Gilbert Index

Tropic Mango

Many people call me Gilbert. I’m from New Jersey originally. And I went to college in the Midwest. And I moved to South America after graduating from that college in the Midwest.

And I learned that if you earn US dollars (USD) or another strong currency and live in a Low Cost of Living Country, you’ll probably sooner or later find yourself whizzing away on a Hyperloop ride to Financial Freedom.

I name this path the Tropic Mango Path To Financial Freedom (or Tropic Mango for short) because you find most of the world’s Low Cost of Living Countries lie between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. And because mangos are delicious, as is Financial Freedom.

Tropic Mango looks something like this:

1: You live in a Country where the Cost of Living is Low. Which means a Country where the Cost of Living is a fraction of the cost of the US or Western Europe or Japan. And while money’s important, so is Quality of Life. Thus you decide to live in what I call a Golden Berry Locale, which is a Locale where the Cost of Living is Low and the Quality of Life is High—the sweet spot. Examples include cities like Bogotá, Colombia and Mexico City, Mexico because they rival any major city in the world (see New York or San Francisco or Paris or Oslo) in terms of opportunities, amenities, culture, food, social life, fun, and yet are a fraction of the cost.

And mind you, your Golden Berry Locale does not have to sit “between the Tropics” because there are places outside this zone in, say, central and eastern Europe that check off the Low Cost of Living and High-Quality of Life boxes with gusto. It’s just that a large percentage of Golden Berry Locales happen to be in this zone.

2: You earn US dollars and spend in the local currency. Which means you probably work remote.

For example you might be a self-employed software developer with US and European clients, typing away on your MacBook Pro from the beaches of Costa Rica. Or you might be an employee who runs marketing or sales or operations from your apartment in Lima, Perú for a startup based in San Francisco that direct deposits your bi-weekly salary to your US-located Charles Schwab checking account that gives you unlimited ATM fee rebates and the market exchange rate whenever you withdraw cash—meaning you don’t lose money to currency conversions. And you use your No International Transaction Fee Credit Card for most purchases in Lima because you get 2% cash back doing so. And you’re not charged extra for using it abroad because it’s a No International Transaction Fee card.

The number of ways to make it work so you earn USD and spend in Golden Berry Locale are limitless. And while I have a lot to offer on the subject of working remote, I’ll save it for another piece. For now, I’ll just say: it is a very real and very possible option to earn USD and live abroad.

And note: you don’t have to make USD, per se. It can be another meaty currency. The idea is that whichever currency pays you is quite a bit stronger than the local currency so your purchasing power is that of the Hulk, and so you can save—bigly.

And that’s all there is to Tropic Mango: 1) Live in a Low Cost of Living/High Quality of Life Country and 2) Earn in a currency stronger than the local currency. You fill in the details with your creativity, energy, and enthusiasm.

Of course the big assumption here is that you’re a Master Saver and you invest your savings wisely (see you keep your investment costs low and take advantage of the power of compounding) because saving is what delivers the goods: (Financial) Freedom.

And one last thing: when thinking about your Tropic Mango home, you might want to consider the following: put yourself in position where you have multiple paths to success.

What does this mean? For me, this meant choosing to live in Spanish-speaking Countries as this gave me multiple paths to success. How? Because no matter what happened on the income-generating end, I put myself in position to acquire an incredibly valuable Skill, particularly for an American, which is Spanish. Therefore even if I wasn’t earning USD or even earning any money at all, I was still enriching myself by being in a physical environment where I could (l)earn a skill—Spanish. And skills pay dividends.

The cool thing about Tropic Mango is it almost has this feature—of putting yourself in a position with multiple paths to success—built into it by default. As it’s hard to go wrong when you’re earning USD and living and working remote in a foreign country—you’re exposed to so many opportunities and your Talent Stack multiplies.

If we’re talking meat and potatoes, there are many paths to Financial Freedom. You might be interested in the Tropic Mango Path because it’s a fun one.

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