TMBA 183 (TTR33) – What is the Best Place for Location Independent Families?

TMBA 183 (TTR33) – What is the Best Place for Location Independent Families? post image

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It’s time for another Tropical Talk Radio podcast, which gets published every Friday afternoon (Hong Kong time). Here’s the link to subscribe in iTunes if you haven’t already done so. This week Dan reels in David and Carrie McKeegan from Greenback Tax Services to learn how they’ve managed the location independent lifestyle with two young boys. Not only do they say it can be done, but that it’s been an enriching experience for their children.

Listen to this episode and hear about:

  • The mindset necessary to travel with young children.
  • How Carrie and David dealt with the situation they feared most – and it wasn’t so bad after all.
  • The top spots you and your family can live for $1,500 -$2,000 a month comfortably.
  • Creative ways to get qualified and caring nannies or babysitters in foreign countries.

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Episode length: 36:51

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Published on 04.12.13
  • BrandonEllistv

    Hey awesome episode guys! Thank you David and Carrie for all your feedback. And thank you Dan for putting this together. :)

    We’re really targeted in on Nicaragua and Costa Rica right now, and am glad to hear good things from those places here.

    One reason, is that we have friends that are moving to these places and have already been in each for several years.

    They’ve both got kids just like us, and around the same ages (4 and 6 currently)…
    We’ve been invited to stay at each place with our friends and see what we think of the areas. Plus, they said they didn’t really have any one to ease them into the culture etc… so they would help us there too.

    So our thinking is to stay 4-6 weeks at each place and then see what area seems like the best fit for our family.

    That will also allow us to get on the ground and find the best deals for a place to live too.

    Thanks again! We’re super excited about this journey…



  • thealbinomonkey

    I’m trying to decide where to live at the moment, i’ve just been in Thailand for 6 years, came back to the UK for a bit of a break/holiday/catch up and can’t wait to get away again.

    Not sure whether to head back to Thailand or make a break and move somewhere else, currently thinking about the Philippines although i’ve never been there.

    Would anyone suggest the Phillipines? I’m single and 28!

    Great site by the way!

  • Taylor White


    Great show this week. I have been living outside the Motherland for about 7 years now, and I think something that gets glorified way too much is the cost of living aspect of overseas destinations. The (unsexy) truth is – if you are looking to cut down on expenses its much easier to do it where you currently live by a self audit – versus flying to another country to do so.

    If you are from the States – 2 very mainstream companies that do a great job of opening your eyes to overseas living – mainly focused towards families and retirees for Latin America are these

    Just don’t get caught up in their respective “living in X destination costs $1 a day” type of hype – use it more as a way to open your eyes to new locations.

    In my humble opinion after having traveled all over SE Asia as well as Latin America – there really is no comparison for quality of life and cost of living for a single man – SE Asia wins hands down and Dan’s funny analogy about that was spot on.

    If you are looking towards fun city living in Latin America – I would recommend you look at these 4 spots below

    Panama City Panama
    Medellin Colombia
    Lima Peru
    Buenos Aires Argentina

    With my personal favorite being Medellin.

    I don’t know how many readers are involved with real estate – but if you are Latin America wins in that aspect as owning property as a foreigner is much more streamlined than in SE Asia where its mostly only in a few select countries.

    The only slightly negative critique I wanna give is about giving opinions on locations one has never been too. Boots on the ground observations are much more valuable than “things I have read or heard” observations. This is in relation to Panama and Ecuador comments specifically.

    Thanks Guys,


  • Hot tip….I’m here in the Balkans now, and it’s SE Asia prices – in Europe. Seriously. Overall, I’m spending the same here as I was spending in Malaysia or Thailand.

  • Great episode.

    Was very timely as although I am a seasoned traveler, taking the gf with me next month will be the first time I have ever lived/traveled with a partner.

  • Dan

    Thanks Damian! Wish you the best on the trip pumped to see ya in Viet and further afield.

  • Dan

    yeah man I’ve been hearing this! would love to see a blog post on it if you ever write one or dig on up.

  • Dan

    Hey TW great comment. Agree RE: baseless opinions.

    Your first point about running a self audit is spot on the money. Ian and I found this out by living in San Diego for what most people realistically live in SEAsia for — once you add in all the convenience charges that most people pay for, like visits back home, visa consultants, extra travel, etc.

    So it’s probably better phrases as for what you normall pay you can have a much more exciting lifestyle (especially for travel nuts) which is true.

    Nice list there, so many DCers are rocking Medellin and loving it looking forward to a visit sometime! Thanks for listening to the show.

  • Dan

    Couldn’t hurt to try! Philippines more of an adventure for sure but you might miss all the good food and culture in Thailand. Try Cambodia and Vietnam.

  • Dan

    Brandon can’t wait to follow along. Best of luck! Ian and I have a travel maxim: better to go to B locations with A players, than A locations with B players.

    I think the biggest piece of feedback relative to your situation is getting the budgeting right: probably the 1500 baseline figure I toss out a lot on TMBA isn’t realistic for a family testing out new spots. Keep in touch!

  • Hungary is hovering close to that as well. Places like Estonia and Latvia rock as well. It would be cool to hear more content on LBP about “emerging” in Europe….

  • I’ve spent time in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua in the past 6 I totally agree with them! Nicaragua is awesome for expatties but Costa Rica is too expensive. I spent 3 mo’s in Panama and it is even more awesome, I don’t have a family but I felt safer in Panama than anywhere else. The cost of living in Panama is a super value because they have the Panama canal, all the ‘things’ you might want or need to buy are the best price I’ve found; booze, Chilean wine, fashionable clothing, electronics, scuba gear, etc. Panama city is really well developed, it feels like Miami, but at a 4th of the price.

  • Dan

    Hey Jonathan thanks for the insights (it’s really rewarding doing podcasts for peers who know more than I do!)– I wouldn’t have expected that to be said about Panama, sounds fascinating!

  • Tim

    Hi Dan,

    Great listen. It makes me want to climb on a jet and do some long-needed traveling. Just wanted to mention though that while Taiwan may not be the cheapest of the cheap, or the most tropical of the tropical, it’s not a bad place to settle down in for a few years, and it often gets neglected in these types of discussions. The taxes are decent, the pay for educated foreigners is considerably more than the average local salary, and the healthcare is pretty nice, and cheap.

    My friend and I currently have an in-progress informational site about living in Taiwan, and Nick recently wrote about the Taiwanese healthcare system. It’s one of the key reasons why I am still in Taiwan vs. returning to America.

    If you are interested in the read, you can find it here:

    Keep up the great work!

  • Monger X

    SE Asia used to be our exclusive turf: the crooked ones on the run, those looking to unsubscribe from the Western world, the hardcore mongers and those who just don’t give a shit in general. Now since the advent of wifi, we have all those young-enthisiastic-successful rat race people swarming our playgrounds, and soon it seems we’ll even have whole annoying Anglo families!

    You guys are the enemy, you bring in your norms and psycho-rigid versions of morality everywhere you go and soon it will be like Farangland all over again… For Buddha’s sake, can’t you just remain in Bubbafuck, California… Farangs in the end are creating their own hell.

  • Yeah buddy! Panama rocks,Que Onda! it’s one of the few countries I could actually see myself living long term.

  • Aaron

    Always great to hear from David and Carrie on LBP and TTR, especially since I now travel with my wife and kids are no doubt on the horizon (don’t smirk single men, I used to be you). The different snapshots of cities in this episode are a great starting point for us to talk about continued travel after we have kids. And hearing David and Carrie do it so successfully makes the transition a little less scary.

    David and Carrie are spot on about Rio de Janeiro being expensive (our big 1-bedroom, w/ balcony is $1,700/mo). To put that into context, my wife and I had a nice little furnished place in Nice (French Riviera) @ $1,300/mo for 2 months last year.

    Last–if you need your taxes done, Greenback is legit. They’ve done my taxes the last 2 years and even amended my 2010 returns too.

  • Hey Jonathon,

    Don’t spill the beans too much about Panama – let them believe its all full of Colombian drug lords and real estate speculation purely financed by white powder.

    Make sure you don’t mention anything about the Panama canal, one of the World’s largest free trade zones in Colon, over 100 international banks, the use of the US Dollar as currency, one of the fastest growing World economies over the last 10 years, some of the best infrastructure in Latin America, Panama City being the hub for Copa airlines, its territorial tax system…

    Steer people towards Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and then further down South…away from all those Cali cartel gangsters that run wild in Panama. I actually heard that Pablo Escobar’s ghost is seen in Casco Viejo…


  • @taylor_white:disqus LOL yes and we definitely wouldn’t want them to know about all the beautiful women in downtown Panama City…

  • BeyondtheDiploma

    It’s nice learning a lot of ideas from the interview. I’ve also read some of the comments and it helps us decide or to have a good list of the places to go next. Thanks Dan!

  • Love the new ideas I heard from the podcast as well find the comments to be informative as well. Keep it up Dan.

  • Dan

    Cheers Tim thanks for listening and for sharing the link.

  • Dan

    Cheers sir +1 there!!! Thanks for the info…

  • Dan

    Cheers appreciate it.

  • Dan

    You got it!

  • Found this podcast super informative. I downloaded it for my wife on her phone and said “listen to this”. We have a 12 year old and a 9 year old, so I could really relate. There are some interesting things happening in my business that could open the door for a mini retirement. Investigating various locations now.

  • Dan

    Rock on great news!!!

  • Hank Reardon

    Why no new podcast for a while?

  • Dan

    Hey Hank we’ll be back on track this week. Wanted to make sure we are coming with the goods in terms of good ideas / stories. First priority is shipping LBP every week and sometimes TMBA podcast gets the shaft. We are staffing up to change that in the future .

  • Hey Dan,

    Great program. Just started listening to your podcast and LBP this past month and I’m loving it! My wife and I run an online biz together and were thinking of hitting up Bali for a month or two. I read one of your older posts that the internet connectivity there wasn’t super fast nor reliable – but that post was maybe a of years ago? Any insights as to the current situation?

    I’d appreciate you and any of your readers’ thoughts. Keep up the awesome program – we’re getting SOO much out of it and can’t thank you enough!

  • Dan

    Hey Jeremy thanks for the kind words…. Bali is fantastic!!! But yeah the WIFIs aren’t the best, good enough for poking around the web and doing email but for more serious stuff, especially phone and webinars it just doesn’t cut it for me.

  • Thanks buddy that’s good to know. If we want to explore the “better lifestyle” around SE Asia, where else would you recommend? We worked in HK for a few years (now back in Canada) so we’ve been to the bigger cities in SEA. So we’re thinking of a bit of sunshine, scenary, laid back-ness, solid wifi and dollar that goes a longer way. Any suggestions would be awesome and appreciated.

    Thanks again Dan.

  • Dan

    Here’s a good place to start:

    It’s tough to find the “full package” … tradeoffs everywhere, in particular many islandy like locations can have spotty wifi.

  • Awesome Dan. Thanks for this. I just listened to it and it really helps add a much deeper level of understanding for entrepreneurs, vs reading up on other travel blogs (which are also great, but targeted for the average visitor). Cheers!

  • Dan

    Cheers Jeremy glad you dug it.

  • Carrie, David and Dan,

    This episode was fantastic in so many ways! Absolutely loved it. Thanks for that.

    My wife and I have been digital nomads for a few years now. We’re both Brazilians, originally from Rio. I’m a software developer and I have an online product based on a subscription model. And she’s a super talented wedding photographer.

    We’ve traveled to all kinds of different places around the globe and we’re also in Buenos Aires now. We come here every year cause we love it so much and we can’t get enough of it.

    I’d like to back what Carrie and David said: Brazil really is expensive! Rio, specially, is just pure non sense to me. Rent prices are totally unreasonable now and what you get, considering what you have to pay for, is just crap. Total rip off. I know that the hard way.

    We also don’t have a house anywhere in the world. So every time we have to come back to Rio, it’s a nightmare to rent something decent for an acceptable price. It’s kind of infuriating, actually. And take into account that I’m Brazilian who lived in Rio for most of my life. So I know the place really well, and yet, it’s hard to find something and accept the prices.

    And this goes for almost everything else too. Restaurants tend to be very expensive, the food is not great and the service is poor. In fact, services in Rio are generally quite poor.

    Rio is definitely a nice place to visit, but I don’t think it’s a great city to live. Buenos Aires, on the other hand, might not be as appealing for visiting (compared to Rio), but it’s absolutely great to live in many ways. And Carrie is spot on: if you go to Rio, you’ll have a hard time if you don’t speak some Portuguese or Spanish. Most Brazilians don’t speak any English at all. Even well educated people tend to have poor English skills and practice. :-(

    In Latin America, of the places that we’ve been to, I agree with Taylor White, Medellín rocks! We love it too.

    Carrie talked about great health care in Thailand. So, let me add another cool place: Malaysia.

    We went to Phuket last year and my wife got Dengue Fever there. We found out a couple of days later, when we were in Kuala Lumpur. So, our one week in KL became a one week treatment period. Fortunately, we found out that health care is amazing and very cheap in Malaysia and it completely matches what Carrie described about her own experience in Thailand. Actually, nowadays I always say that if I need to go to a hospital, I’ll just fly to KL no matter what. :-) And if you’re curious to know, trust me, you don’t want to try the Brazilian health care unless you want to spend a lot of money.

    One last thing: this year we spent a few months in Turkey and we absolutely loved it. Buenos Aires used to be my favorite city in the world. But now I have too favorites: Istanbul and Buenos Aires.

    Istanbul isn’t necessarily the cheapest place around. But it’s not necessarily that expensive either, specially if you avoid the high season, as we did. We also went to other parts of Turkey and we liked them all to be honest. Other cities are less expensive than Istanbul naturally. It’s very easy and affordable to fly around the country and you can fly from Istanbul to wherever you want in the world quite easily.

    Congrats for this episode folks! It’s been the best so far IMO.

    Best wishes, Vinícius.

  • Dan

    wow thanks so much for the kind words and your input as well !!!! great tip RE: Malaysia, looking forward to making a visit…

  • Carrie McKeegan

    Vinicius- So glad you liked the episode! It’s funny that you mention Istanbul- Dave and I were there a bunch of years ago on a weekend trip from London and I remember thinking, “now this is somewhere I could really enjoy”. And since BA and Rio are two of my favorite cities (plus Barcelona too actually), it sounds like we might have similar taste! We might have to add it to the very, very long list of places we want to spend some more time in!

  • Carrie McKeegan

    Thanks Aaron! So glad to hear you are a client too, thanks for sharing your experience!

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  • Hello! I’m not your typical demographic, but I absolutely love your podcast. It’s a great mix of entertainment and actionable information. I’m a wife and 40 year young (in a week;)) mother of three boys, ages 9, 11 and 13. It took me a few years and false starts to get to the point we’re at now- a profitable business that I LOVE to run. However, it’s not a location independent business. My husband and I are working hard to either morph it in to one or sell it and start fresh. I’m writing you to see if you can connect me to other families living this lifestyle, hopefully members of your community. We expect to make the leap to ex-pat living within 6 months to a year and would love to hear others’ experiences. My husband and I are both daring, adventurous risk-takers on our own, but with the responsibility of kids, we would feel a little like failures if we end up sleeping on someone’s couch:). Thanks for keeping me company in my lonely entrepreneurial world!

  • hey Even thanks for your comment, best of luck in building your location independent business and thank you for listening and for following along.

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