Maneesh Sethi was kind enough to write up a guest post for us on striking off internationally and doing the digital nomad thing.
Here's Maneesh -
Every day, someone says to me: “I wish I could travel like you do.”
And every time I respond: “You can too.”
You see, I’ve been traveling for the last three years as a digital nomad, through Asia, South America, Europe. I move to a new city, learn a new language, and do a cool project. I built an online business that is completely outsourced, so now I can work as many---or as few----hours/week as I want.
So when I tell someone ‘You can too,” I’m always surprised that I rarely hear someone ask me “How?” Instead, I usually hear a ton of excuses, reasons why it would be impossible to travel, impossible to leave their home and work on the road.
The funny thing is, traveling the world costs a hell of a lot less than living in the U.S. An apartment in NYC, for example is at least $1000/mo for a shared room. Here, in Berlin, I’m paying fewer than $250/mo. I used to spend fewer than $350/mo, total including every expense, in India. Where could you do that in the U.S.?
My intuition is that most people in the U.S. have never been exposed to the idea that traveling and working is possible. Outside of the U.S., I almost never see Americans traveling. British, Italians, Swedes, Australians, Israelis, and Germans are everywhere, but it’s rare to see a traveling American. We don’t have the same acceptance of travel in our culture.
So, because of that, I made my goal to build a business that would allow me to travel, to be completely free of location or working hours, and be able to do whatever I wanted to do. The funny thing was, it wasn’t very hard. It’s so much cheaper to live outside the U.S., that I was able to charge less and earn in dollars, like I discuss in How To Quadruple Your Wealth In A Six Hour Plane Flight. I was able to start a business that took a while to grow, and because of my low expenses, nurse it until it was ready to support me full time.
The more I learn about online income, the more potential sources of income I can see. There are really infinite possibilities of products you could create or tactics you can use. It often does take a lot of work to change your lifestyle, to find your dream way of living and make it happen, but I’ve found one mantra motivated me most: “Live life for a while like most people won’t, so that you can have the life that most people can’t."
So now that I’ve built a passive income, and I have a bunch of free time, I’m trying to build the “90 Days Project,” where I try to find a new calling in life, for 90 days at a time. Right now, I’m doing "90 days to being a world famous DJ in Berlin."
Check out my video, which is a finalist on Tim Ferriss’s The 4 Hour Workweek Blog, where I talk about how I built and used my passive income to allow me to found an NGO in India, teach others to break away and travel, and become a DJ in berlin. Please vote for me here.
I agree with his conclusions 100%: My rent is $390 per month for an incredible furnished place in Ulaanbaatar, food is cheap, and the coolest parts of the city are all walking distance. I'm glad Maneesh wrote this up for us, it's something you ought to pay attention to - it really ain't that hard to strike off internationally. Thanks Maneesh.
I've been considering this option more and more recently. The only thing I'm sure of is visas, vaccinations, etc...as I've never been out of the country for more than 2 weeks at a time. Sebastian, have you done a post about this kind of stuff (if so, I must have missed it)? I'm sure it varies quite a bit depending on each country, but perhaps you could shed some wisdom on the subject.
A few days ago I posted "What Happens if You Have Open Hours to Talk to Your Site Visitors?" Over the holidays, I took open hours to have chats with any reader of the site who wanted to. But at the end I asked,
Final thought – everyone who signed on are pretty expansive and ambitious people with lots going on and lots of dreams, but I’d like to find a way to touch base with more people… I mean, I had 23 interesting and fascinating calls, but I’ve got 500+ people visting the site daily, and another 400+ people subscribed by RSS.
Who are you other people? There’s 900 of you… what are you doing? You – yes YOU – what are you doing? C’mon, c’mon, stop just being a consumer and come play and have adventures and talk and connect and communicate. Yes, YOU, I’m sure you’ve got some fascinating stuff going on, right? Or at least a fainter idea that more is possible?
Please feel very welcome to reach out, drop a line, and let me know how it’s going. I’ve got a variety of contact info all over the site.
I got a number of very cool emails in response to that. This one is from Miguel Hernandez from Grumo Media.
I was in Berlin for an extended weekend recently, and the whole time I found myself agreeing again and again with what I had read about the city in Maneesh's (hackthesystem.com) post about it. It's a great post and introduction to Berlin, even if he oversells his reasons a bit. Below is his article, with some of my additional thoughts in italics.
It had been a long time since I’d stayed in one city for so long, but I’d engineered it so I could spend my final quarter of Stanford abroad…and receive financial aid at the same time. I’d heard nothing but great things about Berlin, and when Stanford offered me a paid summer internship, meaning I’d be living scot free in the city, I couldn’t say no.Within weeks of arriving, I understood why Berlin had received so much praise—the only other city I’ve ever seen as revered is Buenos Aires. Let me tell you now exactly why you should log on to kayak.com and buy a ticket to Berlin, Germany.
I was blown away when I saw the prices in Berlin. Living expenses are as cheap, or cheaper, than most cities in South America! (Buenos Aires included). I could afford dinners an the nightlife—Berlin is by FAR the cheapest capital city in Western Europe. Here are some examples of my costs (everything is converted into dollars at 1 € = $1.50)
[Side note: one time I only had 1EUR on me, and I entered a gas station to buy water. Water cost € 1.25. Beer cost € 0.60. Needless to say, my decision was made for me]