For those of you, who haven’t been following my story: I was set up to head out on a wonderful year of traveling, after my retirement, when I was hit by some financial reversals. My home was already on the market, and I was nearly done with getting rid of almost everything I owned. Suddenly, I found myself, not only retired, but with less than a quarter of the funds I had expected to retire on. I was lucky that I had a spread sheet filled out with my budget for a year of travel.
Grabbing my spreadsheet, I cut out France, England, and Hong Kong. I kept Ecuador, Mexico, and eastern Europe. At that time I hadn’t decided on Poland yet. I extended my stay in each country from 30 days to 90 days, saving myself 2/3s of the airfare. I figured that with some savings, I could live on my tiny pension for the two years before social security payments started coming in. I was hoping to live on $3,000 USD per month. Next week marks one year of travel. I have averaged $1,800 USD per month, and haven’t touched my savings. This includes my fixed expenses like the storage unit I still have back home.
One of the best ways I have found to limit my expenses, is to plan everything out well in advance. Right now I am in Medellin, Colombia. I will next be running down to Peru to hide from the Northern Hemisphere winter. I have done a lot of research about Arequipa, where I will be going. I am afraid that I didn’t do enough research on Medellin before coming here. Cheap, weather, and safety was all I really looked at. I forgot about the activities I like best.
When I prepare properly this is the work flow I should be using. Each of these points, past the first one, I have had to learn the importance of by trial and error. Lots and Lots of errors.
- Find a place where I can live for under $1,500 USD per month. For this I use Nomadlist, Numbeo, Price of Travel, and Expatistan.
- Check to make sure the weather is between 10C and 30C for the whole time I will be there. This cane be found in the city article in Wikipedia for a lot of cities. If you want to find the areas that have the best weather for you for the times you need, before checking on cost of living, use: Weather2Travel, and Besttimetovisit, Best Time to Visit is the most useful, I think.
- Check expat blogs about the safety of the town or city. You can find a blog that mirrors the sort of traveler you are. I like A Little Adrift, and International Living. YouTube videos are good too. There are a lot of blogs and vlogs out there, and you can quickly tell if they are a good fit for you. I would avoid the ones that don’t give you a good experience for free. If you find one you really like, you can always subscribe to the paid service to support it.
- Because of my tight budget, I have to find places with plenty of free fun things to do. The most important thing for me, is that the city or town is walkable. I love to walk.
- High on my list is that the city is pretty. An UNESCO city is my top pick always.
Once I have gone through these steps, I usually have several candidates for my temporary home. It is at this point I start checking out to see if there are any real deal killers.
- I check to see that the visa restrictions are not too odious for a person of my nationality.
- I make sure that I can get a visa of at least 90 days. Remember that in the Schengen Union you are limited to 90 days every 180 days, when you add up all your stays in any of the Schengen countries.
- I check to make sure there are AirBnBs in my price range, which are suitable for me, in the city near the walkable areas. I make sure that they have the option for long term rental. I haven’t had any trouble with this outside the US.
- Lastly I make sure that getting there will not be a problem and that price isn’t too high.
At this point I have my short list. I keep track of my ideas by tracking flights in Google flights and hearting possible AirBnBs. I spend some time reading about the candidates and watching videos about living in the various cities, to make sure they are a right fit for me. I go on Google Maps and ‘walk’ the street views. I also look at the Google Maps photos. You can get a very good idea what the grocery stores and shopping malls are like, but looking at photos people have posted.
Sixty days out from the date I want to fly to my next home, I book my flight, and an AirBnB. This seems to insure that I get a place to stay and a good price on the flights.