Brian Armstrong

Oh Snap! I'm Moving to South America...

One of the greatest things about working for yourself is the mobility.

Freedom comes in a lot of forms: Free time for doing things you really enjoy. Freedom to make your own decisions without a boss. And freedom to travel at will. It’s great to know that I don’t have to ask people for time off or count sick days and I need to start taking advantage of this more.

That’s why I’ve been spending the last year or so transitioning my business and income to be more passive and more online because I’ve had this goal in mind for a long time: I’d like to travel the world and earning money doing it!

The idea of traveling around the world on a shoe-string budget picking up odd jobs and staying on couches doesn’t really appeal to me. What DOES appeal to me is having a business that will continue to grow and thrive as I travel the world. The internet has made this possible.

What city are you going to? I’m going to Buenos Aires Argentina first just because I’ve heard it’s amazing. I’ll probably just drop into a hostel there and figure it out from there. I eventually hope to see a bunch of places around Argentina, but I’m deliberately leaving it unplanned. I don’t want to have the deadline looming of a pre-purchased flight or anything like that. I want to just explore as I go.

When are you going? Probably around early May after attending a friend’s wedding in the states.

Why Buenos Aires? I first heard about this place from Tim Ferriss (this trip is very Tim Ferriss-esque overall) and have since read a great deal about it. Here are a few things I like about it:

  • It’s called the Paris of South America - gorgeous city, cafes, clubs, shops, etc

  • Extremely safe and welcoming of foreigners

  • Still inexpensive

  • Beautiful women

  • Fast and widely available internet

Basically the only bad thing I can find about it is that people are allowed to smoke in bars and clubs there.

I plan to go to a bunch of other places after Bueones Aires as well.

How can you afford to travel the world? It’s not that expensive. Most people think of world travel like a vacation - and that’s not the right way to think about it.

Vacations are expensive because you still have all your expenses back home (mortgage/rent, car payment, gym, cell phone, etc) to make in ADDITION to the new expenses you just rang up (plane ticket, hotels, etc). It’s basically like living in two cities at once.

But I’m not taking a VACATION to South America - I’m actually MOVING there. This means I will not be paying any living expenses in the U.S., I will be selling my car, and will be canceling or putting on hold all other expenses (phone, gym, etc).

I won’t be staying in hotels there or paying tourist prices. I will be renting an apartment (probably month to month). The plane ticket to get there isn’t cheap (about $1,000) but once there most travel around South America can be done on buses or trains (or even short plane trips city to city) very inexpensively.

How (in)expensive is it to live there? Well, I’m told you can rent a fully furnished apartment with AC and internet included for around $400/month US which is just ridiculous. There is an elaborate subway and bus system in Beunos Aires (which costs I think 25 cents to ride?) so you don’t need a car. And the best steak dinner you’ve ever had in your life is about $5.

And that is living a rather nice lifestyle. You can also stay in shared Hostels for about $7 per night and eat more modest meals. This would bring your total living expenses in Buenos Aires down to about $15 per day or $450 per month if you really wanted to.

In short, I actually plan to be spending MUCH LESS than I currently do to live in the U.S. (Perhaps with the plane ticket the first month might about break even with U.S. expenses.)

What are you going to bring with you? As little as possible. Basically a backpack a few clothes, my laptop, and a camera. This post helped me out a lot and a number of things I’ve read have convinced of the wisdom of traveling light. I still need to get a good backpack.

What will you do with all your stuff? Sell it or give it away on Craigslist.com most likely, aside from a few boxes my current roommate might let me keep in the closet. If you live in Houston and want a pet tarantula send me an email. I have two!

How will you be making money? The same way I make money in Houston. I will have to give my properties to a management company most likely (which will reduce the cash flow). But otherwise it won’t change much.

Ever heard of geo-arbitrage? Yes. For those who don’t know, one awesome thing about making money on the internet is what’s sometimes referred to as “geo-arbitrage”. For the first time in history, the internet has allowed people to not have to reside in the same city where they earn a living. That means you can EARN money in dollars or euros and SPEND it in a currency that offers a good exchange rate (like Argentine pesos) - in effect, instantly increasing the value of your money.

Who are you going with? No one! I’m going by myself. This will be a good process of self discovery and force me to meet new people I’m sure. I’ve done trips in the past with groups and it’s hard to really get the feel for a culture since you just stay together all the time (and ultimately end up getting on each others nerves a bit by the end).

If you happen to be in the same city when I am though I’m always up for meeting. Drop me a line.

Actually, a big shout out is owed to Manuel Zeh - a friend who is currently traveling the world (and in Honduras?) who has been traveling for years and gave me a ton of tips. Hopefully our paths will cross somewhere down there!

Won’t you get bored and lonely? Well, honestly I have no idea. Maybe. That’s why I’m leaving it unplanned. I might stay there for a year and come back, or eventually head to another continent, or travel indefinitely, or be back in a month.

But I doubt I’ll get bored or lonely. After all, it’s not like I’ll be visiting museums or laying on a beach. I’m going to be LIVING there. So I’ll still be working a lot on my business, playing sports, joining clubs, meeting other entrepreneurs, partying, etc. I’ll be doing many of the things I do in Houston and hopefully lots more. I plan on taking up a few new hobbies. Also, I can be pretty outgoing when I need to be.

I don’t have plans to stay in Houston long term, so I figure world travel will be a good way to try a bunch of new cities and ultimately decide where I might want to live.

How is your Spanish? Hablo un poco espanol. Necesito practicar y creo que Buenos Aires es un lugar perfecto!

Can you send a postcard? I’ll be blogging my way throughout the journey (and the preparation leading up to it - the trip isn’t until May this year) with lots of photos so stay tuned. As always, I’d love to hear your suggestions or tips if you’ve had a similar adventure or know the area well.

I think this will be an excellent experiment in truly Breaking Free, and I hope to share as much of it as I can with you!

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