Thinking about moving abroad but having doubts?
I’ve been living abroad in Colombia for almost 2 years now, and I can tell you that the transition abroad doesn’t have to be difficult.
There are tons of misconceptions about making the big move, so here are my top reasons why moving to another country isn’t as crazy as you might think.
Let’s get into it…
1. You don’t have to move in one fell swoop
I am definitely not the kind of deep-dive from the beginning type guy. You don’t have to just up an move all at once.
I actually visited Medellin in short bursts (1 or 2 month trips) before I decided to pack up and move. By the time I did, I was already very familiar, had friends there, knew the area, could speak a bit of Spanish etc.
You can do this too.
Rent your apartment on airbnb and take off for a month.
This will help you figure out if it’s even a reality that you want to move there, or if it’s just a false fantasy.
If you DO decide that you want to be more permanent, then you can get rid of all your stuff (yay!).
When my lease was about to end, and I knew I didn’t want to do a Chicago winter ever again, I just got rid of my stuff.
It’s surprisingly easy. (And it’s pretty incredible how much junk you can accumulate.)
I sold it all (car, tv, furniture) and to be honest I miss none of it.
It doesn’t even seem like it’s gone.
2. You don’t have to actually work in the country you’re moving to
I know what you’re thinking – What the hell am I going to do for money?? I don’t even speak Spanish/Thai/Italian/Japanese yet!
While you can get jobs teaching English and that can totally work (for instance in countries like South Korea where English is high demand), it’s not my #1 suggestion.
To be honest, I would NOT suggest going down the route of trying to find a job abroad or teaching English etc.
If your targeting a country to save money, you most likely won’t be able to find a high paying enough job to make it enjoyable.
The best way is to have a remote job, work online, or work for a US company that has a team abroad.
All those options exist. Remote jobs are more and more common, and you can totally get one if you try.
Now there are even websites dedicated to helping you find remote work like:
And many many more…
Here’s a few examples of what some of my friends do. The basics (read: not super pro level, but enough to make money) of all of these skills can be learned in just a few months or less.
- Freelance Copywriter
- Developer (6 figures+ remote, found the job online and applied, their whole company is remote)
- Email Marketing Business (started from a cafe down the street)
- Copywriter / Marketing
- Blogger, Product Creator, Affiliate Marketer
- Amazon store product owner / marketer
What you’re going for here is to earn in dollars and spend in pesos (or equivalent). That will give you the most financial leverage.
One major plus about living in South America is it’s still on US timezones – all your meetings / etc are the same, as opposed to living in Thailand or Europe where you might have to work funky hours.
3. If you can’t move because you think it would be too expensive – You have even more reason to do it.
When talking about traveling, the most common response that I hear is “Oh, I would love to do that… I just don’t have that kind of money”
This is a fundamental misunderstanding of how travel works and blatantly shows that they have imposed massive self limiting beliefs on themselves and done little or no research to make their dreams come true.
The reality is that if you don’t have much money, you have an even bigger reason to travel.
It can be way way way way cheaper to live abroad than in the US.
I think it’s just an excuse to not try, or some kind of limiting belief of sorts.
Let me share some details about how that can be true:
4. You can live like a king at cheap prices
Living abroad can give you a much higher standard of living for a much cheaper price. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest expenses that you have:
In Chicago I rented a pretty cool 1 bedroom for ~$1000 / month in Humbolt Park.
This is not the nicest area, but it’s close to some good stuff. Utilities and internet probably brought it up to about $1200-$1300 / month.
In Medellin, I lived in a 3 story penthouse with 2 other roommates for $800 / month each in the most expensive area of Medellin.
I had a jacuzzi on the private deck stretched out from my room. It was a fully furnished apartment and with all utilities included I paid about ~$800 a month.
Total savings: ~$400 month, but these 2 places aren’t comparable.
There’s a lot of caveats to this since we are not comparing apples to apples at all. You can get apartments way way cheaper here as well, but I’m just speaking from truthful personal experience. For me personally, the intention isn’t to save money, it’s to live better.
In fact, I found my dream apartment in Medellin with the help of the fine folks from Casacol.
In Chicago, going out to a nice, white-table cloth, dinner with wine for 2 will probably run you about $200 or so.
In Medellin, going out to the same quality restaurant will run you about $100.000 pesos, or about $30.
5. You can get a permanent discount on everything
Currencies changes can make a huge difference.
Right now the exchange rate in Colombia is insane and has changed drastically over the last year or so.
What used to be normal pricing now reflects a discount of about 30%. Saving 30% in the States would be a hell of a sale.
Saving 30% on every single thing you buy is financially life changing.
That’s not to mention cost of living in general is cheaper. A $50 haircut from a salon in Chicago can cost $7-11 here.
Add up the savings over everything you buy and you can be saving hundreds of dollars a month.
6. Medical Tourism Is Real
If you need any kind of medical work done, there is a good chance you can get it done at a fraction of the cost.
Are you tired of the medical / insurance system raping you?
Sometimes it can be even cheaper to book a flight, hotel, have a procedure done abroad AND fly back than it is to have it done in the states.
Lasik Eye Surgery
For example, I recently had Lasik surgery done in Colombia.
While my family was freaking out about what kind of skeezy back alley scam artist with a rusty knife was going to cut my eyes open and ruin my life, my research told me that Lasik was actually invented in Colombia and Colombia has some of the best doctors in the world.
I went in to inquire about Lasik on a Wednesday, had surgery on Friday, and had 20/20 vision by Saturday after not being able to see for 20+ years.
I was able to get the most advanced technology Custom Wavefront Lasik from a fantastic ultra-modern clinic, right down the street, for a fraction of the price.
Normal cost of Custom Wavefront Lasik in the US: $4,354 for both eyes (source)
My cost: $1300 for both eyes
Side note, my friend went in for the “normal” / not custom wavefront version because his doctor said it was unnecessary and got it for less than HALF of what I paid ($600). He says his vision is now fantastic and my fancy custom wavefront was unnecessary.
Another common procedure you may want is Invisalign. This was cheaper too.
Normal cost for Invisalign 12-13 months: ~$8,000 (source)
My cost: 8 million pesos / $2666.00
As a side note, you can get great, worldwide insurance at a fraction of the cost.
Obviously you’ll need to check details but I get a $0 deductible worldwide plan for ~$100 a month, as where my IL plan was increasing seemingly every year to $200 / month with a $5k deductible.
7. You can escape taxes legally
A little known fact is that if you stay outside the US for 330 days in year period, you can exclude ~$100,000 in “foreign earned income” and not pay taxes on it.
Don’t believe me? Here’s the source.
Depending on how you do your taxes, that could save you $20k+ which could more than pay for all your flights and rent anyways.
The caveat is that you may need to pay taxes in the foreign country you’re in, but you won’t ever have to double pay.
8. You won’t be trapped by yourself living abroad, you will meet MANY other interesting people that speak English
When I thought about moving abroad, I pictured having to drop in and be lost. Learn to make friends with the locals or somehow weasel my way in.
Not true at all.
Many major cities have BUSTLING ex-pat scenes.
And when you meet people, it’s not just another Joe on the street that hates his job.
Most of the people I meet here are doing cool things, have very successful businesses or projects they are working on.
They went out of their way to do something with their life and didn’t just “land” there unintentionally.
The quality of people that you run into is generally higher than the bros that you get introduced to at the bar, never to be seen again.
9. Never See Snow Again and Have Awesome Weather, All Year Round
I grew up with snow, but Chicago winter finally killed me.
You don’t have to hate life for 6 months a year just because of the weather.
Personally, I’m much happier not dealing with winter. Or having the same conversation about how the weather “sucks” for 6 months.
Medellin is called “The city of eternal Spring” for a reason.
10. You might just find the change you’re looking for.
The reality is that sometimes when you go looking for something, you find it.
If you’re looking for something different in your life, go searching. Take some action.
I’m not sure that Medellin specifically helped me find what I was looking for, but that was the catalyst.
When you take a leap, you become pushed into a new direction – sometimes you don’t have a choice other than to grow, and that’s just what happened with me.
Thoughts? I’d love to hear them in the comments.