I went from hopeless, fired security guard in New Jersey to a prospering laptop enteprenuer currently living in Savusavu, Fiji by mastering the art of adaptation and travel hacking. My tools? A bright, beaming smile, my WordPress blog, and basic survival skills helped me bridge cultural divides so I could build a full time passive income blogging from my paradise of choice.
My wanderings took me far and near. I have ‘blogged from paradise’ in places like Costa Rica, Bali, Fiji, India, and Thailand. This ride has not always been smooth. Freedom comes at a cost. Like the Solopreneur Ronin journey Matt and I wrote about in our recent book, I had to learn how to be free by letting go of that which no longer served me.
I knew New Jersey was limiting, so I chose the lifestyle many fellow laptop entrepreneurs pursue – that of travel and adventure.
In the beginning, I wandered from state, to country, being poor and in debt, a bit desperate — OK, hellishly desperate — and my small walking stick was a dwindling cash flow. I had to learn how to manage my cash flow to become a free, prospering solopreneur. I also had figure out how to make money online with my blog and create passive income streams to support my traveling lifestyle. Above all, I had to do a lot of research to identify the best destinations in the world for laptop entrepreneurs I aspired to become.
Picking the Right Travel Destinations
You can find unlimited inspiration in a tropical paradise, or in a thriving, overseas urban center. I needed a change in environment to wander with an end in mind – I needed to live abroad to ultimetly break my chains – so I chose the tropical islands.
I couldn’t believe it; lunch for 2, for $1. That’s 1 USD, if you’re still shaking your head in disbelief.
My wife Kelli and I had just eaten our first lunch at a Buddhist vegetarian restaurant in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Both of us had been solopreneurs for over four years, circling the globe, soaking up experiences in some of the most solopreneur-friendly spots on the face of the earth.
Check out the image below; that was my home office view when I lived in Koh Lanta, Thailand. Seriously. We spent a month living on the bay in an authentic Thai house on stilts. During high tide I snapped some of the best sunrise pictures on earth!
When you’re thinking about moving to a laptop-entreprenuer destination, you want to keep a few key things in mind:
– quality of life
– cost of living
– dependability of internet and Wifi
– exchange rates and local laws
– cultural acclimation/adjustment
…and a few factors that lend themselves to your preferred lifestyle.
Busy laptop entrepreneurs need a space where they can become creative dynamos. Each of the travel destinations listed below can be a haven for any solopreneur who wants to fly the coop and venture to some far off, inspired, business-friendly locale.
So save your money, grow your stash, and wander with more peace of mind by using these travel tips.
Thailand is the most advanced country in the SE Asian peninsula. Expect a high quality of living, especially if you choose to live close to major cities such as Chiang Mai or Bangkok. Internet connectivity is excellent in places near to most urban or heavily touristic spots. Take advantage of this nation’s low cost of living (in a town like Chiang Mai you can eat at a local food stall, consuming a nutritious, healthy meal for less than a dollar!).
As of the time of this writing 1 USD equals 32.60 Thai bat. Stretching out your piggybank in such a favorable environment is a breeze.
Laptop entrepreneur can find supreme inspiration being surrounded by Buddhist monks wandering around towns on their alms runs. You won’t suffer through culture shock in Thailand, but you will need to respect the King as lese majeste laws (which protect the dignity of the sovereign) are still in place.
Chaing Mai: Top Thai Destination for Bootstrapped Laptop Entrepreneurs
You can also network with a growing legion of laptop entrepreneurs in the Land of Smiles. If I had to pick one town in Thailand to be a solopreneur in, it’d be Chiang Mai. The beautiful mountains and jungles around town, the absurd low cost of living, the convenience of city living, and the swarms of digital nomads living in the city complex makes this spot perhaps the #1 exotic solopreneur destination on earth.
This Chiang Mai Digital Nomads Group on Facebook is over 5200 members strong and growing by the day.
Thailand is the top laptop entrepreneur destination I’ve called home. In a great post, 20 Best Destinations to Live Oversees, Business Insider notes that “the country has no shortage of shopping centers or local markets,” so you can get your fix of both convenience and local authenticity whenever you want to.
Costa Rica is an environmentally-friendly nation that’s proven to be a haven for many American ex-pats and laptop entrepreneurs.
The wealthiest country in Central America is a magnet for many solo entrepreneurs and for good reason: the strong infrastructure throughout the nation makes for a high quality of living. This also makes for some lightning quick Internet connections in less rural areas. And if you as crazy about surfing as my buddy Matt Capala is, you can catch one of the best waves in the world in Costa Rica.
Because Central America is a pacifist nation, you’re less likely to experience nationalistic dramas and political upheavals that can disrupt your solopreneur venture in other parts of the world.
Here’s a little tip; learning only a few words of Spanish will open up many wonderful doors for you. I lived in Costa Rica for two months and found my somewhat fluent espanol to be super handy.
The Costa Ricans are a kind, welcoming people, so cultural barriers are almost non-existent. Just don’t travel too frequently on Sundays as the buses don’t run in many towns on the Lord’s Day.
Since you’ll be an expat living in Costa Rica, check out this article to narrow down your search to a few cities: Best Places to Live in Costa Rica: Five Top Expat Havens
Note: before packing your bags, research Internet providers in any Costa Rican town that’s “off of the grid.” Communications reliability is improving but you still need to do your homework.
Vietnam belongs to the top laptop entrepreneur destination in the world for several reasons. Business Insider notes lower prices for most goods and easy to access, dependable public transport as powerful draws to this SE Asian nation. I can personally attest to this: food, lodging and pretty much everything in Vietnam was beyond reasonable.
My wife Kelli and I paid $660 for a spacious, 2-bedroom/2-bathroom apartment in the quiet, UNESCO World Heritage town of Hoi An, located beside the South China Sea.
However, Vietnam is a Communist nation. Access to sites like Facebook may or may not be allowed, depending on the mood of regulators in your area. I used a Strong VPN (Virtual Private Network) as a workaround to keep my social media campaigns humming, but it’s a considerable hindrance for any first-time visiting soloprenuer. So you need to do your homework.
Nonetheless, growing your business is a breeze overall in this country; we found super-reliable Internet connections in places like Hoi An and Hanoi, as well as Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City.
Malaysia is an exotic, business-friendly haven for laptop entrepreneurs. Business Insider notes that Malaysia is an affordable nation with a fascinating culture. If you have a growing family, however, be cautious: education is expensive and childcare there is not great.
I found Malaysia to be super-compatible with the needs of traveling solopreneurs. From super quick Internet speeds, to excellent shopping, to a safe, affordable place of living, Malaysia really does have it all.
Keep in mind that this is definitely a warm weather destination. If you can’t take the heat and humidity, cross this island archipelago off of your list.
India is perhaps the most important destination to visit — at least once — for any laptop entrepreneur. Everybody knows about the hustle and bustle of cities like Mumbai and Delhi, the majesty of the Taj Mahal, and the breathtaking beauty of stunning Kerala in the south.
But…the real reason I suggest every solopreneur visit India is because the country *forces* you into uncomfortable but freeing situations. As you know by now, this is the most critical quality that successful entrepreneurs need to develop: being able to sprint out of their comfort zones at a moment’s notice.
India introduces you to beautiful sights and sounds and rich culture, but also abject poverty, street beggars, immense wealth in a thriving center like Bangalore, and just about anything you can get in a solopreneur haven. If you can live there for just a few weeks, you’ll master the art of diving into and growing through uncomfortable and freeing circumstances, which will help you become a more hardened laptop entrepreneur.
Business Insider mentions the throngs of people coming to India to find new business opportunities as entrepreneurship becomes more popular in this monstrously large country. Many laptop enteprenuers choose to outsource some of the most tedious tasks of running an online business, and you’ll find India to be an outsourcing mecca so you can build valuable relationships on the ground to make your business stronger.
The cost of living is super low, too. My wife and I could buy a grocery bag’s worth of fruits and vegetables for about $2 USD in Kovalam Beach, India.
New Zealand gives solopreneurs a country full of supreme inspiration. As its infrastructure improves, more thriving business folks will look to make this stunningly beautiful land their permanent home. If you are concerned about safety, the U.S. State Department notes that New Zealand has little crime.
Laptop entrepreneurs building their budget on a shoestring may need to stretch out their New Zealand dollar a bit more, however, because the cost of living is high there.
Family-building solopreneurs will be happy to know that this country is one of the best places on earth to raise children. Save some money to boost your business cash flow by house sitting if that’s your gig. New Zealand always has a wealth of opportunities as the local folks travel extensively. Visit Trusted Housesitters if you want to give this gorgeous country a test run, rent-free.
New York City
As I know Matt Capala can attest to, New York City is one of the elite laptop entrepreneur destinations on earth. You’ll find no better spot for networking than the Big Apple, and virtually any coffee shop offers free super-fast WiFi.
Matt found his soloprenuer ‘paradise’ in the Rockaways, which is a small island in Queens, NY. What many don’t know though is that Rockaway Beach is one of the hottest East Coast surfing destinations. Matt is into surfing…
…so he chose to spend Spring and Summer in the Rockaways, NY, and – he recently told me – ‘AirBnB the Winter’ in Miami.
By the way, AirBnB is a great tool for finding affordable places for extended periods of time. While you travel oversees, you can also rent out your own place using this platform. Want to learn more? Check out this great resource by Gal Sivan who made $20K in 6 months renting his place on AirBnB:
I spent a week in NYC in December of 2014 but grew up close to the City as a New Jersey resident. After traveling to the Big Apple hundreds of times, I appreciate the unlimited networking opportunities and super high speed connections, along with an infinite number of things to do in and around NYC that make it as in demand a destination as any on this list.
Of course, New York isn’t as affordable as it once was. Many once-affordable neighborhoods, including those in the so-called “outer boroughs” (Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island) have become gentrified, and rents have ticked notably upward. But there are still areas in NYC that are “emerging” and quite affordable, as long as you don’t need anything fancy (and what solopreneur needs anything fancy?). And places like the Rockaways are the winner.
Ecuador scores high on all qualifiers for laptop-entrepreneur living. The quality of living is high and even if you don’t speak the local language you can pick up Spanish easily. I find being surrounded by natural beauty to be critical to my business drive, and Ecuador offers you beauty and then some, with stunning mountains, sweeping valleys, and the nearby Galapagos Islands.
Ecuador also gives you a jumping off point to visit both Central American and northern South American lands. Costa Rica and Panama are only a hop away if you want to change things up by visiting a place with a different vibe. Cities like Quito offer you modern living, good Internet access, and a taste of convenience.
InterNations.com notes that Luxembourg is an ideal home for the career expat. This tiny, prospering country ranks #2 in the Working Abroad index. Luxembourg offers you a high standard of living for your solopreneur exploits. You won’t have to worry about connectivity issues in this modern, wealthy nation.
If you want to travel around Europe, considering making this tiny country a favored destination on your solopreneur journey.
Belgium isn’t just known for its chocolates. This small, safe, secure European nation is one of the top solopreneur destinations in Europe. It’s pretty much free of violent crime and provides you with an excellent environment to raise your kids. Healthcare is another strong point for business folks who want access to this critical service.
I have met more than a few hyper-successful Belgian solopreneurs on the road; one friend from Chiang Mai, Thailand made a fortune running a business in the travel niche. If you want to get your solopreneur business up and running in a prospering, peaceful environment, Belgium may just be the right place for you.
What’s your favorite destination in the world?
Drop us a note in the comments and share your experience to help fellow laptop entrepreneurs!
This post was published as one of the chapters in my recent Kindle book, check it out on Amazon: