5 Must-Know Essentials to Launch the Perfect Escape Plan to Live Abroad

Over 8+ million Americans have made the move abroad to eliminate stress and the day-to-day hustle of just surviving! Now they’re thriving and living a life they never imagined; and now you can too.

Hi, I’m Cartess Ross, and living abroad has been amazing not only for my finances, but for my mental health as well.The daily grind and hustle of trying to maintain your quality of life, while the cost of living expenses continues to skyrocket can drive anyone mad.

Out of a desperate need to drastically cut my expenses; and boost up my savings, investing and retirement strategy, I decided the best way to do that was to move to another country where my U.S. dollars could stretch further.

Instead of paying $1,500 for a small apartment or a shack of a house, one could get a brand new modern 3-bedroom condo, completely furnished, with high-speed Internet, Netflix and all utilities included for just $376/month (Ibague, Colombia).

That was very appealing to me…

That adjustment practically reduces one’s living expenses by 75% overnight, simply by making a decision to move to another part of the world where it’s just as safe and/or nicer than the United States!

If you’re struggling to get by on your pension or retirement, or if you’re working remotely from home, and you’re struggling to get by on your salary, a move abroad could be the answer you’ve been looking for.

As of this writing, I’m currently living in Merida, Mexico. I’ve met many U.S. citizens that have moved across the border because they couldn’t afford to live in the US on their Social Security or retirement incomes

Unbeknownst to me at the time, there are over 1.5 million US citizens living in and calling Mexico home! 

It’s my home now and I’ve been here for over a year and I am sooo loving it … 

And here are just a few of the reasons why:

  • My daughters and I regularly go to the movies to watch new releases in English in a state of the art movie theater (the 3 of us watched a new release a few weeks ago for just $6.90 U.S. total).
  • My water bill for 2-months of service runs about $7.00 US
  • My cell phone bill is only $8 per month with unlimited calls to the US and Mexico ... And that includes data and unlimited use of Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, WhatsApp and more…
  • My youngest child takes ballet classes 6-days a week for $50/monthly (in the U.S. she went twice a week & the cost was nearly $200/mo). 
  • We can take Uber rides across town for as little as $1.50 - $3 (the last Uber I took in the US cost $75 from the airport to my mom's house in Atlanta. The same ride here would cost me about $10-12)
  • I have a housekeeper who cleans my entire house for just $21 (she's here from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.). I pay more because she only comes once a week ... If she came Monday thru Friday, it’d only cost about $300-$390 per month). 
  • My current rent is $575/mo but I’m on the affluent side of town where things are more costly … The rent includes my water bill, fiber optic high speed internet and maintenance of the shrubs/bushes I have in front of my house (the two pics below are pics of the 2 enormous size houses directly across the street from me)

This house doesn’t look like it in the photo, but it's a mini-mansions … The lady has staff working for her to maintain the property!

(behind that white wall is a massive size house … Everything in white belongs to that one property … Can’t tell from the pic but this place is huge).

My lease is up soon and I’ve already found some other places with a HUGE pool, 4-bedrooms and lots of yard space for $400 US dollars per month … 

All of this  within a 5-10 minute walk to the mall, shopping and restaurants; and with Uber rides being $1.50 - $3.50, I don’t need a car (thus no car insurance payments).

In Mexico, I can take my kids out to the movies often, and actually afford it; and we can all go out to eat on a regular basis without penny pinching.

There’s even a beach town 25-minutes down the road from us (and 5-6 more beaches within 60-90 minutes); and I’m talking about pretty blue water beaches with flocks of pink flamingos taking flight!

Are you starting to understand why I’m loving my life so much more now??

The struggle and the stress is gone! 

I’m able to cut my expenses by over half; and actually save and pay off old debts and put money aside for retirement in the coming years …

You can do this too … 

You don’t have to struggle! You no longer have to barely get by … There are places in other parts of the world that are happy to receive and treat you well!

Here are the 5 Essentials to be Aware of When Planning Your Move Abroad

I’ve been living in Mexico for over a year now and in that time I’ve seen a ton of people come and leave for various reasons they didn’t factor.

Moving and living abroad is difficult and challenging. While it’s a lot of fun, it can be very challenging and difficult.

I want to address a few of these so you don’t make the same mistakes!


Depending on where you choose to move to, living costs can vary greatly. Dig deep and do the research. I’ve seen people come here and run out of money and have to return back to where they came from.

How much will you spend on rent (mortgage)? What do you estimate your transportation costs will be (will you buy a new car or get around with ride-sharing apps)? How much will that cost…

Factor in your utility bills like electricity … I live in a region where it’s extremely hot and I run my air conditioner a lot; and that could easily cut into your budget if you didn’t factor that in.

Know what your numbers are and work hard to stick to it. This is especially true to those on a fixed-income.

It’s easy to overspend, especially when things seem cheap and you buy and buy and buy more of it; and the cost of that sneaks up on you and now you’re over budget.

Knowing your numbers in advance could easily help you determine if a particular country is ideal for you to move too. 

One of my primary goals is to significantly reduce my cost of living expenses in the U.S. so I could save and invest.

Trying to move to Dubai probably isn’t a great idea with the budget I’m trying to live within. 

Realistically, one can live quite comfortably on a pension or fixed retirement income; but you must live by the numbers. So please, know your numbers! There are a bunch of unknowns to factor into this equation (and that’s for another topic).


This should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised as to how many people show up without a job or source of income.

Because some places are significantly cheaper than others to live, folks assume they can live comfortably for a long period of time without working. Or they convince themselves that their spouse will fly back and forth to the States every couple of months to work

I haven’t seen that work out for anyone yet!

Thanks to the pandemic, there are more opportunities than ever to work a remote job … Working remotely is becoming the norm.

There are a bunch of companies out there that’ll allow you to work from anywhere. You must do the research to find these jobs.

Depending on where you choose to live, a job paying you $9.50 per hour could provide you with a very comfortable lifestyle (think Colombia, Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, etc).

Many countries will not allow you to work in the country you’re living in, unless you have a special type of work visa, or were sponsored by a company that hired you.

Don’t try to do this illegally because it can get you thrown out and banned from ever coming back into the country.

#3) health insurance / emergency funds

We’ve had 3 medical emergencies since being here in Mexico. Two of those required emergency surgeries and an extended stay in the hospital.

While the costs of these emergencies weren’t super costly, they did hit my pockets pretty hard because I didn’t factor these into my budget.

While in Mexico, my daughter ended up being diagnosed with Schizophrenia. We had to go through multiple psychiatrist until we found the one we liked and many more months of treatment until they found the right combination of drugs and medicines that worked for her.

All of those visits, plus emergency visits to the hospital can add up quickly, especially when you didn’t allocate for it.

Fortunately, my health insurance covered my ‘emergency’, but it didn’t cover my daughter's surgery and it didn’t cover mental health services.

In Mexico, you have to pay for services upfront if you don’t have insurance (and while waiting on a guarantee of payment from your health insurer back home, the hospitals there still require upfront payments each day until they get that letter).

I bring all of this up to say … Look over your insurance policies and see what they cover. If they don’t provide you with the coverage you need, investigate other options.

The clause that paid for my surgery was the part indicating they’d cover me in an emergency situation (when I was admitted by the emergency department, that put me into a status where my insurance covered it).

So triple check what you got and what’s entailed. My wife and I have a Cigna policy, while the kids have a State health insurance plan for children ages 0-18. While Cigna covered my surgery, the kids' plan did not pay out.

Knowing what I know now, especially if you have kids traveling with you, keep a separate ‘medical emergency fund’ on-hand. Because in most cases, you will have to pay out of pocket, upfront, before you’re treated.

It’s not like the USA where you go to the hospital and they must stabilize you. It doesn’t work that way in other parts of the world.

If you buy travelers insurance, make sure it’s with a reputable company. Again, you don’t want to find yourself in an emergency and can’t use it.

I’d go a step further and would verify if the insurance you’re thinking about getting would cover emergencies at the hospital you’ll be living near. 

Many hospitals in tourist destinations will have a representative who will check if your insurance will cover you.


Go pull out everyone’s passport who will be traveling with you. While my passport came with 10-years, I totally forgot the kids passports only came with 5-years on it.

So when it was time to go, they had less than 5-months left on their passports before they expired.

Many countries will not allow you into their country with less than 6-months. And while some countries make it clear you can enter with less than 6-months, the major airlines won’t let you board the plane if you have less than 6-months.

So double check that and get those passports up to date. Delivery time for getting new or renewed passports are taking much longer now. There are some workarounds for getting approved for emergency passports, but if you plan in advance, this could save you time, money and stress.

I got my daughters’ passports the same day, but that required me driving from Greenville, SC to a passport center in Miami, Florida. I don’t wish that drive on anybody, lol…

But I had to do what I had to do … 


I generally find that ‘lack of clarity’ tends to cause fear, stress, worry and frustration. You’ll generally see this when family members and friends get in your head and tell you what a bad idea it is to move abroad.

If you don’t have the facts and information to make an informed decision about living abroad, it’s easy to succumb to the fear and doubt of others.

So do the research and get real feedback from people actively living on the ground in the country you’re thinking about living in.

Websites like Facebook provide unfettered access to specialized groups of people with similar interests.

If you want to get information from people living in Danang, Vietnam, there’s a group for that.

Want feedback from people living in Guatemala City, Guatemala, there’s a group for that.

These groups are easy to join and you can get all the information you need about a city, its people, average cost of rentals, etc… 

Facebook groups are a great way to get the info you need. Search a combination of phrases to find the group you want. Something like this is a starting point:

'Expats living in Thailand' will yield results like these:

This search brought back a listing of about 25 groups related to living in Thailand. The more specific your search is, the better.

If you’re wanting to live in Guatemala City, a search like this could yield more detailed information about the area: Living in Guatemala City

Once you join and are accepted into a group, you can post and research the information you need.

Want to know what the schools are like in that town, post and ask; and people will respond and share their real life experiences.

As you start to get information back from those actively living in the city, you’ll start to feel better about your decision. And once you get all of the information you need, your confidence will increase. It’ll be more difficult for others to sway you now that you have clarity!


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About Cartess Ross

I'll be 50 years old in a couple of years and I have no savings, retirement, 401k nor IRAs ...

While I've made a lot of money, I spent it all living in the moment. I realize that in about 15-years, I'll be 65 years old and I'll need to have my finances together. Which is the reason I'm living across the border now!

By drastically cutting my expenses, I can use those savings to play catch-up and get my finances on track and be ready for 65 and beyond!

If you need help planning your next move, consider booking a telephone consultation with me. Click here to see your options for a consult.