How to Work Abroad and Find Overseas Jobs

A Little Thought… On Why I Left to Travel, How I Pay for It, and How to Work as an Expat

Mythology and story, new cultures, and finding just the right way to describe what it feels like to watch a new day begin as the the sun warms the streets of an unknown city . . . these are the things I usually think about when writing new posts. How can I transport other people into a new place?

Since many readers won’t make it on a rickety bus rocketing through the dry deserts of India, I share that with words and photos. It’s those travel moments that compelled me to keep up travel blogging—the want to share the experiences and the stories along the way.

What I rarely talk about is a bit less glamorous and a lot more personal. More pointedly: my job. I’ve only mentioned my work a handful of times on the site, but after many emails from the ALA community about how to save for travel—and more specifically, how I afforded a long-term route around the world for a year! And then for another nine years and counting.

Now, I decided I have something to say to the countless travelers and dreamers emailing about how to work remotely, and how to build a digital nomad lifestyle, or work internationally.

How I’ve Worked Online for 13+ Years

Watching Titanic in 3D in Phnom Penh
My niece and I visited an expat friend who lives and works full time in Cambodia. The three of us found a theatre playing Titanic in 3D and yes, oh yes, we went to see it!

To those not keen to live as a digital nomad, why not try on life as a true expatriate.

After months backpacking Southeast Asia, my niece and I stayed with Anna Jura, a traveling expat friend living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She works in the public health sector and navigates the ins and outs of finding expat work abroad. As an aside, having Anna (my friend) and Ana (my niece) share names made for a fun week of confusion and I often elicited raised eyebrows pointed in my direction since the dynamics of talking to an 11-year-old are a far-cry different from talking to another adult! :-)

Anyways, Anna opened her door to us with a spare bedroom, opened her evenings to us with wandering rants about local Cambodian politics and culture, and with enthusiasm she showed us the tastier eats around her city.

More than that though, she showed me what it is like to truly work abroad an expat in a city you’re in because you like both the city and your work.

cambodian food

A simple veggie fare for lunch...not really Cambodian, but delicious!

Why You Should Work Overseas

Chalk it up to lack of critical thought on the subject, but in my narrow world, it hadn’t fully occurred to me to encourage people to find work in their field of study. To actually take their University degrees and apply for work abroad.

Over the years, I have given a lot of advice in emails always encouraging people to embrace online, remote-based work.

I wrote to one questioning traveler: “Think about all of your unique skills and leverage those into remote-based consulting.”  And to another I emailed that she could “build up freelance gigs in one of her skill-sets or consider teaching English abroad.”

breakfast
My niece and I cooked a thank you breakfast on our last day for Anna and her neighbor!

All of this is good advice if you want to work from a laptop;  and that is my primary frame of reference. I have said it before in places on this website, what differentiates me from many round the world and gap-year travelers is that I worked the entire time.

In the past six years, I have only truly taken two long breaks from my SEO consulting work, my freelance online work, and the weekly upkeep on this blog. One break was in 2009 on my RTW trip for a ten-day Vipassana Meditation course in Nepal; I spent ten days in complete silence and they locked all our gadgets and notepads in the center’s storage areas for the entire ten days. The other break was in Myanmar earlier this year; I knew the internet was intermittent in the country and welcomed three weeks offline, only checking in once or twice to make sure there were no fires to squash.

How to Work Abroad and Find Overseas Jobs
My “office” is usually a wifi cafe somewhere in the world . . . and the best cafes have fellow blogging friends gracing their tables like Jodi of Legal Nomads and James from Nomadic Notes!

My “office” is usually a wifi cafe somewhere in the world . . . and the best cafes have fellow blogging friends gracing their tables like Jodi of Legal Nomads and James from Nomadic Notes!

It’s worth noting that I left back in 2008 to travel knowing this was my reality, knowing I wouldn’t have the same freedoms of other 20-something backpackers who had spent years saving up, then quit their jobs and traveled unhindered and free to indulge in each travel moment. It’s a great story, the quit my job and traveled story, but it’s not my story. I have no regrets, and the fact that I can work remotely regularly makes it on my daily gratitude list.

My Backstory (Exactly How I Pay my Bills)

For a season of my life, I worked at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. I do believe those three-and-a-half months qualify as my only “real job” after college. Well, the only 9 to 5 I’ve ever worked, I should say. I took the NYFA job to help myself transition between Florida and California.

I moved to LA just after graduating college in 2006, and, like so many other young actors, ambition, naïvety, and likely a hint of narcissism fueled me through the move. But, even back then, I had lucked into fully online based work through a series of happenstance connections shaped by the people, professors, and friends I met while studying at University.

So, I took a location-based job. And I did it simply to meet new friends and find an instant community in a town where finding a community is the only way to survive the crushing anonymity of living in a city with nearly four million inhabitants.

Graduating college in 2006
Graduating university and just a month before I decided to pack up and spontaneously move to Los Angeles, California to pursue acting and continue my online work.

I had worked with NYFA on their annual summer program in Orlando, Florida, so they were a logical choice when I wanted part-time work. It was a three-day-a-week job that necessitated a blouse, skirt, and super cute heels. The outfits were the best part of that job. That’s not to say anything about the company, my colleagues welcomed me, the NYFA students were bright and passionate, and the work was challenging.

But I hated the lack of power, the oversight of a boss when I’d only previously justified my time-management on projects to myself. And lest you think I simply didn’t like work and skated through University on a trust fund, I got a full merit-based scholarship to the University of Central Florida, and I waited tables, bartended, and nannied to pay for the other costs; each of these was a job I loved aspects of, though the former two were jobs I swore I’d never return to again once I graduated.

Back to Los Angeles. I found myself in the routine, packing my lunch each day, the same smiles, the same jokes with friends, and after-work exhaustion, or happy hour on a good day. And it didn’t feel like me. There was a restlessness stirring inside of me, fighting the constraints in the daily routine.

So I quit. Okay, not quite like that, I finished the project . . . my fancy title was the Assistant Director of New Programs, and what it boiled down to was me co-writing an application to grant MFA degrees from one of the NYFA programs. With the project finished, rather than stay on, I gave a cheery goodbye ( still on good terms). Then I went back to my online work, nannied for two families in LA, and spent another year and a half toiling through life as an actor in Los Angeles.

I had an epiphany of sorts, in a conversation with my dad . . . I told him how I was itching to move again, and since I had enough SEO consulting work I was thinking of moving to Boston for a change of scenery. He said “Well, you can pretty much work from anywhere, so I say do it.”

And to this day my dad maintains that he never imagined the sorts ideas that conversation would spark. Within two weeks I had embraced the concept: I bought a one-way ticket to Australia, gave notice to my landlord, and decided to leave acting behind for a while and instead travel and work.

hollywood sign, los angeles
My last day in the US back in 2008, just before leaving Los Angeles to Australia for my RTW trip. I hiked Runyon Canyon with my friend Lisandra to say goodbye to the Hollywood Sign (in the far background)..

I left just five months later, in November of 2008, with a conservative sum of money I gained from: selling my belongings, my modest savings, and extra work I crammed in the last couple months. To fund the full year of travel I had planned, I knew I needed to bill about 25 hours a week on average for most of the trip, and slightly more than that once I arrived in Europe, where the cost of living is higher than in Asia.

Since that time, I have continued many of the same jobs (still doing SEO, online marketing/SEO consulting, freelance writing, and this blog), while also diversifying my work and income (I have a volunteer site in the works and a book publishing later this fall . . . more on that soon!). Through it all though, I have always and will continue to work remotely, from my laptop, for the foreseeable future.

Back to the Present: Living Abroad as a Working Expat

From my background and experience, I have given career advice in countless emails to steer people into working remotely. And in some responses I noted that you could find work abroad, but I never really understood all that it can mean to live as an integrated expat until I lived with Anna Jura for a week.

I am not fond of “real” jobs—ie. office jobs with bosses and clocking in, but that’s just me.

Some people thrive under the structure and work 9 to 5 on projects they love. This is not a novel concept to most of my friends, who love their homes, love having evenings off, and love a structure giving them weekends free of work concerns.

But maybe I finally get it. Anna and her roommate both clock into “real” jobs each day.

By choice.

Given the option to switch jobs with me, they’d choose their job.

Sunset phnom penh palace
Sunset over the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from one of the walks Anna took us on around the city

Every expat I met through Anna while in Phnom Penh was highly educated, most were specializing in development work of some sort, though some in marketing, or business, and all were content with their work and life as an expat in Cambodia. 

In the past, I’ve met disgruntled expats, those frustrated or with their jobs and ready to take the money they earned working abroad, do a last hurrah of travel until it ran out, and then move home. But the community I met in Phnom Penh changed my perception; these people found a place for their specializations, for their college degrees. Beyond that, the prospect of living and working in this particular foreign city excited them. Their work is not a means to an end as it often is for those teaching English abroad or some such (the end usually being traveling). These are jobs for the love of working in a subject field, and, ultimately, professional work satisfaction.

So much of the travel community is “rah, rah travel, rah, rah save up and take a massive trip . . . or work remotely and travel perpetually.”  That’s just one option. There are also opportunities abroad for those with wanderlust and a wish to have a home-base, set-up shop, live, raise a family, and truly enjoy life as an expat abroad.

Small Thatched Cottage, Ireland
The thought of living in this thatched cottage, cozying up with a daily up of tea, finding new friends and settling into a new rhythm makes Ireland’s rural Western coast appeals to me if I ever want to go off the grid as an expat :)

That’s my new advice. Try on your University degree and see if it fits abroad. Or try consulting and build an online business. Or save up a chunk of money, travel, and return to home-base. My point is, I heartily support travel and think anyone with the opportunity and inclination should take it . . . and think outside the advice anyone might give you and follow your own path to that end.  :)

How to Find Work Overseas

How to Find Work Overseas (And How I've Work Remotely for 13+ Years) — Extensive tips and firsthand advice for #digitalnomads

I’ve never worked for a traditional company abroad, but I have many friends who have. This page on A Little Adrift does a very deep, thorough dive into how to find specialized expat work from people who have done it. If you’re looking to work online, I recommend that you start here with your research as it covers every step from deciding what work is good for your skills, to finding work, to how to travel as a digital nomad if you choose remote-based work.

How to Work and Travel as a Freelancer or Digital Nomad

If you’re interested in moving overseas, that job hunt is a different process. These resources will give you a better idea of where to find overseas jobs, as well as how others have done it before you.

International Organizations & Databases

  • Escape the City: A London-based company that has a weekly newsletter you should sign up to have the best-of-the-best job recs that the week. It has some great resources if you are looking to change careers, or just find new work in your same field—just from a more interesting location!
  • Cool Works: The site’s tagline is “Jobs in Great Places” and there are a lot of sorting options—seems like a good place to peruse. The site specializes in seasonal and shorter-term jobs all over the world. (And if you’re looking at seasonal work, you can learn more about it at Job Monkey).
  • ReliefWeb: Start here for many development jobs all over the world—it’s easy to search and full of opportunities in many fields.
  • InterNations: A huge global community. I haven’t participated, but I know they host events and have active forums.
  • Modern-Day Nomads: This has a range of both remote-based jobs as well as location-based adventurous job opportunities in interesting places.
  • The Working Traveller: You’ll find more seasonal work here listed in their JobSpy category that is updated regularly for opportunities all over the world.
  • Go Workabout: Seasonal jobs for foreigners in Australia; it’s a great database. This is especially handy if you’re considering applying for the fairly-easy-to-secure one-year Work Holiday Visa for those under 31 years old.

Information Sites

  • Expat Focus: A good starting point, you will find yourself lost in this site for hours as you start plotting and planning a move. Though there is a free membership part to some of it, you can search through country information without logging in.
  • Expat Finder: A full service site that has information on every part of the move.
  • Expat Exchange: A robust site with information on a wide range of countries.
  • Expatica: Nice all-around resource for every side of the process, it has job boards, community forums, tips articles, and is a well-trafficked site and it looks like there is pretty dynamic content!
  • Four Ways to Become an Expat: A few paths you can look at for finding jobs and a type of work that will take you overseas.
  • Transitions Abroad: Dense with information; I didn’t like that they don’t link out to other job boards and that such, but has a range of possible topics covered.


Additional Resources for How to Work as an Expat

  • The End of Jobs: An essential book for anyone who wants to work as an expat or digital nomad; speaking to why MBAs and JDs can’t get jobs, research on integrated living, and more.
  • Big Magic: You don’t have to be a fan of Eat Pray Love to enjoy this book. An inspiring read about creativity that is helpful to expats, digital nomads, and bloggers.
  • Four Hour Work Week: No doubt you’ve seen it for years, but if you haven’t read it yet, you should. Some of Tim Ferris’ viewpoints are very counter to how I live my life, but I will give him this: his book changed my perception about what is possible in building an online business. It’s still a primer read for a reason, it’s worth having that knowledge and perspective in your head as you move forward.
  • The 80/20 Principle: A good companion to the Four Hour Work Week, this book talks about how 20% of your efforts will generate 80% of your results. As an expat or digital nomad working smarter, not harder, is key and this book provides a good base.

If there is ever anything that I can do to help, please do reach out on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let’s talk about how we can make your travel dream a reality.

how much does it cost to live in Thailand?

A Little Expat Living… Cost of Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand (2019)

Everything I’ve been telling you is true, it’s cheap! I’ve paid rent in both Orlando and Los Angeles, and my Thailand costs have averaged at least one third of my previous living expenses.

Part of why I moved to Chiang Mai was because I had this suspicion that I could maintain a fun and full life, without all the worrying about expenses if I lowered my cost of living. I’m still building up an online income for myself and paying off one last small piece of debt. The best way for me to not go further into debt is, frankly, to stay outside of the US.

A Little Revelation…Traveling versus, well, Traveling

I wrote this post two weeks ago as I was sitting on the airplane on my way to China and feel like it’s a great way to kick off the coming posts about my whirlwind travels through Beijing, Yangshou, and Shanghai.

Groggy from the rude awakening blaring out of my alarm clock at 4:30am it was far too early to even bat around the term “awake.” No, it was pure instinct that kept me from endlessly hitting the snooze button this morning.

Instead, I grabbed my comfortable-but-not-a-hobo travel outfit I had carefully laid out last night and politely lit my way to the communal bathroom with my iPhone while I dodged the other Couchsurfers sprawled on mats in the large, open communal room. Within 15 minutes my bag was re-packed, teeth brushed, and I found myself standing at the door of my host’s house, the red brake-lights of my waiting taxi gleaming in stark contrast to the pitch black sky.

Darkness in the early morning, pre-dawn hours.

Uncaffeinated and bleary eyed, I had managed to avoid all complex thought throughout the rote morning tasks of a travel day.

Then it hit me all at once.

I’m going to China! Right now.

Cue an impromptu happy dance on the sidewalk because suddenly the adrenaline of actually being back in the travel saddle hit me.

It’s been ages since I felt this way. Coming back to Southeast Asia was a different kind of excitment; there’s a familiarity in Thailand and different (arguably fewer) challenges in my temporary expat lifestyle. I still consider myself traveling because I’m not living in the US, but it’s “slow travel,” versus, well, travel.

But China. China is a whole new ballgame. A whole new culture.

And staring at those taxi lights snapped it all back into crystal clarity for me; now once again I feel the adventure and newness that caused spontaneous smiles and a bear hug good-bye to my traveling friend as I did the Charleston toward my waiting cab.

I have a new language to cobble together over the next two weeks, markets to explore, and there is Chinese food to be eaten!

Check back throughout the month as I sprinkle into the mix some stories from my travels through China.

A Little Chiang Mai Living…Routine is It’s Own Adventure

A routine forms when you hunker down in one place, when you pick a spot and decide “hey, I’m going to live here; not just travel through, but live here.” Is it safe to admit I thought the routine and normalcy would still elude me? Coming to Chiang Mai was the next leg in my wanderings; I didn’t realize that the entire pace of my life would slow back down into a routine.

I’ve been in near constant motion for more than two years; my months home this fall were a break of sorts, but even then I was busy bouncing between busy state capitals, countless couches, guest bedrooms, and even a floor or two as I visited friends and family around the U.S.

I was still on the roller coaster adventure of perpetual travel.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="654" caption="A monk's daily routine at the Silver Temple: taking the offerings off of Ganesh each evening"]A monk at the Silver Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand takes the offerings off of Ganesh for the evening.[/caption]

Now I’m here, living in Chiang Mai, and it’s so very normal.

I have a home. A really cute one too. I have an address and rent, my trusty backpack is shoved deep in the corner of my room from lack of use and the street vendors near my house smile and wave out of familiarity.

I have a routine.

Curious emails have begun to flit into my inbox:

What do I do here every day? Why Chiang Mai? Is it what I expected?

This is the first time I’ve stopped and actually lived somewhere outside of the US.

And I like it, a lot. There’s a community here in Chiang Mai; friends, food, and decent wifi are the constants.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="654" caption="My favorite vegetarian street food vendor - no MSG and always served with a big smile!"]Veggie street food lady in Chiang Mai, Thailand[/caption]

And yet it’s not what I expected entirely either. The normalcy makes it easy to  float through days in a routine without paying close attention to what’s happening…and then sometimes very little actually happens. Sadly that has included work; I get distracted by the food, people, and culture maybe even more regularly than I did on the road. Now that wifi and work aren’t challenging (easy connections, tons of time on my hands) less seems to get done.

But then again, that’s partly why I came here, just to see what it’s like to live somewhere else. So I can report back to you now, people over here live in routines too.

I’ll appease those wondering souls concerned about what it’s like to live here in Chiang Mai. It looks something like this…

A day in Shannonland, Chiang Mai Edition:

4:30a – The smell of frying garlic from the restaurant next door suffuses the room and I dream of food.
6:30a – Wake up! The sun’s up, the birds outside compete in a loud and aggressive morning chirping contest and I’m hungry enough to eat an entire garden (don’t feel like the “hungry enough to eat a horse” analogy fits?!).
8a -12:00p – Ponder the Thai National Anthem as it blares through the street speakers around town at 8am every day…then work. The internet is only good in the morning at our house, so it’s a Western breakfast of yogurt, fresh fruit, and work.
12:00p – Scoot over to the veggie lady’s buffet nearby for a spicy lunch with an assortment of tasty and convincing fake meats; their complete mastery of seitan here in Thailand is, in a word, delicious.
1p-6:00p – Thank the heavens for the 99baht ($3) coffee and wifi buffet – a few afternoons each week I buffet it up for hours and hours.
6:30p – Team Chiang Mai (all the expats in town) meet for dinner a nearby night market so we can all find our favorite foods (that way the rest of the team isn’t forced to eat at veggie restaurants all the time). Then it’s a free-for-all for the rest of the evening…sometimes a local festival, other days just chatter over drinks.

Blissfully normal, right?!

I came here for the ability to hunker down and maintain a work schedule while still abroad and in a different culture. And I’m welcoming a routine and framework for my life. I like it. And I love the smiles of recognition and genuine warmth from the locals I encounter on a daily basis.

Delicious steam squash and taro sit on a street cart in Chiang Mai, Thailand.Sweet desserts at the Chiang Mai Gate Night Market.

So, why Thailand for this first foray into expat-ism?

Because establishing a mini-life and routine here in Chiang Mai is an adventure of its own and I wanted to see if I like it. My roomie and I navigate the street food stalls with expertise – we cobble together a mish-mashed dinner from our favorite street food vendors. An ear of corn from the grinning lady at the edge of the night market, a wave to the man selling chopped fruit.

The nods of acknowledgment and smiles makes it a bit like the Cheers sentiment. I like it here because “everyone knows my face” (not so much my name, I’ll admit, we haven’t gotten that far yet ;-).

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="My roomie and I zip all over town on our scooters :)"]Motorbiking with my roomie around town is the norm in Chiang Mai, Thailand[/caption]

Everyone here is living their lives too, they have their routine and for the first time in a long time I’m slipping into a routine with those around me, fitting my life into my surroundings, and the familiarity of food I know, a constant culture (less chance of embarrassing snafus like my roomie’s recent “May I fart?” debacle).

This venture into a more sedentary nomadism is, well, progressing. I can’t yet decide if I’ll pick back up traveling or move to another place…who knows?! Still figuring that out.

Any burning questions for me? The next post in the series I’ll share the costs of living here in Chiang Mai, arguably one of the more appealing reasons I moved her too!

A Little Confession… Changing Plans and Heading to Bali

If you’re a faithful reader here at A Little Adrift then you very well could think that I am still hunkered down in Guatemala practicing my Spanish…that’s not precisely true! I left Central America about a month ago to take place in a wedding and a travel blogging conference (not at the same time) but both in the US.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="539" caption="Friends on Roosevelt Island, NYC"]Friends on Roosevelt Island, NY[/caption]

I still have stories from Central America to share, but now I’ll pile in some tales from the Indian wedding ceremony I attended in Northern California’s wine country and a two week pit stop in New York City to hob-nob with other bloggers and writers in the travel industry.

Being back in the United States has been rough for me though – not only a bit overwhelming choice-wise because I am finally eating something that doesn’t start and finish with rice and beans on my plate three times a day, but I’ve realized that this is simply not home anymore. At least not right now.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="537" caption="Vineyards one of my California wine tours"]Vineyards in California[/caption]

Coming back stateside I had planned to rest up for a few months back home; I was so traveled-out after more than 18 months of travel and I just wanted a home base. Then I would ponder my next move and expat myself somewhere in Asia.

Family and home circumstances have changed rather rapidly though and I actually had a really hard time adjusting to this new direction – which is to head to Bali within the next few weeks. I applaud myself privately in my own head for my ability to adapt to changes and abandon a set plan on the road…but put me back in the US and old patterns came back – I did not take this wrench in my carefully planned out US time very well at first.

But Bali has been in the back of my head for several months – I wrestled between moving to either Bangkok or Bali, and Bali won out for right now. I’m excited to get in some more diving, hiking volcanoes, and learning to surf (some more, because I surfed the white wash in Australia!) along with fresh fruit and to once again feel the warm welcome of the Hindu-Buddhist culture.

So that’s the plan! And in the crazy way of the Universe, the same college friend that I randomly ran into in Bangkok last year and ended up traveling with for six weeks – well she just told me she is also moving to Bali for a yoga teacher’s training course this fall.

I love it when everything seems to come together out of chaos.   :-)

valhalla macadamia nuts antigua

A Little Food…Macadamia Nuts and a Slice of the Expat Lifestyle

The chicken bus bumped to a stop in front of the Valhalla Macadamia Nut Farm and I got my first glimpse of the expat lifestyle for Emily and Lorenzo, an expat couple that have created an entire non-profit movement in the region toward sustainable farming. The farm is about 15 minutes outside Antigua and fully trades the jostling elbowing on Antigua’s brightly colored streets for a vast expanse of trees lining the curved drive that leads into the nut farm.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="654"]Unsorted Macadamia Nuts Unsorted Macadamia Nuts at Vahalla Farm in Guatemala[/caption]

Walking down the dusty dirt path we dodge the low hanging branches and read over the signs that ask us to please leave all of the macadamia nuts on the ground. London backpacker Kat and I found the two line description of the macadamia farm in the Lonely Planet and decided it was worth the trip outside of town – a bit of adventure and escape from Antigua.

We were well rewarded for out trip outside of the city. The pace at the macadamia farm is subdued and as we wander the grounds Emily, an expat who has been running the macadamia farm for more than 30 years, scoops us out from between the macadamia trees and within minutes she’s plying us with various types of macadamia samples.

Macadamia and dark chocolate.

Cocoa covered macadamia nuts.

Macadamia nuts coated in cardamom flavored chocolate – my favorite.

Their Story and a Farm Tour

Emily and her American husband Lorenzo (he’s quite a character and will talk your ear off with good-natured cheesy jokes and his theories on the expat life in Guatemala) started the macadamia farm decades ago before it became fashionable to expat yourself in another country.

Emily from Valhalla Nut FarmRipening Macadamia NutsLorenzo from Valhalla Nut Farm

 

They’ve cultured some of the strongest and most disease resistant macadamia trees in the Americas and also run non-profit efforts to give macadamia trees to locals and help them create businesses and process and sell macadamia nuts.

The tour is short, sweet, and personally guided by Emily, so I was able to ask any of the questions that popped into my head about the process.

Then comes the best parts. Emily guides you into the corner of the farm’s small shop hut and Kat and I sunk back into reclining chairs. Within minutes we received our complimentary macadamia nut facial and a mini massage. It lasts a mere two minutes but the two Guatemalan women work a bit of magic in those two minutes, exfoliating your pours and then finishing it off with a dab of pure macadamia oil rubbed into your face.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="654"]Valhalla Macadamia Nut Farm The Entrance sign for the Valhalla Macadamia Nut Farm outside of Antigua, Guatemala[/caption]

Emily has me convinced as to the miracles of macadamia oil for keeping skin young – she’s over sixty but has the skin of a thirty year old. If you’re interested, a US-based woman ships this Guatemala macadamia oil throughout the US.

The Pancakes Alone are Worth the Trip

With freshened faces and a lot to think about we hunkered down at an outdoor table and prepared for some of their famous pancakes. The farm runs a small restaurant and we just couldn’t resist Emily’s sales pitch on the farm’s famous pancakes.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="654"]Macadamia and Blueberry Pancakes Delicious macadamia pancakes smothered in macadamia butter and blueberries![/caption]

Two pancakes made with macadamia flour, smothered in the creamiest macadamia butter imaginable and topped with a dollop of blueberries from the blueberry farm they also own in own in a nearby region of Guatemala.

It was, in a word, fantastic. The macadamias are a subtle flavor but delicious.

And Emily and Lorenzo get to eat this every single day! Their farm is breezy, shady and relaxing and they both still wholly love their jobs and lives after thirty years of operating the small macadamia farm. Though I’m not saying I want to run a macadamia farm in Guatemala, it’s really fascinating to see how expats are able to make new lives in other countries that embrace completely alternative lifestyle choices than the standard nine-to-fivers and yet still find contentment.