Financial Independence / Retire Early (FIRE)

These articles cover a variety of finance-related topics to help you take control of your money so you can attain financial independence and/or retire early.

How to Escape the Toxic Hamster Wheel (like we did)

Are you tired of living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to save for retirement? Do you dream of working remotely or retiring early? Are you feeling stuck in the toxic hamster wheel of life in the United States?

If so, you’re not alone. Many people are looking for a way out, and in this article, we’re going to share our experience and show you how to escape the toxic hamster wheel like we did.

Step 1: Take Control of Your Finances

Start your escape plan by taking control of your finances. Draw up a practical budget, scrutinize your spending, and pinpoint ways to save money. Look for opportunities to increase your income, such as starting a side gig or landing a more lucrative job.

By understanding where every dollar went and finding areas to cut back, we were able to free up more money to invest in our future. This financial mindfulness laid the cornerstone for our journey to financial independence.

Step 2: Consider Working Remotely

If you’re tired of the corporate grind, consider working remotely. Working remotely can give you more freedom and flexibility in your work schedule, allowing you to take control of your life and your finances. Plus, with advances in technology, working remotely is easier than ever before.

For the past 25 years, we’ve had remote working jobs with employers, earned online income with gigs, and now we have multiple streams of income from our YouTube channel and blog.

All combined, we earn more than 6-figures per year working a few hours per day doing what we love!

We created an eCourse to share our secrets so you can start earning online income quickly and fund a life of time and location freedom!

Step 3: Retire Early

Retiring early may seem like a pipe dream, but it’s possible if you take the right steps. This means saving aggressively, investing wisely, and living below your means.

Here’s a retire early roadmap to help you reach your goals ahead of time:

Maximize Retirement Accounts: Contribute the maximum allowable amounts to your retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s or IRAs. Take advantage of employer matches if available; it’s essentially free money.

Diversify Your Investments: Spread your investments across different asset classes, like stocks, bonds, and real estate, to mitigate risk and optimize returns. We’re huge fans of ETFs as a way to minimize risk.

Live Modestly: Keep your living expenses in check. Cut unnecessary costs, cook at home, and embrace a minimalist lifestyle. The less you spend, the more you can save.

Continuously Educate Yourself: Stay informed about financial trends and investment opportunities. The more you know, the better financial decisions you can make.

Plan for Healthcare: Ensure you have a solid plan for healthcare coverage during retirement. Medical expenses can be a significant financial burden.

By reducing our expenses, living more frugally, and continuing to save, invest, and educate ourselves, we left the hamster wheel and are living the life we’ve always dreamed of.

Step 4: Consider Moving to a Low-Cost Country

One way to make your money go further is by moving to a low-cost country. This is called Geographic Arbitrage and it may be the most effective route to an early retirement.

Countries like Ecuador, Thailand, and Mexico offer a low cost of living compared to the U.S., Canada and other high-cost countries, which means you can stretch your retirement savings further. Plus, living in a new culture can be an exciting and enriching experience.

Moving to Ecuador helped us achieve our goals so much sooner! The low cost of living and ability to create our own income streams changed our lives. We live on our terms, save for our future, all while enjoying new experiences and adventures, and we’re off that hamster wheel.

Final Thoughts…

Escaping the toxic hamster wheel and taking control of your finances requires effort, but it’s worth it. By taking control of your finances, working remotely, retiring early, and moving to a low-cost country, you can create the life you’ve always wanted.

Watch Our Video On How To Escape the Rat Race

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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10 Retirement Visas with Low Income Requirements

Have you ever dreamed of retiring in an exotic location where the cost of living is so low you could enjoy a lavish lifestyle for a fraction of what you’d spend back home?

In a previous article, we explored 10 countries where you could live on less than $1,000/month. However, some of you commented that these countries often have retirement visa income requirements that are higher than $1,000.

So, in this article, you’re going to read about 10 countries with affordable retirement visas, having income requirements of $1350 or less per month, and several are under $1000/month! Plus, none require a hefty deposit into a local bank.

Keep in mind that these visa requirements often fluctuate. They may have changed already! The income requirements also vary based on currency exchange rates, which fluctuate quite a bit.

We highly recommend working with an immigration attorney who’s up-to-date with all the latest laws and can assist you in navigating the process.

Watch Our Video About 10 Cheap Retirement Visas

Common Visa Requirements

Before we delve into the details of the 10 countries, there are seven common requirements for most of these visas.

You’re going to need:

  1. A valid birth certificate
  2. A passport valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay
  3. Federal criminal background checks, state police reports, and possibly background checks in your new home country
  4. Proof of funds, typically in the form of bank statements or income statements
  5. Potential proof of health insurance that’s valid in the new country
  6. Potential taxation on your global income, including social security (consult with a qualified tax professional before committing to any country)
  7. Translation of your documents into the local language plus an apostille or legal certification

Each country has slightly different requirements so do your research and check with a local visa agent for the specifics.

10 Countries With Cheap Retirement Visas

Now, let’s explore the ten countries offering affordable retirement visas, starting with the highest income requirement and moving to the lowest.

#10 Ecuador

Parque Calderon in Cuenca EcuadorThe Ecuadorian Pensioner Visa requires a monthly income of at least three times the monthly minimum wage, which currently stands at $450. So, you’d need a monthly income of at least $1350.

The visa is fairly easy to acquire and valid for two years. Plus, Ecuador doesn’t tax social security income, unlike some other countries.

If you have a university degree, you might qualify for the Professional Visa, which doesn’t have any income requirement.

See Also: Ecuador Temporary Resident Visas

Why Ecuador?

Ecuador is a paradise for retirees, thanks to its stable weather, low cost of living, and excellent healthcare system.

The country’s economy operates on the U.S. dollar, which eliminates currency conversion hassles and offers more stability. There’s no hyperinflation like some of the other countries on this list.

Ecuador’s varied landscape, ranging from the Amazon rainforest to Andean highlands and the wildlife-rich Galápagos Islands, is simply captivating.

See Also:

#9 Paraguay

Aerial view of a church in Villarrica Paraguay.Paraguay offers a Pension-Based Temporary Residency Visa. You’ll need to demonstrate that you receive at least 100 times the current minimum wage or about $1300/month.

The visa is valid for two years, and there’s no physical presence requirement. However, you’ll need to go to Paraguay to get the visa and to renew or convert it to permanent before the 2-year expiration so you’ll need to plan a couple of trips.

Why Paraguay?

Known for its safety, Paraguay is one of Latin America’s more secure countries.

Its capital, Asunción, is a colonial city with a European vibe. The country boasts a myriad of natural attractions, including lakes, forests, waterfalls, and wetlands.

Plus, Paraguay isn’t overrun with tourists, offering a peaceful lifestyle amidst nature. It’s about the geographical size of Germany but with about 10% of the population.

#8 Guatemala

Colorful street view of Antigua City Guatemala with a volcano in the background.The Guatemalan Pensionado visa requires you to be retired in your home country and you must be able to prove a monthly income of at least $1250.

This visa is valid for five years, during which you can be out of the country for up to one consecutive year.

Why Guatemala?

Guatemala is the “land of many trees,” with over a third of the country covered by forests. Its biodiversity, jungles, lakes, black sand beaches, and incredible scenery offer retirees a tranquil life close to nature.

The country’s rich Mayan culture and affordable cost of living add to its appeal.

#7 Nicaragua

Yellow and white colonial style building in Granada Nicaragua.In Nicaragua, the Pensionado visa requires proof of $1250/month income.

The minimum age to apply is just 45 years old, and the visa is valid for one year, renewable for an additional two.

Why Nicaragua?

Nicaragua is a nature lover’s paradise with 78 reserves, parks, and wildlife sanctuaries. The country is known for its stunning rivers, lakes, and colonial cities.

Add to this mix the world-class surfing opportunities and affordability, and you have a compelling retirement destination.

#6 Panama

Aerial skyline view of modern buildings in Panama City Panama.The Pensionado Visa in Panama requires proof of a monthly income of at least $1,000.

This visa is permanent, so you never need to reapply once you’ve got it.

Why Panama?

Panama offers direct flights to the U.S., making it a convenient location for retirees with family back home.

Known for bird-watching, Panama has lush forests that invite you to reconnect with nature.

With beautiful beaches and the use of the U.S. dollar as its currency, Panama presents a hassle-free and serene retirement.

#5 Costa Rica

Picturesque waterfall in La Fortuna Costa Rica.Costa Rica’s Pensionado Visa mandates a letter from your bank stating you have a monthly pension or retirement income of at least $1,000.

The visa is valid for two years, and you must be present in Costa Rica for at least one day per year.

Why Costa Rica?

Costa Rica’s laid-back lifestyle, famously called “pura vida,” is perfect for a relaxed retirement.

The country is a nature lover’s paradise with stunning beaches and rich jungles.

Plus, direct flights to the U.S. make travel back and forth easy and convenient.

#4 Peru

Llama photobombing a picture of Machu Picchu Peru.Peru offers the Rentista visa for retirees, where you need to prove a minimum monthly income of $1000. It must be from a pension or social security; rental income, interest, dividends, etc. do not qualify.

The visa is indefinite, but you have to spend at least six months each year in Peru.

Why Peru?

Peru offers retirees a glimpse into rich history and culture, with attractions like Machu Picchu.

With 28 individual climates, there’s a spot for every retiree, whether you prefer mountains or beaches.

Peru’s world-renowned cuisine and low cost of living make it an ideal retirement haven.

#3 Colombia

Skyline view of modern buildings surrounded by trees in Medellin Colombia.Colombia’s Retirement M Visa requires 3x the monthly minimum salary, which currently equals around $900/month.

The visa is valid for three years, and you can be absent for up to six months.

Why Colombia?

Colombia is a warm and friendly country known for its festive culture and mouth-watering cuisine.

With a wealth of biodiversity, the country has attractions ranging from mountain ranges to the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, along with dense jungles. If you’re a birdwatcher, this is the place to be!

See Also:

#2 Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia with a perfect reflection in the nearby lake.Cambodia’s new retirement visa, the ER visa, requires a monthly pension or retirement income of at least $800.

The visa is valid for one year and can be renewed, but you can only be out of the country for a total of 90 days per year.

Why Cambodia?

Cambodia, known as the “Kingdom of Wonder,” boasts incredible history, culture, and natural beauty.

The country is home to wonderful markets, delicious food, and friendly people.

From the mystic ruins of Angkor Wat to the bustling city life of Phnom Penh, Cambodia has something for every retiree.

#1 Bulgaria

Colorful aerial view of a resort on the Black Sea in Arkutino Bulgaria.Bulgaria’s Pensioner D visa requires a monthly pension or retirement income of at least 700 Bulgarian Lev (around $400 at the current exchange rate).

The visa is valid for one year and is renewable, and you can be away for up to six months each year.

Why Bulgaria?

Bulgaria is affordable and safe, ranking 30th on the Global Peace Index.

The country’s rich history, diverse culture, and great location in Southeastern Europe make it an attractive retirement destination.

Whether it’s the golden sands of the Black Sea coast, the grandeur of the Bulgarian Revival houses, or the snow-capped peaks of the Rila Mountains, Bulgaria has a beauty that captivates.

Final Thoughts…

There are certainly more countries offering retirement visas, but these ten are among the most affordable options we’ve found, without the requirement of a large deposit into a local bank.

Do note that these requirements are subject to change, so we recommend doing your research and contacting a local immigration attorney for the most current info.

Each of these ten countries has its unique charm and appeal, offering affordable retirement options that cater to diverse preferences.

So, pick the one that resonates most with your retirement dreams, and embark on your next exciting life chapter!

See Also:

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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You'll also get immediate access to our Move Abroad Checklist that will walk you through the process of wrapping up your life at home and moving to a new country.

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Geographic Arbitrage: The Financial Secret to an Unconventional Life

Geographic Arbitrage or Geo Arbitrage isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a financial strategy that has the potential to revolutionize your lifestyle.

Rooted in the age-old economic concept of arbitrage, this practice allows you to maximize your purchasing power by living in one location while earning income from another.

In this post, we’ll explain the basics of geographic arbitrage, and explore how it can be a cornerstone for your Unconventional Life.

What is Arbitrage?

Before diving into geographic arbitrage, it’s crucial to understand the concept of arbitrage itself. At its core, arbitrage involves leveraging price differences in different markets.

In traditional financial settings, this might mean buying an item at a lower price in one market and selling it at a higher price in another. The principle is to pocket the difference without much effort or risk.

Arbitrage is a common business model for resellers on Amazon. They source low cost items, either at local shops or from bulk purchases from manufactures in low cost countries like China, India, Vietnam, etc., and then resell them at a higher price on Amazon.

What is Geographic Arbitrage?

Happy couple looking out over the ocean in Europe.

Geographic Arbitrage takes the principle of traditional arbitrage and applies it to the realm of personal finance and lifestyle. It’s the art of leveraging differences in cost of living between cities, states or countries to maximize your financial standing.

If you earn online income or you’re retired with a pension, you can leverage Geo Arbitrage by moving to a lower cost of living area in your home country or abroad.

For example, earning U.S. dollars or euros while living in a place where the local currency and/or cost of living are significantly lower, like Mexico, Ecuador, or Colombia.

The difference between what you earn and what you spend can be dramatic, leading to accelerated savings or an enhanced lifestyle.

Some people in the U.S. are choosing to leave high-cost states like New York and California for lower-cost states like Texas, Oklahoma, Idaho, and Nebraska.

However, there is still the issue of absurd healthcare costs, regardless of where you live in the United States. If this accounts for a large percentage or the majority of your monthly expenses, moving to another country with high quality healthcare for a fraction of the cost may be your best option.

Why It Matters

As compelling as the concept of geographic arbitrage may be, its true value lies in the tangible benefits it brings to your life.

From amplifying your financial security to enriching your day-to-day experiences, geographic arbitrage serves as more than just a financial hack; it’s a lifestyle enhancer.

Here are some of the key reasons why understanding and leveraging geographic arbitrage can be a game-changer in your quest for a higher quality, Unconventional Life.

  • Financial Freedom: One of the primary benefits of geographic arbitrage is the potential for accelerated financial freedom. Your money can go further, allowing you to save more, invest more, and potentially reach financial independence sooner.
  • Enhanced Lifestyle: Not only can you save money, but you can also afford a more luxurious or comfortable lifestyle than you could in a high-cost location.
  • Flexibility: Geographic arbitrage offers the flexibility to travel, explore new cultures, and enrich your life experiences without the financial strain.

See Also:

How to Make It Work

The successful execution of geographic arbitrage requires careful planning and consideration. The concept may sound straightforward, but the practicalities can be complex, involving various factors from currency exchange rates to tax implications.

Here are some actionable steps to guide you through the process, enabling you to utilize geographic arbitrage as an effective strategy in your Unconventional Life journey.

  1. Research Locations: Understand the cost of living in different places and how they compare to your current or potential earnings.
  2. Understand Currency Values: Keep an eye on currency exchange rates as they can affect your purchasing power.
  3. Get Health Insurance Quotes: Health costs can vary significantly from country to country. Shop around for local or international health insurance quotes and consider factors like coverage limits, inclusions, and exclusions.
  4. Remote Work: Choose a job or type of work that allows you to earn online income.
  5. Test the Waters: Consider a short-term move initially to see if the lifestyle suits you.
  6. Optimize for Tax Efficiency: Consult a tax professional like Taxes For Expats to understand the tax implications of your chosen strategy (you might qualify for huge tax deductions if you’re a US citizen).

See Also:

Our Case Study

Amelia And JP demonstrating Geographic Arbitrage in Cuenca Ecuador with the New Cathedral in the background. When we lived in Denver, CO before we moved abroad to Ecuador, we brought home about $5,500/month after taxes. The only problem was that our American lifestyle was costing us $6,000/month even after we downsized into a 1-bedroom apartment and sold one of our cars.

After moving to Ecuador in 2017, we rented a 3-bedroom / 3.5-bathroom house with a courtyard in a nice neighborhood in Cuenca for $800/month. ALL of our expenses, including rent, food, health insurance, etc. that first year totaled a whopping $1,500/month!

By taking advantage of geographic arbitrage, we immediately shaved $4,500/month off our expenses, which we used to pay off our mountain of debt and save for retirement.

See Also: 

Final Thoughts…

Geographic Arbitrage isn’t just for the nomadic or adventurous; it’s a viable financial strategy for anyone looking to amplify their financial resources and enrich their life.

By harnessing the power of different economies, you unlock a world of possibilities, from travel and cultural immersion to accelerated financial independence.

If you’re committed to living an Unconventional Life, understanding and leveraging geographic arbitrage might be your secret weapon.

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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You'll also get immediate access to our Move Abroad Checklist that will walk you through the process of wrapping up your life at home and moving to a new country.

PLUS, there are several other free perks in our Live Abroad Toolkit we think you'll enjoy!
 

How We Paid Off $60K of Debt in 3 Years by Moving Abroad

Our story about how we paid off $60K in debt by leaving the USA was featured in Newsweek!

Here’s an alarming statistic: nearly half of all Americans are getting sucked further and further into the whirlpool of debt.

Not too long ago, that was our story too. But today, we’re writing a very different chapter of our lives, one that’s debt free and set on another continent, far from the United States.

Wondering how we got here? Here’s our story…

The American Dream, But at What Cost?

Like so many others, we lived what many would call the “typical American lifestyle.”

We had a nice house with a looming mortgage, two cars (one with monthly payments), and an ever-growing pile of credit card bills and a giant student loan.

But life, unpredictable as ever, threw us a curveball when health problems led to two major spine surgeries. I faced the daunting task of relearning how to walk (twice) and couldn’t drive for several months.

Being self-employed, this medical setback (and pain meds) meant I couldn’t generate any income during the recovery phase. Amelia, doing her best to keep us afloat, took on a local job, even though it meant a 40% reduction in pay.

Every month we were dreading the bills, watching our expenses rise while our income took a nosedive.

See Also: 

Rethinking Our Choices

View of Denver, Colorado skyline at night from our apartment in Uptown.

View from Our Uptown Denver Apartment

We considered cashing in on the appreciated value of our house by opting for a second mortgage. But the thought of sinking further into debt, especially when our monthly expenses were outweighing our earnings, felt like a trap.

So, we made the tough decision to sell our home, using the proceeds to clear off our high-interest credit card debts.

In an attempt to scale down, we moved to a cozy one-bedroom apartment in Uptown Denver. But even with the downsizing and selling a car, our expenses still exceeded our income.

It was becoming crystal clear: If we stayed in the United States, we’d be headed straight for an insurmountable mountain of debt.

Moreover, the looming threat of another medical emergency without adequate insurance could push us into bankruptcy.

Seeking a New Horizon

It was during this crisis that we began to toy with a radical idea: What if we moved to a country with a lower cost of living?

Our research was eye-opening.

If we relocated abroad, our US-based income would not only cover our living expenses but also leave us with enough to gradually pay off our debt.

And so, with two adorable dogs in tow and two suitcases each, we embarked on our journey to Ecuador, landing in the beautiful city of Cuenca.

Our first rental house in Cuenca Ecuador.There, we rented a fully furnished, 3 bedroom/3.5 bathroom house with a courtyard for just $800/month.

Our monthly expenses plummeted from more than $5K to a mere $1500 that first year in Cuenca.

And the best part? We didn’t feel like we were missing out on anything.

Cuenca welcomed us with open arms. We embraced the local culture, dined out, picked up Spanish, and made friends from across the globe.

Living in Ecuador also meant we didn’t need a car. That saved us so much money! No more spending on gas, taxes, maintenance, insurance, etc.

Plus, we loved the fresh, locally-sourced food available for a fraction of the cost compared to the overpriced Frankenfood sold in the U.S.

Though certain goods like electronics, cars, and appliances are pricier in Ecuador, the reduced costs in healthcare, utilities, housing, and public transportation more than made up for it.

In just three years, we went from using our savings and credit cards to cover monthly expenses to being completely debt-free and actually saving money for retirement.

See Also: Introducing FlexFIRE: A More Flexible Approach to FIRE

Embracing a New Lifestyle

Our time in Ecuador also debunked many misconceptions we had. The world isn’t as perilous as we once believed and Ecuador isn’t as bad now as the international news media makes it seem.

Back in the United States, we felt like hamsters on a relentless wheel, exhausted but never really moving forward. Moving to Ecuador gave us a chance to pause, breathe, and reclaim our lives.

That’s why we love Ecuador and have such a deep appreciation for it and its people. It gave us our lives back!

However, we realize Ecuador isn’t right for everyone and the rise in crime has scared many people away. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t another low cost of living country out there with your name on it!

See Also: Expat Country Comparisons

You Can Do It Too!

While our story might seem unique, it’s a path anyone can choose and millions of other people from the U.S. already have.

Relocating abroad doesn’t mean bidding a permanent farewell to your home country. You can easily move, get your finances in order, and if you ever feel the call, return home.

A good life is about choices, and sometimes, all you need is a change in scenery to turn things around.

See Also:

Watch Our Video About How We Paid Off $60K in Debt

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

Get the Free Move Abroad Checklist

Enter your email address here to get our Unconventional Newsletter with all sorts of timely information about living abroad, online income and achieving financial independence.
 
You'll also get immediate access to our Move Abroad Checklist that will walk you through the process of wrapping up your life at home and moving to a new country.

PLUS, there are several other free perks in our Live Abroad Toolkit we think you'll enjoy!
 

Introducing FlexFIRE: A More Flexible Approach to FIRE

Amelia and I started following the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) movement around the same time we decided to sell everything we owned back in Denver and move abroad.

We found the simplicity of the FIRE philosophy to “save more, earn more, and invest more” to be easy, refreshing, and attainable.

The ultimate goal of FIRE is to achieve financial independence and leave the traditional workforce far earlier than the standard retirement age. That part was especially appealing to us several years ago.

However, as we’ve moved through the process of paying off more than $60K in debt and maxing out our retirement accounts for the past few years, we’ve come to realize that none of the commonly accepted FIRE strategies fit us perfectly.

Based on some negative media coverage of the FIRE movement over the past year, it doesn’t appear to work for a lot of people, especially those who are struggling to put food on the table every day.

That sparked the idea that we need a new type of FIRE strategy that’s more flexible to current life circumstances, as well as changing future goals.

Before I dive into what we think is the best way to fund your ideal lifestyle, let’s take a deeper look into the FIRE movement.

What is the FIRE Movement?

FIRE is all about financial freedom and having the choice to work on your terms.

It’s not a product or service that’s for sale (it’s not like Crypto). It’s a savings methodology that helps you take control of your finances.

It’s not strictly about early retirement, although that’s the focus for a lot of people. Instead, it’s more about the freedom to choose what you do with your time (the only thing that diminishes every day and you can never get back).

Here is an overview of the three main pillars of the FIRE movement:

#1 Save More Money

Most of us waste FAR more money than we realize. The first step in FIRE is to reduce your daily, monthly and yearly expenses as much as possible by canceling subscriptions you don’t use and reducing or eliminating expensive habits you don’t need.

Cutting Expenses

One Starbucks run per week adds up to several hundred dollars a year in money down the drain (in your bathroom).

Eating out several times a month can add up to thousands of dollars per year.

That car payment, insurance, tags, taxes, fuel, maintenance, parking, tickets, and car wash can add up to $700,000 or more during a lifetime!

And don’t even get me started on smoking! This unnecessary, life-threatening habit literally sends financial liberty up in smoke!

We downsized by selling our house and moving into a one-bedroom apartment when we still lived in Denver. We also sold a car and cut our other expenses, but it wasn’t enough. We still had nothing left to save at the end of the month.

Move Abroad

That’s when we committed to moving abroad to a lower cost of living country (we chose Ecuador), which allowed us to immediately cut 70% off our monthly expenses.

This FIRE strategy is called Expat FIRE for obvious reasons, and it worked like a charm for us. We were able to pay off all our debt in 3 years and we’ve saved more for retirement in the past 3 years than we saved during the previous 15 years combined!

#2 Earn More Money

Even though saving money is the first step, it’s still easier for most of us to earn $1,000 more than it is to save another $1,000 by cutting expenses.

You’ll eventually reach a point of diminishing returns when there just isn’t any more to save, or your life is so miserable from counting the cost of every bean and grain of rice on your plate that you can’t take it anymore.

If you’re scraping by and barely making ends meet (or going into debt every month) on the money you already earn, the only solution is to earn more money.

Here are a few options to put more money in the coffers each month.

Earn More from Your Job

If you have a job, you can ask for a raise, or at least ask what it will take to get a raise. That might mean working toward a promotion with a higher salary.

Despite a tight job market, a lot of employers are still hesitant to pay existing employees more to do the same job, so you might need to look for a new job, either in the same company or at a different company.

Get a Part-Time Job

Getting a second (or third) part-time job is a good way to earn more money if you have the time and energy available to do it.

That sounds like a nightmare and a recipe for burnout to me, but it works for some people.

Start a Side Hustle

The approach we prefer is to start a side hustle that allows you to be your own boss, work from home in your spare time, and offers unlimited income potential that might eventually replace your main job with more than enough to execute your FIRE strategy.

Thankfully, that’s never been easier with the proliferation of online income opportunities that you can do from anywhere. This is the approach Amelia and I took.

See Also: Earn Online Income

How We Earned More Money

When we moved to Ecuador in 2017, Amelia still worked full time for a company based in Denver. I had a bank of web design clients that paid me about $800/month in recurring managed web hosting fees.

And in our spare time, we started our blog and YouTube channel.

During the first year of our channel, we earned almost nothing. During the second year, we earned around $10,000 and after 5 years, we’re earning 6-figures per year.

Amelia still works part-time (about 10 hours per week) for her “real job” back in Denver. However, we’re now earning more from our “side hustle” than we did from Amelia’s full-time job and my web design clients COMBINED back in 2017.

#3 Invest More Money

The final step in the FIRE strategy is to invest the extra money wisely in (mostly) stable, broad-market index funds that track major stock market indexes like the S&P 500.

DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational purposes only and is NOT intended to be financial advice. Please do your own research and consult a financial expert before you make any investment decisions.

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)

The major benefit of investing in ETFs is that if one stock on the index tanks or even goes bankrupt, the other stocks help shore it up so your investment doesn’t fluctuate as much.

A lot of FIRE folks put all or most of their investments in ETFs that track the S&P 500, like the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY), Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO), Schwab S&P 500 Index Fund (SWPPX), etc.

There are other indexes that are tracked by a number of ETFs, such as:

  • Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTI) – tracks the entire US stock market of nearly 4,000 stocks
  • Invesco QQQ Trust (QQQ) – tracks all the stocks on the NASDAQ stock exchange (mostly tech)
  • iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM) – tracks the Russell 2000 index (the smallest 2,000 stocks out of the top 3,000 US stocks)
  • SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF Trust (DIA) – tracks the 30 large-cap stocks on the Dow Jones Industrial Average

Other ETFs track things like foreign markets, precious metals, and bonds, or specific sectors like real estate, tech, retail, commodities, environmental causes, etc.

There are thousands of ETFs that will allow you to invest in things that are important to you while minimizing your risk.

Individual Stocks

Some people are more ambitious and want to take a more active role in their investment strategy, so they buy individual stocks, usually Blue Chip stocks like Amazon, Tesla, Apple, Meta, Coca Cola, etc.

The downside to this approach is if the company misses its earnings estimates or something bad happens to the company or the entire sector, your stock value could plummet.

We actually own several individual stocks that we bought before the stock market correction in 2021 and they still haven’t recovered.

We prefer to minimize our risk and we don’t like spending a lot of time thinking about our portfolio so we’re going to stick with ETFs, at least for now.

Bonds

The bond market has taken a beating since the financial reset of 2022. When the Fed raises interest rates, the face value of bonds decreases because investors are more interested in buying new bonds at the higher rates than old bonds at lower rates.

It’s a complicated system and beyond the scope of this article. However, bonds are typically more stable than stocks so the older you get, the more you might want to have invested in the bond market.

How you choose to invest your savings is a personal decision and based on many factors. Your goal should be to have a diversified portfolio with some stable investments and some higher-risk growth investments. Then leave it for 10 years or more.

Dollar Cost Averaging (DCA)

One final note about your investment strategy is to implement Dollar Cost Averaging. This means that you invest at the same time every month regardless of what the stock market is doing.

When your investment is down, you’ll buy more shares at a lower price. When your investment is up, you’ll buy fewer shares at a higher price. In the end, your investment value will be balanced out by normal market fluctuations.

There’s an old investor manta that states, “Time IN the market always beats timING the market.” Avoid the temptation to wait for the price to fall before buying because it could just as easily go back up and you’ll miss the opportunity to buy low and average the cost.

We have investment accounts with Charles Schwab and Vanguard. We’ve heard good things about Fidelity and there are several other brokerages you can use to manage your investments.

Calculating Your FIRE Number

Your FIRE number is the amount you need saved to live comfortably without needing to work anymore. It’s based on your annual expenses, including housing, food, healthcare, leisure activities, etc.

The standard approach is to multiply this figure by 25, which is the number of years you can expect to be retired and assumes a 4% annual withdrawal rate.

If you retire at 60 and live to 85, you shouldn’t run out of money as long as your annual expenses don’t dramatically increase, or your investment values don’t plummet.

For example, if your annual expenses are $50,000, your FIRE Number would be $1,250,000 (25 x $50K or $50K / 0.04).

Some financial analysts now argue the annual withdrawal rate should be closer to 2% to be more conservative, which would double your FIRE Number.

For example, $50,000 / 0.02 = $2,500,000.

If your plan is to continue working at least part-time into your 70s (like us and a lot of people) while living abroad in a low cost of living country like Ecuador, your FIRE Number will be much lower because you’ll have fewer years in “no work” retirement and your annual expenses will be lower.

Personally, we feel comfortable with the 25 year/4% annual withdrawal calculation so that’s what we use. That means our conservative FIRE number is roughly $30,000 x 25 = $750,000. We still have a long ways to go, but we’re making progress.

FIRE Strategies: Exploring Different Paths to Financial Independence

The FIRE movement has blossomed into various strategies that cater to different lifestyles, income levels, and financial goals. Here are the most popular versions of FIRE:

Barista FIRE

Individuals pursuing Barista FIRE save enough to retire but continue working in a low-stress, part-time job or side hustle. This strategy helps cover some expenses and offers social engagement while prolonging the life of their nest egg.

WiFIRE

WiFIRE is similar to Barista FIRE, but instead of working a traditional part-time job, you work online. This can be through remote jobs, gigs, or influencer outlets like blogging, podcasting, or running a YouTube channel.

See Also: 

Coast FIRE

Coast FIRE means you’ve saved enough early on that you don’t need to contribute further to your retirement savings. You keep working, but only to cover current living expenses. Without the need to contribute more to your retirement savings, you might decide to take a lower paying job doing something you enjoy more.

Fat FIRE

Fat FIRE is for those who wish to maintain or enhance their current lifestyle in retirement. It requires a larger nest egg, allowing for more luxurious spending in retirement. If your current annual expenses are $50,000, you might want to double that (or more) for the Fat FIRE Number calculation.

Lean FIRE

Lean FIRE involves achieving FIRE by cutting expenses and living a minimalist lifestyle. It requires careful budgeting and a lifestyle often well below the average cost of living.

Expat FIRE

Expat FIRE involves retiring to a country with a lower cost of living. This can greatly reduce living expenses, stretching your savings further while immersing you in a new culture. We think this option will have the single biggest impact on your FIRE goals.

See Also:

Slow FIRE

Slow FIRE is about taking your time on your way to financial independence. This strategy promotes incorporating elements of your dream retirement into your current life, balancing living for now with planning for the future. It might take you longer to reach your FIRE Number, but your life will be more enjoyable along the way.

MoFi (Moderate FI)

Similar to Slow FIRE, MoFi emphasizes the journey to financial independence over early retirement. It promotes balanced living while slowly building wealth over time.

Hybrid FIRE

Hybrid FIRE blends multiple FIRE strategies. For example, you might amass a large nest egg (Fat FIRE) but choose to live in a country with a lower cost of living (Expat FIRE) while still working online (WiFIRE).

FlexFIRE: A Customized Approach to Financial Independence

Amelia And JP on a swing with bright orange and yellow wings in Baños Ecuador.Over the past several years, Amelia and I found that it was impossible for us to stick to one FIRE strategy.

What made sense when we started (Lean FIRE), wasn’t as necessary after we moved abroad (Expat FIRE) and started earning consistent income from our YouTube business (WiFIRE).

Then, when we paid off all our debt, our strategy changed again when we wanted to increase our quality of life by spending more on rent and travel (Slow FIRE).

Now that we have more stable income from a variety of passive income streams, it has changed yet again (Fat FIRE).

After looking back over our years of implementing the FIRE strategies, we realized that our flexible approach to FIRE was missing from the list.

What we now call FlexFIRE incorporates aspects of Hybrid FIRE by combining different strategies based on what works best for the individual. However, FlexFIRE goes further by assuming continuous income from part-time work (Barista FIRE) or online income (WiFIRE) rather than a traditional “no-work” retirement.

It’s a highly adaptable approach that underscores the importance of living well now (tomorrow is not guaranteed) while still focusing on planning and saving for future financial independence.

Most importantly, it remains flexible to changing life circumstances and encourages you to reevaluate your strategies regularly based on what’s important to you and where you are on your FIRE journey.

FlexFIRE not only reduces the total amount you need to save for financial independence, but also encourages you to keep your mind and body active so you live a longer, healthier, more meaningful, and more Unconventional Life.

Final Thoughts…

The FIRE movement offers a tantalizing alternative to traditional work life, highlighting freedom and flexibility over the standard 9-to-5 grind.

Whether you choose Barista, WiFIRE, Expat, Coast, Fat, Lean, Slow, MoFi, Hybrid, or FlexFIRE, the goal is to make your money work for you, providing the freedom to live life on your terms.

The beauty of FIRE is that it’s not about retiring from something—it’s about retiring to something. And what that “something” is, is entirely up to you.

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Live A Good Life AND Save for Retirement

Now that we’re in our 50’s, retirement is becoming more top-of-mind every day.

Well, maybe not “retirement” in the conventional sense because we never plan to stop working completely, but being able to afford a high quality of life in our “golden years” is a priority.

However, we don’t want to sacrifice today’s happiness for a future that may never come. “Tomorrow is not guaranteed” may be a cliche, but it guides our decision-making every day.

Almost dying has a way of changing your perspective of daily life.

That’s why this article from Entrepreneur seriously angered me: “What Would You Choose as a Consumer: Living a Good Life or Saving for Retirement.”

The Societal Ponzi Scheme

We’re taught that we should sacrifice “the good life” by working hard, scraping by, and saving every last penny so we won’t be destitute in our old age.

In other words, sell our precious time for money, and then give that money to the government in the form of taxes, banks in the form of interest, and corporations in the form of overpriced products and services (e.g. health insurance and health care).

It’s a society-level Ponzi Scheme!

Look at the number of people who delayed retirement or went back to work after the 2008 financial crisis, and it’s happening again after the 2022 reboot.

So much for “the golden years!” To quote my mom, “It’s more like the rusted years!”

When the Game Is Rigged, Change the Rules

It took a near-death experience to wake us up, as it does a lot of people. The “year of hell” as we now refer to 2015, was horrible, but it was also life-changing for us in a good way.

It made us realize that we didn’t want to keep playing a rigged game. We wanted to be able to relish and embrace every single day like it was our last!

But the only way we could realize that dream was to leave the United States and move to someplace where the necessities of life, mainly housing, food, and health care, were affordable on a middle-class income. Something that can’t be said about the United States anymore, especially health care.

We chose Ecuador for a variety of reasons that we’ve discussed before, but it’s not the only place to live a high quality of life for a lower cost of living.

Taking Your Income With You

Unfortunately, there is a fundamental requirement to achieve this dream: you need to take your income with you.

If you have a pension or social security that barely covers (or doesn’t cover) your expenses in the United States, it may be more than enough to live a high quality of life elsewhere.

However, the picture is a bit different for those of us who aren’t old enough to have a pension or social security.

Countries like Ecuador that offer a low cost of living, also pay low wages to employees. If you expect to get a job abroad, the loss of income may offset the lower cost of living and put you in the same low quality of life you’re fleeing.

Thankfully, it’s never been easier to earn a middle-class income from the United States, while living in a far more affordable country where that income is actually able to fund a middle-class lifestyle.

The key is either working remotely for a company in the United States (like Amelia has been doing) or working online for yourself (like I’ve been doing) or a combination of both.

That’s why we spent half of 2022 creating our Online Income eCourse. We realized that if we wanted to help you live an Unconventional Life abroad, we also needed to help you discover the financial means to do it.

Final Thoughts…

We believe that you should NOT have to choose between living a good life OR saving for retirement. It’s a decision that either makes you miserable now (you spend all your time working and scraping by) or in the future (you have nothing saved for retirement).

Instead, you can do BOTH. You can live a good life now AND save for retirement, but you’ll need to change your mindset, and maybe learn some new skills.

I’m going to end this rant with a quote from Captain James Tiberius Kirk:

“When forced to choose between two equally undesirable options, the only thing to do was to change the rules.”

When the game is rigged, changing the rules is really the only option.

If you’re interested in learning how to fund a higher quality of life abroad, check out our Online Income eCourse.

You might actually be able to retire early or work online so you can live in a low-cost-of-living country and still have enough left over to save for your retirement while living a higher quality of life.

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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10 Best Ways to Earn Passive Income (while you sleep)

We used to think that passive income was a myth or at least a pipe dream. And yet, all the financial gurus shout from the rooftops about the importance of passive income streams for achieving financial freedom.

To be honest, it felt impossible to us!

But today, half of our income is from passive income. Well, actually, it’s from pseudo-passive income.

Fully passive income streams aren’t really feasible unless you already have a decent amount of money sitting around with nothing to do.

However, pseudo-passive income streams are realistic and can be incredibly profitable if you have more time than money. They’re capable of earning you hundreds or even thousands of dollars every month with minimal ongoing effort – maybe just a couple of hours per week.

So, let’s discuss passive income and talk about some strategies that you can implement to create a strong passive income flow.

Disclaimer: The information provided is for informational purposes only. It’s essential to conduct your own research and seek professional advice before engaging in any investment or business activity.

Watch Our Video About How To Earn Passive Income

Truly Passive Income: Investments and Lending

Let’s start with truly passive income streams that require almost no work once you set them up.

Investing Money You Already Have

Investments in dividend stocks and high-yield CDs or savings accounts generate passive income. You put your money in, sit back, and watch as the money compounds.

The drawback here is that it takes a significant amount of capital to generate any substantial income.

However, high-yield CDs in Ecuador are a great option because they offer rates between 8% and 10% for long-term CDs of a year or more. You can invest in CoOps, or what we commonly know as credit unions, without being a citizen or resident, you’ll just need your passport. Investing about $32,000 (the amount that’s insured) can generate approximately $2,500 per year.

Peer-to-Peer Lending With Money You Already Have

Next is peer-to-peer lending, another fully passive income stream. Platforms like Prosper and Upstart allow you to lend money to individuals or businesses and earn interest on your investment.

According to Prosper, the average interest lenders make is 5.8% on their platform. Though the cash balance is FDIC insured, the loaned amount is not so if the borrower defaults on the loan, you could lose your money. However, the risk is manageable since these platforms provide ample details to help you choose low-risk loans.

Pseudo-passive Income Streams

Now, let’s shift our focus to more attainable pseudo-passive income streams that require some effort to set up but then largely function on autopilot and continue generating income each month.

Renting Your House or a Room

Online platforms like AirBnB, VRBO, and Booking.com make it easy for you to rent out a house or a room to travelers.

This isn’t completely passive since there’s some management and upkeep involved, but it’s a viable source of income if you have a place to rent and don’t mind other people living there or sharing it with you.

If you’re already renting a place that’s bigger than you need, you might be able to rent out a room. Just make sure your lease allows it, first.

Blogging

Blogging is another great pseudo-passive income stream. With some effort and consistency in producing valuable and engaging content, you can earn income from affiliate marketing, display ads, sponsored content, or by selling products or services.

The key to success here is to consistently post valuable and engaging content in a niche that search engines can index.

Even though you continue to make money from past articles that don’t require any ongoing work, you still need to create new content if you want to keep people coming back to your website.

Fresh content also helps with your search ranking so it’s easier for people to find your blog. If you don’t keep publishing new content, your blog will slowly fade into oblivion and your income will dry up.

See Also: How to Start a Blog TODAY!

Podcasting

If you have a voice for radio and a topic you’re passionate about, you can easily start a podcast. Monetizing your podcast can be done through affiliates, sponsorships, ads, or by creating premium content for subscribers using a platform like Patreon.

There are a lot of different podcasting platforms and many offer free plans, like Podbean and Buzzsprout, so it’s really easy to get started.

The downside is that it can take some time to build a following, and you need lots of listens to make money.

I started an interview podcast back in 2012 to showcase inspirational entrepreneurs. I published over 50 podcasts during the course of a year, but it never got more than a few hundred listens per episode so I canceled it.

In retrospect, there are several things I did wrong and would do differently now. We’ve learned a lot of painful lessons by sticking with YouTube even when no one watched our videos, and many of them could be applied to a new podcast.

It’s a good idea to combine a podcast with a blog so you can more easily do affiliate marketing. That’s the best way to earn income early on in your podcasting career before you have enough listens to attract sponsors or earn meaningful ad revenue. 

YouTube

We can’t talk about pseudo-passive income without mentioning YouTube since that is our primary source of income.

We make money on past videos with no additional effort (the passive part), but we have to keep creating new videos to stay in the Partner Program and continue to get views (the active part).

If we stop posting videos, eventually, YouTube will kick us out of the Partner Program and we’ll stop getting paid for the ads shown on our videos.

At least half of our monthly income from YouTube ad revenue comes from the videos we publish during the month. That means if we stop publishing new videos, our ad revenue would drop by half immediately so it can’t be considered truly passive.

You want to start a channel focused on a specific niche or topic, and consistently upload high-quality videos to build your viewer base, but you don’t need millions of subscribers to earn hundreds or thousands of dollars per month in income.

You can earn money through affiliate marketing, ad revenue, brand partnerships, memberships, and even merchandise sales. 

We go into a LOT more detail about how to YouTube in our Online Income eCourse, including best ways to monetize your channel with a small audience.

See Also: How To Start a Successful YouTube Channel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Affiliate Marketing

With affiliate marketing, you promote other products or services using a special link that’s unique to you. If someone clicks the link and makes a purchase, you’ll get a commission from the sale.

This is an excellent option if you’re a content creator or an influencer (blogger, podcaster, YouTuber, Instagrammer, TikTok-er, etc.).

A big mistake we made was not doing affiliate marketing during the early days of our channel. We’re just getting started and it’s already earning us several hundred dollars per month.

A lot of affiliates offer very low payouts: a few dollars per sale. These work well if you have millions of followers and views, but they don’t work if you’re just starting out and you don’t have much of an audience yet.

Instead, you want to focus on high-dollar commissions of $50 or more. Some vendors pay several hundred dollars per sale so you only need a few per month to make good money.

You can also create your own product (eCourse, eBook, etc.) and provide affiliate links for other people to promote so you can earn income from both sides of the affiliate relationship.

You’ll continue to earn commissions for past content that won’t require any additional work, but you’ll need to continue creating new content if you want your reach to grow and keep people coming back for more.

eCourses

If you’re an expert in a specific field or possess unique skills, an eCourse can be a fantastic way to share your knowledge while generating pseudo-passive income. There are numerous eCourse platforms available like Udemy, Skillshare, or Thinkific (our personal favorite).

Currently, we have two eCourses that generate about 25% of our monthly income. One is the Online Income eCourse, which is about how to earn WiFi income from home or anywhere else, and the other is the Ecuador Relocation eCourse, which is a step-by-step guide to help make your move to Ecuador easier, faster, and cheaper.

But remember, an eCourse can be about anything! Just ensure there’s an audience for your course before diving into its creation. Yes, there is significant upfront work in creating the course, but once launched, the upkeep is minimal.

However, don’t mistake this for being completely passive – you’ll still need to engage with your students, answer questions, and regularly update your content to keep it relevant.

Plus, to drive more sales, you’ll need to keep creating fresh content to build your audience and increase awareness about your courses. If we don’t promote our courses every week on YouTube and our other social media outlets, no one buys them. 

Low Content Books

Low content books like planners, journals, and logbooks are relatively easy to create and can offer a nice pseudo-passive income stream.

These books typically contain pages with simple, repeated layouts and require minimal content creation, which can be easily reproduced.

The beauty of low content books lies in their evergreen appeal – once created, they can generate income for years without needing any update.

However, keep in mind that there’s stiff competition due to the low barrier of entry, and these books are usually priced quite low, meaning you’ll need high volume sales to make significant income.

But if you have a unique concept tailored for a very specific niche, you can stand out from the crowd and enjoy a steady income with little ongoing effort.

See Also: Low Content Book Creation by Jessica at The Selling Family

Sell Your Photos and Videos

If you have a knack for photography or videography, selling your work on stock photo and video websites can be an excellent source of pseudo-passive income.

Platforms like Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, and Pond5 allow you to sell your high-quality photos and videos. We personally use images and videos from Storyblocks and Dreamstime for our content.

This market is competitive, and the payout per sale is low, so aim to upload high-quality content, and a LOT of it.

Also, consider shooting your videos in 4K to future-proof your content, and consider drone footage, as both are in high demand and lack supply, particularly for Latin American countries.

Conclusion

These are just some potential strategies to start building your passive income streams.

Passive income isn’t a myth, but it’s also not entirely passive (except for investing and lending). It requires upfront work, a smart strategy, and a continuous commitment to maintaining and growing these income streams.

For those looking to earn online and gain location freedom, our Online Income eCourse is the perfect next step for you. We delve into more detail about finding online jobs, side hustles, the gig economy, the influencer economy, and more. You’ll get access to a wealth of in-depth information based on our years of experience working online, and the quick-start checklists will help keep you focused and start earning WiFi income more quickly.

Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or if we missed any viable passive or pseudo-passive income streams. We would love to hear your thoughts!

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Enter your email address here to get our Unconventional Newsletter with all sorts of timely information about living abroad, online income and achieving financial independence.
 
You'll also get immediate access to our Move Abroad Checklist that will walk you through the process of wrapping up your life at home and moving to a new country.

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7 Easy Side Hustle Ideas for 2023 (Non-Technical Skills)

A thousand dollars a month. That’s all you need to earn from working online to completely change your life!

The side hustles in this article do NOT require technical skills so pretty much anyone can do them as long as you have a computer and a reliable internet connection.

You’ll learn how easy it is to get started doing each of these side hustles, how long it will take to hit that magic $1000 per month milestone, and how you can use that money to set yourself free and change your life forever.

#1 Writing

Freelance writing platforms such as Textbroker.com and WriterAccess.com offer opportunities to write for a variety of clients and niches.

You can also find writing gigs on platforms like Fiverr and Upwork, and get paid to create blog posts, articles, social media content, and more, depending on your skills and interests.

Starting a blog may be the best place to start because it not only allows you to showcase your writing skills, but a blog is a great way to earn online income. You can promote affiliate products and services, sell ad space to sponsors, or use it to promote your book, eCourse or coaching program.

I just started writing on Medium and made $80 in the first month with very minimal effort. If I had more time to devote to it, I’m confident I could make $1000/mo after 6 months or so. Some writers make a lot more than that on Medium.

NewsBreak is another website that works like Medium. You write content and they pay you for it based on reads.

A lot of writers are freaking out right now because of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The chatbots can write content very quickly, but they lack the personal touch only a human with real world experiences can give.

I’m able to write a lot more content now than I ever have because I’m using AI as a junior level writing assistant.

ChatGPT helps me with outlines and rough drafts for our blog posts and Twitter threads, but my personal stories, observations and unique voice that I add are what make the content valuable.

Medium requires you to disclose if you use AI to help write articles, so I write all of those from scratch without the chatbot.

The average pay for freelance writing work is $20 to $50 per hour, but rates can vary depending on your expertise and how fast you write.

You can certainly work full time as a writer, but working around 50 hours per month, or about 2 hours per day, could help you reach $1000/month after 3 to 6 months of consistent effort (you might want to work on it a lot more in the beginning because it will build over time).

Watch Our Video About 7 Easy Side Hustles

#2 Copyediting

As a copyeditor, you can find work opportunities on websites like FlexJobs.com and Freelancer.com.

Your job is to review and correct written content for grammar, punctuation, syntax, and overall readability.

Fact checking is probably the most important skill for a copyeditor in the AI era. The chatbots are really good at creating content quickly, but they don’t always get the facts right and humans are still the best sanity check for AI-generated content.

The average pay for copyediting work is around $20 to $30 per hour, depending on your experience and the project

Working around 50 hours per month or approximately 2 hours per day could help you make $1000/month after 3 to 6 months.

To begin, create a profile on your preferred platform and showcase your copyediting skills through a strong portfolio

#3 Teaching English Online

Online teaching platforms like Cambly.com, VIPKid.com and TeachAway.com offer opportunities to teach English to students from around the world.

You’ll need a strong command of the English language and an engaging teaching style to be successful in this field.

We know several people who fund their pre-retirement lifestyle in Ecuador by teaching English online and they really enjoy it.

The major downside is that your students might be in the eastern hemisphere, which means you might have to stay up late or get up really early to teach.

The average pay for teaching English online is between $15 and $25 per hour, but this can vary based on your experience and qualifications.

To make $1000/month, you’ll need to work around 60 hours per month or about 2 hours per day.

To get started, sign up on the teaching platform of your choice and complete the required registration process. The platforms provide the curriculum for you so you just need to login and follow the teaching plan.

You might also want to look into get a TEFL certification because some platforms require that.

#4 Online Tutoring

Websites like Tutor.com, Studypool.com and Wyzant.com provide opportunities for online tutors in various subjects.

You can share your expertise in subjects like math, science, history, or any other area you know well.

Let’s face it… The US school system is failing our kids.

According to all of the meaningful stats, our kids are way behind the rest of the developed world, especially in math and science.

That means a lot of concerned parents are turning to online tutors to supplement the classroom and get their kids better prepared for college so the demand for online tutoring will continue to grow.

The average pay for online tutoring ranges from $15 to $30 per hour, depending on your subject and experience.

To reach $1000/month, you’ll need to work around 60 hours per month or 2 hours per day.

Start by signing up on a tutoring platform and completing their registration process to showcase your skills. Some platforms require a college degree or teaching certification, but some don’t.

#5 User Testing

Websites like UserTesting.com and UserZoom.com will pay you to test software.

You get paid to use websites and mobile apps and record your experience, thoughts, problems, etc.

Back in my technical manager days, I had a team of software testers who tested the software my developers wrote. Nowadays, companies outsource that testing to their users; people like you.

The average pay for this type of work is $30 to $45 per hour.

It’s not a full time job so don’t expect to work 40 hours per week doing this because they normally don’t have enough tests to keep you that busy, but you only need to work 30 hours per month or roughly 1 hour per day to make $1000/month.

And you can get started right after signing up and completing their registration process.

#6 Voice Over

If you have one of those voices that melts butter, you could make good money doing voice over for commercials, podcast intros, phone systems, training materials, documentaries, audio books, etc.

You can find voice over clients on websites like Fiverr and Upwork. It will take a few hours to create your profile, record a few samples and upload them to your portfolio

Alice Everdeen makes $15,000/month doing voice overs for companies like Amazon, Southwest Airlines and OnlyFans. You need to be good and it can take awhile to build up to that level, but it’s possible to make at least $1,000/month with a good voice and consistent effort.

You can expect to earn about $20/hour doing voice over work, but the really talented people make over $100/hour, especially after they’ve built a reputation over time.

At $20/hour, that means you need to work 50 hours per month or about 1.5 hours per day to make $1000/month

#7 AI Prompt Engineer

As an AI Prompt Engineer, you’ll use chatbots like ChatGPT to create content, and Midjourney to create images for clients or to sell.

There are a lot of other AI systems to choose from, but in my opinion, these two are the best for content and images.

The engineer title makes it sound more technical than it is, but it’s really a non-technical job.

Knowing how to give the AI tools the right directions to get the desired outcome has more to do with your language skills and creative thinking than your technical skills.

The average pay for this type of work is around $20 to $35 per hour and the best place to find clients is on Fiverr or Upwork.

You can also sell AI prompts on websites like PromptBase.com. It only takes a few minutes to sign-up and you keep 80% of the revenue.

Some of the Midjourney prompts are incredible! If you can get the AI to create mind blowing images, this could be a nice passive income stream.

To make $1000/month, you’ll need to work about 50 hours per month or around 2 hours per day.

If you haven’t been using the AI tools yet, that’s the best place to begin. Play around with them and start creating content and images to learn how they work.

You can also download some free prompt guides to speed up your learning process.

Once you’re comfortable with your skills and have some good examples for your portfolio, post a gig on Fiverr, apply for jobs on Upwork, and create a free account on PromptBase.com to start selling your prompts.

Online Income eCourse

Online Income eCourseWe go into a lot more detail about side hustles and working online in our Online Income eCourse.

It has a lot of links with more in depth information to help you get started quickly, including a bunch of new Quick Start Checklists I just added.

How $1000/month can set you free!

Earning $1000/month through online side hustles can be a game-changer if you want to improve your quality of life because it will allow you to move abroad.

Moving to a country with a lower cost of living not only allows you to stretch your budget further but also provides an opportunity to explore new cultures, languages, and environments.

In countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Ecuador, Colombia or Mexico, $1000/month can provide a comfortable lifestyle if you’re single.

If you’re a couple and you both earn $1000/month, you can live a very comfortable lifestyle in a lot of countries.

You can also stack side hustles to increase your income. That just means you do more than one thing and work more than a couple hours a day to speed up the process, figure out what works best, and make more money.

By living abroad in a country with a lower cost of living, you’ll not only maximize your income, but also enrich your life experiences and personal development.

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Redefining Retirement: Pursue Your Passion and Live a Life with Purpose

Far too many people spend their entire lives working hard to make someone else rich, only to find that when they finally cross the finish line to retirement, they’re bored and aimless.

Sadly, this is the reality for many who retire, leading to deteriorating health, depression, and early death.

And now, according to recent studies, more baby boomers than ever are becoming homeless. It takes just one crisis, like a job loss or medical bills, to push someone nearing retirement onto the streets!

The traditional concept of retirement is outdated, but you can redefine your retirement to make it more fulfilling and purposeful while protecting yourself from the dire consequences of unexpected hardships.

The Problem with Traditional Retirement

Redefine RetirementWith traditional retirement, you spend your whole life saving as much as possible, work to a certain age, and then stop working. A lot of retirees stop doing much of anything.

If you live in the United States, the rising cost of living and healthcare may eat away at your retirement savings faster than you expected, and that could lead to financial disaster later in life.

However, according to an article from MarketWatch, the retirement mindset is changing. People are beginning to realize that saving enough money for retirement is important, but having choice, autonomy, and agency matters even more.

Redefining Retirement: Live Life on Your Terms

Retirement doesn’t have to be a death sentence. By ditching the outdated concept of traditional retirement, you can create a life that revolves around your passions and interests.

Today’s retirees are redefining what it means to retire, with many continuing to work on their own terms or pursuing delayed dreams.

Here are some suggestions for how to redefine your retirement:

  • Try something new – Explore new hobbies or interests that bring you joy and a sense of purpose.
  • Turn your passion into a business – Utilize your life experiences and interests to create a meaningful, purpose-driven venture.
  • Create passive income streams – Although passive income is not entirely passive, it can allow you to live life on your terms and prioritize what truly matters to you. Check out our Online Income eCourse for ideas and quick start checklists.

We’ve seen it ourselves – people living unconventional, freedom-based lifestyles that they thought were unattainable.

Moving abroad, for example, has provided us with the flexibility and freedom to shape our lives in ways we never thought possible.

If you’re in your 30s, 40s, or 50s and don’t have enough investments or income to retire yet, you’re not alone. Neither do we.

But it’s never too early or late to take control and redefine your retirement, which might mean retiring early (with the right plan).

Overcoming Retirement Obstacles

To break free from the constraints of traditional retirement, and possibly retire early, consider these strategies:

  • Reduce expenses – Cut back on unnecessary spending, such as retail therapy or buying things you don’t need.
  • Downsize – Consider moving to a smaller home or relocating to a more affordable area.
  • Move to a low-cost country – Many countries offer a lower cost of living, allowing your retirement savings to stretch further.
  • Pay off debt – Use the Debt Snowball Method to pay off your debts and free up more money for saving and investing.
  • Earn more money – Start a side hustle or find online income opportunities.
  • Save and invest – Look into financial strategies like the FIRE movement to boost your savings and investments.

It seems cliche to say you need to spend less and earn more, but it really is that simple.

You can reduce your expenses starting today by cutting out things you don’t need. For most people, housing and cars are the biggest expenses, but it might take longer to downsize those.

We sold our house in the suburbs of Denver and moved into a one-bedroom apartment downtown. Then we sold one of our cars. When you factor taxes, insurance and maintenance into the equation, the savings was well over $2,000 per month!

It might take a little longer to start a side hustle to earn extra income, but that’s probably easier than you think, too.

It took us almost a year to earn income from our YouTube channel, but that was due to a lack of knowledge. If we were starting over today, we would be able to earn income within the first two months because of the lessons we’ve learned.

 

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Discovering Your Ideal Retirement Destination

If the idea of redefining your retirement and moving to a new country sounds appealing, we’ve compiled a list of 5 popular countries to work online or retire early according to World Population Review (2022).

These countries offer a blend of affordability, excellent healthcare, and beautiful landscapes, making them perfect for anyone looking to embrace a new way of life.

Panama

Panama is known for its lower cost of living (compared to the US), large expat community, and excellent healthcare (#56 CEO World ranking).

Its proximity to the US and the use of the US dollar make it a popular choice for expats. Many locals speak English, although learning basic Spanish is recommended.

Panama offers a 6-month tourist visa, a 9-month digital nomad visa (with extensions available), and a pension visa with a requirement of $1k/month.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is famous for its “Pura Vida” or “Pure Life” lifestyle, focusing on simplicity and well-being. With stunning mountains, beaches, and incredible wildlife, it’s a nature lover’s paradise.

Costa Rica ranks #50 for healthcare (CEO World) and offers digital nomad and long-term visas, including a 1-year DM visa (renewable with a requirement of $3k/month) and a pensioner visa with a $1k/month requirement.

Mexico

Mexico offers more than just beautiful beaches! You’ll also find great places to live inland like Lake Chapala, Ajijic, Guanajuato, and San Miguel de Allende, boasting pleasant weather and rich culture.

With its affordability, large expat communities, and good healthcare (#29 CEO World ranking), Mexico is a popular destination for those seeking an “America Lite” experience.

Mexico offers 2-year temporary visas that allow you to work but doesn’t have an official digital nomad visa.

Ecuador

Ecuador is a birdwatcher’s paradise with more bird species per square kilometer than any country on earth. Plus, the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon rainforest are waiting for you to explore them.

The country is known for its culture, excellent healthcare, dental tourism, and affordability, with the US dollar as its official currency.

Ecuador offers a digital nomad visa with a 2-year term that can be converted to permanent residency. To qualify, you’ll need a monthly income of $1,350 (as of April 2023). Other visa options include pension, investment, and professional visas, making Ecuador one of the easiest places to relocate.

 

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Malaysia

Malaysia is an extremely developed country with solid infrastructure, a rich history, and high-quality healthcare (#34 CEO World ranking).

Kuala Lumpur was voted the best city for expats in 2022. With its beautiful scenery and affordable cost of living, Malaysia is an attractive destination for digital nomads and retirees alike.

The country offers a new digital nomad visa requiring $24k/year, valid for 12 months with a 12-month extension available. Additionally, Malaysia has a 10-year permanent resident visa and the MM2H visa, a 10-year retirement visa with investment and monthly income requirements.

Final Thoughts

As the concept of retirement evolves, so too should our approach to it. By redefining retirement and focusing on our passions and purpose, we can create a life that’s truly fulfilling and rewarding.

Don’t be afraid to break away from the conventional retirement mold – embrace the possibilities of a freedom lifestyle, location independence, or early retirement.

The choice is yours and there are lots of amazing countries and cities to choose from if you really decide to embrace the unconventional life and move abroad.

Watch Our Video About The NEW Retirement

Videos We Mentioned in the Video:

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Why Does The United States Cost so Freaking Much?!

The cost of living in the United States is OUT OF CONTROL! Many of the things we need to live have become unaffordable for the vast majority of people. Things like food, healthcare, transportation and elder care are being charged on credit cards and driving people further into debt. It’s INSANITY!

When speaking with a family member recently, I was shocked to hear about the massive increases in food and utility bills, which are particularly challenging for those on fixed incomes.

You might not realize that the cost of living is NOT sky-high everywhere. In many countries, you can still afford to buy the things you need without breaking the bank.

So today, let’s discuss 10 essential items that most people in the United States can’t afford, but can’t live without.

Insurance

Insurance US Cost of Living

Insurance is a must-have, but it doesn’t come cheap in the US. This includes life, home, and auto insurance. To make matters worse, if you make a claim, your rates may increase or your coverage could be canceled altogether.

And let’s not forget about health insurance – many people feel trapped in jobs they hate or delay retirement just to maintain coverage.

We actually had to leave the US because we couldn’t afford health insurance. Even the marketplace plan was going to cost $1,200/month, which was WAY out of our budget!

Tipping

Tipping has become the norm in the US, with a 20-30% tip expected for various services. It used to just apply to restaurants where you were served at the table, but now everyone is asking for tips! Even vendors at concerts!

In many other countries, tipping isn’t as widespread, and you aren’t guilted into it. For example, in Ecuador, tipping is not the custom and most Ecuadorians don’t tip at all.

If you decide to leave a tip, 10% or $1/person is acceptable and actually appreciated.

Education

Student debt is a massive burden for countless Americans. In some cases, it’s actually cheaper to move to another country and attend a private university than to go to a public one in your hometown. Shockingly, most other countries offer tuition-free public universities!

When we left the US and moved to Ecuador, we had over $60,000 in total debt, including $43,000 in student loan debt.

Within 3 years of living in Ecuador and thanks to a much lower cost of living, we were able to pay off all that debt! Had we stayed in the US, we would probably be in MORE debt rather than OUT OF debt!

Public Transportation

Public Transportation US Cost of LivingUnless you live in a major city like New York or Chicago, public transportation in the US is often lacking.

In comparison, public transportation in other countries is much more affordable due to widespread use and regulated pricing.

When we lived in Denver, it was cheaper and FASTER to drive downtown from the suburbs and pay for parking than it was to take the RTD Light Rail system.

And Uber rides are 3 to 4 times higher than we pay for similar distances in Ecuador and the other Latin American countries we visit.

Elder Care

Elder care is exorbitantly expensive in the US, often draining the finances of not only the elderly but also their children and grandchildren.

In other countries, such as Ecuador, Mexico, and Colombia, assisted living facilities are significantly more affordable, and in-home care is a viable option as well.

We spoke to a former in-home nurse who said the going rate in Ecuador for full-time in-home care with a registered nurse is around $500/month. You can hire 24/7 in-home care for less than $2,000/month and they’ll also help with cleaning, shopping and cooking.

There are also elder care facilities available for a fraction of the cost that you’ll pay in the US, and they’re super nice, especially in Mexico.

If you don’t want to be forced into destitution in retirement so Medicaid will cover your long-term elder care, or you don’t want to be a financial burden on your kids or grandkids, consider moving abroad BEFORE you need the care so you can find the right place and the best options that fit your budget.

 

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Utilities

In many countries, affordable internet, mobile plans, and utilities are available. Living closer to the equator or in the mountains can also help you save on heating and cooling costs, since you may not need as much temperature regulation.

We’ve lived in the mountains of Ecuador for nearly 4 years without air conditioning, and only use small space heaters on occasion. Our eclectic bill runs around $20/month, which has saved us thousands of dollars in utilities since we moved here.

Even when we lived on the coast and used air conditioning at night, our electric bill only ran about $60/month.

We pay $45/month for high-speed Internet (fiber to the router) and get 150Mb upload and download speeds with Netlife.

Our water bill is a few dollars per month. It’s not even a factor in our budget.

Housing

Housing US Cost of LivingThe US housing market is still largely unaffordable for many, with skyrocketing rents, property taxes, and home insurance costs.

In countries like Ecuador, rent is about a third of the cost of similar places in the US, and the overall cost of living for two people can be as low as $2,000 per month.

We spent $1,500/month during our first year in Ecuador. Since then, it has ranged between $1,800 to $3,000/month mostly due to higher rents in nicer places.

On average, rents in Ecuador are about ⅓ compared to similar places in the US.

Fuel

Let’s face it – the cost of gas and diesel is a significant factor contributing to inflation in the US (even though it’s excluded from the official Consumer Price Index). The cost of fuel drives the cost of product creation and delivery, which drive the price charged to consumers.

Plus, high fuel prices make it challenging for people to fill up their tanks, making everyday life more expensive. And the US was built around personal rather than public transportation so many people don’t have the option to avoid fuel costs.

In countries like Ecuador, the cost of fuel is regulated, with unleaded gas at $2.4/gallon and diesel at $1.75/gallon (that’s not per liter – per GALLON).

When the government tried to raise fuel prices, protestors shut down the country until the prices were lowered. The Ecuadorians don’t take any sh*t off their government. If they don’t like something, they protest enmasse and the government listens.

Car ownership is also less common and less necessary in other parts of the world, as public transportation is more affordable and accessible.

We were spending $1,200/month on car loans, maintenance, insurance, tags, taxes and fuel when we lived in Denver.

Now, we spend about $25/month on transportation because we walk most places. That means we’ve saved nearly $80,000 in 5 and a half years of living in Ecuador on cars!

Food

USA Cost of LivingFood is essential for survival, so why is it so freaking expensive in the US?

When we lived in Denver, we spent $800/month on groceries and that was 6 years ago so it would probably be closer to $1,200/month now with inflation.

Our average food budget in Ecuador is $350/month, and that’s for mostly organic produce that we get from local farmers.

Fresh food is available year-round in many countries outside the US, meaning it’s not picked green, sprayed with chemicals, and shipped halfway around the world. Our food is picked within a couple days of us eating it, and it tastes fantastic for a fraction of the cost!

Lower food costs allow us to enjoy a higher quality of life and put our hard-earned money towards other things, like saving for retirement and travel.

Healthcare

Healthcare US Cost of LivingThe main reason we left the US was because we couldn’t afford the exorbitant cost of health care.

Following my two spinal surgeries to fix a genetic condition, we couldn’t afford health insurance or healthcare anymore.

We had two choices: 1) Stay in the US and hope I never need healthcare again so we don’t go bankrupt, or 2) Leave and move to a country with affordable, high quality health care.

We chose option two and left. It was the best decision we could have made for reasons far beyond health care.

The United States has the most expensive healthcare system in the world, but the quality of care is just average. This is a fact the US hides quiet well and goes to great lengths to maintain the myth that it has the best healthcare in the world.

In contrast, nearly every other country offers more affordable private healthcare options and free public healthcare services.

Private medical procedures in other countries can cost 40-90% less than in the US. For example, in Ecuador, the cost is 70-90% lower, and the quality is rated higher by CEO World Magazine.

Medications are also more affordable and can often be purchased without the hassle of dealing with insurance bureaucracy.

Many retirees from the US living in Ecuador have found that buying prescriptions with cash and without insurance is less expensive than the cost of Medicare prescription plans, copays, and non-covered expenses in the US.

The affordability of healthcare outside the US has led to the growing popularity of medical and dental tourism among US citizens, and for good reason. There’s absolutely no good reason to go bankrupt to pay for health care like hundreds of thousands of Americans do each year.

Check out this detailed post about our healthcare experience in Ecuador, including quality and costs.

Conclusion

No one should have to go into debt to afford food, healthcare, and the other basic necessities of life.

If you’re struggling to make ends meet in the United States, consider following in the footsteps of millions of others who have chosen to leave and explore a more affordable life elsewhere.

There are many countries around the world where you can enjoy a higher quality of life without breaking the bank.

If you’re thinking about moving to Ecuador, check out our Ecuador Relocation eCourse. It covers every step of the process so you don’t miss anything important along the way.

Watch Our Video About the Outrageous Costs in the United States

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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