I pointed out in this recent post that I set myself up for location independent work. In this other post I shared with my readers that I have invested enough money that I could spend for my lifestyle off of the return of these investments.
I don’t want to spend from my investments yet – there are far too many money-earning opportunities based on my hobbies and interests. Securities investments are inefficient for short-term use, trying to mobilize a return from them and spending that return would be like using the bottom of my coffee mug to drive in a nail when I have a hefty hammer sitting in a drawer.
In this post I’ll talk about how a recent work opportunity sparked the idea of moving overseas. One of the companies I consult for decided that they needed a physician in a different time-zone for one of their projects. They volunteered me as a joke and I couldn’t come up with a reason to say no.
Why An Overseas Move
I’ve felt the urge to make an overseas move for some time. I have no specific expectations. I am open to moving just long enough to help out this company with their pilot project and I’m open to staying overseas indefinitely.
The consulting work should only take a few months and though there will be a lot of logistical brainstorming, I won’t have to see patients but a few hours a week. It’s not about the money – it pays incredibly low. I feel a sense of commitment to this group and they are doing the right thing for patients, so I’m on board.
My intention is to keep building my social network and give my mind a little more of a workout. When I start feeling comfortable in my surrounding and complacent, that’s when I am drawn to innovation & collaboration. Currently, medicine is no longer feels challenging.
It isn’t about seeing new sights. It isn’t about fleeing my current situation. It isn’t about boredom. It isn’t about tourism. It isn’t about checking off another country on my list. But damn, I keep having to fight every one of these urges – the pressure to be a ‘traveler’ is certainly keeps creeping in.
A great resource for anyone wanting to live overseas is the Expat Forum. Here you can find country specific information.
My ‘Ownership’ In The USA
I don’t want to complicate things and I don’t want to plan things to death. I want it to feel natural and whatever works out – whether good or ‘bad’ – should be super exciting. Feel like I’m turning into a stoic.
I thought about selling my condo. It’s worth around $200k and I bought it for $142k. I could lock in a gain of around 30%. But 30% doesn’t seem like all that much to me.
My carrying cost – the cost to own this property – is around $300/month. That includes my HOA dues and my property taxes (including tax deductions). I maintain my own property so there isn’t much of a repair cost to account for.
I have decided to keep the condo and not sell it. I think another reason why I am less motivated to sell is because I don’t want to lose my current 25% asset allocation in real estate. My net worth is somewhere around $760k, $185k (after-tax gains) is real estate and I’m happy with that.
Furthermore, if I sell the condo, what will I do with the money? I could invest it in slightly overvalued index funds. Who the fuck knows, maybe the current securities market isn’t as inflated as I think it is. Still, I don’t feel comfortable taking nearly $200k and plopping it into index funds.
If I can have a friend stay there for free and save on rent, that would probably make me happiest.
Other options are doing a house swap. The best website I found for this during my research was Home Exchange.
I am not associating work with income. My main priority at this stage in my life is to do meaningful work and keep my priorities regarding income incredibly low. I can achieve this by minimizing my expenses, I’ll delve into that a bit later in this post.
I am involved with a few medical groups. A portion of it is simply seeing patients and another chunk is consulting. I know that I can continue the consulting work from anywhere in the world. Seeing patients might get a bit more complicated due to time changes. I need to maintain my clinical skills – I have some ideas how to achieve that overseas and I’ll discuss that more in future posts.
I have a few avenues of revenue when it comes to location-independent work. I can work with JA, Remedy, KP and AmWell. However, when it comes to practicing medicine from an overseas location, a few of these groups might not be okay with it. I am hesitant to explore this too much with them and would rather find out once I make the move.
I am at a point in my medical career that if I didn’t practice any medicine for the rest of my life it really wouldn’t affect me too much. Still, I always feel the need to add this little blurb, so here it goes, I still really enjoy seeing patients but my patience has decreased (jaded?) and I don’t care for the less pleasant interactions.
I have developed enough skills outside of medicine that I know I can earn a living doing quite a few other things. So, as far as ‘work’, I know I can earn an income doing something. And doing work is important because it’s my lifeline to maintaining and forming new connections in society.
My Investments In The US
I bought a 1-way ticket because I may want to stay overseas indefinitely. Of course, I can always fly back to handle financial affairs. But I’d rather plan ahead to avoid unnecessary trips. I need to legally appoint trustworthy individuals who can handle my investments in the US and handle anything involving my condo.
I have a financial adviser who can handle the majority of the securities investments, I’ll be touching base with him soon.
I have a fantastic friends who can step in and handle anything regarding my real estate. Though I haven’t told but a couple of friends, each has already offered to do quite a lot to handle my kingdom here in the US – truly humbling.
Making A Move Overseas
The idea of this move being permanent feels oddly comfortable. So, if I end up staying indefinitely overseas I think I would be perfectly happy. Perhaps this is why I would like to have the right arrangements in place in case I decide to not move back.
Figuring Out A Destination
I didn’t have a particular destination in mind. The group I am consulting for just wanted a flipped time zone which wasn’t hard to find. I purchased a 1-way ticket to Barcelona because that group has some resources there.
However, it’s possible that I will change destinations. We shall see. I thought about Australia and I’m open to Europe or Southeast Asia.
A great website for learning about destinations to live and work from is Nomad List. Absolutely amazing website!
A good friend recently asked what the purpose of my blog was. I replied that I wanted to empower physicians to use their high income as a tool to gain freedom and independence. In doing so they will be able to extract from the medical field everything they ever dreamed of and no longer be held hostage to the income and a corrupt (harsh?) medical system.
I can make my overseas move and sign a lease for a nice apartment, move all my possessions of convenience there, apply for a long-term visa, plan a few fun destinations and basically turn the whole thing into a long-term vacation.
Or, instead, I can get the safest, cheapest flight there. I can opt for a small room in an AirBnb which is close to important destinations. I can avoid taking too much stuff with me. I can eat locally and try to make most of my meals at home. I can spend my time exploring my immediate surroundings as opposed to renting a car and trying to check off every popular destination.
There is nothing wrong with the latter – it’s how we live as a society. However, by living the minimalist lifestyle, I give myself the option of freedom. By spending a lot less I get to take more risks in other aspects of my life and do things that others may be too afraid to undertake.
The Digital Nomad Reddit is a fantastic resource for those wanting to travel in a less traditional fashion. This group is very efficient when it comes to visas, living situations and navigating health insurance, etc.
Plan B Options
I am not much of a planner but I do like playing the disaster scenarios out in my mind, just in case. Should my destination in Europe prove too costly for me, I plan on making a move to Southeast Asia in order to enjoy the lower cost of living there.
Should I feel like I’m running out of money then I am planning on picking up some online shifts or possibly flying back to the US or NZ to work some shifts.
The General Plan
I’ll keep my apartment in a rentable condition. I’ll have a friend watch over the it while I’m gone. Another friend can help me rent it out, should I decide to slumlord it.
I’m planning on taking only clothes, a few shoes, documents, laptops (personal and work), toiletries and climbing shoes.
I have a 1-way ticket into Barcelona. I’ll try to settle down there for a few months. I have my sight on a few cities nearby which might be a little less hectic. As I mentioned, I’m open to completely changing destinations.
I’ll have to figure out the visa situation on the fly. I don’t think it’ll be too complicated. I won’t need a visa for Spain since I’m an American citizen. However, I’m limited to 3 months. There are study visas and work visas – I’ll be writing about those later.
I’ll take some cash with me and I’ll be setting up a bank account there to make fund transfer easier.
Mail is a bit of a mystery right now. I’ll see how I can handle that. Again, I’ll probably rely on friends.
Location Independent Work
The fact that I am able to earn an income without living in the US is a fantastic opportunity. It’s something that any physician can engineer in this current medical environment.
It doesn’t have to be purely clinical work, though that is often the easiest to start with. You can also do ‘consulting’, teaching, selling, investing, and writing.
Consulting is such a blanket term and it’s easy for our us to immediately envision this complex, structured concept where we are in a conference room surrounded by a few executives.
Technology has changed things. Innovation is no longer taking place in the conference rooms of large medical groups. Instead, it’s the startups which are taking on all the hard work, the risk and the brilliant returns they get to potentially enjoy.
If you are interesting in consulting then start by doing free work for your own medical group. Jot down your experience and mark it on your resume.
Next, move to the startup space and see where there is a need. Start by doing free work. Blog about the experience and zero in on what you like the most about it and what aspect you’d like to focus on most. I need to write a post about this.
The best advice I can give to the budding consultant, teacher, or salesperson is to always first think about how you can bring more value to your client. If you lead with how you can profit then you will likely make a bit of money and lose out on any future potential. Even if you have to work for free, remember that value is like energy – it cannot be created or lost, it’s turned into equity or into action.