These 7 expats left the United States to start a new life. This is how they earn income abroad


More and more people are discovering that they can not only live abroad and be happy, safe and comfortable, but they can also earn an income.

This is exactly what I did when I moved from the United States to Mazatlán, Mexico, in 2006. I was living a steady income from freelance editor jobs and managing M! , a local art and entertainment magazine that I started.

Whether working remotely as an employee or running your own business, options abound for the adventurous expat.

Here’s how seven Americans earn living income abroad:

1. Colin Bucell, 47 years old

Currently in Morocco, Colin Bucell lives on his sailboat, which also serves as a source of income through private tours and excursions.

Photo credit: Colin Bucell

Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Currently expatriate in: Morocco
Occupation: Sailboat trips
Annual revenue: $ 12,000

In 2011, Colin Bucell dreamed of sailing around the world. He took early retirement at age 37 and first went to Mexico. Since then he has lived in over 60 countries.

“Every day is an exciting new adventure!” Bucell tells CNBC Make It from his sailboat in Morocco. “And all of this for a fraction of what my expenses were in California.”

Bucell lives on his sailboat, which also serves as a source of income via tours and private excursions – heralded by word of mouth – wherever he is located. He found that health care and food were much cheaper everywhere he went.

Spain, Thailand and Mexico are countries where he could happily settle if he wanted; he says it’s great to have been able to thoroughly test the livability of each of them.

2. Shawn Supra, 45

Shawn Supra, musician and furniture restorer, currently lives in Australia with his wife Diana.

Photo: Shawn Supra

Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee
Currently expatriate in: Sydney, Australia
Occupation: Musician and furniture restorer
Annual revenue: $ 32,500

Love was the motivator behind musician Shawn Supra’s move to Australia in 2020, where he met his future wife Diana while on tour. They first settled in the United States, but as things started to change politically and socially, they decided it was time to move to Australia.

“Living in America, there is such a feeling of fear. It’s almost pierced in you that there is danger around every corner. I don’t feel it here. Everyone is more relaxed.” , says Supra.

He also enjoys the free health care in Australia, and that the income from his furniture restoration business entitles him to a government retirement pension. – similar to United States social security benefits.

3. Kema Ward Hopper, 39

“We love our life here. We are treated like humans first,” says Kema Ward-Hopper, who now lives in Costa Rica with his family.

Photo: Kema Ward Hopper

Hometown: Houston, texas
Currently expatriate in: Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
Occupation: English teacher and yoga teacher
Annual revenue: $ 24,000 to $ 33,000

In 2017, after Kema Ward-Hopper was diagnosed with breast cancer and when Hurricane Harvey destroyed her home in Houston, a family trip to Costa Rica turned into a permanent move.

“We love our lives here,” she said. “We are treated like humans first. We haven’t always had the luxury of being treated like people in the United States.”

Although the pandemic has cut off Ward-Hopper and her husband Willie’s income streams for months, they are disciplined savers and their spending in Costa Rica is low.

An added bonus was the birth of her son last year, even after doctors said chemotherapy had left her unable to conceive. “From a health standpoint, I made a total of 180 after moving here,” says Ward-Hopper. “I healed both physically and emotionally.”

4. Chasity Diggs, 37 years old

“We were able to exceed our goals without having to make sacrifices in our daily lives,” says Chasity Diggs, who now lives in Singapore with her family.

Photo: Chasity Diggs

Hometown: Greensboro, North Carolina
Currently expatriate in: Singapore
Occupation: Behavioral intervention specialist
Annual revenue: $ 170,000

Chasity Diggs is no stranger to living outside of the United States. Before moving to Singapore about six months ago, she and her family lived in China.

The main reason was that their eldest daughter could attend an international school. The family also wanted a better work-life balance and to be in a more diverse country.

“However, the best part of living abroad are the financial rewards. We were able to exceed our goals without having to make any sacrifices in our daily life. Housing costs are covered by my employer, so we can save money. considerable amount of money each month, ”says Diggs.

5. Carol Markino, 52 years old

Carol Markino lives in Rome and works as an English teacher.

Photo: Carol Markino

Hometown: Dover, Ohio
Currently expatriate in: Rome, Italy
Occupation: English teacher and language consultant
Annual revenue: $ 13,500

Having visited Italy several times while in college, Carol Markino always knew she wanted to stay there long term one day. It has now been 30 years since she moved to Rome.

“As an Italian-American, I’ve always been drawn to my roots,” says Markino. “I love living in a city full of beauty – not just museums, but magnificent buildings, architecture and style.”

She also appreciates the culture: “Italians work hard, but they understand that life is about more than work.”

6. Tim Leffel, 57 years old

Native: Tampa, Florida
Currently expatriate in: Guanajuato, Mexico
Occupation: Travel writer
Annual revenue: $ 60,000

Many factors attracted Tim Leffel to Mexico, in particular the “perfect weather all year round” and the low cost of living.

Photo: Tim Leffel

“It was one of those love at first sight visits,” says Tim Leffel. “I was on a mission to a few cities in central Mexico and Guanajuato really struck a chord.”

Many factors drew him to Mexico, in particular the “perfect weather all year round” and the low cost of living. “We spend less on all expenses – including private school for our daughter – than we did just on rent and utilities in Tampa,” he says.

Family and friends who have traveled a lot admire their lifestyle. Some have even been inspired to go abroad themselves, while others “seem to be afraid of the scary world beyond borders”.

“That’s the message hammered into their heads. They probably expected us to be kidnapped or robbed now. I hope that seeing a constant stream of happy photos as we live and travel, they become a little bit of balance. ”

7. Catalina Viviel, 48 years old

Originally from New York, Catalina Viriel now lives in Bogota, Colombia.

Photo: Catalina Viviel

Hometown: Long Island, New York
Currently expatriate in: Bogota – Colombia
Occupation: Teacher and resource room coordinator
Annual revenue: $ 75,000

“I had only been to Colombia once, when I first met my father’s whole family,” says Catalina Viviel. “I have never forgotten this trip and the warmth of the people.”

Working in education, Viviel started her expatriate life with a two-year contract in Marrakech, Morocco. Then she returned to the United States, where she found herself “eager to go back overseas.” She went through a job interview in several South American countries before finally getting an offer in Colombia.

“People thought I was crazy to change countries and become a single mother, while navigating a new language during a pandemic,” says Viviel. “Were there days when I cried? Absoutely.

Now halfway through her two-year engagement, Viviel says she’s not ready to leave and has asked to extend her contract.

“It’s amazing to be able to reconnect with my Colombian roots, especially to see my daughter thrive in the land of our heritage,” she said.

Janet Blaser is a writer who has lived in Mazatlán, Mexico since 2006. A former journalist in California, her work now focuses on the lives of expatriates. Janet’s first book, “Why we left: an anthology of American expatriates” is an Amazon bestseller. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

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