6 Step Strategy For Living Abroad

The only thing harder about moving to another country is deciding on where. You can read guidebooks and forums all day but you’ll never be absolutely certain that recommended places fit you best. You need to go there to find out for yourself.

Let’s start with the first two steps…

Step 1: Compile a long list of cities and countries that you want to visit. Categorize those by continent and see if it’s obvious that you should visit one continent before all others. For me that was the case for South America, though Eastern Europe was a close second.

Step 2: Plan out a logical route for your first ambitious trip abroad. Fill the spaces in between with cities you are curious about and others that help chop up long trips. Consult guidebooks to see about train or bus times between cities along with ballpark lodging numbers that help you calculate a rough budget. Giving you a budget estimate is useless without knowledge of your travel style and tastes, so ask those who are similar to you for an idea. (You can also use sites like One World to plan around-the-world trips via airplane.)

For me travel has two modes: research and living, with some overlap in between. I generally like to visit a city first before committing an extended period of time there. My first trip to South America was mostly research, hopping around and taking notes on the cities I liked. Out of the 30 or so I visited, I discovered two that I wanted to return to: Cordoba and Rio. I did stay in both cities longer than I planned, but not long enough to where I felt like I was a resident instead of a tourist. Understand that to find a city you love, you may have to visit a lot of cities you dislike. It’s a process that takes time.

My current trip is heavy on the living side. I stayed in Medellin for six months, with research side-trips to Bogota, Cali, and Santa Marta. I’m now in Rio de Janerio after researching the north of Brazil. If I like any of these research cities I’ll stay up to a week and consider returning in the future for a longer time. For example Pipa is a beach town that I would definitely live for a summer, something that I would not have known unless I visited. While I value other people’s opinions of places, I won’t know for sure unless I go there and have a look.

I don’t really see the point of doing only research, which is the Western way of travel, assuming the Westerner is not merely going to a Caribbean resort. There will most likely be foreign cities that make you happier than your own, and visiting them without having the option of staying longer to feel it out seems a bit torturous to me. If you’ll never be able to move to a city that you love, I’m wondering if it’s best not to travel in the first place, because you’ll be stuck in your crappy city knowing for sure that there is something better.

Step 3: Figure out money and work logistics. This is where guys start with the excuses that they “can’t,” but to me that says they don’t want it bad enough. Fine, stay where you’re at it and live vicariously through others, but I get emails from guys all the time that are working their asses off just for a month away, and that’s usually how it starts: a decent-sized trip that a guy figures out how to lengthen in future years. My first trip away was only a week long.

Step 4: Enjoy your trip. I strongly urge you to integrate yourself into the cultures you visit by learning the language and avoiding other gringos. How will you know if a city is good or not for a medium or long-term stay if you don’t mix with the people who live there? If you’re coming to South America, learn Spanish or Portuguese. Don’t be lazy. With just a few hundred words you’ll be able to do so much more and be more motivated to talk to locals and begin to understand how they’re like. It’s okay to stay in hostels but every now and then spring for a roach motel to get away from English and general comfort. Push yourself a little more than you’re used to.

Step 5: Reflect after your trip is over. Is there a city you fell in love with? If you visited at least a dozen, chances are one of them will be worthy of a lengthy return. How can you make that happen? You’re probably going to have to figure out a different way of making money, perhaps your own internet or freelance business. Talk to other guys who have what you want and figure out how they did it. While it will be hard to duplicate someone else’s success, there will be lessons you can learn. I know it’s not easy to figure out a new way of making money, but I’ve met a ton of guys doing it. You can as well if you have slightly above-average intelligence, and if you’re reading this right now then chances are you do.

Step 6: Live abroad. Book a one way ticket with money in the bank and some passive income coming in on the side. Once there rent a room and spend a couple hours a day working, a couple hours a day learning the local language, and the rest on your own pet projects. Hang out at a local university, explore the nightlife, make friends, sleep with the local women, enjoy life, and eventually return home a better man. What more can you ask for?

And thankfully while living in a city your expenses will be significantly lower than when traveling through.

After my current trip in South America, I plan on coming back to D.C. to recharge for several months and then maybe do a tame trip through parts of Europe. That’s my master plan, research and living, research and living, until there’s not a whole lot of research left to do and I build roots in a place that I love.

If you liked this post then I think you will like my travel memoir A Dead Bat In Paraguay, about when I quit my job and sold my stuff to try and bang my way across South America. It contains my experiences with South American women and the struggles that crushed me both mentally and physically. Called "refreshing." "honest," and "inspiring," A Dead Bat In Paraguay is available in both eBook and paperback. Check out the homepage to watch the introductory video, read exerpts, or learn more about what's inside.

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  • http://thedcam.com thedcam

    This is a pretty good inspiration to get out of the US for a while and see what’s going on. The only issue could be that Egypt seems to be the most interesting country to check out, but with my alabaster skin and exclusive wear of funny cartoon Muhammad t-shirts, it might not work out. Any advice for visiting the Middle East when you’re a piece of easily identifiable American scum?

    thedcam’s last blog post: Your Water Courtesy Of Reebok.

  • http://www.thegmanifesto.com The G Manifesto

    Good post. I am basically doing this right now.

    “That’s my master plan, research and living, research and living, until there’s not a whole lot of research left to do and I build roots in a place that I love.”

    I always wonder if there is that special place out there. Or if I will have to continue to travel.

    Either way, it is fun trying to figure out.

    - MPM

    The G Manifesto’s last blog post: The G Manifesto Awards, The Best of 2009.

  • http://www.locationlessliving.com Jason

    This was an interesting post for sure.

    I will reiterate the quote “That’s my master plan, research and living, research and living, until there’s not a whole lot of research left to do and I build roots in a place that I love.”

    Jason’s last blog post: Street Performers in Bogota, Colombia.

  • Anonymous

    What you don’t explain is what you do when you get “there”. Changing locations doesn’t change the fact that you’ll probably get bored and tired of it at some point; it’s just that the BS is in another language, in another form, or involves another set of requirements (like “taxes” or “gifts” and “fees”). If you think I’m living vicariously through you, then you’re delusional. (This from someone who’s travelled the world, worked fishing boats for work, made great friends with local longshoremen, carried a damn gun for security while travelling through Africa, and so on…)

  • c-dilla

    Great post.

  • Ali C

    Great post. I’d like to add that before all you readers decide that you want to live abroad, you need to understand that living in a foreign country is NOT the same as being a tourist in said country. It won’t always be sunshine and roses. Having lived abroad several times I can tell you that the novelty of living abroad will wear off after several months.

  • http://urbanrealist.blogspot.com John Smith

    Or you can join the foreign service and live on American salary in foreign countries + free housing

    John Smith’s last blog post: Part 2.

  • http://learnspanishlearnspanish.com/ Spanish Mark

    Roosh, I am an American living abroad now for many years. I highly recommend Americans to unplug from the ridiculous feudal corporate system and beware that life is short and should be lived as an adventure not as a serf.

    Are you too scared to unplug? I do not feel sorry for you as,
    working for your corporate boss is basically working for another man’s bonus and another man’s wife.

    The thing about living abroad and choosing your country is, I think choosing a country that you have a connection is a conservative way to start.
    That is if you are Italian American, you could live in Italy. This way you do not feel such a radical break from the world.
    For work, if money gets low you can always teach English as a second language.

    Spanish Mark’s last blog post: How many Americans live in Mexico.

  • Anonymous

    i dunno why “the corporate life” gets such a bad racket. i love my job. maybe i’m just lucky.

    if more companies participated in profit-sharing, i think the miserable serfs might perk up a little bit and try to help out for the greater good.

    “working for your corporate boss is working for another man’s bonus and another man’s wife”

    with profit sharing, if your company does good, you get more money, easy as that.

    works for me! good luck, all.

  • Travel Bug

    “Once there rent a room and spend a couple hours a day working, a couple hours a day learning the local language, and the rest on your own pet projects.”

    I’d recommend the chapter in Four Hour Workweek called “Filling the Void.”

    Full of great info for how to spend your time once abroad.

  • Gunslingergregi

    Working for someone else is probably the easiest way I see to get chunks of money together. It reduces variables that you have in a small business and makes it easier to plan when you know next week you get this much money. You can plan out 6 months to a year pretty accuratly as long as you still have that job.

    Then you take that loot and open some small business to where you don’t have to do it on a shoestring but are able to go full go from the beginning with less overhead. Pay off a house so no mortgage. Get to where you basically have no bills and that equals the freedom to stop the work at the job.

  • Gunslingergregi

    You can make your own luck.

  • Chris

    It definitely is the same old BS, or a new version of the same old BS, in a different language in foreign countries. Check the Human Development Index for a general measure of how much relative BS you may need to put up with in any given country. ‘Legal’ BS (taxes) notwithstanding. (BTW, notice that the countries considered the most developed are mostly socialist. That is, they take care of their citizens.)

    The thrill of travel is generally due to the stimulation of the brain/elimination of predictability brought about by a new environment. Therefore, you generally need to keep travelling to keep that feeling going.

    The stimulation eventually wears off no matter where you go, and the benefits that do last need to be greater than the sum of what you give up (family, friends, language, convenience, etc) of living in your own country. For many, many people that start out thinking otherwise, the benefits of constant travel or permanent relocation fall short of what they are giving up at home.

    Others choose to live permanently abroad because that is the only place that they can gain a competitive advantage in life, on the merit of their nationality only (they can teach english, attract women, live better due to currency/income arbitrage, etc.) Others have nothing to go back to and/or find the social climate of the country to be more fulfilling than that of their home, and will put up with everything else for this benefit.

    If you want to look for a place to settle that has longer lasting advantages and therefore would be a better prospect for long term settlement, than take a hard look at the human development index and pick the country that has a social climate that you can stand/enjoy that is highest on the list.

  • Roosh

    Good points Chris.

    “the benefits of constant travel or permanent relocation fall short of what they are giving up at home”

    This is why I don’t recommend a permanent move. But a couple stints abroad can be very valuable and fulfilling experiences. Something I believe is worth trying.

  • Tom

    I spent my 20s abroad and it was incredibly exciting and fun, but after a while it really got boring and routine, and worse, you begin to grasp that most other countries simply don’t share our PC attitudes and have strong in/out group ways of thinking based on an unbroken tradition, and you will never integrate into a high level of the local country where you will be able to get the truly hot girls and positions.

    Harsh truths, but every expat to a non-Western country eventually learns its truth.

    The truth is, as a foreigner it’s harder to get hot girls overseas (something alluded to even by Roosh), you have to struggle to be accepted into the social levels you are familiar with at home, and in general you discover – to your suprise – that you have a lower social position than back home and worse social opportunities (girls, jobs, etc).

    It’s still incredibly fun and exciting to live overseas – even for many years – but eventually it’s wears out. Excitement wears off, and you come home, and you begin to discover that no matter how open minded you are, many aspects of non-Western countries you find impossible to respect and that it was not accidental that the West came to dominate the modern world. When this kind of contempt begins to develop, you are in the final stages of your expat-hood.

    The sad truth is no Westerner belongs for too many years in a non-Western country. Go, enjoy, but never lose sight of the fact that you don’t really belong there.

    I wouldn’t trade my ex-pat 20s for anything, but the only long-term, lifelong ex-pats are hardened losers who obviously have no chance of making it at home. Next time you go out, speak to anyone who’s been an ex-pat for more than 10 yrs, and see if you truly think this guy had a chance of being anything back home.

  • URF

    I agree with points made Chris and Tom. I had done the overseas stints thing in my 20′s but also wanted to live & work overseas for a longer period. So, I eventually left a decent paying corporate job and moved overseas where I started a business. I’m striving to make this a temporary, successful extended stint though before going back to my home country indefinitely precisely because of the downsides you mentioned.

    Having experienced both, I wholeheartedly recommend what Roosh proposes:

    “This is why I don’t recommend a permanent move. But a couple stints abroad can be very valuable and fulfilling experiences. Something I believe is worth trying.”

  • Roosh

    I think Tom and Chris are pointing out the problems of living abroad for too long, and there are some real problems. You do hit the point of diminishing return after a while and sometimes you will find yourself asking… “Why am I still here?”

    But since 95% of guys reading haven’t done a stint abroad, 3-6 months away still is short enough where you remain in that honeymoon period.

    “speak to anyone who’s been an ex-pat for more than 10 yrs, and see if you truly think this guy had a chance of being anything back home”

    I only met one guy who’s been away 10 years. 55 y/o american guy living on disability, which isn’t enough money to make it in the states so he bunkered down in south america. Alcoholic, would see prostitutes to get his sexual fix, but otherwise an interesting guy.

  • Gunslingergregi

    ””””’I wouldn’t trade my ex-pat 20s for anything, but the only long-term, lifelong ex-pats are hardened losers who obviously have no chance of making it at home. Next time you go out, speak to anyone who’s been an ex-pat for more than 10 yrs, and see if you truly think this guy had a chance of being anything back home.”””””””

    lol where else ya gonna make 15 grand working 28 days then get a month off and fly anywhere you want to go. My ex boss was a millionaire and did not return to england bought himself a 300k house in pi. He was tired of getting taxed the shit out of. Who can’t make it in the states. Just that the laws are becoming so bad that even if you make it. It can be easily taken away by something outside your control. The only sane thing to do is expat.

  • Gunslingergregi

    Plus the market is bigger outside the states for small business. Other countries are going through their baby boom and on there way to the same level of wages as states but still at the point where stuff is cheap and they have a shitload of young people. The states is dead. Couple people walking the streets and that is all.

  • Gunslingergregi

    ”””””I think Tom and Chris are pointing out the problems of living abroad for too long, and there are some real problems. You do hit the point of diminishing return after a while and sometimes you will find yourself asking… “Why am I still here?”””””””

    Well I think it would be optimal actually for a guy who wants kids that he will actually be able to raise. Probably the biggest feature. Being able to find a good woman who can’t take all your shit.

  • Gunslingergregi

    But if ya look at where the wind is blowing the amount of freedom western men are going to have looks like it will be nil if you accidently make it into the system.

  • Chris

    ””””’I wouldn’t trade my ex-pat 20s for anything, but the only long-term, lifelong ex-pats are hardened losers who obviously have no chance of making it at home. Next time you go out, speak to anyone who’s been an ex-pat for more than 10 yrs, and see if you truly think this guy had a chance of being anything back home.”””””””

    Yeah, I don’t necessarily agree with this generalization, although it probably is the case more often than not.

    I’ve met long term ex-pats who were definitely NOT losers by anyones standard, and who could actually be labeled as incredible winners for there ability to define life, live life, and succeed on their own terms and vision. They have money, women (non-hookers) and happiness.

    It takes a lot more skill, tenacity, and guts to accomplish this than it does to settle for a life/environment that you enjoy less. I’d rather enjoy modest financial success as an owner of a language institute in a country that I enjoy than be an overworked corporate lawyer in the USA. Being the latter would be “less successful” for me than the former. It would signify giving up and settling. Some talented individuals don’t have the family ties that justify settling in their location of origin, and therefore they have the social freedom to find their own niche in the world.

    To say that anyone who doesn’t long term settle in their country of origin is a loser, is saying that their country of origin offers the best that this world has to offer. 99% of the time, this wont be the case and saying such signifies either lack of fore-thought about this statement or else die hard blind nationalism to your country. Taking the USA as an example, its often a relief for its forward thinking citizens to be in the more intellectual and liberal climate of Western Europe. This is just one example of a cultural difference that can make long term expatriation in another country worthwhile for true winners.

  • paully

    a lot of it depends on what they’re doing abroad, but that being said, even specialized or lucrative work abroad is very “niche”, and the longer you do it the more your job-field back home will be evolving and changing. ive been abroad in asia for the last 5 years and know a lot of highly paid lawyers from the US and Australia who know that there’s little chance of them finding work back home. some of them dont give a shit tho.

    also, before you buy a “one way ticket” to a country, make sure you understand their visa procedures. some countries will not let you in unless you have a ticket leaving the country. i learned this the hard way once. :)

  • http://jont.blogspot.com Mark James

    Try the foreign service, you get to move around and be an expat in different countries but return to the US once in awhile.

  • Dannny

    I agree with Tom in certain aspects. I’ve lived in the UK for the majority of my life and I lived abroad in Spain for over a year, I learnt the language to fluency and that was my main aim when I went over there. I would definitely recommend Barcelona to anybody by the way, it’s awesome, chicks from all over the world!

    I’ve recently graduated from Uni and whilst I have some experience on my CV, I’ve realised that I need to get a year’s experience on my CV in a corporate job, pay off all my debts then I can go abroad! I’m sick of all the PC bullshit in the UK, I think you guys have it a lot in the US as well? In western countries, I’ve found that if you’re very good at speaking the local language or fairly good, chicks dig it, especially being a native english speaker, as we’re considered very ignorant when it comes to languages!

    Although I want to go back to Spain, I wouldn’t mind trying life in South America, however I’m not too sure about the money making prospects in places like Buenos Aires? What do you guys think?

  • Roosh

    Danny: it depends on what type of job you are looking for, but teaching english is most lucrative in Brazil right now.

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  • Marc

    I have to disagree with Tom and Chris. I was living the proverbial American dream in my twenties. I had made it and was a winner, not a loser. I thought, is this as good as it gets? Because I began to feel an ever increasing void, but couldn’t figure out what was wrong. So I went abroad for a change of scenery. I’ve been gone for 10 years now and there isn’t any novelty to wear off. For me, it’s about living a fulfilling, interesting and meaningful life. I am nearing the end of my thirties now. This isn’t some youthful flight of fancy, this is my fleeting life. I couldn’t imagine spending my 40s in the US now. Fifteen years ago, I wouldn’t have traded the US for anything, but we live and learn.

    Yes, I frequently come back to the states because I have to. Parents’ health issues, friends, etc. And yes, I’ve known people who lived abroad for years and felt they had to go back to the states. I notice real qualitative differences between people like me and people like that. Usually, they never actually overcome their American cultural indoctrination. They usually never truly immerse themselves in the country they are in. Even after years they are still measuring themselves against their peers in America over all this meaningless crap. Often times they are living in an ex-pat bubble spending a good amount of time reminiscing about America and longing to rejoin the corporate hive. I’ve known more than one American who basically went back because their lives were incomplete without American spectator sports. If watching NBA and NFL is your primary reason for being and you are unable to ween yourself off these time sinks that steal the best years of your life then you are institutionalized and irretrievable. Honestly, if you take pride in the thought that America produces the best NBA and NFL players in the world and this factors into your state of emotional well-being then you have issues. If you are living vicariously through a large screen TV you have issues. If you are addicted to video games, you have issues. If you buy Axe deodorant because you saw a commercial, you are in need of serious deprogramming. Just rub some salt on your armpits and get a clue. Good luck to you. This life abroad ain’t for everyone.

    Just to round this out. If you want to live abroad you are going to need income and a plan. If this requires going back home for a year or longer to save up and begin to figure out a long term income stream that’s fine. If you want to live abroad and live the life, then you are going to have to become an entrepreneur. Let me reiterate, to live long term outside the US you are gong to have to become an entrepreneur. Which primarily means an entrepreneurial mindset in all your long term thinking. That means being resourceful, creative and doing things you might not have previously considered. You need to get hungry. Don’t hold back, your life is already becoming more interesting. You are going to have to think outside the box to apply all the talents and creativity that your American employer has no use for and probably discourages. If you haven’t used these assets in a while then it will be tough starting out. Probably very tough. You need to learn to deal with failure and how to recover and persevere. Learn from how reality shreds your best laid plans and continue to improve and execute them. Course correct by learning what not to do. Continue to innovate. You can take short term jobs in a foreign country as a camarero or language professor or maybe even manage a white collar corporate gig. Maybe if you find a town to settle down in, even a bricks and mortar business. However, in my experience if you can make your livelihood online, that will give you the greatest flexibility. Do you have a skill that people will pay for online? Can you write and sell a book like Roosh? Can you build a website that sells advertising? Basically this all boils down to running your own life on your own terms and not continuing to exist in a soul destroying corporation. No its not easy, it took me years to make real money online. It takes time and you may have to work in corporate fashion for a while or even a long while, but eventually you will begin to exert more and more authority over your own time and what you do with it. Its about taking control of your life and actually living it rather than sacrificing your life so your kids can grow up and train for a white collar career in corporate-dronism at State U.

  • Jim

    “You are going to have to think outside the box to apply all the talents and creativity that your American employer has no use for and probably discourages.”

    Obviously from a failure. What employer would not want talented creative people?

    His mind: “I’m talented and creative, so they hate me.”

    Everyone else’s mind: “The guy, who doesn’t know shit, is new, can’t understand why we do things a certain way, and has never really done anything, wants everybody else to do things his way.”

  • Nguyen

    Very good points Marc. Especially about the spectator sports. i thought i was the only one..thanks for pointing it out. “time sinks”–well coined phrase dude. What online business are you in now? Any idea how much money a book deal gets you online? i think roosh is rather successful but his success has been years in the making..

  • Harry

    Most of the guys I know who believe that they made it in the States all followed the herd because they were too scared of thinking and acting on their own. The result? They mainly all married local girls, the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th girl they’d ever been with, and in consequence they knew very little about women when they married one. The sweet petite grew a head like a hog and a body like an ox with an attitude like a tazmanian devil. I’m guessing these she-beast probably grew hair out of their assholes as well. Despite their obvious defects, the state of man in this country being what it is, these creatures from the deep were still capable and able to cheat on their husbands. Some of the fellows got divorced when they learned of infidelities, drug addictions or embezzled funds from accounts; others were ditched by the little missus and in either case, they had to give up half of what they had earned, half of the value of all assets and start forfeiting business income, salary and other income to the sweet young thing turned hedgehog. That’s what a winner looks like in the States, just so long as he keeps a stiff upper lip and states, “It’s for the kids.”

  • Anonymous

    I will spending time in North Africa-Tunisia and I want to meet the local girls. What would be the best approach and the best website for meeting them. Thank you.

  • tour guides

    Nice post! If you wanna to have a tour guides you need to find out a very good page…

  • http://Globaldatingsolution.com Steve

    Guys, a real how to guide on how to escape the rat race and make enough of a passive income so you can live abroad, check out Walt Goodridge’s material at http://www.waltgoodridge.com/wwebsitesandbooks.html

    He is very inspirational and sets you on a spiritual path too. It will motivate you to do what you have to do to escape this god aweful US dating scene.

  • YB13

    I would slightly disagree with the quote about not traveling to certain appealing cities if we can’t live there.bc….once in a city you like, there is absolutely going to be a way to live there with the will :)

  • YB13

    As someone mentioned above, I agree the only way you will be able to live abroad for an extended period of time is if you have some sort of unique or entrepreneurial skill applicable to a certain market. So be it if you have to work for “the man” a few more years, etc to save up money or most importantly acquire the influences to make this dream feasible.

  • Asia Expat

    Roosh….it is good to see the next generation of American guys getting out of the US into the real world. Excellent blog. However….you need to spend the next 5-10 years in Asia…if you think Eastern Europe and Latin America was an experience, you will not return from Asia….Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Phil.

    Go now….Asia….you will stumble across the American expats who will never return to their homeland, especially now. It used to be just the women….but now with the US economy heading into the abyss, there is very little reason for a guy to live in the US. If you are at the high school or univ. level, you have to be NUTS to go to a US university. Those like me who left in the early 90s….cant recognize the states and the women situation is just beyond description. Its like a nightmare version of Groundhog Day.

    ….now venture forth….you may want to start with Japan….a smile will sustain you there…and may your chin chin be genki….

  • Asia Expat

    …and you may visit China as well, but beware the hoes of Shanghai (which refers to around 95% of the women there)….and in China as whole, the jade buddha is often made out of green plastic resin…

  • Lollerskates

    Lol Harry that’s some hellish scenario !