A lot of friends and family have been asking me how it’s possible to go overseas, especially for such a long period of time. I thought that answering this question publicly might be beneficial to others and might even inspire a few of you out there to pack your bags. Before diving into the logistics, I would recommend reading my previous post entitled “The Plan.”
First, there are some things you need to know about me to understand why it went down this way. I’m 32, and I have a beautiful wife named Erica and a two-year-old daughter. I’m the co-founder and CEO of a startup called Few. The bank and I own a house together, we had two vehicles, and a hefty amount of debt.
For us, the primary issue getting in the way of long-term travel is expendable income. Basically, car payments, house payments, and credit card payments were eating up the majority of our income. I created an Excel spreadsheet called “Expendable Income Reclamation Project” where I listed out every possible monthly expense that could be reduced or removed. Here’s a breakdown of everything we did:
- Cancelled every monthly service that wasn’t absolutely necessary.
- Changed cell phone plans to the insanely cheap but great for travel Project Fi.
- Sold the more expensive of the two vehicles.
- Cancelled car insurance for the sold vehicle.
- Used the profit from the car sale to pay off two credit cards.
- Refinanced the house to lower monthly mortgage.1
- Posted an ad on Craigslist two months in advance to rent out individual rooms in our house. We have four bedrooms total, and we have thus far rented out two rooms. The third room is spoken for but no contract has been signed yet.2
- Started debt snowball on all remaining debt.
- We’re having a garage sale to sell off pretty much every non-essential item we own.
- Anything that’s super important to us but that can’t be taken on the trip will be stored in the attic.
You can imagine how much all the above was able to drastically increase our expendable income each month. It’s interesting because this process has been very cleansing as well. There’s so much junk that we don’t need and just weighs us down. I think about the debt we’ve accumulated and then I look at the huge pile of stuff we’ve set aside for the garage sale and it’s like a switch flipped in my head. I just want to live a simple life. I’m not going to buy this crap anymore. It isn’t worth it. After only having one car for the last couple of months it feels embarrassing to say it but we don’t even need a second car. The more stuff we get rid of, the better I feel.
Additional line items added to the Expendable Income Reclamation Project included costs that we incur today that we will not incur abroad. For instance, we won’t have vehicle maintenance costs, because we won’t have a vehicle. Nor will we pay for fuel, car insurance, or a bunch of other little costs.
Now that we’ve maxed out our expendables, it’s time to compare that with the cost of living of other countries. We used a free service called Expatistan which has first-hand cost of living data from expatriates all over the world. Comparing Little Rock, Arkansas to Bangkok, Thailand for instance shows the following:
So right away we can anticipate our newly expanded expendable income to increase in overall value by something like 21%. That’s pretty substantial. Now let’s compare Little Rock with Bali, another destination we’re very interested in:
It’s pretty obvious that many countries in Asia will allow the dollar to go way further than it does at home. We’ll save this income to offset future costs in Europe, which will likely be at or well above the cost of living in Little Rock.
But how will we make that dollar while we’re away? If you read my last blog post, you may have noticed that I’ve spent 20 years honing my craft in an industry that makes working remotely no problem at all. I basically just had to prep my team and my clients and that was all there was to it. That being said, I know of a LOT of people who go overseas and teach English or try their hand at farming. There are lots of options to make money while living abroad.
A word about vaccinations.
We went to the CDC’s website to review what vaccinations we would need. Then we went to the doctor to get a quote. They wanted $2,000 USD PER PERSON. Since our first stop is a big city that is an extremely low risk for all the diseases listed by the CDC, we decided to check out what it would cost to get vaccinated while in Bangkok. We came across this awesome blog post about how it costs about $27 CAD (or ~$21 USD) per person.
The bottom line
If you really want to travel abroad, there’s nothing stopping you from shedding all the stuff holding you back and just doing it. I should also note that there’s nothing unique about what we’re doing. We learned it all from a subreddit called digitalnomads. Check it out!
- We did not finance the equity. We were able to lower our interest rate by almost 2% saving us hundreds per month.
- We chose to rent out individual rooms instead of the entire house so that if one roommate didn’t honor their agreement, we would still have the income of the others. It’s basically a safety net. Further, if something terrible were to happen and we had to come back, we would always have a “backup” place to stay since we aren’t renting out the fourth room (currently the office) in the house.