The opportunity to work more flexibly and even where you no longer need to commute to an office in order to make a living, is becoming more and more prevalent.
Today, presuming you have a decent internet connection, you can practically work anywhere in the world. Particularly if you’re running your own online lifestyle business such as a blog or online shop.
For many, they will choose the comfort of their own home, opting to spend more time with their family and play a more active role in their local community. For others, it’ll entail opening the door to a world of travel, where you could be sat within a luxury beach paradise lounging around on a hammock, or in the middle of nowhere, high up in the mountains.
The point is, the remote working lifestyle is today opening doors for people regardless of where they want to be in life. With companies like FISA immigration making the process of moving to places like Australia a more effortless experience, today, the world is truly your oyster.
The one thing you’re going to need to consider is the cost of living. If you’re living a remote lifestyle you’ll still have things to take care of back home (such as mortgage payments). Therefore, locating in places that allow you to live on less than you would at home are key considerations within this.
In this sense, it’s worth considering the notion of a mini retirement:
WHAT IS A MINI RETIREMENT?
A mini retirement could similarly be termed as a career break, a gap year, or a sabbatical. It often involves travel to a cheap country where you engage in the practice of slow travel or even settle down for six months as a local.
The main benefit is the disparity in the cost of living. As an example, you’ll notice that house prices in Indonesia are significantly cheaper than in Australia, the US and Europe.
To offer an idea of contrast on this front, you could rent a beautiful four bedroom house right on the ocean with pristine azure water, freshly picked fruit, and the most succulent seafood you’ve ever tasted for the same price as a cramped bachelor pad in New York or Sydney.
Essentially, it’s less about travelling as a tourist and more about getting underneath the surface of a country by integrating with its unique culture. The concept of a mini retirement in itself is all about recognising that life is short, unpredictable and (at times) tedious. Which is why it’s so important to spread your wings, take some time out whilst you’re still young, and fully embrace all the world has to offer.
Earlier, we discussed how people are wanting to embrace working remotely. They want to trade their cramped cubicles and congested commutes for a beach hut in some tropical paradise.
Some people mistake the motivation behind this to be one of laziness and wishing to drift around the world without caring about their career. Yet some of the hardest working and most intelligent people on earth are choosing working remotely. Today, it’s less about making tonnes of money and acquiring fancy things. It’s more about living a life of balance and squeezing the most from life.
Presuming you’re sold on the concept of mini retirements, let’s take a look at a few places to consider for your own mini retirement.
The core consideration, particularly if you’re not earning much money during your mini-retirement, is to find a destination where the cash you have squirrelled away will last long enough to provide a comfortable quality of life for the duration of your trip. The last thing you want on a mini retirement would be having to scrat around in financial desperation trying to make ends meet.
That said, the cost of living shouldn’t be your only consideration. Nepal, as an example, is known as one of the cheapest countries in the world but that’s not the only metric to consider. If you care about good food, living by the beach, or having a few modern comforts, Nepal might not be your best choice as a destination to settle in for a number of months.
The point is, unlike backpacking, a mini retirement usually involves you staying local to one region. This means location is everything.
With that in mind here are four cheap places to travel where you can have a mini retirement of your own.
1. THAILAND: CHIANG MAI
Chiang Mai is known as the “capital of the north”. Many would describe Chiang Mai as a mystical land of temples, rice paddies, monks and natural jungle. Whilst this is true for areas around Chiang Mai, the town turned city itself is pretty bustling. At times, it resembles a more relaxed version of Bangkok.
Chiang Mai is a digital nomad’s paradise. It has a high concentration of freelancers working from the many independent coffee shops, making it ideal for working remotely. There’s also a large university meaning the city has a young, vibrant, and aspirational feel to it.
Finding somewhere cheap to live in Chiang Mai is pretty simple. There are several modern condos available, for exclusive rent, on AirBnB at a cost of just $10 per night if you are renting for a month or more. In terms of finding a more traditional short term lease, there are property agents but the majority require three to six months minimum stay.
Chiang Mai is a great place to have as a long term base, in which you can explore the rest of Thailand. With direct flights to Krabi, Phuket and Koh Samui you are able to have a base in the North of Thailand (much cheaper than the south) and go on mini breaks to more exotic locations.
2. TURKEY: ISTANBUL
Turkey has received a lot of bad press in recent years, with terrorist attacks, political instability and social unrest bombarding the headlines. The truth is, that whilst there are pockets of unrest, Turkey is a very peaceful place where people get along with each other very well.
Indeed, there is a sense of community that instantly makes you feel welcomed into, if not part of, the culture. Whilst there are the occasional political demonstrations, on the whole, Istanbul for instance, is a very safe city due to its police presence and enhanced security measures now in place.
Istanbul is much like London, New York and Paris. It’s one of the world’s greatest cities yet it is comparatively cheap to its western counterparts. Istanbul is unlike any other city in the world due to being separated by the Bosphorus Strait which divides Istanbul into two sides: the European Side and the Asian Side.
The European side is more modern. It has well known brands occupying prime real estate on the busy high street whilst independent hipster bars and coffee shops can be found near the river.
The European side has a feel of San Francisco about it, with all its unique and creative independent stores, cafes, restaurants and watering holes.
In terms of finding a property, this side of the river is where you’ll find trendy loft apartments at a quarter of the price you would pay in New York. The Asian side, however, is a little more shabby, and this is where you’re likely to find a great deal on a property. The Asian side has a “local” and rustic feel to it.
3. MOROCCO: MARRAKECH
Marrakech is an incredibly colourful and vibrant city. The majority of people visit for just a short while, as there is an element of endurance to be had with exploring Marrakech. This is because of the frenetic pace, the hustle and bustle, and the sweltering heat.
Marrakech, for some, may feel like stepping into Disneyland. It’s such an overwhelming delight/attack on the senses. Whilst it provides a stark contrast to the Western World, it is only a short hop on a cheap flight to Mainland Europe and the “new city” offers some very luxurious accommodation at an incredibly cheap price.
Whilst you may not choose working remotely from Marrakech, it can be a fantastic place to base yourself for a few weeks whilst exploring the gems of Morocco such as the Sahara Desert and Atlas Mountains. A more relaxed alternative to Marrakech is Essaouira which has a far more chilled out coastal vibe to the city.
4. INDONESIA: BALI
Made famous by the film Eat Pray Love, Bali is a spiritual hotbed of creative travellers all trying to make ends meet on the beautiful island of Bali.
Admittedly, Bali isn’t the cheapest destination in SE Asia, though other parts of Indonesia are incredibly cheap and equally as beautiful as Bali – in fact, the lesser known parts are in some ways even more magical because they retain their true essence without being masked by tourism.