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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Oct 26, 2015

 It took Brendan Lee around 72 hours as a chartered accountant to realize that it wasn’t the career for him. But leaving wasn’t easy – he was on a committed tenure that meant he had 4 years to work – and what about his degree? 4 years of his life looked like going up in smoke, plus the additional time he had to spend working it off.

It would have been enough to worry most people but Brendan had a goal – travel. He knuckled down, paid off most of his student debt, worked out his tenure saving 50% of his salary along the way – and in 2010 embarked on a travel journey that doesn’t look like ending.

His travels have taken him through China, Asia, South America, Africa and parts of Europe – spending 8 months or so of each year overseas with 4 months back in his home country New Zealand.

We caught up with him in Zanzibar where we discussed the affordability of travel; why more people don’t do what he does, and why the current education system doesn’t provide people with the skills they need for the new global world in which we live.

This interview is a little longer than most but worth every minute. You can follow Brendan at where his new book is due for release shortly


What I learned from Brendan:

  1. Most people are fearful of becoming location independent because of the commitment they have made to their current lifestyle. It’s tough when you’ve committed a large amount of time and money on a career path to admit that you’re not happy and walk away from it. Brendan felt this as a graduate accountant but didn’t let it stand in his way.
  2. Talking to Brendan really has me questioning if the modern education system is helping young people or becoming a noose around their neck. Certainly specialized degrees can lead to fulfilling career paths for those who know what they like but for many young people a degree is ending up as a load of debt with no job prospects, or job prospects that aren’t what they really want to do. Wouldn’t it have been easier if Brendan had known he didn’t want a career in accounting without spending 4 years of his life working towards it.
  3. I love how he makes a point of leaving each place he lives in with a new skill or talent he didn’t have before. Salsa dancing in Ecuador; Boxing in the Philippines. Travel can develop you anyway but having a conscious plan to grow as a person in each destination makes the experience so much more rewarding.
  4. Travel can change your attitude to money. Brendan’s desire to be rich largely disappeared once he started traveling and realized happiness and cash didn’t have to go hand in hand and the experiences that truly mattered weren’t going to cost him a lot.
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