It’s a sunny afternoon in Guadalajara, Mexico.
I woke up early and pounded out my work for the day, writing code until I could see numbers racing behind my eyelids. It’s a sizzling 86o outside, and my ginger skin can’t handle this Mexican sun; just ten minutes outside and I’d be fried without sunscreen. I brace myself, head out the door, and make my way a few blocks from my Airbnb, climbing a hill and crossing a dusty set of old train tracks.
At night, I’ve been warned, this is not a place you want to be. During the daylight there is rarely any problem, but as I’ve come to learn here in Guadalajara, everywhere is considered dangerous at night.
This evening, however, I am having guests. It’s my second week here, and the first time I’ll be hosting. My Spanish is still embarrassing, but I try, and luckily for me Mexicans are an incredibly nice and accepting people. Very similar to us Canadians, actually.
I hop the tracks and head into the building. Straight to the back, to what I now think of as El Dorado, I grab a few bottles off the rack. Brand name rum, tequila, and wine. To be honest, I don’t think much of it. I exchange a buenos tardes with the cashier, hand over some pesos, then take my receipt and make my way home.
A quick currency conversion on my laptop and my mind is blown.
Three 750mL bottles, each about 130 Mexican pesos. That comes to $9/bottle CAD, or about $7.30 USD. Compare this to the normal price in Toronto of a little over $29CAD for a bottle of rum, and I am suddenly acutely aware that I may develop a very affordable drinking problem.
Kidding… but lets take this a step further.
My Airbnb, with a living room, dining area, kitchen, semi-bar with stools, bedroom with a queen, and a full bathroom, is easily 1/3 the price of the same size apartment in my home city of Toronto.
Order Uber Black (think Mercedes) and travel across the city for a little over $10, or UberX for $3 – $4.
Hungry? UberEats yourself enough food for 3 meals for a bachelor(ette), all less than $12.
What’s my point?
Paid in Dollars, Living off Pesos
Currency leveraging is all about earning your pay in a strong currency, yet living off a weak one. This is not something you can do if you live and work restricted by your location. But for someone who has taught themselves a digital skill, like writing code, you may just discover that you can live very comfortably… if you are willing to relocate.
But currency leveraging isn’t only for the young, single, and nerdy.
Right now in Canada and the United States, something interesting is happening. The Baby Boomer generation has been entering retirement en mass. Government programs that once promised to provide financial assistance to retirees are being spread too thin, real estate prices keep rising, Millennials are staying at home longer, and retirement funds are still recovering from the massive losses incurred in 2008.
With a steadily rising cost of living in the Western World, plus inflation and heavy taxes, many soon-to-be retirees are discovering that their retirement funds might be exhausted inside of 10 years.
But what if you apply currency leveraging to this situation? The cost of a small condo in a major Western city can easily net you a modest villa down South…
Alas, this blog is not directed at soon-to-be retirees.
Becoming One of the Lucky Few
If you teach yourself a digital skill, and ultimately make that transition in your work-life from being restricted by geography to becoming 100% remote, the world is literally no more than a plane ticket away.
The next few posts will outline how to learn a brand new digital skill from scratch quickly, how to earn money while you learn it, and ultimately how to transition from part-time freelance work to full-time, remote employment.
In the mean time, check out Lynda.com, browse their library of skills and various learning paths, and do some research. There is no point doing something all day, every day, that you don’t enjoy, so pick a few that you find interesting. Don’t worry about how hard they seem. Two years ago I had never written a line of code in my life. Now I work as a Full-Stack Developer, writing code across a wide range of languages.
All it takes it a little time, some direction, and yes, maybe a bit of hard work.