Tajolo http://www.tajolo.com Location Independent Lifestyle Wed, 14 Aug 2013 04:01:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.6 12 Essential Items for Digital Nomads http://www.tajolo.com/12-essential-items-digital-nomads/ http://www.tajolo.com/12-essential-items-digital-nomads/#comments Sun, 11 Aug 2013 08:43:44 +0000 Daniel http://www.tajolo.com/?p=381 12 Essential Items for Digital Nomads is a post from: Tajolo

Although the location independent life is one of freedom, it can be advantageous to make some practical preparations for it. Below is an overview of tools to consider for the life as a digital nomad – besides your normal travel packing needs as clothes and underwear of course ; ). I use all these items currently or have used them in the last 3 years.

Laptop and Accessories – I go with a 13 inch Samsung Ultrabook (I am probably a minority in digital nomad land not typing away on an Apple. Most digital nomads I know love to use Macbook Air or Pro for their work). Furthermore I always like to use a keyboard, so for instance a tablet is a no go, but I want to travel as light as possible. So a 13 inch screen is perfect for me. I combine this with a Logitech wireless mouse, as I cannot work on only the touchpad. Doing marketing and design work on just a touchpad is very annoying. Of course, you mileage may vary depending on your line of work.

Internet – The lifeline of the location independent lifestyle. The quality of the internet can sometimes make or break your working day. In order to get WIFI internet everywhere, you can consider buying a local 3G USB Wifi modem or Airport Express (Apple).

VPN – I always use a VPN (virtual private network) when abroad. It ensures secure browsing and makes sure no one can tap your online bank transactions for instance. Besides that you can browse the internet bypassing any local firewalls. Good providers are StrongVPN and HidemyAss.

Headset and Mic – A good headset with microphone makes VOIP (i.e. Skype) calling much more convenient and provides better conversational quality.

Online Backup – Some need it, some don’t. It depends on your line of work online. However, I can recommend you to do a backup of your works once in a while. In case you are wary of putting your stuff online, you can consider bringing a “normal” external hard drive with you.

Online Banking and Credit cards – In most cases your personal bank can cover banking and ATM transactions abroad but sometimes it is cheaper to get a specific online banking service as well. Personally I go with Moneybookers/Skrill (and their issued credit card). They have good and easy to use online banking system and I like their low fees for ATM transactions abroad. Another good provider is Payoneer.

Smartphone – I do not want to carry my laptop all the time so I am happy with my old IPhone 4, which I take almost everywhere with me. Besides that, the google maps app with its GPS on your phone is a great help to find your way when you are motorbiking / hiking in the mountainous areas of Laos or Thailand for instance. You do not even need internet to use it (just preload the maps before your hikes).

Power Adapter – Absolutely necessary when you travel a lot. This thing saved me many times abroad after arrival and looking for power, just to find out that the power outlets in that particular country were different than those back home. A power adapter that can fit on any power outlet imaginable will gives you the peace of mind that you can get electricity everywhere in the world.

Toiletries – Consider what you need for your daily needs and what you can buy abroad. For instance some types of contact lens fluids are not available everywhere abroad – and think about your medicines of course. Also the special travel sets for your liquids are almost a must when you travel by plane often.

A handy suitcase – Personally I like to travel light. So I have a suitcase on wheels that I can take with me as hand luggage, no check-in required.

Insurance – I am not a fan of the principle of insurance but sometimes it is needed for legal reasons and sometimes it is just stupid not to have it. So I did go with the travel insurance of World Nomads. It is relatively cheap and it covers the important basics.

Language Tools – Learning the languages of the places you visit can be very rewarding and will often increase your experience to a large extent. This is especially the case in those places where the amount of English speakers is low. Some good tools to learn foreign languages are LiveMocha, Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur.

Whether you need all these things that’s up to you of course. And for your line of work you might need some additional tools on the road (i.e. for my online marketing I use a vast amount of software tools) – but for me this list above covers all the important basics. As you can see I like a more minimalist approach. You can use 1001 items, tools and apps but you will get crazy when you try to use all of them. I think it is better to have the basics covered without fluff and work from there.

In case you use essential tools that are not mentioned on this list, leave a comment or let me know and I will add it to the list. Also check out our resources section – with more handy stuff for the location independent lifestyle.

12 Essential Items for Digital Nomads is a post from: Tajolo

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How to Get Started as a Digital Nomad http://www.tajolo.com/how-to-get-started-digital-nomad/ http://www.tajolo.com/how-to-get-started-digital-nomad/#comments Mon, 05 Aug 2013 04:59:18 +0000 Daniel http://www.tajolo.com/?p=324 How to Get Started as a Digital Nomad is a post from: Tajolo

Everyone has the possibility to become a digital nomad. But not everyone has this ability right from the bat. It is not feasible to expect that you can go instantly from your cubicle job to a life of running a location independent business abroad (although it can be exciting to try this out for a short period). In general you will need to get some things in place first; what that is depends on your station in life and career. For instance, when you already have an up and running coaching practice or a web store the jump to become a digital nomad is easier than when you work at the local supermarket. But I am convinced that the lifestyle is possible for everyone who really wants to.

Some things to take into consideration are:

Do not aim too high

Go for a modest lifestyle sustaining income first. This means you can get in the digital nomad mode without too much planning and hassle. It makes sure you make the step without thinking it over too many times which can cause you to chicken out of the idea. When you think about it you do not need that much money on an international level to sustain yourself (i.e. $2000 a month can already be very good income for low income countries).

When you have a certain skill, leverage it online as freelancer. In case you do not have a specific skill you can always do online grunt work, as text writing, or being a virtual assistant. Now, that will not be fun but ensures that you get a modest income while you are working on your long term projects. Of course, when you have a good office job, it would be silly to throw it away just like that. Working in a regular job while building your location independent business at the same time can also be a decent avenue. Just make sure you make the move at some point in time though.

The only thing I would really recommend against is that you save a lot of money in order to be a digital nomad. This is fine when you are a tourist, but when you really want the lifestyle it gives the wrong mindset. You living on savings abroad is a “losing money” mindset, which gives you some sort of deadline at which you have to return home. IMO that is not what makes a location independent lifestyle successful. Success is based on a “making money” mindset so you will be able to live abroad indefinitely (in a technical sense).

Do not aim too low

Have a grand long term goal towards which you are working. Making the first step is very important and you can do it with modest means. But when you only stick to this you will run into yourself and your dreams down the road in a few years’ time. It is better to also have some grand projects going on that can make money in the long run. For instance, you make money as a freelancer, which is great, but it is basically earning on a day by day basis. For a longer term view it makes sense to build some websites which can add value (i.e. a blog) or that you build a framework to employ other freelancers who work for you in some way, so you can grow your business.

This point can be summarized as: start small but think big. From time to time take a step back and think about how you can improve your skills/business/profit in the long run in a smart way – so not only by doing more work. This makes you a digital nomad to stay, and not only one that lives day by day.

Write down the steps towards your goal and quantify them

Note all the things you have to do in order for you to reach your goals. Make these steps small and attainable. Personally I am a fan of to do lists. It gives you a straightforward basis on what to work on for the day and as part of your bigger projects and goals.

Completing every step gives you also some sort of fulfillment and will give you motivation to keep working on your projects. When you have to do a big step at once or have only one goal quantified can look like that the goal is not achievable or too big to tackle. Making the steps small makes to you work on it little by little. And then, suddenly you big goal is achieved. That is a very gratifying feeling.

Do the work

Being a digital nomad and living location independent is not same as having a holiday (or at least not all the time). You will have to put in the necessary amount of work to make it happen. And perhaps when you start out you will have to do more work than ever. So it can happen that you find yourself on a beautiful beach or in a scenic mountainous area, just to find yourself working on your laptop on a new project, sweating away.

But when you really want it, it does not really matter. Because you know that what you want, becoming location independent, is worth it.

Have the right mindset

Of course before all this you need the correct mindset first. Do you really want it? Everyone has the possibility but that does not mean everyone should, can or wants to do it. You need to have a certain mindset that you want to be free, and not to be bound by normal conventions too much. Do not be swayed by social peer pressure.

And by the way, do not get too hung up on the principle of being a strict “digital nomad” or what it is supposed to be. That is not what it is. It is more about how to get the best out of yourself while using this skill to make money in a location independent way. So, think about your passions and core skills first, then think about how to make money from it online.

How to Get Started as a Digital Nomad is a post from: Tajolo

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10 Ways To Travel On The Cheap http://www.tajolo.com/10-ways-travel-cheap/ http://www.tajolo.com/10-ways-travel-cheap/#comments Mon, 29 Jul 2013 17:10:31 +0000 Daniel http://www.tajolo.com/?p=299 10 Ways To Travel On The Cheap is a post from: Tajolo

There are two approaches to travelling with as little money as possible. One is simple and materialistic: why spend a lot of money when the same can be done for less money? This approach is just concerned with the best value for as cheap as possible. The second approach is philosophical and esoteric – it is a way of life. By travelling around the world with very little money and possession, you can become free of materialistic wants and needs.

Ironically, while these two approaches are diametrically opposed in spirit (materialistic vs non-materialistic), they ask the same question: how can I travel without spending much money? This article will give ten pointers for ways to achieve this goal.

1. Use Price Comparison Websites

Most people know about this but I have noticed that still not many use them in the right way or even at all. First of all there are the airfare comparison websites as SkyScanner, Kayak, Vayama and Momondo. These are great search engines which you can use to start out your search with. Use two or more for your search as they can differ from each other a little bit in their offerings of airlines and prices. One big tip is that you should play around on a comparison website with data and departure times as there can be a huge difference in price this way.

After this you should check if you missed smaller carriers which are not included in the comparison engines. To find all airline routes between two cities, type in google “flights City A to City B” and the result will give you all the routes for a common week. This way you can see what airlines fly on the route as well. After you have found some good options you should check the website of the airlines itself. There are cases in which the price is lower on the airlines website (maybe there is a special deal as well). Try this both in your currency and in the local currency as this can result in diverse prices.

If you are looking for cheap accommodation the comparison website Hotelscombined is an excellent source to find the best money-for-value hotels, hostels and apartments.

2. Be Flexible

It is almost an iron rule in travelling that the less options you have to change, the more expensive it will be. So if you go in with a flexible mindset and are willing/able to change your plans on a whim, you can save money to large extents. There are many booking websites out there which can offer discounts if you book a package, or book 3 nights instead of 2, and so forth.

Think also about being flexible with flight dates, places to stay, activities and duration the trips. When you travel at a slow rate like this, not only will you be able to snuff out the good deals, but you will feel also much more relaxed mentally to make the optimal decisions.

3. Pack Efficiently

Doing packing the right way is often an underestimated method to save money (and time) on travel. There is a big difference if you bring two bags or one. Sometimes there is an unexpected surcharge for the extra bag when you use transport (air, train, bus) in foreign countries. Second, it is great not to have to check in (and pick up) that extra bag on your plane travels. Furthermore, carrying more will have you move slower, will cost you more energy and is just plain annoying sometimes.

So ask yourself with any item you pack: is this really necessary? I used to pack cautiously and packed to much stuff. More than half if it I would not use on my trips, or only on the way to the airport for instance. Now I pack much smarter and it made travelling so much more convenient. Also, sometimes things as clothing and shoes can be insanely cheap abroad – so you can choose to not pack these with you but buy them on the spot.

4. Subscribe for Miles and Memberships

Now, this can take a bit of work but it is worth it if you travel a lot. Most airlines have a membership program. The more you fly, the more “miles” you will earn. These miles can be exchanged for all kind of benefits and free tickets. When you are flying anyway, why not subscribing to the miles program just in case?

There are also special membership credit cards with which you can earn travel miles. Do a google search for your specific country to find the available ones. For intrepid travelers it can make sense to get this kind of card. And sometimes you will be alerted to membership only deals as well. These can be quite lucrative from a financial point of view.

5. Go with a Group

When you travel in a group you can get a lot of extra discounts. First of all, your leverage power is much greater, especially regarding accommodation. And as a group you can rent a big house or apartment economically per person. Also, when you travel in a group you can share things so you do not have to rent or buy them for only yourself. Say, car rental or kitchen materials. Cooking and eating together is cheaper as well, besides it can be a lot fun.

To find a group to travel with, you can sign up for group tour with a lot of travel agencies. But maybe even more fun is to organize a group trip yourself. Put down an ad online or in the local newspaper and define the characteristics of people you would like to travel with you. And you can always ask your friends.

6. Negotiate

It never hurts to ask. Especially with smaller transportation abroad (as busses or taxis) it can be very beneficial to negotiate. Do not take the first offer they make you. If you think the price is too high, do not hesitate to go to another supplier. Or in other words, never be afraid to walk away. Do not get too hung up on a product or a price.

Some of the biggest advantages to be attained by negotiating is the costs for your accommodation. As I explained before, you can get good discounts when you go either at the last minute or book very early. Last minute is especially great as it will give you a lot of negotiating power. The only real downside is that it will result in more limited options.

7. Secure your Valuables

Robbery can be a big concern for travelers, in specific when you are on alien ground. In some countries you will be seen as a walking ATM by your appearance alone. Be prepared for this.

When something goes amiss, and you lose valuables or you need to shell out cash for an emergency, it can be the most expensive thing that happens to you on your trip(s). So in any case, take the common security precautions, like:

- Make photocopies of important documents and keep them in different places
- Have more than 1 creditcard/debitcard
- Use VPN wherever you go
- Lock your bags when you travel
- Have some sort of Travel Insurance

After all, money saved is the first money earned.

8. Be like a Local

Local prices and tourist prices can differ to astonishing levels. That tacky restaurant on the famous main street can be 5 times more expensive than that small unassuming restaurant in an unknown backstreet. While serving exactly the same food. In my experience, the latter restaurant even serves better quality food in most cases, although in a much more basic atmosphere.

And it is not a secret that in many countries locals get charged lower prices than tourists/foreigners. If you look like a tourist or stand out, there is not much you can do about that at first. But what you can do is ask around and look where the locals go to eat and play. This will give you plenty of opportunity to get a more “authentic” experience and save money along the way. Even better if you get to know locals personally who will show their favorite spots and/or sleep at their place (i.e. Couchsurfing as a source for this is great).

9. Do your Research

When you are close to center of action (i.e. city center) it often costs more to live there on average. But when you think long term in can actually more cheap than living at a place in the outskirts which has a lower rental price. After all, it takes time and money to get from the outskirts to the city center every time. Think about taxi fares, bus fares, metro fares and also about the inconveniences to go home from the center to the suburbs at 4am in a foreign city.

Nonetheless I have noticed this factor is forgotten by some. But in my view it is one of the first things I look at when I am scouting for a new place or city. I study the map and read travel information source (i.e. Wikitravel). In this way I know what kind of activities I want to do and where approximately I want to live. Furthermore, easiness to get to and from the transport hubs (i.e. Airport) can make a big difference financially, especially when you stay short term.

10. Work on the Road

Of course, a great way to travel on the cheap is to make more money while you are travelling. Being a digital nomad is what this does exactly, but you can also think about more “normal” jobs like:

-          Working at a local (organic) farm
-          Working on a cruise ship/private yacht
-          Teaching English
-          Working at a hotel/hostel
-          Taking care of other people’s home (housesitting)

Through work you are bound to come in contact with other foreigners and locals. This will also enable you to achieve other points from this list in a relative easy way.

10 Ways To Travel On The Cheap is a post from: Tajolo

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What Exactly is a Digital Nomad? http://www.tajolo.com/what-is-a-digital-nomad/ http://www.tajolo.com/what-is-a-digital-nomad/#comments Sun, 21 Jul 2013 03:20:07 +0000 Daniel http://www.tajolo.com/?p=283 What Exactly is a Digital Nomad? is a post from: Tajolo

For all the buzz and talk that surrounds the principle of location independence and digital nomadism, it is good to take a step back and ask ourselves: how can we define it and what does it mean exactly?

If we were to make an official definition: a digital nomad is a person that uses digital technologies in order to perform their work and support their “nomadic” lifestyle. Due to this digital nomads are able to work from any place where these technologies are in place, of which the most used is the internet.

Although in this day and age the use of the internet among digital nomad is ubiquitous – and in most cases a necessary condition – the principle of digital nomadism presages the internet. For instance, in the ‘70s and ‘80s of the last century there was already a small group of digital nomads. Most of these were active in financial services (i.e. stock trading) and used telephone and fax to conduct their business from abroad.

However these days the term digital nomad has become almost synonymous with an individual who uses the internet to make money. Due to the versatile nature of the internet, there are many ways to make a living, among others: freelancing, online marketing, consulting, IT work and writing. This makes that digital nomadism and location independent professionals encompasses a wide diverse array of individuals.

There are also some quirks about the digital nomad in general that sets it apart from “normal” nomadic travelers (i.e. tourists). Some key elements are:

Presence of the Technological Infrastructure. A digital nomad need at least the internet in place to conduct his or her business – and the internet speed needs to be of good quality at least (anyone who ever did a skype call with a bad connection will empathize). So the digital nomad will be more present in cities and big towns than in the countryside – especially with regard to low income countries.

Travel Frequency. The typical digital nomad travels relatively slow and can be in one place for months. Of course there is a large standard deviation here – also due to different types of location independent work – but on average the digital nomad tends to stay in a certain spot for longer times. One of the reasons is that travelling a lot all the time costs energy and time that cannot be focused on the business. A more joyous reason is that due to the nature of the lifestyle the digital nomad will have all the time in his or her life to see the places they want to see – so why not take it slow?

Work Routine. Digital nomads commonly have work routines, even more so when they become more professional. When you have a online business you will have to deal with customers from time to time. Furthermore, having a routine will make your work flow more efficiently and you will get more work done in less time – so there is more leisure time to explore the local surroundings.

Contact with Locals. Because the digital nomad stays in one place for longer periods and tend to work more in routines they will come in contact with locals frequently. The relationship with the locations they work from is intensified and overall a digital nomad will have a more intense local experience than the common tourist – becoming a true expat and learning the local language in some cases.

All in all I would regard the defining characteristic of the digital nomad as: freedom. Even though the digital nomad on average is working from one place for longer times, has work routines and needs the internet – there is always a choice to change course and to live somewhere else. The needs of the digital nomad in this day and age is basic so there are many beautiful places to work from and to discover. This contributes to the great flexibility of the lifestyle and makes being a digital nomad such a fantastic experience.

What Exactly is a Digital Nomad? is a post from: Tajolo

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How to get Work as a Freelance Translator http://www.tajolo.com/work-freelance-translator/ http://www.tajolo.com/work-freelance-translator/#comments Tue, 09 Jul 2013 15:30:04 +0000 Snoesje http://www.tajolo.com/?p=276 How to get Work as a Freelance Translator is a post from: Tajolo

Over the last three months I have joined four outsourcing platforms as a freelancer translator: Fiverr, Odesk, Onehourtranslation and Elance – all four quite different venues to secure translation jobs. In this post I want to share some personal experiences and insights with starting freelancers or those of you who are thinking about going this route.

The truth is that everybody is blessed with its own expertise, and more often than not, the person who would be able to get a certain job done might not equipped with the ability to get the job in the first place, and vice versa. A while ago I was ‘hired’ by a client who claimed that he needed professional translators to translate some business texts from English to Chinese. However, shortly thereafter I realized that he wasn’t the business owner nor even a translation agency. He was an individual translator just like me, only that he somehow managed to secure much more jobs than he could handle all on his own, so he re-outsourced his work to other freelance translators and offered them lower pay than what he was offered by his clients. This way he managed to make money without even having to translate by himself anymore.

When you step into the translators’ community don’t be surprised if in the beginning you find yourself in the bottom of the hierarchy – even if you are very experienced in the offline world. Therefore you should not get frustrated when you application is declined when the elected one has “I live Japan. I have master degree in English.” written on his profile. The very first thing you should set straight before hitting the ‘sign up’ button is to battle against your own uncertainty. Convince yourself that you can do the job and then arm yourself with unbreakable mindset and ultimate patience to defeat the any potential setbacks along the way.

Up next is to make yourself available online for potential clients. For examples I will use Odesk and Fiverr to show you a few tips about how to make a decent profile, how to apply for jobs, and how to get the job done ahead of the deadline without making yourself stressed and crazy.

How to make a decent profile?

Also known as: how to make a glamorous and attractive profile without having to lie? My fundamental philosophy is to be my better-true-self whenever it’s possible. When filling in the blanks upon registration, use a good natural picture of yourself (the one that can present your confidence and good attitude, preferably but not necessarily, frontal picture with a big smile and composed posture). When writing an overview about yourself, make a logical outline first. I would recommend you to first give your clients a brief idea of your competence, in my case, language skills. Then highlight your language skills by explaining how you got to possess these language skills.

For example, as a Japanese native speaker, you are able to speak English at a native level because you have attended an international school where the language for teaching was English, or you have studied abroad, or you are none of these but passed the TOEFL test with flying colors. Do whatever necessary to enhance your profile. Set up your rate based on your evaluation of yourself or you can do a check up on your competitor’s rates and then find your most competitive position. Fill up the portfolio and pass the tests as well as possible. Those tests are actually much easier than you might think. However you can only take them once. Don’t be lazy. Laziness won’t get you anywhere when you choose to be a freelancer, because you don’t have a fixed boss to get steady assignments from every day when you set foot in the office. Take as much time as you need to create an original and sincere and convincible profile. Get rid of the grammar mistakes and typos. If you really find it difficult for you to present yourself in words, as an alternative, you can also hire a professional ghost writer online to write it based on the information you provided.

Now that you are registered, the next step is to wait for orders or actively apply for jobs (recommended when you start out).

How to apply for jobs?

1) Be alert
As a rookie, you are most likely to be ignored by professional clients and targeted by scammers. To diminish the risk of being taken advantage of, remember to always check for references. For example, on Odesk, take a few seconds before applying to check the client’s previous feedbacks. When it’s a fixed price job, the payment is merely depending on your client’s integrity. On Fiverr, remember to not do the job until the client places an official order and activates the order. There are a lot of rules on both of the two websites. Again, don’t be lazy and at least skim through the policies and rules beforehand to avoid unnecessary pitfalls.

2) Start with small jobs
Although your profile is important, your ratings are even more important. There is a wide variety of clients out there. Most of them value ratings and experiences very much but there’s still some of them who are willing to give a chance to a newbie. On Odesk, new contractors usually have very limited applications to use every week. In the beginning, in order to make the best of your limited chances, you might want to focusing on small jobs, for they are easier to get and the quick turnaround enables you to get more ratings quickly and to build up your connections. Eventually, you will get the attention of bigger clients.

3) Submit an application that can help you grab the client’s heart
In case you find it too time-consuming to write a cover letter every time you apply, you can make a standard template. However this might save you time but won’t get you any further unless you season it according to the job posting to adjust to the client’s specific taste. Besides displaying how skillful you are for the job requirements, you might want to show the client your seriousness and enthusiasm by asking questions about the job posting. Last but not least, do a review before submitting. It’s ok if your wording is mediocre but make sure your texts flow naturally without any grammar mistakes and typos.

4) When is the best time to submit an application? The earlier, the better.
The early bird gets the worm. As a beginner with no substantial credit yet to back you up, you can compensate by NOT BEING LAZY. Get up 1 hour earlier or stay up 30 mins later depending on the time zones for you, your competitors and the clients. First come, first serve. Also, time is money, for both the client and yourself.

Finally, two days later, maybe two weeks later, someone hired you! Then comes up the next question:

How to overpower the deadline rather than being enslaved by the deadline?

In the earlier stage of my not-so-long freelance career, I messed up my daily activities by devoting all my priorities on my contracts and orders. All that to impress the client and also to get the jobs finished so that I can proceed to my next job. I was so stressed that I began to doubt my choice of becoming a freelancer. It turned out that being hasty was not the same as being fast. The client won’t be satisfied unless your work is impeccable. Don’t expect you can get away with the little defects resulting from your hastiness. In the end, it takes you much more time to revise your work again and again, than have it done rather slowly and carefully. Although not too slow, because most clients still will give good ratings if you do good follow-ups but late delivery is inexcusable. Some clients even can use it as a potent reason to not pay you at all.

I was advised by a successful freelancer that I should learn to focus my attention. When there’s a lot on your plate and your time is limited, the only thing you can do is to increase your productivity by putting all your attention on your current task. Put things in order according to their flexibility and importance. Devote your most energetic hours to conquer the most difficult tasks. When it’s time to have a romantic dinner with your loved one, then forget all about the contracts. You know what matters the most.

I believe the one shared goal for those who choose to become freelancers is to enjoy the freedom. It takes strong mindset, positive attitude and enormous devotion and more to get closer and closer to this goal. The beginning is always the hardest, but it’s not impossible. Many people have made it. Why shouldn’t you?

How to get Work as a Freelance Translator is a post from: Tajolo

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How to Hire a Virtual Assistant http://www.tajolo.com/hire-virtual-assistant/ http://www.tajolo.com/hire-virtual-assistant/#comments Wed, 03 Jul 2013 14:40:24 +0000 Daniel http://www.tajolo.com/?p=264 How to Hire a Virtual Assistant is a post from: Tajolo

Do you want to make your online business more efficient? Hire a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant is, as the name implies, a person that helps you to achieve tasks online. In this way you can save time on routines and focus on more and/or new projects. The tasks that can be done by your assistant can be as diverse as:

-          Writing articles, web content
-          Translation services
-          Link building for your websites
-          Managing your website(s)
-          Online research
-          Data Entry
-          Standard business processes (i.e. sending emails)

The Advantages of a Virtual Assistant

There are some specific advantages for hiring a virtual assistant – why would you hire them otherwise? The main reasons to hire a virtual assistant are:

> They can be contacted in a location independent matter. That means you can communicate with them online from anywhere you want (and they with you) by using email, Skype and/or social media.

> They are cheap. By using geo arbitrage you can hire a virtual assistant from low income countries. In this way you have a relative cheap assistant while they make an above average income from your pay. Some VA’s charge as low as $100 a month (full time employment).

> They can be experienced and good. Some have worked in a specific field (i.e. writing) for many years. Now, this is obviously not true for all of them and you will have a strict hiring policy but when you find a good virtual assistant they are worth gold.

> You can focus on your core competences. When you outsource standard task you will have more free time to pursue new projects where you can utilize your core competences more efficiently and to a greater extent.

As such, there are some real good reasons why you should consider hiring a virtual assistant. Of course there are also some drawbacks. For one, you will have to instruct your virtual assistant(s) when they start out. This takes time. Second, you will have to go recruit them, and find the good ones. This will also takes time. But eventually these drawbacks are minor compared to the advantages. Your only limitation is actually the amount of work that you can outsource (in other words, the size of your online business).

Where to Find Virtual Assistants

You can find virtual assistants in many sizes, and as such in many places. You can even start to ask around your family and or friends if they know someone who wants to earn an extra buck. But in general there a many good website dedicated to providing you a virtual assistant. Some examples:

Odesk – You can find virtual assistants here of all kinds
Elance – Mainly for designers, writers, programmers
OneHourTranslation – Best place to find translators and interpeters
Onlinejobs - For virtual assistants from the Philippines

You will also be able to find virtual assistants through online agencies if you do a google search.

How to Find a Good Virtual Assistant

They key thing in finding a virtual assistant it that she or he clicks with you as a person. Your way of working at your business has to be understood by the VA. So it makes sense to find persons who are compatible with you on this level. A good way to find this out is just to talk with them over email or on Skype for a little bit. In this way you can also test their language (i.e. English) abilities and their communication skills (if needed).

The second thing you have to look at is past experience and education from the VA, with the former much more important than the latter. Obviously if the VA has worked in similar business as yours before that is advantage. In case you are serious in hiring a certain VA (or need to choose between a couple of good candidates) you can also ask for references and contact the company they worked for before. In this way it is not dissimilar to a standard hiring process. It is even better if you know others with online business who can recommend you virtual assistants they work or have worked with.

Now, prices among VA’s differ wildly. Some charge as low as $100 a month, while real experienced ones charge a normal 4 figure monthly salary. More expensive is not always better though. First it depends on your requirements for the job. In case it is a simple data entry job or link building, this is not hard to learn so you do need a experienced VA. Also experienced does not equate to more capable, but obviously your chances to find a real good VA a bigger in the high end than in the low end.

Essentially, the more time you are willing to spend to search for the perfect VA, the bigger the chance is that you will find him or her. And when you have a good one for the long term it really can grow your business. So it can be very beneficial to invest something upfront in a VA as it will provide you many benefits in the long run.

How to Hire a Virtual Assistant is a post from: Tajolo

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Finding My Way (3) – Bali http://www.tajolo.com/finding-my-way-3-bali/ http://www.tajolo.com/finding-my-way-3-bali/#comments Thu, 27 Jun 2013 13:03:03 +0000 Snoesje http://www.tajolo.com/?p=255 Finding My Way (3) – Bali is a post from: Tajolo

Years ago I came upon this best seller book Eat, Pray, Love, and from the book I got to know there’s a place called Bali. At that time I dreamed that if I could go there and experience the ‘balanced’ life myself, I would be in heaven. Years later I did go there, however, ‘seeking balance’ was not my motivation. I vividly remember that right after I came back to Shanghai from our trip together to Koh lanta, my routine days made me feel so discontented and unfulfilled. I had to go somewhere, or anywhere as long as it was not here in Shanghai. The planet all of sudden seemed so small when G and I were weighing all the possible destinations for our next get-away. My restricted budget and unwelcome Chinese passport didn’t leave us many choices. I brought up Bali when G asked me for some ideas. That’s practically how we ended up in Bali–a possible and not a bad destination. It seemed. Just like right now I am sitting by the French window from a coffee shop in downtown Shanghai on a rainy summer day, together with G, trying to recollect those bitter and sweet days and nights we spent there in Bali and translate it into words.

Welcome, Little Girl!

It was cloudy when we first arrived at Denpasar Airport. We had to go through a hall way to the custom counter. G was walking extra fast trying to get in front of the long line waiting for the custom clearance. My mind was occupied by the looks on the faces of the people sitting inside the departure hall. It’s hard to tell if they had enjoyed their stay or not because they were pretty much expressionless. However it was crystal clear that those people who just arrived looked much more excited than those who were about to leave.

When traveling with someone who has crossed deserts, climbed the Andes, cut through the jungles, I become almost fearless, or should I say ‘light hearted’? Right there I was at the airport terminal of Bali, with practically no substantial knowledge of this place. I followed after G like a disciple.

There was not a big line waiting for custom clearance. The custom officers were sitting inside wooden cubicles just like an ordinary office. I handed over my passport. As I was standing there waiting for the visa stamps, I noticed that there was some part-peeled dirty stickers attached to the counter, and next to me there was another custom officer who was actually singing along the song that was being played on his phone. For a moment, I felt like I was at the door of a close friend’s house, and the friend waved me in and said: “ah, come on in, it’s a little messy here but make yourself comfortable.

After clearance at customs, G and I walked out of the exit and headed straight to the taxi-rental counter, without knowing that there was actually a taxi driver who was arranged by the resort to pick us up at the exit. It was a miscommunication between us and the resort. We felt sorry the driver we never met.

Koh Lanta, I Loved You but Leave Me Alone! I Met Someone New.

On the way from the airport to the resort, G and I sit closely next to each other in peaceful silence looking outside the window. There were exotic shops full of sculptures, crafts, and other beautiful things I couldn’t name. However the freshness I thought I would have was so feeble that I almost could not feel it. Instead the memory of the first day I arrived at Koh Lanta kept flashing back. Was it because the identical damp sultry hot air or the palm trees or the local looks? The streets in Bali were rather narrow and chaotic. I got a little annoyed by how crowded everything was but I admit that I was in no position to complain considering I was the outsider and intruder of this place.

As the taxi was marching slowly through the narrow streets of Bali, I closed my eyes and tried to get rid of the Koh Lanta memory. I am here in Bali now. It’s revealing itself right in front of me. I need to control my attention if I want to make some special memory here.

It was mid-afternoon when we finally arrived at the resort. G and I fell asleep early that night and the next morning awoke to our first Bali dawn — which inevitably was nothing like the dawns I had back at home.

The Heavenly Dawns

How I love the dawn of tropical islands when the sun is still at distance, when whatever argument from the day before loses its edge, when new batch of hope is knocking at your door, when the world is almost free from human noise. I would wake up extra earlier without strain, leaving the whole bed to my big man G so he could finally sleep in whatever positions he finds comfortable. And I would go out the big balcony, lean over the wooden railing, indulge my eyes with endless and endless green jungles and rice field stretching as far as the eyes could reach and then take a deep breath of the air which seemed to be made of a sweeter substance. Whereas back at my temporary home in Shanghai, the jungle of concrete buildings, the air is not for taking deep breath.

The Blazing Days

On the third day of our stay, I found myself burst into tears on the street of which the name I could not recall. Was it because the fact that it was a freaking hot day and we had driven for over 2 hours straight? I felt like I was being barbecued on the motorbike. The bustling traffic made it even worse. When I realized that my mood was dropping so fast, I tried to cheer myself up by thinking about beautiful things in my life and even reaching for God and philosophy. I couldn’t seem to stop it from getting lower no matter how hard I tried. Then I progressed to threaten myself in my head. Stop it, you are on a holiday! Remember how many times you have dreamed about this? Stop behaving like a drag in front of the man you like!...None of these helped! Involuntarily I let myself fall apart. By the time G stopped the motorbike on the side of the road, My face had been flooded with tears. Sunglasses didn’t help me cover my embarrassment and my shivering shoulder sold me out. Just when I was about to hit the bottom of the disaster, G put his strong arms around me and gently asked me ‘What is it, baby? I am here. You got me.’? What else could cheer a girl up faster than this?

I stopped sobbing instantly. G and I walked to a shopping mall close by to get a break from the sun and something to eat. First I went to the lady’s room. When I was reapplying make-up on my face in front of the mirror, there came in a western woman with a baby stroller. If it was another ordinary day, I probably wouldn’t pay much attention. However on that day I was totally drawn to the scene where this young mother changed her baby’s diaper. She looked like a woman in her late 20’s. She dressed casually without a hint of make-up on her face, her beautiful blonde hair twisted into a bun at the back of her head, her finger nails kept short without manicure. She swiftly changed the diaper and left, without even taking a glance at herself at the mirror. I couldn’t help but think ‘will I ever be so unselfish to utterly devote myself to another human being?!’

After lunch and a brief relax at a cafe, we walked out the mall and noticed that the clouds were assembling. We hit the road again hoping that we could reach the resort before the rain kiss the ground. It turned out that a ‘human plan’ could never outrun ‘nature’s plan’— this time we ended up driving in the rainstorm, which was not so bad as it might sound. Again this is something I never experienced back at home. It was when my clothes were totally soaked with cold rainwater that I actually felt my own body warmth. Just like when your loved one parts with you after a period time of sticking together, you start to realized how sweet the sticking-together-days were.

The Intoxicating Nights

Every day we worked on our online projects from 3 to nightfall, while the rain was pouring outside. Usually around 7 o’clock or something, G and I would bring our work into a temporary end and take a shower and dress up for the night out. It was much darker at night in Bali than in Shanghai. The lamps in the resort room were very dim. G said they probably used dim lights on purpose so that we wouldn’t notice the worms and ants crawling on the floor. Either way dim lights make me feel better about ourselves and put me into a romantic mood.

It was quite dangerous to drive a motorbike at night there in Bali, because of the narrow roads and the lack of streetlamps. The sense of danger pumps up our adrenaline. It was quite a thrill to drive at dark nights.

One night G took me to a cozy little Italian restaurant called Dolci Arancia on an inconspicuous little street in Ubud town. The waitress were petite Indonesian young girls. Their natural relaxed smiles and friendly greetings made me feel like they were not working for the salary. Or maybe it was just because I was in such a romantic mood; everything I saw was sugarcoated.

The food was incredibly tasty with a reasonable price. I enjoyed watching G eating his half raw steak like an lion enjoying its pray. Sometimes when I was taking small sips of my pumpkin cream cheese soup with a spoon, I looked up finding him gazing at me with his beautiful eyes. He said to me in a gentle and soft tone, so cute, honey bunny. Then he stroke my hair with his big hand, as if he was petting a kitten. It made me wanna Meow.

When we finished our dinner and thought we should head for home, and call it a night, the weather gave us a better idea. It started to rain again.

Just next to the Dolci Arancia , we found a little cafe on the second floor called Kismet. There were no walls but only railings separating the cafe from the street. We climbed a curved staircase and got into the cafe. There were an older couple sitting towards each other enjoying their meal, and a group of girls sitting along the bench with their laptops. G and I ordered their home-made chai with coconut milk. The waitress brought over a note, written on it was the wifi code: live in love 2013. I rest my head on G’s broad shoulder, feeling totally intoxicated by the sweetness in the air.

Ms. Greedy and Ms. Lazy, I don’t want to travel with you!

It turned out that I didn’t really travel to Bali light-heartedly. Sometimes when we were out in the beautiful rice field, or inside a solemn temple by the seashore, my mind was disturbed by my stagnating freelance work at that moment or worry about where am I going to be in two months. See those Indonesia women walking leisurely with stuff on the top of their heads. They looked like they’ve got everything under control effortlessly. Why am I so messed up? I drowned myself in the deep well which was dug by myself with my self-doubt and expanding desire and vainly complaining. Fortunately I was not alone. The mighty G pulled me out before I lost consciousness. He said to me:’ why don’t you make a to-do-list? Write down the things that you can do at the moment. Stop thinking about what’s yet to happen. Anything could happen. Today is shaped by what you did yesterday. Why don’t you start creating your future instead of worrying about it in vain‘. I was a little skeptical and unconvinced but I did make a to-do-list, although there was not many substantial things I could do that could bring me profit right away. At least it’s a start, which is better than not starting at all. I started to learn to be more active and solve problems step by step. In the end, my Bali trip became a rewarding and thrilling adventure instead of something to get through.

My 11-day-long Bali time has long gone. Those memories fermented into a few images. The image of G and I driving deep inside the mountains in the Northwest of Bali where the nature was least tainted by tourism; the image of us in a cafe called Anomali, me withholding menstruation pain while listening to G’s advices on how to improve my freelancing career; the image of me sitting on the balcony while G taking a shower in the open bathroom; the image of us walking hand in hand on the sidewalk which were badly damaged and too narrow for 2 people to walk side by side. As I was sitting in the departure hall at Bali Airport, waiting for the boarding gate to open, through the glass wall I could see people getting off a plane heading to the custom counter. I pictured the 11-day-younger me walking among them. She turned her head to me and waved me good-bye and disappeared forever.

Finding My Way (3) – Bali is a post from: Tajolo

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How to Find Your Passion http://www.tajolo.com/find-your-passion/ http://www.tajolo.com/find-your-passion/#comments Sat, 22 Jun 2013 10:56:58 +0000 Daniel http://www.tajolo.com/?p=186 How to Find Your Passion is a post from: Tajolo

The best entrepreneurs are those who can combine effort with their passion. Passion ensures to make people to be:

 1. Doing what they love. And when you do what you love, you want to know all about it. It is common that people with a passion are better experts in their field that persons who do it just for the money.

 2. Putting a lot of time in it. You like, no, you love what you do. You cannot go a day without it. This makes that you put in more time than the average person, enabling you to build a grand business/life/charity/etc. around it.

So, when we take to the goal of location independence; there is always the question: where do I get my money from? It is that plain simple. In order to be a location independent professional most people need a good source of income to sustain this lifestyle financially (and mentally).

As mentioned before, I am convinced that the easiest and most effective road to building a successful business is to follow your passion. So far so good. But then comes the hardest part for most people: Finding out what your passion is. It seems that this is really difficult for a lot of people, considering that so many are doing jobs they hate or work at things they despise.

So what is your passion and how can you find it?

Where to Start

Start with asking yourself: what would I do all day if I had unlimited money and unlimited freedom? For instance, I would still build websites (because I think that is fun), but I think I would also read more, be active politically, owning my own bar/restaurant (though not running it), and help out startups for free. These are some of the things to pop into my head. Maybe you would eat out and cook new recipes all day.

In this way you can start to get a gist what you really like to do, and not to do what you think you should do, because of time or financial constraints.

Doing a Passion “Audit”

Of course, to really get to things that are viable in making your passion work for you, do a passion “audit”. First ask yourself question like:

- What do I really like to do when I am free and money is not important (see above)?
- What things did you dream of when you were a kid?
- What things do you dream of now? (if something is overlapping in your answer to the last question it is really good indicator)
- Were there impracticalities that barred you from pursuing your dream? What was your dream?
- Are there people you know that do things that you would like to do? What things?
- What things are you afraid of and/or are outside your comfort zone? (Hint – to do these things will thrill you and can fire your passion for them).
- Look at all the things in your house and your possesions – all your music, movies, art. What are the themes that bind them? (These themes are illustrative for your passions).

After that you could answer for yourself questions as:

- How can I turn this passion in something that makes money?
- In my current state of affairs, what is needed for me to get to do this passion?
- Following the last question, what will be my battle plan? (Make a detailed to do list)
- What if engage in my passion all day, every day? Would I still like it?
- Do I know enough about the field of my passion? What more is there to learn/read?
- How can I test if I can make my passion work on a small scale?
- Who else is doing what I like to do? Can I reach them / talk with them?
- What is the bottom line for me, when do I give working at my passion a go?

In this regard I can really recommend the book Thinkertoys. It is great book dedicated to creative thinking and with different tools and tests to get you thinking in a creative way. It is very useful in helping you convert your passion in an activity you can earn a living with (and more!).

From the Fun Zone to the Actualization Zone

One of the hardest things is to transfer your realm of passion over to the hard market demands. You having fun in your doing your passion, but you do not really make something with it. In order to capitalize on your passion, you need it to put it into boundaries somewhat. For instance, if your passion is writing for instance, you having fun doing it 2 hours a day. But to get really good and to make your living out of it, you will need to practice non-stop and get to work for at least 8 hours a day.

Because, whatever your passion is, you will still have to work for it. Putting in more work = getting more results. The vast majority of people who are successful have followed (and still follow) this pattern.

Passions in Different Forms and Sizes

I have to say that I am a man of multiple passions. My main passion is actually discovering new things. For instance, I started with online marketing because I was very much interested in it. But before that I had a company in web application. And now I want to discover the passion of writing. So I do not think you should limit yourself to one passion. But for the sake of the article, if finding one passion is hard enough, than you should not lose focus by taking on too many business opportunities.

I know a person who worked at tedious office job. But her passion was writing. So she set to write down her scribbles every day. Eventually this transformed to a book. Eventually she even published it by herself. Now the book did not make a lot of money. But she discovered her passion as she went, it became stronger and made her get her focus straight. Now she writes full time, both freelance and for herself. She has more money than before and she gets to do what she loves. That is the ultimate aim.

Two last things to take into consideration. For one, you will have to put in effort to find your passion and to make it into something you can use to make yourself location independent. I can tell you “don’t be lazy”, but better is, do something you love and you don’t want to be lazy anymore.

The second thing is, you hear sometimes that people lose their passion because it has become their job. This is something you should not worry about too much. It is about enjoying the ride. If you start to hate it, your passion played out and it is time to find a new passion. Perhaps your old passion will rekindle, perhaps not. But key is: let it slide. Do not become too much hung on it. That way you feel so much more energetic to pursue other passions.

How to Find Your Passion is a post from: Tajolo

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An Introduction to Online Marketing http://www.tajolo.com/introduction-online-marketing/ http://www.tajolo.com/introduction-online-marketing/#comments Sat, 15 Jun 2013 12:16:34 +0000 Daniel http://www.tajolo.com/?p=180 An Introduction to Online Marketing is a post from: Tajolo

Currently I make the vast majority of my location independent income with online marketing. This income enables me to travel the globe and live wherever I want. I will not display how much I exactly earn but I can tell you it a substantial income. So I am quite thankful that I got into this business.

In this post I will share some of the basics of online marketing.

At its core online marketing (also named affiliate marketing, internet marketing) is quite straightforward. You get paid for referring customers to products. By using a specific affiliate link, a company will know that it was you who referred the customer to them, and as such can credit the lead or sale to you. Most often you will get a percentage of the sale price credited or a fixed amount for a lead generated.

Generally an affiliate link has the following structure:


This link can be placed in text, in banners, below videos, in emails and so forth. The link is unique; so wherever or whenever it is clicked, that click can be traced back to you. After a visitor clicks your affiliate link, a cookie is saved on his laptop. Consequently the page where the links leads to (i.e. a company page) can see that you referred the visitor to them. This way they can credit you for every transaction the visitor makes.

The cookie also saves some information about your relation with a company. Often there is a condition called “cookie length”, which is a time frame during which every transaction made by this customer is attributed to you. For instance, if a visitor buys a product 3 weeks after he clicked your affiliate link, you still can get credit for the sale.

Sometimes it happens that there is more than one affiliate marketer promoting the same product for the merchant. In case the customer clicks on multiple affiliate links for the same product, it is currently common practice that the affiliate link last clicked gets credit for the transaction.

How to Get Started

For your affiliate marketing campaigns to work you need an product to promote and some sort of tracking system. To find a product you can go directly to a company website for this (for instance Amazon) and sign up for their affiliate program. However, to find the most products in one place that can be promoted, it is to be recommended that you apply at an Affiliate Network.

An Affiliate Network basically acts as an intermediary between a company with a product and the affiliate. As such they build trust in the market and make it run efficiently. The affiliate network takes care of the tracking system, payments, legal issues and so forth. Furthermore they manage all affiliate products in one place. This mean that the network has a good knowledge about the market; about which products do well and which do not.

So when you get accepted for an affiliate network, you instantly have many products that you can promote. What kind of products you will end up promoting depends on you of course. It makes sense that you promote products that you have an “edge” in. For instance, in case you have more knowledge about a product than the average person, or if you own a website about a specific topic related to the products. For instance, when you have a travel blog, it makes sense that you promote travel related products and not fashion related; although the latter is still possible of course, depending on your creativity.

How to apply for Affiliate Networks

There are many affiliate networks active in the market. This also brings a huge difference in quality amongst them. So you should check each network for their payment history, their truthwortiness and so forth. Always check references.

Some Affiliate networks I use a lot and have found to be very trusthworthy are:

Neverblue – good allround network, easy to get accepted
Adsimilis – many online products as games, networks and software
Peerfly – good network that pays for leads
ShareaSale – userfriendly network with a lot of of products

You can freely apply for all these networks. Some networks do have a application procedure, which in most cases means that they want to talk to you. This is done over the phone or skype and does not take more than a couple of minutes. The networks just want to verify that you are for real and will engage in some common security checks. The question they ask will be very simple. After you have been accepted to the network you will get an affiliate manager. This person will be your contact at the network and they often know some ins and outs about the products. So if you do not know which product to promote, they can help you with good market information.

Finding your Edge

In case you want to get started in online marketing, the best thing to ask yourself is: what is my passion? It is so much easier to write about a topic that interests you and/or refer a customer to a product that you really endorse. Yes, internet marketing has its tedious parts, but in general it enables one to really utilize his or her specific strengths as a human being. That makes it a great business to be in for a digital nomad. So start with your topic of interest first and build a website around that. In this way you can learn all the intricacies of online marketing on the job, enabling you to increase your business while you get better at the same time.

Besides that it is location independent, the extra beauty of online marketing is that the market opportunities are huge. As in, only limited by your creativity. This can be overwhelming though. There are so many niches to explore, and as it is an international spectrum, your specific niches can be huge by itself. So it is important to stick to your specialisms, your passions and the topic you have experience in.

If you are interested in more knowledge about online marketing sign up for our newsletter by using the form on the right of this page, so you will get regular tips on how to build your online business and make money online. Also check out my other blog Affiliate Advice, that has much more specific information about affiliate marketing.

An Introduction to Online Marketing is a post from: Tajolo

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The Costs of Living Abroad http://www.tajolo.com/costs-living-abroad/ http://www.tajolo.com/costs-living-abroad/#comments Sun, 09 Jun 2013 09:59:54 +0000 Daniel http://www.tajolo.com/?p=175 The Costs of Living Abroad is a post from: Tajolo

Living abroad seems often much cheaper than at home. This is especially the case when you are from a developed country in the western world, where 40 – 50% income tax is not uncommon and a small water bottle costs more than € 2,-. Living in a developing country can become very attractive financially in that case – apart from other reasons of course. In this post I want to provide some pointers to consider for living abroad. Please note that it is written from a Westerner point of view (i.e. me).

Taxes Abroad

Do you have to apply for income tax or corporate tax (plus dividends)? This makes a big difference. In countries as Hong Kong, Singapore, Rumania and Chile income tax is low (see the whole list here). In countries as Virgin Islands, Switzerland, Ireland corporate tax is low. Unless you are a real big earner (i.e. corporate mover) you probably have to concern about income tax. However, there are other costs involved in moving to these countries as well (see further below).

You often hear about the trick of skipping countries every 3 months so you do not have to pay taxes, which can work for some nationalities. As you are not in a country long enough (and you do not register), you will not be eligible for income tax. You will have to deregister from your home country though. Most often this means that you will have to officially message you municipality and tax authorities that you will no longer be a resident in your home country. Make sure you keep your passport though.


It can be difficult to buy a house abroad. First, a lot of countries like Colombia or Thailand you cannot own property as foreigner, and for this you will need a local partner (i.e. a notary). This makes the process a bit more arduous. Second, if you are not present at the place itself and want to buy a house through an agency there are chances you will get a second-rate deals as a non-local. Due diligence is an absolute requirement here. Also look at taxes for buying and owning property. In countries as Singapore these are far above the rates in western countries.

If you cannot buy a house for whatever reason, you will have to rent. While long-term rents can be cheap, for the best deals you will need to speak the local language. If you do not speak the local language, you will fall in “expat- category” which means inflated prices that are normally quoted to uncaring business managers. Short-term rent in foreign countries, considering you want a nice place, can be quite expensive. These expensive monthly can easily outweigh your normal monthly housing costs in the west.

Lifestyle Costs

Often in developing countries daily costs are substantially lower. On the other hand tax havens as Singapore or Hong Kong are famous for its high house prices and cost of living. So this can offset the benefits of lower taxes.

Also, if you are a westerner, it can be the case that you would like to have western products from time to time. In most developing countries imported products are much more expensive than local products and sometimes even more expensive than in the west. And if you want to have luxuries like going to the coffee shop every day to drink a fine double espresso this will also increase your cost of living. Or you want to have nice design furniture. And so forth.

Thus, the question here is, do you want to adapt to local way of living or do you still want to retain your western habits somewhat. The latter will cost you more money than the former obviously. So, the cost of living abroad can be substantially lower, but only if you want to pass on western “quality” of living. A western way of living, with all its comforts, can ultimately even be more expensive than in the west itself.

Bureaucracy costs

There are some costs you will be incurred as a foreigner in other countries. Most are inevitable. When you do a recurring visa run these can add up in the long term, so take this into account for you financial budget. For instance:

> Residence permit or visas

> Costs for opening and managing bank accounts

> Local insurance

Also, when you do want to do business in other countries sometimes you costs will be higher as foreigner. This includes also “off the record” financial transactions.

Medical costs

In most of the west medical costs are high, but are also covered by government/insurance. So these costs are very structural. However, quality in the medical sector is high on average. In developing countries medical costs are lower, but also average quality of medical care is lower. If you want western-style medical care in these countries, you will have to go to private clinics. These are often only affordable for the wealthiest persons in the country and can thus be very expensive.

So, while average medical costs seems low (and which is often the case for medicines), your actual medical costs can be really high in case something bad happens.

Travel Costs

These ones are a bit optional but if you planning to visit your family and/or old friends from time to time you will have to pay more for the transport than back home. On the other hand the frequency tends to be lower.

All in all it is not to say that everything abroad is cheaper, especially when you take hidden costs into account. If you consider all options sometimes even be more interesting to stay put out of financial reasons. However, the decision to move should be based on a whole array of considerations from which only one is financial, in order to enjoy full happiness abroad.

The Costs of Living Abroad is a post from: Tajolo

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