When a prospective expat is looking seriously at moving to a foreign country, a lot of research is done from home. But then comes the scouting trip to see the places they’ve read about. And many choose to hire professionals to guide them. And if you’re living in an up-and-coming area for expats—that doesn’t have such a service—you could be the one to provide the tour.
When my husband David and I decided to move to Ecuador, we had a very long list of reasons why we felt the move would be the right choice for our family. Moderate weather, low living expenses, and exposure to a different culture were right up at the top. But one of the things we most looked forward to was the chance to run our own business. The economic conditions and miles of red tape back home convinced us that being self-employed in the U.S. was not the wisest choice.
Bucaramanga is one of Colombia’s most beautiful cities. Colombians refer to it as the “City of Parks” because of its many green spaces. But when tourists come to the Santander department—of which Bucamaranga is the capital—they typically have one thing in mind: adventure. The landscape of Santander is a treasure trove of mountains, rivers, lakes, caves, and forests.
If you’re ready to move overseas…with all the promise it holds of warm weather, being your own boss, and working just a few hours a day…but the prospect of actually packing up your worldly goods and getting on that plane sounds intimidating, let me tell you something. You have a sister. Right now, I’m packing up for an extended trip to Europe. At the end of it, I’m going to give seminars in London on the benefits of self-employment. I love this part of my work…meeting new people, visiting new cities, and spreading a message that I truly believe in. Best of all, I’ve discovered that the entrepreneurial spirit has no geographic boundaries. Every day enterprising folks all over the world are putting their ideas into action.
Like many expat business people, Eric and Stephanie Slater spotted an opening in the market and came up with a business idea to fill it. In their case, it was a need for good bread. It’s an issue across Central America but particularly in San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua where the couple decided they wanted to settle down. San Juan is a beach town with a ready market of hungry surfers, backpackers, and other travelers.
Belize is a small country, with only 330,000+ residents. Ninety percent of businesses here are small or microbusinesses, making it a good place for an overseas venture. I’ve lived here full-time for six years now, and I know expats running all types of businesses. It’s surprisingly easy. For example, Frik De Meyere, owner of Belize Wind Energy and a real estate agent with Mannsfeld and Associates, says he spent 80% of his time on paperwork back in Europe. But in Belize, paperwork only takes 10% of his time.
Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula is a place set off from the rest of the country, as peninsulas often are. That helped it keep its distinct Maya culture… and a culinary culture that is now making waves. As cooks and food enthusiasts seek out the origins of various ethnic cuisines, they are looking to Yucatán for answers.
Thanks to a climate that features warm weather year-round, a stable democratic government, excellent health care, low cost of living, and a laid-back lifestyle, Costa Rica has been welcoming expats looking for a pleasant place to live and retire for more than 30 years—and is still going strong.
In the jungle of Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast, where monkeys howl from coconut palms, sloths lazily cross the street, and reggae wafts in the air… is a café you might expect to find in a neighborhood in Brooklyn.
The rising popularity of ecotourism means you can now combine a way of life which respects nature with a comfortable livelihood. Setting up an ecotourism business overseas is no longer an off-beat, hardship posting. True it requires effort, but these days you are more likely to see a good return on your efforts and investment.