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SURPRISE! We're Moving to El Salvador

In my free Money Saving Cheat Sheet, I share 30 simple hacks that you can easily incorporate into your life in order to save more money, plus 2 big-ticket items for people ready for serious savings.

And I'll let you in on a little secret...

One of those big-ticket items - a single bold move that could save you thousands - is to relocate somewhere more affordable.

It definitely takes time to consider something like this (and a hefty dose of courage, I might add!), but moving somewhere less expensive is really one of the best ways to make a big dent in your savings efforts - if it's something possible for your life situation.

And that's exactly what Cory and I are doing...

If you follow along on social media, it’s no surprise that we love El Salvador, but our big news is that we’re going ALL IN - so we bought a house and we’re moving there!

This episode is the first of a two-part mini-series, and on today’s show, I’m sharing the backstory of what took us to El Salvador in the first place, why we want to move there, and the details of our crazy first trip.


Let’s roll it back to July 2021. I’ve just put in my 2-weeks at my corporate tech job, and we’re headed to Florida for the Bitcoin Miami Conference.

On the final day of the conference, we’re standing outside in the wet Florida heat when all of a sudden – we hear a commotion. It's a good kind of commotion... but to call it 'applause' wouldn't do it justice. It was more than that... it was truly excited cheering.

We look around, and people are out of their seats, giving a standing ovation to a man named Jack Mallers, the eccentric CEO of Strike, which is a mobile payment app that lets you send money across borders cheaper than the usual wire transactions (because it uses Bitcoin).

We shoulder our way through the crowd so we can hear what’s going on, and that’s when we see not only Jack Mallers literally crying happy tears, but also a banner flashing across the screen announcing that Jack worked with the president of El Salvador to officially make El Salvador first country in the world to recognize Bitcoin as a legal tender.

Recognizing Bitcoin as a legal tender, as in recognizing Bitcoin as a payment method in the same way we recognize US dollars as a payment method, is a super big deal not only for the cryptocurrency movement but also for people in countries like El Salvador.

70% of the Salvadoran population does not have access to a bank account, and oftentimes, they have family members who work in the US who send money back home internationally to El Salvador. Bitcoin helps both those groups of people... But I’ll save the specifics of Bitcoin for another day.

The point is: this was exciting, world-changing news. And, to be honest, before this moment, I’m not sure I’d ever heard of El Salvador… and I definitely couldn’t point it out to you on a map (in case you’re wondering, it’s this tiny little country in Central America, two countries south of Mexico on the Pacific side).

So that was in June. By July we’d bought tickets, and 1 week after my birthday in August, we were on a flight headed for the capital city of San Salvador.


This is where things get interesting because this trip was not all sunshine and rainbows - I mean, just getting on the flight was a huge accomplishment. Mentally, it was a challenge making this first trip because all we’ve ever heard about El Salvador was that, for a time, it was the murder capital of the world and the infamous MS-13 gang is there.

But agreeing that we wouldn’t go out at night and we’d stay away from the city where most of the gang activity happened, we decided we wanted to see for ourselves what it was like in a country that was about to pass 'Bitcoin Law'. However, it wasn't just a mental challenge getting on the flight, it was also a physical challenge...

At the time, we had to have negative covid tests issued within 48 hours of boarding. Our negative results came back literally 2 hours outside that window, but the airline simply would not accept them. After re-booking for the next day and $1K in change fees, we had our second round of negative tests within the allotted 48-hour window, and we were finally ready to go.

The way we’d originally planned it, we would've landed during the day with plenty of time to drive the 45 minutes in the daylight to our AirBnB. But this new flight landed at night. So we get off the plane, get our rental car, and set off into the night - which is something we said we wouldn’t do.

We didn’t realize it, but August is during rainy season in El Salvador, and it typically thunderstorms every night, but we got super lucky and we didn’t have rain during our drive. But what we DID have to do was dodge all the stray dogs that filled the streets, which was a crazy experience and something we were not expecting.

Another thing we didn’t realize is that there aren't really street addresses in the little beach towns where we were going, so after almost walking into a stranger’s home by accident, we finally found the correct house that was indeed the AirBnB we had booked. And, despite a little mold in the bathroom which we decided we could live with, it was a welcoming place after such a wild night.

The next morning we woke up in the beautiful tropics and wandered down to the beach where we met the most precious old man who was selling beach jewelry made from seashells. The fact that we didn’t speak the same language didn’t stop him from sitting down and enjoying a cup of coffee, and then a beer, with us and, before he left, this sweet soul gave me three pearls from the sea. I still have them.

It was the perfect introduction to the kind, generous culture that is El Salvador, and, that same day, we had another similar experience.

We ate lunch at this beautiful cliffside restaurant where literally every single thing on the menu was $1.39... and I mean everything - from a plate of food to a top-shelf margarita - was one dollar and thirty-nine cents (I should mention that in addition to Bitcoin, the other legal tender in El Salvador is the US Dollar, which makes it even more convenient for Americans).

After the sticker shock wore off, we wandered to the ledge that overlooked a sea cave when a Salvadoran man walked up to us and said, “Hi, welcome! I can see that you’re visiting and I was just wondering what it is that you like about my country?”

We told him that we’d been in town less than 24 hours but so far it was gorgeous, inexpensive, and the people were friendly. He then invited us to sit at his table with him and his friend and proceeded to buy us several rounds of drinks.

We told him about our businesses, our goals, our life. He did the same. And then he told us that he had someone he wanted us to meet a few beaches down the road at a place called El Palmarcito - or little palm tree. I’d had a few rounds of drinks, so I was feeling pretty adventurous and I told Cory I thought we should follow him - he seemed like a nice guy! But Cory thought we were about to get kidnapped!

It didn’t take much effort for me to convince him though because, after all, Cory is typically the more adventurous one in our marriage, and before long, we were following our new friend, Balmore, to a little beach, and an amazing family that would change our lives.

Balmore brought us to a tropical beachfront restaurant called Las Palmeras and introduced us to a kid around our age named Carlos who said, “You can call me, Papo.” Papo spoke beautiful English and was clearly well-educated. And it didn’t take us long to learn that he could make a fantastic cup of coffee.

Papo is an entrepreneur whose family owns, runs, and lives at the Las Palmeras restaurant. He’s passionate about coffee and runs a coffee shop out of one of the front rooms. We spent the day drinking coffee, swimming, and just getting to know him.

In the late afternoon, after giving Cory his phone number, Balmore saluted us kids and took off. And, by evening, we did the same. And that’s when things went downhill again.

Hot and sweaty, we walk back into our AirBnB and turn on the little wall AC unit. If you know Cory, you know he has the nose of a pregnant woman; I mean, the man can smell better than any human I’ve ever met. So it’s no surprise he smelt it first, but it didn’t take me long to catch on either...

The black mold we’d noticed in the bathroom was not isolated to the bathroom. It was literally all over the inside of the AC unit and blowing into the room.

We can let a lot of things slide, but we ultimately decided this wasn’t good for our health, so we worked something out with the owners who gave us a full refund and even offered to pay us extra for the inconvenience of having to find another place (they were Canadians and definitely lived up to their reputation of being super friendly!).

I quickly browsed AirBnB and found a little hostel in the next beach town we were going to be staying at. So we pack up all our things and drive over in the dark (again).

Once we arrived, we realized the place didn’t look like the photos online. Honestly, to say the place didn’t look like the photos is an understatement. They were doing some kind of construction because, when we pulled up, there was a mound of dirt in the driveway that was almost taller than the car so you couldn’t really pull into the property.

Trying to get around the dirt pile on foot, Cory slipped off the ramp and landed in what we could only assume was sewage water. And the final blow was that the room did not have air conditioning, which was a deal breaker for us.

By this time, we were starting to freak out because we were still under the impression that MS-13 was lurking around every corner waiting to spring out, steal us, and sell our organs. It was dark, we had all our belongings stuffed into this little car, and we didn't have a place to sleep.

In what was an act of grace from the universe, Cory stumbled across the street, sweating and panicking, into this little gem called Escencia Nativa – Native Essence – that ended up becoming our home base for the rest of that first trip.

The matriarch of the family who owns the place welcomed him with open arms, calmed him down by assuring him that, yes, she could give us a room with AC, and ordered us a pizza from their kitchen.

(this place has the BEST pizza… whenever we want pizza, we still come here).

I’m still waiting in the car with all our luggage, doors locked, and starting to freak out even more because I'm not sure where Cory went and my phone doesn't work, but once he came back to the car and we put our things in a little room with the most beautiful handmade woodwork you’ve ever seen and took a bite of that freaking DELICIOUS pizza, it felt like things were finally okay.

The rest of the night was mostly calm and relaxed, other than the part where Cory was too heavy for the plastic dining chair and it literally just gave out beneath him, making a super loud “POP!” sound that the owner lady later told us she thought was a gunshot!

We finally go to sleep, only to be woken at the crack of dawn by a man’s frantic voice coming out of a megaphone. Opening the window as fast as we could, we tried to spot what we assumed could only be a very serious emergency... And that is how we learned about the fruit trucks.

Every morning, the fruit trucks drive down to each little beach cove, carrying the most delicious fresh fruit and veggies and other essentials (like toilet paper) literally to your doorstep. And they come along with a giant megaphone to announce their presence and what they’ve got on the truck that day.

So what we thought was a life-or-death emergency was actually just a recorded man’s voice shouting things like “tomato!” and “watermelon!”


That’s been the theme of every trip to El Salvador. Every time we think something scary or bad is happening, it’s usually not only NOT bad; typically, it’s something great - like a parade or fireworks or some other kind of celebration.

And I want to reiterate again how kind, loving, and generous the people of El Salvador really are.

Everyone acknowledges you. Everyone says hello or smiles or waves. They say excuse me. They’re not pushy about sales. They laugh a lot. They dance a lot. They definitely surf a lot. And they take the time to just treat you like a human being.

Once we were having breakfast and the man who owned the restaurant asked us if we wanted to see his property. Not because it was for sale, but simply because he was proud of it. He essentially shut down the restaurant and walked us all around his beautiful cliffside land overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

And, again, he didn’t speak English, and we didn't speak Spanish, but it didn’t matter. We stumbled our way through smiles and nods, ooohs and ahhs, and a friendly handshake at the end that said it all.

Another time, we stopped to eat some soup, which El Salvador is well known for, and were served right as this other family was leaving. As these total strangers walked past us, they smiled and said “buen provecho!” (enjoy your meal!) – it took us a second to even realize they were speaking to us.

The kindness, the community, the acceptance, the curiosity, the slow way of life, the natural beauty, the powerful ocean, and more… all of those things. All of those things are why we want to move to El Salvador.

Being in El Salvador feels like going back in time. Things are slower. A lot of things are done in person - even paying bills. You don’t always know if you’re going to have internet, and even the water and electricity can sometimes be spotty.

And, at first, this may sound terrible. But what I love so much about it is it forces you to slow down, and just enjoy the moment. It makes you grateful for the things that you have when you have them. And it makes you resilient, patient, and resourceful when you don’t.


I’ve always known that a big life goal of mine is to live abroad, however, if you told me 5 years ago that I’d be moving to El Salvador, I would've asked, “Where’s that?” and then I would've said you were crazy.

But, for us, living in a place that’s slow-moving and has a very low cost of living relative to Austin, TX is exactly what we need in our lives right now. In Austin, we still have a mortgage payment, but having a house paid off in El Salvador plus the low cost of living there means that we won’t have to worry about money essentially at all.

And, although last year I was able to quit trading time for money by leaving my corporate job and living off our investments full time, we still have to pay the bills - namely, the mortgage. So moving to El Salvador and renting out our home in Austin means we'll truly be able to forget about needing to produce a certain amount of money - and that's something I’m excited to experience.

By clearing out mental space and no longer having to think about money essentially at all, I cannot wait to see what kinds of passion projects I can get done and what fresh ideas my mind can dream up with all that newly freed-up space.


What kinds of things can you clear out in your own life to make space for the big goals you’ve set for yourself? What can you let go of to move forward?

Do you feel you spend too much time on social media? Or maybe it’s that ‘one-more-episode’ mindset that many of us grapple with. Or is it that job you hate, or even that job you just don’t love?

Maybe it’s reeling in your spending so you don’t have to make as much money to cover all your expenses. Maybe it’s reeling in your spending so you can put more money toward getting out of debt or saving for that down payment.

Whatever it is. Wherever you are. Just start where you’re at. Dreams are not accomplished overnight. Hitting our biggest goals is a culmination of little daily micro-actions that slowly add up over time until suddenly - you've done it.

It’s about patience, persistence, and planning. And it’s about taking action on your plans.


I hope you’ll join me on Episode #3 of the Goodbye July Podcast where I walk through the specifics of how exactly we can afford to move to El Salvador, and all the patience, persistence, and planning that went into it - because, let me assure you, this is not something that happened overnight for us either.

But before we go, I want to leave you with a plan of your own.

The truth is, most of our big goals are at least in some part tied to our finances. Whether you need money to reach your goal itself, or you just need money to cover your bills so you can let go of the mental stress and create space in your mind to start working on your goals...

Having a solid financial foundation to stand on is often the very first step in making your dreams a reality. So I highly encourage you to download and complete my free one-time budget calculator, or if you're serious, my repeatable monthly budget calculator.

This single tool will tell you how much money you’re bringing in versus how much you’re spending and it's the first step in really taking control of your money because this knowledge empowers you to take action.

Whether you need to save more money, or you’re bringing in more than you’re spending and you need a smart place to put it, this tool tells you exactly how much that difference is, and simply knowing the number will inspire you to take action.

I’ve personally used this exact tool for over 10 years, and I often credit it as being the biggest reason I’ve been successful in mastering my money.

I hope you love Part 1 of my two-part miniseries on buying a house and moving to El Salvador.

Don't forget to check out Part 2 of the miniseries to hear the financial specifics of exactly how we bought an international property - from where we got the money, to how we decided on and bought the house, our plans for once we get there, and some actionable takeaways that you can apply to your own life immediately after listening.

And most importantly, take action today with your repeatable budget calculator or your free one-time budget calculator!




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