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How To Travel The World, Hassle Free, Alone Or With Family, Maintaining A Home-From-Home Lifestyle

Michelle Dale - Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I often get asked how I travel abroad with my family, how I find places to live without having the hassle of getting into the “paperwork” side of things. By this I mean long let rental contracts and laws surrounding rental options in foreign countries. Before I go any further, my advice is, unless you plan on staying in a property for 2 years or longer, try not to get into the formal rental procedures, because it can be difficult to understand when contracts are in a foreign language and you don’t understand the rental laws, nearly every country has different regulations, and for shorter term living, well under 2 years, stick with the method I am about to reveal to you, ideally this method works best for staying in places 6 months to a year.

Renting abroad can be much easier than you think, and the ability to “get up and go” and live somewhere else can be as simple as doing some research on the Internet, and then paying a deposit. The holiday rental market everywhere has suffered the effects of the poor economy, and that’s good news for you if you fancy getting out there and exploring the world, let’s call it an extreme holiday lifestyle.

This is the method I now use to find accommodation for me and my family in different countries, and live, almost anywhere we choose.

Step 1 – The Destination

First of all you need to pick a destination, it can pretty much be anywhere in the world, but of course the prices of the property will vary greatly between one country to the next. When choosing your destination consider things which are important to you, maybe you’re looking for a particular climate, proximity to another country, cost of living etc… You will also need to check out the visa restrictions, to make sure you can stay there for the period you intend.

Step 2 – The Property

One you have chosen your destination or destinations – if you have a couple of possibilities, start looking for holiday accommodation online, holiday/vacation rentals and avoid the traditional letting agents, make sure it’s holiday accommodation, the reason for this is that you will make a direct arrangement with the owner of the property, and because it’s holiday accommodation, it’s pretty much a given that the owner with either be English, or speak good English, because they deal with foreigners a lot. Another reason why we search for holiday properties is because the utilities are generally included in the cost, so the price you see per week, will include everything, also the properties are usually fully furnished with all the “mod cons,” and situated in pleasant locations, after all, who wants to spend a holiday somewhere no different from their usual home?

Here are a few examples of the types of sites you want to look on:

You can also try expat forums and communities, but I tend to find there is less selection, and it’s more time consuming than simply picking a selection of places from a website and sending a template email with your proposal and requirements.

Other things I would take into consideration — actually getting there, does it have access to airports, ferries, trains etc… Or parking if you have a car? Facilities, Internet, phone etc… Utilities, gas, electric etc… Proximity to essentials, like a supermarket, doctors, nursery or school if you have kids and any other places you need access to on a regular basis. It’s worth telling the owner that you need to work from home, and will be bringing a laptop for example, to see if they anticipate any issues.

Step 3 – The Negotiation

You need to negotiate because this isn’t going to be a standard holiday let.

You will have to seek out several properties and make enquiries with the owners, if you are a virtual assistant you will need to make sure that the property has an Internet connection, so you can be up and working as soon as possible on arrival. The most negotiable time of the year is generally winter, when the holiday makers are off the scene, but long term stays 6 months to a year can be negotiated over the summer months too, because of the length of time you intend to be at the property. In other words don’t expect to get a great deal between June and August (3 months during summer only), but you may get lucky July to December inclusive and onwards (summer and winter).

Many property owners will offer substantial discounts for long term stays, just remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get, and there will be something out there to suit every kind of budget and accommodation requirement. Also take into consideration that during your stay you generally won’t have any utility bills to pay, so make sure you factor that into the cost and your budget.

Step 4 – The Payment

This is something you will have to work out with the owner. Most holiday rentals require a 50% deposit up front which can be hefty for 6 months to a year rental period, so ask the owner if you could split the payment into 2 or 3 deposit payments over a few months, this shouldn’t be a problem for many of the owners because you are making that first payment which is usually a substantial enough commitment to ensure you’re serious and want to go ahead.

Then you will need to ask the owner if you can pay the balance on a monthly basis after you have moved in, again I have found many people open to this, and generally it’s not a problem. If you have found the property on a holiday rental site, you may have to make these transactions off of the site.

Step 5 – The Move

Because this is holiday accommodation you won’t need to take much at all, basically just clothes and any equipment you will need to work. If you’re a VA, your trusty computer or laptop should be enough.

You should plan ahead as much as possible, especially if you have children. Things for me generally go very smoothly when I have planned out the move in advance, considering all the factors involved, but don’t let this delay you, start searching and plan to be away within around 4 months (for an average family), that’s usually plenty of time to get organised. Of course, for singles or couples it can be much less.


Being a virtual assistant for me is and always will be about the mobility, and being able to work from home with my kids — if you have any inclination to explore this kind of lifestyle, what’s really stopping you from getting out there and trying this yourself? Are the answers you have to that question viable reasons, or excuses because the change of lifestyle can be a scary prospect? If this is the case, you’re certainly not alone, but it’s also certainly not impossible, I have been travelling now with my young family like this for several years, without having a base to go back to, and my VA business, especially online business consulting is what makes it all possible, in terms of both freedom to work from anywhere, and financially supporting my family. If you want to see the world, it’s entirely possible, and you don’t have to be 20 something, you don’t have to be without kids, and you don’t have to live out of a backpack, visiting hostels. This is an option for singles, couples and families looking to travel, and maintain a home-from-home kind of lifestyle.

If you’re looking for a profession or business opportunity that will allow you to do this, consider my VA Apprentice Programme, showing you how to set up a profitable mobile business and live the lifestyle you choose, from anywhere in the world.

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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