- How to Make a Living Abroad>
- The Other Variable in the Equation for Life in LATAM for Young People
A few months ago, I was talking with an American guy I know named Alex.
He’s a tiny bit younger than me in his mid 20s and is from Florida originally.
Anyway, he has more experience dealing with foreigners down here than I do since I haven’t interacted with too many other foreigners in most of my time in Mexico.
When he first got to Mexico City, he decided to stay in a hostel for the start of his trip before ultimately moving into the apartment building that I lived at.
While there, he was telling me about how common it was to see relatively young men in their early to mid 20s working on their laptops in the hostel common room.
Working endless hours – we’re talking maybe 10 hours a day more or less.
And what do these hard workers get for all their effort?
Enough to make it rain in the club with the hoes and the bitches, amiright?!
Well, joking aside…
Who knows how much they were making per month.
But it wasn’t much I suppose if they were living in a hostel.
Though why would said foreigners choose such a lifestyle?
To work endless hours for some small amount of money like 500 bucks a month?
“Chasing the Dream” is the idea.
What is that dream?
The Dream of Life Abroad
I’ve written about this subject a few times already on my website before.
But the older I get, the stupider “the dream” seems.
At least in terms of how it plays out for so many.
Essentially, you have some young kid convinced that life abroad is so much better.
That you can be “free” from the micromanaging boss at some job you hate.
No more commute or colleagues either.
Can work whatever hours you want.
And, hopefully, you get plenty of hot local women to fuck you also.
Does it actually turn out that way?
Well, it can.
The irony though is in the details for some of these folks.
Escaping freedom from that job you hate to do twice the amount of work online for work you aren’t excited about for a lot less money.
While living in a country most folks would consider to be a shithole if we are being honest.
And, to be fair, I lived a life like that to a degree.
To keep it short since I already wrote about this before…
My first two years in Latin America were very fun.
The third year was when I arrived to Mexico and that was very fun as I wrote here.
Life went to hell pretty fast as money ran out and I had to figure out how to make money online.
Working for well below minimum wage online while living on about 300 bucks a month more or less.
Give it about a year more or less and my finances were stable.
And nowadays with a year or two after that?
My life is very comfortable financially and I’m no longer working for below minimum wage.
But it took a bit of an ass kicking.
And I’m definitely not rich by any means.
Arguably, I’d have more money in the bank account if I had stayed home and worked some job up there.
The Standard of Living
All of this that I am writing here was inspired by a Tweet I saw on Twitter that I found kinda funny.
If I could find it again, I’d share it here.
But it basically said “Don’t listen to the money advice on Twitter of some 20 year old ecommerce kid who has to live in a 300 dollar a month room in Colombia.”
Of course, the emphasis in that sentence is on the word “has.”
There are plenty of cities in Latin America where a 300 dollar place is perfectly fine.
When I lived in Pachuca, I got an entire apartment to myself for about 250 a month with utilities included near the city center.
But I’m also single living alone without kids.
But, as I said before, the emphasis is on the word “has.”
If you have to live on a place that is only 300 bucks a month, that is a huge difference from finding a place in the price range that offers what you are looking for.
Because then that implies that your income is fucked.
If I’m guessing, you’re probably making around 500 to 700 bucks a month if you have to live in a place that is that cheap.
Of course, we all have our financial limits.
But there will come a point in your life….
Be it from getting your ass kicked trying to make more money…
Or just simply growing up.
Where you realize something….
Your Parents Had a Point
Anybody who has tried living abroad – regardless of age – is probably going to get some shit for it from somebody.
Who thinks the decision to live in a country that many consider to be a shithole to be a dumb decision.
Though I imagine young folks in their 20s doing this probably get a lot more shit for it simply due to their age.
And there is one concern that will be thrown your way that you will dismiss right away.
Which has to do with money.
When they bring up how are you going to support yourself…
Or, given your parents are older, are looking at what life stages you will likely go through later in life…
And wonder “how the hell are you going to pull this off” when you admit to only making some very low amount of money like 500 bucks a month.
When they think about the day you might bring kids into this world…
Or want to buy a house.
Start saving for retirement.
Whatever it might be.
Though, to be fair, you could always raise kids cheaply in barrio tepito in CDMX.
Not the most favorable area to raise kids in....
But you'd have some sick ass reggaeton blasting in the area.
Not the new shit but shit like this.
Ain't bad, right?
Going Back to My Life
Of course, I can talk about again my experience with this.
It hasn’t ever been so much being worried about being able to afford kids or not.
Since I’m not interested in having kids – not sure if I ever will but definitely not right now.
And it wasn’t so much about retirement or house either.
Being honest, my own income these days varies by the month on affiliate income.
But it basically hovers around 2,000 bucks more or less per month.
Which isn’t bad!
Where I tend to be a little more minimalist in my lifestyle, I only spend about 700 bucks a month more or less.
And I’m comfortable doing so.
Of course, I could spend more but I’d rather just save the money.
Still, the money itself isn’t that impressive.
If the Democrats were to ever pass 15 dollars an hour, I think I’d technically be under minimum wage again.
But, like I said, the older I get, the more I realize my parents had a point.
With each year, money becomes more and more important.
And it feels a lot nicer to have more money in my account than check out the nearest beach for the 50th time or invite the 100th girl back to your place to fuck.
Even though both of those things are fun!
Money again starts to take such a greater importance over other things.
And I imagine it will get even more so as I consider even more greatly the possibility of buying a house someday or saving for retirement.
In fact, I already am.
It wasn’t long ago I was looking at housing prices around Hidalgo state.
Or checking out housing prices in Chile – another country I’ve considered settling down in.
Though, to be fair, there is a flip side to all of this that I know plenty of young folks reading this (all 4 of you) are thinking.
“But I Don’t Want to be a Corporate Slave!”
However you came to that conclusion…
Perhaps you spent a few years working an office job you hated.
Or maybe you saw your parents work very long hours without enjoying life (from your perspective)…
Perhaps you have friends like that.
Or maybe you watched some random Youtuber or read some blog about the ability to “escape the corporate life for freedom” abroad.
And so you are scared of working 60 hours a week with barely any money to get by living paycheck to paycheck or whatever.
I get it.
You want to enjoy life abroad.
Travel the world.
And not just work forever and ever.
I’m just asking you to be nuanced about it.
Right now, I’m fairly comfortable.
The most comfortable I have ever been in my entire time in Latin America.
But I want more.
That’s just me.
I want to save 2,000 a month.
Increase my wealth much faster because I see much more value in that than anything else.
Me canse de comer arroz blanco con huevo frito
y ahora desayuno revoltillo de langostinos
el dinero es el tiempo,
el tiempo es el dinero
entiende, no pierdo mi tiempo en lo que no vale
I guess you can say I’ve already done a lot of the traveling and hooking up.
And, like I said, as you get older, the more you value money.
On the flip side, I don’t want to be working 80 to 90 hours a week or some insane workload like that.
I definitely don’t want to have a boss either.
I absolutely love not having some micromanaging boss.
There is no way I see myself going back to the US to work up there.
But that’s largely in part because I’ve at least cracked 2,000 a month.
If I was still living on 300 bucks a month, I fucking guarantee you I’d have left Latin America by now.
I’ll take the corporate job any day of the week.
And so I’d definitely not want to be like those hostel dudes working 10 hours a week as Alex pointed out way above…
Those guys are idiots.
Probably naïve and foolish idiots who are very young…
And they will learn.
Because you are not really free if you are slaving away 60 to 70 hours a week for 500 bucks a month.
And you are objectively fucking over your future if you do that.
But, like I said, I get the resistance to working the corporate job.
Let’s find a middle ground to settle on as to what you should do in my opinion.
The Middle Ground
First, before you leave for Latin America, I’d argue you should save up some money.
I never did save much.
But I’d argue you should save maybe 20,000 USD more or less.
That will give you enough money to cover your ass on living expenses for a little bit while covering moving costs.
Don’t take the 20,000 literally by the way – it’s just a number to give you an idea that you want to save money for an x amount of living expenses and moving costs.
Beyond that, you should have some online income already working for you that will cover your living costs once you do move.
Of course, you could do what I did and say “fuck that.”
Subsequently, you will suffer a tiny bit living on 300 bucks quite possibly a month when the money runs out…
Or, as some might argue, you might never move abroad if you set high standards for what you need before moving abroad.
Some might argue against what I’m pushing for here.
But to do things ideally – I’d really emphasize the money aspect of it. Save something up and have income established beforehand.
I’d say to enjoy life down here absolutely.
Especially when you have something established and life is easy.
But don’t get lazy either.
You need discipline to be self-employed.
You don’t have to work 60 hours a week if you don’t want to.
And I’d argue against that as you should enjoy life down here as there is so much fun to be had in Latin America.
Nightlife can be very fun.
The outdoor scenery is amazing and is one of my favorite things about this region.
Quick Side Note – this new laptop I’m writing this article with wants to change the spelling of the word “favorite” above to “favourite.” British spelling? Damn British.
The Other Variable?
Anyway, what I am saying here is to not be foolish when you jump into the water when it comes to living down here.
Be smart about it before you do it.
And when you are comfortable and established…
Remember what your parents warned about – think about life long term as to if your financial trajectory makes sense for your long term goals.
Like having kids someday or a house or saving for retirement or whatever else.
Not just enough to live by and have some minor savings.
And don’t forget to enjoy life here also with a work week that is disciplined but allows you enough time to enjoy life also.
If you have to work 70 hours a week to make 500 bucks, consider going back home and revaluate.
Which is why I say “the other variable” in the title.
So many young folks focus on the “low cost of living” but forget the “income part.”
“500 bucks a month bro!!!”
“OK, but what is your income?”
“495 bucks a month…”
But when you do got that other variable figured out….
And when you are doing well…
Don’t get lazy but don’t forget to enjoy life also.
I’ll keep it as simple as that.
Just be strategic in terms of how living down here will work out long term for you.
I’ll keep it at that for now.
And if you have any points to put down or questions, drop them below in the comment section.
Anyway, enjoy this fine message from the Boondocks to take to heart here with the message of the article.
Who works so many odd jobs.
But yet still lives in a shack on the edge of the town.
Who is now "a Mexican."
If you want to avoid the ill fate of Uncle Ruckus and not turn into a Mexican...
I do suggest you don't just focus on the cost of living but also how much money you make.
Just joking -- kinda -- no offense to Mexicans.
Thanks for reading anyway.
And follow my Twitter here.
Good post and a good question! I think people confuse why people stay abroad with making the best of their maximum earning potential and a lot of times, these two paths do not cross – I think a lot of these expats (and myself…) have forgone that financial security we can get in our home countries – if I had took that route I might be able to retire in foreign climes with better pensions and more money but the last thing I would have wanted was to retire abroad (relatively wealthy…) at the age of 67 – there is no guarantee that I would get there and in good health – at least now I have my fitness, health, energy and I can turn some girls heads – as an old fella that would never happen.
But what I worked out why people leave their countries to try and make it (in less than salubrious circumstances…) in parts of Latin America is because the small things matter – the sun on your face, a smile off a pretty lady, a nice affordable meal, miles of beach, the eternal spring weather a lot of places claim to have – something different – I come from an utter shithole with crap weather and miserable people. Where I am in Asia is far better than what I left behind… I might not be earning more than I would back home but I am happier, my life is better, my depression is gone, I never dread Monday morning – Monday (or Tuesday etc) is just like Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Granted I am not poor and I save a decent amount of coin per month but I rather do it now while I can enjoy the fruits in the autumn of my youth because old age is coming! The one thing Latin America does have over Asia is you can get permanent residence and eventual citizenship. A lot of countries where getting citizenship isn’t that difficult with Chile being one of those countries. In Asia, you can speak fluent Thai, wear a yellow shirt and kiss the kings ass on a daily basis until your lips are chapped but you aren’t getting Thai nationality as a foreigner. They can and do kick foreigners out all the time on a whim or a change of rules.
I think with this life, you need to be realistic about marriage and kids – it isn’t the right life if you want to ‘settle down’ with kids. Saying that, I wouldn’t swap what I have with anything else on offer.