First off, Happy New Year!
With 2017 just kicking off and having just arrived to a new country (scroll to the bottom to find out where), I wanted to take some time to talk about my future plans. I've been doing some soul-searching during these last few months in Canada, and I've come to a few conclusions and made a few decisions.
In short, I'm hoping 2017 will be the start of a new trajectory.
But, we can't know where we're going without thinking about where we've been. And since I don't talk about myself much on this blog, here's some of the things that happened to me in 2016.
Vance's Year in Review
2016 proved interesting for me. I'd been living in Mexico City for a year; a somewhat impulsive move that luckily turned out to be a good one. It was also the first year that I was able to fully cover my expenses with online income.
Last but not least, it was the year that My Latin Life got a bit of exposure, thanks in no small part to these three guys: This Is Trouble, Red Pill Reviews and Nomadic Hustle (drinks on me when we meet).
That being said, it wasn't all sunshine and lollipops.
In 2016, I also failed at two online business ventures, two close family members died and I got out of shape (too much drinking, not enough gym).
You take the good with the bad.
For those interested, here are some CliffNotes from the past year.
January - April
In a bizarre twist of events, I spent New Years Eve at a house party in Lomas de Chapultepec, essentially the Beverly Hills of Mexico City. As I dined on bacalao, grapes and champagne, I thought about the saying "How you spend New Year's is how you'll spend the rest of the year."
In my case, I knew it wouldn't be true. But it was a fun time nonetheless.
That said, from January to April I was on the up and up. I was easily paying all of my bills - even saving some money - I had a girl that I was considering for a short term relationship (as well as a few friends with benefits and the occasional hook-up). I had found my groove in Mexico City. I was living in Roma Sur, and I knew of all the good places to eat, see and go out. If that wasn't enough, my best friend from childhood who was living in North Carolina flew down to visit during this time.
Yep, things were good.
May - August
In a sense, May marked the end of a chapter. A good friend who I had been living with for over a year was headed to another country. Unlike me, he was growing tired of Mexico City and needed a change of scenery; a new adventure. I was sad to see him go, but I understood. Although I was fortunate enough to find a cool guy to replace him, someone who has since become a good friend of mine as well, it was around this time that personal doubts started arising.
Had I been in Mexico for too long?
Just what exactly was I doing with my life?
The girl turned out to be no good so I split. My work also started to suffer. I lost all desire to take on new projects in my increasingly monotonous contract positions as a proofreader, and started outsourcing the pitifully few gigs I received from my own personal editing and copywriting websites, at the expense of both quality and personal income.
Basically, I lost the will to work. I needed to recharge.
My birthday was coming up and I decided to use some of the money I had saved up for a weeklong trip to Durango and Mazatlan. While tanning in the middle of the afternoon at a beautiful, nearly secluded beach, I was reminded of why I started working online in the first place: freedom. The freedom to live and work where I want, and when I want.
To me, it was worth more than just about any sacrifice. I decided to stop being such a tremendous pussy and get back to hustling.
But there was one little problem.
I had no work.
Upon returning back, I was quickly welcomed with a cold slithery spank of a realization that, due solely to my lack of discipline, my income streams had essentially dried up. Due to my recent inconsistency, I was no longer a go-to contractor for the companies I was working for, and my copywriting and editing sites hardly got any clients in the first place.
Long story short, I puttered along, humbly doing what I could to get back in good standing with my employers and to save what little was left of my fledging businesses (if you can even call them that). It took about six weeks, but I was able to get back to where I was in terms of income. I was feeling OK again and took a weeklong trip to Lima, my last before returning home to Canada.
September - December
Truthfully, I didn't want to go back to Canada. But I hadn't seen my family in ages and, because my brother is getting married and has plans to start a family, I knew this could very well be our last Christmas together.
My final night in Mexico City was well spent. I passed it with my roommate and another good friend eating at restaurants, reminiscing and drinking coffee in the Roma Norte neighbourhood. We capped it off by going to a massive party, and then they kindly accompanied me to the airport to see me off on my 6 am flight.
My first month back in Canada was split between my friend's place, my brother's apartment and my parents' house. I didn't see the point in renting a place since I would only be back for 11 weeks. The contract work was steady enough and I was still desperately trying to pump life into my own proofreading and copywriting websites, but they were hardly earning me any money. Not to mention a terrible nuisance, like a random girl you fucked that doesn't want to go home. In these months, My Latin Life was earning around $600-$700/month - not bad - but not enough that I could ditch my proofreading and copywriting websites.
Sadly, I needed the money.
The $2000 or so I was earning every 4 weeks wasn't cutting it for me anymore.
It was at this time that a friend came to me with an interesting proposition. A relative of his in the firearms industry needed a content writer for a new product launch and wanted to hire me. I had done work for him before and he was straightforward, honest and paid well.
Despite vowing to never work in an office again, I took the job. Humbling, but I was in need of cash. I used the opportunity to finally close the book on my two failing online businesses and return to the online drawing board.
There Is No Going Back
I had plenty of time to think during my time back in Canada and I came to a couple of realizations. First, I have no interest in working in an office again. It's not so much the nature of office work, but the environment. It's soul-sucking.
Life ticks away while you build someone else's dream. I don't want that to become my norm.
Second, I haven't much interest in living in Canada again. Nearly three months back home made me realize that I never formed a strong connection to my home city or country. I moved around a bit as a kid, and Canada doesn't have much of a national identity to begin with, so this wasn't altogether surprising.
But finally acknowledging this fact felt...strange.
I'm not one of those people who hates Western culture and feels the need to escape. My experience with Canadian girls have been overwhelming positive. I appreciate my country and the people, and I know I could be happy living there full time.
It's just that I'd rather live elsewhere, particularly Latin America. It wasn't dissatisfaction with Canada that drove me down here - it was raw attraction. I've always had a genuine interest in Latin American countries and cultures. I feel more engaged with life here. It feels good waking up in a country that has a culture and history that fascinates you. It turns your sights, tastes, sounds, smells and situations into learning experiences.
For as long as travelling and living in Latin America is an option, and as long as I'm still enjoying it, that's the road I want to stay on.
It's really that simple for me.
(That's not to say I won't tire of it someday...luckily, I have a European passport to fall back on!)
What's Next For Vance & My Latin Life?
So, what's next?
First and foremost, I'm going to start writing a lot more. Despite the fact this site is small, I still receive 3 or 4 emails a week from people thanking me for helping them or asking for advice. It's an incredible feeling to know that people are getting value from the things I write. I want to grow the site and reach as many people as possible.
In terms of work, admittedly things are a bit questionable. I saved a few thousand in Canada and I still have income from my contract jobs as well as this website, but at the moment it looks as though I'll only earn a total of about $1800 this month. I tried playing around with earning money from niche sites awhile ago but it didn't take - the passion wasn't there. And the thought of earning my keep from a bunch of websites has never appealed to me.
But I do have an idea in the works.
Next week I'll be launching another site about Latin America. That one will be more about navigating the loopholes of immigration, taxation, visas, apartment rentals/purchases, starting a business, language learning etc in various Latin American countries. Basically the things people will need to know if they want to move to Latin America or do business there.
(Despite the fact that this site is primarily about galavanting around, being naughty and hooking-up with various types of Latinas, I do know a bit about the stuff mentioned above and, more importantly, know some people who can help me out).
Since Latin America is one of only a handful of things I know better than the average person, and see a potential to become an authority on it in some sort of capacity, I decided to focus my future money-making endeavours there.
Will I step on my dick?
But fucking up is always an integral part of the process; if all else fails I'll become a journalist 😂.
Where will I live in Latin America?
I've also thought a bit about that.
Basically, I have three ideas on the table for how to split up the next few years:
...and the third, craziest option of all
(for anyone who saw this and thought it was a joke😉)
...but in all seriousness, I was in touch with a guy living in Paraguay through the site and he made its wild west/contraband vibe seem really interesting. Two books later and a virtual tinder trip to Asuncion and, well, let's just say my interest was very piqued. Only thing keeping me away is the allegedly shitty Internet.
Where Am I Now?
Time for the big reveal. I'm writing to you now from a small one-bedroom in the heart of Miraflores.
Yes, I know, I know. I know what you're thinking: Why the fuck would you choose Lima, Peru?
Well, I want these few months to be productive. This will sound silly, but because there aren't too many hot girls in Lima I don't feel like I'm missing out by not going out and chasing pussy every night. And if I want it, it's easy enough to get. Also, the food and cocktails are top-notch, the weather is perfect right now and it's reasonably safe - I don't have to think twice about carrying my computer around if I want to work in a cafe. It's also because I have a bit of an awkward time frame. These days, when I pick a city I do so with a plan to stay for at least 6 months. Since I have to be back for my brother's wedding in a few months, I decided to get to know Lima during this time, figuring that I probably won't be back again for awhile (if ever). I plan to do stints in a number of different Latin American cities - this was the perfect timeframe to knock Lima off of that list.
Anyhow, if you're in the city hit me up and we'll grab a drink. I may be taking it a bit easier these days but I'm always up for a night out if a reader is in town.
That's basically what I'm up to for 2017 and beyond. No doubt things remain a bit murky and, as we all know, plans can and will change. But I'm feeling pretty good about things right now.
Thanks for listening,
P.S. In case you missed it earlier, big shout out to This Is Trouble, Red Pill Reviews and Nomadic Hustle, all of who helped me a bunch in 2016. Read these guys if you're looking to live life on your own terms. They won't lead you astray.