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The most cost effective way I've managed to pull off the expat existence is to find the equivalent of Craigslist in the country you'd like to visit; then arrange a 3 month rental (the usual visa limit, on an American passport at any rate), sorting out high-speed internet in advance (i.e. if no connection in place already, contact local ISP and get technician visit/installation for day after you arrive).

Next, get a local SIM card with pay-as-you-go plan and use the invoice with your apartment address as "proof" of residency (for the next step).

Finally, hit an ATM and draw equivalent of a couple grand USD in local currency and create a bank account using your pay-as-you-go invoice and passport as proof of identity.

Have bank accounts in Canada, France, Brazil, and the States, only one of which charges a monthly fee.

In SW France now, the 2-bedroom apartment I'm renting is 5 minutes walk from the beach, and runs me about $750/month, high speed internet included.

SE Asia may be cheaper, have yet to venture that far from EST where my clients are based. Might check out Sri Lanka though this winter, have heard there's decent (enough) surf and not super pricey.

Cheers to fellow code warriors ;-)

There needs to be a service where you can just buy/rent a packet with all the essentials. Sim cards are just one of the many things that could come in such a package to save you a lot of time. My GF when she travels has often sought out exchanging used pre-paid SIM cards for the countries she goes to as a way to avoid all the bureaucracy that often surrounds their acquisition. It would be great if you could do this with bank accounts too by simply handing it over to another person. Just withdraw all the money and hand the debit cards and other account information to another person. So long as the bank rules don't allow accounts to go negative, there is no reason to tie identity to bank accounts.

TBH, I've really come to the conclusion that borders are bullshit and I can't wait until they are increasingly viewed as an anachronism like they have come to be viewed within the EU. They create a number of inefficiencies in many many systems and the truth is that the only necessary system that really needs them to function under the current model is taxation to support public infrastructure within a region. However, even that can be solved by only taxing everything that is immobile, such as land, buildings, businesses that need to exist in a certain physical location for prosperity, such that both those that live in a place and those that visit a place, pay directly for the use of all the public services in that place via the infrastructure that accommodates them (places to sleep, eat, work and be entertained).

Yes. When I last left the UK I remarked to the teller as I withdrew the last of my money that it was about 100 up on what I expected. Suddenly all the money was grabbed back. I was quizzed at length on what I had bought recently. It transpired that a recent purchase (it may even have been an ATM withdrawal) hadn't registered at the back yet, and I was made to leave all my money behind to cover the pending charge. Given the BS involved in opening accounts and the larger issue of te impossibility of closing them (10 years later I still have the bank and a tax authority writing to me regarding about 10 quid in the account), handing them on is a great idea. Makes me wonder if I could get paid to some other system - a non bank affiliated credit card or similar. Dare I suggest a Paypal equivalent (obviously not Paypal though).

I'm curious, where are you exactly in the South West of France?

Capbreton, in the Landes region, best waves in Europe ;-)

My home region! I'm from Pau, 100 km in the southeast direction :-)

Don't stay there in the winter though, the lack of people and activity can be a bit depressing.

Spent a winter here once, not easy, but quiet, and the waves keep coming despite the brrrrrrrr, cold water.

I tend to come here in the autumn and spring now, weather is beautiful and the living is nice.

Do a lot of people continue to surf during the winter there, in wetsuits?

This place is a zoo year round, surf-wise.

Dead of winter, if the waves are pumping, it will be packed all day (surprising how everyone manages to be unemployed when the waves come).

January/February the vast majority are in a 4/3 wetsuit with booties (to protect the feets), but really it's not _that_ cold, nothing compared to northern Europe (where the poor bastards rub vaseline on their faces) or northern Cali in the winter, which is not only colder, but has a much larger issue, the man in the gray suit.

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