Dateline: Tbilisi, Georgia
I have a confession to make.
In the last year, I’ve accomplished a lot in terms of planting new flags, from a few new passports to greater mastery of new businesses based entirely overseas, and from a greater understanding of offshore banking to successful real estate investing.
I owe a lot of this to the mindset shift I have made in recent years.
But that’s not my confession.
A big part of my success has come from following a lot of rules. Part of that involves following what I call ‘The Nomad Code,’ which is the personal development strategy I put together that focuses on results. It gets me in the right mindset, has me focused on only what needs to be done, and gets me away from shiny objects. Following the Nomad Code has enabled me to enjoy the best 12-18 months of my life since embracing the Nomad lifestyle ten years ago.
The Nomad Codes is also the reason I have decided to do much less travel in the coming year (and perhaps years).
For a perpetual traveler, is reducing your annual country count a rather big confession.
I am, after all, the Nomad Capitalist.
I’ve never been a digital nomad, though. I don’t follow the crowds to party destinations or sling on a backpack to join the soul-searchers traipsing their way around the world. Instead, I have always pursued the truer definition of what it means to be nomadic by living according to my five magic words: Go where you’re treated best.
Much of the philosophy behind my five magic words comes from the lifestyle of actual nomads – the folks who have been living on the Steppes of Mongolia for millennia, moving with their livestock according to the seasons. They go where their herds have enough pasture for grazing and where the weather permits. And until the weather gets too cold or the grazing lands get low, they stay right where they are.
They are not nomadic for the sake of travel, they are nomadic for the sake of survival.
And that is perhaps the greatest distinction between what it means to be a Nomad Capitalist vs. what it means to be a digital nomad: the motivation behind the travel.
While I have long led a life of perpetual travel and have a total country count of over 100 countries visited in the past decade, I have done so in search of the absolute BEST opportunities for business, banking, freedom, and investment.
I do not travel for the sake of travel itself but because it allows me to find the places where I (and the people I help) will be treated best.
Travel as An Investment
Travel has been one of my greatest investments. It is what has allowed me to create the lifestyle I enjoy today, and it is what allows me to help other people attain that lifestyle at a much faster rate than I did.
It is interesting to think about how, if the Andrew of ten years ago came to me now and wanted to accomplish what I now have, he could work with me and use my current experience to accomplish everything I have achieved over ten years in about a year and a half.
And all for a heck of a lot less money compared to the millions of dollars I have invested in this lifestyle.
Even before starting this website back in 2012, I spent years trying to figure out the offshore world for myself. I added to my country count every year by traveling to look at different offshore banks, flying around the world to investigate potential second passports, and speaking to professionals to figure out which was the best strategy for me.
During that time, I began to take a bit of action. But most of what I did was travel, explore, and put ideas together. I was gaining experience and building the mindset.
But, I also did a lot of the wrong things back then.
When I started Nomad Capitalist and began writing on this site, I wanted to put out the best boots-on-the-ground information possible. Like any goal I give myself, I was 100% dedicated to it and entirely focused on delivering valuable information that my readers would not find anywhere else.
And I did.
This was possible largely because I was visiting 25-30 countries every year to check out the opportunities that they offered. For a long time, I really enjoyed doing that. I liked adding to my country count. I even spent six months on a full-fledged Southeast Asia tour, spending about a month in each country and really getting to learn about the local market, culture, and customs.
I investigated those countries and asked myself whether they were open or closed places, and whether or not their government was bureaucratic. I did the same thing in Eastern Europe soon after that and several times more in the coming years. In fact, now that I’ve covered most of the areas that are of interest to people, I still find myself going back to these Eastern European countries.
But, back to my confession.
What I was doing wrong in all of this was that I began to put the travel and the country count ahead of many more important priorities. I began to see myself as a traveler first, priding myself on the fact that I had traveled to 30 countries in one year and had 100 countries total under my belt.
Yes, I learned a lot from my travels and was able to provide all the valuable information you can find on this site because of them. Travel is a powerful tool and an indispensable one for my line of business. However, at times, I felt really hamstrung from running around to investigate so many different countries.
Without realizing, I had taken my dedication to my readers and my belief that travel would authenticate my writing and I began to travel for the sake of travel. It was all about checking another country off my list and it quickly became rather unpleasant.
My perpetual travel was exacting a greater and greater cost, and all for a diminishing return on my investment.
The Diminishing Returns of Travel for the Sake of Travel
I finally accepted this reality about halfway through 2017. I was planning to knock out the last two countries in Europe that I haven’t been to yet with quick trips to both Ukraine and Belarus later in the year.
I even had a flight booked directly from Tbilisi to Ukraine and planned to check out the country before its more pleasant summer months were over. I had a few different motivations for going, including places I wanted to visit, the fact that I speak some Russian, and the desire to see where my adopted sisters were born.
Essentially, I thought Ukraine would be an interesting place to visit.
Belarus, however, not so much.
Not only did I not expect to find any substantial opportunities there but I also recognized that most people could care less about investing, opening up a bank account, or getting a second passport from Belarus, let alone knowing that I had added it to my total country count.
As much as I go around the world investigating new places, there comes a point in time when the return on investment from visiting one more country is too low to justify the time and energy spent going there.
At the last moment, I recognized that there was more important business for me to attend to somewhere else in the world and I chose to cancel the trip to Ukraine and skipped Belarus entirely.
While I thought Ukraine would be an interesting place to visit, choosing my business over adding another country to my total country count felt great.
Don’t get me wrong, I plan to go to Ukraine and Belarus within the next year so I can cross off every country in Europe. And I at least want to see Belarus for myself so that I can speak authoritatively about it, but I will go on my own timeline and when the ROI is best for me. I will no longer go somewhere I don’t want to go just to eke out an article about it or to cross it off my list.
Especially when I have more important things to do.
I have been to too many places where I failed to really enjoy the trip because I was going just so I could say, “Yes, I’m here, on the ground in Belarus.” In my quest to be an authority and build my knowledge base, I let travel dictate the conversation. With hindsight, I am now becoming more selective about where I go and the kind of knowledge and connections I build.
A New Era of Nomad
This new perspective has ushered in a new era for me as the Nomad Capitalist and for the people who I help every month to achieve greater personal and financial freedom.
The last 12-18 months have been particularly fantastic for me as I’ve been able to tie up a lot of loose ends by living according to the Nomad Code and making a conscious effort to slow down my pace of travel so I can focus on other priorities rather than my country count.
People have often asked me, “Andrew, do I have to live the lifestyle that you’re living to take advantage of all of these benefits?”
And the answer has always been no.
Just a few months ago, I shared my Trifecta Strategy that I have been helping clients implement to travel less as tax-free Nomads. And part of my confession is that I am now working to implement the same strategy in my own life.
So, no, you don’t have to travel non-stop the way I have done in the past to be a Nomad Capitalist. I don’t plan to do so in the future. The nomad part doesn’t mean running around to thirty different countries every year. It means having an open mindset and acting as a global citizen.
Going where you’re treated best means realizing that if you are 33 years old like I am, things are probably going to change in your life and that could require you to adapt.
For example, Singapore may no longer be the best place to bank when I am 47 and I may want to move my money out of my bank in Singapore and take it somewhere else when that happens. However, as long as Singapore fits the philosophy of my five magic words, I will enjoy my fabulous Singapore bank. When it falls out of alignment with my goals, I will take my money and put it where it is treated best.
As long as you are flexible enough to “go” where you’re treated best when the landscape changes (whether “going” means moving your money, your business, or yourself), there is no need to constantly be on the move. There are many different ways to live the Nomad lifestyle. You could live in one tax-friendly country, split your time between two places, set up three or four bases, or even travel around the world; it’s your choice.
This new era for me means slowing down for the next little while, but it changes nothing about my ability and dedication to go where I am treated best. The pace of travel you choose should do nothing to affect your ability and dedication to the same.
Creating Deeper Roots
Reducing my country count is intricately intertwined with my desire to establish deeper roots in the places to which I have already traveled. I always talk about avoiding the temptation to chase after new shiny objects and, at least in my case, visiting new countries is currently a shiny object that I will not be chasing after this year.
As I have already traveled to most of the countries that I think you and I have an interest in, I find myself traveling to more of the same places to build deeper connections there. Because, quite frankly, me learning more about how to invest in Morocco isn’t going to help any of us.
What I need to do is deepen the connections and projects that I already have in the countries that have already shown the greatest potential.
The tendency that many of us have is to chase after everything. This is why many people who come to me say that they spend months, or even years, reading blogs, doing free consultations, and trying to gather information on every possible option out there.
These folks know just enough to be dangerous but not enough to get across the finish line or to make a cohesive plan that works together and doesn’t get them in trouble. They are dangerous enough that they don’t actually get much done.
I’ve learned all the programs, I’ve been to all the places that matter, and I’ve learned to execute in my own life and help others do the same in theirs. It is now time to take it to a new level and go deeper.
And that means I am going to be adjusting my life a little bit.
When I was at my house in Montenegro not long ago, and I looked out at Kotor Bay and felt a sense of happiness and peace in my soul. As the neurotic entrepreneur who has worked the 16-hour days for pretty much my entire adult life, I realized at that moment that there is more to the Nomad Capitalist lifestyle than those 16-hour days and non-stop go-go-go.
I realized in a way that I don’t realize often enough, that there is more to it than going after the latest thing and being an authority on the next best thing. My philosophy right now is to deepen my connections in the places that have good potential and decrease my annual country count.
Now, don’t worry; I will still continue to go to new places to check them out and talk to new people, but my first priority is to grow deeper and stronger in the places where I see potential. I want to master that. I also want to help my readers master that and help the people that I work with personally to master that in a big way.
Through my own fault, I have spent too much time chasing after new knowledge that was perhaps a bit shinier than it was useful. I rushed through places that didn’t bring me happiness.
I like to be on the go and I appreciate the tremendous amount of knowledge I have been able to gain and share over the past five years of being on the go all the time, but I’ve come to realize there is a time and season for everything and it’s time for me to slow down… just a little.
I have been able to build a lot of success in my life in a number of ways over the years. The big thing for me going forward is to realize that, in addition to all of this stuff, it’s necessary to choose happiness in your life. You need to choose what makes you feel peaceful. And I want to be a good example for my readers so that you don’t think you need to run around like a madman in order to enjoy the benefits of being a Nomad Capitalist.
If you want to live in two places, great.
If you want to live in one place, great.
If you want to travel the world, great.
Those are the things I have done in my own personal life and I don’t necessarily travel just to enjoy. But as I get older, I plan on doing more travel for enjoyment. I found that when I enjoy a place and feel at peace there, the opportunities become more prevalent, and I build stronger connections and get more done.
This is my confession: I am reducing my annual country count and adjusting my life so that I can cultivate my own happiness and develop deeper roots in the places that matter so that I can deliver better results for myself and the people I help.