My husband and I quit our jobs in Miami to secretly travel the world while working remotely. It's allowed us to pay off debt and improve our quality of life.
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The Miami couple visits Lake Humantay in Peru.Anonymous
A long-distance worker from Miami secretly moved to South America without his employer's knowledge.
It has allowed him and his husband to save money and live a more exciting lifestyle, he said.
Because of this, he recommends other telecommuters try the same thing, as he told reporter Hannah Towey.
This as-told-to essay is based on conversations with a remote collaborator from Miami. He asked to remain anonymous to protect his job, but insiders have documents confirming his employment. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
My husband and I quit our personal jobs to take on remote positions and secretly moved to South America about four months ago.
Our Miami budget was getting tighter and tighter every month. Over the past two years, remote working has enabled a huge influx of new residents to Miami, including Californians and New Yorkers whose much higher salaries (based on their local regions) have caused our local cost of living to skyrocket. Unfortunately, our salaries in Miami haven't gotten heads up as well.
Our rent went from $2,150 a month to $2,700 a month, and that's because the landlord was "generous." He said he could have asked for closer to $3,200 and he could have gotten it with the current market.
We were unable to pay our debt (it was around $41,000 and growing with interest). We kept up with that, but not in a very effective way. It just felt like a weight strapped around our ankles.
These price hikes, coupled with post-pandemic inflation and our general inability to really attack our debt month-to-month, gave us the idea of living abroad to 1) enjoy a beautiful, travel-based lifestyle with something new and exciting in each weekend while 2) being able to pay off our debts and build up decent savings.
That's where this experiment came in. We realized that we could actually be spending so much less while living a more fun lifestyle where we're not in the same place every weekend.
We used Reddit to learn how to become "digital nomads" and hide our location from our employers
"The Swing at the End of the World" in Baños, Ecuador.
"The Swing at the End of the World" in Baños, Ecuador.Anonymous
We did a lot of research before we started and ended up finding a Reddit section dedicated to "digital nomads". This was our main instruction point for figuring out how to set up the right technology to keep our location a secret from our bosses.
We use an external VPN router through which my work computer connects. Paying for the VPN software alone would not be enough as the company could easily see on the work computer that the software was installed. We needed an external router with its location set to Miami so the computer would think it was still based in the US. A few months later it seems to be working.
We also did a lot of research on different countries. We needed a country with a similar time zone as Miami. It didn't have to be exact, but it had to be close enough. We didn't want to start with a 12-hour time difference in Southeast Asia.
On top of that, we really did some digging to see what the prices are like in each city. For example, Costa Rica has a relatively strong economy, so you won't see as many advantages when it comes to exchanging money. Another big factor was just the weather.
We ended up in Quito, Ecuador. That was the first city we landed in and set up our base. You could get lunch for $2.50 every day. You'd spend less money than you would on a meal in Miami that entire week.
We had already moved abroad when I took my current job. I paid over $1,000 in flights to pick up my new work computer (which was mailed to Florida, which is where I was supposed to be) and then fly back to South America.
Our reasoning for wasting so much money on flights to pick up a work computer? It still made more financial sense than living in Miami, where the cost of living was already running into thousands of dollars a month. (Our rent in South America averages around $500 a month for all previous nights in our Airbnbs).
It feels like we somehow made a dream come true that we didn't even know existed. We didn't notice. that you could travel the world and actually make more money than just living in one city.
There are funny and sometimes awkward moments when trying to fly under the radar at work
Crossing a bridge at Pailon Del Diablo near Baños, Ecuador.
Crossing a bridge at Pailon Del Diablo near Baños, Ecuador.Anonymous
My boss and my colleagues have no idea. It's kind of surreal.
There are funny and sometimes awkward moments when trying to fly under the radar at work. Like my colleagues who, during the occasional video meeting, remark on my long-sleeved tendency: “Oh, that's because my husband has the air conditioning on!” (Because we're high up in the Andes and it's 40 degrees outside) or the usual Ask "How was your weekend?
"Did you and your husband do anything fun?"
"Oh not much, just went to the beach and stuff" (actually we were trying to climb a 20,000ft active snow-capped volcano with ice axes, crampons, 4 layers of clothing and other snow climbing gear).
What does Ecuador have that Florida doesn't have? Earthquake. That was a big deal that I wasn't prepared for. I have never been in an earthquake in my life and in July there was an earthquake in the southern part of the country and the tremors reached Quito.
I had a video call with a client and all he can see is my face starting to freak out and I'm looking around the room looking up and down, the house is shaking. I had to let him know, "well actually I'm in Ecuador this week." I tried to shrug it off and make it seem like it wasn't a big deal and like I was just on vacation. Which turned into a lot of laughter and hopefully not something that worried him too much.
One of my homework for October was making sure I had a story for what we did "in Miami" for Halloween.
My only regret is that I wish we had started this two years ago
Attempt to climb Cotopaxi Volcano at 2am.
Attempt to climb Cotopaxi Volcano at 2am. anonymous
I encourage people to do this because it's potentially a one-time thing that previous generations didn't have access to. At the end of the day, it's your job. It's your job. If you're doing the amount of work you should be doing, I think it's completely ethical. I wish we had started this sooner. My husband and I probably would have put thousands of dollars in our pockets over the last year or two if we had done it sooner.
We are about to leave Peru to go to Aruba and then come home for two weeks to see my parents. From there we hope to jump to Brazil and after that hopefully start in Spain and then travel up the coast there.
My spouse and I joke that since my business is totally remote, I might not be the only one quietly going abroad and pursuing a ruse. What if I bump into my boss in the middle of Peru?
Read the original article on Business Insider
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