Digital nomad mom saves money by traveling and working remotely with ‘geo-arbitrage’

  • Lona Alia and her husband are digital nomads, working remotely while traveling the world with their children.
  • They thus save money through “geo-arbitrage”, living in lower-cost countries while earning an American salary.
  • Expenses like food and childcare are much cheaper in the countries she visits than in the United States, Alia said.

Lona Alia never liked being stuck in a country, especially one as expensive as the United States.

As a remote worker since 2018, she says she has visited dozens of countries, lived on multiple continents and learned seven languages ​​over the past few years.

At the same time, she says she saved a lot of money thanks to a secular become practice increasingly popular during the pandemic called “geographical arbitrage”. The term refers to living in a low-cost country while earning income in a higher-paying country.

But four years ago, she feared she would have to give up the lifestyle she loved.

“Every time I thought about having kids, I was afraid my life would end, it would be over and the fun would be cut short,” she told Insider.

But then she and her husband decided maybe it didn’t have to be like this.

“As soon as the first one was born, got him a passport, went transatlantic, landed in Germany, bought a car there and started traveling for a while. It was so much fun exploring different countries , cultures, meeting friends in different places around the world. We really haven’t seen a change in our quality of life.

Alia navigates an American economy with increased worker flexibility, but also a rising cost of living. Even before inflation pushed up prices over the past year, high costs for housing, health care, school and child care have made the United States one of of the countries most Dear country to live. The flip side of the high cost of living in the United States is that the country median income is among the highest in the world, and that money goes further to countries with lower living costs.

It’s one of the reasons why a growing number of digital nomads are traveling the world while continuing to work remotely for weeks, months or, in Alia’s case, into the foreseeable future. Almost 17 million Americans describe themselves as digital nomads, up 9% from 2021 and 131% from 2019, according to MBO Partners’ State of Independence 2022 Study, drawn from a survey to more than 6,000 American adults, including 901 current digital nomads.

Not all locals are fans of the nomads who frequent their country, for several reasons: Visitors often don’t pay taxes theretake limited accommodationand put pressure on an area environment and infrastructure, for example. But these travelers can also increase the economy with their expenses, among the reasons many countries open their doors and welcome digital nomad visas.

Geo-arbitrage saved his family ‘so much money’

As Alia and her husband prepared to have their first child in 2018, they pondered what it would take to raise a family in New York or San Francisco, two cities they had lived and enjoyed.

She estimated that she would have to earn between $500,000 and $1 million a year to have the lifestyle she wanted in the United States. Since they don’t earn nearly as much now, they quickly decided to look abroad for cheaper places to live. Today, their family – which has since welcomed a second child – travels to countries including Mexico, Albania, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Costa Rica, moving from one country to another every one to five months. They also have a mortgage on a house in Miami where they are staying between trips.

Alia and her husband have jobs that allow them to navigate this balance. Alia is chief revenue officer at SafetyWing, which is headquartered in San Francisco and Oslo and provides travel medical insurance to other international digital nomads. Her husband also works at SafetyWing, as an account manager. Alia declined to share any information about her salary other than the fact that they are a two-earner household.

Alia says geo-arbitrating living in low-cost countries has saved her family “so much money.” In New York, she estimates that her family’s lifestyle would cost at least $10,000 over a month or two. But in countries like Mexico, Albania and Croatia, it would only be $2,000 to $3,000, she said.

“It’s potentially a tenth of the cost in the United States,” she said. “Sometimes it’s a third. It depends on the country.”

His family lives mostly in Airbnb, which allows them to limit their housing costs. Alia also says childcare – which can cost thousands of dollars a month for two children in the US, only costs her family $200-300 in Europe, for example. Private childcare can cost between $23 and $250 a month in Mexico, InterNations, an online expat network, estimates. By comparison, the monthly child care rate in the United States is around $900 per month, according to a recent survey of 3,000 parents and guardians.

And she says she and her husband can get a “really good” meal for $30-50 that could have cost over $100 in the US.

Although they’re always on the go, she says her family keeps their transportation costs down by packing as light as possible. They are also looking for walkable cities that allow them to get around without a car.

She still pays taxes in the United States, where she earns her income. The family returns to the United States for a few months each year to ensure they can continue to do so.

As they travel all the time, her children, aged two and four, are not enrolled in a traditional school system. When they’re young, she says they kiss”global schooling“, an educational philosophy that aims to help children learn and explore their interests through travel and experience, rather than in a classroom.

“When you are not bound by a place, the world is yours”

When the pandemic hit in 2020, it put a damper on Alia’s nomadic lifestyle. Her family returned to the United States in March and stayed with her parents. But “as soon as the borders opened” last year, they “took the first” plane abroad to Albania – which she said had no strict COVID measures in place.

“It was such a great life,” she said. “You could go out, still be super normal, eat amazing food, live on $400 a month in rent. We really took advantage of that.”

Going forward, she says her family plans to continue this lifestyle for as long as possible.

“Remote work opens up this whole life and an opportunity for you where you can live an amazing life wherever you choose because you’re not bound by location,” she said. “When you’re not bound by place, the world is yours.”

Comments are closed.