Andrew Henderson

Andrew Henderson

Founder of Nomad Capitalist and the world’s most sought-after expert on global citizenship.

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Expat

A year of expat life: Lessons learned living overseas

Dateline: Fabulous and Exciting, Boise, Idaho

There’s no right or wrong way to live as an expat or permanent traveler. There are only individual ways. Which is the whole point — life on your own terms.

My wife and I are in our tenth year of traveling full time and gradually we’ve deliberately slowed down our pace. When we began, we were a bit like kids in a candy store wanting to get a taste of as much as we could as fast as we could.

Moving fast and frequently is appealing for awhile. In our case, a couple of years. You get to see and experience a lot, but it also creates a faster burn rate on your cash because it means buying more frequent plane tickets. It also requires paying for short stays wherever you are, in hotels, condos, guest houses, or whatever.

Also, I think the younger you are, the more the fast travel appeals. We gradually found ourselves losing patience with hotel check-ins and wifi that didn’t work properly, airport security procedures, dragging luggage around and other realities of travel. Two or three years took a toll on us that might not have even phased a couple in their twenties or thirties.

In more recent years, we’ve chosen to move more slowly. We often stay in a country up to the limits of a tourist visa. So we can spend six months in Mexico, six months in the UK, ninety days in most European countries, and one to three months in most Asian countries we visit.

In the last twelve months we’ve only visited six countries. Last August, we arranged a reunion in Las Vegas with all of our adult kids, most of whom are living as expats somewhere in the world. From Vegas we went to Germany, but only for less than a month before going to Spain for a couple of months. From Spain we went to the UK and spent time in London, Blackpool, Liverpool, and Edinburgh.

Romania was a new country on our list and it left a great impression. Romania is a beautiful country with nice people, fantastic food, and tons of historic sites to visit. On top of that, it’s almost unbelievably affordable. Oh, and it has the fourth fastest internet speed in the world.

We finished our twelve months by returning to Spain and living in Valencia, the third largest city in Spain but with very few tourists compared to Madrid and Barcelona. Valencia provides the best of Spain without being filled with the buskers and dreck targeted to foreign tourists.

We circled back to Vegas for another August family meet-up and very soon we’ll move on to six months in South East Asia, perhaps followed by another six months in Mexico.

I stress that we stayed in every one of these countries as legal tourists. That means we didn’t need to apply for special visas, or work permits, we didn’t get local jobs, and we didn’t need to register with tax authorities. That means we were basically treated like welcome guests everywhere we went. And that’s a big part of the magic of being a permanent traveler. As Andrew Henderson so often says, “Go where you’re treated best.”

We know digital nomads and permanent travelers who visit five times as many countries as we just did, and in half the time. There are many people who set a goal of visiting 100 countries in a year and manage to do it. I applaud them if that’s what brings them happiness. As I said, there’s no right or wrong way to live as an expat or permanent traveler. There are only individual ways. Which is the whole point — life on your own terms.

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