Jul 212018

So you’ve just finished reading The Four Hour Workweek (or any entrepreneurial self help book) and you’re all amped up to quit your job and automate your own business. Except you don’t have a business. And you don’t have the guts to quit your job. And the other suggestions in the book, like hiring an online assistant, are a frivolous use of your meager savings.

What If You Can Almost Retire?

Let’s entertain an exotic thought. Say you’re doing pretty well financially. You have a ton of money saved, and you want to retire. But you don’t have enough to cover all your expenses passively (i.e. earning 3-4% investment interest will not cover your yearly expenses).

As you may know I find reducing expenses more effective than attempting to earn more money(link, link, link). But what if you’re at your expense-cutting limit? Cutting any more expenses would force you onto the street, or stop you from eating.

The answer is creative and extreme savings ideas!

Using Inequality to Your Advantage

Taking a note from The Four Hour Workweek, you can stretch your money significantly if you earn in Dollars but spend in Pesos. Moving to a low cost of living country could enable you to retire years earlier. And lets face it. Your life in a foreign country is likely to be way more interesting than staying at home.

The cheapest countries tend to be equatorial countries for some reason. Maybe nice weather isn’t good for the economy because people are too hot to work. But that’s a good thing for retirement! Think about the benefits:

  • Good weather year round (assuming you like it stupid hot)
  • Delicious food (assuming you like it spicy and flavorful)
  • Nature (assuming you like beaches, mountains, and jungles)
  • History (assuming you like imperialism and genocide)

Central and South American countries will keep you close to the same time zone as Canada. They are friendly with delicious food and incredible nature. Southeast Asian countries are further away, but have similar benefits. Especially if you prefer fried rice to refried beans.

So how much cheaper are these places? And how can one decide where to go? Well let’s compare some typical expenses for a typical retiree lifestyle in some typical and non-typical destinations. For more detailed comparisons there are websites like Expatistan and Numbeo

CANADA, Penticton MEXICO, Cuernavaca COLOMBIA, Medellin
2 bdrm apartment $1,500 $900 $650
Food (Restaurant per person) $15-$25 $8-$12 $5-$10
Domestic Beer (store bought) $2.70 $1.70 $1.15
Transportation (public) $45 $30 $36
Transportation (gas price) $1.21/L $1.14/L $1.06/L

Now before you start yelling at me, I know there are other things to consider besides money. Language for one, if you don’t speak Spanish you’ll be restricted to English expat communities which typically are more expensive. But come on. Learning a second (or third) language is an excellent way to spend your free time.

And I know you have friends and family back in Canada. And I know you might have Canadian real estate, and gym memberships, and library cards. Well how about becoming a snow bird? Make a cheap country your wintertime destination. You can reap all the benefits of a cheaper lifestyle for half the year, and still maintain a lifestyle in Canada during the best months.

If you want to stay in your new country longer, many countries have retiree visas. Just prove that you have retirement income, no criminal record, and provide a health check. Speaking of health care, bring your medical records, and get health insurance, it’ll probably be $100/month.

Find more detailed info at Wikitravel and check out my post on how to leave Canada financially

Feb 062016


Ok this gravy train of travel posts is over. It’s back to money stuff! But before that lets tally up the cost of travelling through Asia for one month! First, here are the pre-departure expenses, as seen in my previous post.


Pre-departure Expense Cost (CAD)
Flight – Chicago to Istanbul $796
Flight – Istanbul to Bishkek $180
Flight – Bishkek to Urumqi $358
Flight – Beijing to Chicago $730
Hotel – Istanbul, 4 nights $80
Hostel deposits, Urumqi/Beijing $15
Train – Lanzhou to Beijing $73
Chinese Visa $106
Travel backpack $144
Travel clothing $265
TOTAL $2,891

Continue reading »

Jan 102016

I flew directly from to Urumqi from Kyrgyzstan and spent 11 days travelling Xinjiang and Gansu province in north west China. Xinjiang is known for being part of the silk road and nowadays it’s known mainly for natural resources and ethnic minorities.

Am I on Tatooine? Also, someone doesn’t know how to make a level foundation

Urumqi has 1.7 million people, of which 1.5 million are Han Chinese. The Uyghur people are the largest minority and a source of conflict in Xinjiang. Both the Uyghur and Han claim they got to Xinjiang first and are the indigenous people. The Uyghur have protested in the past over political injustices and a push for separation from China movements. In 2009 the protests turned violent and to this day Urumqi is full of riot vans and military! Continue reading »

Oct 282015

Instead of letting this site sit and rot while I’m away travelling I’ve decided to document my trip right here. I’ll be tracking all my expenses to hopefully inspire some of you chumps and chumpettes to get out and travel more. There are so many easy ways to make travelling cheaper and they often simultaneously make the trip more fulfilling.


Where, when and why I’m going


I need to start by coming clean. This website is predominantly for Canadians, of which I am one, but I’m living in America right now on a 10 month work exchange. Thus my trip begins and ends in Chicago.

This map doesn’t include all the cities that I’ll visit, only the major ones that I’ve financially committed to in some way. As far as timeframes go I’ll be leaving Chicago for London on October 30th and as for the rest:

  • London – 24 hours.
  • Istanbul – 4 days
  • Bishkek/Kyrgyzstan – 1 week
  • Urumqi/Lanzhou/Beijing – 2 weeks

I’ve been actively learning Mandarin the better part of 5 years now but I’m a long long…. long… way from fluent. Luckily there is no better place to practice Mandarin than in China! Oh and they got 5,000 years of culture and some other cool stuff to see….

China alone wasn’t enough for this trip and the true deciding factor was having an old friend living in Kyrgyzstan. I’ve wanted to visit northwest China in past trips but never had time, but since Kyrgyzstan borders China I decided that I could easily visit both places in one trip.

The next question was how to get to Kyrgyzstan? Kyrgyzstan is basically on the opposite side of the world so flying east or west works. My friend suggested we meet somewhere in Europe and since I’ve never been it became an easy decision. We settled on Istanbul, although Moscow was a strong contender.

Visiting London was not part of the original plan, but the cheapest flight to Istanbul happened to be with British airways and they offered a 24 hour stopover. And the cherry on the London cake was another good friend living just north of London!

The whole trip will last about 4 weeks.

Continue reading »