10 Benefits of Working/Living Abroad, Part 1

David Aames's picture
Rank: King Kong | 1,329

Here are some things I thought of that the younger monkeys may enjoy to read. A few notes about my bio are at the bottom of the page.

If you are a single male (no children) with the ability to earn dollars/pounds/euros remotely, the world is your oyster, here's why:

  1. Life if FUN. Pardon the cliche but we work hard and we play hard, and we take this seriously (in a good way). I love how sometimes I never know how a day is going to end, especially Thur-Sun. (When I say "we" I'm speaking of the growing community of expats around the world who work remotely and are able to work/live wherever)
  2. "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." -Aleister Crowley. i.e. Do in life what you truly want. It's hard to figure out when you're in ugrad, I didn't figure things out till I was 25 and had already put in enough time doing what I didn't want to do.
    Read more about your true will here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thelema#True_Will
  3. PPP (purchase power parity) -

    some prices in Brazil (especially where I am) are similar to NYC, but some services are not: maid, personal chef (I don't have one but I have friends who do), massages, personal driver, etc. If I really wanted to take advantage of ppp I'd move to Colombia or SE Asia. Maybe some day.

  4. Utilizing geoarbitrage into our lives: I have a virtual assistant based in China, I've had her since 2008. She does some work with my company (we have others from India), but mostly she helps manage my personal bookkeeping, my travel itineraries, and whatever else I can throw her way (rule is if it's a repeatable task and takes less time for me to teach her than to do it myself then usually i'll have her do it). I'm told the VA's from the Philippines are the best, but if you find someone you like and can trust, stick with them, pay them well and they'll stay with you for life
  5. In the USA being a non-URM white male can work against you in some respects (grad school, anti "white privilege" movement, etc etc). Meanwhile being overseas? Being blonde/blue eyes/average height (or taller) has more advantages than I can count.
  6. Tax discounts: if we're out of the US for more than 300 days per year there are significant tax benefits, "my accountant handles that"
  7. Women - I've had too much fun here... you can date the type of woman you would only dream of in the states. And they're plentiful. They'll fuck your brains out AND they'll make you breakfast in the morning. Downside? Latinas are crazy.
  8. The community of people you meet, both locals and expats. "Networking" can be as simple as meeting some other successful like-minded expats for a beer and building a relationship. These people are my network. These are the people that will help when I'm on the look out for my next position. Stressing about updating my resume? Online applications? Interviews that take 4 rounds and hours of one's time? No thanks.
  9. This type of life is becoming harder and harder to live in the US or Europe. If you think this type of life is for you, what are you waiting for? If you're already living this type of life in the US, well done.
  10. Misc benefits: No commute, good weather, life feels like a dream, you're extra motivated to do good/quality work because you want to keep this gravy train going, and most importantly... you are free.

Part 2 to come someday.

Me:
Ex IB, yes I used to go on WSO back in the day (under a different name), that's what brings me back today :-)
CFO/Marketing of a startup in Brazil, work in the office half the week (when I want), work remotely the other half. I have been living here for 3 years. I don't have to live in the same city as my company but choose to because I like where I am. I've traveled for stints of 3 months and 6 months with plenty of 1month stings mixed in.
30 y/o male
I wrote this post: http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/just-turned-...
Sorry if any of this came off as arrogant, had a lot of coffee this morning.

Comments (43)

Mar 11, 2015

Hardly did I finish reading your post that a high pitched "Fuck you" came out.
Sorry if it came out as petty. I had to share

    • 1
Mar 11, 2015

lol, f u too. again see the disclaimer at the bottom of the post apologizing if the post comes off with a certain tone, didnt mean for that.

p.s. photo added by mods (@"AndyLouis" ?) makes this post come off a little more douchey.. let's see if i can change it

What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

Mar 11, 2015

Almost all of these are possible to be done it the U.S. For me, living abroad was a great way to learn more about the U.S. and myself.

Mar 11, 2015

true, but if you've lived abroad long enough to really take it all in you know it's not the same

What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

Mar 11, 2015

Could you elaborate more on a virtual assistant? E.g. cost, functions, and good ones you recommend? I have a lot of garbage in my life which could definitely use some outsourcing.

Mar 11, 2015

busy for next few hrs but will try to get back to you on this later today

What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

Mar 12, 2015

costs can vary, i've seen $3/hr - $15/hr, or in some cultures they're used to a monthly salary (Philippines) for full time work. i pay her a half months salary for ~15 hrs a week.

functions:
anything data entry related
anything easily teachable and repeatable, e.g. she monitors my cash flow each month
her english is great so i can have her draft up emails for ongoing things
calendar management

pm me and i can put you in touch with a girl that did some work for me a ways back, i think she's looking for some hours.

What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

Mar 11, 2015

Sampa or Rio?

Mar 11, 2015

Rio

What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

Mar 11, 2015

Love this. Had a similar experience in a foreign country, albeit just for 6 months. Reading this post brings back some amazing memories. Enjoy your time in Brazil!

Mar 11, 2015
David Aames:

in Brazil

How many times a year do you get mugged at gun point?

Of course, once you get over the initial shock, that can be part of the adventure.

I've got a friend who did work in child protection services in the highlands of Papua New Guinea (ie about the most "primitive man in his element" you can get outside of the deep Amazon. She tells a great story of some guy trying to rob her with a home made gun*. She laughed at him saying "I know you don't have enough money to buy any bullets" but gave him a few kina anyway.

* very common and also deadly (when loaded) in PNG

Mar 11, 2015

I'd shit my pants.

Mar 11, 2015

ssits you're a bright fellow i thought you'd have a comment on #2 at least.

Haven't been held up, yet, (knock on wood). The thought isn't always in the back of my mind but depending on the situation i've gotten nervous a few times. I've heard of a few rogue taxis, and have friends who have been mugged, but if you stick to the nicer areas you'll most likely be fine.

Maybe part 2 should be: "Downsides of living abroad"

What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

Mar 11, 2015
David Aames:

ssits you're a bright fellow i thought you'd have a comment on #2 at least.

I know it's not the point you're making... but on "do what thou wilt" - I had too much of a Catholic upbringing. If the sum of the law became "do what thou wilt" overnight, I'd just carry on being a nice boy. Otherwise, the guilt would kill me.

Mar 11, 2015

How solid is your Portuguese? Did you teach yourself?

"Not me. Im in my prime"

Mar 12, 2015

Speaking Portuguese i would be considered at a "conversational fluency" level. After 3 years I can read pretty much fluently except for some local slang that still loses me, listening is near the same level if i'm speaking to someone 1-1.

I was conversational in Spanish before learning and that helped a ton. When i first got here i took an intensive 3 month portuguese class for people who already speak spanish, really helped. Took another 3 months of private tutoring and now I just learn as i go.

cc @"wallstreet101"

What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

Mar 11, 2015

Currently living in Sao Paulo right now and agree with all of these. Loving the exchange rate right now.

Mar 12, 2015

exchange rate is INCREDIBLE, haha sick of hearing locals complain about how expensive it is to travel to the states right now though. when i first got here the exchange was near one of the lowest points it had ever been, so i've seen the rough times too. enjoy SP, i don't it very well but would like to spend a little more time there.

What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

Mar 12, 2015

@"David Aames" agreed. A lot of people bring up the dollars buying power then hint that it's kinda bs which is getting annoying. Anyhow, I sent you a private message.

Mar 11, 2015

Congrats man, living la vida loca

Mar 12, 2015

easier said than done when you speak the local language... OP, what is your level of Portuguese?

Mar 12, 2015

How did you get started/involved with your current company and was it a hard decision to make the jump?

Opstar lifestyle, might not make it

Mar 12, 2015

moving to brazil had always been a dream of mine so no the jump wasn't hard that I would do it eventually. Yes, setting a date and buying an actual ticket was hard. I had been living here for a few months already (had been doing digital marketing consulting remotely) when I met the director of marketing with my current firm through a contact. my experience in IB and a corpfin role after that lead to them promoting me to cfo, though since it's a small company i definitely dabble in few areas.

What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

Mar 12, 2015

Couple quibbles:

1. I avoid "expat communities" like the plague. Blending in is the best part of living elsewhere imo and you're missing out on a lot if you just stick to a crew of people who are all from back home or have no roots in the city you're in.

2. As far as number 6 goes, what in the world are you talking about? Is this another way of saying you don't make 6 figures?

Mar 12, 2015

hey there hotshot, i really appreciate the tone of your comment.

1. what's the longest you've ever lived abroad? personally i could do 6mo's w/out interacting w/ expats but beyond that it helps to have a good community around you. I'm from a smaller town in the states so I really enjoy meeting fellow americans, not to mention europeans, aussies, kiwis, canadians, other latin americans, etc etc etc. It obvoiusly depends on the group of people and sure there are some shitty/annoying people but generally i've found the people that are willing to live abroad for a longer period of time are the type of people i associate with, it definitely takes some personality traits you don't see in the average american.

2. it's called the Foreign earned income exclusion, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_earned_income...), and sorry i shouldve stipulated it only applies to your first 75k. i lol'd at your 6 figure question, don't be a douche.

What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

Mar 12, 2015

Sorry I went the douche route on the 6fig comment but since this is a forum about finance and is geared towards jobs that should get you in higher tax brackets fairly quickly, I just found that comment very misleading generally speaking. From a tax perspective, living abroad as an American is an absolute nightmare once you've made it past the foreign earned income exclusion.

I've lived in 3 different countries for over 2 years each and never went out of my way to meet up with people who weren't locals. That being said I already knew some people there in each case and therefore had an "in" with the locals and a ready-made community.

I guess I generally speaking take issue with the whole "expat lifestyle" thing. It's always struck me kind of like an extension of kids studying abroad a.k.a. doing nothing and making zero effort to fit in. An example of that would be parents who pay ungodly sums of money to send their kids to American schools in European countries where the public education system is much stronger than it is in the US (or even have them play on American school soccer teams so they don't get clowned on in a real club). I guess it makes sense if your kids were already high school age and would have too much catching up to do language-wise but there really are kids out there who grow up in an expat bubble and then blame whatever drug habit they develop on their "3rd culture kid woes."

This of course doesn't apply to your late 20s/early 30 somethings but you need to start building real roots somewhere if you someday want kids that don't belong on richkidsofinstagram.

Even if you want to move fairly often, settling for the expat community is a recipe for missing out on what the world really has to offer. Whether it be a sports team, religious group or something else that flips your boat, find something that will help you make friends with the locals. One of the best parts of going abroad is getting locals to think you're one of them.

Mar 13, 2015

So you read the 4 hour work week, and didn't even give the guy any credit in your post, well in son.

1. The whole delegate part of your life to somebody in China or India never really made much sense to me. If you are well organised it takes you no time to deal with your admin, if you are not well organised it will take you just as long to try and sort it out with someone on the other side of the world. What possible task are you doing repetitively to have somebody do it for you? All I can think of is wanking, and as a single man you'd be better off to have more than one Chinese lady taking care of you.

2. Regarding the tax issue, someone has already approached that, as an American it SUCKS especially if you are in a lower tax environment country, you will end up paying the difference to uncle Sam. Even if you live in a high tax place, you still have to file for taxes, and some things will get taxed by uncle Sam. Sorry, that is the least attractive bit about living abroad, unless you are earning below the 100K threshold.

3. For the rest, agreed, the US is not the be all and end all game. Someone mentioned crime, I am sorry - but BS. The US is a crime ridden place, and NO even in the good bits it can get dangerous, everyone has a bloody gun with them as far as pothead Seattle. Yea, Brazil can be dangerous I am sure, but you learn to be smart about it. Will you go walking around piss drunk in the middle of Detroit at night and start chatting a bunch of gangbangers? Nope - same applies when you live abroad.

4. Someone mentioned why don't you try to be local. Because it's really hard, that's why. I've lived in and out of London for more than 8 years now, about 90% of my friends are foreign, it's a cosmopolitan city, and locals have their friends from school and hang out amongst each other usually they don't need you in their circles, you don't need them in your circles. That, and expats in fucked up places tend to be single who like to go on a night out and get smashed. Why would you not hang out with like minded people does not make sense.

5. Otherwise enjoy your life abroad, you seem to be already doing that. I've lived in fucked up places, and I like to be in my living room on my couch drinking a nice cold glass of water now a days.

Mar 13, 2015

Would literally leave tomorrow, Studied in Florence for a semester (Phenomenal), would go to Brazil in a heartbeat, done with the winters in NYC, and other then level 2 of the CFA I have no plans, Where do I sign up?

Mar 13, 2015

Sounds like a awesome plan! My first time out of the country was Dec 2014. It was the best time of my life. I've been told by many that I caught the travel bug: I'm infected. Back to reality, I'll be done with my MBA program in two months. (Non-Target but pretty well known school) And, I',m debating if I should just pack my bags and live aboard or work 2-3 years then move. (I'll be 26 this yr -_-) The thing that's holding me back is the amount of bs loans I taken up. I have a passion for real estate and would love to open up hostels in upcoming countries. In my case, the formula doesn't fit well Zero Assets (A) = almost six figures in loans (L) + zero equity (E). Any word of advice or wisdom that can shed some light on this poor soul.

Mar 13, 2015

bump

Mar 14, 2015

I'm a 20 year old Indian male old doing my bachelors now. I am also planning to have location independent lifestyle. But, what I have seen here is that finance is not the best profession for such a lifestyle. I have seen guys with computer science degree and IT jobs move around a lot and easily finding jobs in new country whereas finance guys don't have it that easy. Should I switch to computer science in my masters?

Mar 15, 2015
David Aames:

Women - I've had too much fun here... you can date the type of woman you would only dream of in the states. And they're plentiful. They'll fuck your brains out AND they'll make you breakfast in the morning. Downside? Latinas are crazy.

David Aames, you should do a separate post on Latinas.

Mar 16, 2015

Regarding taxes: Even if you make a lot, living abroad has a few advantages:

* You still get what is essentially a $100K deduction even if you make more than $100K, which is pretty awesome
* You avoid state income tax, which is nice, too

    • 1
Mar 16, 2015
BigPicture:

Regarding taxes: Even if you make a lot, living abroad has a few advantages:

* You still get what is essentially a $100K deduction even if you make more than $100K, which is pretty awesome

* You avoid state income tax, which is nice, too

Again, what??? We're not talking about the Cayman Islands here. If you're staying anywhere for any reasonable length of time and paying zero taxes on an income of 75k to local authorities, you're probably doing something illegal.

This is assuming we're not talking about some expat deal with a company that is sending you abroad or a VIE like they do in France. If you move abroad and get a job on your own, you will have local taxes to pay.

Mar 17, 2015
GoodBread:
BigPicture:

Regarding taxes: Even if you make a lot, living abroad has a few advantages:

* You still get what is essentially a $100K deduction even if you make more than $100K, which is pretty awesome

* You avoid state income tax, which is nice, too

Again, what??? We're not talking about the Cayman Islands here. If you're staying anywhere for any reasonable length of time and paying zero taxes on an income of 75k to local authorities, you're probably doing something illegal.

This is assuming we're not talking about some expat deal with a company that is sending you abroad or a VIE like they do in France. If you move abroad and get a job on your own, you will have local taxes to pay.

No one said zero taxes, man. Foreign taxes are often deductible from US taxes. And many foreign places have lower rates than the US.

There are tax advantages, dude.

Mar 16, 2015

good questions everyone, i'll get to them today, let's keep this thread alive. My goal is to inspire as many people to travel as possible.

caveat - my next post will be a "realities / downsides to living abroad", keep an eye out

What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

Mar 16, 2015
David Aames:

good questions everyone, i'll get to them today, let's keep this thread alive. My goal is to inspire as many people to travel as possible.

caveat - my next post will be a "realities / downsides to living abroad", keep an eye out

What's the best way to go work abroad for 1-2 years right after banking? Would it be easiest to go work for a big global company like a Unilever or P&G and do a stint abroad? I assume interviewing/getting a job in a foreign office would be tougher than interviewing/working in a US city and then trying to do a rotation abroad for a year or so, especially if you only speak English.

Mar 20, 2015
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