The other road: Time/Location Freedom

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AndyLouis - Certified Professional
Rank: Human | banana points 17,215

Additional reading: Interview I did with EFAM in 2012

2/6/15 update: still living in Buenos Aires! will be here at least 2 out of the next 3 years

3/1/14 update: after Paris/Canary Islands/UK/Costa Rica/Nicaragua, and now Panama, I'm headed back to Buenos Aires to live!
9/23/13 update: currently living in Europe (Paris, then Spain, then London, then....), here's a recent interview I did with EFAM magazine: http://www.escapefromamerica.com/2013/08/expat-int...
5/8/12 update: I'm going to open this up as an alternative q&a thread on travel tips / being an expat / remote-work / lifestyle design / etc. Feel free to ask away, i'll do my best to answer q's as quickly as I can.

My experience: Have lived in China (8 months), and now reside in Buenos Aires (15 months). I've traveled through central and south america, china, thailand, turkey/greece, and france/italy/spain, and studied up/heard stories on numerous other places. I work remotely from Buenos Aires as the COO for wallstreetoasis.com

I've been asked a lot about this lately so I finally got motivated to put my story into words

First i was motivated by this post earlier today:

TheKing wrote: I'm probably in the minority, but I've always thought the idea of working abroad was overrated. People tend to romanticize things when they are done "abroad." After a few months, it would lose it's luster.

I responded with:

Living abroad isn't for everyone. for me its been a dream of mine to have location/time freedom, and luckily have been able to do this by always having remote work positions (as I currently do). I love traveling/being an expat, have been living in Buenos Aires for 13 months, and wouldn't change it for a second. Hope to keep moving around the world for the next 5-7 years, from here->colombia->europe->asia, & then who knows :)

Which inspired a user to ask this:

Just out of curiosity, what do you do that lets you travel around? I feel chained to my current location and schedule, and I don't like it. Short term, whatever, no big deal, but for the long term I'm looking around at options (including accountant, it's that bad) where I'll have some kind of flexibility. what say you?

Then here was my overly in-depth answer:

Hey, after realizing i could never work in a cubicle/corporate atmosphere the rest of my life after interning at an ad agency (every day I felt like i was slowly dying) I moved to china and taught english after college for ~8 months. This opened my eyes to the idea of living abraod/being an expat/world travel and how much I enjoyed it.

I moved back to the states after a 6 week trip to Europe but promised myself that as soon as possible I would live overseas again soon. So I got back and worked for some online stores doing internet marketing and ecommerce to save up money and get ideas. Flexible schedule, but I still needed to meet in person with the clients several times per week. I traveled some (middle east, argentina, and central america) to satisfy my hunger (3-5 weeks per year) but it still wasn't enough.

Several years went by and I knew i wanted to travel the world a lot more (when you know, you know, its all i could think about when I was working in Seattle) but didn't want to teach english again so I decided to find a career I could do from anywhere. Because of my background and current experience I decided to enhance my skills in internet marketing via certification courses (http://www.tech.ubc.ca/webanalytics) & (http://www.usanfranonline.com/online-certificates/...)and interned at a startup (imagekind.com).

I left the states in oct of 2010 for Buenos Aires w/ 6k in savings and ~$700 per month of income from a very part-time ecommerce job i still had that agreed to let me do it abroad. I knew I would do whatever it would take to be able to work online and live wherever even if it spent living in Bolivia on $5/day for 6months looking for something/networking/studying more about internet marketing.

For approx 9 months after I left the states I traveled / worked the part-time job / studied / applied to online jobs while living down here in Buenos Aires. Then last July I met Patrick through a mutual friend and he mentioned he was looking for someone to help with seo/link-building/marketing.

I'd met several website owners like this before but nothing had yet to pan out. He friended me on facebook the next day and we met at his home office the following monday and went over the initial project. Now it's grown to be a full-time position doing marketing / biz-dev / managing campus reps / license deals with Universities / etc and i've been having a great time doing it.

Lifestyle-wise - wouldnt trade it for anything. I currently work from my home-office in an apt in a fun area of Buenos Aires (Palermo soho), and as long as the work gets done all is well. It's the middle of summer, having a great time, good group of local and expat friends to spend time with, last weekend went to a carnaval event, couple weeks ago went to watch a polo match (didnt even know they still played polo in the world?), in a couple weekends doing a beach roadtrip, play on an american baseball team here, and currently planning a trip to to Bolivia/Peru/Ecuador/Amazon jungle in July.

So specifically for you (or whoever has dreams of working remotely and having time/location freedom), I would recommend finding a specialization in something, marketing yourself (via your own site/linked-in/personal network), slowly building a client base that gives you referrals. A huge thing you can offer to clients is that you can charge a bit less in exchange for the increased freedom (ie happiness), which you are able to do because your cost of living will likely be lower, your productivity will likely be higher (because youre livign your dream right?), and the roi for the client is higher because you're an independent contractor so a. they don't need to pay your overhead, ie vacation / health insurance desk space etc
All in all, the most important thing is setting a date and buying that one-way plane ticket, it will give you the biggest motivation rush of your life (what to do / where to go / how to prepare / etc)

Resources: I think the blog/podcast http://www.lifestylebusinesspodcast.com/ was really helpful/motivating in getting me to do this. Same with 4hww, http://internetbusinessmastery.com/ and http://locationindependent.com/
Based on all the stories i've heard from other travelers, here's my list of places I want to live* for 3-6mo each during these 5-7 years: (*with lots of travel in between these spots). I won't make it to all - but if I can at least make it to half i'll be more than satisfied.

Buenos Aires (currently)
Southern Brazil (Lagoa, Florianopolis)
Medellin, Colombia w/ monthly trips to Colombia's beaches (ie Tayrona)
Boat from Colombia to Panama (with a stop in the San Blas islands on the way)
Bay Islands, Honduras
Costa Rica
Spain on the Mediterranean
Berlin, Germany
Yacht w/ wifi cruising the Aegean Sea (Turkey/Greece)
Croatia/Eastern Europe
Sinai, Egypt
Tel Aviv, Israel
Beirut, Lebanon
Goa, India
Bali, Indonesia
Koa Samui, Thailand
Byron Bay, Australia
China again: Shanghai, Chengdu, Urumqi, & Guilin
Trans-Siberian railway (if it has wifi?) from Beijing to Europe
Montreal
Vancouver
+ always keeping my ears open for more

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Comments (34)

Mar 5, 2012

Awesome

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Mar 5, 2012

Sweet post!

"Yacht w/ wifi cruising the Aegean Sea (Turkey/Greece)" - This sounds especially amazing

Mar 5, 2012

Great post!

"All in all, the most important thing is setting a date and buying that one-way plane ticket, it will give you the biggest motivation rush of your life (what to do / where to go / how to prepare / etc)"

Could not agree more.

"That dude is so haole, he don't even have any breath left."

Mar 5, 2012

What's funny is that I'd definitely like the freedom to work wherever I want to, but I'd pick someplace mundane so I could be near my friends and family. So, I'd probably choose some small apartment in NYC over a yacht off the coast of Italy. Maybe I'm just nuts.

Mar 5, 2012
TheKing:

What's funny is that I'd definitely like the freedom to work wherever I want to, but I'd pick someplace mundane so I could be near my friends and family. So, I'd probably choose some small apartment in NYC over a yacht off the coast of Italy. Maybe I'm just nuts.

Same here, I have no desire to become asocial but at the same time, I do feel like a damn caged animal. Seriously, I was talking to an accontant on the train who works remomotely four days a week and his life is cool as hell. And he somehow makes six figures.

Sign me up. Fuck this. Seriously

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Mar 18, 2013
TheKing:

What's funny is that I'd definitely like the freedom to work wherever I want to, but I'd pick someplace mundane so I could be near my friends and family. So, I'd probably choose some small apartment in NYC over a yacht off the coast of Italy. Maybe I'm just nuts.

I agree with TheKing here. Would much rather live nearby friends and family and make occasional trips overseas than live "abroad".

was talking with king, and yeah everyone is different, being based abroad def isn't for everyone.

very easy to make new friends abroad, family and old friends of course i miss a lot but do my best to stay in touch with them and visit when possible.

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Mar 5, 2012

Do you generally travel / get by on your own? If not, what ways have you find useful in making new friends or travel partners?

I moved for work to a non-city location where I know nobody and even though it's in America, I've still had problems meeting people here lol.

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Mar 5, 2012
lbreitst:

Do you generally travel / get by on your own? If not, what ways have you find useful in making new friends or travel partners?

I moved for work to a non-city location where I know nobody and even though it's in America, I've still had problems meeting people here lol.

For trips i've done both travel alone and with friends/family - but I moved here alone. Being here in Buenos Aires for a year now it seems to have been really easy to meet new people), the expat community is really welcoming and everyone has a story to share (really i've felt this in every place I've lived overseas. Personally a lot of the people i've become friends with i've met through sports, networking events, expat meetups, and friends of friends.

In America I could definitely see it more difficult to meet new people in a new city - particularly in some places. My friend who moved to Seattle for a few years has a thing she calls the "seattle freeze" in which it was impossible to make friends with the locals as they completely put up a wall against outsiders.

I would recommend reaching out to whatever networking events you can for things youre interested in, career/hobby/sports whatever. After that it just depends on your personality, making time for it, and not being shy.

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Mar 5, 2012

Andy's gonna be this guy by the time he's 40 ha

If your dreams don't scare you, then they are not big enough.

"There are two types of people in this world: People who say they pee in the shower, and dirty fucking liars."-Louis C.K.

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Mar 5, 2012
scottj19x89:

Andy's gonna be this guy by the time he's 40 ha

hahahaha, really the goal is to look like him when i'm 75+ but be more interesting than him by 35

I'm a lover not a fighter, but i'm also a fighter, so don't get any ideas...

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Mar 5, 2012

Awesome post and couldn't agree more...nothing is more exciting. That aside, I saw Florianopolis was on your list...awesome if you surf, or want to. One thing I didn't like was that I had to drive everywhere...it was like living in the suburbs of NJ. Only, there were gorgeous women and great beaches all around. Personally, I prefer Rio because you can pretty much walk everywhere, women are still gorgeous, and local food and drink is pretty cheap. It just depends on your tolerance for heat, since the summer is HOT! I'd definitely love to see the south of Spain though...maybe bschool in Barcelona

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Mar 6, 2012
LancelotLink:

Awesome post and couldn't agree more...nothing is more exciting. That aside, I saw Florianopolis was on your list...awesome if you surf, or want to. One thing I didn't like was that I had to drive everywhere...it was like living in the suburbs of NJ. Only, there were gorgeous women and great beaches all around. Personally, I prefer Rio because you can pretty much walk everywhere, women are still gorgeous, and local food and drink is pretty cheap. It just depends on your tolerance for heat, since the summer is HOT! I'd definitely love to see the south of Spain though...maybe bschool in Barcelona

Went there this time last year, I agree it's a pain getting around but worth it (especially jurere beach in the north - this time I might buy a motorbike while I'm there. I'd mostly go for the other reasons you mentioned, and yeah the great surfing too. Rio is awesome too nd may split my 3 months (all I get w/ tourist visa) between the too, but definitely feel safer in Santa Catarina/Lagoa than in Rio. If you haven't been to souther spain its definitely worth a visit, esp. barcelona

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Mar 6, 2012

If you choose montreal, you certainly won't regret it. Believe me on this, Easily one of the best cities in the world!

Mar 6, 2012

When you get around to Chengdu, be sure to make a trip to Lijiang. I went there this summer and loved it.

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Mar 6, 2012

Valencia is not Southern Spain lol. I'd live in Madrid or Barcelona, but if you want the South try Seville, although that's on the atlantic side. If you want south and mediterranean, stick to Malaga.

I would love to have a job where I can live in a different place every 6 months, but the job I love doesn't allow me to do that. I guess it's a compromise for many people, so I just try to travel to a different continent twice a year, so I've been around a lot, although not living.
Also, I've done the living abroad thing, and after 6-8 months you develop your new network and routines and you feel just as home as in your city, so I'm not a big fan of moving for 2 years (say analyst job) unless you really like the city, but not just for the sake of living abroad.

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Mar 6, 2012

Sorry in advance for the verbose reply but Andy your post really hit home. I have a great stable government job (out of college), an amazing New York apartment, a loving girlfriend here, and from what I am told ridiculous MBA opportunities. With all of that being said, I am pretty unhappy and unfulfilled day to day. After I graudated college in 2010, I embarked on my first international traveling spree going to 8 European countries and Argentina within a 5 week span. Following that, I moved from TX to NYC which was really exciting for the first year or so. After 18 months of full-time work, I have come to the conclusion that I would rather have a freelance job that pays 1K net a month that would allow me to travel then a job that pays 100K in NYC but gives the standard American "2 week vacation".

Besides feeling like I am being robbed every month by Uncle Sam, the lack of mobility is killing me slowly everyday. All of this with arguably the most felxible 40 hour a week job available in the United States!!!! It can only get worse if I switch jobs or industries (more hours, less vacation, etc.). Last fiscal year i took 7 vacations ranging from 3 days to 10 days (Miami, Texas, Montreal, Puerto Rico, etc.) and it still wasn't enough to satisfy my travel bug and desire to interact and learn new cultures. Am I crazy?

I guess the point of this post is to seek a little motivation :) I applied to a 2-years Masters program in France that would be extremely cheap and would give me the option to travel frequently. While I wait on that, I want to ask how you dealt with family/friends/naysayers that questioned your decision to live that lifestyle and do you think that lifestyle is sustainable in the long-run? Any tips? Is the online marketing/seo/blog world doable for someone with no experience?

Thanks man, post definitely hit home and as a soon to be Argentine dual citizen though bloodline, gracias y un abrazo che!

Mar 6, 2012
utexas2010:

Sorry in advance for the verbose reply but Andy your post really hit home. I have a great stable government job (out of college), an amazing New York apartment, a loving girlfriend here, and from what I am told ridiculous MBA opportunities. With all of that being said, I am pretty unhappy and unfulfilled day to day. After I graudated college in 2010, I embarked on my first international traveling spree going to 8 European countries and Argentina within a 5 week span. Following that, I moved from TX to NYC which was really exciting for the first year or so. After 18 months of full-time work, I have come to the conclusion that I would rather have a freelance job that pays 1K net a month that would allow me to travel then a job that pays 100K in NYC but gives the standard American "2 week vacation".

Besides feeling like I am being robbed every month by Uncle Sam, the lack of mobility is killing me slowly everyday. All of this with arguably the most felxible 40 hour a week job available in the United States!!!! It can only get worse if I switch jobs or industries (more hours, less vacation, etc.). Last fiscal year i took 7 vacations ranging from 3 days to 10 days (Miami, Texas, Montreal, Puerto Rico, etc.) and it still wasn't enough to satisfy my travel bug and desire to interact and learn new cultures. Am I crazy?

I guess the point of this post is to seek a little motivation :) I applied to a 2-years Masters program in France that would be extremely cheap and would give me the option to travel frequently. While I wait on that, I want to ask how you dealt with family/friends/naysayers that questioned your decision to live that lifestyle and do you think that lifestyle is sustainable in the long-run? Any tips? Is the online marketing/seo/blog world doable for someone with no experience?

Thanks man, post definitely hit home and as a soon to be Argentine dual citizen though bloodline, gracias y un abrazo che!

If you don't mind sharing, which Master's program did you apply to?

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Mar 9, 2012

Sounds like you're living the dream, congrats man.

I hope also end up getting to see the world.

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

May 8, 2012

ever get traveler's diarrhea?

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May 8, 2012
kmzz:

ever get traveler's diarrhea?

in China all the time, here in BA not so much, one bout with a stomach virus (that SUCKED - had to eat the "white diet" for 2+ weeks, pasta/rice etc), one with a bacteria (eay fix with anti biotics)

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May 8, 2012
AndyLouis:

Southern Spain on the Mediterranean (Valencia?)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Costa_Blanca

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Apr 10, 2018
GoodBread:
AndyLouis:

Southern Spain on the Mediterranean (Valencia?)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Costa_Blanca

I've biked all of Costa Blanca (120mi) on my Trek mountain bike - great times.

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May 8, 2012

Andy, please go to Palawan, Philippines; it is one of the most remarkably beautiful places on earth.
Also on your list should be

Cote D'ivoire
Sierra Leon
Ethiopia
Siwa, Egypt
Aswan, Egypt
Sardinia, Italia
Jabal Toubkal, Morocco
Seville, Spain

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May 8, 2012
Disincentivy:

Cote D'ivoire

Take your time before heading here.

Sep 2, 2012
Disincentivy:

Andy, please go to Palawan, Philippines; it is one of the most remarkably beautiful places on earth.
Also on your list should be

Cote D'ivoire
Sierra Leon
Ethiopia
Siwa, Egypt
Aswan, Egypt
Sardinia, Italia
Jabal Toubkal, Morocco
Seville, Spain

I may need to consult you on the first 3 you mentioned about Africa - I know very little but I would love to explore these areas. I have been to Egypt, Aswan / Cairo / Luxor but not Siwa. Seville / Morocco are def on the list, and then yeah would love to make it to Sardinia as well. How about corsica?

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Sep 3, 2012
AndyLouis:
Disincentivy:

Andy, please go to Palawan, Philippines; it is one of the most remarkably beautiful places on earth.
Also on your list should be

Cote D'ivoire
Sierra Leon
Ethiopia
Siwa, Egypt
Aswan, Egypt
Sardinia, Italia
Jabal Toubkal, Morocco
Seville, Spain

I may need to consult you on the first 3 you mentioned about Africa - I know very little but I would love to explore these areas. I have been to Egypt, Aswan / Cairo / Luxor but not Siwa. Seville / Morocco are def on the list, and then yeah would love to make it to Sardinia as well. How about corsica?

Corsica is so pretty it has the nickname " L'Ile de Beaute". Think one chain of big mountains surrounded by water, but it's VERY boring. At least in terms of food and wine. One weekend is good enough time to spend there.

Ask all the questions you want, I am a huge fan of the entire continent (Africa), and I spent countless days trotting from one city to the other.

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May 8, 2012

Dude, I have to go to the Phillipines for work sometimes. I have never liked a place less. You really wouldn't miss much by passing that god forsaken hole.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

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May 8, 2012
happypantsmcgee:

Dude, I have to go to the Phillipines for work sometimes. I have never liked a place less. You really wouldn't miss much by passing that god forsaken hole.

Where in Philippines do you go? I agree that some places there are horrible, but some others are breathtakingly beautiful.

If I may assume, I would say that Andy has overcame the need of having a perfect trip or stay at his set destinations. It becomes a just being somewhere and being part of this place, because being an expat means you are living the lives of the natives, you can shrug at the bad things and absorb the awesomeness, or you can say fuck it and miss out on a lot of things to see and do.

If my assumption is incorrect, then dammit, I am wrong again.

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Sep 3, 2012

Corsica is very insular. I'm not sure how they feel about Americans but if you're more dark-skinned than they are or seem like you're from Paris, they'll hate you. (I'm stereotyping, but there's definitely something to that.)

Sep 23, 2013

6 months into a 2-year stint in Brazil, I'd echo a bit of what Andy and others have said, both good and bad. The biggest mistake you can make it assuming living abroad will be anything like vacationing (short-term) abroad; it's not. While there are certainly some highlights (just skipped over to Rio to catch Bruce Springsteen at Rock in Rio this weekend), truthfully the day-to-day is always going to be harder than your homeland, especially if you need to learn a new language to get around. We enjoy it here, but I'm not exactly doing cartwheels at the thought of extending our stay..

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Feb 6, 2015

It's a bit dated but do you mind sharing what you are/were doing in Brazil?

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Nov 4, 2014

Traveling for short periods of time is O.K. don't know how you do it long term. Respect.

Feb 5, 2015

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