a small top up in income. Check out our interview with Virginie Carmichael who has also self-published several books
  3. Couchsurfing has been a great way to get around and get to know cultures. Even as a family of four they have been able to enjoy the benefits of local hospitality. They have also used Helpx – another unique accommodation sharing site where people can trade accommodation for work. This allows them to stay longer than couchsurfing.

 

 

Feb 29, 2016

Tommy Walker grew up in the north of England with stories of travel and adventure as a part of his life. With many relatives living overseas and an Uncle who had shared his stories of traveling in South East Asia Tommy had long held the goal of seeing more of the world for himself.

Just over 3 years ago he headed off on an adventure to Thailand that was only supposed to be for 3 months. Hooked by the experience he explored much of Asia and Australia for a year and then spent 12 months traveling around South America including visiting Brazil during the World Cup.

We caught up with him in his new short term home of Melbourne ahead of his 2016 adventures which will include Central America. We discuss the short term financial sacrifices a backpacker has to make, what it was like to mountain bike the world’s most dangerous road and how having too many expectations can be a downer for your overseas adventure.

You can follow Tommy’s blog at www.thewanderingwalker.com

 

What I learned from talking to Tommy:

  1. Tommy’s trip to Paraguay showed him that listening to other travelers is not always the answer. He loves heading off the beaten track and can always find something worth seeing in every country he visits
  2. He is willing to work long hours when he needs to as he knows it provides him with much needed funds and a longer period of time on the road. Much like Tomislav Perko a little bit of time sacrificed to a job can provides months of travel experiences later.

Being a backpacker works best if you’re a social creature who likes to talk to people but don’t worry if you aren’t; the process of travel helped bring Tommy out of his shell and it would be fair to say it may just do the same for you. As Tommy said travel finally allowed him to be himself and it may just be the same for you

Feb 22, 2016

To many parents the idea of raising children in an underdeveloped African nation would seem scary. For Sara Sullivan it’s just another adventure in a life that has seen her explore new boundaries both personally and professionally.

The mother of two has followed up time in Pakistan with starting a family in the Southern African nation where she lives with her family in the capital of Gabarone.

Today she joins us to share her experiences of the Botswanan culture, how she raises her children in a foreign environment and how living the expat life can provide you with some very tangible benefits.

You can follow Sara’s adventures in Botswana at her blog http://outland-ish.com

What I learned from Sara’s interview:

  1. There is such a huge perception at the moment that westerners are hated in Muslim countries. This is simply not the case. Although Sara did see some anti American signage during her time in Pakistan she was treated very well and with great interest by the locals. Our opinions are shaped by the media who allow the actions of an extreme few be representative of the silent majority when it simply isn’t the case.
  2. If you have safari on your mind then maybe skip the more traditional Kenyan or South African options and look at Botswana. The Okavango delta is world famous for the range and amount of wildlife there and the experience is meant to be well worth it.
  3. Botswana sounds like a meat lover’s paradise! Cows are highly regarded and a staple part of the diet. It’s a long way to go for a steak but you’ll find them far more affordable than back home.
Feb 19, 2016

Kay Dougherty was a successful well paid but stressed high heeled member of the Boston financial establishment when the financial crisis hit in 2008 and her company chose to downsize. In her mid 50’s Kay found getting a new job to be a challenge. Always a lover of travel she discovered a new role as a marketing consultant which paid the bills and have her increased freedom to travel more.

Her travel blog of her adventures with her sister drew attention thanks to Kays contagious humor and led to a large social media following which opened up opportunities for Kay to enjoy sponsored trips from travel companies.

Nearly 4 years on Kay is able to travel 3-4 months per year but is on the brink of expanding herself further and devoting more time to travel and earning an online income from it. In this interview she shares her take on becoming a travel writer, travelling safely as a woman and what young people should consider before jumping into an expat travel lifestyle.

If you want travel stories with a sense of humor you’ll love following Kay on http://blondebrunettetravel.com

What I learned from Kay’s interview:

  1. It does take a lot of followers to make a living from travel blogging. Kay freely admits that despite having a large following on social media circles it’s no guarantee of income. She does get a lot of complementary travel opportunities however and that is certainly a perk worth having!
  2. Kay raised a very good point about safety. A lot is written about the dangers of traveling overseas however most trouble spots in foreign countries are easy to identify and stay clear of – more so than is becoming the case in western countries where outbreaks of violence or terrorism are more random.
  3. Kay’s development into travel writing was quite slow. She initially went from an employment situation where her limited holidays were an add-on to her work schedule to a consulting situation (admittedly not of her own choice) where she was able to plan her holidays first and fit her consulting around it. This has enabled her to find her feet, increase her travel experiences, build some key relationships with travel boards, cruise ship companies and other travel providers, and develop her blog to the point where she now has a platform to develop a larger income stream and travel more.
Feb 2, 2016

If you’re a stressed out business owner working 60-80 hour weeks and dreaming of a life of travel take heart – so was Nicole Connolly. The former Brisbanite ran a successful business but like many we interview, she felt something was missing from her life – mainly travel and the freedom to enjoy herself.

She set out 4 years ago on an adventure with her husband Mike, initially relying on savings but soon built herself an online business helping others – firstly with their social media, but more recently teaching others to build a successful online business like the one she now has.

We caught up with Nicole in the Bahamas where she shares her journey and provides the step by step process to starting an online business yourself.

You can check out Nicole’s story at www.suitcasestories.com or find out how to build your own online business at http://quitthecubicle.co/details

 

What I learned from Nicole:

  1. Imagine the worst that can happen and if you can handle it then go ahead! In Nicole’s case she always believed that if the travel lifestyle didn’t work out she could always head for home again
  2. You don’t need higher education to be successful. Nicole is proof of that having left secondary school after only two years. She has taught herself through course and learnings what she needs to know rather than relying on “recognized” education.
  3. It’s important to set your goals before deciding what business is right for you. Do you want to be location independent? Is the money important or the lifestyle? Making these decisions can help avoid pain later if you’ve gone down a path that doesn’t match your objectives.
Jan 26, 2016

One of the first steps in any journey to become an expat is getting rid of the clutter – be it physical or mental – that is part and parcel of any home and any life.

The first step on this journey is having clarity in what you want and what you need in order to achieve it, then eliminating the surplus that sucks your time and energy; be it items, issues or relationships.

Today via livestream Blab we speak with Warren and Betsy Talbot of www.anunclutteredlife.com about their journey towards an uncluttered life from their former stressed corporate lifestyles, how to focus on what you should eliminate from your life and the simple steps to saying no that can release you from the guilt that others might put upon you (or you upon yourself)

If you’re seeking more clarity and less clutter in your life I urge you to check out their Clarity Clinic program at http://clarityclinic.anunclutteredlife.com/ref/12/

If you’d like to join our live stream interviews where you can ask questions via your keyboard check out our page at https://blab.im/theexpatchat and follow us for updates on future livestream interviews.

What I learned from Warren and Betsy:

  1. Uncluttering your life doesn’t have to mean minimalism. Each person’s definition is different and if having a big house is still part of your plans don’t feel you need to give up on it. Warren doesn’t have a mobile – this is part of their definition but doesn’t have to be yours. Do what works for you.
  2. Happiness is not about adding more to your life but taking things away. We all have habits we have created, many of which don’t serve us but we still do them. Even taking little steps can be a good start. Change the way you go to work for example. Question everything you do, everything you spend and everyone you deal with and whether they are there from habit or there on merit.
  3. I love their way of saying No! Don’t say “sure” if someone asks a favor until you know what you are getting yourself into. Be clear in saying no but add “this time” after it so you’re not completely closing the door – and offer an alternative solution that works for you and still helps keep the other party happy
Jan 18, 2016

Well they say love can make you do things you don’t expect. For Andrea Gomez the prospect of moving from her home in Colombia to the Netherlands was not something she had expected growing up in Bogota!

Andrea moved to be with her Dutch boyfriend around 8 months ago - to a small village near the border with Germany, and is slowly getting used to European life including climate changes that she never had to deal with before.

In today’ s interview Andrea talks about what she loves about the Dutch way of life and the process she went through to gain her residency. She also discussed how she was able to start not one but two online businesses with no previous experience.

 

What I learned from speaking with Andrea:

  1. If you are looking to become a Dutch resident brush up on your language skills. This is a requirement for initial residency and then again, with more advanced skills, when seeking a longer term residency. Andrea initially had to travel in and out of Holland for 90 day periods at a time until her initial paperwork was passed.
  2. What hidden talents have you not exploited? Andrea knew she had some talent as an artist but it took the expat experience to bring it out of her – and develop a surprising little business that probably wouldn’t have started had she stayed in Colombia.
  3. Shifting is a wonderful time to break out of your old mental barriers – many of which are self-imposed. No one knows you and no one cares. It’s a liberating time to explore things about yourself you may never have discovered.
  4. Cycling is the way to go in Holland. The flat countryside lends itself to it and bikes take priority over all other modes of transport meaning accidents are relatively rare.
Jan 18, 2016

Cambodia offers its visitors a land of contrasts. Larger cities like Phnom Penh are fast developing a western style with many of the fast food chains setting up shop. But head to rural Cambodia and you take a step back in time to a place where life is a lot simpler.

One person enjoying the benefits of Cambodian village life is Kirsty Thorpe, an Australian teacher who has been volunteering with a child rescue organization a couple of hours from Phnom Penh.

In todays interview Kirsty shares what she loves about Cambodia, how she came to be involved in helping these young people and what you need to be wary of if you plan on volunteering overseas.

You can find out more on Kirsty blog at https://cambodianlife2015.wordpress.com

 

What I learned from Kirsty’s interview:

  1. It amazes me the attitude of people who have been through so much. Cambodia lost up to an estimated 3 million people -almost 25% of the population - to Pol Pot’s oppressive regime yet the people are consistently ranked amongst the warmest you can find.
  2. Again South East Asia gets top marks for safety. We’ve interviewed a number of women including Alice Nettleingham who consistently tell us how safe they find it and Cambodia is no exception.
  3. If you plan on volunteering ask where the money goes. Many organizations are honorable but there are others who are profiteering majorly from their efforts. Talk to those in charge, determine if the costs are relative to where you are going and make sure you get full disclosure on where the money ends up. If it goes to the community great, but in many cases administration charges can be inflated.
  4. Would your career benefit from the experience of volunteering? As a teacher Kirsty has been able to further her professional development through her teaching there. Perhaps your job could provide a similar opportunity?
Jan 18, 2016

Steven Courtney was no experienced traveler. In fact the 22 year old hadn’t even known what a youth hostel was when he made his first trip across the US on a work trip. He discovered a whole new world of multiple languages and adventure that he had to be part of.

From that point forward the standard two week holiday was spent experiencing the world but limited time wasn’t enough and he knew he needed more.

4 years ago he took the plunge to becoming a fulltime traveler and hasn’t looked back. You’ll enjoy this interview with Steven – his passion hasn’t diminished from his time on the road – in fact he is more amazed and curious the longer he travels.

Steven shares his journeys via periscope and you can check him out there at http://www.perisearch.net/user/Travel_Visions or http://www.perisearch.net/user/Guyz_TV

 

What I learned from Steven:

  1. Working part of the year is often enough to fund the rest of the years travels. Like Brendan Lee and Tomislav Perko Steven was able to fund a good period of the year (9 months) from just 3 months of working in Australia
  2. If you’re looking for somewhere different to visit check out Tonga. As Steven says it often appears on lists as one of the least visited countries in the world but he has had one of his most magical experiences there. The people are friendly and you can experience the sort of lifestyle unlike what you might find elsewhere.
  3. Don’t dismiss traveling alone as an option. Many people told Steven to try it this way before he left and he was initially reluctant but loves the flexibility it affords him. There are pluses and minuses of traveling alone or with others and you need to find what works for you.
  4. Steven’s method of travel has evolved as he has gone on. Initially moving constantly he has now settled into a system where he will base himself in a hub and go out for journeys from there, returning to the hub when required. This gives him more of a base, some familiarity and reduces the need to cart everything with him every couple of days.
Jan 13, 2016

Not everyone plans a move overseas. For Samantha Wei it was meeting her partner Yeison, a Costa Rican native,that was the catalyst for her move there from the United States 3 years ago. After an initial period of settling in she now considers Costa Rica to be home and has made a new life, and a very successful online business since moving there.

We caught up with Samantha to discuss the process of adapting to a new country and culture, the relative merits of the two towns she has mainly live in Jaco, and El Coco and how they differ to city life in San Jose, and some of the myths around moving to Costa Rica (not everything is as cheap as you think).

You can find out more and grab a copy of Samantha and Yeison’s free e-book “Travel and Discover Costa Rica” via their blog www.mytanfeet.com

What I learned from speaking with Samantha:

  1. Sometimes learning a language can be easier learning with someone else than with a local. They tend to speak slower and are more patient with you as they are in the same situation
  2. Although Costa Rica is cheaper in many ways there are things you need to be aware that are more expensive than the US. Gas is dearer as is purchasing vehicles, and you will be charged an annual tax on the value of your vehicle even if you bring your old car in with you. Some food such as cheese and meat can also be dear as are electronic goods. If visiting home it can sometimes be a good idea to load up on things you can’t find affordably while living there
  3. Internet can be a problem and is also quite expensive. Samantha found however that having a portable hotspot was cheaper than normal internet and gave her the chance to work from anywhere – including the beach!
  4. Healthcare is generally pretty good. You may be looking at paying out of pocket which is cheaper than the US but if you choose to become a resident you may qualify for the government’s monthly healthcare package of around $40.
  5. $US are widely accepted in most places but if you have other currencies you will need to switch to Costa Ricans colones.
  6. Costa Rica has 26 different micro-climates, something for everyone. It doesn’t matter where you are you will only be a few hours away from a temperature and conditions that will suit you!
  7. Check out our other interviews with Danna Bowman and Dan Gaskell for their perspective on living in Costa Rica.
Jan 13, 2016

Part of the enjoyment of another countries culture is exploring the food options. You can discover so much about a country and really discover the rich flavors that are available in each region that are unique to the area.

Two travelers on a quest to uncover the world’s finest foods are Rosemary Kimani and Claire Rouger. The couple left their corporate positions in the U.S. in August 2015 and their journey so far has helped them find the finer detail of food in Uruquay, Argentina and now Chile where we caught up with them in downtown Santiago.

You can check out their tips and free guides at their blog http://authenticfoodquest.com

What I learned from speaking with Rosemary and Claire:

  1. Air BNB can provide you not only with accommodation but a chance to have locals show you their local knowledge
  2. Be wary of inflation in Argentina – they are noticing prices change while they were there and found many costs to be considerably higher than travel books and blogs had stated at an earlier time. They are using trail wallet and are keeping costs to around $US2500 per month so far
  3. One of the best ways to discover local food is to visit the local food market when first arriving in town and you will see what’s available. Talk to the stall owners as they will be eager to share their local delicacies with you
  4. Be aware of eating safely on the road. They recommend checking that the cashier handling is separate to the food preparation, that the stall is kept busy and food is turned over, and they carry their own utensil (fork at one end spoon at the other) if they are concerned about utensil hygiene.
  5. Like Chris Stevens these guys have opened a Charles Schwab account. You can use any ATM anywhere and Schwab will reimburse you the other banks fees. This can add up if making frequent withdrawals.
Jan 13, 2016

Would you buy a winery if you knew nothing about wine? What about if there was no one there who could show you and the winery had been in liquidation? Add to it the fact that you were moving to a strange country where you weren’t fluent in the language and had to deal with local business practices that can be challenging and it sounds like a recipe for disaster!

10 years on from their move to France expat South Africans Caro and Sean Feely have developed a working winery and are loving life in the Saussignac region, around an hour from Bordeaux.

Caro joined us to discuss life in France, the challenges of starting a new business in an industry you’ve never been involved in and how the recent tragedy in Paris has affected the people of France.

You can find out more about Feely Wines and Caro’s books at www.feelywines.com

What I learned from speaking with Caro:

  1. Sometimes following your passion does work out. Despite the odds against them these two have made their passion work and are now grateful for the new life they have.
  2. Aren’t neighbors wonderful! Without the support of surrounding wine growers (who might be viewed as competition) Caro and Sean would probably never have succeeded with their venture
  3. Sean and Caro were able to use their Irish residency as a back door to France. It is relatively easy to become an Irish citizen if descended from one. This is a second passport option I’m exploring myself as it provides easy long term access to much of Europe. I’ll be sharing my experiences of applying for my Irish passport in an upcoming issue of The Expat Chat magazine.
Jan 12, 2016

For Karen McCann and her husband the prospect of early retirement left them feeling a little bored. They had always been avid travelers and a visit to Seville in Spain convinced them that it would be the perfect place to start a new life.

They moved with their dog in 2004 and have loved life there ever since. Karen’s past career as a journalist has led her on to becoming a successful travel writer with two of her travel books already achieving No 1 status on Amazon. The couples experiments in travel – including a nomadic journey through the railways of Europe and a journey they made completely without luggage have allowed them to embrace their new lifestyle and do things they would never have done back home.

We caught up with Karen to discuss the process of moving, life in Seville and how becoming an expat allows you the freedom to truly enjoy yourself.

You’ll find details of Karen’s books and her blog at her website http://www.enjoylivingabroad.com

What I learned from Karen’s interview:

  1. Be prepared for paperwork if moving to Spain. They are experts in it! The McCanns have to regularly renew their visas and do find that things may differ between what the internet tells them and what they might find out when they get to the consulate. This is the Spanish way of life and you need to embrace it. Make sure you start your visa process in your own country before leaving to allow more time
  2. Be willing to try before you buy into it permanently. The McCanns rented their Cleveland home for six months to make sure they were happy in Seville before returning to sell up. Being clear on what you want is important as you will feel some emotional pull during the process and you need to keep reminding yourself of your objective.
  3. It’s not difficult to relocate pets. The McCanns were able to move their dog reasonably easily with them but be conscious of their new environment and whether it is a large contrast to what they are used to and if they will be happy there.
  4. Spain is a step back to a more simpler time. Siestas are still the way in the southern regions and house calls by doctors are still quite common! The Spanish love the family environment and for many westerners moving it’s the return to the simpler life that often brings back memories and has the greatest appeal.
  5. Don’t overpack! I love the experiments these guys do and their journey without luggage sounds like fun. It’s interesting to know however that not having nightwear is the one thing that a luggage-less traveler will struggle without!
  6. For about life in Spain check out our interviews with Molly Piccavey and Alan and Heidi Wagoner
Jan 8, 2016

In the search for the next travel destination many names and places are thrown around. From Asia to South America various publications try and pick the next place that people should start visiting.

In today’s interview we talk with well-known travel blogger Barbara Weibel about Eastern Europe, an area often left off the travel radar. We talk about her favorite city Budapest and one of her favorite countries Croatia, but we also explore a few places often neglected in travel discussions including Albania, Rumania and Bulgaria to name a few.

Barbara joins us for our first live stream video interview to discuss these countries. You can follow her blog at www.holeinthedonut.com or subscribe to join our next live stream chat at https://blab.im/theexpatchat

What I learned from talking to Barbara:

  1. Parts of Eastern Europe still lack some of the infrastructure of it’s western cousin but it doesn’t mean it lacks for culture or sophistication. Concerts and performances are available for cents on the dollar and cities like Budapest allow you to enjoy Michelin star restaurants for well under $US100.
  2. Barbara is able to average around $US30 per day living costs in Eastern Europe, far more affordable than Western Europe. Apartments in cities like Budapest can be had for under $US400 and many cities offer free walking tours from locals who can tell you the best things to see and do.
  3. Barbara recommends bus travel in Eastern Europe. Unlike the west train travel is archaic, slow and unhygienic. Buses travel quicker are more comfortable and often offer free wifi.
  4. Talking to locals will enhance your travel experience. Even if you’re staying in top hotels and taking tours step outside the normal boundaries and see who you can meet. Some of Barbara’s best experiences have come from the generosity of strangers who often go out of their way to share the true culture of their communities.
Jan 7, 2016

Many of our interviewees have become accidental permanent nomads, starting off on a gap year with no plans then deciding to become a fulltime traveler. The next issue is always then income – how to fund the new lifestyle in place.

Chris Stevens had completed a degree on photography back in England before he decided to head away. While traveling through Australia he met up with a guy who had built a successful travel blog who showed Chris how he could build his own online business. He had already trained as a surf instructor and had been earning an income doing that while traveling around. With the benefit of his photography training, surfing instructions and his new established blog Chris was soon able to sustain himself in a variety of ways on the road.

We caught up with him in Vietnam where he shared his story of travel, how he measures his costs and the different ways he can make a living while on the road.

You’ll find Chris at http://www.epicgapyear.com   http://www.backpackerbanter.com

What I learned from talking to Chris:

  1. Be cheeky. Chris has established some good brand relationships just by asking, which can not only provide an income source but some free travel opportunities as well. As he says they can only say no.
  2. He is meticulous in measuring costs and like Norbert Figueroa uses the Trail Wallet app to measure expenses. He manages to balance out costs between two of his more favored destinations – Asia and Australia. His costs for 2014 averaged out at $US9000 for the year ignoring airfares but even with flights he can generally stay under $US40 per day which is his target.
  3. Having multiple bank accounts and payment options is important as is diversifying his income. Chris has both British and Australian bank accounts meaning he’s not vulnerable or reliant on one place. He’s not a big fan of credit cards but receives a lot of his online income via Paypal which he can then transfer to a debit cash card for use abroad. Americans traveling can take advantage of having a Charles Schwab account which makes travel easier.
  4. If setting up a travel blog be patient. You don’t always get immediate results and unfortunately many throw the towel in before things start to kick in.
Jan 7, 2016

Back in 2007 Ian Clavis was working in IT in London. The Liverpool native was becoming tired and bored with city life in England and when a friend suggested he could get a position teaching English in China Ian jumped at the chance.

7 years on Ian has made a home for himself in Chengdu, China a large city of over 10 million people near the border with Tibet where he has a Chinese wife and the recent addition of a young son.

I caught up with Ian to discuss life as an expat in China and were surprised to find a country that was far more lenient with foreigners than what I had expected.

If you’re interested in moving to China check out Ian’s blog at https://ianclavis.wordpress.com or you can listen to his podcast where he offers advice on living in China at https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/tic-china/id1048429938

What I learned from Ian:

  1. China is more relaxed with westerners than I had expected. Ian is pretty much free to do what he likes there and doesn’t encounter any issues with the authorities. Many people work in China without the appropriate visas but seem to encounter few problems – especially when working online. There are internet restrictions but like Josh Cahill Ian is able to work around that with a VPN.
  2. Recent changes to travel visas now mean that Australians and US citizens can effectively stay 10 years allowing for leaving the country every 90 days. A quick trip to Hong Kong and back is usually enough to satisfy these requirements.
  3. Health care is poor with a shortage of resources. Fortunately private health is good and very affordable. The recent birth of Ian’s son, including 12 months of follow up care only cost $US3000 in total.
  4. Care should be taken when purchasing property. If buying new most places come unfinished and the electrics would need to be redone. Expect to have to finish it off yourself as the standard and pride in workmanship sounds close to non-existent! That said foreigners are now able to buy properties and take out mortgages directly.
Jan 7, 2016

In 2008 Tomislav Perko had it all. A successful stockbroking career in his home town of Zagreb, Croatia saw him eating in fine restaurants, wearing fine suits and living the good life. It was perfect – until the financial crisis saw him lose his and his families investments and left him deeply in debt.

He had been offering couchsurfing space to travelers including Josh Cahill and their inspiring stories of traveling for little or no cost got him thinking – could he travel the world with no money?

Eventually he took the plunge heading off on a 5 year odyssey which included sailing the Indian Ocean and surviving on an average of $10 per day. His adventures gained him attention including the opportunity to Ted Talk, and he has now gone onto to sharing his stories with audiences around Europe.

You can find out more about Tomislav at his blog www.tomislavperko.com

What I learned from Tom:

  1. There are really only 3 travel costs you need to control; transport, accommodation and food. Tom was able to reduce his transport by hitchhiking, and his accommodation by couchsurfing leaving only the third as an issue. Sometimes he could reduce his food costs to nothing by dumpster diving behind supermarkets or grabbing food off diners plates after they left.
  2. Volunteering is a great way to live for free. Tom would either pre-arrange a volunteer stint through an organization like WWoof, Helpx and Workaway or look to help out locally when he arrived at a venue. In these cases he was able to cover his food and accommodation in return for a few hours work.
  3. It was interesting to hear his experience after 5 years of wanting to start settling down. Much like Audrey Scott and Daniel Noll who set up their Berlin base after too many years on the road many travelers do reach a point where constant travel becomes hard to sustain and the need to find a base for shorter journeys is strong.
  4. Hitchhiking is always perceived as dangerous but Tom only had one incident of theft during the 5 years – as we say the world is safer than the media portray.
Jan 7, 2016

One of the most fascinating things with interviewing travel bloggers as part of our show is that you discover a world that you never knew existed before – the further you go in the more people you find and you start to discover a whole community existing below the level of normal everyday life.

At the heart of that community is Tbex – the travel blogger exchange. Tbex is not an organization but a series of three events held each year across North America, Europe and Asia where travel bloggers and advertisers can meet, learn and network with each other to further build their blogs and their business relationships.

From a beginning of 200-300 attendees just a few short years ago Tbex now has around 800-1000 attendees at their events. We caught up with Mary Jo Manzanares Conference Director for Tbex (and an avid travel blogger herself at http://www.travelingwithmj.com ) to find out more about how it operates and what travel bloggers and those starting out need to know if they wish to attend.

You can find out more about Tbex and their event schedule at http://tbexcon.com

What I learned from talking with Mary Jo:

  1. Tbex is surprisingly easy and affordable to join. They place no restrictions on who can go and at around $US127 for a multi-day event it represents excellent value for those wanting to get established in the travel blogging hemisphere.
  2. The conferences offer three great opportunities – firstly it’s a chance to learn with breakout sessions being run by guest speakers and professionals on all areas of enhancing your travel blog. Secondly it offers networking opportunities with unofficial down time and organized speed networking events where bloggers can learn from each other…and thirdly it presents opportunities to establish advertising relationships with industry affiliates eager for fresh ways to promote their products to a captive market.
  3. If you’re looking to establish yourself in the travel blogging space it’s important to be different. It’s becoming an increasingly competitive market and not everyone is able to pick up good sponsorship opportunities. You don’t need to be a fulltime nomad in order to establish a travel blog though with many writers coming from vastly different fulltime and part-time backgrounds.
Jan 7, 2016

Living an expat lifestyle doesn’t always mean having to leave the country (we’ve coined the phrase inpats especially for people who become nomads at home). For Heath Padgett the boredom and long hours of a sales job proved too much. Soon to be married, his fiancée Alyssa and he hit upon the idea of having an extended honeymoon through all 50 States with the mission of doing one days work in a job in each state. They decided they wanted to film a documentary about their journey and before they knew it had a sponsor onboard and were drawing the attention of CNN, Business Insider and Fox News.

12 months on we caught up with Heath to discuss his adventure, their upcoming documentary Hourly America and the myth of work that still pervades much of society – that being busy is the answer to everything.

You can check out Heaths website and the upcoming launch of his documentary at http://www.heathpadgett.com

 

What I learned from talking with Heath:

  1. Firstly if there are young people out there like Heath and Alyssa willing to question the status quo and take a chance on their future then our future is in bright hands. They have a wonderful can-do spirit and attitude that will never leave them wondering how they will get by.
  2. You can create your own opportunities if you’re prepared to think outside the square. These guys have created a sustainable lifestyle opportunity literally from nothing – it wasn’t even their intention but when you’re prepared to be different people will follow you and opportunities will open up. They now have the world at their feet.
  3. We do specialize in looking busy without getting results don’t we? The guilt of work attitude has to change and be replaced with a desire to spend time on something that you are passionate about and leads to results. More work life balance is needed and this won’t happen until more people question the status quo – but it’s beginning to happen.
  4. If you like the idea of being a nomad but don’t want to travel overseas then don’t. Chuck and Lori Ros spend a good part of their year traveling within the US as do other travelers and as Heath details in the interview you can travel around the U.S. almost as affordably in an RV as living in many expat havens. Find what works for you and just do it!
Jan 7, 2016

You’ll love today’s interview with Stephenie and Tony Harrison. In 2013 these guys hit the road for an undetermined length of time relying on savings they had made during the previous 3 years. (Tony had been a graphic designer while Stephenie was completing research for her degree in neuroscience). 12 months into their journey they knew they wanted to travel fulltime – Tony could pick up work doing graphics and designing websites but what could Stephenie do?

Recognizing her skills in research they discovered an opportunity in Google adwords and Stephenie has now firmly established an online business that she never could have imagined when they left. As she loves to say – you don’t need to see the whole staircase to climb the stairs!

You can find out more about their adventures and online businesses via their website http://www.20yearshence.com

What I learned from speaking with Tony and Stephenie:

  1. You don’t need your income in place when you leave. These guys didn’t even know how long they would go for – but once they decided they needed money they approached it in a very pragmatic fashion. Much like Stacey Kuyf these guys have been willing to make up the income as they go along.
  2. Going home to cement their future was important. They were disciplined enough to return state side to build up their business before leaving again…and they set some very clear income and timeframe goals as to what and when they needed it by. Had they stayed on the road the process of building their business may have taken longer and been more expensive.
  3. They told everyone their plans. It’s easy to be quiet in case you fail but by letting others know what you want to do means opportunities open up – as happened with Google adwords.
  4. Traveling with pets needn’t be a hassle. They have found crossing into Mexico relatively easy. They secured a health certificate for both dogs before going and although they may occasionally pay a little more in rent because of animals, the costs of good quality vet care, which is easy to find, is as little as 1/3 to ¼ of what they would pay in the U.S.
  5. You can find affordable parts of Playa del Carmen – their rent of $US480 per month include utilities and internet for a one bedroom apartment near the ocean…and at $US13 per day to have two meals per day out life isn’t so bad!
  6. I loved Stephenie’s saying about learning to value her happiness. Sometimes you can be made to feel guilty for doing what you love. It’s a timely reminder that we are all here to enjoy life while we have it.
Jan 6, 2016

The economic crisis of 2008 was a catalyst for so many of our interviewees to up sticks and hit to road. Lainie Liberti’s marketing business worked with green entities and non-profit organizations who were among the first to feel the pinch. With her business struggling and her 9 year old son Miro not enjoying his school environment Lainie decided they would hit the road for a 12 month adventure through South America.

8 months into the trip they both realized they were loving it enough to continue but savings were starting to dwindle and Lainie knew she needed a more permanent means of educating Miro. She discovered unschooling and became an instrumental advocate for children being world schooled from the environment in which they travel.

8 years on she and her teenage son are still loving their South American adventure. We caught with Lainie in Mexico where she shares the experiences of what made her hit the road and how their unique partnership and approach to education has provided Miro with an environment in which to thrive.

You can find out more about their adventures at their travel blog http://www.raisingmiro.com and learn more about the world of unschooling at http://projectworldschool.com

 

What I learned from this interview:

  1. Whether you believe in life outside the education system or not this interview is worth listening to. Lainie has not only gone against the normal approach to education – what she calls radical unschooling – but has thrown the normal mother/child relationship on its head with the partnership arrangement the two have to travel. Everyone has their own opinion on what is right for them but there is little doubt, in Lainie’s case, that she considers it has been a success in raising Miro. Other interviewees such as Talon Windwalker and Alyson Long can vouch for the benefit that unschooling and world schooling has offered.
  2. A blonde woman and a child in South America sounds like a recipe for danger and many people warned Lainie before leaving that she was taking a large risk. In most cases these people were well meaning but were not speaking from personal experience. In 8 years of travel the pair have had one break in – something that may have happened just as easily in Los Angeles.
  3. Unschooling is becoming more accepted by colleges and universities and doesn’t mean children have to turn their back on higher education if they go down this path. Even ivy league schools are starting to look at unschooled enrolees who often approach their higher education with more enthusiasm and better background knowledge than their mainstream counterparts.
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