The Ultimate Credit Card for Traveling Entrepreneurs: Chase Sapphire Preferred

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For any travelpreneur, at least one go-to credit card in your wallet is a necessity, so why not go with the best? The Chase Sapphire Preferred® has everything you need and more!

With an incredible sign-up bonus of 50,000 points, when you spend at least $4,000 in the first 3 months of opening the account, you can leverage the +$500 of free travel money for flights, rental cars, or hotels.

The points are normally worth 1 cent apiece, but if you redeem them through their online travel booking platform Chase Ultimate Rewards®, the points can be worth as much as $625.

By putting every expense on the card for the first 3 months, you can easily reach the minimum spend of $4,000, and by paying off the balance in full each month, you are essentially receiving free travel money. Who doesn’t like free travel money?!

To sweeten the deal, you can also earn an extra 5,000 points upon signup by adding an authorized user to the card and the bonus is yours when they make their first purchase. So, whether you want to add your wife, husband, mother, father, sibling, grandparent, etc…Chase makes it easy to earn 55,000 points upon sign-up.

But wait, there’s more!!

The annual fee is normally $95 a year, but because Chase wants as many people as possible to take advantage of this deal, they are waiving the introductory annual fee for the first year! You pay nothing to sign-up, as a matter of fact you are technically getting paid to sign-up with all of the bonus points that you have the opportunity to earn.

What makes this card so valuable to travelpreneurs is that there are no foreign transaction fees. So when you’re off exploring the world and running your location-independent business, you are not being nickeled and dimed by a financial institution on every little transaction. Whether you’re at dinner on the coast of France, or paying for your hotel in Australia, not only will you receive the current exchange rate with no transaction fees, but you will also receive 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining at restaurants, while receiving 1 point on every other dollar spent.

Not only do you get all the great benefits listed above, but the card has spectacular customer service and support. Transaction disputes, payments, and questions are a direct phone call away. Gone are the days of phone operators and long wait times, this card allows you to speak directly with a real person at the push of a button 24/7. Now THAT is how customer service should be!

If you have a credit score of +700, you should be approved quickly and start racking up those travel points in no-time!

The reason for this article today is that I have had multiple ask me for credit card recommendations and I wanted to share my personal favorite, and at the same time allow you to take advantage of the free travel money that can be had by signing up and spending wisely with this card. I have personally been a Chase Sapphire Preferred® member for more than 18 months and it is the go-to credit card in my wallet for both my everyday spending and traveling.

If you would like to earn 55,000 points and sign-up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Credit Card, you can do so by clicking HERE.

Not only will you be able to earn a bunch of points towards your next great travel adventure, but you will also help me earn 10,000 points towards my travels, which is greatly appreciated! 🙂

If you have any questions or concerns related to the card, please do not hesitate to ask me below in the comments.

TRAVEL ONWARD!

Episode #4: How Sean Kim went from being homeless to launching a location-independent business

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On our fourth episode of The Travelpreneur Club, I had the pleasure to talk with Sean Kim.

Sean is an entrepreneur, traveler, life-hacker, and podcaster.

Sean is also a founder of The Rype App, a language academy that offers unlimited personalized Spanish lessons through one-on-one online coaching.

Along with his startup, Sean has solidified his personal brand, both through his podcast and his blog.

On his podcast, SKIM Live, Sean interviews entrepreneurs, visionaries, and adventurers on the topics of location-independent businesses, success achievement, and taking the leap into entrepreneurship.

With his blog, The Growth List, Sean delivers plenty of educational and motivational content via articles, lessons, stories, and training seminars to help you build a career around your lifestyle and ultimately a location independent business.

His current mission is to help cultivate 100M growers through his community and to inspire them to do the stuff they love.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Sean’s start as an entrepreneur
  • What his parents and family thought when he dropped out of college
  • His first business failure
  • Being homeless and how it affects your mindset
  • How freedom is at the heart of being a travelpreneur
  • How entrepreneurs are not meant to work for someone else
  • The benefits of being uncomfortable as an entrepreneur
  • His lowest point in life thusfar
  • Having a fight or flight response
  • Building up confidence as an entrepreneur one day at a time through small wins
  • “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy
  • What we can learn from Navy Seals and their training regime
  • “Living with a Seal” by Jesse Itzler
  • The fear of success being greater than the fear of failure
  • How money highlights our true character
  • His current focus on building The Rype App
  • The main reasons why most people don’t reach fluency in a language
  • How not having a Plan B has contributed to his personal success
  • Learning from successful people by reading their biographies
  • Sean’s Book Recommendation: “Awaken the Giant from Within” by Tony Robbins
  • Stop Procrastinating, Just Start!
  • How to use The Zeigarnik Effect to stop procrastinating

(we had some connection difficulties, sorry for the video quality)

Connect with Sean: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

If you want to download and listen to the audio format, please click below. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on your playback application, whether that is iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher!

It would mean the world to me if you left a review on your preferred playback platform. Thank you!!

Episode #3: Feeling the fear & doing it anyways with Laura C. Cannon

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On our third episode of The Travelpreneur Club, I had was honored to sit down and chat with Laura C. Cannon.

Laura is an author, speaker, and coach. Her newest book titled “The Conscious Entrepreneur” teaches you how to harness your unique gifts and the power of your own consciousness to maximize your satisfaction of your business and your life. The book is a great resource for all those that feel lost in their life, giving you the necessary direction to achieving your highest potential. You can currently pick up the Kindle version on Amazon, with the physical copy hitting shelves in July.

Along with her new book, Laura has more than 15 years under her belt as a professional speaker, where she seamlessly ties together the life topics of business and spirituality to drive home her informative and engaging presentations.

When she’s not speaking, writing, or coaching her clients, Laura enjoys teaching Yoga and officiating weddings as a reverend.

Although Laura is not completely location-independent at this time, she is building her business to give her the necessary freedom and control, to live a life of travel.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Her goal to build a truly location-independent business
  • The fear of leaving a safe life in Corporate America
  • The benefits of building your business while still employed
  • Making a plan and taking action
  • Her start as an entrepreneur in the event industry
  • How fear is holding us back from taking risk
  • Using fear to our advantage, accepting it and imploring it
  • How our vision of personal success comes from how we want to feel
  • How volunteering in Hospice and talking with people at the end of their lives had such a lasting impression on her current mindset
  • Preventing a life of “I Wish”
  • How meditation has brought her the needed space in her life and has contributed to her personal success
  • Meditation Resources: IMCW.org & DharmaSeed
  • Overcoming self-doubt, embracing it, and using it as motivation
  • Knowing when the timing is right
  • How and why she plans to give back this year
  • “Feel the fear and do it anyway”
  • Laura’s Book Recommendation: “The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection” by Michael A. Singer

Connect with Laura: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or by Email.

If you want to download and listen to the audio format, please click below. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on your playback application, whether that is iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher!

 

It would mean the world to me if you left a review on your preferred playback platform. Thank you!!

Episode #2: How Aakash Ranison was able to travel for free by obtaining sponsorships

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For our second episode, I had the pleasure to sit down with Aakash Ranison, a travelpreneur from India that is set out to change the world through bringing awareness to important global issues and actually taking action, not just talking about it.

Aakash is the Founder and CEO of The Golden Bird Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organization based out of India that was created to help less fortunate children who have an interest in working with computers, an opportunity to gain an education.

Since the founding of the program, Aakash has also expanded the program to cover the issues of hunger, woman empowerment, health care, and environmental protection.

Along with making the world a better place, Aakash has a passion for blogging and travel photography, which he shares with his more than 2,000 followers on Instagram, 3,600+ likes on Facebook, and 11,000+ followers on Twitter. He has already cycled across India and now has future plans of hiking from the capital of India to one of the highest motorable roads in the world.

His motto is “Be Passionate. Be the Change”…and continues to live it each day.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The start of The Golden Bird Foundation
  • How he began traveling by getting to know the local communities around him
  • How he started traveling with no money by cycling and obtaining sponsors
  • Selling yourself to sponsors by highlighting what is unique about your story
  • Having a clear message and purpose during your travels
  • “If you want to do something bad enough, you will find a way to do it…if you don’t want to do something, you will find an excuse”
  • The attitude that makes a travelpreneur
  • His personal struggles with education at a young age
  • Using our time wisely and making sure the one life that we live is more than enough
  • How those that are stuck doing something they do not like, are afraid to take a risk
  • How we learn from observation at a young age and how that shapes our future self
  • The importance of a mentor
  • Using social media as a tool to leverage your voice and gain the attention of sponsors
  • How networking is the key to success, because you never know whom someone can connect you to
  • “I would rather die out my passion rather than of boredom”
  • Overcoming no and pursuing his passions
  • Being so dedicated and focused on your mission that no one can deter you
  • “At first they will laugh at you, then they will fight with you, and finally they will be proud of you”
  • His next travel plan of walking 1800 km (1118 mi) from the capital of New Delhi, to one of the highest motorable roads in the world, Khardung La.
  • How challenges shape us as travelpreneurs
  • How you can only learn to travel by actually traveling, not reading about it in a book
  • His favorite author: Swami Vivekananda
  • The most impressionable age is 5-15 years old, when we decide what we are and what we aren’t, with a positive educational experience being extremely important during this time
  • Using verbal affirmations to make your goals a reality

 

Connect with Aakash: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or by Email.

If you want to download and listen to the audio format, please click below. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on your playback application, whether that is iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher!

 

It would mean the world to me if you left a review on your preferred playback platform. Thank you!!

Episode #1: Eating & traveling around the world in style with Pierre Blake

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For the first episode of our weekly podcast, I had the opportunity to catch up with an old friend from my days as a student at Michigan State University, Pierre Blake.

Pierre is the creator of PierreBlake.com, where he writes about luxury travel, food, and lifestyle.

His visually captivating photos, creative writing, and GQ Swag have amassed him a significant following on Social Media; with more than:

  • 6k Facebook Page Likes
  • 33k Instagram Followers
  • 51k Twitter Followers

This large cult of raving fans has thoroughly enjoyed following Pierre as he eats his way around the world in style and shares his incredible travel experiences with his audience.

Pierre is currently traveling across the Middle East and Europe, with recent stops in Jordan, London, Portugal, Morocco, Italy, and Bulgaria.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The best way to learn about a culture
  • His start as a travelpreneur and how he got into blogging
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone by traveling
  • The influence of the book “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss on his journey
  • The worst case scenario when looking at failure in the eyes
  • Pursuing his passion
  • Supporting his travel lifestyle through his location-independent business
  • How he partners with hotels and restaurants
  • How short life is
  • The only limiting factor to doing something is yourself
  • His business and travel goals for this year
  • The countries he’s most looking forward to travel to
  • How fear limits our true potential

Connect with Pierre: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or by email.

 

If you want to download and listen to the audio format, please click below. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on your playback application, whether that is iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher!

It would mean the world to me if you left a review on your preferred playback platform. Thank you!!

Living a Life of “I Have” Over “I Wish”

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On March 18th, I took the leap into the unknown by quitting my job in Corporate America and leaving behind my comfortable life in the United States in exchange for a new adventure, living in and working from Medellin, Colombia. It was both the scariest and best decision I have yet to make in my nearly 25 years of life.

I’ll admit, in that moment where I opened up my mouth and actually made the verbal commitment to leave my job, I was scared shitless. I was no longer thinking of taking action, but was actually going to do it, and my natural instincts of insecurity rushed in. I was scared of what was to come. Scared of failure. Scared of what people would think of my decision. Scared to change my employment status on LinkedIn and answer the questions of “what happened?” Scared of losing everything I had built in the business I was in over the last year. But then, a moment of clarity hit me and the decision became very easy when I asked myself one simple question.

When I am lying on my deathbed, and have my family and friends gathered around me to share my last moments in this world, will I have lived a life of “I wish” or a life of “I have?”

At that moment, I knew the path that was to be taken, a life with no regrets and wishes, a fulfilled life of “I have.” For me, the greatest fear I have above all is the fear of not taking action and then one day looking back at how I spent my short time saying “I wish.”

I wish I would have travelled. I wish I would have talked to that girl. I wish I would have quit that depressing job sooner and done something I enjoyed. I wish I would have had better relationships with my friends and family. I wish, I wish, I wish…it goes on and on until we look back and realize that we did not live a life of fulfillment, but rather a life of regret.

I refuse to live that way and I hope this provides some motivation in your current daily life. I challenge you to overcome those feelings of fear and make the difficult, but necessary change in your life to live a life of  “I have,” instead of “I wish.”

Question of the Day: What was the hardest decision you ever had to make? and for better or for worse, what was the the outcome?

I’d love to hear your life lessons, please comment below or on the Facebook post!

The 5 Best Cities for Digital Nomads in Southeast Asia

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If you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, why not surround yourself with other like-minded individuals that have the same passions, goals, and aspirations?

All around the world, there are various digital nomad hubs, where hundreds of like-minded entrepreneurs have set up shop to work on growing their location independent business and to live a nomadic lifestyle. While you can make anywhere your home base, many travelpreneurs choose to flock to Southeast Asia, where there is a heavily concentrated population of other traveling entrepreneurs, and for good reason. There are various reasons why these particular cities are so attractive for these types of entrepreneurs, they possess certain characteristics that make it a favorable environment to live and work from.

Below I break down the 5 best cities for digital nomads in Southeast Asia, based on the following factors: cost of living, weather, internet speed, and nomadic community.

*Data Source: NomadList*

**in no particular order**

1.) Chiang Mai, Thailand

Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand (Courtesy of: golforient.com)
Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand (Courtesy of: golforient.com)

Reasons to Call it Home: Tucked in the northern mountains of Thailand, Chiang Mai has become the undisputed nomad capital of SE Asia for its temperate climate, laid back atmosphere, affordable cost of living, reliable internet connection, and large number of coworking spaces.

Community of Digital Nomads: 400+

Cost of Living per month: $800-1,200

Internet Speed: 20mbps

Weather: 23-35C (73-95F)

Best Time to Visit: Nov-Feb

2.) Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

An aerial view of the bustling city (Courtesy of: silverlandhotels.com)
An aerial view of the bustling city (Courtesy of: silverlandhotels.com)

Reasons to Call it Home: The largest city in Vietnam and the central hub of all things commerce, technology, and research, this bustling city attracts digital nomads from around the world for its extremely low cost of living and solid infrastructure.

Community of Digital Nomads: 100+

Cost of Living per month: $700-900

Internet Speed: 20mbps

Weather: 20-32C (68-90F)

Best Time to Visit: Nov-March

3.) Bangkok, Thailand

The Grand Palace illuminated at night, with downtown looming in the background (Courtesy of: airastana.com)
The Grand Palace illuminated at night, with downtown looming the in background (Courtesy of: airastana.com)

Reasons to Call it Home: Buzzing with a high level of energy, Bangkok is a city that never sleeps, offering nomads a chaotic, but yet productive place to work from with fast internet and a great community of other travelpreneurs.

Community of Digital Nomads: 300+

Cost of Living per month: $1,000-$1,500

Internet Speed: 40mbps

Weather: 23-35C (73-95F)

Best Time to Visit: Nov-Feb

4.) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The downtown skyline with the infamous Petronas Towers on the right (Courtesy of: wikimedia.org)
The downtown skyline with the infamous Petronas Towers featured on the right (Courtesy of: wikimedia.org)

Reasons to Call it Home: A melting pot of Chinese, Indian, and Malay cultures, “KL” is a city with an incredible amount of diversity and a balance of both rich historical influences, along with contemporary vibes, allowing nomads the best of both worlds.

Community of Digital Nomads: 75+

Cost of Living per month: $900-1,200

Internet Speed: 10mbps

Weather: 29-31C (84-88F)

Best Time to Visit: Feb

5.) Phuket, Thailand

The largest island in Thailand has plenty to keep you busy, with sprawling beaches and plenty of smaller islands to explore (Courtesy of aquapropertygroup.com)
The largest island in Thailand has plenty to keep you busy, with sprawling beaches and plenty of smaller islands to explore (Courtesy of aquapropertygroup.com)

Reasons to Call it Home: If you’ve ever seen a picture of someone on a beach with their laptop open and a cocktail in their hand, they were most likely in Phuket. This large island in the south of Thailand is incredibly popular among tourists and nomads alike, with beautiful beaches, solid infrastructure, and a reasonable cost of living.

Community of Digital Nomads: 60+

Cost of Living per month: $900-1,100

Internet Speed: 20mbps

Weather: 23-35C (73-95F)

Best Time to Visit: Nov-Feb

 

Question of the Day: Of the 5 cities above in SE Asia, which seems the most attractive to you? and why?

As always, I look forward to reading your answers below! 🙂

5 Countries Where Your Dollars Will Allow You to Travel Like Royalty

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For those that have the benefit of making a living in U.S. dollars, like me, we are lucky. The U.S. dollar is the world’s de-facto currency. The majority of businesses in the world would rather be paid in dollars than any other currency. As a matter of fact, there are a handful of foreign countries that have adopted “dollarization” and elected to use the U.S. dollar as their national currency, countries like: Ecuador, East Timor, El Salvador, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, Turks and Caicos, British Virgin Islands, and Zimbabwe.

According to the International Monetary Fund, 60% of foreign currency reserves held by Central Banks are comprised of U.S. dollars. We trade international commodities like gold and oil in dollars, and 85% of foreign exchange markets involve the dollar. There are many reasons why the Dollar Remains King, as J. David Stein puts it, but I will save that for another day. What I would like to share with you is how you can get the most out of your travels with your dollars by targeting specific countries based on their devalued currency.

The dollar remains king (Courtesy of: 7thstreetcapital.com)
The dollar remains king (Courtesy of: 7thstreetcapital.com)

Currency exchange rates are constantly fluctuating from minute to minute, day to day, month to month and so on. What may be worth $100 one minute, can be worth $90 the next, without you even knowing why. The economics behind fluctuating currency rates are quite complex and sometimes confusing, but the easiest way to explain it is supply and demand. A whole slew of other factors like inflation, interest rates, market speculation, political policy, governmental debt, economic growth/recession, and more, also have a determining factor on how much a particular currency is worth at any given time. Although the dollar may not always be king, at this moment in time it is enjoying its rule over the world, and we have every right to take advantage of it.

Based on today’s exchange rate, here are 5 countries where your dollars will allow you to get more bang for your buck and the opportunity to travel more comfortably compared to this same time last year. *For $1usd, you are getting “x%” more than this exact day last year*

1.) Argentina – 63.78%

1 yr Rate Change (USD/ARS) 8.86–>14.37

Courtesy of: panamericanworld.com
Florida Street with El Obelisco de Buenos Aires front and center (Courtesy of: panamericanworld.com)

For the last few years, Argentina has had a monetary crisis. The general public knew that their pesos were depreciating by the minute and that the official rate was inflated, so they began exchanging their pesos for dollars on the black market at rates far higher than they were on the official market. This was good for tourists because they were receiving 12-16 pesos for every dollar instead of the 6-8 that the official rate stated, but bad for the government whose problem was worsening with each illegal exchange. Finally on December 16, 2015, Argentina’s new president, Mauricio Macri, lifted long-standing currency controls to allow the peso to float freely and be priced by the market, which resulted in a devaluation of around 30% over night. What the Argentinian people had previously known became a stark reality when they woke up the next day and saw their savings cut in one third. Although this is a drastic drop, it will pave the way for future economic growth in the country, without the overshadowing dark cloud of an inflated currency. While I sincerely understand the pain and frustration the Argentinian people have, I see it as an opportunity to travel to Argentina and get the most valuable experiences for our money. From the natural wonder of Patagonia in the south, to the wine region of Mendoza, and the stunning metropolis of Buenos Aires, Argentina is guaranteed to provide you with unforgettable memories.

2.) Belarus – 37.32%

1 yr Rate Change (USD/BYR) 14,433–>19,820

Mirsky Castle Courtesy of: 01varvara.wordpress.com
Mirsky Castle (Courtesy of: 01varvara.wordpress.com)

A landlocked country in Eastern Europe, Belarus has a strong tie to its neighbor in the east, Russia. With approximately 50% of Belarus’s total trade coming from its larger neighbor, it is no wonder that its currency took a massive hit at the end of December in 2014 when Russia’s economy floundered, and has since plummeted even further. As the economy took a hit, the citizens of Belarus rushed to exchange their nearly worthless rubles for dollars, prompting the government to impose a 30% commission fee on all currency transactions to slow the bleeding. This was eventually disposed of, but the damage had already been done, with the devaluation of the currency reaching more than 30% over the last year. As Russia’s economy slowly climbs to come out of recession, it would be a great time to visit this beautiful country with its Stalin-era architecture, primeval forests, and grand castles.

3.) Russia – 30.2%

1 yr Rate Change (USD/RUB) 50.9–>66.28

St. Basil's Cathedral (Courtesy of: likefon.com)
St. Basil’s Cathedral (Courtesy of: likefon.com)

Since mid-2014, Russia’s economy has been on a nose-dive, decimating its currency in the process. One of the major factors in this dramatic change has been due to the sharp drop in the price of its largest export, oil. Half of Russia’s overall exports in 2015, came from the exportation of oil, resulting in a gross surplus of more than $168 billion, which was down from $336 billion in 2013. It’s no wonder that their economy tanked as the price of oil dropped 60% from its peak in 2014. This factor along with international sanctions imposed for the government’s involvement with the annexation of Crimea and the separatist movement in Ukraine, has caused the economy of Russia to suffer. While I believe the worst part of the recession has already passed, it is still the perfect time to take that trip to Russia that you always dreamed of, and see St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin, and the Red Square.

4.) South Africa – 21.15%

1 yr Rate Change (USD/ZAR) 12.01–>14.55

The beautiful landscape of South Africa (Courtesy of: holidaybazaar.travel)
The beautiful landscape of Cape Town, South Africa (Courtesy of: holidaybazaar.travel)

South Africa has been one of the more stable economies and governments of Africa for the past decade, but recent drops in commodity prices and alleged political corruption of their president, have shaken international confidence of the country at the southern tip of Africa. The exchange rate was up to nearly 17 ZAR/$1 USD in January, but has since retreated to below 15, which is still a great value for travelers with dollars. With a wide variety of stunning landscapes, from fruitful winelands, to pristine beaches, dense forests, jagged coastal cliffs, and vast shrublands, South Africa has plenty to amaze you with.

5.) Colombia – 19.82%

1 yr Rate Change (USD/COP) 2,508–>3,005

A sunset over the mountains of Medellin, Colombia (Drew Crawford - All rights reserved)
A sunset over the mountains of Medellin, Colombia (Drew Crawford – All rights reserved)

Colombia, just as Russia does, relies heavily on the exportation of oil to bolster its economy. As oil has slipped over the last year, so has the Colombian Peso. For travelpreneurs like me, it has given us a superb opportunity to live and work from such a beautiful country at a discount. When I was passing through Colombia in November-December of 2014, the exchange rate was around 2,250 COP/$1 USD. Now it has been hovering over 3,000! While this change seems relatively insignificant compared to the countries above, it has allowed me to stretch my money much farther than if I were to live back in the U.S. For those that live in the U.S., Colombia is just a few hours from Florida and round-trip flights can be found for around $200. Whether you want to hit the beach in Cartagena, swing through the Amazon jungle in Leticia, or hike through La Valle Cocora of the coffee region, the only risk in visiting Colombia is that you will want to stay, and with more money in your pocket I wouldn’t blame you.

Question of the Day: Would you travel to a country based on the local currency being devalued?

Comment below with your answer and if you enjoyed this read, please share this with your friends! Many thanks!! 🙂

Narrowing Down the Search for Your Next Travel Destination Home Base

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Yesterday we talked about building your location independent business by leveraging the power of geographical arbitrage. If you haven’t read that yet, please do so before continuing.

Today, we will get into the nitty-gritty of finding the perfect place for you to call home for the next 3-6 months as you start your journey to location independence.

With 195 countries in the world, you may be thinking to yourself, “where in the hell do I start?” Which is a very valid question if you don’t know what you are looking for. That’s why I am here to help, to narrow down that list of 195 countries to 1 city, the perfect fit for your wants and needs, your dream working and living environment.

First, we need to define your goals. What do you want to get from your experience abroad? Is it to purely save money and live as cheap as possible? Or to practice a particular language that you have been learning and want to become fluent in? Or maybe you are merely looking for a home base to do plenty of side trips to neighboring countries? We all have goals in mind and we need to write them out before moving forward. In your dream environment, what 5 qualities would you want your country to possess?

For me, my goals in looking for a country when starting my journey as a travelpreneur were the following:

  1. Spanish-speaking: I have a near fluent level of Spanish already after living and traveling around South America for a year, but I really want to take it to the next level and say that I am completely fluent.
  2. A developed city, but not too crowded (1m-10m population): I enjoy having plenty of activities and gatherings to attend, but don’t want to feel overwhelmed with the overcrowdedness and pollution that comes with a massive city like Tokyo, Jakarta, Delhi, or Manila, where the population is 24-38M. With developed cities also comes fast internet (>15 mbps), which is important in running a business from your computer.
  3. Low Cost of Living (<$1,000/mo): For my apartment, food, transportation, and other daily living expenses, I did not want to pay more than $1,000/mo. Seeing as my apartment in the States was nearly this much, it is a huge cut in my expenses.
  4. Moderate Weather Year-round (18-30C/65-86F): I like living in places where there is plenty of sunshine, but not like on the coast where it is nearly unbearably hot and humid. I like to vacation on the beach, but not live there. I’d rather have a nice mountain breeze than an ocean breeze. Spring time back home in the States is my favorite climate, so if I can duplicate that year round I’d be happy.
  5. A Community of Other Travelpreneurs: Since I am just starting out on my journey of  working remotely, I thought it would be best to surround myself with other like-minded individuals that have already been there and done that, a support system to learn from their successes and failures. Some of the most popular “digital nomad” spots are in SE Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe, with the cities of Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand being by far the most popular in the world.

By using these criteria, I went to one of the greatest free resources there is on the internet for travelpreneurs/digital nomads, called the Nomad List. This resource was created on a whim by tech entrepreneur Levels.io after asking his audience a few questions and then taking action on their responses. It has since grown into a living and thriving community of nomadic entrepreneurs. It is a great starting point in narrowing down a large list of countries and cities to a select few, where you can do further research.

A list of a variety of filters in helping you narrow down your search.

By using my goals above, coupled with the fact that I wanted a Free Visa for at least 30 days as an American citizen, I was able to narrow down my list to the following six cities in South America, where I feel comfortable from my past travels:

My list narrowed down in Grid format

You can also sort your filtered cities by clicking on the List option, which gives you a sorted overview of the results, and I like best. There is also a map option available if you are unaware of the geographical locations.

List format

From there, you can dig down deeper on the positives and negatives of each city by clicking on them individually. It gives you an aggregate “NomadScore” based on all the factors that make it intriguing to nomads. The top result returned for me was Quito, Ecuador, which I know very well after a 5-month study abroad program during my time in university. Although I love Quito and Ecuador, I have already travelled the entire country and city, so I would rather try something new.

The overview scores of each city

By clicking on the “Info” tab, you are given a breakdown of the best times of year to visit based on the temperature and seasonality, the country and region, the population, the top utility providers, the internet speed, religious background, and humidity level. I’ve never been to Argentina and have always wanted to go, but it is currently transitioning into winter down there and 9°C/48°F in June does not sound enticing. I’ll have to reevaluate this option in the future.

The "Info" tab gives you more relevant information about the weather, population, utility companies, and more.
The “Info” tab gives you more relevant information about the weather, population, utility companies, and more.

One of the most important factors, for me, when searching for a new home base is the “Cost of Living.” This information is vital in planning your travels and budget to make sure you will be able to afford your new environment. The “NomadCost” is significantly higher because it takes into account that you will be staying short term for up to 3 months, sleeping in cheap hotels/hostels near the city center, and eating out for all 3 meals per day. The middle end of the spectrum is the “Expat Cost,” which assumes you will be there for a few years, renting a long-term accommodation like an apartment, and both cook at home and eat out on occasion. At the bottom end of the cost scale is the “Local Cost,” which factors in that you are from the city, live away from the center, and cook at home for nearly all meals. Based on my way of travel, by staying in a particular city for 3-6 months, finding a local room for rent on the outskirts of the city, and balancing both eating out and cooking at home, I would average the Expat and Local cost of living to arrive at $1,200/mo budget for myself in Montevideo. Based on the higher cost of food in Uruguay ($9.61 for a basic meal) and the fact that I would be arriving during winter (13°C/55°F in June), I will have to pass on it for now.

The "Cost of Living" tab breaks down the expenses of living and working from that city.
The “Cost of Living” tab breaks down the expenses of living and working from that city.

Having a network of like-minded travelpreneurs/digital nomads is quite important when trying to build a business abroad. From the moment you land, you realize you are in a foreign environment and on your own. At least with the community on NomadList, you can ask questions and receive valuable feedback from those that are either in the same situation as you currently are or have been there before. The community aspect is free to follow along, but it will cost you $65/year to join and contribute in the Slack chat forum. Is the chat worth it? Yes and no, some cities have a greater value than others with a larger community and more contributors, but if you plan on living the nomad lifestyle it could come in handy as you hop from place to place. I made the investment, but have yet to be an active user. Personally, Buenos Aires falls into the same boat as Cordoba at the moment, too cold for me but would love to visit in the near future, especially due to the Argentinian peso being extremely affordable for those with Dollars since the new president introduced a policy change in December.

The network of other digital nomads can be found under the "People" tab.
The network of other digital nomads can be found under the “People” tab.

If you have any questions or concerns about a particular place, the “Questions” tab is a great way to reach out to the community for help. From questions about laptop security, to where you can purchase a new MacBook, to the overall lifestyle in the city, and more can be found here. Santiago has gradually solidified itself as one of the central hubs for technological advancement and investment in Latin America, with startup incubators like StartUp Chile growing in popularity and prominence. The cost of living in Santiago, coupled with the fact that their are a lot of smart and driven entrepreneurs make it an interesting place to look at, but being so close to the Andes mountains and too far south of the Equator, winter does not sound like a motivating factor for me, maybe in Dec-Feb it would be a better idea.

Ask any nomadic question related to place and the community will be there to answer.
Ask any nomadic question related to place and the community will be there to answer.

By clicking on the “Trips” tab, you can take a look at other nomads that are planning on being in the city and when, which give you an opportunity to network and make friends before ever even arriving to the city. You can also publicly list your trip on the board for others to see and contact you about.

medellin colombia
See who else is planning a trip to the city or make your own itinerary using the “Trips” tab.

Another great feature that this platform has is the ability to find and rent coworking spaces, community working spaces dedicated to entrepreneurs to provide them a quite area with good internet to get stuff done. As you can see below, prices range from $3-8/day for access to these “clubs.” Not only do they offer a great place to work from, but also are a fantastic social environment to meet other like-minded individuals and to brainstorm on new ideas and to solve mutual problems.

Co-working spaces allow entrepreneurs a great environment to network with other like-minded individuals and to get work done.
Co-working spaces allow entrepreneurs a great environment to network with other like-minded individuals and to get work done.

After doing a thorough analysis on NomadList, based on my 5 goals, and asking the right questions to fellow travelpreneurs, I made the decision to make Medellin my home base as I start the exciting journey of location independence.

Medellin is a magical place, a developed but yet still affordable metropolitan city nestled in between the mountains of Antioquia ,with an eternal spring like climate of 29°C/84°F year-round. It is everything I was looking for and can be reached from Florida for less than $100 one-way flight.

Gone are the days of Narcos running through the city like maniacs, the local people are proud of their city and will do anything to make foreigners feel welcome and accepted, making safety outside of petty theft a non-issue. The majority of the population is solely Spanish-speaking, so knowing the language is a huge help, although the younger generation of under 35 year old will more than likely know English. Even though the internet speed is listed as “Bad” at 5 mbps on NomadList, the internet at my apartment is at least 10-15 mbps and I have no problem performing Skype calls and browsing the internet, which can be found out by asking a fellow nomad that has been there before instead of relying solely on the data provided by NomadList. All in all, Medellin is my paradise and will be my home for the next 3-6 months barring any surprises. I’m thinking Argentina will be my next destination sometime around October, as I am very intrigued by Cordoba and Buenos Aires, and have been dying to visit Patagonia, but who really knows as a travelpreneur where we will end up next?

Question of the Day: What city in the world would you like to make your next home base while you build your location independent business? and why?

Comment below, I look forward to hearing your choices!

Leveraging Geographical Arbitrage to Launch Your Location Independent Business

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Tim Ferriss said it best with the quote above, “Fun things happen when you earn dollars, live on pesos, and compensate in rupees.” What he means by this, is that the money that you earn in a strong currency, like dollars, can go a lot further when you are living in a foreign country and paying rent in pesos, while your business expenses are also in a foreign currency like rupees.

The travelpreneur/digital nomad dream is made possible by the endless possibilities to make money in a strong currency on the internet, and the ability to outsource many of your daily work tasks to people in countries like India, Pakistan, the Philippines, or Peru, where the average worker only makes $255-295usd/per month, and then live in countries with an extremely low cost of living like Macedonia, Ukraine, India, or Colombia.

The definition of "arbitrage" according to Google.
The definition of “arbitrage” according to Google.

By taking advantage of differing exchange rates and making money in a strong currency, like the dollar, we are able to stretch our earnings abroad for a much longer period of time than we would if we worked online and lived in a city like NYC, San Francisco, or Miami. Over the last 5-7 years, there has been an emergence of entrepreneurs who have joined “the new rich” because they understand this life-changing concept.

Personally, I went from renting a small furnished bedroom and shared bathroom with all utilities included in Tampa, Florida for $800/month, to paying $315/month for a master bedroom, private bathroom, and floor to ceiling panoramic views of the city below, with all utilities included in Medellin, Colombia. If I am able to supplement the same income that I was making at my day job in the U.S. with passive income online, all of a sudden I have an extra $485 in my pocket each month just from changing my geographical location. This does not take into account the lower cost of living as well, which would include the cost of food, transportation, taxes, healthcare, etc. After factoring in the cost of living, I am saving a TON of money by moving abroad.

When I go out for a night on the town with friends, I am spending less than $20usd for a delicious steak dinner and multiple drinks, which would hardly cover a burger and a beer in the States. On average, I have cut my food and entertainment costs by 65% by making U.S. Dollars and living in Colombia!

Data according to Numbeo. Click the photo for link source.
Data according to Numbeo. Click the photo for link source.

I no longer need to own a car, I have the metro train, cheap taxis, and Uber to get around. Gone are the days of monthly car payments, insurance premiums, and gas expenses. What many people don’t realize is that car ownership is freaking expensive, with owners shelling out nearly $9,000/year, according to AAA, for the privilege and freedom to drive yourself around when and where you want. No wonder companies like Uber and Lyft have gained in popularity, it’s just too costly to be paying that much for something that sits parked for more than 95% of its useful life.

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.54.40 PM
Data according to Numbeo. Click the photo for link source.

While I have not had much experience with paying foreign taxes or health care yet, based on my research, I would save 1,615% on my health care costs by living in Colombia compare to the U.S., and cut my personal federal income tax rate from 39% in the U.S. to next to nothing as a self-employed business, if I set up my location independent entity in a country like the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Kuwait or the UAE, which is all completely legal and normal for tax-savvy entrepreneurs, no matter what the mainstream media may say.

Quote from NomadCapitalist.com
Quote from NomadCapitalist.com

There are so many cost saving advantages to living abroad while building and growing a location independent business, along with the fact that you will have the chance to network with other like-minded travelpreneurs and have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and language. These richly diverse life experiences will not only help you create a more successful business in the long-run, but will shape your personal growth as well.

I hope I was able to open your eyes to the basic concept of Geographical Arbitrage with this post. Tomorrow I will go into more depth about finding the perfect country for you and what resources are out there for helping you narrow down all the options out there to just one.

Question of the Day: Were you already familiar with the concept of Geographical Arbitrage? If so, where did you first read about it? If not, what are your first impressions of the idea?

Comment below, I would love to hear from you!