Maverick Traveler

Location Independence, Geo Arbitrage, Individual Freedom

Episode #49 – Starting A New Life In Medellin, Colombia

Few days ago, I had a chance to connect with Andrew over at MedellinBuzz.com and chat about different topics. We talked about travel, living in Colombia and making money online.

I found Andrew’s experience and perspective refreshing because, just like myself, he was born and partly raised in one country, then he moved to America, and then he returned back to his homeland. I did the exact same thing: I was born in Ukraine, grew up in America and now moved permanently to Kiev, Ukraine.

So, it’s a bit different than your run of the mill backpacker who’s traveling around the world or an expat who decided to permanently move to another country.

In this hour-long interview, we covered a ton of great stuff.

In fact, there’s something here for just about anyone.

Here are some highlights:

  • What’s life really like in Medellin, Colombia (without the BS)
  • The challenges of integrating into Colombia’s society (even if you’re originally from there and speak fluent Spanish)
  • What are Colombian women really like. Do they prefer gringos or Colombians?
  • Why Andrew has no plans to return back to America.
  • Making money online: what’s working and what isn’t.
  • Andrew’s advice to younger people who want to do the same or anyone who’re starting from zero.
  • And much, much more…

Enjoy!

Digital Nomad No More

The other day, one of my good friends described his future travel plans. He had been working really hard the past year or so and haven’t taken a vacation in ages.

He is Australian and his plan was to fly to London, spend a few days there and then fly to Spain. After spending a week in Spain (traveling to different cities), he would fly to Italy and spend a week there. Then, he’d fly into Croatia where he would spend a couple of days before wrapping up his trip to Serbia and flying back home.

Ten years ago, such a trip would evoke nothing but pleasant emotions and even make me a bit envious—especially if I was stuck in some place and couldn’t travel at the moment.

But now?

His travel itinerary made me dizzy and nauseous. 

While I covered over 25 European countries in around 2-3 months back in 2011, doing that today would be the absolute last thing I’d want to do.

In fact, you’d really need to force me to leave my comfortable life in Ukraine and take a random flight somewhere only to stay there for a couple of days, pack up and go somewhere new.

My first reaction is that my productivity would take an immediate hit.

Yeah, I know the Internet is plastered with endless stories of people roaming the world and making millions of dollars a long way.

But, after roaming the world for over a decade, I still don’t know how they do it.

As far as I’m concerned, nothing destroys productivity better than constantly switching locations.

Even merely switching apartments in the same city to a different neighborhood is enough to destroy 3-5 solid days of productivity while you search around for a new coffee shop, a nearby supermarket and even simply getting the feel of a new neighborhood.

In my experience, there’s a strong correlation between productivity, making money and sitting in the same place for months at a time. It’s irrefutable.

Late last year, when I sat down and began working on my first ecommerce store as well as trying to figure out how to scale sales using the ever-elusive Facebook Ads, I literally locked myself into my room in NYC, and didn’t leave until I had something working.

About two months later, I discovered my first winning product that, in a span of several months, went on to generate enough money to buy a small apartment in a provincial Eastern European city.

That would have never been possible had I roamed around the Guatemala and Honduras in chicken buses while sleeping in $1/night hostels (as I did back in 2005).

Of course, I wasn’t trying to build a business empire at that time. In fact, I didn’t even bring my laptop with me on the trip.

That’s also why I’m always super productive in New York, and less productive in places like Kiev (my base), Chiang Mai (where I lived for several months) and Rio de Janeiro (where I lived for several years).

In New York, all I do is work. I don’t go out, I don’t drink, I don’t go to fancy restaurants, I don’t have sex, I don’t do anything but work. That and meet up with super successful entrepreneur friends who’re making five figures per month in various businesses.

When I go abroad, I naturally want to go out, meet people and just generally wander around scenic old towns and ponder the meaning of life.

While this clears my head, it does have a negative effect on my productivity and everything suffers.

For a long time, I thought that what I really wanted was to travel around the world instead of rotting in a cubicle making someone else rich.

I’ve achieved this. While it wasn’t easy, it was certainly worth it. The fact that I can live wherever I want and not where there are  lucrative software engineer jobs (ie, Silicon Valley) is more than worth it in my book.

But then I realized that what I really wanted was freedom. Freedom to live anywhere I wanted, freedom to wake up anytime I wanted, freedom to work on whatever projects excited me, freedom to channel my energy into whatever the fuck I wanted instead of whatever my boss thought was politically beneficial for him and his allies.

And it wasn’t so much for the ability to wake up today and grab a random ticket to Bucharest, Bangkok, Bahia or Bruges.

Sure, the ability to pack up your bag and move to a neighboring country or a country on the opposite side of the globe is alluring, but there’s only so many times you can do that before it loses its luster and its magic. 

I remember I was living in Romania a few years ago. One day, I got sick and tired of Bucharest’s decaying and boring communist feel, so I hopped on Sky Scanner and grabbed a ticket to Barcelona. The next day, I was having tacos and wine with a good friend in one of my Barcelona’s quaint little squares.

Or the time when I was spending the summer in St. Petersburg, Russia a few years ago. Few places on the planet are as awesome to spend the summer at St. Petersburg. The white nights, the awesome weather, the restaurants, the cafes, the people enjoying themselves.

But then September started, and a week later, temperatures dropped 15 degrees Celsius. The summer was over. It was now windy and cloudy, most likely to last until May of next year.

So, what did I do?

I went online and booked a one-way flight to Belgrade, Serbia. The very next day, I landed in sunny paradise. It was a balmy 29C degrees and cold weather wouldn’t start for the next two months.

As an added bonus, my apartment had access to a nice and sunny backyard where I enjoyed my breakfast every morning.

If there’s one thing both of these events have in common is that I was able to shake off a negative feeling (ugly communist buildings in Bucharest and crappy weather in St. Petersburg) and replace it with more inviting and beautiful surroundings—and, as a result, a much more pleasant feeling.

But like everything else, every action has a hidden cost to it. Let’s just say I wasn’t exactly the most productive during those times and didn’t crush any revenue records like the time when I stayed in New York and did nothing but experimented with Facebook Ads, day and night, for several months straight.

Roots

The biggest cost, however, with endless moving around is less obvious. When you’re always moving around, you can’t build anything meaningful and substantial in any one place.

When I lived in Rio de Janeiro, I was able to assemble a good circle of close friends and not just expats and foreigners like myself, but actual Brazilians born and bred in Rio de Janeiro.

Although Brazilians are fairly easy to get along with, you need a bit of time to form closer connections, something that’s not possible when you’re in Rio on a two-week vacation.

Here in Ukraine, I was able to form close contacts—both personal and business—simply as a side effect of staying here for several years. After you see the same person over and over again, you can’t help but build something deeper and more meaningful.

It’s like seeing a cute girl at your favorite coffee shop. If you come there long enough, unless you’re completely clueless, at some point, you will leave with her number.

This, in turn, has lead to all kinds of new and interesting projects, like helping to scale a relatively large ecommerce store using FB Ads as well as launching a marketing campaign to bring customers to a new venue.

But, more importantly, this has given me access to interesting and influential people who are working on exciting projects.

None of this would’ve even be possible if I was just mindlessly bouncing around the globe.

Stay put, make lots of money

What really crystallized my thinking was the fact that pretty much all my adult life I’ve been surrounded by ambitious go-getters who worked long and hard and barely traveled anywhere.

They all ran online businesses. They all made a ton of money (5-6 figures per month), but bouncing around the world was never at the top of their priorities.

Their main focus was always on business. Making money. Hustling. Marketing. Selling. Making deals.

And, sure, while their lifestyle allowed them to take a random trip to Cannes, Cancun or Miami Beach, that was nothing more than the icing on the cake. They worked so hard that they barely took those trips anyway.

Most of these guys are in New York, which is another reason why my productivity skyrockets when I’m there.

But a couple of them are here in Ukraine after I lured some of them here to keep me company throughout the cold winter months. 

They came, set up shop, and we regularly keep in touch.

When you have such a sweet setup, why would you trade it for some nomadic backpacking trip through Guatemala?

Nothing against Guatemala (loved my time there), but I ain’t going anywhere.

There’s a myth out there that traveling around somehow “enables” you to start a business and make a ton of money passively.

The reality, however, is all you’re really doing is changing the location of your office. If you’re in NYC, your office is in NYC. If you’re in Chiang Mai, your office is in Chiang Mai. If you’re in Moscow, your office is in Moscow. And if you’re in Bali, you guessed it: your office is in Bali.

Right now my office is in Eastern Europe. This gives me a nice base to explore neighboring destinations. The difference is that I always have a return ticket. There’s always a home to come back to. There’s a familiar environment to return to.

Most importantly, there’s the all important separation between work and play; and production and consumption. 

The latter is a popular trap that many people can’t help but fall into.

Office. I used to hate that word because it conjured images of grey-haired middle-aged men toiling on something super boring because they didn’t know any better… Like working on some beach somewhere.

But now an office seems indispensable. I need an office. I need a room in my apartment solely dedicated to strategizing and working.

I need a place where I can go and focus, a place where no one will bother me. A place that will serve as a refuge from the craziness and uncertainty of the world around me.

I’ve had various “offices” throughout my life. In addition to the NYC office that I talked about earlier, where I launched my first of several ecommerce stores, there was also a Lithuanian office where I finished my first book. The Barcelona office where I finished another book. And it will be the Ukrainian office where I will launch a brand new course later this month.

And, hopefully, this Ukrainian office will be responsible for some new amazing projects in 2019 and beyond.

Build and they will come

I remember when I started to get serious about some of my work, my mentor told me that he would be surprised if I wasn’t making good money in six months if I worked on it every day.

He was right.

I stayed in one place, worked every day, 7 days a week, and was making money long before the six months he predicted.

Over time, those wise words became a part of my life philosophy. Even if you start from nothing (we all did), if you sit down, pick one thing to work on, stick to it, build it, and you will be seeing results sooner or later.

In other words, hustling will set you free.

There’s a catch, of course: provided you have an established and predictable routine that guarantees the maximum level of productivity without an array of useless and unnecessary distractions.

One Man’s Escape From American Corporate Bullshit For A Happy And Meaningful Life in Eastern Europe

There’s nothing I enjoy more than to connect with other like-minded people. Those who were never content with the status quo, the corporate drone bullshit, the whole “work until you retire at 65” crap that our society happily shoves down our throats from the time when we’re born until, well…, it’s too late to do anything. I admire people who’ve managed to carve out their own path in life and do something meaningful.

Meet Kyle, a young former-corporate wage slave who escaped his comfortable but super boring life in California for a much more meaningful and satisfied life in Eastern Europe.

To be honest, this is easily one of my favorite podcasts that I’ve ever done. In this podcast, we covered pretty much everything: location-independence, travel, favorite countries and cities, business, dropshipping/ecommerce, building products and services and much more.

There’s definitely something for everyone.

Here are some of the things we discussed:

  • (1:24) Kyle’s background, where he’s from and where he’s now.
  • (3:30) Why Kyle moved to Czech Republic over other countries
  • (5:05) Pros and Cons of living in Eastern Europe over West
  • (6:13) The lack of “hustle mentality” in Eastern Europe; The New York City hustle mentality
  • (10:13) The challenges of working hard in during the Eastern Europe summers
  • (11:00) My friend’s weird 5-12 work schedule
  • (12:05) Kyle’s typical day routine
  • (13:33) The “truth” about the Location-Independent lifestyle
  • (14:30) Kyle’s future travel plans
  • (16:05) The challenges of traveling and working at the same time
  • (19:09) How I booked location accommodation in Bali and Thailand
  • (19:45) The cost of renting an apartment in Kiev, Ukraine
  • (21:48) Kiev vs. Odessa vs. Other Ukrainian cities
  • (24:00) Why Kyle is not interested in moving around too much
  • (25:00) The importance of building solid relationships vs. random friends here and there
  • (27:40) Comfortable salary for living in Eastern Europe
  • (28:00) $2-3/mo vs. $1M vs. $1B
  • (29:10) The importance of time – enjoying your life during your 20s, 30s, and beyond
  • (29:45) Going to Brazil at 29 vs. Going to Brazil at 55. Does it matter?
  • (30:22) Club in Rio de Janeiro where you’ll have fun whether you’re 25 years old or 55 years old.
  • (37:15) The myth of “overnight success.”
  • (40:44) The challenges of writing a book
  • (42:35) How to validate an idea
  • (44:45) The power of building a strong brand
  • (47:00) What’s better: blog or twitter?
  • (48:30) Ecommerce/Dropshipping
  • (52:25) Making free money with drop shipping (Credit card points)
  • (58:40) The biggest business epiphanies/failures
  • (1:03:00) The parallels of business / personal relationships
  • (1:04:00) How to start from nothing
  • (1:07:10) Starting a business on the side vs. Quitting your job and terrorizing yourself
  • (1:08:45) Final thoughts

For more information about Kyle and what he’s doing now, visit Kyle’s website.

Enjoy!

How I Broke Free Of Corporate Slavery And Discovered Freedom The Maverick Way

This is a guest post by Kyle from ThisIsTrouble.com.

Freedom.

The word thrown around so often to American men. The thing we’re supposed to have more than anything of, but in reality – we have almost none of it.

From a young age, we’re forced into a school system that shackles us to a desk and deprives us of our ability to run and use our energy. That continues all the way to adulthood, where we’re chained to a cubicle, given a package of human resource rules to follow, and told that this is the only path we have in life.

“It is what it is.”

The above is the favorite phrase that all companies and managers use to keep you around the office, reporting to work like a slave so that you can never break free. And while you’re at it, make sure you buy that expensive house, car, TV, boat, blender and the granite countertops – preferably on credit. Credit that will haunt you until you die.

I’ve decided I’ve had enough.

I’ve gone the way of the Maverick, and never plan to look back.

My Story

On paper, I’m Corporate America’s dream worker bee. And for the longest time, I was also every American woman’s dream guy.

I was fortunate enough to be gifted in several aspects of life, especially technology. I was ripping apart computers at ten years old, graduated college early, and took my first steps into the Corporate America world as a bright-eyed, barely able to drink 21 year old kid.

I was always the “nice guy” throughout high school and college. Girls always told me that I’d make the perfect husband – someday. Not surprisingly, I didn’t kiss a girl until I was 19, and was still a virgin at 21. This was despite the fact that I’d gone through a pretty big transformation:

The funny thing is that I started the corporate life at about the same time I lost my virginity. All of a sudden, two new realities were thrown in my face. All of a sudden, I became free.

Those two realizations were:

  1. Corporate America is a soul-sucking experience.
  2. Nearly everything I’d been told about women was wrong.

The above are the main two reasons I have now walked away from my job, my life in Los Angeles, and everything about the American lifestyle. They’re the reasons I have my bags packed and a one way ticket to Poland.

And to be clear – it’s not that I’m leaving a dead-end career or a bad situation. I’m clearing six figures and I’m not quite 25 years old, my game is sharp enough that my main girl in Los Angeles is a Disneyland princess, and I have a good group of male friends I can turn to for companionship and support. I’m not saying these things to brag, but I hope that it passes this message along: even though things seem great – something still feels amiss in my life.

To discover that something is my next goal.

When I’m on my deathbed, I don’t want to have the “what-ifs” that so many people take with them to the grave. I don’t want to ask myself what could have been, but rather have beautiful memories of what was. Would I rather have memories of grey walls, fluorescent lights, and American attitude, or the alternative: an office at the beach, mountains, or wherever I please, fresh air, and radiating feminine charm from beautiful women?

I’m not naive enough to think that it’s all going to be roses on my journey, but I’m also enough of a dreamer to see a vision and the possibilities.

It certainly wasn’t an easy decision to leave my family, friends, career, and the gorgeous Los Angeles weather behind. I hemmed and hawed about it for days, weeks, and months. It became a lot easier when I thought of the worst case scenario though, because:

  • I can always go back to my dreary career.
  • I have well over a year of living expenses stocked away, so I plan to build my business. But if it fails, it’s not hard to come up with $1,500 a month in freelance work (provided you put in the hours finding it).
  • Even if I fail…failure makes you stronger as a man.

I’ve come to the realization that the greatest risks in life also carry the greatest rewards.

This is why I’m becoming a Maverick Traveler.

Corporate America

Like James’ background, I come from the tech world. My career in tech began on February 18th, 2013 – and comes to it’s final conclusion on February 23, 2016. Just over three years of commutes, office junk food, office politics, and more. How James made it for nearly ten years is astounding, and he deserves a medal of honor for his service.

I suspect the likely reason he held out for so long is because resources like Maverick Traveler weren’t around for him in his early years. Men like me, who are in our early or mid twenties, are blessed beyond belief. Sites like this exist for a reason – they shed light on the problems that young men face.

There are so many things wrong with the Corporate America environment.

Many of you are probably of above-average intelligence, yet are still forced to work the typical 40 hour a week workweek. I’ve never understood this method. If someone can get the work done in half the time – they should only have to work half the time! Corporate America doesn’t pay you to get the job done, because if that was the case I’d only be working one day a week. Instead, they pay you for your time. Time is the only thing on the planet that you cannot simply buy more of. It is a finite resource, and Corporate America milks you for all you’re worth in this regard.

This is especially true in the IT world. I fully agree that young men shouldn’t become programmers, but I’ll add more to that.

No young men should aim for IT as a career.

You do not want to be an administrator – you will get calls at any time of day and night and be expected to save the day.

You do not want to be in any sort of support – even though it’s often hourly pay, the stress of dealing with shitty customers is not worth it.

The truth of the matter is that you don’t want a career that can’t scale.

You want to be paid fairly for your time. Careers in IT simply don’t do that. Corporate America as a whole doesn’t do that. Now, don’t run out and quit your job just because this blog post says so. But have a plan of escape, lay your own future down and figure out what you want. Maybe you want to be a Maverick Traveler and jump to exotic locale to exotic locale. Or maybe you want a brick and mortar bike shop.

Whatever it is, just know that as an above-average-intelligence man – eventually, you are going to get a desire to get more out of life than long commutes, cubicles, and office politics. You just have to summon the courage and take the plunge.

The Girls

On the radio the other day, I heard a special called “War of the Roses”. Essentially, it’s a game where people have the radio station call someone they are dating, or went on a date with – and the poor person on the receiving end of the call gets put on the spot and grilled about the relationship. Most often, it’s a man getting this phone call from the DJ.

The girl who asked the radio station to call in was wondering why the man didn’t call her for a second date. She told the story about how he ended the date after half an hour – he paid the bill, wished her well, and walked out. Obviously, he didn’t like something about her and chose to not waste his valuable time on her, but he was very classy about it.

This girl couldn’t handle the rejection.

She attempted to shame him by having the radio station call and interrogate him about their date. While he tried to dance around the questions and keep it peaceful, she attacked him so viciously he told the truth.

His response was as follows:

“The reason I left and never called you was because you had your phone out the entire date. You never put it away, and you sat there and read me your Instagram and Facebook comments. You’re cute, and I’m sure no one has told you this – but you have a major attitude problem, you’re vapid, and you have absolutely no social skills. I’m not interested.”

The girl nearly burst into tears on live radio. She gathered herself and began defending her conversational skills, saying that reading Instagram and Facebook comments was her way of talking about her day and making conversation.

Read that again: A girl truly thought that reading her social media comments from thirsty men, while on a date, was acceptable and stimulating conversation to the man she was on a date with.

Props to this man for having the balls to call her out.

While this example is on the extreme end of the spectrum, it does provide some insight into how most American women are these days. If you have traveled abroad and dated foreign women, you know exactly what I mean. Their feminine energy and charm is just so irresistible – the games fall to the wayside, and you find you actually genuinely enjoy spending time with these women both in and out of the bedroom. Game becomes less about manipulative asshole tactics, and more about simply being a strong and confident man with a dose of healthy masculinity.

American girls not only have the attitude, but insist on trying to run your life regardless of their relationship to you.

Do not let them shame you into marrying and committing to an American girl who wasted her prime years partying and turning men down for sport. There is no shame in walking away to another country, and dating beautiful and feminine women who make you immensely happy. Relationships should be about happiness, not competition. American women will shame you, saying that foreign girls are just submissive and want you for money – they’ll claim you need someone to “challenge you”.

It’s a lie.

A man faces enough challenge in his day to day life. While a pretty 18 year old girl has the world at her fingertips with millionaires wanting to wife her up, the 18 year old man has absolutely nothing. Life is a complete uphill fight for us from the time we are born.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. This struggle defines you as a man.

But that doesn’t mean I want my woman to challenge me. I’ve had plenty of challenges in my life already, and will continue to face them in regards to building a business, making money, and other aspects of life.

I want my woman to compliment me, not challenge. If I wanted competition, I’d go play sports with other men.

The reality of the situation is that American women phrase the “challenge” issue as a way of defending their abrasive and horrible attitude. Which is fine, they can continue to do so, and (unfortunately) plenty of men will continue to accept it.

They can continue having “conversations” about Instagram comments, I’ll take the beautiful foreign girls who support me in my life goals.

What Do You Want From Life?

Many of you reading this blog are probably quite successful yourselves – both in career, women, and life overall. At the same time, while you maybe aren’t unhappy with your current situation – something just feels a bit “off”. It’s nearly impossible to put into words; I’ve been writing my blog for three years and still struggle to describe it properly. The best advice I can give is this: listen to your gut. Your gut is almost always right. For example, when I ended up in the ghetto of Barranquilla, Colombia, and knew I needed to get out of there ASAP or I’d likely be robbed and/or killed. How I felt a gnawing feeling in my stomach everyday when I showed up at the office, disgusted at myself to put money in another man’s wallet. The disappointment when I would go on perfectly nice dates with American girls, but something just felt off.

Your gut instinct is a powerful tool. If something is telling you that something is “wrong” with your life, it’s because it’s the truth. And I’m here telling you that there is merit behind that truth. You may not be able to articulate it, but myself and countless other members of this online community can understand your pain.

You are not alone.

American society is no longer the land of opportunity it once was for young men. If you get out and see the world, you will see this. You’ll have your lightbulb moment, and from there – it’s up to you what to do with it.

That moment is a freeing feeling, and I’ve never felt more free than I do now.

This is a guest post from Kyle at ThisIsTrouble.com. Kyle is a former corporate wage slave who, through sheer struggle and determination, broke free of his corporate shackles and is about to embark on his first ever location-independent lifestyle.