Going on vacation to save money (and look for pirate treasure)

windowsMost people want to save money on their vacations – but actually spend much more than they usually would. Me, I’m going on vacation to save money. Even though I’ve been living with family in Oregon for the past two months, my wife and I spend a lot of money every time we go out, even just running errands and buying dinner. Everything is spread out here, and relatively expansive (about 2/3 more than Taiwan, where we’ve been living).

Luckily as newlyweds, we don’t have a mortgage or car loan or bills to pay. And since we got rid of our junk and apartment in Taiwan months ago, we’re finding ourselves with an unprecedented amount of freedom. For those of you who work from home, own a small business, or make money from your art or writing, you may already know how liberating it can be.

Sure, we often spend all day at the computer, returning emails, catching up on work – and when you work for yourself you neverSTOP feeling like you should be working, or could be doing more to boost your income – but once you’ve reached the point where you can support yourself without clocking in to a “real” job, you get to start thinking about one of the most awesome things in the world: that there are hundreds of cool places you could be living right now, for much less.

If you live in America, you might need to make $50,000 a year just to cover your bases. But if you live in Thailand, Mexico, Croatia, Ecuador, Cambodia or other exotic foreign countries where the cost of living is much lower, you could get by on only $1000 a month (or less) and still live in extreme comfort.

Although I’ve been self-employed for almost a decade, I’ve only recently had the freedom to pick up and move to wherever I want. There are certain cities in the world, I discovered, which are popular with digital nomads and globetrotters who work from their laptop. Over the next few years, I’m going to spend some time everywhere, starting with…

Cancun, Playa Carmen, Merida et al.

I’ve been saying for many years that I should go to Mexico, because it “isn’t that far from Oregon.” The main reason to go to Mexico was to live and work in a beautiful place, and actually save money doing it. But after researching exhaustively, I have an additional goal: to find pirate gold. Several islands around the Yucatan, including Isla Mujeres, Cozumel and Holbox, are legendary pirate hangouts. The Spanish city of Campeche was raided by pirates almost annually for 40 years! (Citizens would hide or bury the gold and hope to come back to it if the pirates didn’t catch up with them).

History and culture aside, how great would it be to find a few bars of Spanish gold that never made the trip back to Europe?

We plan to get a budget apartment for about $500/month, so that I can set up my office quickly (I’m bringing a 23″ touch screen monitor with me to keep up with work). This isn’t really a vacation – it’s a change of lifestyle. I’ll still work about as much as I always do, but rather than watching TV to wind down, I can be out swimming with dolphins or strutting the beach with my metal detector (yes, I have one – how else am I going to find the treasure?).

Part of the purpose of this site is to show how affordable it can be to quit your job and create alternative streams of income. Since one of the easiest ways to do this is to move abroad – immediately slashing your expenses so you can spend more time building your business – I hope to chronicle my global adventures with posts on stuff like how to find apartments or get settled in those places conducive to geo-arbitrage.

Incidentally, an anecdote: A few nights ago I was dreaming that I was giving a speech and I mentioned “geo-arbitrage” and then explained that it was Tim Ferriss’ term for moving abroad to take advantage of lower cost of living. In the audience, surprisingly, was Tim Ferriss. And he looked at me like “Duh, I know what it is!”
Not everybody will benefit from my travel stories, so I’ll set up a special category (“travel”) for them. You can skip them if you just want to read useful stuff like how to write, publish and sell more books, or make money from your art.


About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me

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