The Modern Age of the Working Expat

by | Feb 17, 2022 | Global | 1 comment

Late in 2001, I was traveling for several months in Romania and Serbia.  Both were very fascinating countries and challenging for differing reasons.

For starters, I managed to break my ankle in Romania during a mountain ride on the former dictator’s hunting train (using tree branches for crutches is not a fun or recommended exercise).

Serbia was by far the more extreme experience though.   The language is complex (with old and new versions interchanged) AND it was winter when I was there.  I used to buy a different number of items each day in order to learn numbers there, for example, and winter in Serbia equates to cold and snowy days.  Imagine trying to maneuver from place to place on crutches….in the snow!

One other noteworthy thing that I recall about both countries is how difficult it was to get online with any sort of regularity.

A connected world

Today, the world is much more connected and internet availability is, in large part, assumed.  This shift has changed the nature of work in much of the world.

My daughter has been a “global nomad” for years while working with her coaching clients via the net.  Commonly, many people are glued to their cell phones accessing the mobile internet minute by minute—even during meals.
This phenomenon has made it much easier to pick up, go live in another country, and continue to carry on with some form of income-producing activities.

The explosion of internet availability has contributed significantly to the exponential growth of expats around the world.

The Ute’s International Lounge website reports that there are approximately 230 million expats worldwide currently (three times the number in 1960).  They go on to say that an expat moves to a new country every 44 seconds!

The sharing economy

Companies such as Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb have revolutionized the “workplace” in recent years.  Instead of maintaining huge inventories of taxi cabs or hotel rooms, these companies incorporate the resources of common citizens to fulfill the needs of their clients.

Enormous cost reductions are the reward for these organizations and many citizens supplement their incomes by using their personal cars or extra bedrooms in service to such companies.

I can speak with some authority about these trends because I have become a “Super Host” with Airbnb in Ecuador.  I didn’t intend for this to happen; the opportunity simply presented itself.

A Cuenca friend from Canada told me one day that he and his family were moving to a bigger house and he asked if I wanted to take over the place they were leaving.  The “smaller” home was 5 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and 3 pisos (stories)!  As a single guy, I thought that this would be a lot to take on but the price was right and I did hear the sound of opportunity ring.

A super opportunity

Over the past several months I have converted three bedrooms to Airbnb rentals and I have been thrilled to meet travelers from around the globe in the process.  I estimate that people representing nearly 20 countries have stayed in my home recently.

The extra income has been a bonus as well.  Interestingly, I have since helped my Cuenca friend and family get established as Airbnb operators since they have an unused bedroom available for guests in their new home!

The beauty of this situation is that we don’t have to maintain a website or even advertise our new “businesses.”  Everything is coordinated through the popular Airbnb site—WORLDWIDE!

Additionally, we can turn our listings on and off for any reason and we are not required to accept everyone that inquires about booking our rooms.  We set our own prices and we can offer discounts or specials at our discretion.

Minimal overhead costs

Our “overhead” costs are minimal and even billing and customer service issues are handled for us. I have even created a FaceBook page for showing off my rooms and informing about highlights of my new home city (Cuenca Airbnb).

When I was in Lima earlier this month I was surprised to find out that Uber was available there.  My research reveals that, in fact, Uber is currently in more than 35 countries and Airbnb operates in more than 190…and that number keeps growing.

These examples are strong indicators that the world is exploding with opportunities for people to easily develop a broader “global citizenship” mentality.  In our world today there is a merging of global transport and mobile communication beyond expectations held just 3-5 years ago.  Reasons for “staying put” in one place or in an unsatisfying job are diminishing in this modern age.

Have you seen any local entrepreneurial activities that have inspired you? We want to know about your own latent talents.