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

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!

Shawna Sharee was first inspired to live a wandering lifestyle when she read the book Eat, Pray, Love. Like many she dreamed of travel but thought she needed a lot of money to do it.

It wasn’t until she joined an online program for woman entrepreneurs that she discovered there were others living the life she wanted ? and it was the motivation to change her own life. Despite a pay raise that threatened to tempt her away from her dream she set herself the task of ending a toxic relationship and visiting the world. Starting with no plan in mind (and still largely flying by the seat of her pants) she has journeyed through France and the Middle East to her current location of Chiang Mai Thailand where she has embraced the true digital lifestyle of the area.

We caught up with Shawna to discuss the impact the people she surrounded herself with have had on her decision and how positive thinking has allowed her to overcome any hurdles she encounters

You can follow her blog at and get her travel tips and hints at

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What I learned from this interview:

  1. I loved Shawna’s saying that smiling is a universal language. Like many others we have spoken with she has been delighted by the kindness of strangers and it’s a timely reminder that everyone is an individual with a desire to be liked.
  2. Skyscanner is a favorite booking site for Shawna and we love it too. It gives you the flexibility to choose the cheapest flights to any location and on any date that most other sites don’t offer.
  3. You don’t need to commit long term to a place until you’ve tried it. Short term accommodation through AirBNB or Couchsurfing can be had and, although short term rentals can be dearer it will often give you the lay of the land before you commit
  4. Shawna is a great lesson in surrounding yourself with positive influences. She draws on so many mentors and coaches to provide her with the strength and belief to follow her dreams and it’s true that your journey is directly related to who you spend the most time with. She is a great believer in things working out so far they have!

Check out this episode!

How many habits do you live by? Most of us are inundated with things we do without really thinking. Chris Backe sees life very much as an experiment where you question every option you have – including where you want to live.

Since leaving Kentucky in 2008 Chris has lived in South Korea as an English teacher and over the last three years has taken to trialing life for 6 months at a time in a variety of places including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, and Krabi in Thailand. He is currently settled in Medellin, Colombia where he will spend a few months before trying another Colombian destination then heading for Ecuador – and who knows where else!

If you’d like to find out more about Chris and his social experiment plus check out his impressive range of books he has written on the countries he has visited check out his blog at

beach Chris Backe 3 Ko Ngai

What I learned from Chris’s interview:

  1. Life can be an experiment. 6 months in each place is ideal if you want to find out what a place has to offer but not find yourself in a rut. It depends on the size of the city/country that you choose however with some places (Seoul being a personal favorite of his) needing longer to see everything worth seeing.
  2. Renting furnished in Medellin can be a lot dearer than unfurnished. If you plan on staying more than 12 months then buying your own furniture is a good idea
  3. Facebook groups are one of the best sources of information before considering a move. Chris finds this to be far more reliable than any information he might pick up elsewhere (including the media). Old perceptions (like many people have of Colombia) seldom ring true.

Check out this episode!

One of the benefits of living an expat lifestyle is that you can save a fortune living in some wonderful countries that offer a high quality of life for cents on the dollar compared to the western world. But who says you have to sacrifice income and live on the smell of an oily rag? Today’s guest has combined the best of lifestyle with building an online business that last month provided him with over $22000 in largely passive income.

Johnny FD (the FD stands for fighting and diving – his two Thai passions) left Los Angeles and a corporate job with Honeywell to enjoy an overseas holiday in Thailand. Loving the experience he returned to his cubicle intent on relocating – after all he knew he could live on $600 per month while there. Depending on savings for the first twelve months he took a dive course to be an instructor but knew he needed an alternative if he didn’t want to turn his passion into a chore. He investigated online income options and created an e-book that generated sales but a coffee meeting with an entrepreneur who made money from drop shipping convinced Johnny that there were more opportunities on the internet than he had investigated.

Three years on and he now has several successful online stores but is earning just over half of his money from affiliate marketing. He hasn’t lost his passion for work but now focuses on building his income rather than trading time for money – his income occurs whether he works or not

In this interview Johnny shares the story of how he got started and some tips on how to determine an online income that works for you. You can follow his exact recipe via his blog

business insider Johnny FD scuba diving

What I learned from talking with Johnny:

  1. Living an expat lifestyle doesn’t mean doing without. Johnny still lives comfortably on considerably less than he’d spend back in the US but his strong income gives him peace of mind and the chance to build investment savings while he relaxes on the beach.
  2. Online income can be erratic as Yeison Kim will testify – you can’t guarantee it’s consistency but it pays to have more than one string to your bow. Johnny had initially built his income from drop shipping (the process of selling online where the manufacturer sends the goods direct to the buyer and you don’t have to handle it) but now gets just over half his income from affiliate marketing (promoting other people’s products)
  3. Johnny does much of his own work because he enjoys it with limited use of outsourcers. His income however is largely not connected to the time he puts in – most of the time he does spend is on growing his business and adding other forms of income.
  4. Get help from others. When he was learning he would regularly take entrepreneurs out for coffee and pick their brains and he doesn’t stop learning now just because he has achieved success.

Check out this episode!

Sometimes circumstances outside of your control can be the catalyst to finally make the step to becoming an expat.

For Ron Perry the 2008 economic crisis forced him to downsize his web design business and think about how he could run his operations while being location independent. Influenced by The Four Hour Workweek Ron made a conscious choice to reorganize his life and in 2010 he headed abroad setting up shop in Chiang Mai Thailand.

In this interview he talks about the challenges of setting up a bricks and mortar bar in Chiang Mai, the online tools that have helped him build his web design business  to being 10 times bigger than it was before he left and the excitement he gets from living in his new location of Tel Aviv, Israel – and why it’s not as dangerous as most people think.


Ron Perry

What I learned from Ron’s interview:

  1. Tel Aviv, Israel is safe. Sure you have to be a little more cautious than other parts of the world but he is comfortable in that environment and has not encountered any problems during his time there. If you’re looking for a bargain lifestyle though Israel isn’t it – with many of the costs being comparable or higher than the United States.
  2. If you’re planning on opening a bricks and mortar business in Thailand you need to be patient, with paperwork issues and various business “fines” being the order of the day. You may find an easier way to make a living!
  3. If you’re thinking of becoming remotely connected to your business there is so many tools available that can help and are easy to use. Ron uses online services from mail forwarding to file sharing, project management platforms to communication websites that have enabled him to grow his business substantially while removing himself from being caught up in the middle of the process.
  4. If you do become a cloud based business you might need to rethink your marketing strategy. Ron went from having a team of on the ground sales people to working with affiliates who were able to promote his services in return for a percentage fee. The result was a much better return on his investment in generating sales.
  5. Don’t tell yourself you can’t do something – ask yourself how it can be done. Ron used this approach with much of the challenges he faced when moving overseas and always managed to work through a solution. Asking the right questions can make all the difference!

Check out this episode!

Traveling can be a fantastic experience at the best of times but it’s even better when you can combine it with something you are passionate about. Diana Edelman took to the road in 2010 after realizing that her “dream” career in public relations wasn’t making her happy.

She’d developed a passion for elephants ever since first encountering them and badgered her way into a volunteer position taking care of the magnificent creatures in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

After 2 ½ wonderful years there Diana decided to move on to her new home base of Madrid – a city she had fallen in love with on an earlier trip.

We caught up with her and her two traveling cats where she shares her experiences of living in Chiang Mai, the opportunities ahead for her in Madrid and we discussed her passion for responsible tourism

You can follow her at and find out more about responsible tourism through the website

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What I learned from Diana’s interview:

  1. Chiang Mai is an inspiring location but be wary of the burn season from February until April. The jungle surrounds are burned off filling the town with smoke and haze. It’s a good time to head to the southern beaches if you don’t want to be breathing in the air!
  2. Responsible tourism is a fast growing area which focuses on doing the right thing in the places which you visit – not only from an environmental perspective but also from an economic one.
  3. Spain have recently introduced an entrepreneur visa, no doubt prompted by the economic turmoil going on in the country. If you can present a solid business plan to the appropriate entity they will assess whether or not your business idea is sustainable and will help the local economy. If you pass then you could have a chance to stay longer term.
  4. It’s a good idea to have a back-up plan. Diana is learning to teach English. Even though it’s not her primary objective it will give her another means of income if her writing should slow down at all
  5. Although not comparable to the costs of Chiang Mai (she was able to live for around $US700 per month while there) Madrid can still offer an affordable lifestyle. She is paying around $US750 per month for a 48sqm apartment but she is centrally located which reduces transport costs. All up Madrid is costing her around $US1300 per month to live
  6. If you’re going to write be genuine. Diana has developed a very successful blog because she writes well but she emphasizes the need to be genuine if you want your blog to rise above the many that are currently appearing online. Writing for Google ranking is not the most effective way to build a long term following.

Check out this episode!

Do you consider yourself too old to move countries? Maybe you’re a middle aged single woman who’s fearful of the world… or perhaps you have no skills to earn money with if you do shift. All perfectly legitimate barriers to becoming an expat.

Or are they? Barriers often only exist in the mind – and for Nancie McKinnon they weren’t going to be factors that stood in her way. The Nova Scotia native left Halifax 15 years ago, leaving behind a corporate lifestyle and embarking on her new career as an English teacher.

After a period in Taiwan Nancie moved to Korea where she has continued to teach – combining her university position with the opportunity to take a couple of semesters off each year to travel where she spends part of her time in Chiang Mai Thailand and the rest traveling whichever parts of the world take her fancy.

We caught up with Nancie in Seoul where she discusses the process of becoming an English teacher, what she loves about Korea, and why Chiang Mai and Portugal are two places on her radar for an expat to live. You’ll follow Nancies story and enjoy her Travel Photo Thursday updates at

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What I learned from speaking with Nancie:

  1. Getting a job that allows you to travel is a great way to go. Nancie gets 15 weeks off per year and uses it wisely! It helps to get out of Korea in winter which can be one of the more expensive times of year to be there thanks to heating costs. Nancie finds she can earn enough when she’s working to cover her lifestyle year round, and generally spends substantially less when staying in Thailand than it costs her in Korea.
  2. Again you don’t need “stuff” I loved Nancie’s comment about spending $500 on a coat or a plane ticket – easy decision to make! She is able to live affordably for around $US1500 per month in Korea and even less when traveling in the rest of South East Asia.
  3. Teaching English can give you the opportunity to progress as a career. Nancie started with no previous experience and is now teaching at University level. You can upgrade as you go. Although teaching English in Korea is not as easy as when she started there are loads of other countries you can explore as destinations where English can be taught relatively easily.

Check out this episode!