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Location Independence

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Moving to a new city? Congratulations. Spreading our wings and exploring a new way of life is one of the lifes great adventures. While its scary, its also the perfect opportunity to learn more about ourselves and live life to the full. Whether youre moving for work or something else, youll need somewhere to live. Buying a home in a city is much different than buying in your own hometown, however. Here are five tips to make sure you end up in the neighborhood thats right for you!

Google is Your Friend

The internet is about more than Facebook posts and funny videos! Theres a wealth of information there, which you can use to make your move go more smoothly. Wherever youre moving, you wont be the only person in history to have done so. Try to find blog and forum posts about people who have moved there: they might just tell you something they wish theyd known before they bought their home. You can also learn a lot about which areas of the city are safe, good for children, have strong transport links, and so on.

 

Speak to the Locals

Theres only so much you can learn from a computer screen, however, and its important that you talk with people who actually live in your new city. A realtor wont just help you find and buy a place to live: theyll also have an encyclopedic knowledge of the city, which you can then use to determine which part of town is right for you. If youre moving for work purposes, ask to be put in touch with another employee who relocated to the city. Theyll be a good person to direct the many questions you have to!

Actually Visit The Neighborhood

Everyone who lives in a city can tell you things about their hometown. Some opinions – like those who work in the real estate business – you should give more precedence to, of course, but you dont just take their word for it: make sure you actually spend a significant amount of time in the neighborhood youre thinking of buying in. Everyone sees things differently. Being armed with as much information as possible is important, but itll be your own decision that really matters.

Dont Rush

Itll be advisable to find a temporary place to live for the first month or two before you look at getting somewhere longer term. You dont want to have to rush through a purchase just because youre desperate for a place to live! Youll end up in the place thats right for you if you take your time and consider all the options, and you can only do that if there isnt a timescale on when you need to find a home by.

What Are Your Needs?

All cities are different, but theyre not that different. Whatever your needs from a community and neighborhood, youll probably find that theyre catered for in your new city too. You dont have to settle for less just because youre new in town!

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We know youre not keen on travelling to Iraq, or Afghanistan and your country might be currently advising you to avoid going to these countries. In any case, travel warnings dont always mean that its a bad idea to plan a trip to your desired destination.

Did you know that in the past few years, U.S., U.K, and Canada have released advisories about going to Mexico, China, Thailand, Indian, and even the United States? Before deciding to avoid a particular location, its worth looking at what travel warnings mean, why theyre released, and the most important question of all why should we care?

Whats a government travel advisory

Travel advisories are issued to let citizens know about safety concerns than can affect travel to a certain region or country. They are released for a couple of reasons, which includes epidemic, terrorism, political unrest, natural disasters, wars, outbreaks of crime, and others. These warnings may also cover areas of the world where governments cant respond to issues of citizens travelling there countries with no embassy, or if the embassy functions are being threatened by local violence.

Governments also make a distinction between long- and short-term travel advisories. For example, the U.S. State Department gives travel warnings for current issues such as problematic governments and civil wars, while travel alerts cover temporary issues like election-related demonstrations and natural disasters.

Will travel advisories stop me from travelling?

No, it wont. However, you should get a comprehensive annual travel insurance to save on cost as well if you expect to travel to a particular destination regularly. Since a travel advisory cannot stop you from travelling, keep in mind that while the government will try to help you if you run into trouble abroad, youll be travelling at your own risk the need for travel insurance.

Other considerations:

  • In most cases, only parts of a country are affected by a case of unrest, natural disaster, or violence while the rest of the country will be welcoming and safe for While your security always comes first, take note that the fallout from an out-of-the-way act of violence can affect a country’s tourist industry and have an adverse effect on the economy of a developing nation.
  • Assess the danger especially if its terrorism or violence. Pay attention to what kind of attacks are taking place and its targets. Assaults that specifically pinpoint foreign tourists raise a bigger red flag than civil unrest. If the violence happens away from primary tourist destinations, there will be less risk for tourists.
  • Find a safety net. Check if your country has a consulate or embassy in the place youre bound to visit and make sure that its staffed and functioning. You dont want to be stuck in a foreign country without an embassy who can help with emergencies.

The bottom line

If youre decided to go anyway despite a travel advisory, its a good idea to register yourself with the government (if possible) and check in with your family or friends at home so they know when youre going and planning to return. And dont forget to purchase a travel insurance policy after reading carefully to see whats covered and what isnt.

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Travel is one of life’s greatest luxuries and adventures. Seeing new places, meeting new people and visiting places you’ve seen in movies. It’s exciting! While travel can be expensive, there are tons of ways you can cut down costs to ensure that you can visit more places and travel a little longer than you thought.

Here are some of my favourite tips for cutting down on travel costs:

1. Use Airbnb
Hotels can often be pretty pricey, but I’ve been using Airbnb for the past few years to save on accommodation. The benefits are two fold, because not only is it cheaper than a hotel, but you usually have a decent kitchen so you can cook, further saving money on your trip. It’s a great way to feel like you’re at home, away from home.

2. Find Mistake Fares
There’s heaps of sites and Facebook pages dedicated to the art of finding mistake fares. Often airlines accidentally release fares that are way cheaper than usual. I’ve managed to find flights from Guatemala to Paris return for only $450 which is super cheap. Just book your accommodation and other things a little later, in case the airline cancels the deal.

3. Save Money with Advanced Train Fares
Booking a train fare in advance is great for a number of reasons – you’ll get a wider range of times to choose from, as well as more seat selection. Booking weeks in advance can save you 50% or more of the total fare, so it’s definitely worth looking into. Below is a handy infographic from Voucher Cloud that helps explain how you can save serious money with advanced train fares.

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In days gone by, the only way you could run a business would be from a fixed location with a team of staff who all live within easy driving distance of the office. In the age of technology, location independence and digital nomads, proximity is no longer the issue it once was. Many services can now be offered totally online, meaning that you can also have a team of staff operating from all over the world.

If youre running a small business, heres why you can function just fine without a traditional office environment.

 

The Best Team From All Over the World

Many talented people are now valuing location independence above high salaries. This means you are able to assemble a team who work all over the world on a flexible basis. In terms of the recruitment process, you have option to consult with a firm like Ellis Whittam to help make sure you recruit great staff members. It may be a case of trial and error until you get together a team you are happy with.

Reduced Communication Barrier

In days gone by, you may have been significantly restricted by communication issues. Thankfully, with so many different ways to contact people, you can get in touch with your worldwide team with just a few clicks. You can even have Skype conference calls to speak to staff members face to face, making it easier to share thoughts and ideas.

Save Money

One of the major advantages of employing people on a freelance or flexible basis is that your business can save a huge amount of money. You can pay people on a project by project basis, significantly cutting down on wasted time. This is not just a relief for you, it can also be a relief for your staff. Many people are frustrated with traditional 9 to 5 jobs as they are often full of time where they dont actually need to be there. Jobs which are more flexible cut out this time and allow people to focus on doing the parts of the job that they love.

High Quality Work

A workforce with freedom and flexibility will often produce the best quality work as they have the time to pursue their other passions in life. When they get round to working, they often feel at their freshest and can really focus on the job in hand. As long as you set clear deadlines, it shouldnt really matter to you when your team complete their jobs. With traditional 9 to 5 office jobs, there are always certain days when employees just dont feel like being there. Flexibility gives your team the chance to work when they feel like working.

It will probably be the case that you start with a small team and build this over time. It may take you a little bit of time to get the balance right, but once you have established a strong team who work with flexibility, you can start reaping the various rewards.

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Location independence is an important theme of this blog. And so its always good to be on the lookout for the latest and greatest ways to save a few dollars while moving house. Not all of us are at the stage where we can just go wherever we want, whenever we want. But that doesnt stop us from finding ingenious ways to make moving cheaper. After all, anything that makes moving cheaper makes us more free.

According to Martha Poage, the author of The Moving Survival Guide, the key to making moving house less expensive is to get organized in advance. So here are some straightforward ways you can get organized and reduce the cost of your move.

Get Rid Of Your Junk

According to John Bisney, the PR director at the American Moving and Storage Association, moving companies calculate their costs based on the number of vehicles you require and the cargo weight. In laymans terms: the more stuff you want to shift, the more money its going to cost.

His advice for people who want to get the price of their move down is to chuck out all the junk they dont want or need. By lightening the load, he says, you could wind up saving a small fortune.

Even if you dont end up saving any money, Bisley points out that selling your old stuff is a great way to fund all the costs associated with the move, leaving you no worse off once you reach your new location.

Get Free Boxes

There are all sorts of companies that offer boxes for people wanting to move their stuff. And while these can sometimes be convenient, they also cost quite a lot to buy outright.

Poage points out that there are many boxes that people can have for free. Copy paper boxes, she says, make a great moving box because they are really strong and usually large enough for you to fit most household items. Whats more, because theyre relatively small, youre still able to pick them up and put them in the removal truck

Move During The Low Season

According to Poage, removal rates tend to be lower outside of the summer months, between September and May. This is because people with school-age children prefer to move during the summer holidays when they dont have to juggle school runs at the same time. According to Poage and Bisney, people can net a much larger saving by moving in the offseason than they can by moving during the week rather than the weekend.

Buy A Driver Only

Some people dont fancy driving a removal truck halfway across the country, especially if theyre not used to it. Thats why many people opt to get a professional truck driver to take their stuff from one location to another. This still helps them to save money on overall costs, but it also takes away a lot of the stress of driving such a large vehicle, especially when youre not used to it. Poage says that there are always savings to be had when you do more yourself.

 

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There’s no place like home, except for the place next door, and the place across town, and that little chalet in Switzerland, and that… and that… and that… You get the idea. It turns out there are a lot of places in the world one could easily call home. And once you get past the sentimentality of thinking there is only one right place on the globe for you, your eyes become open to (quite literally), a world of possibilities.

From there, it is just a matter of choosing the right spot for your circumstances at a given point in time. For some, the goal is to find one spot and live there for the rest of their lives. For others, it is to sample all the best places the world has to offer.

Since there is no one best place in the world to live, it becomes a matter of knowing how to choose between the numerous good places on offer. Here are three factors to always keep in mind when making a selection:

Affordability

When you open up your atlas to find places marked home, you might be surprised to find that home may be closer than you think. Improving your situation may be a simple matter of reducing expenses.

If you happen to live in the Alberta area, this link will show you a list of all the energy providers in the area. There are quite a lot of them, and among other things, they compete on price. You can save a lot of money by making a phone call and switching providers. It’s easier than changing cable companies.

One of the key factors in determining the best cities in the world is cost of living. All else notwithstanding, if you can’t afford to live there, you can’t call it home. Check your utility options before packing your bags. Affordability could be closer than you think.

Pace

Some of the most beautiful places you can visit roll up the sidewalks by 6:00 pm. Forget about night life. There isn’t even a late evening life. Once the evening commute is done, so is the life of the city. For many inhabitants of this planet, that is the perfect speed.

We here a lot of talk about fast-paced cities, but very little about slow-paced cities. But slow cities (Cittaslow) has become a cultural movement. These cities are devoted to maintaining a high quality of life for all its residents. The most stressful thing about these cities is making the move. And there are plenty of things you can do to eliminate even that.

Values

If you are opposed to the values expressed by President Donald Trump, then you should not live in the state of Alabama: a state that voted for Trump by an overwhelming margin. If he stands for a second term, he will carry the state again. Without becoming too political, that is Alabama.

If that is not you, then you should find another place to live that is more in keeping with your values. If you are homosexual, you should live in a place that is not hostile to you. Otherwise, be prepared to fight discrimination battles for the rest of your life.

There are dozens of places in the world where you could be happy. But they all have at least these three things in common: They are affordable for you. They move at a comfortable pace for you. And they reflect your values. If any one of those things is not true about where you live right now, pick a new spot on the map and get moving.

 

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I’ve been a ‘bad blogger’ – no surprises there. And while my sporadically updated blog might be a sign of a life well lived (and too busy for consistent updates), the real issue is something that many of us who are self employed deal with: motivation.

My income, overall, has been improving. Last month, for example, I earned around $25,000 USD, which for me is an incredible sum of money. In a month! More than my annual wage a few years ago when I left New Zealand… in one month.

And while on the outside everything looks dandy and somewhat impressive, on the inside there’s a deeper story. I know that $25,000 is not the upper tier of my earnings – not even close – but it is ‘enough’. To the point where it’s hard to make yourself move forward.

Will $35,000 USD a month make me any happier than $25,000? I don’t think so. Will it dramatically change my lifestyle month to month – probably not as the difference would just go into savings. Over the long term that’s an extra $120,000 a year which is in an insane amount.

So what to do about this ‘stall’ that I’ve found myself in? I know that I haven’t reached my maximum earning potential, but I also can’t seem to push myself further. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and here are my ideas:

1) Make a Five Year Plan
I don’t have a clear outline of what I want in five years. Five years of an additional $10k a month is over half a million dollars in difference. That’s two houses here. And then if I can actually work myself to ‘growth’, it would be a lot more than that amount. Making a five year plan of what I want, and what I need to achieve it will help me focus more.

2) Diversify
I’ve been talking for months and months about diversifying. I mean, maybe even for a year. And I’ve finally figured out what I’m going to do. I’m going to make a brand name blog: Izy Berry, with the intention of making a life hack/life your dream style blog, following it up with a Podcast and then maybe a book. I’m currently sitting on these ideas right now, but I’m ready to start and excited about a new opportunity.

3) Segregating my Work
My assistant is amazing. She’s literally my right hand woman. She’s helped me take my business from ‘yay I don’t have to work for someone else’ to ‘wow, I’m earning a lot for my age’ and she’s been there with me for every step of the way.

However, recently, I’ve noticed she’s been working 40-50 hour weeks. Which is fine, she’s happy to do it, and she’s getting paid well. But every time I’ve built a new website I’ve handed it to her to manage and never thought of hiring someone else. But now I can see that it’s time. It’s time to start a fresh with someone else, so that the workload doesn’t become unmanageable. It’s both exciting and daunting looking to hire someone else.

While this isn’t directly related to my motivation, I know that it will have positive implications for my monthly income.

4) Setting Non-Monetary Goals
I made a mistake of hoping to increase my income by a certain percentage each month and I’m sure in many ways I have. However, I think for me that’s the wrong unit of measurement. I should aim to increase it by things I can control, things that aren’t seasonal, yet things that still increase my income. For example, I should aim to increase my portfolio of blogs by one blog a month. And my list of clients I can work with by 10 a month. These things are more in my control and it will be easier for me to get a sense of achievement with these, then hoping for a certain amount of money.

Do you have any tips for motivation issues when you’re self employed? I’d love to hear them.

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Hello strangers. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve sat down to blog. I can list off all the things I’ve been busy with: being sick, getting a puppy, life and so on, but I think there’s been something else at play.

Resistance.

Right now I’m reading a book – The War of Art and it’s interesting. It talks about resistance and how it often crops up with the important things that we really value. As someone who works for themselves, I’m lucky, there’s a lot of benefits, but one of the consequences is that I don’t have a boss, no one over my shoulder to make sure I’m ticking off my to do list. Or to make sure you even write a to do list.

My take away from the book is that when you ignore your ‘calling’ or true desires, and procrastinate, do anything but what you REALLY need or want to do, you create inner turmoil. And I’ve been doing just that. If you look at my income reports, you’ll see pretty decent numbers and an income which is more than liveable, especially here in Guatemala.

Ummm… How PRETTY is where I live? It looks like a dream.

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But it’s not all that I wanted to do or achieve. I’ve been trying to tell myself its enough and I’ve been distracting myself by the number at the end of the month.

So today I sat down and wrote a list of things that my soul isn’t happy that I’ve put off:

1) Blogging Consistently Here

2) Making Any Time for Spanish

3) Volunteering in a Meaningful Cause

4) Starting My Other Projects, namely a personal blog, and starting the process of Podcasting – or at least researching it for now

5) Prioritising Exercise

This blog post is going to serve as a reminder that I need to start those things that really speak to me, the things I’m really passionate about. If not, I’ll be in a constant state of turmoil, because my dreams are not aligning with my actions. I’m lucky in the sense I have a LOT of free time and enough money to pursue my dreams, so what am I waiting for?

 

Is there anything you’ve put on the backburner that’s really important to you? Share with me so we can keep each other accountable 🙂

My income has been great, I should do a few income reports to share the backlog with you. I’m still thinking of what direction I want to take this blog in, but I’m excited about all the possibilities.

Life Update:
So life is great in Guatemala, I’m still in the process of getting things sorted to apply for my Guatemalan Residency. Nightmare. My trip home to New Zealand has been postponed until October. My puppy, Inca, is cute but a real handful. I’m still very happy with my Guatemalan boyfriend. I’ve started salsa classes which is super fun. Everything is great, and now I can see why all the bullshit had to happen in the past year, in order to get me exactly where I am.

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And it’s pretty great right here.

How’s everything been going for you? Let me know in the comments below. I feel SO out of the loop.

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So I’ve been in Antigua for over a month now. Where did the time go? In that time I’ve got myself a pretty handsome novio (boyfriend), a super cute apartment, a coworking space, bought a moto and am feeling pretty settled.

And then I tried to do something stupid: I over committed myself.

I was volunteering six hours a day in a school for children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. I love volunteering, but six hours a day volunteering, plus 2-4 hours of Spanish and trying to squeeze work into the mix… well it just didn’t happen. I tried this for two weeks, got super sick and decided now wasn’t the time for me to be devoting so much of my time to such cause. It probably makes more sense for me to work well, earn decent money and then donate some of that.

Costs in Antigua:
One of the reasons I moved to Guatemala was a part of my plan to pay no taxes. So far, I’ve started the residency process, kind of. I’m being held up a bit because there’s no Guatemalan Embassy in New Zealand and so it looks like my documents have to go to Tokyo to be verified. Right. Despite that, my costs here are pretty reasonable, especially compared to what I was spending in New Zealand

Apartment: $300 per month. I’m sharing with a lovely American girl who’s an English teacher. That covers Internet, but electricity is on top of that. I think electricity will be around $30 per month. So total for my apartment and bills is $330 approx. In New Zealand I was paying $1620 for the apartment, around $150 for power and another $100 for Internet. That’s around $1870 a month. So I’m saving $1,540 per month on those expenses alone.

Transport: I drive a moto now which costs around 20Q to fill up, which is around $2.50. I fill it up, at most, twice a week. So that’s $20 a month on gas, vs the $350 or so I was spending in New Zealand. Obviously I’ve changed the type of vehicle I drive so it’s cheaper, but how great is this! $330 a month savings.

Food: Ouch, food is my biggest cost here as I’m a fan of going out to lunch or dinner most days. Grocery shopping is pretty cheap, but I find cooking for one super depressing. I need to track what I’m spending on food, but for example a coffee and brunch in my favourite cafe in Antigua runs at $7.20, that includes a high quality latte and a big, delicious breakfast. In New Zealand you’d be looking at at around three times the price. A coffee there alone runs close to $4.50! For less than I used to spend on groceries alone in New Zealand, I’m eating out at least once a day. My waistline isn’t too happy about this though! I did take a Guatemalan cooking class on the weekend with my novio which was super fun, so maybe I’ll start cooking a little more… maybe.

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Gym: I joined a gym here for a crazy $30 per month. In New Zealand my gym was $100 for the month. That’s a saving of $70 per month.

Co-Working Space: This is actually an additional cost as it’s not something I bothered doing in New Zealand, but I think it’s a great investment. There’s a coworking space here that is $100 per month. For that price you get access to a really cool space filled with other like minded people. The Internet’s super fast, around 6mps which is crazy fast for Guatemala. You also get free coffee and discounts on events that they host, which are fairly regular. It’s a cost I could “do without” but considering how much money I’m saving on rent etc I think it’s a good investment. I also like having a separate space to work that isn’t my home.

Spanish Classes: Again, these are something I didn’t take when I was in New Zealand because I couldn’t justify paying someone $40 per hour frequently enough for me to really get comfortable with the language. However, here Spanish tutors are reasonably priced. I have two teachers, seeing them both for two hours a day each. One I pay $6 per hour (she started on $5, but she’s a single mother and I think she’s a great teacher) and the other is $5. This is for one-on-one private lessons. HOW GOOD IS THAT?

All in all, when you factor in my savings and my tax savings… I’m thousands of dollars better off here. Beyond money, I’m really happy here. The place I live is super beautiful. The local people are friendly. I’m learning Spanish and improving more than I have in the years before being here. I love it here so much I almost don’t want to go to the states and Europe next month. Almost.

How are you all doing? Sorry I’ve been so distant. I was overcommitting myself but now I’m back on track! Is there anything you’d like to know about my life in Antigua, Guatemala?

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I randomly decided to go to the Amazon for a week. I met a guy in Panama and didn’t feel like boarding my flight to Guatemala, so I booked flights to Iquitos in Peru and set off for a few days in the Amazon. There was no WIFI, no Internet and no TV. Nada. It was perfect.

I was constantly surrounded by nature and was completely spoiled by the number of animals I saw in their natural environment. From squirrel monkeys, to sloths, to the rare pink dolphins; it was an animal lovers paradise.

It was the perfect opportunity to defrag and process everything that had happened in the past few months.

I feel like I’m at a fork at the moment. I have two clear options:

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1) Free Travel Girl:
Enjoy the fact I can earn a decent salary and basically work no hours. Save what I can, be frugal but not too frugal as to not enjoy this opportunity. Worry about the future when it comes. Travel, travel, TRAVEL.

2) Business Girl:
Set up shop somewhere for a few months and work hard, really hard. Take my business to the next level. Hit that elusive $30,000 a month target. Work on new projects.

I had been flipping between these two options for the past two months, not really knowing which was the ‘better’ option.

I tend to be someone who works best when they’re obsessively engaged with a project. I’m not really good at balance… I would prefer to cycle really hard for a while and have a break than cycle at a constant pace for a whole trip and I think that’s how I need to approach my business, too.

I’m going to settle down somewhere for a month here in Costa Rica and work on my projects for a bit. I have a few things in my mind that I want to start working on so I need to clear my head a bit and focus. The goal is to still make my way to Antigua, Guatemela, but I don’t think it’s going to be a direct route.

 

With all that free time to clear my head in the Amazon, I have learned it’s more important to listen to what works for me, rather than what I would like to work for me. I’ve enjoyed the past few months of unplanned travel, spending without abandon and doing what felt right rather than what makes the most sense, but now I need a little more purpose and direction.
I’m on the hunt for some great volunteering opportunities in Central America… so if you know of anyone who’s volunteered here or of any great projects please let me know.

Are you good at balance or are you more like me, and prefer periods of hard work then a break? 

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