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Don't be rich, Live rich (slideshare.net)
307 points by BioGeek on June 26, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 137 comments



It sounds nice if you can pull it off, but on the occasions where I've been continually moving from place to place I've found it much harder to actually get anything done. Continual travel adds cognitive and other entropic overheads which deplete your mental and energy real estate.


I spent a month in Argentina last year thinking I was going to work on a personal project and got absolutely nothing done, so I can definitely relate. The distractions of foreign places definitely add to the cognitive overhead.


We've done this pretty successfully, actually, for going on two years - and you're right about the continual travel planning being depleting...but new places are also really energizing...the key is making sure the length of the stay coincides with your release cycles. So, stay somewhere a month or more for a really big push, two weeks for maintenance and bug fix releases. This gives another fun advantage: release code names very easy to choose/remember. :)

Also - make sure you've got a nice view. We've found that our productivity increases substantially when we've got something nice to look at. Building product in basements is depressing and can really drain your energy/creativity/purpose. There's something about the ocean or the desert that can really drive you forward.


Yes, i have the same problem. Many times i thought, that i will build something while traveling, but that never happened :)

Though as far as i understood, they solved this with going out as tourists only on weekends.


I have this exact problem even without the travel... A couple of days at home without continuous jobs / tasks needing to get done. Great, I can finally get onto doing some work for project X!

Except it never happens. Seems my motivation / drive is so depleted that the best way to use the days off is to actually rest. Then I feel great (although generally a little miffed that I didn't get anything done on project X) and for the next several weeks I seem to have more focus and be able to get my everyday things done more effectively.

Sometimes the best way to utilise a break is exactly that - have a (complete) break and just rest the mind - I find some physical exercise (surfing) helpful with that too.


agree to some extent, spending time at home for long days will reduce productivity for me...


Yes we often sticked to the nine to five work template, doing the fun stuff in weekends and vacations. And off course, when you take the moped after work to go and see that sunset, that's also heaven for a few hours :)

Again GTD is a good way to make your way through work.

Also: when you're on the road, you won't need to go and see family and friends. You'll miss them. But a lot of time is free to do other stuff.


For us the solution was to rent an co-office space in Argentina (a great one btw: urbanstation.co.ar) In Thailand and South Africa this was less of a problem: in those places we had a small spot to work and we often went to internetcaffees in CapeTown, doing the real work at home, disconnected from the web. Which is immediately a good trick: disconnect from the internet and you'll get most of your work done: prepare work, mails etc. Then connect, send everything, get the mails, and disconnect again. GTD and sticking to it is a large part of making this work, otherwise you're or online on Facebook all the time, or working too much :)


I've been doing the same for 9 months now. I've travelled round the whole world, had a fantastic time, and wrote a book for O'Reilly as I went. It's been the best year of my life. In fact, it turns out that writing books is one of the best ways to do this - as it's very flexible and a successful book will just about cover traveling costs. What most people don't realize, is how cheap it is to do this.

As always though, everything is best in moderation. I'm yearning to be back in the startup/technology scene - and I will be come September. I'm sure that'll I'll do another trip like this in my twenties though (I'm 21 now).


One thing I'm certain of is that my expenses for a trip like this when I was 21 would have been much lower than for a trip like this now.

I've sadly grown accustomed to fancier meals (restaurants over ramen) and softer beds (hotels over hostels). It would be a lot of mental work to keep my expectations down and readjust them to what they were in my student days.

It would be a very good exercise though.


Yes, hostels through most countries, but hotels in Asia. I live pretty cheaply, but I've actually eaten out every night of the trip. I love the minimalistic lifestyle, having 100 things and living out my bag - I hope I never lose that.


I could stay in pretty nice hotels for the price of the rent I pay for the Helsinki flat. Most interesting cities are nowadays so expensive to have a home in, that hotels simply start sounding like an affordable alternative. And even more so if you want to stay in cheaper countries


What book have you wrote?

How do I know if I have enough experience on a subject to write a book about it?


You should write an ebook on how to do this.


There are several books about it. Off the top of my head... 4 Hour Work Week touches on it, Vagabonding by Rolf Potts has a version for lower-skilled workers, and Life Nomadic by Tynan is a free pdf.


At the beginning of June I went to Chris Guillebeau's first World Domination Summit in Portland, OR (http://worlddominationsummit.com/) and met lots of people who are living like this. I highly recommend going next year (I'm already registered!) if you're interested in learning about the techniques people use for lifestyle design.


We've been doing this for three years now. This couple seemed to focus on having a year abroad, we've made it our lifestyle, and we're doing a startup (rather than consulting).

I started this as a response to the "how to keep productive" question, but I'll try to address the other questions people have been asking in the thread later on.

We also have the issue of taking some period of time to get back into the productive zone. What we do is spend the visa limit time in each country. For americans in the UK that is 6 months, for instance. So we rented an apartment for 6 months. In the Shengen zone (most of europe) it is 3 months, and last year we spent 2.5 months in berlin.

In both cases we spent most of the time working a normal lifestyle %90 of the time. After our 2.5 months in berlin we spent a couple weeks traveling as tourists (that's where the other 0.5 months went.)

I figure 2 weeks on either side of a relocation are not going to be productive, so might as well spend half of that time, or so, doing tourist stuff. By having such great breaks regularly, we are recharged and I think more productive when we are working.

The weird thing is, indoors, the only thing foreign really is the outlets... so it feels like we're still in the USA, but then you step outdoors and the language, accents and architecture are completely different. So you can "travel" across the globe every day. It is really hard to explain that feeling but it is pretty powerful.

-- Taxes & Visas-- As far as governments are concerned we're tourists. We present ourselves this way and we get tourist visas. However, for most visas "tourist" and "business" visas are essentially the same. We don't work in any country in the sense that we don't have a job, we don't participate in their employment schemes. We're taxed like americans (the US taxes your income no matter where it is earned).

-- As I mentioned we're doing a startup. (We did one and we're just in the process of pivoting so what the new one is at this point is a little vague.) I don't feel out of the technology scene at all-- I have all the same connections I did before we left, except that I can't go to local unconferneces, but I didn't really get much out of them.

There is one conference that I miss that is done in the USA only, but we started buying the videos for it. Spending hundreds of dollars on conference videos sounds expensive, but it is cheap compared to actually going there (Even from within the USA). I don't really miss the networking opportunities-- and we're now networking with a real international network. EG: we network with the locals wherever we are.

The technology scene really is global.

-- Budget:

This is a big one. This inhibits a lot of people. However, if you've got an income from your work, and savings to get by in the USA, you can get buy longer when you're traveling. Even traveling in expensive first world places like europe, right now, we're able to live on the budget we were living on in the USA. Overall, we're actually spending a bit less, and we spend a lot less when we are living in lower cost places (even places in eastern europe, which are "expensive" compared to southeast asia, are cheep.)

So, we could have remained in the USA, and spent the same amount of money. I don't think we would have gotten any more work done, and we would have had a lot less fun. Plus, as our product is global, better understanding of other countries helps.

--

Health insurance: We have the health insurance we had in the USA. It covers us globally. There are specific health insurance plans that cover long term travelers and we might switch, we just haven't done so yet.

Neither of us are under 30, nor are we over 50.

--

Crazy? You hear a lot of people who knock this idea. Lots of people say "I'd love to do that but I've got responsibilities" or the equivalent.

That's fine... just don't presume we're not doing serious work, we aren't doing a "real" startup or anything lie that. These days startups often have employees spread around the globe... we don't have to carry the whole company with us.

I think people thinks this is harder than it is. Or maybe for some people the idea of living out of a backpack is tough.

Personally, I relish the challenge!

Between my laptop, camera, and assorted stuff, I've got about 7 pounds of clothes etc, and 10 pounds of electronics gear. Every time we-repack, we actually shed some unnecessary stuff. It is a process... but I love it.


It sounds like a lot of fun, but how do you save for your retirement? If you spent 10 years doing this, wouldn't you be too far behind to catch up and end up living a poor lifestyle when you should be traveling and enjoying your later years?


We're not living like tourists, we're working, a normal life. It is essentially the same as if we'd remained in the USA and done a startup. Yes, it is true, we do take longer and more frequent "vacations" than others (but that's in part possible because we live like raman lovers the rest of the time.) I think that's just part of a good work-life balance. The thing is, if we were in the states it would still be good to take such breaks, but it is much harder.

Whenever you decide to start a company with your partner, you're making a big commitment. You're taking risk of future reward in exchange for giving up immediate high salary (but horribly no-fun corporate jobs.) Previously we'd done the corporate jobs and the startup thing, and it was time for us to do our own startup.

For anyone out there considering doing what we're doing, the budget is what matters. If you can do this for the same cost of living, or less, than living in the USA, then why not do it?

What I didn't talk about is how much income we're currently making. And I didn't mention whether we were profitable or not, or whether we've passed the income we would have been making if we'd stayed in our corporate jobs. I don't want to go into that, because it isn't really useful for anyone considering this, as you have to make your own determination, but I feel safe in saying that I expect to live more comfortably in "retirement" than I would have if I hadn't done this startup.

Finally, I'm not sure what retirement is, really. I took a long break before, and travelled, and within a week of being on the road I was exploring ideas for starting a company. I had set aside 6 months for myself, didn't have to do anything (and when I came back, I got a job quickly, with the interviewers seeing my "employment gap" as something to be jealous of.) I don't expect I will ever stop working.

But, in my "later years" I do plan to travel more luxuriously.


I always hear people talk about all the things they'll do after they retire, but somehow I never see them actually do it. Sometimes you just need to do things instead of putting them off to some uncertain future.


I never wanted to retire at 60, I wanted to retire young. I picked a date in the 1990s by which I wanted to travel full time.

We missed the date by a year-- exactly the year it took us to get ready for this.

Takes a lot of time to get rid of a couple decades of accumulated junk. That's one of the bigger inhibitions. We didn't put anything but a couple small boxes in storage with friends, we got rid of everything.

Sort of our "burning the ships" moment, but also, the thing is, it was mostly unnecessary.

Like in fight club - we thought we had the sofa thing covered. Forget that. There will be more sofas in the future.


He mentioned that they don't spend any more money than they would have in the US. It shouldn't make a difference for the retirement plans then, I assume.


Hi there, Ine here from Nomadz.nu, one of the 2 girls of the presentation :) This post is really interesting, and about the same thing we'd say. We're European, so for us things are a bit different when it comes to insurance and retirement savings, but all in all it's pretty similar. Especially the part where people say: We can't do this because ... (fill in the dots) They can. Because we did. :)


I've done what you describe in various countries (minus the working bit), and while I'd definitely recommend this to anyone with an adventurous bent and who's curious about other cultures, it's not all wine and roses.

Here are some warnings, learned through experience:

As a foreigner you will often be treated as a second class citizen. That may or may not matter much, depending on where you go, what you do, whether you speak the language, and how many quality contacts you have in your host country.

I found it disheartening but eye opening just how poorly I was treated sometimes just because I wasn't a native, didn't speak the language, or was just being a respectful tourist.

Dealing with the bureaucracy in foreign countries when you're not a native could be a nightmare. It's even worse when you don't speak the language.

Again, speaking the language is also really important if you want to have natives as friends. Far too often expats socialize within a cocoon of other expats. And it's very easy to become very isolated in a foreign land, especially if you're not naturally very social and outgoing.

Flying and various other mechanics of travel might seem fun when you first start, but they'll become routine and maybe even onerous before too long -- especially with the ever increasing hassles of going through security and customs.

As a native in your own country you can frequently get away with a lot of things and talk your way out of many situations that you can't when you're a foreigner.

Foreigners and tourists often get taken advantage of because they don't know the rules, because they're afraid of getting kicked out of the country, and because they get little sympathy from some natives who look at them as nothing more than walking cash machines.

Of course, sometimes foreigners can get away with stuff that natives can't.. especially in the realm of social faux-pas, where a foreigner can be forgiven for being ignorant of local customs. But even here, not everyone is equally tolerant.

That said, I've benefited greatly from travel. It's been a very educational and mind-opening experience. Through it I've met many wonderful people and seen and experienced things I could not have imagined had I stayed in my home country my whole life.

I definitely encourage everyone to travel. But doing so long-term takes a special kind of person who's able to put up with a lot of inconvenience, hassle, and insecurity that you just wouldn't need to deal with if you'd just stayed home. (Of course this last bit wouldn't apply if "home" is some war-torn or economically depressed place compared to the countries you're traveling to.)


What is your startup? If it isn't the same answer, what are you doing to make money?


Could you give more detail on your health insurance--what you have now, and some other ones you're considering?


We kept the insurance we had in the states before. Due to obamacare our previous plan was shut down (as it became illegal to sell lower cost plans like it) and we were put onto a more expensive plan. We're researching our options. But we may end up buying insurance in the USA and then supplementing it with World Nomads coverage. They charge around $50 a month and provide $500k emergency transport back to the US (where your insurance will cover you) plus a variety of other benefits. WorldNomads.com

Some of the other companies we've heard about are mentioned in this article, but we don't have experience with them: http://www.nomadtopia.com/faq-what-do-you-do-for-health-insu...

Sorry, I can't give a definitive answer on the solution, but this is an area where we're still learning.


This is all good info. Thanks. You should put your email, website, or twitter in the "about" section in your profile. I'm sure people would like to learn with you.


I invested a lot of time on this site in the past, only to have my account unceremoniously hellbanned, without warning or cause. I've no expectation that this won't happen again, so I'm not planning to stick around.


There are two types of health insurance. Insurance that covers you in the USA, and insurance for the rest of the world. It seems you should be able to avoid paying the excessive premiums required for the first. I'd also check the contracts carefully around 'where you live' and 'how long you travel for' clauses.


Living abroad in your 20s is an unforgettable experience. I lived in Europe and Asia for most of the 1990s, and still look back wistfully at that time of my life. I gave up some early career "juice" but got so much more out of it.

Note that doing what the OP did is far more difficult if you have children, although it is possible to work stable jobs in a single country for longer stints with kids.


'more difficult if you have children' seems like a huge understatement. Especially if they're school-aged.


Massive, massive understatement. Not to mention if your children happen to have other issues, such as developmental disabilities, severe food allergies, or other things that make "normal" day-to-day living difficult, without adding the extra stressors related to travel and living abroad on top of that.

It is absolutely no coincidence that the vast majority of people who do these sorts of things have no children. This is not to say that I don't think it's commendable to get out in the world like this, because if you can it's a great thing. However, I get annoyed with folks who seem to think there couldn't be any possible reason that someone wouldn't do the same.


yes, it is more difficult with kids. Still that does not mean impossible. I moved with my family 6 months to work in Bordeaux. -(France) Joppe (7y) and Bent (5y) went to a French school. Geike (2y)stayed home with her mother. None of the kids spoke French when we left. I was dreaming about this for years, I now realized that all the excuses I had for years, were just that. Excuses. Together with my kids I gave a presentation at the same BarCamp that Ine & Catherine did theirs. At the end I asked everyone: "Would you do it again?" 2 of the 3 kids said they would. My wife said yes but then for longer.


Moral of the story: structure your life around things you love. Travel is cool, but not for me long term. I love internet startups and getting better with every new idea/execution. Soon, I will be able to stop consulting and get my cash flow from a self sustained business. In the mean time, I consult to fund me ideas. Life is good.


Not trying to take away from how fantastic and inspiring a story this is, what's with the "check for grants/subsidizing" bit?

Is the ultimate advice "be from a wealthy country that lets you travel on welfare"? :)


In Belgium (and other countries in Europe) there is a gap-year remuneration. It's a bit like the mini-retirements Stefan Sagmeister is talking about. They are meant for this sort of stuff.

Next to that there are several ways to do what you want to do: like studying abroad, volunteering. We're not saying what we did should be 'copied', we're saying 'figure out what you want, and find a way to do it' A way that fits you.

And that's not the other thing mentioned on the comments.


Or even better,come to Canada and claim refugee status when you arrive, you get social assistance payments and free dental and health care while you are processed through the queue to determine if you are legitimate, takes about a year. Apparently its quite a popular vacation option for people from Mexico, there is even a "how to" guide online.


No thanks. Abusing government resources that are intended for real refugees that have had to flee war zones and oppressive governments is not only unethical and rude, it could also land you in jail for welfare fraud.


This looks like fun, but so many people have done this now, it's almost a cliche.

It almost seems more unique to hear about a hacker from NYC documenting a summer working in New Paltz, rather than another story about social media experts working from cafes in Buenos Aires and Thailand.


True, but that doesn't make it a lesser experience for those who are doing it. I doubt many lifestyle designers do it because "it's the cool thing", they're doing it because it can be an amazing adventure and experience. It's only natural to want to talk about the great experiences you've had.


Do it for yourself. Why do u care what the others are doing? Its for broadening ur horizon and put urself in uncomfortable position everyday


For inspiration, check out Worldhum and Brave New Traveler:

http://bravenewtraveler.com

http://worldhum.com


> Don't be rich, Live rich.

Why not be rich and live rich. I get the "Live rich" part but that "Don't be rich" is unwarranted.


I think you're overanalysing a phrase written by people whose first language is not English. :) I interpret it as "Don't kill yourself to make money if you can live /like/ you already have it."


I believe the point is "Why wait UNTIL you're rich to enjoy a lifestyle perceived as only being available TO the rich."


BTW, my favorite podcast is The Lifestyle Business Podcast: http://www.lifestylebusinesspodcast.com/

The hosts are two guys who have created a million dollar business in the last three years while traveling. Their business is not some bullshit "blog"/earn money by selling tips on how to make money thing, it's a real business that actually sells physical products.

Everybody should check it out. It's a shame that they're charging for the first episodes since it makes it kinda hard to recommend to people (I discovered them before that), but their content is definitely worth paying for. It's probably the best audio-only business content I've heard.


Thanks for the shout! :D


A very useful site to help you find a good city/country is numbeo.com. There you can make cost-of-living comparison between 2 cities.

For example, look at the difference between Lausanne, Switzerland and Bangalore, India (the indian silicon valley!) -> bit.ly/ltwXUf


I find the Cost of Living Index on the bottom of that site to be suspect. If NYC is 100, Berlin is 91.71? I simply don't trust that. I lived in New York for years, and have spent several weeks in Berlin.

Berlin is far cheaper than NYC. It is considered one of the cheapest big cities in Europe. And numbeo says that it is only 10% cheaper than NYC: http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/cpi_explained.jsp

I find that the estimate on Expatistan seem much more reasonable: http://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/comparison/berlin/n...

Expatistan: NYC is 43% more expensive than Berlin

Perhaps this is because Expatistan provides more emphasis on the entertainment category?

p.s. Please don't use shortened links on HN.


expatisan is very nice for big cities, but as soon as you look for smaller city no data is available.


My wife and I are currently doing something similar. Traveling the world (4 continents, 20+ countries). She's working on photography and blogging while I'm developing my own iphone apps. Best decision we've ever made, and haven't looked back since (been on the road for 3 months, currently at an airbnb in Taiwan). My wife keeps a blog at http://www.shenventure.com if you're interested in reading about how we did it.


Currently doing it in Bangalore, India! Anymore people/couples doing the same right now?


Awesome. I'm in Bangalore too while my stuff is halfway between Cali and NYC. My parents live here so don't know it counts :) ... If you would like to grab a drink drop me an email- railsnoob at yahoo dot com. I would love to hear about your travels and how you started doing this.


Currently doing this in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Off to Croatia next!


Peng, can you talk about the visas/taxes part? Thanks.


I don't think traveling workers do anything special with visas - if any visa is needed, they just use a tourist visa. For all business purposes, it looks like they never left their home country; billing is done as if it came from their home business address.

I once spent a few months in Spain, where I devoted 30% of my time to developing a C++ application, 30% of my time to learning Spanish, and 30% on touristy things. This was before the Internet era, and I sent in my work each month on a floppy disk, along with an invoice (just as I did from home). I think they never noticed the Spanish post stamps ;-)


Jealous!


Yep. Currently in Montreal on an east-to-west tour across Canada. :)


After getting my degree I will give it a try!


This is just how I'm hoping to spend most of my 20s.

I did freelance for a while, and I came to the conclusion that I don't really enjoy doing client work, so now I'm working on a startup instead.

Does anybody have experience doing a startup on the road, as opposed to the more common freelancing/blogging/consulting?

My aim is to get my SaaS product(s) to the point of requiring almost zero work. (Everything automated, effective 'help' section to keep the amount support emails as low as possible, etc.)

This seems impossible with freelancing/blogging/consulting, as you'll only be able to lessen the workload so much (i.e. it can't be self-sustaining), whereas depending on the startup you can theoretically get by on just a few hours work per week, while your revenues are still increasing.


Voxilate/HeyTell was built on the road; inside the US, though, as we've a pretty important server component and we've learned that if we are both offline, bad things happen.

I.e., if we have to fly somewhere, we don't fly together. Phones on multiple networks capable of tethering, a wireless broadband card and a router that'll use it are a must-have (our Cradlepoint's been a champ...the Mifi's cool, but the ability to plug a card or Ethernet or both into the CP rocks).

We've had a blast and we're still going gangbusters after almost two years on the road - so it's totally doable.

My advice would be not to be too disappointed if your zero-work aim is never achieved (maybe you could get away with this if you didn't have users or a server component...hah!); we pretty much work around the clock, but we love it.

We have an old blog post from our first month mobile about reducing burn rates while doing this sort of thing if you're interested - http://voxilate.blogspot.com/2010/01/reduce-your-micro-start... - it could stand some updating, but still pretty much applies (plus, the user comment was spot-on).


Currently on the road in south east Asia while launching several (small) web apps/products. Definitely not easy, will be back in Europe in 1 month at least for a few months. You can check my blog www.sparklewise.com for stories about it ;-)


How does this work with respect to visas and the like? I don't imagine that countries like you coming in to work and earn money without paying any taxes.


Most of those laws apply to people who are earning money locally. All around the world, it's a huge grey area when the work you are doing as a visitor is not local -- such as working for a client back in the US.

Since in all my travels, I've never found a country with a clear explanation of what is & isn't allowed wrt remote work, I think of it like this: If you are on a trip and somebody from home calls you to ask you to make a decision on an investment, would that country tax you? No. If your investments back home made lots of money while you were on vacation, would that country tax you? No. What if you wrote emails telling other people what to do? What if you did a little bit of it for them? Etc. The thought experiment goes on.


What’s the best way to go about finding places to live for a short time that don’t cost an arm, leg and rib?


We've been doing this for going on two years now. Off-season--even just by a few weeks--rocks for better pricing. We've gotten a bunch of beautiful places very inexpensively off-season, after school starts, for example...this is in the US; for what we do, we need consistent & reliable Internet access, plus we're traveling with our pet.

VRBO & HomeAway have been pretty solid senders, we've tried a bunch of other options, but I don't think we've ever managed to book via any other site (except for one rental straight through the condo complex in an area not well-served by HomeAway/VRBO). Searching VRBO is a pain in the neck, but the owners tend to be a lot more experienced.


Funny, the only time I've had luck with VRBO/HomeAway is peak season, grabbing last-minute deals on things that would otherwise stand empty. :)


Yeah, had luck there, too. A couple of times the same day we emailed!

But there's a startup idea--someone should get on it if they haven't already--"Priceline for VRBO/HomeAway/AirBnB."


I've been on the road six months so far, and have been using Craigslist, AirBNB, HomeAway, and VRBO.com. (Though these last two nearly never have sane prices.)

You absolutely have to haggle. Every time. Even if you're only staying two days, ask for a discount because you're a quiet computer programmer who knows how to clean up after themself. Other good reasons include last-minute offers and long stays. I've knocked 50% off of ~50 nights so far, the usual discount for even trying anything is 25%, and only once has none of the half-dozen places I've contacted not taken something off the price.


numbeo.com


The most fun part of this lifestyle is being able to say "I'd like to go to Paris again this year", then finding work close enough to Paris to pay for going to Paris. By not needing to squeeze every dollar out of my trips, I can be much more flexible and enjoy the travel more.


How does immigration law work for this kind of trip? Do you need a work permit/visa?


IANAL, but I've been traveling 6 months and have read a lot about this. I have never seen a work permit needed unless you are working for a local company. If you are an American working for American clients remotely, you're fine.

Always, always, always, always, always check visa requirements. If you need one and don't have one, you will be buying a very expensive plane ticket when you get turned back at the border. Default tourist visas for American citizens is 3-6 months most places, but you always have to check. Don't trust any website that's not the official government, and call an embassy if you're at all unsure.


And where do you need to file taxes?


If you are an American citizen, you always have to file taxes on wages, no matter where you earn them or who you work for (even if you steal things, you pay taxes on them).


This is distinctive for the US from what I understand. People in most western countries don't have to report to them once they've left other than to renew passports.


That's correct, the US does taxes by citizenship, whereas most countries do it by residence.


In other words, US citizens are US property.


It gets worse: you can give up your US citizenship, but the US claims you must file taxes (and PAY taxes) for 10 years afterwards.

We are chattel.


You usually have to pay income taxes on income earned while you're resident in a country. If you're on a tourist visa, you're not resident, but really the visa regimes aren't set up to understand this way of working.

In practice just pay taxes in your country of "residence" not the country you're in temporarily. Many countries have 60-90 day visas for visitors from first world countries.


While it would be extremely difficult to detect or enforce, and generally the language around the law is very much designed with traditional working environments in mind, it is somewhat of a gray area legally in most countries.

I've received many different explanations over what's acceptable and, of course, many government documents will seem to contradict each other. However it is not beyond the possibility that one would run into a problem with this when dealing with some local authorities.

The other thing to keep in my is that residency is often tied to a minimum number of days spent within the country you are filing taxing in. They also can take into regard your "intent" of where you plan to be living next year. You can be judged to not actually fulfilling the residency requirements and be taxed on foreign earnings.

Most people who do this won't have issues but I've witnessed had one border agent mull over whether to deny entry or let them through, based on answers to questions about activities in other countries.

Disclaimer: this is not legal advice


This is fascinating, and I would really like to try this at some point. However, I am 30, married and have a 1 year old kid. Does anyone have any similar resources, examples, for people who have done this with kid(s)?



With kids this is the best I've found http://travelswithanineyearold.com/


I moved with my family for 6 months with 3 kids: 7,5 and 2 year old.


Wouldn't the rich way to do it be to buy a yacht and float from place to place?


You're right! That would be the rich way and would be of course totally awesome. You have to be really successful before to be able to do that though ;) That would just make 99% of the readers feel miserable as a result...


This is the way people with kids do it. :)


Internet allows "rich live" without actual traveling.

Besides, if you have kids, traveling is much harder / expensive.


Can you explain the first line a bit more? I am a NY fan and maintain electronic contacts with many people there, but it's nothing compared to being there in person in my opinion.


Now that we can even use video in electronic communications the difference with "in person" is getting really slim.

For me advantages of electronic communications (speed, easy accessibility, various tools such as HN, conversation logs) outweigh "in person" communication most of the time.


I find electronic communication fine for most work tasks - but definitely not enough for tourism. Also not for seeing loved ones like my best friends and family.


That would change with time (technology): in the end all our perception translates into electrical impulses in our brains anyway.


interesting experience. for people running personal web business, maybe this is worth trying for some period; I just started to do something during weekends, hope it can grow big to cover my daily job


What are the best technologies to focus on in order to be mobile/remote?

I've notice that nobody is interested in remote C++ development, and the few people I meet who are doing something like this are in some branch of web development.


Sure. The bottom line is that nobody is interested in any serious stuff being done remotely. So those type of stories you usually hear from someone like these folks who did "online communications" and "freelance web design/programming", which is not serious by definition. Projects involving something like C++ have significantly higher chances of having a bigger scope, impact and different set of responsibilities from all participants.

This lifestyle might be appealing for some very short period of life, under very specific circumstances. You have to be young to not worry about health insurance. You have to have the job that is simple enough to be outsourced and complicated enough to be at least reasonably paid. You have to not worry about "career" or "experience" (which are just different words for "future"). You have to be from the first-class country to take advantage of the visa requirements with your passport. It is also interesting to note that things they can afford in certain countries, like going to the beach every day, would definitely be prohibited for them in their home country given their occupation (note their remark on costs in Argentina, which, I assume, are lower than in Belgium).

I can elaborate much further as few of my friends live this sort of lifestyle in South-East Asia. From what I know about it, it's definitely (a) not for me, (b) doesn't make me think that the future knowledge workers will work that way. I work on my own projects in one of the most expensive cities on the planet and it's hard for me to see how can I relocate anywhere without losing the advantages I'm getting from the infrastructure and population here.

UPDATE: Though seeing the world is awesome, I'd personally prefer saving 10-20K and taking a year off work for that.


It helps that they are from Belgium. Healthcare isn't an issue, because I'm sure they arranged for repatriation insurance ahead of time for anything serious, and once back in belgium getting medical treatment is cheap. Career and experience weren't affected, because a gap year doesn't matter much to employers. Passports similarly aren't an issue. I've been to south-africa, thailand and the US, and I never needed a visum.

I used to be big on the idea of leaving belgium and going to "nice" places to live there. Over here the weather always seemed to be cold and rainy, the people inhospitable and narrow-minded, and the cities dull and lifeless. Travelling sort of brought me back home. The weather is cold and rainy at times, but it's also totally unpredictable, and appreciating that has made me realize it's not as rainy as I thought it was. The people may not be as warm and welcoming as they are in thailand, but they also respect your privacy and they are more honest with their emotions. As far as the cities go, I've really come to love Antwerp, where I live now. When I go on vacation to thailand now (went once a year for the past few years), it's amazing, and I get to do things that are impossible in belgium (I got married with nothing but green fields between us and mountains on all sides), but after a few weeks I always get homesick.

In a way, I think this sort of on-the-move lifestyle is meant for people that haven't found a home yet. Once you do find a genuine home, not just a place where your bed is, and come to appreciate it, you simply don't need to do this. I still like to travel, but only to satisfy curiosity, not because I think other places are nicer.


Hi Joeri. From Belgium too I presume. It indeed helped we're from Belgium, regarding the insurances. On the other hand: for US citizens this way of living is even cheaper if they are paying health insurance in their home country. Because that's so darn expensive over there.

That's why so many people go to Thailand: health care is inexpensive and very very good when compared to the costs related to it in their own country. We had to go once: the total costs medicines included: 37 euro. I never took the bill to my health insurance to be reimbursed...

So the insurance thing is nice, but you have to compare it to the real costs.

As far as what you're saying on Belgium: we totally agree: We came back to Belgium in Feb, when it was rainy and people where still complaining... And suddenly it was Spring and well, heaven.

I myself have been living for 2.5 years abroad before this one year trip. Coming back to Belgium, Ghent, is always superb. We love it. And we found our home quite a while ago. It's Ghent. One of the most beautiful cities in the world.

But we love travelling too. And that's why we decided to do this trip: we didn't want to wait until we're retired to do what we love to do.

In our ideal lifestyle we'd do this each year for 3 to 4 months. Just like grandparents who skip winter in Spain, but our destinations would be a tiny bit different :)


It's so sad to see the comments about healthcare costs. I've travelled the world on motorcycle - and been happily uninsured for all of it except for the USA. Costs of treatment overseas are a fraction of the US - and of any health insurance.


Your use of the word serious to describe work sounds like a value judgement. Your description sounds more like a distinction between inter-connected vs. carved-out / standalone.

That said, If I were to take off 12 months, I too would prefer to save 10/20K and take off a whole year. I traveled for 6 months after college on ~$5000. Pro tip: if you're paying taxes before and after your trip, then spread it over two tax years (i.e. June - July in US). I calculated that doing this in the UK (where there is a big jump in tax rates) could net you several thousand pounds.


"The bottom line is that nobody is interested in any serious stuff being done remotely" I disagree. I've done "serious" engineering (performance engineering, etc.) remotely. The key is establishing a level of trust with the client PRIOR to working remote (or having the references which back you up)....and to be able to perform remotely (which takes a lot of discipline).


that nobody is interested in any serious stuff being done remotely

From experience, I can say that this is simply not true. Obviously you have to get the right channels to find interesting assignments, and be able to build trust (have a good portfolio/CV) but a blanket statement like yours doesn't make sense.

BTW, even if it pays somewhat less than having a full-time corporate "career", some people just like a more adventurous life than just sitting in an office all day. Now, and not at some non-descript time in the future when "retiring". It might not be for you but don't pass value judgements.


Thank you 1000x for stating this. I've never heard of anyone doing anything significant and living this way. Before he made money selling books on how to design lifestyles, what did Chris Guillebeau do for money? Be a grad student, I think. (As in, live off his stipend.)


He's not the only one to lead this lifestyle and write about it. Tim Ferris started a sports supplement company to fund his travels before writing "The 4-Hour Work Week."

One doesn't have to be a programmer or designer to lead a lifestyle like this, though those professions are more location independent by their nature.


> One doesn't have to be a programmer or designer to lead a lifestyle like this

That's not my point. My point is that, regardless of what you do work on, it will be rather inconsequential (by the norms of SV perhaps).


I've done it and I "do significant things." Instead of being grateful for somebody confirming your suspicions, you'll find it pays to investigate the truth.


A) What do you do that is significant (by SV norms, not your personal, subjective standard for self-satisfaction)? B) A string of corroborating anecdotes is not proof (notwithstanding a cliche about anecdotes * N == data for large N)

Let me be more clear about significance. My statement is that people don't do what is done in SV by trotting around the world, working from their laptops in internet cafes. What is done in SV?

* Start or work at billion dollar startups.

* Create disruptive technologies and build businesses around them.

* Network with the most brilliant minds in business, engineering, etc.

Creating an app that can pay the bill for a bungalow in Phuket (for example) is a great achievement and congratulations on being able to do it. You deserve all the awesome titles that you've listed in your profile.

However, it's not what I would call significant, by these standards. I'm sorry if you feel offended by my choice of the word significant, I really am, but I am saying that there is a difference in scale between what a globetrotter can do and "the rest of us" -- and there is a limitation on the former.


Not everybody lives in SV. By your logic, could someone who doesn't travel but lives somewhere else achieve anything significant?


I'm not making a statement about those people, but what I said still applies: the opportunities on that list are available in SV, and a small number of other places in the US. Not in Saigon or Amsterdam -- at least not to a large number of people.

HN is about news that happens mostly in SV, or is relevant to it. It's about startups -- high-risk, scalable businesses -- and SV is where they are (at least, many, many of the successful ones are). I'd expect that a solid majority of the readership is based in this area too.

My premise is this: people who choose to live and work in SV have huge opportunities that exist (almost) nowhere else. Sure, you can setup a consultancy and dabble in a few side projects while you make your way around the globe and have remarkable experiences.

But let's not pretend that, if you choose to do this, you are exposed to the same opportunities as the rest of us -- you're not.


If that's the message you got from this, I guess you read it differently than what we meant. We're not saying this lifestyle is 'walhallah'. It comes with risks, costs, and you have to be 'strong' to do it. Hence the remarks we made in the presentation. But that's what we were willing to 'pay'.

What we meant to say by the presentation is that living the life as it is preached in modern (capitalist) society can be questioned.

For us, travelling is far more important than building that big career and earning a lot of money. Instead of living the life expected and waiting until we're 67 to do this while retired, we decided to do it now. For someone else their dream might be totally different, and the solution to that too. That's exactly what lifestyledesign is all about: designing your life as you want it.

Check out the Ted video of Stefan Sagmeister on mini-retirements. It might give you a different perspective :)

So I totally respect you view on travelling: I can imagine that many people think 'I don't want to work on a vacation'. But the main thing was: when you like travelling, and you want to do this now, it can be done.

*Saying webdesign or online communication is not 'serious stuff' is in a way hurting a bit. Ouch :) I mean: I've built my experience over the last 11 years. Saying it is not that valuable is, well, cannot really give a good reaction to it.


Thanks for taking my (excessively harsh sometimes) comment with a smile. I apologize if the load of value judgement there hurts.

Usual response I have for my friends who work and travel in South-East Asia is in the vein of "make sure you don't postpone to start your career until when you 67 -- it might be too late already". No more no less.

Someone's willingness to work now and travel later, just like doing the opposite, deserves equal respect. That's the story :)


Ironically, we are trying to find people who can work remotely (.NET) and funny enough, no one is interested in doing serious stuff remotely :)


It may be because you appear to be targeting a smaller niche than just "doing serious stuff remotely"...

Finding someone with extensive .NET experience, both web and desktop development history and a deep understanding of web security is enough of a challenge in itself. When you add in the GMT+0 work requirement your working pool of remote workers is even smaller still.

Regardless I imagine that for any work with a distributed team the problem of finding highly specialized talent with the willingness to work remote is universal.


All we need is experienced .NET developers (desktop) rest of them just good to have but totally optional.

Actually right now even GMT+0 is optional as we now more time zones in the team -5 to +2 and I'll update the jobs page accordingly.


I'm actually looking to do remote .NET work, and have almost 4 years of experience. Can you shoot me an email and I can send you my resume? My email is my HN username @ gmail.com


Great, I just did.


I'm not sure how many .Net developers you're looking for(especially remote), but this is something I'd be interested in hearing more about also if you don't mind emailing me at Arthur.Baczyk@gmail.com...


Well, my situation counters many of the statements you made there (granted, it's hard to objectively say whether or not I am "worrying about my future").

I am sure that it's not for you as you say but it sounds like you are rationalizing it.


I'd say that any project where someone decides to spend hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars is pretty serious.


I've done work for several Fortune 50 companies while traveling around the world -- design work that got written up in business and trade magazines.

You're just flat-out wrong about "serious stuff."

Also, a couple of my friends - Romanians - have spent more than the past year traveling around South America, so you are mistaken about having to "be from the first-class country to take advantage of the visa requirements with your passport," as well. Finally, health insurance from many countries covers emergencies overseas -- and for Americans, there are several specific options for travelers.

Sure, you say it's not for you and I believe you. It's not for me either, I've learned from experience. But a lot of the other things you say aren't factual.


Don't want to make it too personal, but Romania is as much of a first-class country as Austria (EU member for 4 years now), so that only confirms what I'm saying.


I was able to do freelance iPhone development. If you're already good in C++, it will give you a leg up in learning objective-c.

Also, I could not agree more with the points about "working needs discipline." If you're staying in hostels, I would basically say forget it. I found it INCREDIBLY difficult to sit down and code when I was traveling around in hostels (like a tourist) and surrounded by fun people and things to do. In BA, I an apartment like the OP, which made getting work done a bit more tolerable (but still very challenging given the surroundings...)


We would advise not to do this while staying in hostels. Hostels are way too much fun, packed with people travelling and having fun. One needs a work environment to get work done.

Our trick was: arrive in a city/location and stay in in hostel/hotel for a few days. Meanwhile drive around/ask around/do couchsurfing to get to know places/check the local craigslist. And find yourself an apartment to live in.

Couchsurfing helped us a lot to get to know locals. A co-office did the trick in Buenos Aires. It costs money, but sitting in a coffeshops costs a lot of lattés too. :)


I've done a remote C++ work on decently sized projects (across us states and international one project taking 2 years to complete) it really depends on your skill set, reputation and who you know I guess

there is a lot more to the world then silly websites


I wouldn't focus on technologies if you are interested in doing this - focus on the types of work/projects you can do. What job could you do from home? If you can do it from home you can do it from anywhere.

For example, I am a researcher at a university (an employee, not a grad student). I don't want to go into details, but basically I do a lot of numerical modelling-type work and model development. I use lots of different technologies to do it (including C++ at times). I work on the opposite side of the planet to where my university is located and it works well.

Meetings are the only slightly problematic area. Skype is ok, but really not ideal for more than one on one meetings.


Web stuff works for me. Demand is high enough that there are companies willing to take part-time workers.


How do you go about finding new work remotely? Is it primarily return business from previous clients?


Return business is primary, yes. There's standard networking things like building a blog and being friendly, but also nonstandard networking: http://push.cx/craftsmanship-calendar

That calendar is way out of date now (it's on the TODO list to update tomorrowish), but spending time programming with people has done wonderful things for my network, my skills, my exposure to tech I'd otherwise ignore, my social skills, my vertical leap...


I don't think it's about a specific technology: it's about a particular organisation and working group. If they're willing to work with someone who telecommutes, then perhaps they're willing to work with someone who works while they sleep.


I think the reason for this is C++ is the new COBOL with the commensurate PHBs.


The kinds of things you need C++ for - high-performance webservers, database engines, 3D renderers, etc. - often require very close communication between team members to get right. They're deep, not broad - the software is structured as a series of layers, and if you don't get the interfaces between the layers just right, the software won't even compile. Typical webapps are much more horizontal - they consist of a series of screens, and once the basic webserver framework is in place, developers can pretty much parcel out portions of the UI and work on them independently.


In my experience it's the opposite. The C++ savant can write the high performance webserver from his basement in Estonia, but you need the webdevs around so they can collaborate with the design team, ops, and product management. When it's deep, work units can be split into days or weeks, which lends itself pretty well to disconnected, remote work. When it's broad, you need to constantly keep everyone on the same page, which equals daily stand-ups, 24x7 chatrooms and other agile forms of humiliation.


This is not true. You can just parcel out those kinds of projects as well (my personal experience) if you are a competent manager.

What you are comparing is complexity. Yes, it is easier to parcel out the typical web app than a database engine.


In domains with real time performance constraints it's difficult to use anything but C or C++. Many of those domains are at the forefront of current technological development, so I wouldn't lump C++ in with COBOL just yet.


Beetle? Vintage? That seems to imply "good"...


Lol. We did the roads with a small (expensive) rented car. Airco and everything. And then we did it with the beetle: noisy, difficult to steer, fun. It doesn't imply good. It implies 'unforgettable' ;)




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