CoinsureNZ rejoins me on the show to chat about the new rising trend of Bitcoin Nomads. We talk about the benefits of this approach in achieving more sovereignty for yourself, whether that is financial or in your ability to carry on living life in the age of Hysteria. We discuss:
- Benefits and why do it?
- How to get started
- Resources you need
- Is it only for single people?
- Getting set up in a new location
- Where to go
- Downsides and costs of this lifestyle
- Twitter: @coinsureNZ
- Site: Canitravel.net
- Site: https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living
- Site: Nomadlist.com
- Site: Numbeo.com
- Swan Bitcoin
- Hodl Hodl Lend
- Compass Mining
- Unchained Capital (code LIVERA)
- CoinKite.com (code LIVERA)
Stephan Livera links:
- Show notes and website
- Follow me on Twitter @stephanlivera
- Subscribe to the podcast
- Patreon @stephanlivera
Rigel, welcome back to the show.
Thanks man. It’s good to be back. It’s an honor to be on the Stephan Livera podcast once again.
Yeah, that’s awesome. Well I am just excited to chat about this, because it’s something that I have been doing and thinking about for myself also. And so talking today, we’ve got this theme of the rise of Bitcoin nomadism and Bitcoin nomads. So this is something I know you’re obviously very passionate about as well. So can you tell us a little bit about how you got into this idea?
Sure. So I mean, I’m someone that’s wanted to do the kind of digital nomad, travel the world, work online, sort of thing for some time. But my background was—I was in the police for 10 years, and then I was working in adult education, and I just never quite found a way or could figure out a way where I could do this online. I just didn’t have the right sort of vocation. I did have like a dabble with affiliate marketing quite a while ago, probably about 10 years ago now right when adwords and PPC and stuff like that was just taking off and it was a relatively new thing. But I just never quite got enough traction to make it my full-time thing where I could rely on it. So I’d been looking for how to do this for a while and then I decided to get into software just so I could work more full-time on Bitcoin. And so I had a relationship breakup with my girlfriend at the time, and I was living in New Zealand at the time and just really felt like I hit the glass ceiling there. I was really unhappy and I was really starting to think, Well, my mental health is not going a good direction if I’m staying here—I really need to get out. So at the time I had managed to start working for an exchange at home just one day a week. I had my regular teaching job for four days and I had one day off and they were wanting some help with what they were doing, so I started working there more just out of passionate interest than it necessarily being a career. But yeah this was 2019 when I was talking about after I had the relationship breakup and it got to the point where I was like, Man, I’ve just really got to get out of the country. Otherwise I’m just not going to a good space. And I didn’t know how I was going to do it or what I was going to do—I figured I was going to have to just quit my job and do it, but it was a point of, I need to really do this otherwise I just don’t see my life going in a good direction. So I quit my regular job and I told the exchange, Okay, I’m going to do this. Luckily I met a friend of mine—we had a lot of similar interests from both having connections in the music world—and my friend, he was nomading in Bali at the time. [He was] also a Bitcoiner and working at OpenBazaar and stuff. So I started asking him about what’s it like in Bali and this place which I’d always had a soft spot for in my heart, and he was saying, It’s great. And I was picking his brain a little bit about the lifestyle. And eventually I came to the decision of, Okay I’m just going to do this. I don’t know how I’m going to make it work. If I have to sell some Bitcoin to do it—so be it. It’s really make or break it for me to do it. So I quit my other job. I said to the exchange I was working at, Okay, this is what I’m going to do. I need to do it. I really appreciate the opportunity you’ve given me, but I’ve got to go through it. If you’re not happy for me to work remote, I can totally understand, that’s fine. But if you would have me remote, I’d love to keep working for you guys. And fortunately they said, Yeah, sure. And a one day a week thing ended up turning into something kind of full-time. So yeah, I mean I just took the dive and then moved to Bali. This was mid-2019. And I was living there and working there and really loving it, waking up almost every day thinking—pinching myself—this is real? And then of course COVID happened. And initially I got—my parents lived in Perth and they were really freaking out about it. So I flew over to be with them, because I kind of anticipated what was going to happen. The borders were going to close, and if this was going to be the serious thing that we all thought it was going to be when it first hit, then I wasn’t really happy with the potential that they might be in hospital and not being able to get to them. So anyway, after a couple of months it was clear that that wasn’t the way it was going to go. And I was kind of trapped in Australia and didn’t want to end up like Australian citizens where they couldn’t leave the country. So as soon as the borders reopened in June, I had the plans to go to Greece, and I went there for about a month and a half hoping that Bali was going to reopen. That was the plan. I was just going to go back to where I was living there. That didn’t happen. So then I went to Mexico, and I’ve lived in Mexico ever since then—late term 2020. And that materialized into me getting residency here, and also in Panama where I’ve spent some time. Also in El Salvador as well. So yeah, now I’ve been kind of working remote as a Bitcoin nomad, if you like, for about just over two years now.
Yeah. That’s fantastic. And so this is one of those things where pre- the hysteria, I think it was still growing, but the hysteria has perhaps magnified the reason to even look at these things. At least, that was my perspective. Obviously I was trapped inside gulag Australia. And so for me, it was partly a necessity. It was like, I have to get out because my business and my career and all of this stuff is outside of Australia. And so I think it’s important to talk about reasons for why, because for some people it’ll just be like, No, I’ve got my family here, I’ve got everything here, and I’m not moving—I have no interest to move. But I think for people who are willing to take that step, then there can be some pretty cool benefits to doing this and living like this. Of course there’s some costs too. So we’re going to talk about the upsides and the downsides. But in your view, what are some of the main upsides of living more in a Bitcoin nomad way?
Well I mean, there’s some obvious ones that everyone knows and everyone’s heard, right? So there’s cost of living, where you might be able to move to a country or a place—depending on where you are of course, but for most people that are in a Western country—you can move to somewhere where the cost of living as far as housing, food, and the basic necessities that you spend just to get by are dramatically lower than what you spend at home. So there’s that one there, that perhaps you can be living in a nicer house, eating better, or living a high quality of life for less money or the same amount of money that you’re spending, wherever you are. So that’s one of them. Another one is obviously to travel and experience the world and things. We’ve all got our list of places that we want to visit, but if you’re in a traditional kind of working environment and you get two to four weeks off a year—if that—then it’s quite hard to squeeze all this stuff in. But if you’re nomading, you can work while you’re traveling. It’s not exactly the same as being on holiday, but I mean you can experience these places and have all the time, the world, if you like, to check them out. So there’s that—to experience the world. Another one is like to live your dream life, your ideal location. I mean, some people are a big fan of the beach. Other people like to do things like snowboarding or live in the mountains, or maybe they’ve got some particular hobby that is better suited to a particular climate or area. And you can have that lifestyle, we can do these things, or if your dream lifestyle is to wake up and see the ocean first thing in the morning and be able to do yoga and not have to wear jeans or pants ever again in your life and just in shorts, you can choose a location that gives you those sorts of things, right? So they’re the obvious ones that everyone knows. And they’re certainly good. But to me the real value of this is two things, primarily. (1) The first one is the value of the networks of people that you will connect with. This was particularly strong when I was living in Bali before this went down. And that’s a place where some people are a fan and some are not, but for a lot of people that have done the nomad thing for a while, that’s the best place in the world to live. It’s just—there’s nothing else that compares to it, right? And so in Bali, you will find some people—when you get out and socialize, you get to network a bit with some of the expats there—that are just incredibly talented people. Some of the smartest people at doing whatever it is that they do. And they’ve decided that they want to have the slightly more Bohemian or nomadic lifestyle. And they can be anywhere in the world they want to be. They’ve got the money, they’ve got their own business, they’re doing whatever they’re doing, and they’ve chosen to be in this one place. And so just the virtue of a) the type of A-class individual that has the choice to be anywhere and is where exactly they want to be, meeting and networking with those people is super-valuable, not just the connections or the friends that you can make, but also just the nature of people. In Bali, for example, there was no one living there that didn’t want to be there, right? That was stuck there because, Ah, I hate this town, but my job’s here, or I’m married, or whatever. Anyone that’s there was there because they wanted to be, and the moment they weren’t, they’re on a flight to where they want to be. So the quality of individual that you meet there and the people that you interact with is just—to my mind—a whole different class of what you will get in a regular Western city. Everyone is super happy, super nice, very appreciative and grateful for the life that they have. And that just blends into everything: the nightlife, the social life that you have, how easy it is to make friends and interact with people and the quality of those people that you’re interacting with. And the sort of people that are that geographically mobile and have that ability to choose the lifestyle that they have are generally very smart, talented, well-connected people. And I’ve certainly come to the conclusion like, That’s the people I want to be my friends. These are the people I want to spend my time with. They are the people that not only add significant value to my life through the connections and the information they can share with me, they’re just better people to be around, and they’re the sort of people I want to surround myself with because that energy is infectious, it rubs onto me, and it has this kind of snowball effect. So I think that is a humongous one about the connection with those sorts of people, and having that energy in your life. And there’s that old adage of like, You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with—making those people the highest quality people that you can get. And I think this is where you will find—obviously they’re all a particular breed—the sort of people that aren’t tied to one place, or they like to move around. And generally they’ve got a more specific set of interests. But it’s: a high-quality demographic profile, was to be that Machiavellian and scientific about the way I chose my friends and whatever. It’s just a better group of people to associate with, and the networks that they can provide as far as the knowledge and connections. (2) The second most valuable one is the ability or developing the skill about being able to start from zero in a consistently reproducible manner. So I think most people would agree—and I certainly fell into this trap—that many times your life you’ve been in a place or a situation where you know you don’t want to be here, it’s not ideal, and you can envision a better life, but you’re just afraid of moving and starting again. And your mind is consumed about how difficult it is: Where would I find this? Where would I—whatever. Now I’ve done the six times. I have a system in my head where I know exactly where to go and what to do and what to look for and how to find my feet in a new place. And that’s an incredibly empowering skill to have just in general, but especially in the world that we’re in now where tomorrow, or within a very short space of time, you can find that all of a sudden you can’t leave your house, or you can’t go out to a bar. You can’t do all these sort of things. And for most people, they don’t have the ability to just say, Well, this is bullshit—I’m going somewhere else. They’ve got things that tie them to someplace, and they don’t know where to start. They don’t have the system. Whereas for someone like myself, as soon as that happens, I’m like, Well, I’m on a plane to wherever that is not happening. And I’ve got the full confidence of—I know that giving it 30 days—I’ll be back on my feet and more or less at the same speed I was at wherever I was. And just having that confidence and that skillset is an incredibly powerful, empowering thing to have in your life. Not just for the momentum of your personal productivity and keeping things going, but for your own mental health and well-being. The sense that you’re not at the mercy of all these other things, and you can be the master of your own destiny—is again, just an incredibly powerful tool to have. And I think going forward, that’s only going to get more and more powerful. So outside of like the tropical beach with your laptop sort of lifestyle that I’m sure we all have dreamed of and seen and looked at, those two things I think are the primary reasons that everyone should really consider doing this, because they are just superpowers in the world where we are going. And I think that the networks of people that have these skills—and you personally having that skill—are two incredibly powerful, important things for you to invest in, in the future.
Yeah. Really interesting stuff. And it’s actually for different reasons than I’m pursuing it in some ways, because I mean—it’s related—but for me, the drive and push of doing overseas stuff was more about actually achieving more freedom and perhaps lower taxes. But certainly I think that plays into what you were saying as well around being able to set up somewhere and start somewhere. And so, I guess then it’s also important to distinguish between, let’s say, just picking up everything out of one place and moving and setting down in a new place. Well, then that’s really more like just being an ex-pat right? As opposed to using a bit more of a nomad-ish approach. I mean, it’s not necessarily fully nomad. You might have a few bases or places that you regularly go back to, but how would you distinguish that then? Like the people you met in your travels—the ex-pats versus the more nomad type?
Yeah I think that is a very valid and important distinction to make. Where I am in Mexico at the moment, there is a very distinguishable, different kind of crowd about, and obviously they cross over, and the biggest crossover is generally that they’re foreigners and usually they speak English as their first language or things like that. So there’s a reason that these two groups will naturally crossover and come together. The difference I would say is that expats tend to be obviously more or less living a regular life as most people would understand it, just solely in a different country than perhaps they were born or that they started out at. So those people generally have a much more geographically specific—if you would like—life, and in one particular spot. Whereas nomads tend to float around a bit more. And as you said, particularly now in the current environment where travel is a little bit harder and a little bit more uncertain, I think it makes more sense to really focus on 1, 2, 3 places in a year and stick to those. But that is a very different kettle of fish than what I described with the experts where more or less they’re like people living somewhere at home and whatever country you’re from, they’re just living in a different spot. So they don’t quite have the agility or freedom that you might have that I just described before about the ability to uproot and go somewhere else. And I also find the lifestyle is kind of different. Like, it’s something maybe I’ll talk about a little bit more later, but I feel—and maybe this is my personal bias and some people might think differently—that just generally, nomads are a slightly better crowd to associate with, in that they tend to be more entrepreneurial, they are getting things done, and they have developed a lifestyle and the ambition to be able to live this way. Whereas ex-pats, sometimes they’re running a business here, sometimes they’re living on old money, sometimes they’re doing whatever, but generally I find it’s a lot more of the sort of people that like to go out and party and just live that kind of high life lifestyle. Rather than—nomads tend to be a bit more focused on hustle and getting work done and having a real entrepreneurial drive. And again, for the reasons I talked about before, they’re more the sort of people that I personally would like to spend my time with. And that’s how I’d like to have my social life arranged around the secondary rather than the former. So it’s a bit of a different crowd. There is a bit of crossover, but I think the nomad thing, particularly for the reason like I said before, they’re the crowd that you want to work with more, because generally they’re just more on the same page as you. If you ask someone that’s trying to be location independent.
Would you say nomadism is only a single guy or single girl’s game, and once you are married, or once you have children, it’s impossible? I’m sure that’s a common question. How do you respond to that?
Certainly not. I mean, there’s definitely a lot of people I know who are couples that are doing this together. And [there’s] certainly a lot of people that are doing this with families, particularly post-COVID. For sure, obviously it makes things more complicated, right? Like planning travel of any nature with more than one person is going to throw some extra spanners in the works. It doesn’t make it easier though, too. Like one of the hardest things I would say for me, being a single guy, traveling to new places—you land there, you don’t know anyone, generally. Or if you’re lucky, you might have a friend who’s already there or something that’s able to connect you up. But the hardest thing is that you land there and you don’t really know anyone, and it can be a little hard to connect with people. And it can be a little lonely, right? Whereas if you’ve got a family or a partner, obviously that problem is solved. So I think the main thing is to have—particularly when it comes to the partner—someone that’s supportive of what you’re trying to do and is on the same page, is after the same sort of things, and has similar interests. Where, if they are loving snowy mountains and snowboarding, and you’re wanting to surf in the tropics, obviously there’s going to be a bit of friction. But finding that common ground and that system where you can see eye to eye or reach a sufficient compromise where it works, I think is something where I’ve seen that most people manage to realize, Well, there’s more to be won than to be lost if we can figure out a way to get a system like that. But with children as well, it’s one area where I’m not obviously a super-expert, but I know plenty of people that do make it work. And generally, traditionally, it’s a lot of homeschooling, but if you structure things correctly, you can also just have a more traditional schooling environments based on where you’re going and the options that might be there. But the other thing is that there are a lot of couples and people in the same boat as you. And again, this is just another reason why I really want to emphasize the importance and the power of networking is that not only are these people potentially going to point you in the direction of some solutions or places or systems that might work, but you can often help each other out where you might need a reason to get away from the kids for a certain amount of time. They can take care of them, and then you can return the favor to them, or they can return the favor to you. So it’s certainly not impossible. It does have its particular complications and quirks, but there’s plenty of people are out there doing it. It just requires most importantly that you’re on the same page and like any relationship, you figure out some equilibrium and some balance on certain issues where there might be a bit of friction or you don’t see perfectly eye to eye. But it is totally possible.
Yeah. Interesting stuff. And so for people who are thinking about how to get started, they might be thinking about locations, right? So if we had been speaking 20 or 30 years ago, people might’ve had this advice. They might’ve said, Look, if you want to be an actor, you got to go to Hollywood. If you want to be in finance, you’ve got to go to the finance hubs like New York and London and Chicago. There’s like a place that you go to do a certain thing. Whereas now with nomadism, it’s more just like all around the world. That said, though, there are certain well-known hubs, right? So as you mentioned, Bali is one in Indonesia, Chiang Mai in Thailand is another well-known one, Mexico, places like Playa Del Carmen, arguably places like Medellín in Colombia, and maybe Lisbon in Portugal. Those are probably some of the well-known digital nomad hotspots, wouldn’t you say? So how would you think about that aspect of it—location—and thinking about planning that?
Cool. So what I will do is I’ll run through the steps that I would go if I was assessing, moving to a new place, so I’d have decided I’m going to move on and I want to find out where that is. And I haven’t already pre-decided what that is. I’m looking around, right? So these are the steps that I would take. So the first place I would go to is three websites: Nomadlist.com, Numbeo.com, and expatistan.com/cost-of-living. So I’ll talk about the last two first, and then the first one. So the last two Numbeo.com and expatistan.com/cost-of-living, they do the same thing. And these are places for you to look at the basic cost of living. And they’re not super accurate. They can be a little off, but they’ll give you a good enough width-finger indication of what you’re looking at budget-wise in some of these places. And that can be hard to tell particularly if you haven’t traveled to where you’re going, or this is a new thing to you about, What am I actually looking for for rents, food, et cetera, et cetera, in this place? And they’ll give you a relatively accurate, rough indication of what the cost of living is. And on those sites, you can compare a city, so you can put your city versus that city, and it’ll give you like a percentage, so it’s 60% cheaper or 30% more expensive to live in X versus Y. So they’re a good place to get some of the things about numbers and that’s what you want to do, because obviously you want to make sure you’ve got your budget right before you take off. Now, Nomadlist.com is probably the first place that I would go to look at what the options are. Anyone that’s not familiar with what Nomadlist.com is: it’s a really, really amazing site where basically they have ton of cities all around the world. You can pick almost any country in existence and you can get some really good information and quite accurate information about what life is like there as an expat and as a nomad. So things like: the cost of living, WiFi speed, freedom of speech, acceptance of LGBT if you’re of that particular persuasion, the infrastructure, the average temperature—I can’t remember the all of them now—but some really detailed and quite accurate metrics about what life is like there. You also get some reviews from people who’ve been there. And there’s quite a surprising amount of detail about that, just of some indications about what it’s like: I thought it sucked, I thought it was great, Go look for this area, These sort of people are there—or whatever it might be. So generally, if you’re listening to this and you’re considering it, you’ve probably got some country or place that you’ve wanted to go to, or that’s your particular flavor. I would recommend you go to Nomadlist and look at that country. And the cities that are listed on Nomadlist are generally the ones that you do want to go and check out. And you might be surprised as to what some of those cities are. This is what you might think. And also they have a list—it’s interesting at the moment because obviously it changes quite rapidly. And I was actually just looking at Nomadlists top 50 at the moment, and it’s, I would say, probably a little bit out of whack given what’s happened with COVID in the last couple of weeks, but it is interesting, and not a bad indication about what places are good and what places are hot or not at the moment. And you might be surprised about some places that you haven’t considered, that if you jump on Nomadlist, you can have a look around and see what’s there. So I’ve got Nomadlist and Numbeo and Expatistan, and look at like roughly what country and city am I going to and how much am I looking to pay? Now, once I’ve got that, the next thing I’d go to is a website called canItravel.net? And there—solely because of the situation with COVID at the moment—it’s quite unclear and hard to get your head around, Can you go to the place? What do you need? Do you need a test? Do you need to be vaccinated? What’s the restrictions there? That’s probably about the best site at the moment to get a dial on what’s required there. So look at that and get your head around, Okay, if I’m gonna fly to this place, what hoops do I have to jump through to get there? I’d also jump on Wikipedia and check out what is the length of a tourist visa that’s available in that particular country. And that can vary based on what your passport is and a number of other factors, but you want to make sure that you’ve got some idea of how long you can legally be in the country for. So that’s the next thing I’d look at. So once you’ve got that, you’ve probably got an idea about where you’re going, what you need to get there, and roughly how long you can stay there. So the next thing I do is now you’ve got a city in line—I would start looking at co-working spaces. And for me co-working spaces are the bread and butter, the most integral part of doing this lifestyle. And the reason is that generally, if you have a co-working space—and for anyone that doesn’t know what that means, it’s basically like an office space where you can come and pack your laptop and you’re guaranteed good internet, you can get power, and generally you’ll find a bunch of other digital nomads there who want to have somewhere where they can reliably work. Now you might be thinking, Well, why would I pay for a space like this when I can just work from my hotel or my house or whatever it might be? And a lot of people when they start doing that, have that attitude—myself included—but my friend who was living at Bali who helped show me the ropes about a lot of the stuff, he really encouraged me to go into a co-working space. And I really understood it because I tried not working from a co-working space, just in my hotel for I think two weeks. And I just found that the mental headspace that you get into can get really weird and really funky. And not everyone is like this, but I think more people than you would think are, like this, is just: you get some sort of psychological benefit of being around other people. So there’s that and you have reliable Internet. But probably the most important thing, as I was talking about before, is the networking. That people that are serious about what they’re doing will pay for co-working. Not everyone, but most people aren’t going to be working at least every day from their house. They are going to be working from a co-working at least one or two days a week. So if you want to connect with other like-minded entrepreneurial people, coworking is a really good place to meet them and to congregate and to get into touch with those sort of people. And if you have just landed in a new city, I think it’s one of the best places to make friends and to get in contact with people that are in a like-minded sort of space. Also, if there is a co-working space in the city, it’s a pretty good indicator that enough nomads have identified that this is a desirable location and frequent it often enough that there’s enough clients to help to sustain the business. And that in itself says that this town has been preselected as a desirable location for at least a certain amount of people that live in this lifestyle. So for those reasons, I think co-working is that what I would be looking for. And it’s kind of like to me not a red flag, but a green flag of like, This is where I want to be if there’s good co-working. So once you’ve got some co-working, another thing that I look for—which is kind of for a similar reason—is an up-market hostel chain called Selina, which some people may or may not be familiar with. So jump online and have a look at selina.com. If I’m going to new city, I always start out at Selina. Selina is an interesting kind of hostel setup in that you have all the way from like the bunk beds, 8 to 12 people in a room thing, all the way up to some very nice family rooms with like a separate lounge and a kitchen and TV and a balcony and everything like that. So it’s a pretty wide range of the accommodation that you can get there, and you can go from everything to like really bare-bones and get to some really rather classy living, but they also always have a decent restaurant, a nice bar area, a lot of social events, and good co-working. So not only is it a good place to network with people to find your feet and get in touch with people that are living a simple lifestyle to you, but I find that if there is a Selina in a town, once again, like the co-working, it’s a very good indicator to me that this is a desirable place, and this is probably a good space that I want to go to where I’m going to have a good experience nomading. So Selina is one that I would definitely check out and what I always do is book 2-3 weeks in Selina in a new space just while I’m getting on my feet and starting out there. So your backup if that doesn’t go through, is Airbnb, cheapair.com. I like to use that for hotels, or booking.com, those sorts of places, and try and get an Airbnb or whatever for that same amount of time of 2-3 weeks. And just be wary with all of those there that you’re probably going to pay a much higher price than you need to pay if you are booking on Airbnb or something like that. Like say for example, here in Mexico, in Mexico City I believe, there is a 40% tax put on Airbnbs. And so if you’re looking at Airbnb and you’re thinking this is the cost of living there, you’re getting a much higher, inflated price than what you get if you’re able to get in the ground, spend that two weeks there looking to find something slightly more long-term and rent it out, and you’re going to get a much better deal. So once you’ve looked and you’ve found a co-working space, or you found something like that and you’ve got some accommodation booked there, or at booking.com or Airbnb or whatever, then you’ll be moving on to the next step, which is trying to find some networks. So really your plan once you get there is—look, my good rule is 30 days to really find your feet in a new place. I’ve done this, again, like six times now. And every time, the first month I’m like, Is this going to work out? I don’t know anyone, feeling a bit lost, maybe a bit lonely or whatever, and then magically every time—every time, 30 days or roundabout four weeks and everything falls into place—and, This is great. I love this town, and everything’s working. So again, you want to plan for a minimum of a 30-day stay, I would say, to really find your feet in a place. I would suggest like 90 days would be what I’d really suggest for somewhere else. Don’t try and find an optimal place, to be bouncing around, because that’s just way too high friction, costs a lot of money—find somewhere that’s good enough and just really aim to get like a base or a foothold somewhere, if this is your first experience of course, and get to know the people first. And then through those conversations, then start thinking about if you’re going to check out some other areas or what your next step is going to be, but that’s the first kind of box you want to tick. So speaking to that, you want to get some networks, right? So what you want to try and do is, again—co-working is a really good place for that. So generally their faces are not buried in their computer and they’re busy working—people that you find at co-working are really, really friendly. Often they’ve got networking events like Friday they’ll have beers or a barbecue or something like that there, and they’re a great place to meet new people. The other one that I would really recommend is jump on Facebook and search for digital nomads or expats in whatever the city is. Now through that, almost always you’ll find a Facebook group that’s relatively active. In That Facebook group you’ll be able to ask questions and find some relatively good information about what life is like on the ground. Ask some things about, Hey guys, where do I get this or that? And you’ll be surprised about how easy it is to get that information. But what you’re really trying to find through there is—generally it’s on WhatsApp is where a lot of these groups are, not Telegram or other things. WhatsApp seems to be the one. And the WhatsApp groups are where generally you’ll find the highest quality of signal-to-noise information where you’ll be able to ask, Hey, where’s a good dentist? Where do I go for co-working? Where’s a good place to eat? All these sort of questions. I’d like to do yoga, where it was a good yoga studio? And generally, if you ask in the Facebook group, so you just search around the Facebook groups, you’ll find a link to one of these WhatsApp groups and in there, you’re going to find the answer to a lot of this information, which is going to save you a ton of time when you get on the ground. The other thing that you want to try and get through those WhatsApp groups, or if you can through some of these Facebook groups, is any sort of meetups for anything that’s related to your interests. So maybe it’s a Bitcoin meetup, maybe you do snowboarding and there’s some sort of snowboarding [group] is a big one. And Mexico, there’s always some salsa dancing ones, right? So if you’re into that, go along to something like that, but you want to find some sort of meetup things. And the idea is to network with people, to make friends and make connections. And it’s much more easy than you’d ever believe to find people when you are living this lifestyle. It’s totally different from when you live in a traditional setup in a city. People are very helpful and it’s very easy to make those connections. And so you want to get those networks, connect with some people, go out to dinner, have some beers, and develop those networks. And that’s really the way to get a foothold in a new town. Once you’ve got that, you’ve got some friends, you’ve got some connections that can show you where to go for these kinds of things there, and—quicker than you would think—it’s like you’re living in a town feeling like you’ve been living here for years, you know where everything is, and life is easy and breezy. And you can achieve that in 45 days, I would say, if you put your mind to it.
Yeah. I think that’s definitely a good piece of advice around not moving too often. And I think, especially in the age of hysteria where you have to do a COVID test before you go to a new country and things, it’s like, it’s just so much admin because you’re figuring out things like, How do I do my laundry? How am I getting my groceries? How am I doing—everything, right? And so expanding that time out to give yourself a solid amount of time in each new location definitely is a big one I think, because otherwise you will just spend too much time trying to sort out new things. And remember, what we’re talking about here is not just retiring around the world. We’re talking about—you’re still doing work, right? We’re still working during the day, but also figuring out things in terms of where we’re going next and what’s happening. Now, there are different situations for people around the world, right? So for example, people from the US, they’ve got quite a strong passport, but one of the downsides for them is they will have to continue paying tax back to the American government—Uncle Sam. Whereas people from other countries are able to retain their citizenship of that other country, but to no longer be a tax resident of these other countries. So that’s an interesting benefit there as well. So people might be thinking, Oh how am I going to make that work? Well, if you are able to become a non-resident—so you might need to speak to an expert on this, let’s say an expat specialist, accountant, or lawyer for your country—and they can potentially guide you on how to become a non-resident for tax purposes, which allows you to legally dramatically lower the taxes. And then that can also help you from a cost-of-living perspective also. And so I’m curious how your approach has been, or if you have any tips for people thinking around these questions of residency, citizenship, or even tourist visas. Do you have any guidance or tips there for people?
Sure. I mean look, I’d say when you start out, a tourist visa is going to be fine. And officially and practically, these two things are quite different, but no one has a problem going to a place and working out of their hotel room or a co-working or whatever and getting things done and really having to worry about a work visa. Now, officially that might be a slightly different story, but I’ve yet to ever hear someone who’s had an immigration officer jump out of a bush and arrest them for working on a laptop in their hotel room. So generally when you’re first checking out a place, I think a tourist visa is fine. And if you’re new to this, and maybe you’re trying to figure out if this is for me or it’s not for me, I think that’s the step you should take: go to a new place, take at least a month holiday and check it out and really give it a good solid go. And probably just do it on a tourist visa. Now, if you are thinking about something more permanent, I think—like in the past, for example, in Bali, I knew a lot of people who were doing “perpetually on the visa run” thing, right? So in Bali, you could get a 30 day visa and on arrival, you could pay some money and get what’s called a VOA, which allowed you to extend that 30 visa or another 30 days. After 60 days, legally you’d have to leave the country. Now, there are people that I knew there who’ve been doing it for like seven years. They would go for 60 days and then they would fly to Kuala Lumpur or somewhere close for 24 hours, come back and get another 60 days and just do this on a rolling basis. And they’ve been doing it for years. Now, it’s not illegal. It’s definitely maybe stretching what the law is intended for, but generally [the authorities] knew what was going on, they seemed to be like, Well hey, if you want to come back with your money and support the local economy and people, come on in. However, I’ve seen a lot of things since COVID came in that made me think that those days certainly aren’t what they used to be. And definitely if you’re in a position like say yourself, Stephan, or myself, where going home is now difficult and very expensive and your ability to leave might be in jeopardy also, I think you’ve really got to start thinking seriously about a more, um, uh, credible plan than just bouncing around on a tourist visa. So residencies in a place give you that ability where you’re not having to fly into a country and cross your fingers every time that you’re not going to have some issues getting in on a tourist visa. For example, in Mexico, they have a 180 day tourist visa. And there is a lot of people that have, just like I mentioned in Bali for years and years, been more or less coming and going perpetually using that tourist visa. Just recently, they’ve had a crackdown where—it’s not happening to everyone—but it has happened to some people, where they’re coming in and they haven’t got any exit ticket booked. They got any sort of accommodation to show for themselves, or any certain thing to justify exactly what they’re there for. And so they’d be given something like 20 days or 7 days, right? And you know, this could happen to anyone if all you’ve got is a tourist visa, right? You’re at the mercy of the immigration officials as far as what they want to let you in for and how long. Whereas if you’re a resident, you’ve got a much more secure claim to being in that place. You can do things like purchase a car, open a bank account if you’re wanting to go down that route, certainly have a storage locker or somewhere where you can securely leave your things so you’re not traveling around with everything in a suitcase all the time, which can be a little nerve-wracking in and of itself. But it also just gives you that permanent base and a place where you’re not having to worry about bouncing all around and you can take your time and also do things like, say, for example, if you want to go to a conference for a weekend, you’re not worried about, Well, I’ve just been here for a week and do I want to invalidate my 180-day tourist visa that I just got in Mexico and be at the risk of what I’ve just described. So I think it’s a wise decision to make and also gives you a lot more options as far as where you can live, and as you talked about with taxes. So for example, for me I have—since being out of New Zealand—I’ve got several residencies. One of them is in a territorial country with a territorial taxation system. And because the way that works in New Zealand is that if you haven’t got any kind of permanent ties in New Zealand and you’re outside of the country for more than I believe it’s 330 days of the year, then you’re not liable for taxes in New Zealand. And if you structure your fares correctly, then you can now pay your taxes in a country where any income that’s come from outside that country is tax-free. And so they’re therefore effectively not paying any tax in a totally legal and above board fashion. So that is another really big advantage, is that: to be able to accomplish that if you’re working a regular job is a nightmare, right? You’ve got to get a job in this other location. You’ve got to fly there and check it out. And it’s just not really feasible for most people, if you just work in a traditional 9 to 5. But if you’re nomading, you’re able to experience these places for a while, get to really know some people, get your head around would I want to live there? And take some time to do this slowly in a progressive fashion, rather than having to try and fly over there and do it all the moment that you land. So that’s something that I think a lot of people should be looking at—rather than it just being a way to fly around and work on a tropical beach for two months or something like that—it’s a way to shop around and really look at not just where do I want to live and the quality of life, but what other options can residency and looking at things like tax and where my affairs are located, what other benefits can that provide to my life beyond purely the quality of life things that we discussed before.
Yeah. So I think that’s some interesting points there for people to really think about, making it work for the longer-term. But that said, you can start with the easy option like the tourist visa. And I think that’s the other thing as well: people don’t have to think like, Oh, I have to go all-in. Like, you can baby-step your way into this. So as an example, if you’re an American, probably an easy way to get started is maybe you just go to Mexico and you set up a bank account there, right? You just start doing the flag theory thing, right? You just take little incremental steps and then slowly, eventually, you’ve now got these other options in other countries or other bank accounts or other—whatever. And so these are some of the ways that you can manage that. Now I think it wouldn’t be fair of us to talk about all of these benefits without talking about some of the downsides. So let’s hear from you, Rigel, what are some of the main downsides in your view of pursuing this lifestyle?
Well, I mean as I mentioned, I think dependent on your situation—if you’re single, obviously it can be a little lonely and a little hard. To me, I’m quite used to it now and I’m someone that I’m fine with being on my own and live in that sort of lifestyle. But I definitely 100% need some social contact and some interaction with people. But again, I think once you get a system and you get the swing of this sort of life, it’s much easier to figure that out. So yeah, definitely the loneliness would be one thing. And I presume, if you’re there with your partner or your children, the opposite problem of sometimes you wish you got the chance to be a little more lonely, if you know what I mean? So that’s one of them. Probably the hardest one for most people—if you’re listening to this and you haven’t done this before—by far it’s wrapping up your affairs and just taking that first step, right? You know, getting on the plane and going there and planning this thing is going to be the hardest thing to do. And look, I would really recommend that, just as we talked about, you don’t need to sell everything and give it all up at a drop of a hat. I’d recommend, if you can, just get out of your apartment, close up your apartment wherever it is, put your stuff in a storage locker for a couple of months and do it like that on a tourist visa, check it out. And then you can come back to your stuff and if you’ve decided this is what you want to do, you want to do it more permanent, all your things are prepped and ready to go. And if not, you could just pay for your rent or your traditional setup at home and just check this out. So yeah I’d say, just take your holiday and explore this first. And once you’re ready to go, just put everything in a storage locker. Maybe rather than sell your car you want to leave it with your friend or whatever. So you can do it in baby-steps. And then maybe you do it once, you think, I like this, I’m going to do it for real, you put everything in a storage locker, leave your car with your friend, and then after six months, you’re like, Okay, now this is what I want to do. Then you can go back and sell whatever it is that you need to sell and really close up your affairs. And you can do it in baby-steps like that. You don’t even have to, I mean, you can leave your stuff in a storage locker, do this for six months and then go back and live a “regular” life for six months and then go out and do this again. So it doesn’t have to be like a jumping off the deep-end experience. You can baby-step it to the way that I’ve described. So that’s one way to get around that kind of anxiety. Like I’d really just say, Look, just do it for a month or two months. And then think about doing it more permanently. And if you really don’t like it, you can just get a plane ticket and fly home and nothing’s lost. So that’s one. The other one that goes with that—probably for most people—is friends and family, right? They’ve got their people that they know in the town they are, and you might’ve lived there for a long time and that’s a daunting thing, is leaving your friends or your family and not seeing them for awhile or maybe for a really extended period. And look, there’s no real way to, to get around that. I mean, that is what it is and they’re valid concerns. The only thing I would add to that is—again, they’re always just a plane ticket away. And I’ve certainly found building a whole new friend circle and a network in another city is amazingly easier than you would expect it to be. And just that again, the fact that people that are nomading all on the same boat makes it—it’s just everyone is very welcoming and accepting, and it’s much easier to start from zero and get back some of those social contacts and networks that you need than you would ever expect them to be. I guess the other one, we’re talking about your things. For some people, it’s probably your stuff, right? Some people have possessions of all sorts where the thought of leaving that thing is difficult or what are they going to do about this or that or whatever? And I certainly had that experience where when I decided I was going to do this, it took me about two months to just get through all my stuff, because I had so much crap and stuff that I’ve accumulated over the years and I sold everything more or less. I think I left like a small thing with a friend of mine, but I sold everything I had. And to me it’s been the most liberating experience of my life to just get rid of all this stuff which I didn’t really need. And now everything I have is in a suitcase and everything that I want to buy, I think very long and hard about, Can this fit in my suitcase? And if not, I don’t need it. So a lot of these things, it comes down to the stuff you have and the people you know, and they don’t need to be permanent goodbyes. There are ways—if you’re creative about this and you look around and you jump on Google and do a bit of hunting—you can find some ways to permanently or seemingly permanently park this stuff and it will be there when you need to come back. But I’d also encourage people to think long and hard about, Is getting rid of some of the stuff and moving on—is that actually what you really want to do? Is that not going to be like a fresh start for your life, that’s going to allow you an opportunity to reset, and the things that might be kind of scaring you are in fact things that you should be doing?
Yeah. And obviously we’re very Bitcoin-focused here and I think people might be thinking, How do I secure my coins if I’m doing this whole nomad thing? So obviously without disclosing personal details or doxxing your own stuff, do you have any thoughts on how people can approach that aspect of going nomad while preserving their coins and securing their coins?
Sure. Well I mean without, again, giving away my personal secret methodology, there’s a lot of ways. For a start, you don’t need to like have everything with you. I mean, some people, that might be like, Yes, I definitely do. But you know, you can always just get a plane back to where this thing is. So it’s not like you have to think about—just like I talked about with your stuff—with this as the nuclear option and you’re shutting down your life at home. You can still go back to where this stuff is. So that being said, even if you are thinking, Well, no, that’s not me. I want my stuff on me at all times. There’s a lot of ways where—and I’ve certainly seen this in my own career when it comes to moving drugs over the borders—if you’re creative about where and how you store these things, there is a ton of ways where you can get around any of these sort of issues, if what security itself might be what you’re concerned about, or it might be security on the ground about, I don’t want to be in a hotel or an Airbnb where someone might have a key and leaving a piece of paper with 24 words on it sitting around where someone who might know what they’re looking for might be able to find it. I mean, if you’re creative about this and you think about it, for example, you know, 24 words—it’s not actually 24 words. If you understand that BIP 39 speak, it’s actually 24 words that are representative of a number in a list. And so those 24 words, aren’t words. They’re numbers. And if you were to write down 24 numbers, most people in the world, even people that knew stuff about Bitcoin, wouldn’t probably see 24 numbers on a piece of paper and realize that this is actually someone’s private key, right? So if you take that idea and extrapolate on it, there is a ton of ways where if you’re smart about it, you can simply—if we’re talking about a seed phrase is what this has really come down to—there’s a ton of ways that you can be smart about having this on you, concealing it in some sort of way where you know where to get it, and there’s none of this magic where you’ve written down some code where you’re going to forget it. It’s a relatively easy system for you to retrieve, but to the observer, they wouldn’t know what they’re looking for. So, I mean, I haven’t seen any solid answers to this, or systems for this. And I think that would kind of be defeating the purpose whereby, if it was a system everyone was following, well someone could find the system and unravel it. But I hope with what I’ve just said there, I’ve probably given you enough information where if you get creative about the way that you store these things, there’s plenty of ways you can mitigate some of these issues about traveling with these things on your particular person. Myself, one of the simplest ways about it is—I have some permanent bases now that I have residency—I like to have your keys or your items distributed in multiple geographical locations. And so generally I don’t even have to worry about that because it’s no different than if I was living in whatever country that you’re living in, where I had this stuff in a place where I can get to it immediately. I don’t have to worry about borders or any things like that there. So yeah it’s certainly a concern that you want to think about, but I think if you put your mind to it, there’s plenty of ways to get around the issues that are probably top of mind when it comes to this stuff.
Yeah. So as an example, people might have multisignature and different keys in different countries or different locations. And then maybe they’ve just got a small spending amount that they keep on their phone, or maybe in some other kind of wallet or a hardware wallet that they travel with, but that’s not the real stack. That’s just a small amount or something. That’s one way. Or maybe you might have a passphrase, so you might have those 24 words, but you memorize a passphrase. I mean, there’s different ways. I’m just kind of throwing ideas out there for people to think about. And so also with the idea of setting up bases, and if you’re trying to set up bases in other countries, how do you think about the question of renting versus buying a place?
Yeah, it’s a difficult thing to get your head around, and it’s something I personally am just trying to figure out right now where all of these residencies I’ve got and acquired post-COVID and I’m trying to figure out, Well, okay, now how am I going to live my life, specifically? What’s my ideal system that I want to have? And you don’t really want to be renting, renting a house in two locations at once. It’s just not an ideal use of money. So look, I think when it comes to buying, that’s something which I personally am slightly averse to where we’re just like, I’d rather have my money in Bitcoin, thank you very much. But when it comes to holding a house, I think that probably the most important thing to think about is there are some very lucrative residency options available to you if you are going to buy a property. So a number of countries, you’re able to get residency or even citizenship, you are purchasing a property and sometimes the price of that property can be quite modest. So that’s something to think about. And of course it can be a revenue stream in a way to support yourself. For me personally, I just like to rent and I like to move around because I don’t like to be tied to anywhere. And it gives you the freedom to be able to change where you’re at have that agility where if you want to get out of dodge on short notice, it’s relatively easy for you to do so. So I mean, I think that for me it really comes down to the main reason to own a house I would think is to assist you in getting another residency, and to be clever and smart about that. If you are thinking about—the reason you’re listening to this is that you’re wanting to move long-term—do look at the options that are available to you and what you can get for your money. For example, one that comes to mind straight away is Turkey. You can get, as I understand it, a passport for a relatively, reasonably-priced house—if you buy it in Turkey, right? Now Turkey might not be top of your list, but if you throw in a passport and you start looking there, that might be somewhere where all of a sudden, Turkey starts to become very interesting for you. So I’d say: don’t buy the beach house in your ideal location just on a whim—do think about what else you can get in the package for the house that you’re buying. But I personally feel like the biggest advantage, certainly when you’re starting out, is shop around, man. Check everywhere else, don’t rush into getting a permanent tie tosomewhere else. Definitely shop around and make sure you really understand where you’re going. Because I mean, this is the advantage of this lifestyle, right? You can live in 10 different towns, six months in a place—that would be high friction—but it’s possible. And so that’s a lot harder to do for most people living a more traditional lifestyle, but as a nomad you can do that. So you really have the ability to shop around and make sure you’re sure before you commit to a property in an area, and I would certainly use that to your advantage to either secure a residency of some sort or to make sure that you’re really sure about where you’re wanting to live and you’re not in a hurry to need to be tied to anywhere. That when you find that place, you really know that this is going to be a good investment and it’s also going to be a good place to live if you choose to use it for that.
Right. Yeah. And I think there’s so many considerations in that because obviously as Bitcoiners, we believe what is financially optimal is to maximize sat-stacking and minimize the amount of balance sheet assets that you tie up into property. But what’s financially optimal might not be security- or lifestyle-optimal. And there may be cases where it makes sense to do that because let’s say you want to buy the property in Turkey to get a citizenship there. I think it’s 250,000 USD, something like that. I think it’s around that range. If you buy a property more than that, you can potentially qualify for citizenship just straight up. And there are other countries with similar kinds of deals and packages and things. And maybe some people will do the whole El Salvador thing, right? 3 Bitcoin and get a place in El Zonte or in Bitcoin City or San Salvador, even. I mean, these are things that people might look for. So I think there’s so much to get into here. And personally, I see myself writing and speaking about it a lot more. But I suppose just for this episode, we’ll probably tie it up here and carry on with another episode another day. But do you have any final tips for people or reasons why they should really stop and think about this instead of being stuck in their place of birth or the place where they’re living right now?
Yeah, I mean if I was to get opinionated and philosophical for a moment, my thoughts would be this: I think if you look at where the world is going, not just because of the COVID stuff, because of all the money-printing and everything else, we’re definitely heading to a world where it’s going to get a lot more unequal. And one of the areas where it’s going to get particularly unequal is the ability to travel and the ability to geographically select where you live. And I don’t think it’s paranoid or tinfoil-hat to think that there’s also going to be some effort for certain governments to dissuade people from moving or having the option to choose a bit of geography or jurisdiction to place themselves in. So we’ve probably all experienced to some degree the feeling that you wish you could have had the ability to be more agile as far as your location in the last two years and you weren’t able to, and you saw some of the downsides of that. So my 5 cents, I guess what I’d want to leave this with, is that I think we are heading towards where this is going to be almost like a two-tiered society of those that can and are able to travel, and those that can’t for all sorts of various reasons. You may have things that tie you to a place, but being able to have at least one other jurisdiction where you’d know where it is, you can get off a plane and straight away know where you’re going to stay, where you’re going to eat, have some people to call, have some friends, have a situation. And if you really need to move from where you are, you know where that place is, and there’s not a second thought—you can be on a plane within half a day and on your way there and you’re going to hit the ground running. It’s just an incredibly powerful and useful skill to have, particularly for Bitcoiners and people on this particular space there. And look, I just see it as more than wanting to live the lifestyle of sitting on a beach with your laptop—it’s an investment in your freedom and your agility and your mental health to have this kind of backup plan in your head where you have a Plan B set up and, you know, you don’t necessarily need a password or all these kinds of things. You just need to know a place, where it functions, and have a second home or a second place that you kind of know, just as well as some city where you used to live in 5 or 10 years ago. So I would encourage everyone to take the plunge even for a month or two and just check this out and get used to this sort of thing. But if it becomes more than just a holiday or something that you do for fun—it’s something out of necessity—that you’re ready to go and you have your system in place and you know where you’re going and the whole trip is going to be just much easier for you to go through on it.
Excellent. And Rigel, where can people find you online?
Probably easiest to just get me on Twitter at @coinsurenz. Same thing on Telegram as well if you want to catch me there. And yeah, they’re probably the two easiest places.
Fantastic. Thanks, Roger.
No worries. Thank you.
How do I access the shownotes for this episode?
Sorry, I meant transcript, not shownotes.
transcripts go up a few days after each episode