Maverick Traveler

Location Independence, Geo Arbitrage, Individual Freedom

Category: Maverick Mindset (page 1 of 4)

Monk Mode: The Best Way To Supercharge Your Productivity And Drive

I was recently reading Victor Pride’s excellent article on Monk Mode, and it got me thinking about my own experience with this even though that’s not what I called initially.

As an entrepreneur, productivity was something that I always struggled with. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the times when I was productive or even incredibly productive. Since you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck and telling you what to do, you must become your own boss which isn’t particularly easy.

One of those times of extreme productivity occurred when I spent six months in New York City last year. For me, New York City is mostly a place to relax, see family and just catch up with some old friends.

It’s not a place where I have fun and particularly live life to the fullest. 

Last year, the five or six months that I spent in NYC were probably one of the most productive months of my life. I focused 100% on the goal and removed all the distractions.

This was my version of the deep monk mode.

During that period of time, I didn’t go out. I didn’t drink any alcohol. I didn’t chase women. I didn’t even have sex. I didn’t do anything that generated short term gratification.

Instead, I worked. Feverishly. Hard. I built new sites. I perfected my SEO skills. I learned and mastered Facebook Ads. I built a couple of ecommerce stores. 

And within several months of starting this intense work mode, I was making several thousand dollars of profit per month.

Interesting things happen when you become obsessed with something to the point where nothing else in the world matters (or even exists). During the entire six months, the only thing I was focused on was cracking the business: making that sale and then scaling everything to make even more sales.

I developed tunnel vision where nothing else mattered.

Come to think of it, looking back on the experience, it’s impossible to even fathom anyway I could’ve failed. I couldn’t fail. Given the dedication and effort that I put forth, there’s just no way I could’ve failed.

I’ve gone through such periods many times in my life, of varying intensity, but this one was definitely one of the most productive periods of my life.

The anatomy of monk mode

There were several factors that all but guaranteed my success. First, NYC is relatively expensive. Going out to even regular, mid-level restaurant is a ripoff. Enjoying $8 cocktails in some hipster bar is a ripoff. Drinking a $5 Starbucks cappuccino is a ripoff. Riding the subway back and forth is also a ripoff. 

While it may not seem a ripoff to you, for someone like me who’s lived in much cheaper locations such as South America or Eastern Europe, NYC definitely feels like a ripoff because I know I can get access to a much better value for money elsewhere.

As a result, instead of spending $50 a day on various crap, locking yourself in Starbucks and focusing on your business just makes sense.

Second, NYC is one of the only cities in the world where seemingly everyone is hustling. It seems like almost every coffee shop that I stepped my foot in was packed with people working on their laptops and phones, making deals, pitching their services, designing websites and running various marketing campaigns.

Unlike Eastern Europe or Latin America, I didn’t see many people just sitting around, walking around and “pondering the meaning of life.” If NYC has a religion, it’s making money.

This was an incredible motivator because, unlike when I lived in other cities (e.g., Rio de Janeiro or Kiev) I never felt like I was missing out on something else when all I was doing was hustling and building a business; everyone else was also doing the same thing.

Last but not least—and this directly applies to monk mode—while I have friends in NYC, most of them are too busy working and building their own businesses to hang out with me and pontificate the meaning of life. 

As for dating and meeting women, NYC is probably the last place where I’d want to do that for reasons that I’ve already covered before.

This meant that I was never burdened by bored friends or feminine women who wanted to hang out.

Combined all of the above and you have the perfect recipe for a very productive environment with which you can all but conquer the world.

Lessons learned

I learned several things during the six months of monk mode. First, regardless of what you’re working on or what you’re trying to accomplish, you will be able to build something successful during this period of the time. 

Not only will you have razor-sharp focus, but you will also have time on your side since six months is plenty of time to get something profitable out the door.

This gave me an immense amount of confidence, confidence that I sometimes lacked during my less productive periods in my life when I wasn’t as focused not as determined to get something done.

Now, that I was able to build a new business from scratch, I’m absolutely certain that I can do it again.

The other thing I learned is that focus begets focus, obsession begets obsession. In the beginning, I wasn’t focused on anything, and I wasn’t really obsessed with anything. 

That’s a big problem. When you don’t have focus, your attention is diffused and scattered everywhere. 

Why monk mode is so hard

Monk mode is extremely hard. There’s no doubt about that. While my productivity was sky high, it came at the expense of pretty much everything else in my life.

I limited myself to three things: eating, sleeping, and working.

That’s why as soon as I left NYC and landed in Kiev in May or June, my productivity immediately nosedived. Not only were there so many new distractions: cheap living, aesthetic streets, beautiful women, etc., but I couldn’t simply shut all of these distractions down; I was now embedded in the environment.

The first thing I did when I landed in Kiev was to visit my favorite rooftop bar. Having a nice glass of cold beer never felt so good.

In order to enter monk mode, you need a high level of motivation. Not everyone can suddenly decide they want to achieve something and begin feverishly working in that direction.

When I was in New York, it’s not like I purposely wanted to remove every single distraction from my life. Like anyone else, I happen to enjoy distractions, it’s just that I wanted the business to succeed much more. I wanted to make money more. I wanted to create new streams of passive income more.

On the other hand, if you don’t have the drive to create a passive income stream, whether it’s an extra $500 or $5,000 per month, then why would you voluntarily subject yourself to such extreme conditions? You won’t.

It’s crucial to have an end goal in mind and focus on it as strongly as you can. 

If your disease is laziness and lack of results, then obsession plus tunnel vision (monk mode) is the medicine that gets you results.

For all its advantages, monk mode does come with a heavy price. The main problem is that it’s not only difficult to lock yourself out of the world for six months, but, many times, it’s undesirable as well.

Although I blocked out the world for six months, I certainly don’t look forward to doing that on a regular basis. I want to actually live my life, develop relationships with people, travel around the world, have new experiences, etc. 

You only live once and locking yourself up for six months isn’t something that I plan doing it consistently.

Can you achieve anything of monumental value without going into monk mode? If you’re trying to build a business from scratch, you will need to make some serious changes in the way you spend your time and allocating few hours per day into your existing schedule just won’t cut it.

Work sprints

If monk mode seems too rough to you, there’s an alternative. A good compromise between the extreme 6-month monk mode and merely working few hours per day on new business are something I call ”work sprints.” 

This is where you tell yourself that for the next several weeks or even months you will focus on getting something completed. During this period, you cut out all unnecessary activities and distractions: stop going out as often, stop seeing friends that add little or no value, etc. 

Nevertheless, you’re interacting with the world (eating out from time to time, having a drink here and there), it’s just that now you’re actively working hard towards a particular outcome instead of just “going with the flow” while working on few tasks per day.

Final thoughts

My deep six-month monk mode was as much of an exercise in productivity as an exercise in self-control. The fact that I didn’t go out, didn’t drink, didn’t socialize and pretty much focused on one thing for six months seems crazy now, but at the time it was absolutely necessary.

Moreover, knowing that I simply can’t fail whenever I’m in a deep monk mode and will have a profit generating business at the end is definitely confidence-inspiring.

I know realize that monk mode is an important tool for any entrepreneur’s arsenal. Those with a 9-5 can simply show up to work and have their paycheck deposited into their account, but entrepreneurs who work on their own terms need an extra push where they alternate periods of hard work while bootstrapping a new business and easy work during the maintenance phase of the business.

In many ways, a monk mode is the backbone of any successful entrepreneur. Whether you’re planning to go deep and cut out every single distraction or embark on a quick work sprint with a clear milestone, there is simply no other way to build anything substantial that will generate profit down the road. At least I haven’t found any other way.

As I write this now, I’m getting mentally prepared to do a work sprint that will last me about eight weeks during which I will be focusing on getting a couple of serious projects wrapped up.

Announcing The Empire Building Toolkit: The Easiest Way To Build A Passive Income Factory

2018 has been a very fulfilling and productive year, so it’s been nice to have had a little bit of a break the past week or two with Christmas and New Year’s Holidays.

But then even more holidays came: here in Ukraine—being in Eastern Europe—the first week or so of the year is devoted to Eastern Orthodox holidays. That meant things were slow that week too.

But I wasn’t resting and doing nothing. The entire time, I was putting finishing touches on my training that I believe is my best yet.

Today, I’m super excited to announce the release of my most ambitious training yet: The Empire Building Toolkit.

This training encompasses everything that I’ve learned about building passive income businesses, especially in the last couple of years when I really went deep into Internet marketing and SEO.

Additionally, this training is based on my years and years of experience mentoring hundreds of guys on building their very own Internet empires. 

When you actually talk to real people for months at a time, you learn powerful insights into the things that people are struggling with. This has allowed me to pinpoint the exact problems that new entrepreneurs are struggling with, exact problems that I’ve addressed in this training.

The program is divided into different modules that teach you everything from coming up with a solid idea to creating the proper authoritative side, to getting others to promote your product (affiliate marketing) and also covering one of the most underrated marketing channels out there: email marketing. There’s tons of other stuff there, too.

All in all, there are tons of new information, things that I didn’t cover in previous trainings nor talked in depth on the blog.

But that’s not all. You’ll also receive three special bonuses: 

1) Copyrighting Master Class: See me strategize, design and build a landing page for a hypothetical product/service from scratch. I didn’t prep for this, so here’s your chance to get inside my head and see how it’s done.

(In all honesty, this alone is probably worth the price of admission because you get to see how copyrighting is really done without all the MBA, theory jargon BS that doesn’t help you sell anything.)

2) The Effective Entrepreneur: See me explain how I build an empire from complete scratch and work my way through different challenges. It’s just like having your own seat at my company’s boardroom.

3) The Million Dollar Mindset: Here, you’ll learn how I approach finances and budgets. Think you can’t afford to live in Rio de Janeiro, Chiang Mai or Moscow? Think again. With my unique budgeting system you’ll learn exactly how to structure your finances along with new projects, and motivate yourself so you’re making more money each month.

4) Access to my private Facebook Group where I personally answer all questions and email mentoring directly from me (just don’t go overboard with emails).

5) The Maverick “Boots on the Ground” Premium Podcast. Browse through all the episodes of my premium podcast where I discuss all sorts of business mindsets, ideas, dilemmas, techniques and tactics to making the most money possible.

In short, you aren’t just getting access to some training and that’s it—you’re getting access to an exclusive club with support, forever. That’s my way of saying thanks.

I can keep talking about this, but you can learn more as well as join the program here:

https://empirebuildingtoolkit.com/

See you inside!

NOTE: The special launch sale lasts until Sunday, January 13th 12:00 EST only. After that, the price shoots up and the bonuses disappear forever.

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity.

PS: If you have any questions/issues joining, please shoot me an email – [email protected] (I’ll be around all weekend)

The Absolute Best Part About Travel

I once heard a friend say that travel is the best healthy drug out there. I thought about it for a moment but then nodded my head in agreement. After all, we’re all people; the world is made up of people, and traveling lets you come in contact with other people.

More specifically though, there are loads of benefits to traveling and they vary from one person to the next; just ask 100 different travelers and you will get 100 different answers.

Words like exotic, special, breathtaking, interesting and unforgettable certainly come into play; words that otherwise wouldn’t enter your lexicon if all your life was a daily commute to some job you absolutely hate.

While all of those reasons as to why travel is awesome are absolutely true, I have a special thing that I love about travel that I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere.

Allow me to illustrate my point with a quick story.

Back in 2017, I spent most of the year living in Ukraine and then several months at the end of the year in New York City tying up some loose ends. By that point, I had spent about 3 years living in Ukraine with a few random trips even before that.

As a result, I gradually built a decent social circle with a couple of good friends with whom I kept in touch regularly. 

Not bad for a lone wolf like myself who mostly does everything alone and fails to make friends in most countries except befriending few guys via Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training.

One fine day, I was sitting in my friend’s NYC apartment having some breakfast and browsing Russian news sites or watching random YouTube videos — my daily breakfast ritual while I devour a big plate of buckwheat.

Moments later, I received a text message from a girl that I used to date. She was in Kiev. She wanted to know whether I would be interested in seeing a movie with her later that evening.

She had absolutely no idea that I had already been to New York City for several months. She had no idea that I was basically living (temporarily, of course) in a place far, far away from Ukraine.

I grabbed the phone and paused before replying. 

Finally, I replied, “I can’t. I’ve been in New York City for several months now.” 

She had no idea that she just asked someone who was on the other side of the planet to hang out.

I found that rather amusing. What was more amusing, however, was the fact that I was due back in Ukraine the following week.

The next week I caught a red-eye flight to Ukraine, landed, cleared passport control and customs, caught an Uber and in less than 45 minutes was waiting for her near the famous movie theater in Kiev.

We watched the movie and then had a couple of drinks later.

The entire time I couldn’t help to think that just a week ago, I received an invitation from a person to do something, but couldn’t do it because I was on the opposite side of the world, in a completely different country.

Now, that I was back, all it took me was a mere 45 mins to descent to the movie theater from the plane and meet my friend.

This is why travel—and especially extensive living abroad—is so special. Even if you leave the country and your social circle temporarily, all it takes is a quick flight and you’re back in your old environment with your social circle as if absolutely nothing had happened.

Just recently, I decided to spend my New Year’s in Lithuania. There were a couple of reasons for that. First, Lithuania is only one hour flight from Kiev, where I’m based. Second, I had already lived in Vilnius from 2013-2015, so I knew the small city fairly well.

And, last but not least, as a result of living in the city for several years, I had amassed several good friends that I kept in touch throughout the years. 

Vilnius may not be the best destination for New Year’s, but it sure had a lot going for itself when compared to other cities.

So, I contacted my friend and told him that I would be coming back to LT for New Year’s. I told him to make sure to also stay in the city and not go anywhere.

He not only agreed but also invited my girlfriend and me to his place for dinner and drinks on New Year’s Eve.

And, so, the result was an analogous situation like the one I explained earlier with seeing the movie.

I boarded the plane, spent about an hour in the air, landed, cleared immigration and customs, caught an Uber, checked into an Airbnb in the center, and a few hours later was shopping for nice wine at my old shopping supermarket. Then, 30 mins later were enjoying delicious lamb at a friend’s house whom I haven’t seen for three years.

I figured four days in Lithuania should be enough, but, in fact, when I returned back to Kiev after a quick 1-hour flight and got back to my apartment, I still felt as though I was still back in Lithuania.

It was a surreal feeling, to say the least.

As far as I’m concerned, this is the very best part about travel or even long-term living. It’s the fact that when you’ve traveled and lived long enough in different countries, you tend to have not only good friends and acquaintances in all of these places but the ability to recreate your past life and continue where you left off as though you haven’t gone anywhere.

Even though I haven’t been to Vilnius for over 3 years, the fact that I can simply catch a flight and relieve my old life—along with friends and experiences—is simply amazing.

It’s beyond amazing; it even feels unreal sometimes.

I have a couple of good friends in both Mexico and Brazil, two countries where I lived extensively. And in both cases, I can simply catch a flight and instantly relieve my experience from years ago—as though I had never left.

Of course, the longer that I had been away from the country, the weaker the experience I will be relieving: people change, they even move to different parts of the world, so when you finally return after many years, what you experience is a weak representation of the original.

But, still, knowing that I can fly to Kiev, and in 45 mins from the time when the plane touches down in Boryspil International airport, I can be enjoying dinner, drinks or a movie with a good friend is nothing short of amazing.

And knowing that I can fly to another country and be invited a friend’s home for dinner and drinks, a friend whom you haven’t seen for ages, is also nothing but magical.

Of course, there’s the part about absorbing the country’s culture and language. When I lived in Mexico, I learned Spanish. When I lived in Brazil, I mastered Portuguese. When I lived in Lithuania, I picked up basic Lithuanian, enough to get me out of trouble should something like this arise.

Since language is the gateway to culture, all of this awesome too. When I was in Lithuania, I was amazed that I could still remember various Lithuanian words and even expressions, even though I hadn’t used them in three years.

And this is Lithuanian language we’re talking about, one of the hardest languages in Europe, and one that bears no other resemblance to any other language (except maybe Latvian).

Nevertheless, nothing eclipses the ability to “transcend” countries and cultures when you essentially “transport” yourself from one place to another while still having the luxury of the familiar environment that was once your home.

And, as far as I’m concerned, this is the absolute pinnacle of travel. And nothing else even comes close.

For some people, traveling is a two-week break from their dreary lives. For others, like myself, it’s a lifestyle that has been part of my life for the last ten years. 

Tomorrow, I will be releasing my long-awaited training about building an Internet empire. It outlines the exact same techniques and methods that I employ to create a passive income business that fuels my travels and my overall lifestyle. Launch day will include special bonuses as well as special pricing.

2019, Lithuania, and Empire Building

I just got back from spending New Year’s holidays in Vilnius, Lithuania. While I’ve lived all over the world in lots of different cities, I have a very special connection to that city and country: I spent around two years living in Vilnius several years ago.

It’s always a pleasure to visit Lithuania because, although, it was part of the Soviet Union, it shares nothing in common with countries like Russia, Ukraine or Belarus. In fact, it reminds me more of Denmark than Ukraine—even more so on this particular trip than when I lived there several years ago.

As a result of having lived there, I have several good friends in the city that I mostly met via BJJ training.

(As I wrote previously, training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been my “secret” method of meeting lots of different people in the countries where I don’t know anyone.)

One of these friends, Jonas, invited me and my girl to his house for New Year’s eve. The plan was to relax for few hours, enjoy a bunch of home-cooked meals paired with good wine, and then, somewhere around 11pm head towards the center where we would enjoy some live music and a bit of dancing and, of course, usher in the New Year.

My Lithuanian friend, Jonas, isn’t a regular guy. While he has worked at all kinds of jobs for many years—in many countries—he gave all of that up to focus on his own thing or “hustling” as he calls it. 

His approach to business is simple: create different income streams from anything that can be monetized. In other words, go where the money is.

This has allowed him to not only work from the comfort of his own home, but also escape the dreary Lithuanian winter weather for the sunny and mild weather of Madeira, a Portuguese island in the Atlantic. It has also allowed him to spend three months backpacking through both Burma and Thailand last winter.

This type of freedom just isn’t accessible to the majority of the population. For example, Americans toil all year just to enjoy a measly two week vacation.

In short, he’s a lot like myself. Like myself, he’s building an Internet empire and, slowly but surely, diversifying into different markets while patiently watching as his business grows.

Making money is more of an art than a science. Thus, there are different ways to express yourself and many different ways to paint a portrait of an object you see. Nevertheless, one of the most effective ways of doing that is to diversify your efforts and income by building an Internet empire.

Not only are you diversifying your efforts and income, but you’re also smartly diversifying risk and all the pain that comes with it.

This is precisely what I’ve done and what has allowed me to live all over the world while making money on my terms

This Monday, Jan 7th, I will be releasing my hotly anticipating training on building your empire. This training encompasses everything that I learned, especially in the past couple of years while I’ve been scaling various aspects of my existing businesses as well as jumpstarting new ones.

The launch period will last several days during which I’ll sweeten the pie with some awesome bonuses plus a special launch-only price that will quadruple after the release date.

I can’t think of anything more ambitious on getting the right start in 2019 than by building an Internet empire.

Happy New Year’s everyone. I have a hunch than 2019 will be an amazing year.

Ukrainian Culture Is The Complete Antidote Of Western Entitlement, Fakeness, and Feminization Of The Modern Society

Ukrainian culture and mentality are truly special. I’ve lived all over the world and, while a few countries stand apart as very memorable (e.g., Brazil), there was always something that drew me to Eastern Europe, and specifically Ukraine.

Something about the beautiful cities, the rough winters, and the super stoic people.

Now, of course, it can be something deep in my psyche. After all, I grew up here. My relatives are all hardcore Eastern Europeans.

And, so for the longest time, I spent time thinking about what exactly it was that drew me to this part of the world. Why is that, that the longer I live here, the better and stronger I become—both physically, emotionally and mentally?

Why is it that the longer I live here, the calmer and relaxed I become with myself, other people and life in general?

Why is it that every time I visit my family in New York, I can’t wait to catch a flight back after just a couple of weeks?

I spent the summer this year living in 2nd-tier city of Dnipro, Ukraine. It was my first time there, and I finally took an invitation from a good friend who wanted to show me around.

Dnipro is what I call a “hard” Eastern European city. In this respect, it’s a bit rough around the edges.

While people are relatively friendly, it’s a far cry from Kiev where people are mostly courteous and at least greet each other; in Dnipro that doesn’t happen very often.

It was during my time living in Dnipro that I better understood my attraction to this region as a whole.

The first time this happened was when I was walking alone one of the semi-main streets. I walked along this street regularly to buy groceries and work at a cool coffee shop. In front of me was walking rather big and well-built guy. He looked to be rather important.

In front of him, there were walking several women, there were also several people walking behind me.

About 15 mins into my walk, the guy in front of me approached one of my favorite restaurants in the city. It was an Italian restaurant that I used as my first-date spot and enjoyed wine with countless women.

For some reason, the owner of the Italian restaurant decided to block off the entire part of the sidewalk facing the restaurant. They didn’t seem to be fixing anything, they just blocked it off.

As a result, everyone had to take a detour and walk along the road in order to keep walking to the destination.

What’s interesting about this is that not a single person made a fuss about it. Everyone just kept busily walking to the destination as though absolutely nothing had happened.

I found that rather interesting.

My first thought was to imagine what would happen if something like occurred in a big American city like San Francisco or New York.

Imagine the reactions of the people walking, say, along some street in Manhattan when some restaurant decided to block it off—without permits or anything.

People would be upset. They would feel this is unjust. They would alert the media. They would alert the city department. They would want the restaurant to be punished. They would want something to be done.

Not in Ukraine. 

People kept walking because they didn’t care and because, most importantly, they had somewhere else to be.

A few weeks later, the city decided to raze down the sidewalks on both sides of the same street in order to build new ones.

The result: people had no choice but to walk along the road, sharing the road with other cars and hoping they wouldn’t get by passing cars.

I must admit that was definitely poorly planned and executed from the city’s side. No Western city in their right mind would simply raze down the sidewalks and begin construction without at least creating a safe passageway for the city’s inhabitants.

But this isn’t Copenhagen or Oslo; this is Eastern Europe. And, in this region of the world, people do what must be done without being too concerned about the “proper” way of doing it.

This reminds me what happened when I was in Sofia, Bulgaria a few years ago. I was having a late dinner with my Airbnb host when we noticed a German girl sitting alone at one of the tables in front.

She couldn’t understand the menu so my friend volunteered to help her out and translate.

She eventually joined our table, and one of the first things she asked was why there were so many stray dogs roaming around Sofia. She wanted to know why aren’t there various shelters that would take in the dogs and offer them for adoption.

“Because this is Bulgaria and we have much greater problems than helping stray dogs,” instantly answered my Bulgarian host.

Most importantly though, this came from a German girl; Bulgarians don’t really care about stray dogs. None of them (except for maybe a few hipsters who are studying in Western schools) are making a fuss and demanding a revolution because dogs aren’t being treated better or because a city decided to raze down the asphalt on a busy street.

This is Eastern European mentality. 

And I absolutely love it.

People don’t concern themselves with petty matters. People don’t get offended easily. People don’t get triggered. People only care about things that directly affect them or their loved ones.

This mindset influences everything – from how people deal with all kinds of issues, to how they deal with each other, including the people they know and don’t know.

There’s one rule that I learned while living here: Eastern Europeans would typically never start shit with someone they don’t already know. 

Of course, exceptions do apply and people have been known to be beaten up in the middle of the night, but those are mostly exceptions to the rule. You’re much more likely to get in a fight with a random person on an F train in Brooklyn than in some Soviet-looking neighborhood in Kiev or Moscow.

It’s breathtakingly refreshing that people just keep to themselves and worry about their own problems than trying to change the world through Western-sponsored revolutions that nobody needs.

In fact, that’s one enormous benefit of living in a foreign country: the country where you used to live gradually becomes foreign. As a result of living in Ukraine for about 3-4 years, seeing all of these feminists, white knights, and other righteous assholes loaded to the brim with entitlement behave the way they do seem puzzling and confusing.

Returning to America and seeing people make a fuss over something mundane that has even less to do with their actual livelihood defies any kind of common sense and purpose.

It’s almost like every person is fighting something else for some confusing belief and everyone else is caught in the crossfire. 

When one of my articles went viral a few days ago (it happens often), a barrage of people left me angry comments both on the article and my Facebook page.

At the peak, there were over 350 people viewing the content at the same time. 

Understandably, almost all of the comments were from women upset over something I had written (when I’ve never written anything remotely sexist in my life).

Naturally, most of these visitors hailed from Western countries such as the USA, Canada, UK, and Scandinavia.

Can you guess how many angry women were from Moldova, Ukraine, Russia or Belarus?

Zero.

None. 

I know and understand these women. They’re too busy worrying about things that concern them personally: work, finding a great husband and starting a suitable family—not what some random guy wrote on the Internet.

When I lived in the USA, I was used to people leaving angry comments on some of the things I’ve written.

But, now that I’ve fully disconnected myself from the Western culture, seeing people leave such comments is a complete joke. And the joke is on them because it’s not their own beliefs that are responsible for their behavior; it’s someone else’s beliefs that hijacked what they truly believe in and directed them against people like me.

They have no idea what kind of fools they’re making of themselves.

The whole thing lasted about two days and the entire army of angry people has now vanished (as predicted), probably having moved to a new target.

Now, you may be thinking that the fact that I like Eastern European culture means that’s just my opinion and that every culture comes with its pros and cons.

And, while, that’s certainly a valid point, there are plenty of things that are broken here in Eastern Europe, but the fact that people don’t get caught up in random ideologies—at least normal, everyday people—I would argue is actually a pretty awesome thing.

Why should another man attack me for my political beliefs (or lack of them)?

Why should a woman attack me for something that I’ve written even though nothing I’ve ever written has ever been even remotely sexist?

This is why I like Eastern Europe so much. Talking to people is so refreshing because what they express are, for the most part, their own beliefs—not a mouthpiece for another greater agenda that’s working hard on dividing people instead of uniting them.

And this is why I find it so refreshing watching people walk straight to the destination ahead instead of being distracted with the things happening around them. The rest of the world can learn quite a bit from the Ukrainian culture and mentality.

The Dirty Truth About Passive Income

The other day I was having lunch with a good friend in a restaurant here in Kiev, Ukraine. After catching up on the usual stuff, we switched to business topics. I told him some of the things I’m working on. He shrugged his head and asked if this stuff was truly passive. I explained, that, yes, it’s definitely truly passive. 

While he was still somewhat confused and unconvinced, I knew that it is something I must accept because most people are somewhat skeptical of this.

If there’s one term out there that creates as much confusion in the entire “location-independent” and “make money online” topics, it would be “passive income.”

These two words have been thrown around so much that, over time, they’ve taken a new meeting all onto itself. In other words, “passive income” no longer means what it originally supposed to have meant; it now means things like freedom and the chance to live in beautiful Rio de Janeiro while dating gorgeous Brazilian women.

It’s hard to fault the Internet for this. In many ways, guys like me are partly responsible. After all, it was guys like me who helped popularize this term many years ago and continue to do so today.

Additionally, lots of people have also been politicizing this term because, well, it’s a good way to rally people to your cause or get them to buy whatever you’re selling.

For instance, these days it has become popular to either say that passive income is “complete bullshit” or take the complete opposite side and claim that passive income is closer to God and is the answer to everyone’s problems.

This is a testament to how polarizing this term has become.

Does passive income exist?

Still, the question remains, does passive income really exist? Can you make money passively—that is, without actively working on it?

Of course, without all the bullshit and the snake oil shit. 

Just the raw the truth.

The raw truth is that, yes, passive income does exist. But it’s a lot different than what most people think.

Everyone knows that famous big company in Redmond, Washington. It’s called Microsoft. As of this writing, Microsoft just passed Apple as the world’s most valuable company. 

The co-founder of that company, Bill Gates, no longer works there. But he’s still getting richer every day.

Why? Because he still owns stock in the company. When the stock increases in value, he makes more money.

That’s passive income.

Though, that’s probably a rather extreme example. After all, not everyone is a co-founder of a multi-billion (almost trillion) dollar company.

Let’s say you start a business. It becomes successful. It grows to a point where it’s making decent money and everyone is getting paid. 

The business is generating revenue from selling quality products to other businesses.

At this point, you’re still working on the business, so you’re not technically making money passively. Later on, you hire someone to run the company. At this point, although you’re no longer actively involved in the business, you’re still earning money.

What just happened?

Now, you’re earning passive income.

The purest example of passive income is a business. The entire point of starting a business is to have passive income.

When guys like me talk about passive income, we’re specifically referring to starting an Internet business. An Internet business can be any size and of any complexity.

It can be as simple as a one-page website that sells a certain product or service to a complex e-commerce store that either drop-ships products or fulfills them out of its own warehouse.

It doesn’t really matter.

The point is that there’s a store out there, on the Internet, “in the cloud” and it actively converts products and services into cash.

Of course, for this store to be successful, different skills must be employed such as marketing, writing, copywriting, design, programming, and sales just to name a few.

These skills correspond to specific departments in some big corporation.

It takes a while to get going

While passive income may seem the golden goose that forever lays golden eggs, there’s a caveat: it takes a time investment to reach this phase.

Unlike a regular 9-5 job, where you get paid a set salary from day one, with passive income, you need an initial time investment before you’re able to make money painlessly.

That time investment varies from several weeks to several years, depending on what you’re trying to do.

At the one extreme, you have the startup culture. I spent over ten years of my life in Silicon Valley working for all kinds of startups as well as huge companies. So, I know a thing or two when it comes to startups.

The purpose of a startup is to compress future wealth into a very short amount of time. So, you hustle for 3-4 years like crazy, expecting to make a good amount of money when the dust settles.

Then, if you’re one of the lucky ones who happens to actually build a successful startup (95% of startups fail), you can hopefully go public in few years and become a millionaire/billionaire.

On the other side of the spectrum, there’s the Internet passive income. You pick a topic, build a website in this area to address a particular need, monetize the website using some products or services, let it organically grow and then reap the rewards.

Unlike the startup scenario above, where you’re expending the maximum effort for the maximum reward, the website can easily generate anywhere from $500-$2,000 per month (usually much more) without breaking a sweat.

Regardless of how you slice and dice it, proper time must be invested before you’re able to wake up and have $100-$1000 deposited into your bank account.

If you ask me, however, I believe the initial time investment is very well worth it.

Of course, not everyone agrees. That’s perfectly fine as the world does need gravediggers, too.

The greatest force in the world

The ability to work on something for a set amount of time, unleash it onto the world and let it grow on its own is one of the most powerful forces in the entire universe.

It’s almost like you’re creating a unique organism from scratch that absorbs energy from its environment and grows on its own, all while spitting out passive income in the process.

That’s a hell of a lot different from the 9-5 system where you’re getting paid a fixed salary for continuous low-level work that results in you building zero capital and assets.

While I’ve had my struggles and failures, there few things in life that I detest more than sitting in some fluorescent office and engaging in continuous low-level work all while receiving a fixed salary regardless of my efforts.

But for people who live this life, things like “passive income” is a concept shrouded in mystery and fear. Whereas for most businessmen, it’s a natural outcome of their labor, for most 9-5’ers the fact that money can create more money is as a foreign concept as speaking Swahili.

But if freedom is what you want, mastering passive income is what you must do.

That’s because without passively making money, you don’t have freedom; you either toil for money (and not have freedom) or enjoy freedom while money passively gets deposited into your bank account.

That’s also why I work with a very limited number of people as part of the Maverick Mentorship program. The mentoring just isn’t as scalable as my other more passive-income businesses.

Odessa, Ukraine: A Local’s Guide To Eastern Europe’s Best Beach Destination

Dateline: Southern Ukraine

Ah Odessa, out of all the countries and cities I’ve visited and written about, I can’t believe I still haven’t written about my own hometown.

Actually, the reason I haven’t written much about Odessa is that I left my hometown in my early teens for a new life in New York. But just because you leave Odessa, doesn’t mean Odessa leaves you.

In the past seven years, I have returned to my former hometown no less than five times.

Here’s a local’s unique perspective to one of the most special and picturesque cities in the world.

Introduction

Odessa is Ukraine’s 4th largest city by population, behind Kiev, Kharkov, and Dnipro with a population of around 1M inhabitants.

While Ukraine has a fairly large coastline of the Black Sea, Odessa is the premier city for getting sun and tan. That has become more so after Crimean peninsula switched over to the Russian side.

That event made Odessa as one of the only viable options for escaping the country’s oppressive summer’s heat. (There’s also Mariupol on Azov Sea to the east, but it’s yet another mediocre Ukrainian 3rd-tier city and can’t compare to Odessa.)

The locals

The entire former Soviet Union not only knows where Odessa is located, but they also have heard stories about the locals, Odessits (Одесситы).

Depending on who you ask in Ukraine (or other ex-Soviet Union countries), that person will have something to say about the locals, whether it’s positive or negative.

Generally speaking, Odessits share a particular humor, have their own colorful way of speaking Russian and even have a very specific accent that only exists in Odessa (I don’t have it, but my mom definitely does.)

Like most ex-Soviet Union cities, Odessa has greatly changed over the years. Many people immigrated to Odessa from nearby towns and cities and from other countries. So, it’s definitely not the same city as it once was.

Where to stay

Odessa is a relatively big city (over 1M), but, as a tourist, there are really two places to base yourself in the summer months. The first option is the beautiful center. The second option is closer to the action near the beach.

Out of all the Ukrainian cities, Odessa’s center is definitely the most picturesque and memorable. Kiev with its charming old town comes close, but there’s something that makes Odessa’s center truly special that visitors and locals alike can’t really put their finger and describe.

The second option is right near the beach and, thus, closer to the action. Although Odessa has several beaches along its generous coastline, most of the action takes place near two nightclubs Ithaca and Ibiza, located near a beach called Arcadia.

Back when I was a young kid growing up in the Soviet Union, Arcadia was a quiet area that was frequented mostly by families; there weren’t many fancy shops or noisy nightclubs.

That’s a far cry from today as the main strip leading from the city to the beach is filled with restaurants, stores, and coffee shops. There’s even a small amusement park for your enjoyment.

Both options are viable so it really depends on what you’re looking for.

How to rent accommodation

Odessa is a seasonal city so it’s pretty easy to rent apartments in the offseason, but that can be very challenging during the peak summer months.

There are several ways of renting apartments. The first is through Airbnb.com. Because Airbnb is typically targeted to foreigners instead of locals, the prices are typically higher than similar apartments that are rented to locals.

It’s not uncommon to find a decent apartment in the center for something like $1,000/mo, while the same type of apartment may be offered for like $600-700 on a rental site targeted at locals.

Nevertheless, negotiating on Airbnb is always an option. If you’re staying for at least a month, ask for a discount. It’s not uncommon to get anywhere from 10-30% off simply by asking.

Another good site for apartment rentals is doba.ua. This site lists apartment that is rented out by night and is aimed mostly at locals.

Most of the people advertising apartments don’t speak English, so it’s a good idea to have a local friend help you make reservations. This is the site I mostly use for booking accommodation.

Finally, there’s the king of all sites: OLX.com. This is sort of a Ukrainian craigslist where you can buy/rent/sell pretty much anything from used kitchenware to luxury apartments. This is the main site that Ukrainians use for pretty much anything. It’s a site where I found my last three Kiev apartments.

While you probably wouldn’t be using the site to find a long-term accommodation in Odessa (you could do that), the site also lists apartments that can be rented for short term, which is typically anywhere from 1-3 months. That’s super ideal for spending an entire summer in Odessa.

Although all three are solid options for finding an apartment in the city, if you’re not on a true shoestring budget, Airbnb is a great choice for securing a great pad in a great location. Assuming, of course, you book well in advance, especially if you’re looking for longer periods of at least a month.

How to get around

There are two ways to get around in Odessa: public transportation and taxis. Fortunately, with the arrival of Uber in 2016, it has gotten much easier to efficiently get from one place to another.

When I spent the summer in Odessa last year, I stayed in the center but enjoyed the sun and sand on one of the less populated beaches at the southern end of the city.

I generally took the public transportation (marshrutka, $0.25) which took about 25 minutes to get from downtown to the beach. I also took Uber a couple of times; the ride was about 7-10 minutes and cost around $3-4.

The best beaches

Odessa is graced with a generous coastline stretching from the northern area all the way to the south where it meets another city, Chernomorsk (Черноморск, formerly called Ильячевск).

Just as you’ve probably guessed, not all beaches are the same. There are three types of beaches in Odessa: public beaches, paid beaches (where you pay a fee for a beach chair or a tent, you can even order food and drinks which they’ll bring right to where you’re seated), and, finally, private beaches that are only accessible to the owners of the private land (and their friends).

When it comes to paid beaches, they vary from those without frills mostly frequented by families all the way to party beaches that rival to party destinations such as Ibiza or Miami.

The closest beach to the city is Langeron (Ланжерон). It’s a beach that everyone knows and, thus, one of the most popular beaches in the city. All you have to do is walk towards the sea from the center and you’ll end up on this beach.

The problem with this beach is that it gets overly crowded in the summer months (even worse on weekends) when the entire city descends on it. The result is that people end up being packed like sardines—lying right next to each other. That’s probably not an idea of a vacation that you had in mind.

A much better idea is to go to one of the paid beaches. It’s something that I resisted when I first visited—why do I have to pay to access a free resource?—but after trying it once, I became a convert and now exclusively go to paid beaches.

Paid beaches range from expensive to completely affordable. The more expensive paid “beach clubs” attract the typical “seen and be seen” clientele, while there are also plenty of “chill” beaches where, for a small fee, you can have a true piece of mind.

The great thing about paid beaches is that you rent a beach chair, an umbrella or even a huge tent for two or more people. You can also order all kinds of food and drinks which are brought directly to you. There are also restrooms and showers.

Thus, you can spend the entire an entire day at the beach instead of breaking up your day when you get hungry or thirsty.

One of my favorite beach clubs was called “Agarti.” It was a chill beach that’s more reminiscent of Goa, India than Ukraine. It was super affordable, had a chill music, and attracted a chill crowd. It was about a 25-minute bus ride from the center, so it was never packed. Thinking back, spending time at that beach club was probably the best part of my vacation.

In the famed Arcadia beach, you have two popular nightclubs that everyone in Odessa knows: Ithaca and Ibiza. These are party nightclubs that are frequented by the “seen and be seen” crowd.

The best time to come

Odessa’s summer season begins around the end of June when the water temperature gradually starts to rise; the water becomes truly warm by the end of July. This lasts up until around the middle of September. Towards the end of September and beginning of October, temperatures drop substantially and it becomes chilly so you need a jacket or sweater.

This is unlike coastal cities on the Mediterranean like Barcelona or Rome which are still very warm and pleasant that time of the year.

Actually, the best time to come to Odessa isn’t in July or August, but in the first half of September. By that time, most tourists have left (because it’s cold), few families are on the beaches (school season started), and prices for accommodation drop back down to normal levels after being in the stratosphere in the three months previously.

Visiting in the offseason

For such a beautiful city in the summer, Odessa is a completely different city in the offseason. Once the summer finally ends in the second or third week in September, temperatures drop quickly and the gorgeous blue sunny skies give way to rain and clouds (although the sun does make frequent appearances from time to time).

In the winter, while the city’s proximity to the sea guarantees that it doesn’t experience super cold -25 C (-5 F) temperatures like the rest of Ukraine, Odessa still gets its fair share of snow. Coupled with short days and not a particularly “cozy” center due to the city’s sizable blocks and few pedestrians, and what you get isn’t the most pleasant to spend the winter in.

In the last few years, I spent a couple of winters in Odessa (even celebrated the New Year there), and it’s definitely not my first choice of a city to spend the winter. Cities like Lviv with their cozy squares and narrow streets are much more suitable for cold, Ukrainian winters.

What language to speak

For a city located in Ukraine, Odessa is a predominantly Russian-speaking. It’s probably one of the more Russian-speaking cities in Ukraine.

My native language is Russian. Everyone in my family uses Russian as their native language. In fact, an easy way to tell that a person is not from Odessa is if they have a Ukrainian accent when speaking Russian.

While everyone understands and speaks Ukrainian, the only language you need to know in Odessa is Russian.

Safety and security

While Odessa, just like Ukraine, is fairly safe and secure, you still should watch out for petty scams. In Ukraine, Odessa has always been known as the city of swindlers (аферисты). While there’s a low chance you’ll experience any kind of serious harm, you should still keep your eyes open for minor stuff.

These include pickpocketing in tourist areas, short-changing you by taxi drivers and restaurant waiters. Some of the more serious issues that tourists have experienced were when apartment owners didn’t return the deposit back (partially or all of it).

Final thoughts

Ever since returning to Ukraine back in 2011, I spent many summers in Odessa. Most of them were quick trips from Kiev, lasting around a week or two. Gradually, my sojourns in Odessa became longer; a year ago, I spent several months in Odessa.

Odessa has always been a special city in Ukraine (and the entire former Soviet Union). It was always a great summer destination for having fun and enjoying the sun.

Ever since Crimea became under Russian control, Odessa became the prime destination for summer tourists for the entire country. This resulted in extreme crowds, jacked up prices from restaurants to accommodation, and, generally, lots of hassle that comes with all of that. I solved this problem by visiting Odessa in September when the majority of the crowds are gone.

Still, have no illusions about it: Black Sea beaches aren’t exactly the Mediterranean, and definitely aren’t the Caribbean beaches I’m used when I was living in America and Latin America. The sand isn’t silky white and often times the Black Sea isn’t exactly clear enough to swim in.

Nevertheless, while there are plenty of cities around the world with better weather, beaches, food and even people, there’s only one Odessa.

Dnipro, Ukraine: What’s It Like Living In A Ukrainian 2nd Tier City

Dateline: Southern Ukraine

Introduction

Dnipro (or Dnepr/Днепр/Днипро/Днепропетровск) is a 2nd tier city in Southeastern Ukraine. Having traveled around Ukraine and decided that Kiev is the best city in Ukraine, I would’ve never visited this city had it not been for my friend’s constant nagging to visit him and check it out.

Finally, another friend of mine who had lived here before couldn’t stop praising this city and asked me to meet her there on the weekend that she would be there. I figured this would be a great opportunity to get to know a new city with a someone who’d lived there before. I accepted her offer and bought a ticket on a fast express train from Kiev.

For the first week, I rented an apartment in a very commercial (and expensive) part of the city that was supposed to be the center of everything (Мост Сити, “Bridge City”). Indeed, it was in the center of everything; there was a huge shopping center right in the same complex complete with a huge supermarket and  Western brands such as Zara, Diesel and Massimo Dutti.

Beyond the expensive department stores, everything about this “commercial center” screamed cheap and underdeveloped. There was nothing “exclusive” or “luxurious” about it, and it was a far cry from anything like Kiev’s “Maidan” (Independence Square) or even some of the more charming squares in other Eastern European cities. Its lack of tasteful architecture was also rather hard on my eyes. The only thing I noticed was lots of concrete.

Thinking that this “commercial center” was all there was to this city, I immediately regretted making this trip and started planning my return back to the capital.

Fortunately, the situation improved dramatically when I switched apartments and moved to a different area. Not only was the apartment itself newly remodeled and one of the most spacious I’ve ever stayed in Ukraine, but the neighborhood was awesome; it was very green and bohemian with plenty of great restaurants and a few cool bars. I enjoyed the area so much that instead of spending only a week, as I originally planned, I ended spending almost the entire summer here.

Awesome restaurants and coffee shops

For an Eastern European 2nd-tier city, there are surprisingly great food choices when it comes to restaurants and coffee shops. There are at least a dozen restaurants that I would easily call “world class” where I wouldn’t hesitate to invite a good friend or even my lovely Mom—my trusted litmus test for a place’s excellence—should she happened to visit me.

As a burger lover, I’ve had one of the best burgers and meat as long as I can remember. I’ve also had excellent Italian food and even pretty decent Mexican enchiladas.

While there are plenty of great restaurants, the coffee shop scene (mainly for getting lots of work done) isn’t terrible but could definitely be improved. After living here for a few months, I still didn’t have my “ideal” coffee shop, one that would be my default choice when I was tired of working at home and needed a change of scenery.

On the other hand, this is where a city like Kiev shines. I can easily name five coffee shops that I can go to and get some serious work done. As a location-independent entrepreneur, this is important.

Compact center

The center: where all the action happens

One of my favorite things about Dnipro is the fact that the center is very compact. One can cover this part of the city in about ten to fifteen minutes. Since the center is where all the desirable attractions are, this makes it super easy to have dinner with a friend (who also happens to live in the center) without being stuck in traffic while taking a taxi or public transportation.

It’s not some tiny center either. There are plenty of great restaurants, coffee shops and bars bunched all pretty next to each other. There are also lots of great clothing stores, whether it’s from a local designer or from some famous Western brand.

I cannot overemphasize how convenient this is. Even in Kiev, which isn’t a huge city by any means, everything is so spread out and there isn’t a “true” center. That means meeting a friend in the “center” easily means either a 30-45-minute walk or a 15-30-minute ride by car (assuming both of you live at least close to center). Here, no such issues exist because you simply leave your apartment and ten minutes later you are outside your friend’s apartment or inside the restaurant.

Just to give you an idea, imagine New York City with only the Prince St. in Greenwich village or LA with a small chunk of Melrose Ave. That’s a hell of a lot more convenient than making the trek from South Brooklyn or Bushwick in NYC.

Western Conveniences

For a seemingly sleepy Eastern European city in the middle of nowhere, there are plenty of Western-style conveniences. There are tons of Western-style supermarkets where you can buy all kinds of products that your heart desires. There are the familiar Western clothing brands such as Diesel, Nike and Levi’s. There’s also Uber for easy trips within the city or even to some nearby destination.

One may argue that these Western-style companies and influences are making Eastern European cities such as this one more “Westernized,” but I’m all for it if it makes the city more convenient and pleasant to be in.

“A city in the valley”

Unlike Odessa, Ukraine, Dnipro doesn’t have access to beautiful beaches of the Black Sea, but it mostly makes up for it with access to a beautiful river, Dnipro, which runs along the middle of the country. The city’s main attraction is the wide riverfront area called набережная. In the summer, that’s where you’ll find all kinds of people walking, sitting and overall enjoying life. There are also tons of great restaurants overlooking the beautiful river.

In some strange way, Dnipro—unlike Kiev and other Ukrainian cities—even has an eery Latin American feel. My neighborhood reminds me of Mexico City’s Condesa or Colombia’s Cali. The fact that it has a Latin American feel was definitely one of the main things that drew me to this city and got me to stay longer.

But unlike Latin America, with its crime and unpredictability, Dnipro, like the rest of Eastern Europe, is fairly safe and predictable.

Dnipro is a “hard” city

It didn’t take me long to realize that it’s a rather “hard” city. When I say, “hard,” I’m referring to the people and their behavior. Unlike Kiev or St. Petersburg, two cities infused with great culture and friendly people, in Dnipro, people almost never say “Hello” when greeting you—unless you say it first—everyone is mostly just going about their business.

I’ve had plenty of situations where I interacted with someone and then shook my head in response to their behavior. Things like opening and holding doors for random strangers were rarely (or never) met with a “thank you.” Ask for something in a supermarket, and the person behind the register would simply ask, “What do you want” point blank without greeting you of any kind.

Generally speaking, Eastern Europe as a region is fairly “hard.” It’s not a region where people typically go out of their way to make sure you’re satisfied with anything. This is something I experienced first hand when I spent a few months living in Russia several years ago.

Nevertheless, over the past few years, the region has been undergoing great gentrification that cities like Kiev are actually becoming more or less pleasant cities to spent lots of time in, even for picky foreigners who’re used to Western handholding.

Dnipro is a bit behind in this regard. It’s quintessentially Eastern European in a sense that nobody really cares about whether you enjoyed the pasta dish in a restaurant or the fact that you don’t understand something in a supermarket. Customer service simply doesn’t exist.

Meeting people is surprisingly difficult here because, unlike in Kiev, where people are more cosmopolitan and are at least somewhat curious of people from other cities or countries, people here are more reserved and guarded.

Of course, it wasn’t like this with every person I met, there are plenty of friendly people who at least went out of their way to help you (mostly in department stores), but for the most part this city was decidedly unfriendlier than other Eastern European cities such as Kiev, St. Petersburg or even Bucharest.

Livable city?

The entire time I lived in the city, I spent a lot of time thinking about whether it’s a city I can make peace with and learn to love. And, indeed, if someone put a gun to my head and told me to live here or else, I would certainly find ways to adjust. It’s a city that has everything one would need for a comfortable life. There are great restaurants and coffee shops allowing you to have a great lifestyle for a fraction of the price elsewhere.

But, yet, even as I was writing the above paragraph, and even if I had a great job and a nice apartment, this city still would never be my first choice.

As someone who was born in Ukraine and speaks the language, I’ve had my share of challenges in the city but for the most part, I’m used to the Eastern European mindset and life, so the lack of “humanity” didn’t affect me all that much; it’s something I fully expect. However, I would never recommend this city to a foreigner. I can already see them complaining about how no one “gives a fuck” about their concerns.

Even the fact that this city is “hard,” can also be flipped on its head and become an advantage. I know many people who actually prefer Dnipro over the more cosmopolitan Kiev. It’s smaller, more navigable and the “hardness” of the city can be an advantage because people always keep their word and don’t flake on you in the last moment like they do in bigger cities.

Speaking of Latin America, here’s what I wrote about Medellin back in 2011:

In many ways, it’s a city without a soul, a city without charm.  A city where everything works but nothing is special that motivates you to return or convince others to come and visit.

As I wrote recently, 2nd and 3rd tier cities are generally boring and nondescript and don’t have the excitement or the cachet of their 1st-tier counterparts.

Ultimately, I realized that regardless of what I thought and how much positive spin I can create around this city, I was still in a 2nd -tier city in Eastern Europe. And, in Eastern Europe, as my experience has proven again and again, the only livable places are really the 1st tier cities; everything else is too broken (both literally and metaphorically) to provide a decent quality of life.

Why live in a 2nd-tier city when I could just as easily be living in Kiev—a truly awesome city—where people and the architecture are much more friendlier and welcoming?

Thus, it seems that no matter where in Ukraine I travel to and live, all roads always lead back to Kiev.

Building A Digital Marketing And Copywriting Empire From Mexico City

In this special podcast, I brought on a special guest: Dennis Demori, who escaped life in America for location-independent lifestyle. He’s currently based in Mexico City.

Here’s what we discuss in this nearly 2-hour mega podcast.

  • Why Dennis has embraced the digital nomad lifestyle and has no plans to live in America
  • What’s life like in Mexico City?
  • The pros and cos of Central American countries
  • What Dennis does for a living
  • Dennis’ typical work day – and how to stay productive while living all over the world
  • Why Dennis works seven days a week
  • Dennis’ future projects that he plans to launch
  • Biggest failures and epiphanies
  • His advice to anyone who’s starting from scratch
  • And much, much more in this 2 hour mega podcast!

To learn more about Dennis, visit his website: http://dennisdemori.com

or checkout his instagram here: https://instagram.com/dennisdemori

Enjoy!

Building A Digital Marketing And Copywriting Empire From Mexico City

 
 

00:00 / 1:58:49
 

1X

Why I’m Only Sticking To Large, 1-tier Cities

Dateline: Southeastern Ukraine

One of the biggest discussions around digital nomad or location-independent communities is whether it’s better to live in a large and well-known 1st tier city (such as the capital) or a smaller and less known 2nd or 3rd tier city.

The argument goes something along the lines that smaller cities are friendlier, less expensive and don’t have the hectic craziness of their bigger and badder counterparts.

After living all over the world in large and small cities, I believe, with a few exceptions, big cities offer much more value to any digital nomad or permanent traveler than smaller, 2nd or 3rd tier cities.

As a permanent traveler, I have the liberty to live in any country I want and in any city within that country that I desire. Generally, it’s easy to pick a country: you may love Brazil but hate Sweden, you may love Ukraine but not be too crazy about Kazakhstan or Egypt.

On the other hand, picking a city is a bit more complicated. For instance, let’s say you’ve always wanted to live in Colombia. Do you live in the big capital of Bogota, a smaller city like Medellin or settle down in the provincial Cali? What about Kiev or Odessa in Ukraine? Or what’s better: Bangkok or Chiang Mai in Thailand?

This is definitely something that I struggled with during my permanent traveler lifestyle. When I lived in Latin America, I mostly setup camp in large, well-known cities like Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City, but have also experimented with living in smaller cities and where I didn’t even once hear an English word spoken.

That was the case in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Mexico.

Even as I currently write this, I’ve been living in a smaller, 2nd-3rd  tier city in Southeastern Ukraine. There are no tourists here. That’s probably because there are no tourist attractions (that I know off and could recommend). It’s much more laid back than the capital. Needless to say, it’s been a completely different experience than living in a bigger city like Kiev or, obviously, New York.

First of all, I’ve always been a big city guy. I was born in a relatively big city (~1M people) and spent most of my life in relatively big and affluent cities (New York, San Francisco, etc), so it’s no wonder that when I set out to live abroad, I always aimed for huge cities not little towns in the middle of nowhere.

When I began traveling to Mexico more than a decade ago, the only city I really wanted to visit was Mexico City. Mexico City is one of the biggest cities in the world, and for sure it didn’t disappoint. Many years later, I still describe this megapolis as a city where anything and everything is possible.

Here in Ukraine, I spent about three years living in Kiev, before experimenting with living in other cities. Kiev quickly became one my favorite cities in the entire world.

Big cities have amazing hustle and energy

First off, there’s nothing like living in a big city. Regardless if you’re based in New York City, Mexico City, São Paolo or Tokyo, there’s a certain energy and hustle that simply can’t (and doesn’t) exist in some nearby town of fewer than 1M people.

That’s especially important if you’re someone like a freelancer who works for other companies or a digital entrepreneur like myself who carves his own piece of the pie and works out of coffee shops or co-working spaces. I feel like I can build an empire and takeover the world whenever I’m in a place like NYC or São Paolo, but would never dream of anything big if I was based in some Sleepytown, West Virginia.

It’s easier to meet people in big cities

In my experience, it has also been much easier to meet people in large cities. Initially, this seemed like the opposite of common logic; I always imagined small towns to be super friendly because everyone knows everyone else and nobody looks doors at night and all that. And, while that may be true to some extent, I’ve discovered that it’s actually harder to meet people in smaller cities than their bigger counterparts.

One of the reasons for this is because big cities aren’t only composed of natives but also of people who moved there for more opportunities. For instance, in New York City it’s fairly easy to meet people from all over the world, never mind the entire United States.

In Rio de Janeiro, it’s common to meet people from all over Brazil; in Kiev, you’ll meet people from all over Ukraine.

And, since people move to larger cities because of more opportunities, they’re already more primed for meeting new people—whether they’re co-workers, business contacts or romantic connections. 

Big cities are also magnets for other foreigners, which are always open to meeting other expatriates. Even if, one day, I come to grips that I don’t really click with locals, I can always count on foreigners—regardless where they’re from—to meet up in some bar and have a beer.

The “small city” complex

Another thing I noticed after living in smaller but still relatively affluent cities is that people tend to have something that I call the “small city” complex. I recall living in Medellin, Colombia and meeting all kinds of people who weren’t shy about proclaiming how their city is the best in the country and even the world. On the other hand, I don’t think I’d ever met a single person from the capital, Bogota, who claimed that Bogota was the best even though the latter has many more opportunities than the former.

I also noticed this trend in Ukraine, a country where I’m now. Kiev is an awesome city, but people from the capital typically don’t go out of their way to remind you of that. Go to a smaller city like Odessa (where I was born) and you’ll have locals saying that their city is the best in the country (and even the world).

The problem with this complex is that it quickly crosses over into arrogance. When you’re in a city full of people who believe their city is the center of the universe, there’s little desire for them to expend energy and learning about other cities or cultures.

This also makes it much harder to integrate yourself into smaller cities as an outsider.

Big cities have more culture

Generally speaking, big cities are more “cultured” than smaller cities. New York City has more “culture” than Albany or Buffalo; Kiev, Ukraine has more culture than Chernigov (Чернигов); São Paolo, Brazil has more culture than Goiás; Moscow, Russia has more culture than Surgut (Сургут).

I never really considered myself as a “culture-seeking” guy, but I must admit that it’s a lot more pleasant living in a place like St. Petersburg, Russia, which is an epitome of a cultured-city with its world-class museums and restaurants, than a smaller town just outside Moscow (in fact, there’s absolutely nothing in the world that would convince me to live in the latter).

The cultural aspect also extends beyond monuments of dead people and museum exhibits; the people are also much more pleasant in more culture cities than in some backwater in the middle of nowhere.

This is especially true in Eastern Europe where the only livable cities in each country are the capitals or perhaps one other city: in Russia, that’s Moscow and St. Petersburg; in Ukraine, that’s Kiev and Odessa; in Lithuania, that’s just Vilnius; in Latvia, that’s just Riga. In this region, 2nd and 3rd tier cities are typically too poor, rundown or outright broken to provide a decent quality of life.

The exceptions

There are some notable exceptions. The main one is if the smaller city has somehow been “vetted” and delivers massive value above and beyond the big capital or another big city. 

Chiang Mai in Thailand is the perfect example. Yes, it’s a small provincial city, but it’s pleasant enough to provide a good quality of life and robust enough to have the infrastructure and the community to get some serious work done.

Another notable exception is the quintessential beach city. This would be something like Odessa in Ukraine; Split or Dubrovnik in Croatia; or Marbella in Spain. What all of these smaller cities have in common is the fact that they’re located near the beach with its relaxing vibe. Beyond the beach, the city may not offer much and can’t compete with the bigger capital in non-summer months.

Bigger is better

Ultimately, a big city should be your top pick whenever you’re planning a new chapter in a new country. There’s enough buzz and hustle to keep you busy as you’re looking to explore and get to know your new surrounding.

Smaller cities are great for a quick getaway for a weekend or few days. I can certainly see myself living in Bogota, Colombia and making a quick trip to some neighboring town or village, but living in the latter for an extended amount of time would be another story.

From Bangkok to Bogota, from Kiev to Singapore, big cities are the default choice for quality long-term living and everything else you may desire. They just make more sense.

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