I am Susanna Perkins. If you are Planning an international move, and supporting yourself once you get there are the biggest obstacles future expats face. Future Expats Forum provides the information you need.
This will be the only place at Future Expats where you’ll see special deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2017.
As I’ve explained previously, I take a “no hype” approach. Rather than flooding your inbox, you’ve received one single email from me on the subject. And instead of having tons of sales cluttering up the website, there’s just this one single page.
That said, there are some very appealing deals here, so take note of what’s being offered, then return at the appropriate time to take action.
Some of the links below are affiliate links. That means if you click and purchase, I’ll receive a small commission. These sales help pay to keep the site running, so thanks in advance!
VPN (Virtual Private Network)
Nobody should travel, or even go online at the local coffee shop, without using a VPN. (Here’s more information about why you need a VPN.)
Strong VPN uses military-grade security to let you browse an unrestricted internet, no matter where in the world you are. And if you’re close to home (like at your local coffee shop), it protects you from snoopers.
They’re offering new users 50% off an annual plan from November 22-29, 2017.
Trusted Housesitters will chop 25% off your annual membership with them from November 24-28, 2017.
If you’re intrigued with the benefits of housesitting – either as a potential sitter or as a homeowner who needs a housesitter – this is your chance to join one of the top housesitting networks at a discount.
In addition, they’ll be giving away some free lifetime memberships.
Every portable career needs a website, and every website needs a domain name, hosting, and (if you follow my advice) a premium WordPress theme. Here are the available deals. (Read more about portable careers here.)
Domain Names and Hosting
Namecheap, the domain name registrar I recommend, is offering new .com domains at a significant discount – only $8.88 for a year.
Use this link to search for the domain you want. Your discount will be automatically applied when you choose a .com (look for the “kingcom” label!).
If you want another type of domain – .info, .biz, etc., get 10% off with this link and the coupon
Good through November 30, 2017.
Shared WordPress Hosting
Siteground is the company I recommend for shared WordPress hosting. From November 24-28, 2017, they’re offering a massive 70% discount on all shared hosting plans.
If you plan to move an existing site, they’ll migrate it for free when you take advantage of this offer.
WPEngine will give you almost half of an annual subscription free with this coupon code from November 23-27, 2017:
It’s only valid for new customers.
Normally when you sign up for an annual plan, you get 2 free months. With this offer, you’ll receive an additional 3-½ months free, for a total of 5-½ months. That’s very nearly a year for half price. . .
Elegant Themes is one of my two go-to WordPress theme designers. They’re offering a 25% off Black Friday and a Cyber Monday deal for new and returning customers. Additionally, they’ll be giving out some prizes.
If you’ve not bought an Elegant Theme product before, use this link to receive 25% off your purchase.
For tons of deals year-round (and some really excellent Black Friday sales), join AppSumo‘s mailing list. There’s no charge, and they offer huge savings on all sorts of apps, from SEO and keyword research tools to social media tools, document handling, and everything in between. Go here and sign up to be on their mailing list.
Only about one third of all Americans have passports.
Already got yours? then you’re probably good to go and you can skip this article. But if you don’t yet have a US passport, apply for one right away.
If you’re looking to get a passport for the first time, you must apply in person, using Form DS-11.
How long does it take to get a new US passport?
Be prepared to pay the required fees, based on the speed you want your application processed (an expedited application costs more), and where you are applying.
After your appointment (see below), it generally takes 4-6 weeks. And that’s after you spend 2-3 weeks collecting the required documentation.
If you pay extra for an expedited passport, expect it to take 2-3 weeks.
What are the fees for a passport?
The fee to the Department of State for a new, adult passport is $110. There’s an additional $60 fee to expedite. If I were to apply at my local county clerk’s office, they charge a separate, additional fee of $25.
Generally, a check, cashier’s check, or money order is acceptable. Official Passport Agencies may also take credit cards.
How to set up a passport application appointment
To set up an appointment in advance for your in-person application call 1-877-487-2778.
Here’s a listing of passport offices where you can apply in person, however, at these offices you’ll be required to pay an expedited fee. Many post offices and government offices will take in-person passport applications, so do an online search for “passport office” in your area.
Documents you’ll need for your passport application
Get a proper passport photograph taken. Here’s a list of places, including pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS. FedEx and UPS stores will also take passport photos.
Gather documentation. This must include:
Proof of citizenship. If you were born in the US, a birth certificate, certified, is usually sufficient, but read the rules on Form DS-11 carefully. You may also have to provide a marriage certificate, for example.
Identification which contains both a photograph of you and your signature. Acceptable ID includes drivers license, military ID, or government employee ID.
Go to your appointment with all the required forms, photographs and documentation, as well as fees.
If you have children, pay special attention to the rules for obtaining a passport for a child under the age of 16!
Note: This information was accurate when it was written, but can change any time.
This information is taken from my book, Getting Out of the USA: What You Need to Know Before Moving Abroad. You can purchase the book from Amazon.
I interviewed Gary previously (you can see the article HERE), but recently I caught up with him again to ask him some questions about his portable career as a photographer and travel blogger.
In the Beginning. . .
Surprisingly, Gary doesn’t have any photography background.
In 1994, he started an internet company. Then in 2007, he decided to travel the world so he bought a camera and taught himself how to use it. He made a lot of mistakes along the way.
But he learned from those mistakes. . . oh, boy, did he learn. Since 2010 he’s won one photography award after another, including the prestigious Best Travel Photographer of the Year, repeatedly, from both the Society of American Travel Writers and the North American Travel Journalists Association.
Gary started his Everything Everywhere blog in 2007. At the time he just wanted to share what he was doing with friends and family.
It didn’t start out as a business. In fact, there wasn’t anyone to really look at who was blogging as a business at the time. “It wasn’t really a thing back then,” he stated.
Around 2011, he got some sponsorships and endorsements, so that was when “it started to become the beginnings of a business.” He still didn’t do a lot of the things that a lot of professional bloggers did.
Today he has one employee who manages things, but Gary still handles all the content creation.
There’s No Place Like Home. . .
Gary’s originally from Wisconsin, but today he calls Minneapolis home.
Where to Go. . .
Gary admitted this has been a slow travel year — he’s only been to six countries so far. (Only!) He has plans to visit Newfoundland in Canada, then Norway, Indonesia, Ireland, Argentina, and Brazil.
“It’s hard to say where I’ll go,” he admitted, because “things pop up.”
Gary chooses where to go based on opportunities that present themselves. “I might have a tourism board or a tour company that wants to do something with me,” he acknowledged. “If I find it interesting. I might do it.”
Gary’s whole life as a travel blogger today is driven by what’s interesting to him. He chooses where to go based on whether he’s excited about it.
The Business Side. . .
All of Gary’s business comes down to the fact that he’s developed an audience. Whether he’s selling rights to images, getting a sponsorship, or being hired for a project, it’s all because he has an audience that likes his work. (He has over 200,000 followers on Instagram alone!)
Gary’s income sources break down into four main categories. Here they are, in the the order in which they contribute to his overall income, from most to least.
Blog (advertising, sponsorships)
Travel Photography Academy course
One of Gary’s projects is a course he’s developed, called the Travel Photography Academy.
He started it because he saw a need.
“I would see people on very expensive trips with expensive cameras who didn’t know how to use them. I realized if people were willing to invest a little money they could learn to take better photos and get more out of their investment.”
There’s a lot of interest from his current audience — he hasn’t done any advertising, or used any affiliates yet to sell the course.
And a Podcast. . .
In 2009, Gary started a weekly video interview podcast called This Week in Travel. He doesn’t do a weekly show any more, calling it a “semi-weekly” show.
He’s hoping to launch another podcast soon. This one won’t be specifically about travel, and will be “more of a monolog focusing on culture and history rather than traditional travel.”
He’s hoping it will appeal to a wider audience. Gary pointed out that:
“If you look at lifestyle niches like food and fashion, those are issues people deal with every single day. Travel is much more expensive and requires more of a time commitment. Most people might follow food or fashion all the time, but they’re only interested in travel right before they take a trip.
That’s offset by fact they spend a lot when traveling, but there’s not the steady interest in travel you see with other areas.”
What About the Tech?
When Gary first thought about doing a video podcast back in 2007, the technology was daunting. “Now you can shoot HD video on a smartphone,” he pointed out. “It’s so easy it’s almost like cheating.”
Gary believes the advances in technology are the reason there’s been such an explosion in digital nomads and people traveling full time or long term.
Coming Up. . .
Gary believes everyone who’s been truly successful has been doing what they want, not basing their efforts on keyword research and market studies.
He pointed out that one of the biggest podcasts on iTunes is Hardcore History. “It breaks all the rules of podcasting,” he explained. “Each show is about five hours long, and it’s a complete monolog show.”
Going forward, Gary plans to focus more on his training course, and on posting more. He may hire someone to help with that. Gary explained:
When you’re doing stuff online, no one size fits all. Everyone has drifted in different directions. I really think that it has to stem from a passion. If you don’t know what to talk about, you shouldn’t even be doing this. If you have something you’re passionate about, then it’s easy.”
With almost any type of portable career, you’ll need a website. A website requires hosting, and if you’re building that website with WordPress (my strong recommendation), consider a host that offers managed WordPress hosting.
Most everyone starts with shared hosting, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Shared hosting is inexpensive, and if you choose wisely, it can do the job for you. At least for a while. But managed WordPress hosting is a big improvement, and will save you time, in three important areas.
WordPress is the most popular site-building platform, used by over 25% of all websites. The downside to that popularity is that it’s a tempting target for hackers and purveyors of malware.
You don’t want to do that.
Managed hosting is more secure than shared hosting. Period. And when your site is more secure, it frees up your valuable time to focus on creating great content and attracting readers to your site.
Remember the Panama Papers scandal last year? The law firm was vulnerable because they didn’t keep their WordPress site updated. They were running an old version of WordPress, and their plugins. . . well, I’d rather not even think about it.
It’s important to keep everything up-to-date, because as security vulnerabilities are found, updates include patches to fix them. So if you’re running older versions, the internet bad guys already know how they can sneak in and wreak havoc on your site.
One of my recommending managed hosting companies, WP Engine, says this about its process for updating WordPress.
“We don’t update during the beta or immediately when the update is released. Instead, our engineering team tests the new release and its features against our system to see how they act and react to our platform. We will also take note of any known issues you can expect after an update and have actionable solutions, should you be affected.
“Once we have analyzed the update and made the needed adjustments to our platform, we will announce the date that the first wave of updates will begin. If you would like to have the install updated immediately, please open a 24/7 Live Chat through your User Portal with your request and we will perform the update early. Otherwise, site administrators will be emailed 7 days and then once more, the day the update occurs.”
In other words, they make sure the update works with their server configuration, and then they’ll automatically update for you — after notifying you and giving you time to make any needed adjustments to your site. It’s the responsible thing to do.
On top of that, they’ve developed a process that allows them to actually test your site after the update and make sure everything’s working correctly. If it’s not — they revert to the previous version of WordPress and help you fix the issue.
WP Engine expects you to keep your plugins and theme up to date, but when they learn about a security vulnerability, they’ll let you know so you can take immediate action.
That’s time you don’t have to spend updating is time you can work on your business.
Your site needs to load fast. Not only do your readers demand it, but Google now uses page load speed as one of the things that determines your search ranking. If your site is too slow, fewer people will find you via search, and when people do find your site, they’ll bounce off as soon as they realize it’s not loading fast enough. (Hint – it’s less than 3 seconds.)
Managed hosting companies optimize their servers for WordPress, so your page load speed is better. (A regular hosting companies has sites on WordPress, Joomla, and other content management systems, and using a variety of programming languages.)
Working to improve site speed on the wrong host is a time-sucking battle that you can’t win.
Ready for Managed WordPress Hosting?
WP Engine is offering my readers a special deal through the rest of October. If you act now, you can get a whopping 20% off your first payment. Or, get 4 months free when you sign up for an annual plan!
This offer is for new customers only. Here’s how you get it.
On September 10, Hurricane Irma blanketed the entire state of Florida with tropical-force winds and rain.
Yes, the entire state. It was a B-I-G storm.
Living near Orlando, we watched its path anxiously, and prepared as best we could.
We’ve gone through hurricanes before, lots of them. We still vividly remember Hurricane Charley in 2004, which turned all of metro Orlando into a sea of blue tarps.
Back to the present day. . . Irma arrived in the late afternoon, bringing wind and rain. A few minutes after 7 PM, our power went out. We dragged out the flashlights, and watched, and waited. Around 10 PM we retreated to an interior area, away from all outside doors and windows.
At about 5 AM, the wind had died down enough that I finally went to bed.
In the morning, we found a huge amount of debris from downed trees, huge branches, and smaller vegetation, although fortunately not a lot of property damage.
And we were still out of power, along with about 70% of all Floridians.
Over the next few days, power was restored to a lot of homes and businesses, but not ours. All told, our power was out for over a week.
Thank Goodness I Developed a Portable Career!
Once I knew the hurricane would affect us, I scrambled to turn in a project before the deadline, knowing I needed to make sure it was in the client’s hands before the storm hit.
A couple of days before the storm arrived, I emailed my other active clients to let them know that we were in Irma’s path and that I would likely not be able to work for a few days. I also told them I would reach out when power and internet were back to normal.
They were all very understanding.
After a couple of days without power at home, I started taking my laptop to neighborhood cafes and friends’ houses (those whose power had been restored) to get some work done. It was a great excuse to visit with one friend I hadn’t seen in a couple of years, even though she only lives about 10 minutes away.
After a couple more days without power, I packed a suitcase and my laptop and went to stay with my sister in Virginia. While it wasn’t exactly business as usual, I was able to get back on track.
She set me up with my own little office in their travel trailer. Here’s what my temporary workspace looked like.
I’ll admit, I didn’t just arbitrarily say, “I think I’ll go to Virginia.”
My niece was getting married the following weekend, so I’d planned the trip anyway — I just went a few days early. So I got to:
In air conditioning
Visit with family
But that’s the kind of thing you can do when you’ve created a location-independent career. (Of course, it’s a lot more fun when you’re using your location independence to travel to new and exciting places.)
Once you’ve established your freelance business, or whatever it is that you’re doing, you can work pretty much anywhere, even without a hurricane.
Every year, respected publications publish their “best of” indexes for living overseas.
This year, Live & Invest Overseas has done a phenomenal job. The index is robust, at more than 300 pages, and it zeros in, not on countries, but on specific cities and towns.
Best of all, this resource is free for you if you subscribe to their magazine. (By itself, the Overseas Retirement Index costs $47 — and if you’re seriously planning an overseas move, totally worth it!)
Note that “overseas retirement index” may be a little misleading. . . These recommendations are very helpful for retirees. They’re equally helpful for anyone with a portable career who wants to live abroad, so if you’re not yet retired, mentally substitute the word “living” for “retirement.”
Let’s take a look at why I think this year’s index is so terrific.
#1. It Breaks Out Results According to What’s Important to You
There are sections devoted to the best types of places to live:
Beach / Island destinations
“The best of the rest,” including best LGBTQ, best for single women, best for kids, best for millennials, and best to find romance
This structure makes it super easy for you to find what you’re looking for.
#2. Recommendations are Graded
Grades are based on important factors, with clear explanations for how each grade was arrived at. They include:
Cost of living
Infrastructure, including important things like:
domestic access (roads, public transportation)
international access (airports, direct flights to US and Canada)
Environment, including pollution, drinking water, litter, etc.
Affordability of real estate
Real estate restrictions
#3. “Best of” Specified for Each Region
You’ll find the best beach and island communities in Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Ditto for the best small towns, cities, etc. So if you already know you want to enjoy the Old World, for example, you can skip directly to the European choices.
#4. Best of the Best
Finally, you’ll find the best overall picks for each region.
These include a monthly budget breakdown in the local currency, with the total translated into US dollars. It also includes a summary of the grades awarded.
This page is suitable for printing so you can take it with you and study it!
This series of tables makes it very easy to directly compare several locations of interest.
#5. Even More Information
As if that all weren’t enough, you’ll also find helpful information about some of the most vexing questions, like
How to move your pets overseas (I’ve done it, and it’s a very detailed and time-sensitive process)
How to get mail abroad
Smartphone apps to install before you go
Best golf courses where you’re going
Best fishing spots
There’s even a corruption index, so you know in advance where you’re mostly likely to be asked for a bribe if you’re the subject of a traffic stop.
There are lots more extras, too, including graphics that show clearly the differences in internet speeds, or climates, in the various recommended locations.
I’ve been reading these “best of” indexes for years, and this one is the most thorough and interesting of any I’ve seen. Hats off to the staff of Live & Invest Overseas for producing such a great resource.
What the heck is an “Anywhereist?” I hear you ask. . .
An Anywhereist is someone who can live, work, and thrive anywhere. To do that, you need a portable income.
I plan to focus more on portable careers than I’ve done in the past. I’ll still be talking about the wonderful life you can create when you live overseas, but I’ll focus more on how you can work to pay for it.
I’m working on a complete site redesign to reflect these changes (it would be easier if Hurricane Irma hadn’t deprived me of power and internet!!).
If you’re on my email list (and if not, why aren’t you?) I’ll keep you posted via email as I prepare to roll out new stuff.
If you want to join the list, sign up here. (You’ll be able to download the free e-book, Untether Yourself: 5 Portable Careers to Support You Overseas.)
Is a portable career part of your plan for an untethered expat life? If it includes a WordPress website or blog, here are 52 links to help you get started. I’ve tried to arrange them in roughly the order you’ll need them. (And yes, some of them are affiliate links.)
Domain Name Registration and Hosting
Before you can have a website, you need a domain name, and a place to host the site. Many people start with shared hosting, which is inexpensive, but plan to move up to managed hosting once you have some revenue. (Or, if you’re starting a solopreneur business, start with managed hosting.)
Shared WordPress hosting with Siteground (excellent for starting bloggers and freelancers)
Managed WordPress hosting with StudioPress Sites (better for freelancers and solopreneurs)
Managed WordPress hosting with WPEngine (better for freelancers and solopreneurs)
Downloading and Installing WordPress
If you’re using shared hosting from Siteground, or other popular shared hosts, you’ll be able to use one of the WordPress auto-installers through the cPanel. If you have to set it up manually, though, you’ll want these.
Every site has different plugin needs, but these are the ones I use most often. There are four I install on every site – I’ve denoted these with an asterisk(*).
*All in One WP Security to improve your website’s safety and security. You can never make it completely hacker proof, but installing this plugin is one of the things you can do to avoid those opportunistic hacks
A recurring expat theme revolves around quality of life. This is mostly subjective, and something you might perceive as positive which adds to your quality of life, might be a negative to me.
One example might be the proximity of bars and clubs. If you regularly enjoy the city’s nightlife, like to meet your friends or make new friends at clubs and dance until dawn, being close to such a great source of entertainment can contribute a lot to your enjoyment of life. But it’s not a scene I enjoy, and I’d just as soon be far away from it.
On the other hand, I love living in a place where I can do a lot of walking as I go about my daily business. When I can walk to the store, the post office, or the coffee shop, my quality of life is better. You might prefer to live someplace very different.
I would like to live where the pace is slow. I just heard about a young man who, unlike me, moved back to his native Hong Kong because the pace of life in Orlando, FL was not fast enough for him.
Some issues are important to most of us. Universally appealing are:
safe food and drinking water
a stable government
low cost of living
affordable and accessible health care
quality education for our kids
Some of these are quantified and published in quality of life indexes. These can be helpful, but ultimately, quality of life is very subjective.
The Global Development Research Center has an extensive list of quality of life attributes, which is well worth a look. They define quality of life as “the product of the interplay among social, health, economic and environmental conditions which affect human and social development.”
Some quality of life hot buttons change over time. Twenty-five years ago, access to good schools was one of my highest priorities. Now that my youngest has finished college, it’s not even on my list. My three most important quality of life attributes right now are climate (I need sunshine and warm temperatures!), cost of living (so I can retire) and friends.
I’d love to hear what your quality of life hot buttons are. You can share them by clicking on the comment link below.