“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
– Gustave Flaubert
What to look for before moving abroad
Finding reliable information about living in another country is near impossible. Backpackers and tourists will blather about “authentic cultural experiences.” Men’s forums will talk about hooking up with exotic women. And early retirement blogs will basically just talk about how cheaply you can live.
While all of these are fine topics, they aren’t incredibly helpful for young entrepreneurs who want to have fun, save money, and build a business. Trying to get work done from a party hostel near a famous landmark would be virtually impossible. And countries that are super inexpensive, or have a lot of attractive women, usually have massive economic problems.
You might be able to get a beer for $1.25, but the country’s whole infrastructure is shot. Opening a bank account, or getting a reliable Internet connection can be a huge challenge.
When I lived in Nicaragua my apartment cost $12 a day and I could eat a lunch for $2. But the power would go out almost every afternoon and locals would constantly try to rip you off. Whatever money you saved was offset by the inconveniences.
Every country has issues
The Internet is full of dorks who preach the downfall of the west while advocating that people flee to various third-world sh*tholes for a “better life.”
I always laugh after reading this. There’s some serious cognitive dissidence going on. Guys who are worried about street crime, germs, war, disease, police brutality, and ethnic conflicts are willingly moving to places that contain all of those.
American cops might be thugs, but they aren’t going to throw you into forced labor camps or imprison you for 20 years for some minor charges.
The same goes for crime. I actually know people who’ve moved to Mexico and Brazil out of fear that crime in the United States was out of control. That’s like moving to the middle of the ocean because you’re afraid of sharks.
Local cost of living won’t affect you
I recently read that the average Peruvian makes $500 a month. On paper moving to Peru sounds like a bargain. You could work for 20 hours a month and still enjoy a comfortable life. Right?
The average Peruvian lives at home with their parents, and sometimes even grandparents, well into their 20’s or 30’s. Even though they might be earning $500 a month, they are still splitting rent, groceries, and other expenses between three to six people. Since you’re living alone the costs can quickly add up. During my entire trip I never met a single American citizen who was living on less than $2,000 a month.
Hyperinflation, civil war, and genocide
Moving to an unstable area because it’s cheap is another really stupid idea. Yet a lot of guys do this. Then they act surprised when the local instability starts affecting them. If you move somewhere that’s in decline, don’t be surprised when your quality of life starts diminishing.
As a general rule of thumb, you should try to go someplace that is improving. Saving money and living dangerously by moving to an unstable region is a recipe for disaster.
What I look for when moving somewhere
In a few weeks I’ll be moving to Vietnam. After that I’m going to settle down in Las Vegas.
While Latin America, Asia, and the United States might sound like a weird combination, I picked each one for a specific reason. A lot of research went into each destination and what it had to offer me.
Here are a few things that I look for when finding a new place to live:
- Cost of food
You have to eat every single day. And anyone who lifts weights will need to get a lot of protein. But, and this is a big problem, looking at restaurant prices is generally a bad idea. While these joints might not cost a lot, they dish out incredibly small servings. Peruvian restaurants had cheap food that came in tiny portions. One meal was never enough to satisfy me.
You should check out the rates at local grocery stores. Meat, cheese, and dairy can often become incredibly expensive overseas. A block of cheese can be a luxury item in some nations. Make sure to look at the prices before you travel. It will spare your stomach and wallet.
- Economic growth
Talking about GDP and other stuff might seem boring and unnecessary if you aren’t a major corporation. However, it will still have a huge impact on you. If everyone in the country is successful, you’re going to find a ton of new business opportunities. People with extra money need someone to teach them English, build their websites, and write their copy.
I’ve actually hung out with guys who’ve used a country’s growing GDP to leverage themselves into cool positions where they worked as “boots on the ground” for major corporations. They did took a skill, like article writing, and used it to make a ton of money by being a private corespondent for some huge business.
- Lack of crime
You can’t enjoy yourself if you’re dead. I’m a pretty meek guy and would get beat down after about ten seconds of street fighting.
As a result, I tend to look for areas that have a pretty low crime rate. This way I don’t have to worry about walking around at night or exploring various neighborhoods.
Real life isn’t like some James Bond movie. You aren’t going to outmaneuver your pursuers and swoop some model level girls along the way. Stay somewhere that’s safe and boring. It will keep you alive for a lot longer.