In today’s interview we speak with Martin and Lorena Cagnotti  two expat Argentinians who made the decision 13 years ago to move from their home town of Buenos Aires to the hubbub of Mexico City. After 7 years there they have now settled into the idyllic seaside community of Playa del Carmen where they are raising their two children through unschooling.

We met up with them to discuss living in one of the world’s largest cities, why they moved to Playa del Carmen and to talk about many of the myths and fears round home schooling and unschooling children and why they feel it has been the best thing for their development.

You can follow their adventures and ask them questions about living in Playa del Carmen at their website, http://thenomadicadventures.com . If you’re a family and into home exchanging with other families of similar age then check out their new home swapping website www.familyhomeexchange.com

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What I learned from speaking with Martin and Lorena:

  1. Mexico City has an unfair reputation as an unsafe place to visit. The Cagnotti’s loved their time there and had no issues with safety. Mexico is a city of extremes in wealth and poverty yet all seem to live together side by side with no ill feeling or tension.
  2. Playa del Carmen offers a quieter lifestyle than the busier party town of Cancun only an hour away. If you’re after a slower pace of life it’s certainly an option with an increasing number of expat families and retirees settling there. Like any holiday town it has it’s tourists areas and local areas and it’s important to get out and about and explore beyond the beaches if looking to shift there (if you want to know more about Cancun check out our interview with Jen and Jay Kerwood)
  3. Unschooling is not about leaving your children to run amuck. It is really about letting them discover what they are interested in then showing them how to learn the relevant skills to help them. By understanding why they need to learn and how to practically apply it, it gives their learning more purpose and gives them a reason to learn.
  4. Unschooling or home schooling doesn’t mean your children are outside the curriculum indefinitely. In Mexico they are still able to pass exams that allow them to tick the right boxes for further education and as Lainie Liberti also spoke about more and more colleges and universities are accepting children who have been raised in an unschooled environment.
  5. As Alyson Long and Andrew and Daryl Grant will also testify to unschooling or home schooling does not leave your children lacking for social interaction. The Cagnotti kids still attend classes in art and music and interact more often with other children who are being home schooled or unschooled than they would have done in the classroom environment. They love what unschooling has offered them and wouldn’t change what they are doing.

Check out this episode!

Not all expats move to cut costs and living the expat life doesn’t have to mean living on the smell of an oily rag. Today’s interviewees have transformed their lives from management consultants slogging the 9 to 5 and longer, to internet marketing experts who have built themselves a digital empire and given themselves the lifestyle and freedom they’ve always wanted.

In 2013 Andrew and Daryl Grant left the Gold Coast, Australia to enjoy the benefits of Bangkok, taking their two pre-teen children into a new way of living that an online business gives them the freedom to pursue.

Today we discuss with them why they love Bangkok, how home schooling their children has provided them with a better education than they would have received in school, and they share some of the secrets of how they built their own online businesses.

You can get some great advice on starting your own online business from their website resources at www.ourinternetsecrets.com

What I learned from speaking with Andrew and Daryl:

  1. Although Bangkok has a pretty good transportation system the Grants have mastered the art of driving locally and purchased a car. It has enabled them to travel much further than the BTS system would allow them and they feel they’ve got to know the city much better for it.
  2. Bangkok is interesting in the sense that it acts like a series of villages. The way locals interact with each other – and the Grants – displays the sort of small town feel that a city of this size normally wouldn’t have
  3. Daryl feels incredibly safe there, more so than in Australia, and has no qualms about allowing her 15 and 13 year old to travel around the city on their own
  4. They have found by home schooling the kids they get the opportunity to offer them so much more than a standard curriculum. Travel among other things is a big part of their education and the children have enjoyed some unique experiences they would never get in the classroom.
  5. They shared some great advice for building an online business including choosing a niche that you can be the expert in, setting up a business with continuity where you can be paid over and over for your services, and be persistent if you want results

Check out this episode!

Warren and Betsy Talbot had always planned to travel but felt they had time on their side – until a heart attack by Betsy’s brother had them both ask the question – If we knew we wouldn’t make it to our 40th birthday what would we change right now?

In 2008 they began planning their escape from the normal 9 to 5 but realized that they could only move forward if they made some concrete decisions about how to simplify and unclutter their lives. They also realized their decision to travel the globe together was going to present fresh challenges – they had barely spent more than 10 days of their married life together on a trip before!

In 2010 they hit the road and haven’t looked back. After a few years of travel they settled into a slower pace of life basing themselves in the pretty village of Lubrin, Spain.

We met up via skype to discuss with them their adventures and why people allow mental and physical clutter to stop them becoming true travelers.

You’ll enjoy following their advice and tips at www.anunclutteredlife.com

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What I learned from talking with Warren and Betsy:

  1. Getting the clutter out of your life – both physical and mental is the first step to starting an expat or traveling lifestyle. They made progress towards their goal of true happiness when they decided what it was they wanted to eliminate from their lives.
  2. Set a deadline. These guys gave themselves 25 months to prepare for their new life. Acknowledge that getting rid of things won’t happen overnight and give yourself time to work through it – but no deadline will stop you from making regular progress.
  3. Make yourself accountable. Much like Tony and Stephenie Harrison these guys made it known what they planned to do which kept them on track to avoid egg on their faces.
  4. Don’t be afraid to eliminate friends with the clutter. Sometimes it can be the emotional baggage of old habits that can stop you from moving forward on your new journey. Realize that not everyone will understand or agree.
  5. Constant decision making is a key part of travel. Set some ground rules when traveling over what decisions are non- negotiable and who gets the final say – their system of taking turns making decisions seems to work well for them and eliminates unnecessary disagreement.

Check out this episode!

You might like the idea of an RV holiday for a couple of weeks – but how about living permanently in a van? For Drew and Brittany Neumann the decision to quit their L.A. apartment for a new life on the road was an easy one. Their adventure so far has taken them all over the U.S.A in the last 12 months and with their recent wedding behind them the adventurous couple are now heading for a new van life in the Europe.

We caught up with them in Florida making last minute wedding plans ahead of their next adventure and discovered their lifestyle, how van life has given them freedom without much of the everyday costs of living and how to find great places to camp for little or no money.

You can follow their journey, catch up with their social media channels and find out more about Brittany’s book Heartfully Healed at their website www.mrandmrsadventure.com

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What I learned from Drew and Brittany:

  1. Set your goals before you start. Like Kyle Brady and Olivia Gould these guys set some goals and timeframes around what they wanted which made it easier and clearer to reach their objective.
  2. As Brittany likes to say when one door closes another one opens. Their original plans of teaching English in South East Asia were modified by the opportunity to borrow a family members van and do some touring. A new opportunity was born and vanning became their new preferred alternative.
  3. Putting yourself out there creates chances in so many ways. Their chance meeting with friends of John Lee Dumas led to an invite to an interview on his podcast show, one of the largest on the internet (which will be airing soon) and the opportunity to lift their blog to a whole new level. Their chance meeting with a Canadian musician has led to him joining their wedding to perform a unique twist on their wedding song. These things don’t happen by chance!
  4. Vanning is the ultimate relationship test. It might not suit everybody but can be a great way to find out how your relationship copes with confined spaces.

 

Check out this episode!

Leon Logothetis was a London stockbroker working in the city. On the outside he had it all but on the inside he felt miserable and depressed. His future looked set in stone until one day he watched an inspirational movie called the Motorcycle Diaries and he realized that his future was not going to improve unless he changed. Inspired he headed off on an adventure to travel the world spreading kindness along the way.

Leon has gone on to visit over 90 countries and inspire thousands with his books and television series including Amazing Adventures of a Nobody and The Kindness Diaries. His work tabling the generosity of others has featured on CNN, Good Morning America and television and newspaper around the world.

We caught up with Leon where he shares his philosophy on kindness and tells us some of the incredible people he has encountered on his journey. You can check out what Leon is up to on his website http://www.leonlogothetis.com

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What I learned from talking to Leon:

  1. Bhutan measures its national happiness…shouldn’t all countries do that! Im not sure how they measure it but the fact that they do is a big head start for me. Better put it on my list of places to visit.
  2. We talk often on the show about how travel confirms we are more similar than we think. We also are often amazed at the generosity of others while traveling and Leon’s adventures confirm this. His stories are uplifting and a tribute to humanity. Sometimes we do get the formula right.
  3. Small acts of kindness can leverage into greater benefits to all. Leons story of the homeless man in Denver who offered him shelter led to a $60,000 crowdfunding campaign for the man and the opportunity to leverage the generosity to a higher level.
  4. Trust your 6th sense for danger. This is your body’s intuition and shouldn’t be ignored. Travel is one the best ways to develop this sense further.

Check out this episode!

Tommy Walker grew up in the north of England with stories of travel and adventure as a part of his life. With many relatives living overseas and an Uncle who had shared his stories of traveling in South East Asia Tommy had long held the goal of seeing more of the world for himself.

Just over 3 years ago he headed off on an adventure to Thailand that was only supposed to be for 3 months. Hooked by the experience he explored much of Asia and Australia for a year and then spent 12 months traveling around South America including visiting Brazil during the World Cup.

We caught up with him in his new short term home of Melbourne ahead of his 2016 adventures which will include Central America. We discuss the short term financial sacrifices a backpacker has to make, what it was like to mountain bike the world’s most dangerous road and how having too many expectations can be a downer for your overseas adventure.

You can follow Tommy’s blog at www.thewanderingwalker.com

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What I learned from talking to Tommy:

  1. Tommy’s trip to Paraguay showed him that listening to other travelers is not always the answer. He loves heading off the beaten track and can always find something worth seeing in every country he visits
  2. He is willing to work long hours when he needs to as he knows it provides him with much needed funds and a longer period of time on the road. Much like Tomislav Perko a little bit of time sacrificed to a job can provides months of travel experiences later.

Being a backpacker works best if you’re a social creature who likes to talk to people but don’t worry if you aren’t; the process of travel helped bring Tommy out of his shell and it would be fair to say it may just do the same for you. As Tommy said travel finally allowed him to be himself and it may just be the same for you

Check out this episode!

Well they say love can make you do things you don’t expect. For Andrea Gomez the prospect of moving from her home in Colombia to the Netherlands was not something she had expected growing up in Bogota!

Andrea moved to be with her Dutch boyfriend around 8 months ago – to a small village near the border with Germany, and is slowly getting used to European life including climate changes that she never had to deal with before.

In today’ s interview Andrea talks about what she loves about the Dutch way of life and the process she went through to gain her residency. She also discussed how she was able to start not one but two online businesses with no previous experience.

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What I learned from speaking with Andrea:

  1. If you are looking to become a Dutch resident brush up on your language skills. This is a requirement for initial residency and then again, with more advanced skills, when seeking a longer term residency. Andrea initially had to travel in and out of Holland for 90 day periods at a time until her initial paperwork was passed.
  2. What hidden talents have you not exploited? Andrea knew she had some talent as an artist but it took the expat experience to bring it out of her – and develop a surprising little business that probably wouldn’t have started had she stayed in Colombia.
  3. Shifting is a wonderful time to break out of your old mental barriers – many of which are self-imposed. No one knows you and no one cares. It’s a liberating time to explore things about yourself you may never have discovered.
  4. Cycling is the way to go in Holland. The flat countryside lends itself to it and bikes take priority over all other modes of transport meaning accidents are relatively rare.

Check out this episode!

Cambodia offers its visitors a land of contrasts. Larger cities like Phnom Penh are fast developing a western style with many of the fast food chains setting up shop. But head to rural Cambodia and you take a step back in time to a place where life is a lot simpler.

One person enjoying the benefits of Cambodian village life is Kirsty Thorpe, an Australian teacher who has been volunteering with a child rescue organization a couple of hours from Phnom Penh.

In todays interview Kirsty shares what she loves about Cambodia, how she came to be involved in helping these young people and what you need to be wary of if you plan on volunteering overseas.

You can find out more on Kirsty blog at https://cambodianlife2015.wordpress.com

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What I learned from Kirsty’s interview:

  1. It amazes me the attitude of people who have been through so much. Cambodia lost up to an estimated 3 million people -almost 25% of the population – to Pol Pot’s oppressive regime yet the people are consistently ranked amongst the warmest you can find.
  2. Again South East Asia gets top marks for safety. We’ve interviewed a number of women including Alice Nettleingham who consistently tell us how safe they find it and Cambodia is no exception.
  3. If you plan on volunteering ask where the money goes. Many organizations are honorable but there are others who are profiteering majorly from their efforts. Talk to those in charge, determine if the costs are relative to where you are going and make sure you get full disclosure on where the money ends up. If it goes to the community great, but in many cases administration charges can be inflated.
  4. Would your career benefit from the experience of volunteering? As a teacher Kirsty has been able to further her professional development through her teaching there. Perhaps your job could provide a similar opportunity?

Check out this episode!

Not everyone plans a move overseas. For Samantha Wei it was meeting her partner Yeison, a Costa Rican native,that was the catalyst for her move there from the United States 3 years ago. After an initial period of settling in she now considers Costa Rica to be home and has made a new life, and a very successful online business since moving there.

We caught up with Samantha to discuss the process of adapting to a new country and culture, the relative merits of the two towns she has mainly live in Jaco, and El Coco and how they differ to city life in San Jose, and some of the myths around moving to Costa Rica (not everything is as cheap as you think).

You can find out more and grab a copy of Samantha and Yeison’s free e-book “Travel and Discover Costa Rica” via their blog www.mytanfeet.com

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What I learned from speaking with Samantha:

  1. Sometimes learning a language can be easier learning with someone else than with a local. They tend to speak slower and are more patient with you as they are in the same situation
  2. Although Costa Rica is cheaper in many ways there are things you need to be aware that are more expensive than the US. Gas is dearer as is purchasing vehicles, and you will be charged an annual tax on the value of your vehicle even if you bring your old car in with you. Some food such as cheese and meat can also be dear as are electronic goods. If visiting home it can sometimes be a good idea to load up on things you can’t find affordably while living there
  3. Internet can be a problem and is also quite expensive. Samantha found however that having a portable hotspot was cheaper than normal internet and gave her the chance to work from anywhere – including the beach!
  4. Healthcare is generally pretty good. You may be looking at paying out of pocket which is cheaper than the US but if you choose to become a resident you may qualify for the government’s monthly healthcare package of around $40.
  5. $US are widely accepted in most places but if you have other currencies you will need to switch to Costa Ricans colones.
  6. Costa Rica has 26 different micro-climates, something for everyone. It doesn’t matter where you are you will only be a few hours away from a temperature and conditions that will suit you!
  7. Check out our other interviews with Danna Bowman and Dan Gaskell for their perspective on living in Costa Rica.

Check out this episode!

Would you buy a winery if you knew nothing about wine? What about if there was no one there who could show you and the winery had been in liquidation? Add to it the fact that you were moving to a strange country where you weren’t fluent in the language and had to deal with local business practices that can be challenging and it sounds like a recipe for disaster!

10 years on from their move to France expat South Africans Caro and Sean Feely have developed a working winery and are loving life in the Saussignac region, around an hour from Bordeaux.

Caro joined us to discuss life in France, the challenges of starting a new business in an industry you’ve never been involved in and how the recent tragedy in Paris has affected the people of France.

You can find out more about Feely Wines and Caro’s books at www.feelywines.com

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What I learned from speaking with Caro:

  1. Sometimes following your passion does work out. Despite the odds against them these two have made their passion work and are now grateful for the new life they have.
  2. Aren’t neighbors wonderful! Without the support of surrounding wine growers (who might be viewed as competition) Caro and Sean would probably never have succeeded with their venture
  3. Sean and Caro were able to use their Irish residency as a back door to France. It is relatively easy to become an Irish citizen if descended from one. This is a second passport option I’m exploring myself as it provides easy long term access to much of Europe. I’ll be sharing my experiences of applying for my Irish passport in an upcoming issue of The Expat Chat magazine.

Check out this episode!