My husband and I recently returned from a journey around the world with our three young children. Over the course of two years, our travels took us to 12 countries on five continents and united our family in ways we could not have foreseen. We hiked the Inca Trail…rode camelback through the Sahara…chased flamenco in Andalusía…
While some relish the challenge of building their dream business from the ground up, many expats prefer the reduced risk and hassle that comes with buying an existing business. You probably won’t save money over starting a business from scratch, as the sellers of a successful business will want to recoup their own investment.
Ten years ago American health professional Jonathan Ahladas left Springfield, Massachusetts to make a new home in the Spanish capital, Madrid. He’s still glad he did. “In the States your routine is going to work, taking the car, driving home, and then you’re home for the rest of the day,” says Jonathan.
With an investment of just under $50,000, Michelle and Austin Drill are now on their way to making a living…selling bagged dirt in Nicaragua. The former New Yorkers found a place where they could breathe, the easy-going beach town of San Juan del Sur on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast, and a business opportunity whose time had come.
“I love the stimulation. Every time I take someone on a tour I learn something new about places I’ve seen hundreds of times before.” So says Helene Kahn who has loved Mexico since she was 10 years old. Now she lives in the artistic hub of San Miguel de Allende and gets paid for something she loves doing: showing people around her adopted country.
I first met Tom Linzmeier when we were teaching self-employment seminars in Washington, D.C. Tom had a career as a stockbroker before becoming a full-time investor. Then he reinvented himself again as a teacher. For several years, we continued to bump into each other at adult education centers around the country but after a while we lost touch.
On our recent trip to France, my family and I rented a charming house in the countryside near St. Rémy. When we moved on to Paris, we settled into an apartment owned by an American expat currently working on a project in Seattle.
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.
Arlene Gibbs was on-set in Toronto, working on a movie in production, when she realized she needed a life change. The two months she spent on location was the longest period she had been away from Los Angeles since she began working there 10 years previously. “Everything in L.A. was about ‘The Business’,” she says. “Everyone I interacted with at work…at the cafes…even at the gym was involved in the movie industry.”
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.