And we're on a roll. Blog post number two...
So you have decided to become location independent. Now what?
It's always difficult choosing where you're going to live next. But hey, this is a good problem to have, right? Roz and I are sometimes very indecisive and end up booking flights and accommodation last minute. But there are always a certain number of things that we consider before settling in a new place. Let's get into them..
It's nice to have a community.
Community is very important for me when I'm choosing my next home. Of course it depends on who you are and what you're looking for.
So what kind of experience do you want? You can live in the touristy expat areas and this means you get to meet lots of people from all over the world. You could also opt for the authentic experience by living in the areas with more locals and less "international comforts". Or you can mix it up. The great thing about being location independent is you can move anywhere. That means within a city too.
The most important thing is being able to meet people. Luckily nowadays it's easier than ever. You don't even have to be an extroverted socialite to do so. With companies such as MeetUp, Couchsurfing, Expat Neighbours and tonnes of others springing up, travelling solo doesn't have to be lonely. There are also loads of co-living and co-working programmes, where you can work, travel and live with likeminded peeps from the very beginning.
Co-working spaces have really changed working and travelling for me. For the better. I think they are the best places to meet new people and find a little community. I love the diversity of them too and collaboration opportunities are always there, if that's what you're looking for.
I'm also very glad that I joined the Facebook groups for both Bali and Chiang Mai. There are so many events going on that I never would have known about. These include ecstatic dance and yoga classes, a weekly girls lunch and a crypto-currency meet up. There are Facebook groups for most places and if there isn't, why not create one?
Wifi makes the world go around.
Ah yes, WIFI. Some countries definitely have better internet than others. In countries, where the WIFI is apparently poor, check to see if there are any co-working spaces as these will usually have the best one available.
For WIFI at home there are two main options. I teach english online as a side hustle so internet speed is important for me, as I need to make video calls. Is there a good WIFI package that you can buy? If not, you can always buy an unlimited 4G bundle for your phone and then tether to your laptop.
Blogs will have information on the best cafes and co-working spaces to work at.
A question we get all the time.
Is it safe for me to go here as a solo female traveller?
Mostly, yes! Of course it's hard to say yes to all countries, but generally there is a lot of fear associated with places that are perfectly safe. Well as safe as can be. There is crime in every single country in the world. It's also important to be savvy as traveller. Don't bring out too much money with you. Keep aware of your surroundings. Don't walk home alone at night through dangerous areas or alleys. Anything I wouldn't do at home, I won't do abroad.
There are places that will try to rip tourists off. Look up taxi prices and tipping culture beforehand so as to not be charged extortionate prices. In a lot of countries in South East Asia, motorbikes are very common. If you're in Bali, you'll probably find yourself on one at some stage. When you are, lock your bag in your seat while you're driving and don't use your mobile phone when you're a passenger, as this makes it harder for snatchers. Make sure you don't leave anything in your seat when your bike is parked as these are very easy to break into.
Travelling can change your perspective on the world.
"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness" - Mark Twain
Immersing yourself in another culture is so important. It's also equally important to respect the culture and traditions of a country you are visiting. These will most probably affect you so it's important to do some research before you arrive.
What is the religion of the country you want to live in? For example in Buddhist countries when you are attending temples and other places of religious worship you must cover your shoulders and above your knees. You won't be allowed to use passport photos where you are wearing revealing clothing, including tank tops that show your shoulders. This is also expected in predominately muslim countries, and sometimes it's not seen as acceptable for women to walk alone. Showing affection such as handholding or kissing in public may be an absolute no-no. What is the day of worship in the country you want to live in and are shops closed on this day? I found out the hard way when I was living in Germany, that shops do not open on Sundays.
Is the country you want to live in gay or transgender friendly? Are alcohol and other drugs prohibited? Some countries have the death penalty and take the use of illegal drugs very seriously.
I hate visas.
Not really. I get that they're important. But they can get complicated. Sometimes you can come in on a visa and extend it. Other times you can must get a visa and then go a visa run, ie cross the border and come back in to get another one. Some visas also require an invitation letter. There are longer term visas such as social visas (6 months) and then visas for education, learning a special skill and/or a retirement visa. You can also get sponsored by a company which helps you to stay longer.
Naturally it depends where you're going and which country you hail from. Google it before you go and suss out your options. Some visas can only be gotten in your country of residency so some forward planning may be required.
How much will it cost for me to live there?
I've never been poor, only broke. Being poor is a frame of mind. Being broke is only a temporary situation. - Mike Todd.
There have been some days when I had the equivalent of $3 to my name. There have been others when I have had a couple of thousand in my bank account. I have been equally happy in both situations. I believe that people always change their spending habits to match their income. But the country you live in will also play a role.
Places vary hugely in cost. It's possible to live on a monthly wage of $500 in some countries in South East Asia. $500 probably won't get you a shoebox room in the centre of London. To check the cost of living in countries, this tool from Expatistan is very useful.
Let's talk about the weather.
Everybody's favourite small-talk topic. I know I should be used to it by now, but it still surprises me when it's roasting hot outside and lashing rain at the same time.
When I went on a visa run in March from Vietnam to Thailand, I was shocked that Thailand was about 20 degrees warmer. I was then told that Thailand has Wet and Dry Seasons while countries such as Vietnam still have regular seasons such as Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
Naturally the presence of monsoons and rain storms will affect your travels. Note that during rainy season prices of accommodation, transport and meals out are significantly lower.
Can I use my bank card when living abroad?
There have been so many times since I moved to Asia, when I'm not able to access my own money. A lot of developing countries have a "cash is king" policy. I imagine they don't even know what debit cards are in the rural part of Vietnam, where I lived. Some countries take advantage of this. For example, ATMs in Thailand charge extortionate rates for withdrawing money.
Other places such as Bali are considered high risk for ATM fraud and so your home bank may set a withdrawal limit on your account. This was the case for me in Indonesia, where my bank only allowed me to take out €100 every 24 hours. Having a back up bank card saved me. I also got a peer-to-peer banking service card and app called Revolut to avoid ATM fees. There are loads of other ones too such as TransferWise and Bunq.
If you're American, you can get a Charles Schwab account which refunds all ATM withdrawal fees. Handy. Now if only I was American.
It's time to boogie. Where do I go?
If you work hard all week you may want to kickback at the weekend. Is there a big club scene in your preferred destination? Or is it more bars and chill-out spots? Are there people who actually like to go out and dance?
Find all this invaluable information out from people in Facebook groups who are already living there. For example if you're in Bali just search "Bali Digital Nomads" in Facebook and a group will appear. Ko-Pow, magic!
Make sure you download our checklist to make sure you are fully prepped on your new home, before you even land.
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