The Expat Chat: Lifestyle Travels 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 Travels and International Living




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Now displaying: November, 2015
Nov 26, 2015

Ever heard of Wwoofing? No it doesn’t involve howling at the moon! Wwoof is a means of swapping work for travel where you trade a couple of hours per day in return for accommodation and meals on an organic farm. Today’s guests have successfully wwoofed their way around the world in a variety of countries but in recent years as their desire to live a backpacking life has diminished they have switched to housesitting as a means of reducing their travel costs.

Cheryl MacDonald and Lisa Chavis spend around 8 months of the year overseas while still generating income online working in their respective areas of expertise. For the four months back home they up the rate of earnings and plan their next adventure. Their lifestyle has enabled them to see much of the globe while controlling their living costs and topping up their income during the months they are back in the US.

We spoke with Cheryl and Lisa where they shared their experiences of Wwoofing and talked about the perceived boundaries that make people stop living the type of lifestyle they now have. You can find out more about their adventures on their website

What I learned from talking to Cheryl and Lisa:

  1. Wwoof provides an opportunity to swap work for travel in over 100 countries worldwide. You can choose your destination and generally only have to give up a few hours per day of your time – but it’s not luxury living and suits the backpack fraternity best. As 40 somethings however they enjoyed the experience and didn’t feel out of place with the younger travelers they encountered.
  2. Earning from your old skills is always an option. Who would have thought a pharmacist could still make money while traveling? For Lisa she is able to top up her income checking medical records and doing some medical writing p roving that almost any skill or career can provide you with money while you travel.
  3. Ask the right questions. These two are a glass half full couple! They ask how they can do things not complain about why they can’t and it has opened many doors for them.
Nov 24, 2015

One of the benefits of living an expat lifestyle is that you can save a fortune living in some wonderful countries that offer a high quality of life for cents on the dollar compared to the western world. But who says you have to sacrifice income and live on the smell of an oily rag? Today’s guest has combined the best of lifestyle with building an online business that last month provided him with over $22000 in largely passive income.

Johnny FD (the FD stands for fighting and diving - his two Thai passions) left Los Angeles and a corporate job with Honeywell to enjoy an overseas holiday in Thailand. Loving the experience he returned to his cubicle intent on relocating – after all he knew he could live on $600 per month while there. Depending on savings for the first twelve months he took a dive course to be an instructor but knew he needed an alternative if he didn’t want to turn his passion into a chore. He investigated online income options and created an e-book that generated sales but a coffee meeting with an entrepreneur who made money from drop shipping convinced Johnny that there were more opportunities on the internet than he had investigated.

Three years on and he now has several successful online stores but is earning just over half of his money from affiliate marketing. He hasn’t lost his passion for work but now focuses on building his income rather than trading time for money – his income occurs whether he works or not

In this interview Johnny shares the story of how he got started and some tips on how to determine an online income that works for you. You can follow his exact recipe via his blog


What I learned from talking with Johnny:

  1. Living an expat lifestyle doesn’t mean doing without. Johnny still lives comfortably on considerably less than he’d spend back in the US but his strong income gives him peace of mind and the chance to build investment savings while he relaxes on the beach.
  2. Online income can be erratic – you can’t guarantee it’s consistency but it pays to have more than one string to your bow. Johnny had initially built his income from drop shipping (the process of selling online where the manufacturer sends the goods direct to the buyer and you don’t have to handle it) but now gets just over half his income from affiliate marketing (promoting other people’s products)
  3. Johnny does much of his own work because he enjoys it with limited use of outsourcers. His income however is largely not connected to the time he puts in – most of the time he does spend is on growing his business and adding other forms of income.
  4. Get help from others. When he was learning he would regularly take entrepreneurs out for coffee and pick their brains and he doesn’t stop learning now just because he has achieved success.
Nov 24, 2015

Fancy a lifestyle hanging out with Hollywood A-listers? Life in the movie industry had its pluses but for Brit Gillie Hutchinson the birth of her child in her mid-30’s meant a slower less glamorous life was necessary. She returned to her roots in the fashion industry working for the Countess of Carnarvon at Highclere Castle – a location better known as the setting for Downtown Abbey. To all intents and purposes she seemed to have the perfect career selling fashion for a recognized brand and swapping Hollywood for the landed gentry but for Gillie she never really felt at home.

A 2002 holiday to Gibsons in British Columbia changed everything with her husband and her returning with the deed to a new holiday home. 4 years of visits and they had had enough of just being holidaymakers – and in 2008 the family of 3 moved to Canada permanently. Her husband’s job in computer software was able to provide for them – but left Gillie wondering what to do. Well what else do you do when you have a view of a harbor? Gillie bought a boat and took up sailing and now spends her time giving sailing lessons and skippering charter boats in places as diverse as New Zealand, Croatia and the Mediterranean. You can find out more about her experiences in British Columbia and her various sailing tours on

What I learned from Gillies interview:

  1. You’re never too old to make a new start. Not only did Gillie move locations she developed a brand new career in sailing with no previous experience. At the age of 50 when most feel they are set in their ways she took on a new lifestyle of adventure she would never have imagined
  2. The experience of her 12 year old son relocating was not a cause for concern – he has blossomed in his new environment. Sometimes we fear things for our kids that they don’t worry about themselves.
  3. Owning stuff is not the recipe to happiness – we hear this so often with people we speak to, they are generally happier not chasing after the next trophy to add to the show and tell cabinet.
  4. Don’t have regrets – as Gillie says you can always go back to your old life – but you might just find that you don’t want to.
Nov 23, 2015

If others can make money online why can’t I? That’s the question that Sharon Gourlay asked herself in 2013. With her kids still of pre-school age she knew she had a window of opportunity to give up her job, build an online income and move overseas, enjoying the world while living off her digital income.

Within 12 months Sharon had started to get results – she has since built her online business up to $5000 per month and growing while she enjoys living in Penang (very affordably) and traveling the world from her base with her family of 4 (also very affordably).

In this interview Sharon shares the story of how she built her blog, how she finds living in Penang, and gives some tips on how to monetize a travel blog which she also shares via her website

What I learned from Sharon’s interview:

  1. You can build a blog worth $5000 per month. We know from our interview with Yeison and Samantha that this is possible. Sharon did it by having a plan as to how she hoped to earn it and working hard on targeting to her market.
  2. SEO is important. Sharon focused on this part of building her blog, knowing that it would take time but would give her strong long term benefits so that she could eventually just focus her time on maintaining her business
  3. Invest in learning what you need to learn. Sharon spent all the initial money she made from her blog on educating herself further
  4. Diversify your income. Sharon has been closed down by an affiliate company so it only emphasizes that you don’t want to rely entirely on any one source of income – you never know when Facebook, Google or someone else will decide they don’t like what you are doing – and remember; with many of these large companies you are considered guilty until you prove you are innocent.
  5. Write quality content. Too often when looking to earn online income or build traffic it becomes a focus about looking for tricks to build your business. As Sharon rightly says it isn’t just about the number of website visitors but whether you are getting the right visitors who will take action. Don’t become fixated on page views either.
  6. Look at Norwegian airlines for budget flights. I just priced a fare from Bangkok to Oslo at $US152. They also offer transatlantic deals – may be well worth a look
  7. You can travel Europe on under $100 per day as a family of four, its all about traveling slow and looking for affordable food and accommodation. Crack those nuts and the cost can drop substantially.
Nov 23, 2015

If you’re looking to travel than teaching English can be a great way to fund your lifestyle as Jack Askew  showed in an earlier interview. Jo Bruce headed to Korea from New Zealand 10 years ago armed only with a child care degree which was enough to give her a foot in the door of the English teaching game. Once there she was able to upskill sufficiently to relocate to Malaysia where the criteria for accepting English teachers was much stricter.

Jo is embarking on a new adventure, walking the Te Araroa walk from Cape Reinga to Bluff, the full length of New Zealand which will take her around 5 months and cover 3000kms. She then plans to walk even further traversing the Pacific Crest trail from the Mexican border to Washington State made famous by Reece Witherspoon in the movie “Wild”.

If you’re interested in embarking on a career teaching English overseas, or are an avid hiker looking for inspiration then you’ll enjoy listening to Jo.


What I learned from Jo’s interview:

  1. Korea can be a great entry point for teaching English. As long as you have a degree and fit the mold of European looks (sadly slim and attractive seems to be a helping factor) then you could find Korea is a great backdoor entry into this market as Dain and KJ Leathem also found
  2. Malaysia has a stricter criteria for teaching English however Jo’s time in Korea gave her the chance to upskill with a Celta course and turned her degree into a Masters while living there. She was then able to move to Malaysia with sufficient skills to start teaching other teachers in how to teach English
  3. Ipoh is a very affordable city situated just two hours from Kuala Lumpur and the same distance from Penang. Jo was able to live there in a 3 bedroom apartment with gated complex and swimming pool from as little as $US350 per month. All up living costs including food (she ate out a lot) massages, facials and other perks came to under $US1000 per month, not bad in anyone’ s language.
Nov 19, 2015

Most people would think about visiting a country before making the leap to shift there. Most people would also think twice about relocating their business to a foreign country that they can’t really speak the language of – but Rachel Taylor is not most people. To coin her own phrase sometimes it’s easiest to step off a cliff!

Rachel made the move from Sydney, Australia to Paris, France just on two years ago and has settled in well to the Parisian lifestyle where she shares a flat with two room-mates. Her graphic design and website business has traveled with her and she still gets most of her work from back home along with some business she picks up from the expat community in Paris. So far she has loved the experience and doesn’t regret her decision in the least.

Today we talk to Rachel about the costs of living in Paris and how to relocate your online business successfully overseas.

Rachel can be contacted via her website

What I learned from Rachel’s interview:

  1. Going to expat meetings can be a great way of building your business locally even if you are an online worker. Remember a lot of expats might not be able to speak the language and would feel more comfortable dealing with someone of their own culture so this can offer you opportunities in a specialist niche.
  2. Paris isn’t as affordable as other parts of Europe or France but if you live like a local you can soon find the places to eat affordably that the tourist set never find out about.
  3. There is no more thrilling experience than traveling Paris at night on the back of a scooter – I will have to add it to my bucket list of things to do!
Nov 18, 2015

To all intents and purposes Danna Bowman had the perfect life, living in Dallas they owned their own business, went to all the right places, spoke with all the right people and by her own confession did a good job of keeping up with the Jones. It came at a price though as they lived on the treadmill of working hard, getting more debt and buying bigger things.

One day they received an email about the benefits of living in Costa Rica – and it got them both thinking. On her husbands 40th birthday they flew off to their new life in Atenas Costa Rica – never even having visited the country before with their two young children aged 7 and 4.

7 years on and they still call Costa Rica home living in the area recognized as having the world’s best climate. Danna loves her new life despite some of the short comings of small town Central American life and is glad they made the move.

Since moving to Costa Rica Danna has been diagnosed with a thyroid problem – you can find out more about this and her involvement in helping others with thyroid issues on her website

What I learned from Danna’s interview:

  1. Costa Rica have no military – now I don’t think there is many countries that would have voluntarily disbanded their armed forces but it appears Costa Rica is one!
  2. Although Danna educates her kids in the Costa Rican public system after initially putting them into private school she does feel the Costa Rican system is not as focused as the US one. That said she doesn’t feel there would be any issues around them integrating back into the US workforce when they leave school.
  3. It’s not possible for expats to work in Costa Rica. Online work would not be an issue but obviously they don’t want jobs being taken away from Costa Rican citizens. You either need to work online or be retired.
  4. Despite its back to nature image food can be expensive and it can be difficult to get hold of organic food. If this is an issue you would need to look at a way of working around this.
Nov 17, 2015

Sometimes good things can come from bad experiences and you can look back and be grateful for what went wrong. For Nat Smith and Jodie Thompson a failed business deal in Dubai left them with two choices – head home to Australia with their tails between their legs or embark on something new. Deciding that Europe was closer than Australia they made their mind up – but with only a few hundred dollars to their name how were they going to survive?

That’s when they discovered housesitting and its ability to not only provide a free roof over your head but the opportunity to experience a community in a unique way other accommodation just couldn’t provide.

Several house sits later having enjoyed the experiences of Britain, Europe, Central and North America they found people beginning to ask them what their secret was to finding good housesits on a regular basis – and from that House Sitting World was born – their online resource which provides forums, books, magazines and online training for the new and experienced housesitter to learn and share from.

If you’re interested in housesitting then you’re going to live this interview. Nat and Jodie generously share their top 8 tips on what you need to do if you want to get into housesitting.  Check out the academy here

Here’s Nat and Jodie’s 8 Tips to Becoming an Effective Housesitter:

  1. Ask yourself WHY do you want to house sit? This exercise is really important and is clearly outlined in both their book and online course - and while it may seem like a silly question… go beyond the surface of “I want to travel or I want free accommodation” 
  2. Prepare your being of service mindset- house sitting is far from a ‘Free holiday’ - it comes with responsibilities, not just while on the sit, but also before and after. And ask yourself honestly - can I feel comfortable in someone else’s space and respect their rules and way of living?
  3. Start gathering references asap- again, checklists & templates are in the academy, but try to get your written references stating the skill sets important to house & pet sitting
  4. Brush up on your skill sets- if you haven’t cleaned a pool before, don’t have a green thumb, would feel more confident with knowing pet first aid - get some hands-on experience in the areas that can help you be a great sitter
  5. Sign up to platform like House Carers or Nomadorif you are looking for international gigs. Academy members get discounts for both.  Start searching the sites that offer listings in the areas you are seeking - there are Country/region specific sites as well. Don’t fall for the marketing of the largest site (TrustedHouseSitters) thinking they are the best, while they have the biggest marketing budget, in our opinion, it’s a very overcrowded and competitive site now with many members not getting value for their membership fee and making it harder for newbies to get a look in.
  6. Write a great profile/resume- keep in mind what the owner is looking for, they don’t care if you have traveled the world, they want to know that you can lovingly care for their prized possessions - pets & home.
  7. SECRET TIP (no-one else ever suggests this, yet this was the first thing they took advantage of themselves) - use your current or former profession in your headline, don’t be like the thousands of ‘loving, caring, trustworthy, honest, reliable blah, blah adjectives… a trade, professional, job paints a real picture
  8. Do what 90% of people don’t do - record a video & include it on your profile - it’s the key to start getting the best gigs available - guaranteed!
Nov 17, 2015

What’s the best way you could spend $1500 on travel? What if I told you, for that money you could get 28 flights? What if some of those flights were business and even first class? What if those flights enabled you to travel from Europe, through Asia, Australia, New Zealand and back? What if it included some 5 star accommodation and the chance to sip champagne and nibble in airline lounges while you await your flights?

Seems too good to be true? Well it did to me to until todays guest told me they have done it…and they do it all the time!

Leanna and Andy Brown are expat Americans living in Germany, using it as their base to travel much of the world. Leanna and Andy are travel hackers – people who devote a good portion of their time to searching out the best ways to save money on their travel deals. Today we speak with Leanna who shares with us much of the secrets of what they do – including how they come to own 60 credit cards (none of which they use) and why they pay each other on Amazon!

I knew I was going to like this interview, and you will too! Check out their website  and their Very cool free tool - the Flyer Miler - for working out which credit card can give you what points for which trip


What I learned from talking with Leanna:

  1. I knew many credit card companies gave you bonus points for signing up – I didn’t know that some of them will give you enough for a free flight straight away. Leanna got her sister onto a card that paid for her return flight from the United States to Germany – not bad for filling in a bit of paperwork!
  2. Not all credit card points are created equal. It’s worth taking the time to investigate which ones give the most points – and what those points will get you. Sometimes less points can be worth more for different airlines…there is a reason they give you points and not dollars!
  3. They live by the mantra that "Travel doesn’t have to be expensive – just memorable”. Leanna confesses that they are particularly frugal, but they have prioritized travel in their life and don’t feel they are sacrificing anything in order to achieve it. It’s the same old story – most of what we spend money on is “stuff” that has little or limited benefit after the normal purchase. These guys prefer moments over mementos and are richer for the experience. Living on $35000 per annum is fairly economical living for most couples living in suburbia – but what if you could live on that amount AND see 10 countries per year as well? If Leanna and Andy can do it why can’t you?
Nov 16, 2015

How does 12 months traveling the world with 4 children sound? What if you had to spend 10 of those weeks together in a combi van? For some people this would be too much of a challenge – for the Morgan Family; Jarred, Iri and their four children aged 5 – 13 years it’s been the making of them as a family.

The Morgan’s left Perth, Australia in December 2014 on a one year journey around the world, starting in Bali, heading up through most of Asia, then heading to Europe and Great Britain before leaping across the ditch to Canada and the United States where we caught up with them visiting family in Wisconsin.

The catalyst for their journey was the death of a young relative with leukemia. On the way to the funeral they discussed their own future and the opportunities they could give their children to live life to the fullest – and an adventure was born.

You’ll love this interview about how a normal family were able to transform their experiences and relationship with each other while on the move.

To follow their journey make sure you catch their blog at


What I learned from speaking with Jarred and Iri:

  1. Google flights are a good option for seeking out airfare deals. The Morgan’s found some cheap deals looking at smaller airlines heading out of smaller destinations including a cheap flight from Ireland to Canada. All up they have spent around $US5000-$7000 getting their family of 6 from A to B during the 12 months.
  2. If you’re thinking of a long sabbatical like theirs they recommend doing it in steps. A weekend away, then maybe a week to an established holiday destination before you commit to being a family crammed in a small space for a period of time. Small irritations can become bigger when you’re on the road.

The benefits for children are every bit as good as for adults. The Morgan’s have home schooled and have been able to provide their children with many real life examples during the journey. More formal learning can be accessed online

Nov 12, 2015

If you think traveling the globe has to be all about scraping by on meagre savings and sleeping on dirt floors – think again. There are many travel bloggers who have built very successful businesses from their adventures and today you’re going to meet one of the most successful.

 US citizens Audrey Scott and Daniel Noll first hit the road in 2002 living in Prague, Czech Republic while working corporate jobs. After 5 years they decided they needed some adventure and in 2006 hit the road on a journey which, given the savings they had, was expected to last around 12 to 18 months.

 They were amongst the earliest travel bloggers out there and realized after a period of time that there were people interested in their story beyond family members. With an ever growing following they worked on their website and blog to the extent that it now provides them with an income through sponsored arrangements and leads through speaking engagements including Ted Talks they have given.

 If you want to learn more about their travels and how they have successfully built a thriving travel business from their journey you can check out their resources at or see them speak at the TBEX Dublin travel conference


What I learned from speaking with Audrey and Dan:

  1. It’s possible to have a travel lifestyle on steroids. These guys now get well over 1 million website views per annum aside from their various social media and You Tube hits. They have given Ted Talks and are regularly asked to speak at some of the largest travel conferences around. There is a whole industry out there which is bigger than most people realize – it was especially interesting to hear the dynamics of the travel conferences, who goes, and what gets discussed.
  2. It might sound like the good life but there is a point where hitting the road permanently can seem too much. Audrey and Dan hit this around the 5 year mark, as have many of their traveling friends, and hence their decision to settle in Berlin for around 6 months of each year, giving them the chance to nest again. If you decide to hit the road make sure you have a landing plan should you decide you want to set up roots somewhere, at least for part of the year.
  3. As exciting as it is to be paid to do what you love it can be difficult finding a break between lifestyle and earning a living when you make your money from reporting how you live. Audrey and Dan have to try and segment their time and have experiences that they don’t feel obliged to blog about. It’s important to have clear distinctions between “work “travel and pleasure for the sake of your own enjoyment.
  4. It was interesting to hear their approach to writing a travel blog. They have replaced quantity with quality, reducing their number of articles down from 10-15 per month to around 2-4. The articles are longer however and tell more of a story which was a consistent theme they spoke about during their interview. It’s not unusual to find them doing 10-15 redrafts of their posts – something that would shock most bloggers, but it’s a reflection of the quality that they want to put into their articles – not only for readers but for sponsors who they promote.
Nov 12, 2015

If you love inspiring stories of people who don’t let limits stand in their way then you’ll love today’s interview. Gwen McCauley suffered the loss of her first husband in an accident 40 years ago. Looking to escape for a while she booked a holiday to the Algarve region of Portugal, and fell in love with the place.

35 years on at a stage when many people are looking to settle quietly into their senior years the 60 something made two life changing decisions – she was going to relocate from Ottawa to Nova Scotia, Canada and she was going to step up her visits to the Algarve. This year, at the tender young age of 68 Gwen will be spending half the year in Nova Scotia with a full 6 month winter in Portugal where she has an apartment lined up and more work ahead as a restaurant critic.

We spoke with Gwen in Nova Scotia where we discussed living in the Algarve, and how being on a pension is no barrier to living the life you want to lead.

You can follow Gwen’s travels at her blog


What I learned from Gwen’s interview:

  1. Don’t let age be a barrier! Gwen is approaching 70 but is getting more adventurous as she gets older. Traveling and getting out into the world can build confidence, especially if you are reaching a stage of live where it becomes easy to put up the shutters.
  2. You don’t have to commit to a permanent move. Gwen has developed a nice combination of expat and inpat lifestyle having moved to Nova Scotia in the last few years. She isn’t having to give up what she loves about Canada and has expanded her group of friends as a result.
  3. If getting a visa extension in a Schengen country keep in mind that the extension only applies to the country in which you get the extent. Don’t extend a visa and expect to go further afield once you have it
  4. If you love what you do then you don’t need to retire. Gwen enjoys working as a writer and between her blog and her restaurant critiques she keeps herself active and busy.
Nov 11, 2015

Sometimes travel is just such a passion you will move heaven and earth to do it. For Italian Claudia Tavani she knew from a very young age that she needed to do it as much as she could.

Born on the island of Sardinia, Claudia developed a love of travel with trips growing up with her family. She eventually left school to study and soon became entrenched in the world of academia, getting her Phd and marking papers as a means of earning in livelihood in the hallowed halls of England and Italy.

But she became increasingly frustrated with life as an academic and embarked on a backpacking trip through South America where she discovered the world of travel blogging during a conversation with a fellow traveler.

Two years on and she has committed wholeheartedly to a life of travel using her home in Sardinia as a base. No more academia for her!

You can follow Claudias story and her travel planning business at her website


What I learned from speaking with Claudia:

  1. Cuba is an enticing country when you get to know it. It still has much of its original flavor but don’t leave it too long before visiting as it will slowly change as most other places found by tourists do.
  2. Nicaragua has again been mentioned. It is one of Claudia’s favorite spots and is fast developing a reputation as an expat haven. Its history is well behind it and the future looks exciting for this Central American country.
  3. Don’t feel because you’ve invested a lot of time and energy in your qualifications that you must devote the rest of your life to it. Much like Brendan Lee Claudia knew her education wasn’t where her heart was but she’s not afraid to take a risk to do what she loves.

Be a patient traveler. Much of Central America needs a lot of patience, but if you relax and just go with it you may find a better person coming out the other end

Nov 9, 2015

If you’re worried about being a victim of the next round of redundancies why not take the bull by the horns and fire yourself! That’s what todays interviewees Alan and Heidi Wagoner did.

Deciding that it was only a matter of time until one of them faced a corporate axe they terminated themselves, sold up the home and with their two younger children relocated to the picture postcard seaside town of Almunecar, Spain.

The children enrolled in a local school without knowing any Spanish and within months were reveling in their new school environment. The Wagoners recently took several months off to travel Asia home-schooling their children along the way.

We caught up with them back in Spain where we discussed the Spanish lifestyle and how to integrate your children into a new culture and environment.

You can check out their blog along with the costs of their new lifestyle and how they raise their children at


What I learned from speaking with Alan and Heidi:

  1. Faced with the challenge of having to learn a new language, Spanish and continue their schooling the Wagoner children seemed destined to struggle during their first year in Spain. But in fact they blossomed, demonstrating that challenging the mind with a new language can expand the brains capacity in other areas as well.
  2. We hear it so often from Spanish expats but the Spanish really do live to enjoy life. Money takes a back street to lifestyle with family and children taking top priority in small towns like Almuñécar
  3. During their year away home schooling proved a wonderful way to give their children school lessons with real life experiences. The Wagoner children did research, made power-points of their experiences, worked their math through currency conversions and learned a little more of the local languages where they traveled. It’s hard to imagine the classroom providing them with such a well-rounded education.

 Visa requirements are not too onerous for non-Europeans with the initial 90 day visa in Spain providing time to meet the requirements of applying for a 12 month visa. This can then be extended to 2 year and 5 year once the initial period has ended

Nov 8, 2015

Feeling jealous about your children enjoying a gap year overseas? So were Duncan and Jane Dempster-Smith until they asked the question “Why can’t we have a 12 month overseas escape too?” They failed to come up with a good reason why not, and in 2013 headed away on a 12 month sabbatical with the goal of seeing the world and living on $A185 per day – the target for what it would have cost them to have stayed at home.

Experiment over, they decided on their return that it was possible to gear themselves for a more permanent travel experience and, after a short period of housesitting, they embarked on a more permanent overseas lifestyle with the goal of living on the equivalent of the Australian pension of $A92 per day, around $US63.

Well into their experiment the Dempster-Smiths are hitting their expense goals while having a ball traveling the world. In our interview with them they talk through the process of planning, how to ask the right questions before you start and how to keep your travels to an unbelievably affordable budget

You can check out their blog and investigate how to get started on your own adventure with their handy resources at


What I learned from speaking with Duncan and Jane:

  1. If the children are keeping you from going then clarify why. When Duncan and Jane established their children were seeking financial rather than emotional support it made it easier to make provision and not let guilt stand in the road of their adventure.
  2. Ask good questions. Don’t assume something is impossible, instead ask how it can be done. Their expectations of the budget they could live on was higher than it needed to be until they encountered the experiences of others who were doing it for less.
  3. Slow your travel down. The cost of relocation is significantly reduced on a daily basis the longer you stay in one spot – and you get a truer experience of what a place is like if you can stop to smell the roses.
  4. Again they emphasized the benefits of housesitting as a means of reducing costs. They got a few housesits under their belt at home in Australia before they embarked.
  5. If relocating don’t just consider airlines. Cruise relocations such as their Miami to Barcelona sailing cost $800 for 14 nights – an average of $57 per day including accommodation, all meals, transport and entertainment. Try matching that on an airline!
Nov 6, 2015

Turning a part time travel blog into a fulltime means of income may not be as easy as you think. For Italian Margherita Rag and Australian partner Nik Burns the decision to start fulltime travel wasn’t a hard one.

The two met in London and started their travel adventures in 2009, initially living off savings. They developed their blog which initially had a short hiatus but have committed to using it as a regular source of income in the last 12 months.

In this interview Nik and Margherita talk about their adventures in Europe, their experience in Iran, and offer some great advice on how to develop and monetize a successful travel blog.

You can check them out at

What I learned from Nik and Margherita’s interview:

  1. Look for a fresh angle on your travel blog. There are a lot of blogs out there so you need to offer something different. Nik and Margherita look for different things to do in well known locations or stunning nature spots that don’t get the high profile from Lonely Planet.
  2. Be persistent with it. Don’t expect that the world will beat a path to your door after two or three blogs.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for sponsors and freebies. Margherita contacted a bungy jump company offering a review in return for a free jump and found that the company had contacted over 100 travel bloggers and couldn’t find anyone ready to do it!

Iran should be on your bucket list! Far from being dangerous it had some of the most welcoming people that they had encountered on their travels

Nov 4, 2015

You never know where a chance meeting can take you. A train ride to London saw Alice Nettleingham sitting beside a girl who had just come back from teaching English in India. Alice’s life in the English National Health Service wasn’t unhappy but she felt there was more. Inspired by her talk Alice decided to venture out and explore the world and three months later found herself in South Korea.

She has since explored much of Asia, falling in love with the region and its people. She will traditionally spend a good period of time in each place she visits getting to know it properly, and never quite knows where her next adventure will take her.

We caught up with Alice in Taiwan where she has been for the last month. You can check out her blog at

What I learned from Alice’s Interview:

  1. Being young, female and single doesn’t stop you from venturing out into the world and discovering what the planet has to offer.
  2. Be spontaneous! Within 3 months of her chance meeting with someone who had taught English in India Alice had completed her TEFL training and was on her way to South Korea
  3. Don’t always believe the media. Her father was fearful of her going to Korea due to the rumblings of North Korean trouble but when she arrived she found the people of South Korea were relaxed and found the whole thing quite laughable. Always remember the media love a good story and the best way to find out the truth is to speak to people who have been there.
  4. China offers fantastic trekking, hiking and mountain biking trails – who would have thought!

Taiwan is very affordable. I had assumed as an economic power that it might be on a similar costing to places like Japan but transportation and meals are very cheap there

Nov 2, 2015

Today in our first ever on-location interview we caught up with Daniel Chen, an expat American and Steve Struyck a retired Dutchman who have both made the move to Penang, Malaysia. In this interview Daniel and Steven share their experiences of Penang, why they love living in Malaysia, and the cost of living they have in this country.

It was great to do our own research into expat living while we were here. Accommodation is very affordable, with an average 2 -3 bedroom apartment going for around $400-$600 US per month. Food is extremely cheap, especially if you enjoy the local street markets and Penang itself is an interesting combination of cultures with Malay, Chinese and Indian all being integral to the community – and an ever growing number of Western expats flavoring the mix.

Let’s let Daniel and Steven share their views:

What I learned from Daniel and Steven:

  1. Malaysia offers a number of visa options for expats. In Daniels case he was able to get a 2 year renewable visa based on establishing his online business. Steven took advantage of the My Second Home visa option which gives him a ten year right of staying.
  2. Health treatment is first class. Both were happy with the treatment they had had there; in Daniels case his wife had given birth to two of their children there and not only was the health care good, but it was considerably cheaper than what it would have cost him in the US.
  3. Safety wasn’t a big issue for either of them. Crime does exist but is no worse than they would have experienced in their own home country.
  4. Property prices have increased considerably in the last few years. Both Daniel who rents and Steven who owns his own place had not had any trouble with the process of gaining their accommodation. Many properties are bought up by Chinese investors who leave them empty but this doesn’t seem to be putting too much pressure on rents. Daniel has paid the same amount for the last four years!
Nov 2, 2015

Was he the world’s first digital nomad? Maybe, maybe not... but there is little doubt that James Clark was one of the first people to make an online living while traveling.

The Melbourne native took to the road fulltime in 2003 while earning an income from his website business and he hasn’t stopped moving since. Currently based in Vietnam he spends much of the year traveling between various hubs catching up with online colleagues. James has built his business to now include travel blogging and helping others start their own online travel business.

We caught up with James on the move in Singapore where we discussed his early beginnings, life in Vietnam and where he sees the opportunities ahead for people wanting to do what he does.

You can catch James blog at


What I learned from speaking with James:

  1. Vietnam is a fast developing infrastructure – although strictly speaking communist it is home to an entrepreneurial spirit helped by a population which is 70% under the age of 40. This gives the country a vibrancy and energy that James loves. Although it is fast developing the cost of living is low with a person on their own able to survive comfortably on less than $1000 per month.
  2. If you’re serious about building an online business start at home in the evenings. It’s easy to start flicking through social media (something he didn’t have to worry about when starting) or watching an average television show but these are the moments when you make your choices in life. Remind yourself that you want to build a location independent business and keep at it for as long as you need to.
  3. Look at options to retain your existing job. Moving away doesn’t mean you have to throw it all away. If you have an accommodating boss, a mobile job, and you love what you do then you might be able to take it on the road with you.
  4. Being a digital nomad doesn’t mean an easy life of checking the occasional email. James still works 35-40 hour weeks but admits that the four hour work week is a little unrealistic for most people. He does find however that he no longer has such as thing as weekends as he works anytime he feels like it
  5. Catching up with friends is a big part of what he does. Being on the road can be lonely but James has regular hubs he visits such as Melbourne, his original home city and Bangkok where he can see old friends and have a little grounding in his life before he heads away again
Nov 2, 2015

Thanks to the growth of the internet more and more people are enjoying the opportunity to work from wherever they wish, anytime they wish. It is the biggest change in our working environment since the industrial revolution created the growth of cities. It provides freedom on a level our ancestors would struggle to comprehend. It’s creating the perfect cloud based nirvana for those wishing to travel.

But even a digital nomad sometimes needs an oasis in the desert.

Traveling the world making money online can be a lonely business – at times you wish you had somewhere to go where you could have internet that works and a place to relax with like-minded online entrepreneurs. Hubud is exactly that.

Founded in 2012 Hubud is a collaborative space established in Bali (hence its name; a mixture of Hub and Ubud). It provides a relaxing environment with work space for numerous online advocates, along with meeting rooms and regular seminars designed to provide you with the latest in technical knowledge.

We met up with Hubud co –founder Steve Munroe on Skype to discuss the future of international working hubs, Bali generally and how Hubud provides Knowmads as Steve calls them, with more than just a working environment.

You can find out more about Hubud at and their education programs at

What I learned from Steve’s interview:

  1. As we become a more online working world the chance to utilize resources like Hubud, where you can have resources and support networks for a fraction of the cost of most western cities, appears to be the way of the future. Technology is breaking down many of the traditional barriers to working and we’re only going to see an increase in the number of international citizens moving from location to location enjoying environments such as this.
  2. There is more than one side to Bali – Kuta gets the attention as the nightlife capital but for those seeking a quieter life then Ubud provides a much more pleasant environment. Steve believes working in a co –space can provide members with a significant increase in their productivity thanks to the surroundings and environment. Cost of living is relatively low and even allowing for Hubud’s expenses a digital nomad will generally not spend a lot more than $1000-$1500 per month depending on lifestyle.