Aug. 23, 2022

How To Live or Retire Cheap In Paradise with Dan from Vagabond Awake

How To Live or Retire Cheap In Paradise with Dan from Vagabond Awake

Dan from the Vagabond Awake YouTube channel shares how to live abroad on $1,000-1,500 per month, and why you shouldn't wait until retirement to live your life. He and Kristin also talk about about adapting to foreign cultures, affording healthcare and insurance abroad, and why he left the US to begin with.

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Dan from the Vagabond Awake YouTube channel shares how to live abroad on $1,000-1,500 per month, and why you shouldn't wait until retirement to live your life. He and Kristin also talk about adapting to foreign cultures, affording healthcare and insurance abroad, and why he left the US to begin with. 





  • Breaking out of the status quo
  • How Dan found a job overseas
  • Why he decided to leave the US
  • Thoughts on working in other countries
  • How to adapt to foreign cultures
  • The benefits of slow travel
  • How to "get off the couch," overcome blocks, and take action
  • Calculating your cost of living or retiring abroad
  • Healthcare and the cost of health insurance
  • Affording health insurance 
  • The broken US social security system
  • The importance of doing an "exploratory visit" to a foreign country
  • How Dan makes money online to support his travel lifestyle
  • Living in the moment - the Vagabond Buddha lifestyle




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Sneak Peek:


Kristin:You know, their expectations are that everything should be the same. They want, even though they're in a new country, they want it to be like where they were. So when you're —when you're in a pattern in your life, your mind goes on autopilot. But when you start traveling like everything is new and so and so, you're not, like, running around in your mind so much. You're in the world. You're of the world. And it's a peaceful way to be.


Introduction: Welcome to Badass Digital Nomads, where we're pushing the boundaries of remote work and travel, all while staying grounded with a little bit of old school philosophy, self-development, and business advice from our guests.  


Kristin Wilson, Host: Hey there, Kristin, from Traveling with Kristin here and welcome to episode 169 of Badass Digital Nomads. My guest today is someone who probably doesn't need much of an introduction for all of you YouTube fans out there.


My guest today is Dan from Vagabond Buddha, also known as the host of The Vagabond, a week YouTube channel, which gives a lots of tips for living abroad, retiring abroad, and the cost of living in countries around the world. Dan has been traveling the world for 15 years through 67 countries, and he has a lot of life experience, a lot of career experience, a lot of travel experience. As he says, as he's gotten older, he just knows things now. So he knows things. He knows a lot and he's sharing a lot with us here today. There's also a YouTube version of this interview on my channel, but it's only half of the interview. So I believe that video is around 36 minutes long if you want to watch part of the interview. This podcast version is the full extended version. And then Dan also interviewed me for his channel, so I'll also link to my 30 minute interview on his channel in the show notes. And you can also access those at Two quick announcements before we jump into today's episode, the date that this podcast goes live on Tuesday, August 23rd, 2022, is the official end store date for Digital Nomads for Dummies.


So my first book hits bookstores today. You can go in-person to the bookstore and grab a physical copy of the book. So let's all head over to the bookstore now. And of course, have you bought the e-book version? You already have access to it online, or if you ordered it online, it might have arrived to your house already, or it should be on the way soon. But very exciting that the book will be in bookstores today. And to celebrate the launch of my first book, I'm offering 50% off my freelance to freedom online course valid this week only. So the link to check it out is in the show notes and that link will expire at midnight Eastern time on Saturday, August 27th, 2022. And freelance to freedom is a course that I developed at the beginning of the pandemic as a solution to help people make money online fast.


So whether you are interested in having a career as an online freelancer, or if you just want to start a side hustle with skills that you already have to make some extra money online, this course is for you. Or even if you don't know what skills you have that can help you earn an online income. This course was designed to help you figure that out, so check out the link in the show notes. Check out Digital Nomads for Dummies in bookstores. If you haven't already, and enjoy today's show. 


Podcast Interview:


Kristin: Well, welcome, Dan, to Badass Digital Nomads. It's so great to have you here with us today. I know you don't always disclose your location, but where are you approximately right now?


Dan:I'm in the Philippines and I'm -I'm in a a mountain city, so I'm in a cool area. We've been in the Philippines for about five months on and off, and we've really enjoyed this visit. And right now we're just in a mountaineering school. And so it's it's a nice change because can get warm in the Philippines definitely.


Kristin:I've only been to Manila but it was very hot there. I was just there for a week or so enroute to Thailand. I know that you and your wife have spent a lot of time there, but before we get into that, take us back to the beginning. For people who don't know you, you have a YouTube channel with all types of videos on how to help people retire abroad. The best places to go. But what were you doing before you had this YouTube channel? What was your life like and how long ago was it that you were living a traditional lifestyle? 

Dan:So I was sitting at my desk in 2006, late, like around November, working away, and the phone rang and someone said to me, Turn out, be a headhunter. She said, Would you be interested in moving to India for two years? And I've always been curious about India, but more than that I was I'd always dreamed about traveling the world and and I thought if I was in that side of the world for two years and I got the right job and they perceived me as valuable, I would be able to get enough vacation time so I could actually travel around that part of the world. So. So I moved to India a few months later in 2007, and I was there about almost three years and I had 20 to 1 week vacations like I had every seventh week off. And I would go to that. I'd go to the airport on Friday, then I would fly somewhere around Asia or or Europe or wherever, and I would spend the next— the weekend, the five days, and then the next weekend, and then I'd be back at my desk. And so I visited around 20 to 25 countries in those two and a half years. And, and so I was at the time this is 2007, I would have been almost 47 and I didn't expect to get that sort of travel in my life until, you know, retirement age. And so it was really a great experience. 


Kristin:And what was the job at the time? Oh, go ahead. 


Dan:And that's what got me traveling. So when I was back up for sec, so the job that I was doing is, is like —it's research and it's kind of long and boring to talk about. But I was being hired to go to India to teach Indians how to do this kind of research because it wasn't really in India yet, so it was outsourcing. So I was just doing a research job in a very specialized area and it was a little bit boring. But suddenly I was offered this amazing job and I moved to India and had a really good time in India and also saw that part of the world for for three years. 


Kristin:That's amazing. Had you done any international travel before you got that job offer?


Dan:Oh, yeah. I'd –I'd dreamt about and thought about travel pretty much all year long, every year. It's for me, it was like you work as –you know–your work year was waiting to go on your vacation, but it was a traditional American life. I was living where I had a week or two, and so I had but I don't know how many countries I maybe I'd only been to maybe eight or ten countries before I went to India,


Kristin: Which state are you from or where were you living at the time?


Dan:I grew up in California in this small farming town, and spent most maybe until 20. I was in California and then I moved to the East Coast for a while and then I moved back to California, then to Arizona, then to Oregon. But I was living in Oregon at the time that that the headhunter called me. 


Kristin:Okay. Did you have any –any reservations at all about taking that job in India? Because I have talked with other expats that, well, they eventually became expats, but at the beginning they were kind of afraid or hesitant about taking an assignment for one or two or three years in a country that they had never been to. 


Dan:Well, they flew me out there for the job interview and I was there for a couple of weeks.But but I'm I'm unusual traveler in that I don't expect to bring my comforts with me all over the world. I'm somebody that adapts quite easily to the environment around me. And I knew India would be a challenge and it was maybe for the first six months, but that that never crossed my mind that that would stop me from enjoying that travel and being that part of the world. And I have– through work I met, I have many Indian friends and I love Indian food. I'm a vegetarian. And so I loved the food in India, throughout Southeast Asia. I love. And and so, you know, I knew there'd be some challenges, but but for me, it wasn't really that hard being in India, honestly. 


Kristin:And which city were you in there?


Dan:I was in New Delhi. And it was nice. It's actually quite a fun city to be in. I mean, there's great nightlife there, great restaurants. It's has you know, it's a very, very old culture. So temples it's it's and Indian people are very welcoming to Westerners and so they're very friendly and easy to get along with. And the people I work with are lovely. And so it really turned out to be a great experience. 


Kristin:And you mentioned that there were some challenges with adjusting during those first six months. I've also found that especially the first country that you move to, it can take a longer adjustment period. Did you feel like you went through that curve of cultural adjustment where everything is great at the beginning or either you're in shock or everything's completely wonderful and then it's kind of like reality hits you. And did you ever have questions about if you had made the right decision and how did you work through those and adjust to the daily life there? 


Dan:So the adjustments for me were when you first go to a new country, you don't understand how much you take for granted. Just, you know, where everything is like where to get like simple things like coffee and the shampoo you like and just everything. Just simple things that you know how to do in your life when you shop in a new country, you know, if it's not like an Americanized country, you're going to have to work through all that. Like, where do I get socks and shoes and underwear? Where do I get groceries? Like, everything has to be figured out. And so so that is what I meant by six months. But once you realize that you don't need all that stuff, you thought you need it, and there's other stuff over here you can use instead. And now you have a few friends and you know where to go to dinner. And once you got over that hum and you've, you, you know, you redefine yourself in some ways, you leave part of yourself behind, but you become this new person that is multicultural and you just sort of internalize that.

And once you've got over that hump, then it's it's smooth sailing. And then, like you just said, it's really your first country after that first one. Then it's sort of that memory happens when you go into a new country. You're like, Oh yeah, I got upset about this last time. Like, the plugs are wrong and the why? I don't know, how to get bottled water and all this kind of stuff that's different. All of that stuff is just, you know, it's no sweat off your back anymore. You just go through those same processes you learned. 


Kristin:Yeah. Sometimes I would feel like I was too laid back when I went to countries like you would kind of stop planning as much or stop worrying about the details. And then sometimes more things can go wrong that way because you're actually not prepared.


Dan:Yeah, totally. Yeah. And I think there's some people, I think, that have a harder time traveling than others, and it's hard to really put my finger on what that is. But I think it's just people that are expecting, you know, their expectations are that everything should be the same. They want even though they're in a new country, they want it to be like where they were. And that happens early when you're travel, you know, if you go on vacation somewhere and, you know, and and you don't know, like you don't want to eat any of the food in front of you. That's like a tragedy. You know, if you're only out of the country for two weeks of the year or whatever. But but if you're used to that, then you know how to sort of just deal with it.And so, yeah, I totally agree. And and it does make a difference whether you're traveling alone or with other people and whether or not you're somebody that person and take, you know, with a grain of salt or whether you're wound up tight and you want to control everything around you, there's just different types and they all have to deal with it however they are.


Kristin:Did you feel like your you were a Vagabond Buddha before you moved to India, or do you think that that is a a philosophy of your life and a mindset that evolved through travel? 


Dan:I'm a Buddhist, and so for me, it's not a belief system. It's about being present in the present moment. And so if you think about what a grievance is, it doesn't matter if you're mad at a person or the food set down in front of you or whatever it is you're not accepting the way things are. What you're doing is you're you're remembering how you want them to be and you're comparing them to how they are. And that's a kind of like an internal grievance you have. And I don't know, as a as a Buddhist kind of Zen minded, I'm more present to where I am. I'm not so much present to how I want it to be. And so —I forgot the question, 


Kristin:oh, were you were you like that before you started? Oh, yeah. Or not like that. But had Yeah. Kind of come to these conclusions earlier in life or yeah. Because it's not like we learn that in the U.S. school system, we don't learn how to be living in the present moment and we don't. We learn about Buddhism as a paragraph in a history book in the eighth grade that's like, Oh, this is some weird religion that people have in other countries. So yeah, how did you come to that life path? 


Dan:Okay. When I was 21 years old, I actually didn't know much about Buddhism, but I had an experience where I was in the present moment due to some tragedy that was going on in my life. And that and I felt the tragedy pretty strongly for a couple of weeks. But then there was a morning when I woke up and I was peaceful, internally peaceful. And it's been since then. I learned later learned when I was reading that what had happened in my life is that that I was present to what's going on around me instead of my conversation in my head about how I want it to be or who's right is wrong, or I was just present and it was it was partly it was a survival technique, I think, because I was in such pain at the time. And since that time it's really kind of stayed with me. And I've learned more about Buddhism since then and Zen and that kind of thing. But that– that's what it is. It's, it's the Eastern philosophy and a lot of people study it, but I don't feel like I'm better or it's like I deserve it, or I think there's just sort of a grace that happens for some people, whether it's through tragedy in life or maybe they study it or what. But it happens for some people and not others. And so I don't take credit for that or or see myself as special in any way. I just feel that I was lucky enough to have that tragedy in my life and and for for my survival. I was able to come to grips with, you know, the present moment awareness.


Kristin:Yeah, I think that it's something that all humans have the potential to feel. There's just so much noise and so much static in the world. But some of us are lucky to have those moments of clarity and peace. And that's when you kind of see through all the noise and remember what's important. And for whatever reason, do you think that those are related, like, where do you see that? A sense of internal freedom and peace aligning with your decision to slow travel? 


Dan:Oh, that's a really good question. And so one of the things that I observed after I left India in 2010, I quit my job and I offered to be a consultant and work remotely with my laptop, half time, half pay, and they were paying me a good living, but I didn't want to work that many hours anymore, and it was more than enough money that I needed to travel the world.So because I was going to places around the world that were cheaper to live, you know, it was geo arbitrage. And I was getting to know the world like where are the places that are interesting and where you can live for a reasonable amount. And that's kind of what set me up for my business about teaching that subject. But what I noticed was that –was that when you go to a new place, when you're solo traveling versus if you're in your old country and you just stay in that country and you stay on that job and you go back and forth to work. And so when you're when you're in a pattern in your life and you're doing it over and over and over again, maybe on the weekend you go to a different place for dinner. Or maybe you, you know, you go to a party or you go on a vacation or whatever. But those patterns, when you're involved in those patterns all the time, your mind goes on autopilot, if you know what I mean. Like it's you remember you probably remember driving to work at some point where you're like, you remember getting in the car and now you're at work that your body drove you to work. It's like an autopilot thing. And so if you go on autopilot in your life, what happens is your mind will start thinking about all these other things. And a busy mind is really what takes you out of your environment, your present moment, moment, awareness. And so but when you start traveling, everything's new. Like, where am I to get my coffee? Where am I going to sleep tonight? What am I going to eat? Where do you know? Do I take a bus to the next place? Or like everything is new and so you don't have any time to get stuck in your mind and work over this prompted what did he mean? What did she mean? What's real? Oh, they couldn't have met that. –so your mind doesn't it has to it has to be present because it's survival. When you're a solo traveler, you're you're engaged in your life. And that's what's interesting about it. And what that does is it plugs you into the world not just to solve problems, but also like you're aware all the time. So if you walked by a building that's like a beautiful building that you look up and go, Wow, that's a beautiful building. I wonder what it is. And when you get back to your computer, like, what is that? And so you're not like running around in your mind so much. You're in the world, you're of the world, and it's a peaceful way to be.. the mind–you know, if you if you let it run, not like we all have control of it all the time, but but it can it can create pain in your life. But if you're present in your and you're an action in your life, then you're aware it is. And that's what slow travel gives you. It's it it's not guaranteed, but it opens that door for you. 


Kristin:Yeah. Yeah, I definitely can relate to that. And I think anyone who's traveled can attest to how you really need to be in the moment and all that drama and the office politics and things like that just tends to dissolve once you get on the plane and especially once you land in another place. And so for for people who haven't seen your channel before, I love your your definition of like what a Vagabond Buddha is. So I'll just read a portion of your website. It says, A Vagabond Buddha is a weight, a Vagabond Buddha is a person who perceives the mind's belief and social norms such as success, careers, possessions, professions, politics, titles, influence, time, language, wealth or notoriety, and reflects only those that empower the freedom that manifests in awakening simple joys that arise in a present moment. A Vagabond Buddha is playing their life freely. They are often found just wandering this planet, enjoying the magnificence and diversity. A Vagabond Buddha is a citizen of the world in the material sense and a boundless, undefined awareness in the spiritual sense. That's so beautiful. Thank you for writing that and a what is your your mission here in creating Vagabond Buddha your YouTube channel?  What is it that you want for people reflected in that mission? 


Dan:Well, there's two missions, really. One is to open a door to geographic freedom for people. You know, for centuries, people have lived and died within one or two miles of where they were born. And now we live in a time where because of, you know, trap, because of rapid transit and because of language, common language growing around the world and because of the Internet and translation tools. And we live in a time where you can choose to stay in one spot of a life. But we also we also live in this time where that's not the only choice you can make. You can define your life. And I mean, from the bottom, the ground up. And and one of the things you have a choice about is, you know, what your life means and whether it's stationary, whether you want to raise a family or not, whether you want to have a regular job or whether you want to work remotely and travel or it's all stuff that you can you can define. so so what the first part of Vagabond did is really about just teaching people that, that the whole idea of retirement is not really about age. It's about what you need to do to be free. And it doesn't you can be free where you grew up in the same community by doing something like you teach, you know, be a digital nomads and stay in one place. You just make up a business and you do it online and you generate wealth and you sit in your house and you figure out some value that you can give to the world. And and and you define your career and you you decide whether you're going to sit in one place or move around, and you're going to decide, do I stay in one place a long time? Some people are very, you know, they like to nest in other people like me. They like to move around and experience new cultures. And so I don't know, that's the geographical and the monetary part of it. And then the second part is just the spirituality. I think for me, I'm not I'm not an evangelist. Like, I don't I don't even tell people I'm a Buddhist unless they ask me. But the other part of the business is, is, is just sharing that possibility that you don't have to be stuck in your mind. You can live in the present moment. And that idea is not really so much in the West. It is in younger people, but not people my age so much. And so that's the second part of it. And I just kind of casually go about that. I have a second channel called Vagabond Buddha where I teach, just have thoughts when they occur, that kind of thing. And for, for most Westerners that are probably some really strange, but it's kind of Asian Eastern philosophy mixed with a man, you know, an older man from the West is experiencing and talking about it in English. So maybe it'll open some doors to people that that don't know about it. They're curious about it. So those are the two facets of the business that the reason it's called Vagabond is the travel part. And Buddhist to me is about finding joy in your life by being present to what's happening in your life rather than to whatever your mind is complaining about it and then giving. 


Kristin:Yeah. And I think ultimately that's what people want. They want to be happy. They want to have freedom, and they want to live life on their terms, on their own terms. But they also want to feel like that sense of belonging in the world and find their place in the world and also meet like minded people along the way. So it is really quite simple. Sometimes we can make it well, not all of us, but at least you know me. Or sometimes we make it more complicated than it needs to be. But then there's also this sense of overwhelm and uncertainty that can sometimes come from having unlimited freedom, where it's like, Oh, wow, you look at a world map, or you spend the globe and you're like, Where do I go? And that can sometimes be unnerving for people to to go from like the rat race hamster wheel to you can do anything you want, you can be anything you want, you can live any anywhere you want. And that can prevent people from taking action. So in all of the thousands of people that you've talked to and the hundreds of people in your membership community, what have you found? Are some of the things that hold people back from retiring in other countries or living the life that they want? And how have you helped them overcome that?


Dan:Wow, that's a really good question. And actually that's such a fundamental question. It actually applies to everything in life, doesn't. Yeah, because people people dream about they dream about what they want their life to be. Don't think that not everyone but I would say many people do. They don't just sit where they are and solve one problem after another. They have some idea of who they are and where they want to go and what they want to be. And some people some people action on that and some don't. So it's a very interesting question, and I don't know that I've solved that part of the equation, to be honest with you. I think that I think some of that comes through inspiration when they watch people like you and me traveling around the world and they see we're like, we're kind of normal. We're not, you know, we don't really take ourselves too seriously. We just have fun and we just live our life, you know, in a meaningful way. And we try to help other people. I think maybe they're inspired by that. And some are. Some respects, but I don't I'm not sure other than to blaze the path in front of them, that might be the maybe the only contribution I'm making in that regard I have. It's funny because I have that on a list of videos to me and I don't know how a title for it yet, but it'll be something like, How do I get off the couch? And I've been thinking about it for a few months. It's funny that you ask about that. And I've had I've had subscribers and friends and, you know, people that I meet talk about business the basic question multiple times. And so it's interesting. 


Kristin:Well, I think everything's a little bit synchronized. So it doesn't surprise me that I asked you a question about a video that you're thinking about making. But sometimes I think people can't put their finger on what it is that's holding them back, or it might be more than one thing. It's kind of the same as asking someone like, What do you want? Or What would make you happy? And they can say, Well, I know what I don't want and I don't want this and this and this, or I know what I don't like. And it's that. But it's like this clarity over in this focus over what it is exactly like, what is the thing is hard to put your finger on. And sometimes I think it's because it's not just one thing and and there's not even one end place to get to like it really is like all about the journey. And as you found in traveling for decades and going to how many countries? 67. 


Dan:67 countries. 


Kristin:So I think even if you've been to every country in the world like you realize you're not done, quote unquote yet. And it's about like how you grow as a person, as you're as you're doing that. And it's like all these little steps that come together to create this kind of whole that's greater than the sum of its parts, so to speak, like that synergy. And you don't know exactly what was that turning point in your life, but it was like all these little things that you tried that that come to make one thing. So I guess let's bring it down from I didn't know we were going to go so spiritual on this in this conversation, so big picture. But like after, you know, kind of defining like this vision for what's possible for people, let's bring it down into the practical like day to day stuff that people can do. 


Hey there. Hope you're enjoying today's episode. If my podcast has ever helped you, I would love to hear from you. Did you know that you can rate the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Pod Chaser if you don't listen on one of those three apps, you can also leave a review on our website I loved hearing from Fatima. Sergio, Hurardo and Elli recently, and I'd love to hear from you, too.


Kristin:People are always interested in how much it costs to go somewhere. You have videos on like how cheap is it to retire in different places and how to travel when you're broke? What are some of the the financial blocks that people have and practically speaking, like what is the amount of money that they need in their savings or coming in like a remote job income or retirement income stream for them to be able to traipse around the world? That's a long question, but sorry. 


Dan:Yeah, it's it's an interesting question because there's a lot of factors that go into that. For example, if if somebody is, you know, they were born and raised, let's say, in the U.S. and they've only lived in the U.S. and they're used to living the U.S. lifestyle. They have a car. They have a house. Well, not everyone has a house, but they typically have a car. They have car insurance. They have a house or they're renting a house. They have gasoline, they're buying and food and all these different things. And in the U.S., you know what? They their cost of living is generally highly related to what their income is. And so there are people that live in the U.S. that are making very little money and figuring out one crazy way or another to not starve to death. And then there are people that are living on ten or 20,000, 50,000. I have a friend that's you know, skys the limit. He makes so much money, he can spend whatever he wants. And so depending on who you're taking, how to say the U.S. and where you're putting them and how much they want to recreate their life in the U.S—That'll  tell them kind of what their budget is. And so the way that I deal with that is in in most of my reports, I talk about I talk about just things that I can observe without knowing who they are and what kind of life they're going to want. Like, what is what is a one bedroom apartment cost? And often the people that come to my webpage are people that I think of it like McDonald's.-- McDonald's used to be cheap. Now I don't even know what it is. I'm vegetarian and I've been outside the U.S. mostly for the last 15 years. But McDonald's used to serve the majority of the population, like the bottom part of the population. And I don't know if you know this or not, but the the U.S., because of what's happened financially over the last 15 to 20 years, people reaching retirement age now they've many of them have lost their pensions and they have less so and they haven't made as much over the last whatever number of years. And so they're coming they're coming to retirement age. And they may only have like a 1500 dollars check from Social Security that they're going to get and they may have a little bit like a 401k or they may have a housing so and so someone who's going to retire in the U.S.A and they're going to have to live on 1500 dollars a month.

There's a certain kind of life that they're going to have.


Kristin:Especially with inflation. 


Dan:Yeah. With inflation kicking now. Now, Social Security has COLAs, you know, cost of living increases. But still, 1500 is not a lot of money in the U.S. And so if that's if someone's like that, what they want to know is where can I go? Where my rent's not 1200 or 800. Where can I go? Where my rent's 500 or 600 or 300 or 800, you know. And what are those countries like? I mean, what do they look like? And so I'm not really —my business is not really for people that have that are millionaires. They're retiring with a $4,000 Social Security check. They have two rental properties. And that my business is for –I'm looking at the people that are trying to figure out how to have a nice retirement, you know, in there they don't have what they thought they would have. And so I try to I try to tell them, okay, your  rents this, your utilities are this, your phones that, internets this. Here's what plates, you know, entrees cost. Here's what if you buy groceries that are going to cost and they can look at those numbers and those are the base cost, but what else do they want? Do they want health insurance? Do they want to own a car? I don't own a car. I take public transportation. I ride the bus.I take a taxi. Once in a while. I ride tricycles, which are like taxis. But there's three wheel talkies – 


Kristin:like the tuktuks. 


Dan:Yeah, yeah. So I, I, I'm not saying that, that I live on the bottom that you can live. I like, I don't live totally like a local, but I try to keep my expenses down when I'm traveling around just so that I have a vision for those people. What am I cost —So. So what I like to say is that in places like like the Philippines, if you're making a thousand, if you're getting $1,000 Social Security check, you're probably going to be able to cover most of your daily expenses. You're probably not going to be able to buy health insurance. So what you need to because health insurance around the world is going to cost 100 or two or older people are going to be excluded from cancer coverage.

You probably have done some reading on that. I think it's on your webpage. And when in some parts of the world, when you get past a certain age, you can't even get insurance where if you get it, it has all these exclusions. Yeah, it's super expensive. And so. So what do those people do? You know, and and so I interview expats and talk to them about it. And some of them some of them just pay for their Medicare in the U.S. and they think if something bad happens to me, I'll fly back to the U.S. It's not a best case solution, but some people, they live their life, right? They're healthy. They do the best they can to keep their body in good shape. Some are not. So they have to do that analysis themselves. And so typically around most of the of the retired cheap in paradise places around the world you can get by on like a thousand or 1200 or 1500 depending on whether you want to live like you did in the U.S., which you're not going to do for 1500, or you're willing to live in local kind of housing and eat in local kind of restaurants and live like the locals.I mean, like, for example, in the Philippines now, most families are living around five or $600. I don't know if it's most or not, but it's not unusual at all for you to meet somebody in the Philippines that is a Filipino and say, what is your monthly expenses? 500, 600, 700, 800. And so if you come in, you have 1000 or 1500. You're already living a step above the locals. But you're not living a U.S. lifestyle. Other people come to places like the Philippines or Mexico or and they have more money. So they want to rent a place that looks like their house in the U.S. And so they often go into gated communities and they eat in like Italian and Western style restaurants at every meal and they buy a car. And that's going to cost more. You know, that's going to cost 2530 500. If you go to somewhere like Costa Rica and you want to live that lifestyle, it might cost is six or 8000 a month. So it's really a broad question you're asking and it really takes personal involvement to answer it. And the one thing no one should ever do is buy a plane ticket or one way plane ticket to a country and go there with only their Social Security of $1,000 a month and think that they're going to make that transition. No, you have to do an exploratory visit. You have to go see where am I going to live, what are the rents of this house, what are the utility bills? Let me see them. Where am I going to shop? What is it? Groceries. What am I going to do if I get sick? Do I have some savings for emergency? And so. So the fact that I'm working that my reports are for people that are trying to keep their expenses down, mean that there is some risk for them and they're going to have to really think about what those risks are. And is it really worth moving to a foreign country or is it better to stay in the U.S.?

And that's a really hard calculus because they may have to move somewhere where in the U.S. they're not that interested in where rents are only whatever, 800 or 1000 a month or six, you know, or they might have to share like, you know, a house with friends and share the rooms kind of like what you did in college or whatever. So. Or do you want to get like a little house in the provinces in the Philippines? Have your privacy again. Your rent's only 250 or 300. You're shopping in the local market for another few hundred a month. You have your cell phone that's both your hotspot and your your cell phone and your you know, your praying to God that you don't get sick. And if you do, you better have some money to fly home to the U.S. or to pay the hospital. And also, you should know that the hospitals around the world, outside the U.S., maybe outside in Europe, also some of Europe, of course, as well, even paid for a foreigner. That's for if they're visiting, they're like a friend of mine broke her arm in Portugal and they fixed her arm in the hospital even though she didn't have insurance.


Kristin:Oh, wow.


Dan:But A lot of the world around, they don't have like a safety net. So if you get sick and you don't have money to pay to the hospital to stabilize you before you fly home, you're in big trouble. So this is all stuff you have to think about. But these are the same kind of people that have to think about the same stuff, whether they live in the U.S. or overseas, except when they hit 65, then hopefully they have they're getting their Medicare or whatever. So this is not an easy question to answer. And and mostly what I like to do is just show them. I show them like this place. Here's what a place looks like for 300 a month. You know, here's what a $2 bill looks like. And they have to do that calculus themselves. So I would say the typical expat, though, that's not who they are. The typical expat is made more money most of their life. They've had a passport. They traveled internationally and they're paying 1000 a month or 1500 a month rent and it's inside their house. It looks almost like the U.S. maybe has more problems. It's hard to solve problems because they don't know who to call for electricity or this or that, you know, this sort of internal problem in the House.But they're trying to make their existence like the U.S. So they're and so their cost of living is going to be higher, you know, 1500, 2000, 2500. And so it's going to be very dependent on what their income is, what their lifestyle was, and whether or not they can adjust. And they need to do an exploratory visit before they move somewhere. Mostly, 


Kristin:Yeah, perfect. Because people that are listening are coming from all different backgrounds. Some of them are reliant on that Social Security check from whichever country they're from. Some of them have extra passive income coming in from investments and in pensions and things like that. So you gave the perfect answer and as you were talking it just reminded me of how– how frustrating it is to really just observe this system that we're in. Of course, it depends on every country. But to look at the trajectory, just using the U.S., for example, because we're both from the U.S., but this trajectory of going to school and then going to work and waiting for a retirement to really live your life, and then, oh, when you get to retirement, you have to live on this small amount of money that you've been, you know, paying into the Social Security system your whole life. And then now that doesn't cover enough, really, for you to have your rent and food in the US. And so then you have to go back to living like a college student and then you're running out of time like you're rapidly running out of time. The gears of life to live the way you want. And it's like the system is set up for people to fail in a way are not necessarily fail, but just the system is set up for people to like serve a purpose that is someone else's purpose.

And it's almost like we're disposable. And then and then it's like, okay, onto the next generation, like, and that is so and it's so infuriating and so I think that this is a way for people to break out of that system and say, You know what, I don't want to wait until I retire to live my life and I don't want to be like this is not a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, this this Social Security system.

And so need to take life into your own hands. And that's where that other income aspect comes in. So can you talk a little bit about the ways that you and some of your clients and subscribers are able to generate another online income that can duplicate and triple and quadruple the amount of money that people might have thought that they had to rely on in the retirement system.


Dan:Yeah, sure. So, so so when I was in India in 2010, I read the book called The Four Hour Workweek, which I'm sure you've read and all digital. It's like the digital nomad commercial Bible lets call it that. so I read that book and I realized that I was a consultant, that I was I was now working half time, half day, but I had to go to work in the morning or, you know, I couldn't take a day off or, you know, I had to work to get that money. And and I read about some of the ideas in the book and started learning about, about and so starting in around 2010, I started taking different courses, like how do you make money online? It seemed like magic to me, like some people are able to do magic, you know, where they I'm going to pull a quarter from behind your ear and other people weren't. And I was like, What's going on? It's like magic to me. So I started taking all these different courses and I didn't. I didn't really have any success with any of them. And one of the reasons I think, was because the course basically taught me what that person needed to know to make money, if you get what I mean and what what and and I and I did have some success. I even I took the Amazon the amazing course. You probably heard of them. They're a company that teaches people how to put products in the Amazon warehouses. 


Yeah, FDA, yeah. So I took that course. Very expensive. I ordered stuff from China and It was beginning to sell. I was starting to make money. And then I got this email from Amazon that said, Oh, we have a new policy.  You have to you can't ship as much stuff in. Well, I was bringing it over from China, shipping it to Amazon. And the only reason I was making money is because I was buying it in quantity. And now they wanted me to start shipping it. Take a big one in and ship in little ones. And I'm traveling the world right? I'm like, what am I going to do, fly back to the U.S. every time Amazon runs out of. So I realized I can't be in partnership with somebody who can mess with me every 5 minutes. And so I started looking around. I learned about affiliate marketing and all these different things, and I tried different things, took courses and and really didn't have any luck with it. And then I heard about this concept, the information business, where, where there's something, you know. Now, old people like me, we know things, okay? We've lived a long life. And so we know things and other people need to find out how to do those things. And so what the business, the information business is as you share life experience with people and how do you do it? I choose to put up YouTube videos and what do I know something about? I drove. I lived all over the world and enjoyed the world for all those years. And so I know all the cool spots. I knew what the costs, you know, what a, you know, an entree costs and what was the rent here and there? And so I thought, okay, I'm going to just start putting up reports about the cost of living in different places. And I would do videos on my channel, I say, we're eating dinner here, look at our food is a good oh, it's really nice. How much is it? $2. Where are you staying? Oh, here's our apartment. And how did you get there? Oh, we rode this bus. It was $8. We went from this town to that town. And so we just show people what it's like to live around the world as a slow traveler. And that's the and what's cool about it is, is that it's organic traffic. They come and they meet you and they somehow they find you and then they watch you. Oh, he's in Columbia now. Oh, no, he's in Peru. Oh, he's in Ecuador. Oh, now he's in Portugal. Oh, look, now he's in Thailand, now he's in the Philippines and they want you. And they're like, What the hell is this guy? How does he do this? And they're just they just see you living this lifestyle that they dreamt about their whole life. And so it creates it creates energy and interest. And then people at the end, you push them to your web page with an email list or whatever. Anyway, I created this course called the Hobby Income course, where if you're if you're someone like me and you've had something in your life that's interesting that people want to know about, maybe it's your hobby. Maybe it's a job you did during your working years. Whatever it is, you have a base set of knowledge that other people need to know. Plus, that's an evolving concept. Whatever your hobby is, it could be muscle cars or fly fishing or sewing or whatever. Like there's a girl that does macaro–those sticks with those cotton. I forget what it's called. 


Kristin:Yes, crochet. 


Dan:Crochet. And she does these videos where all all you're doing is looking down at the crochet and that's her way she gets people interested. And people love to do that. I guess it's calming and interesting and fun. So anyway, so you you basically give away bunch of free information on some social media. I choose YouTube because YouTube pays me every month. The people watch my videos and then that they'll eventually get used to me and they'll find out I have a web page. They end up over there. They see all these reports that teach them how to do what I do, and eventually they might want to buy a membership. And the memberships are $9 a month or $99 one time fee and I'll see how the course there if they want to start a hobby and they can just I have all the steps to start their WordPress page how to use their email, create their email list and how to do a landing page. It's all there and what the tools are and stuff. And that's I get that for free as part of the membership. And for me it's just it's kind of a fun life. It's this whole second life I have online where I'm just sharing stuff with people and people are learning stuff and I'm doing what I love and and all of that activity and action creates money. And that's the magic where they pull the quarter from behind your ear. And, and that's what's given me the life. Now, I'm no longer sitting in front of my computer doing boring stuff and doing stuff I'm excited about because it's my hobby. It's what I want to do. And I'm in charge of my life and the world is my oyster. And so that's kind of how it all. And then behind all that is this idea that, you know, there's freedom, both geographical freedom, and there's also freedom from mind pain. And that's the Buddhist part of it. But that's more I don't really push that too hard, but it's there on the web page. You go around, you'll find it.


Kristin: Okay.Yeah. Geographical freedom. Financial freedom. Yeah.


Dan:And mind freedom. Freedom from mind pain. Well, that's my story. And but the cool thing about it is if you if you look online, it doesn't. And people think, oh, he got that niche, no one else can go in that niche. You and I are kind of in the same niche. We're helping people relocate to foreign countries, and what is interesting about online is that people that are attracted to my personality come to me and people that are attracted to your personality will go to you and will both solve their problems. And but it's not the scarcity thing. People think the Internet is scarce place where only the first one who got gets in that can do it. And that's too late for me. It's not how the Internet works. It's this massive billions of people on it. And they're from all over the world. And there's a space for everybody. But it's hard work. You have to do the work, really. And that's the bottom line, I think. 


Kristin:Yeah, it's not mutually exclusive. I mean, people can like also like both of us and so like a million other people and I see this and every in every industry, like yesterday I was just looking, I'm subscribed to 253 YouTube channels. Like there's no limit on how many channels you can subscribe to on YouTube and how many people you can follow from what you said. That's the big takeaway for me and hopefully for everyone is that everyone has skills that have value. And the longer you've worked and the longer you've lived, the more knowledge you have and the more value you can contribute.

And then that contribution is an exchange of value from the people that you're helping. And so we'll link to your course in the shownotes and your membership page and everything. And you know, we're teaching similar things, so we're just coming at it from a different perspective. It's like I have of course, Freelance to Freedom, which is just teaching people how to in one or two months how to make their first dollars online. Because as you mentioned, it just starts with with one thing and then you can explore that and create other things. And maybe you started with Dropshipping on Amazon FBA and then researching affiliate marketing and then you find the information business. And for some people it might be developing a new business from scratch and for other people it might just be offering freelance consulting services for something that they've already done, whether it's accounting or research, like you could have taken your your skill as a researcher for the company you were working for in India. And that's what you started out doing, right? You became a consultant when you quit your job. Yeah. And and what how long were you doing that between when you quit? Was it 2010 and then when you started your information business? 


Dan:Now there's a little overlap. I started I startedVagabond Buddha in 2018, and then I got fired from one company I was working for and I started to do Vagabond Buddha in 20. I dropped it for like a year and a half because I got another offer from another company. And I was so busy because the first year and a half of training people was very intense. But then that company shut down that division. And I said, The heck with it. I'm just going to go full on with Vagabon Buddhist. So since I think it was 2018 a bit so it's four years now, I've been full, full on traveling the world. I was already traveling but  writing about where I'm traveling to doing videos about wearing traveling to writing about tricks, about how to save money and and writing about visas and writing about all of that. And there's like 200 reports now on Vagabond Buddha and making the videos and, and, and in 2019, I think it was it was 2020. I put up the hobby income course as a way to thank my members for giving me the life that I always wanted, which is working for myself and being free to be all over the world. 


Kristin:And it's, it's amazing how you've created the life that you want for yourself through creating a helping other people create the lives they want for themselves. It's like this whole circle. Well, I had all of you had all of these technical questions for you about retirement visas and living in the Philippines and cheap travel, slow travel tips like all sorts of things. But you have hundreds of videos on your YouTube channel about all very specific topics. 


Dan:800, 800 videos


Kristin:800 videos. So I will direct people to your YouTube channel to see things like why like how much the cost of living is in Granada or how to pay for two years of travel, or why Panama is better than Costa Rica or early retirement safety retirement visas in Malaysia. I like all sorts of topics. So if people want to dove deep into a specific topic, we will send them there. But hopefully this is a good introduction to everyone about who you are, what you do, who you help, and what they can do in their own lives. So thank you so much for coming on board. US Digital Nomads and where can people connect with you?


Dan:Well, of course is my web page and Vagabond Awake is my YouTube channel and everything's in those two spots really. I don't really play in much of the other social media just on time. 


Kristin:Yeah, you can only be in so many places. I'm not on Twitter. I'm not on Pinterest, I'm not on LinkedIn. It's like it's too much. And then for anyone who's watching this video, hop on over toDan's channel and he's going to interview me


Kristin:Yeah. Come over and check it out. 


Dan:There are terrible questions I'm going to ask Kristin. 


Kristin:Thanks, Dam, for coming in and you all for tuning in. 


Dan:Thanks, Kristin.


Kristin:I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Dan today. He's such a great guy. Just a reminder that Digital Nomads for Dummies hits bookstores, shelves today. So head over to your local indie bookshop or Barnes and Noble to grab a copy today and also check the show notes for the 50% off discount to Freelance to Freedom. My online course to help you start an online side hustle or freelancing business today.

Have a beautiful day and see you again next week.


DanProfile Photo



Dan has traveled all over the world, 67 countries so far, working remotely as a consultant. One day, a good friend gave Dan a copy of "The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris." Dan decided he didn’t want to be a consultant anymore. He decided to create a business that generated passive income. But Dan didn’t know what to do. So he purchased several expensive online courses but was never able to generate a passive income.

None of the courses worked for Dan. But he never gave up. Instead, Dan started looking for his own solution. One day Dan heard about offering memberships in an information business. The idea sounded simple. But, would it work?

You assemble eBooks, videos, and courses about subject matter that a certain segment of the population finds highly desirable. Then you offer memberships that people can join to get access to the information they desire.

The key is to pick information that you are most excited about and already know a great deal about. The thing Dan was most excited about was his favorite hobby. Dan loved traveling the world and learning how the locals lived.

So Dan started a membership information business sharing his favorite hobby with the world. Dan started showing people how he dropped out of normal life in America and started traveling the world for less.

Dan’s information catalog ( includes eBooks about how to slow travel the world, the best places to retire cheap on less, how to save money by living like a local, and a bunch of other related topics.

Soon, Dan’s information business was making enough money to pay for his travel hobby life. His subscribers started asking if Dan would teach them how to pay for their own travels. At first, Dan thought he was too busy traveling, having fun, and writing eBooks for his membership catalog.

But people kept asking him. That is when Dan realized the business model might work for almost any hobby. So Dan decided to help his members set up their own hobby information business.

So, Dan created the “Hobby Income Course” and included it for no extra charge in his regular membership program. The Hobby Income course shows how Dan set up his WordPress site and Youtube channel to create an information business in your favorite hobby domain. If you are curious, here is a video explaining Dan’s business and the Hobby Income Course: (