How to Become a Digital Nomad in Your 40s with Andrew Venture – In this episode of the Expat Empire Podcast, we will be hearing from Andrew Venture. Leaving his native New Zealand for Australia at 17, Andrew is no stranger to making bold moves when it comes to travel. After completing university, he led an illustrious corporate career in the engineering field for 18 years. With his employer’s restructuring on the horizon, Andrew once again made the bold move to set off on a new adventure.
Leveraging his team management and other corporate skills, Andrew is a consultant and operations specialist assisting companies to scale their business. Andrew has traveled to 20+ countries, most notably Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Portugal, Croatia, Serbia, and Mexico. He loves engaging with other digital nomads and the relatively low cost and ease of living in various nomad hotspots.
In today’s podcast, Andrew tells us all about his journey living from visa to visa and traveling from country to country. We’ll hear all about his exciting visa runs and how to make the most of engaging the local nomad community!
LEARN in this episode:
✔ How to channel your current skills into starting a remote business
✔ How dedication and a focus on fewer things will lead you to success
✔ How to make decisions on destinations, business, and relationships as a digital nomad
FIND Andrew at:
► Personal Website: https://andrewventure.com
► Business Website: https://taitua.com/
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How to Become a Digital Nomad – Intro
Welcome to the Expat Empire Podcast, the podcast where you can hear from expats around the world and learn how you can join them.
Hey guys, before we get to the interview, I want to remind you that we’re offering free 30-min consulting calls to anyone interested in moving abroad.
Whether you’re thinking about retiring somewhere warm, starting an international career, or becoming a digital nomad, we’re ready to help you think through the next steps in your journey.
Send us a message at https://expatempire.com to schedule your call today!
With that said, let’s start the conversation.
David McNeill: [0:00:46] Hey Andrew, thanks so much for joining us today on the Expat Empire Podcast.
Andrew Venture: [0:00:50] Great to be here. Thank you for having me, David.
David McNeill: [0:00:53] Yeah, it’s great to connect with you and hear a bit more about your story. It definitely sounds like you’ve had a lot of adventures on the entrepreneurial side and of course the travel side as a digital nomad as well, so eager to jump into it. I guess a good place for us to start is if you could tell us a bit about your background; where you’re originally from, and where around the world you’ve been so far or traveled to. I’m sure you can shorten the list or abbreviate it a bit and of course, where you’re based right now, that would be great.
Andrew Venture: [0:01:17] Absolutely. I’m originally from New Zealand. In fact, I’m doing this recording at my parents’ house. I just got back to New Zealand after a four-year stint, partly due to COVID. I went to university in New Zealand. I left home at 17. I went to a different island university, moved to Australia, worked there professionally in the major infrastructure field for about 18 years, and then eight years roughly being a digital nomad. I traveled around to various countries, key countries; Thailand, Bali, Portugal, Croatia, Serbia, and Mexico. I think that’s all, there were a number of minor countries there as well. I think 25 countries, 30 countries total in that eight years.
That’s a very potted history. Essentially, I started off in the engineering field. I ran a team of 20 direct reports in my last major corporate role. I had 60 people for a project team across five different time zones and three countries. Basically, there was a market shift. I could see that I was going to have to lay off most of my team over the next year and I just didn’t have the heart to do that. I looked through the field, decided to jump into doing my own business, and move to Thailand basically, as a starting basis. The nomad hub of the world, I guess.
David McNeill: [0:02:40] Right. Awesome. Well, it’s a great place definitely to start your adventure. How did you decide then to go to Thailand and what was your idea as far as your business? Did you already have an idea in mind or were you kind of figuring it out on the go?
Andrew Venture: [0:02:54] I had no idea about the business. I was figuring it out on the go. The job was taking all my mental bandwidth. Basically, my plan was to go to Thailand and figure something out. The reason why Thailand was, I was listening to a podcast at the time, the Tropical NBA, and they talked about Bali and Thailand and Chiang Mai just had this appeal to me. That was pretty random. I just booked a ticket, visa, all that sort of stuff, and jumped on a plane. Chiang Mai, as we both know, is a brilliant digital nomad hub. There are tons of people there doing various things, starting off digital nomad careers, or well progressed. It was a great place to start. To start with, I just did the random, typical digital nomad-type entrepreneurial businesses. I tried to start a website business while I had to make websites. I ended up selling a product on Amazon, which was an interesting story in itself. None of those really took off but I spent a couple of years doing that and jumping around different countries for visa reasons.
David McNeill: [0:03:56] Right. As you were thinking about different business ideas or alternatives, obviously, yeah there are some ones that are more common, let’s say. It sounds like you tried a lot of those with differing levels of success and maybe pivoting to different things. What gave you that confidence to even start a business and to make this jump in the first place? I mean, obviously, it sounds like you quit that job or went out of the corporate world and took this big leap into what sounds like quite the unknown. To try all these different businesses in the first place takes a lot of courage I think. What gave you the confidence that you can make that happen and where did you really start in terms of that journey?
Andrew Venture: [0:04:37] That’s an interesting question. I’ve always liked to travel, doing different things. As I said, I left home when I was only 17 to go to different islands. At the time that was a different experience. I finished university and went to Australia and basically, I’ve always enjoyed doing new things. Part of the reason for jumping was, as I said, I didn’t have the heart to lay off my team and the company was just contracting and it was unpleasant. There was a bit of a pain motivator there as well. I managed to save up a bit of money and I set myself basically a sum of money and said, look, once this is gone, I’m going come back to work if I can’t make it work.
To me, it was like an upper limit. I sort of had the sum of money so in my mind, I’d already spent it. I’m like, I want this money to last between one and three years. If it runs out earlier, I’ll come back earlier. Obviously, I tried not to make it run out. I spent a long time saving that money. I was working in Perth, Australia at the time, and the money was pretty good, so I had a bit of money in the bank. The other thing was, I was about to turn 40. It’s a major milestone. I’m like if I don’t do this now, I never will. There were almost two pain points.
David McNeill: [0:05:45] Yeah. That’s, I’m sure, a huge motivator and a huge enabler of this type of opportunity.
Andrew Venture: [0:05:51] Enabler, absolutely.
David McNeill: [0:05:53] Yeah, and to your point, I think almost that there’s, I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but I feel like in a lot of the media and content out there right now is the idea that becoming digital nomad has become even more prevalent and top of mind for folks as a different alternative for a way to live and travel and work around the world. Is that it seems to be almost more geared towards, I don’t know, people in their twenties let’s say, but obviously, that’s not just the case. It’s great to be able to share that message as well, which you were about to turn 40 there and decide that this was a big change that you wanted to make in your life. Have you felt that in terms of, I mean, have you seen a lot of people going sort of later in their careers to try to make this happen? How do you feel about that in terms of the way that it’s kind of portrayed I guess?
Andrew Venture: [0:06:44] I would say being a digital nomad is definitely a late twenties, early thirties mindset. Most people doing that they’ve had a bit of a corporate career potentially and jumping off to do their own thing. There are outliers, there are a few outliers in the early twenties who were just starting out a new business and maybe did not even go to university. There are a few people like me in their late thirties, but we are pretty few and far between. It’s less of a number. Particularly, I’d say with women past early thirties, there are not many women over early thirties doing it. I think the draw of children, families, is a lot. Having said that there are a few families doing the nomad thing, but not that many at all relatively speaking. Yes, I do occasionally feel a bit old.
David McNeill: [0:07:32] I don’t mean to point to that, but you know what I mean, just in terms of in the way that it’s portrayed, because I think a lot of people might look at it and say, oh yeah, that’s a young person’s game. I can’t do that. Actually, I think there’s plenty of opportunities and for that matter you created your own, right?
Andrew Venture: [0:07:49] You totally can. Absolutely. I mean, yes it’s a young person’s game on the outside, but totally anyone can do this. The older you get, with a bit more money particularly you can stay at nicer places, you can go to a nicer city, you travel a bit more. You don’t need to spend, you know $5 a night on accommodation and ramen noodles, so there is that. I would say definitely you can do it when you’re older. There’s no real thing. Once again with a family, particularly if you’re a bit older again with teenage kids who have left home, then that’s another freedom. That’s another great time to jump off and travel around.
David McNeill: [0:08:20] In terms of your business, then you were trying these different ideas and it sounds like in your previous corporate career, you of course had gained some skill sets over your years working in the corporate world, but I’m curious how you were able to try to leverage those into your new business ideas or if you really had to kind of start from scratch to be able to make your own business in an online fashion that would allow you to have this lifestyle.
Andrew Venture: [0:08:45] Yeah. That’s a good question actually. I made a rookie mistake up the front and assumed that to be a digital nomad I had to do digital nomad-type businesses. I jumped knee-deep in and changed things, markedly. I’d been working as a consultant in the engineering field prior to that and that job I couldn’t take on the road. The nature of the clients are very, honestly, I want to say dinosaurs essentially. Out of sight, out of mind. If I wasn’t in the city they just thought I was at the beach doing nothing. Yeah, I actually demonstrated that. I moved from a major city to a beach an hour’s drive away and they thought I was on the beach all the time. I’m like, no, I’m sitting in my office in the cold air conditioning doing work for you. The beach is just here, but I’m not seeing it.
To go back to your question in terms of how I actually managed the leap. I did all this on my businesses and what I should have done or what I recommend to everybody else is to take something you’re good at and jump into doing that. That’s what I’ve come to now, I’ve done a full circle and come back to consulting. This is largely COVID-driven. I did go back to my roots and I’ve leveraged the skills that I’ve learned in terms of managing teams particularly remote teams and building businesses up from a lower level. Now that I’m offering that as a consulting service to other small businesses, I’m trying to leverage large business expertise and provide that service to small businesses.
David McNeill: [0:10:04] Nice. That sounds like a good full-circle experience for you.
Andrew Venture: [0:10:09] It does. The people I know who have been most successful as nomads have basically taken part of what they’ve done or part of what they’re good at and leveraged that into a service or a product.
David McNeill: [0:10:19] Right. Right. You mentioned when we were talking at the very beginning about some of the main countries that you’ve gone to more times than some of the others. What was the main reason for you to go to those different countries? Was it just that you liked the vibe and the lifestyle there? I mean, I’m sure there was some element in the other nomads and entrepreneurial community as well. What was it that drew you back to these particular places?
Andrew Venture: [0:10:45] To start with, in my journey, I certainly was focused on two things. One was the nomad community, and the other was the cost of living or the lack thereof. Chiang Mai was one of my first ones and then Bali as well. They’re both well-established nomad communities. The big thing with those countries is you can live like a king for very little money and everything’s easy. For example, Thailand, and Bali are almost the same. You can rock up and on the first day, you can hire a motorbike with or without a license. You can get accommodation just by walking around. You can get a SIM card at the airport, cash out, and straight away you can be on the ground running within four hours. In fact, when I go back to Thailand now, I don’t even book in advance. I have a few places I like to stay. Literally within an hour of arriving, I’ve just driven around, I’ve got a motorbike, run around to a few different places, just asking persons if they have accommodation or space, if they haven’t, I go somewhere else. Like within a couple of hours I’m sorted on the ground.
Thailand and Bali are both very good at that. Thailand’s a bit easier. Bali as well, they’re both warmish places, pleasant to be in. As you said, the nomad community is a massive draw for me. Similarly, I just spent a year and a half in Da Nang largely due to COVID. The reason I went to Da Nang was that’s where my friends were, the friends that I went with there. Over time I’ve changed a little bit. When I went to other countries, I wanted to go to countries that I hadn’t been to before. I went to Serbia, for example, to Belgrade by myself, but because nomads are nomads I had friends follow me. You were there. One friend came, another friend came and sure enough, within a week there were 10 people there. They just needed one person to put up their hand and say, let’s try here.
David McNeill: [0:12:23] Right. Right. Yeah. That’s great that you can sort of build that community and have it follow you around or you can follow them. How did you build those initial connections? I mean of course, if you land in a digital nomad hotspot, you can sort of imagine that there are going to be a number of other people there. There’s a natural situation where maybe you are in the same co-working space as somebody else, but do you have any tips for people about how they can start to build that network that you’ve developed over the last several years?
Andrew Venture: [0:12:52] The biggest tip you’ve just said, go to a nomad hotspot and that’s Chiang Mai, that’s Canggu, Bali, it’s Medellin, it’s Mexico City, potentially even Lisbon, Porto, and a few other places. As you said, as co-working spaces, first and foremost it’s joining sports teams. If you do something in particular find out little groups. It’s getting involved; join a class. In Vietnam, for example, with COVID all my friends left before COVID. I was all there by myself. Once we got the first lockdown, I had zero friends. I’m like, I’ve always wanted to dance. I’m like, cool. I got salsa classes and Googled that. There were was a salsa class in two days and I’ve done that for the last year and a half. That to me was a good window into like the local community. There are a lot of ex-pats there. A lot of locals.
Every town or city, every major population base has something like that. What I suggest is just grab something you enjoy doing. If you enjoy playing some sort of football, I started playing ultimate Frisbee, I just said yes. One friend I knew was like, oh, do you want to play ultimate Frisbee tomorrow morning first thing? I’m like, sure, I have never done it before. I played that for a year as well. Things just happened organically. The hardest thing is starting. CrossFit’s another one, maybe ecstatic dance in Bali, just join some things that are going on. Facebook groups are also very useful. Jump into a city, just search Facebook for ex-pat groups in whatever city you’re in. There are usually a couple of good leads there as well. Then things happen organically.
David McNeill: [0:14:22] So it sounds like, for many years there, you were living sort of tourist visa to a tourist visa. I can imagine there were some challenges with that. I’d love to hear about your experience there, but also why you didn’t ultimately decide, at least up until that point or up until maybe more recent months to try to be more focused in a certain location and settle down per se, or at least to have it be your home base and then travel from there, as opposed to just constantly on the move.
Andrew Venture: [0:14:49] Once again, great questions. I did live tourist visa to tourist visa, and it was a pain in the neck. I spent six years, no more than three months in any one place. But having said that I did a couple of places like Thailand and Bali both we did what they call visa runs. A visa run is essentially when you’re living somewhere, you’ve got to leave the country for a day or two or even less and then come back to the same country. For example, in Thailand I was actually there for five months at one stage, it was two visas. Visas were something we had to deal with all the time. Something you had to be aware of, something you had to check when you arrived in the country to make sure you got the right visa.
Visa runs were great. I was in Bali, I got the wrong visa inadvertently. I was tired and I didn’t check. The stamp was unreadable. After two weeks I realized, that instead of getting a two-month visa, I got a one-month visa and I was planning on being there for six weeks. I went to Perth, Australia for lunch. It was a 15-hour detour just for a visa run. $500 bucks and the visa office gave me the wrong stamp. Those things are all annoying, they’re expensive and time-consuming. In terms of why I didn’t settle down, I just didn’t feel a need. Chiang Mai has always drawn me back, largely for the community and the ease of living there. Having sort of bases, I didn’t have a specific base, but I had places that I liked. I just kept going back to those places.
I had one good story in Vietnam. I just went to Vietnam for a few weeks on my first year out. As I’m sitting at the breakfast table near backpackers, two Canadians are there and they were like, oh, what are you doing today? I’m like, I don’t know. I’ve got to go to the embassy to try and get a new visa to get back into Thailand. They’re like, of course, we’ll see you tonight. I’m like oh, no. Tonight I’m moving. They’re like, where are you moving to? I’m like, I don’t know yet. I’m just going to walk down the road and find somewhere. They’re like, what if you can’t get a Thai visa? When is it due? I’m like, it’s due tomorrow. I need it back by tomorrow, is when I have to leave Vietnam. These guys were stunned, open-mouthed shocked. They’re like, what are you going to do? I’m like, well, worst case scenario I’ll fly to Malaysia where they don’t require a visa. They welcome you with open arms for three months. Having that flexible mindset was very useful as well. Go with the flow. I think now with COVID, a lot of people are developing something similar.
David McNeill: [0:16:55] Right, right. I mean, do you feel like it’s as easy now to go with the flow, given this situation. I mean, in some sense you have to, but at least in my own travels just for fun and so on, I mean, the little bit that I’ve been able to do, it’s always been a lot more tests and processes and paperwork and headaches.
Andrew Venture: [0:17:14] Absolutely.
David McNeill: [0:17:16] And concerns that I’m wanting to deal with.
Andrew Venture: [0:17:19] Exactly. Traveling now can be a nightmare. I’d still encourage people to do it, but it’s much, much harder. As you said, you have to go with the flow now. Things just changed at the last minute. Countries locked down, and they opened up. It’s much harder now. Hopefully, within six or eight months things will settle down a little bit. It is hard. It’s not impossible. I’ve been on six flights this year already, sort of inadvertently. Six countries in the last six months. It is doable for sure, even now.
David McNeill: [0:17:48] Where have you been in that time just to get a sense of what’s been possible for you in this scenario?
Andrew Venture: [0:17:55] Well, I started off in Vietnam. I went to Romania in Eastern Europe, the Netherlands, England, and Mexico, and I’m currently in New Zealand. Having said that New Zealand is very hard to get to. I’m a citizen and it took me almost a year to get back here. That one doesn’t really apply to most people.
David McNeill: [0:18:10] Yeah. I was curious about your experience dealing with that, as I’ve heard plenty of stories from other folks about the challenges of getting back into New Zealand. Do you have any particular perspective on it or how does it feel, of course, to actually after almost a year of trying to make it back to be able to do so?
Andrew Venture: [0:18:29] Oh, it feels great to be back. It’s super frustrating. I don’t have a good thing to say about how New Zealand handled the situation in terms of bureaucracy. Yeah. I have a lot to say, I’m not going to say much here. It was very frustrating, is the short answer. It is getting easier now for Kiwis as of today, they relaxed the rules a little bit. It’s very unusual to be able to have like a passport that’s quite well accepted around the world and your own country doesn’t welcome you in.
July last year, for example, I was kicked out of Vietnam. Vietnam basically had a tourist cleanse. All the extensions had been given out. They said, no more extensions, you’ve got to go. New Zealand says, basically you can’t come home. I’m looking at my passport going, where can I go under the current restrictions? Vietnam only had three airplanes leaving for three cities. I’m like, I have to go to one of those three cities, and which one is it? Which one will take me? I went to Eastern Europe because Western Europe, I couldn’t get to at the time because the vaccines didn’t exist in Vietnam. We were all unvaccinated because we just couldn’t get it. Then that obviously limited options for travelers as well. Very frustrating. There’s talk that the New Zealand government will change as a result of how they handled the pandemic. People like me, we have grandmas and mothers and fathers and parents and sisters, all those sorts of things that we just haven’t managed to come back and see. I don’t feel like I was hard done by too much, but other families have had children they haven’t been able to see for a year and a half. Husbands and wives haven’t been able to see their children, which I think is terrible.
David McNeill: [0:19:56] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Andrew Venture: [0:19:58] Luckily for me, New Zealand has a great passport around the world so I’ve been able to go other places.
David McNeill: [0:20:01] Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I can imagine it’s been difficult even for me; being able to go back thanks to the United States and visit my family was great, but my wife is Japanese we haven’t had the opportunity to do that yet. I mean, it doesn’t mean it’s maybe impossible. You have to check all the regulations, but just in terms of the headache of trying to make it work from paperwork and a quarantine standpoint, hasn’t made it possible yet.
Andrew Venture: [0:20:28] Exactly, it is hard and it’s very frustrating and everything changes on a day-to-day basis.
David McNeill: [0:20:34] So as you were seeing the pandemic evolving, or let’s say the very beginnings of it, I assume you were maybe already in Asia, somewhere over there at the time that it started. How did you view it then? It sounds like you ended up going to Vietnam, maybe more on purpose or with a plan as opposed to just getting randomly stuck there. It’d be good to hear about how that actually evolved for you over that time.
Andrew Venture: [0:21:02] Absolutely. I was in Chiang Mai, I’ve been there for a conference and I guess, early January 2020, there was all this talk about COVID. Chiang Mai has a number of Chinese tourists. I was of the view that Thailand was going to be the first place to get COVID after China, which actually it was in the end. It was coming up to what they called burning season; February-March is not a great time to be in Chiang Mai. I was looking for somewhere else to go. I ended up having an entire year planned out in Europe. I had a number of conferences I was going to go to speak at. Vietnam back to Da Nang, I should say, was a city where I had some friends and I liked the community and I wanted to go there for six weeks. I went there for six weeks and then things started to happen on a global scale. I was looking for options. It became apparent that all the Asian airline hubs were going to close down. I sat back and thought, where do I want to spend the next three months? This is back when we were all young and naive and thought COVID would be over in three months.
David McNeill: [0:21:56] Yeah. Right.
Andrew Venture: [0:21:57] I was like, which country will do well and Vietnam by that stage, by February 2020, Vietnam had already had COVID and got rid of it in a small town on the Chinese border. Vietnam was doing a great job. I thought New Zealand, wasn’t going to at the time and neither was Australia, which is my adopted home. I was wrong about New Zealand and right about Australia. I sort of stayed in Vietnam. I had all these conferences in Europe that I was going to attend and I just didn’t have an airline ticket. I waited and I waited and I was going to wait, see what happens? Things got worse and worse and worse. I decided I’m staying in Vietnam for a couple of months then I just canceled all my other events.
Interestingly in Vietnam, I didn’t have a visa. I had a visa exemption. There’s an Asia Pacific business card that I had. I had no visa, which is great, brilliant for travel. When I went to renew it, this is after all the airlines had closed down, I literally could not leave Vietnam. There were no flights leaving the country and I couldn’t renew my visa because I didn’t have one. Everybody else is getting visas renewed and they said to me, when I went to get mine renewed, they said, you don’t have a visa. We can’t renew you. I’m like, I can’t leave the country. What do I do? Do I stay here illegally? In then the end, Southeast Asia is very easy. With a bit of money, someone finds a way to do something. I ended up getting a proper business visa from my business visa exemption. It’s all above board, but one person said this is too hard and too much money. Another person said I can do that for you. After saying, I can do it for you. He’s like, let me call you back tomorrow to make sure I can do this for you.
David McNeill: [0:23:28] Right. That’s some good service and good help there for sure. Yeah, maybe a little money goes a long way.
Andrew Venture: [0:23:38] It did. It wasn’t a little money. I ended up spending about $2,000 US dollars over two years for visas to stay in Vietnam. Like every three months, we had to do a new visa and you’d put your money in, you’d put your passport in and you’d be stressed for two weeks until it came back with a stamp on it.
David McNeill: [0:23:52] But as you said, I guess there was a point where there was this visa apocalypse, I think you called it. What was the situation there that led to that? Was it really just like you found out the day of, and you had to make a decision then? How did that roll out?
Andrew Venture: [0:24:08] Basically, every month there’ll be some news article in English or in Vietnamese that someone would translate that’d say next month there’ll be no more renewals. Then when it came down to it, we all had visa agents that we used and we’d ring the agent and they’d go, yes, we think it’s going to renew. Then the Visa agent goes, we’re not sure, but we think you’ll be okay. Then I had a phone call one day I was on the beach and I just decided I was going to say another six months in Vietnam to wait for things to recover. I bought a bit more stuff like office equipment, very next day, the agent called me and said, Andrew, in two weeks when your Visa’s coming up for renewal it won’t be renewed. I’m like, whoa, whoa, what?
I had two weeks so I was quite stressed. I went to other visa agents to say, is there any way that I can stay? Is there another option that I can do? The answer was just consistently, no. I had a few friends there, obviously over their stays and a few long-term friends, I spoke to them. They’re like, oh, you should talk to this visa agent. We got their name. Oh no, that is my agent. Then I said to them, you should talk to the visa agent. Oh no, we’ll be fine. We’ll be fine. There were two couples in particular who had been there for four and seven years and they were gone within the week. They rang their agent, their agent is like, no this time you won’t get a renewal and your Visa is due.
We only were putting visas in advance a week in advance for various reasons. Basically, if you didn’t then you’d lose time off the visa. Two couples I know literally had four days to pack up years of life and leave the country. Whereas I was actually lucky. The visa rules kept changing. Vietnam was notorious for changing the rules. When I went to put my visa in, I’d basically sold a lot of stuff. I prepared to leave. I had a bit of a plan and I said to the visa agent literally the day before I had to decide, I’m like, if I put in my visa application now, what are the odds that I’ll get approved? She was like 60% you’ll get it. I’m like, I think that’s enough for me. I actually put it in and I got it. I actually got another three months and she said, there’s no way you’ll get another one. I said I’ve got a three-month window to plan my exit. Which I did. Then it became apparent that Vietnam was getting a Delta wave. I only used a month of that. I had a flight booked and I pulled my flight forward. In the end, Vietnam went into hard lockdown literally the day after I flew out. That was sheer luck.
A little farewell party on someone’s roof. He said, oh, this is my farewell party too. He’d booked a flight four days after mine. Four days after the party, I was flying the next day, he was four days afterwards. I flew out, they locked down Vietnam and six months later that guy’s still there because of lockdowns. He managed to get new extensions. Yeah.
David McNeill: [0:26:36] I mean, are you glad that you were able to ultimately get out then with that? I mean, it’s nice, I guess before the lockdown, but at the same time, there’s so much uncertainty right now. At least you maybe had some chance to potentially, I don’t know, stay somewhere longer or maybe that’s not what you were thinking about at all. Maybe you’d already been in Vietnam long enough.
Andrew Venture: [0:26:59] No, actually I’m really grateful to Vietnam. They did a great job handling the pandemic. I met some great people there. I really enjoyed it and I wanted to stay. Having said that they had a very tough lockdown just after I left. Very tough people, had a hard job getting food and they were locked in their houses for weeks. Possibly no worse than some places like Spain, but like equally as bad. I was kind of glad I didn’t see that. Then they opened right back up again and basically, they said, look, COVID is still here we’ll keep doing visa renewals. I’ve got a bunch of friends that are still there. I kind of missed that.
Having said that I was super glad to get out and see some friends. Vietnam is not allowing any foreigners in. For a year and a half, I watched my social circle just shrink and shrink and shrink and shrink. All my circles overlapped. In the end, even in March last year, I realized that every single social circle I had overlapped at a birthday party that I had. There’s only like 10 people left. Now I have like two or three friends that are still there and there are no friends. I was super grateful for the chance to go to places like London and Mexico City and meet a bunch of people that I haven’t seen for two years. Obviously now I’m glad to be back in New Zealand to see the family who I haven’t seen for a number of years. They’re very happy that I’ve come back.
David McNeill: [0:28:07] I’m sure. What’s your plan from here? It sounds like you’re happily in New Zealand for now, which is interesting because of course you’ve made such a career of the last few years going all over the world. Are you planning to stay there in New Zealand for a while? Or are you quick to think about your next plans to get back on the road?
Andrew Venture: [0:28:25] Obviously I’m still thinking about my next plans to get back on the road. New Zealand, I’ll be here for somewhere around six months, I think. It’s been so long, but having said that I don’t really have a network in New Zealand anymore that I could start from scratch. New Zealand is a super expensive place to live. For Europeans, it’s kind of Switzerland level or Americans at the San Francisco level of prices. I just don’t feel like spending that much money and having like, not that great service. I’m used to the Asian and Latin American style where service is brilliant and I kind of miss that already. I think I’ll probably swing past Australia. I still have a life in Australia that I need to keep tabs on. Then I’m thinking potentially back to Vietnam, maybe in about six months.
So it’s open. As I said before, I’m just taking things as we go because of COVID. I’m here for the time being. To go back to an earlier question, I am looking for a long-term base. Before COVID I had an action plan. I had two countries in Europe that I was looking at; two cities and then I obviously COVID threw those plans out the window. I’m still looking for a long-term place. I’ve been doing this for eight years and that’s more than enough. Now I want to have a base where I can spend six to nine months a year and travel for three to six months.
David McNeill: [0:29:36] Nice. That’s great. What places are you thinking about potentially settling in more as a home base now looking forward to once we get past this pandemic scenario?
Andrew Venture: [0:29:47] Two years ago, I was looking at Valencia in Spain and I was looking at Budapest and Hungary. Now I’m kind of wondering about going back to, I guess, my adopted home in Australia and on the gold coast is there. Part of the reason is in six months I want to go to Australia, is to go and look at the suburb and go, is this a place I want to live in again, or do I have rose-tinted glasses on?
I’m flexible, but what I really want is that nomadic community. I’m still a little bit flexible, but I’m like, yeah, there’s a number of places that are great. I’ll be happy, I think, in any of those places, but obviously, long-term visas are a major issue. I just came from Mexico City and Mexico City I actually really enjoyed it. I’d go back there and I can potentially get a four-year visa there. Australia I can go and live there all the time. Thailand is much harder to go and get a long-term visa there. Visas will be the make-or-break thing for me in any of those countries.
David McNeill: [0:30:41] It sounds like you have some plans or ideas in mind for what’s next for you in terms of where you’re going to be around the world. How about your business? Do you think you’ll stick with the consulting side of things or try some new business ideas going forward?
Andrew Venture: [0:30:52] In the short term consulting is my main gig, I definitely will stick with that. I would love to, in the near future, acquire a part stake in a SaaS company as well. That’s the medium to long-term view, to migrate into SaaS. I want to come in as an operations person to basically compliment someone who’s a marketer, essentially. That’s the next 6 to 12 months. That particular plan, but consulting up to then will be the base for that.
David McNeill: [0:31:22] Great. I know one thing that you mentioned that you could talk a bit about was the idea that you can do everything, but not at the same time. I really like that concept. I’d love to hear a bit more about it. If you could share that with our listeners as well, what do you mean by that, and how you’ve experienced that in your life?
Andrew Venture: [0:31:38] I think a lot of us are guilty of trying to do everything at once. New year’s resolutions are a great example. I want to do X, Y, Z, and I’m going to make all these changes starting tomorrow. That’s often too much. I like to think of life as a linear progression, and you can do a lot of stuff with your life. You can be a successful entrepreneur, you can be a triathlete, a musician, whatever you’d like to be, but those all require some dedication. It’s often easier, based on my experience, to put a lot of time and energy into one or two things, at most three. I think you can do three major things in your life at one time. That might be a family, entrepreneurial, and maybe a sport. That’s it any more than that and the first three start to suffer.
That’s essentially what I’m thinking. Do one major thing and do it well for a period of time, one year, three years, whatever that is. Then if you want, do something else, but always have one thing of focus that you’re working on at one time. Otherwise, you just tend to spread yourself too thin. For me, three things is kind of it. That sort of started off as university for me. I could do university studies. I played canoe polo as a sport, and I had a girlfriend in another city. That was all I could do, those three things, that was my life. I couldn’t do anything else. I was sort of stuck with the rule of three since then.
David McNeill: [0:32:58] I think that’s a good one. What were your three as you were on the road? I mean, on some level you had to keep an eye on your visas and your next plans, and then you also had your business or businesses and it sounds like you were also integrating into the social networks there. Were those your three things or was there anything else in there that you had to with? How did you also manage relationships for example? I can imagine that that would be challenging, but also may be an interesting third thing for you to work on as well.
Andrew Venture: [0:33:29] The first two, as you said, was obviously the business and the visas. That was my main focus. The third thing varied a little bit. Sometimes for me, it was fitness. Sometimes it was social and sometimes it was relationships. In Vietnam it was social. I did a lot of salsa dancing, so salsa dancing became my thing. for a while. Before that, there was a relationship or two, and that took a bit of time. Having said that, the relationships tended to wrap up with travel. Relationships made travel harder. I ended up going out with a girl for two years. I met her in a nomadic community and we traveled together. Getting two people to plan and travel together is obviously much harder than having one person. There were a lot of compromises. The third thing for me, varied between fitness, social, and relationships, but the first two were entrepreneurial and travel. Those are my first two, my first two rocks as it were.
Relationships can be challenging. There’s, there’s no question about it. You meet someone fascinating who lives in the city and they don’t want to travel. Then you either stay there or you don’t, or it comes to an end. There are continuous choices to be made. I guess this is everything. The choice muscle gets exercised a lot with a nomadic lifestyle. Where to go, where to stay, who to see, what to do, it can be interesting. It can be challenging. The hard thing is actually to try and keep on track with a lot of things. I think keeping on a routine and whether that’s a fitness thing or a nomadic thing or whatever it is. Even eating, people struggle with keeping a consistent diet. It can be hard because there’s so much choice like literally or before COVID at least there were literally 150 countries anyone could travel to at any given time with a bit of work. Where do I want to go? Do I want to see winter? Do I want to see summer? Do I want to do this? Just choices being made consistently.
David McNeill: [0:35:20] Did you find any particular tricks or methods of being able to help you make those choices because as you said, when you have the decision between everything, I can imagine making any single decision, let alone, as you said, with another person in a relationship very difficult. Do you have any experience or tips or tricks from your experiences abroad to help us figure that out?
Andrew Venture: [0:35:41] The main tip I would say is to have a reason to do something. For me, I was trying to build a business. Places that I wanted to go, I chose the community because I wanted to build a business. For me, I was getting more value out of people. People became more important than places to be. That’s why I ended up in Da Nang as well in Vietnam was because I’m like, where is my community going at the moment? I basically went where they were.
So if you are a surfer, for example, then you might prioritize surfing locations. Obviously, that narrows it right down because of seasonality. The reason, different people have different reasons but have the overall reason first and that helps narrow it down a lot. Then maybe have a secondary reason as well, like maybe the cost of living is a focus. The community could be a focus or some outdoor activity. I think snow skiers have it easier because it’s very limited where snow is. Then having a town where you can work from near a ski field, narrows it right down. If you don’t like a major sport, a seasonal sport, it can be a bit more challenging.
David McNeill: [0:36:43] Yeah, absolutely.
Andrew Venture: [0:36:44] The other thing can be languages as well. If you are a keen language learner you can choose a country based on that. I went to, for example, Mexico, because I’ve done a little bit of travel in my past in Latin America and I wanted to practice my Spanish. To me I’m like somewhere along the line, I need to go to Latin America and practice my Spanish. That was part of the reason for me going to Mexico City.
David McNeill: [0:37:04] OK. Yeah. That makes sense. Well, thank you so much for sharing all of your insights and experiences about this great career you’ve built as a digital nomad and all the different business projects that you’ve had. It’d be great to know a bit more about where our listeners can find out more about you and what you’re up to.
Andrew Venture: [0:37:19] Absolutely. My social media presence is slow, shall we say. So the best place to find me is on my website, www.andrewventure.com. That’s updated occasionally and you can reach out to me, any listeners can reach out to me on there to ask questions or to have a chat. That’d be great to connect.
David McNeill: [0:37:39] Yeah, I’ll definitely put a link to that in the show notes. Thank you again for all of your insights. I look forward to seeing where your travels take you and wish you all the best.
Andrew Venture: [0:37:47] Thank you very much, David. It was great to be here. A pleasure to talk to your listeners.
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