Geoarbitrage is short for geographic arbitrage.

A simple search on the internet about geoarbitrage mostly gives results about moving to a place where living costs are significantly lower than your current home.

However, after few years of exploring, I have come to believe that geoarbitrage is more than just living in cheaper countries — it is a way of thinking and creative problem solving.

My "Aha!" Moment

I first heard about the concept of geoarbitrage from The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris when I started my experiment with the nomad lifestyle—I did reduce my living costs by moving to Vietnam, a much cheaper country yet I had a better quality of life, which was quite interesting! Fast forward now, for the past seven years, I have explored Southeast Asia, the Caucasus, and some parts of Europe, and now I'm based in Anatolia and slowly heading to the least explored.

People think I must be super-rich to be jumping from countries to countries — sunbathing in the Mediterranean, enjoying exotic wine and art in Europe, and sipping coconuts in Southeast Asia.

But the truth is that most things are priced differently between places. The trick to arbitrage is knowing what you want and understanding the difference between imaginary borders. Below are a few fun ways to make the most of your money and arbitrage the difference; Some of them are more doable if you are a nomad like me. However, you could still use some of these tricks even if you live in one place.

Leverage the Currency

One simple way to geoarbitrage is to earn a strong currency but spend weaker ones.

For example, I am earning US dollars and Bitcoin while spending mostly Turkish lira, which gives me a great amount of currency leverage and makes my money worth more; Due to the current hyperinflation in Türkiye, $1 can be exchanged for ₺32.37; I still remember that $1 used to be worth about ₺7 when I settled here in 2020. If you want to take things further, the current exchange rate between sats to Turkish lira is 1000 sats to 22.75 Lira, I mostly use this way now.

Türkiye is not the only good place to leverage the currency difference. Imagine if you are making USD or Euro, living in SouthEast Asia, Eastern Europe, or South America are nice options. But you also need to consider what kind of cultural setting you enjoy being in. Otherwise, no amount of money-saving is worth living in a country you do not enjoy!

"Go where you are celebrated - not tolerated."

Tax-Free Shopping

Most people's default shopping mode is to buy EVERYTHING in where they live, but I tend to buy slightly more expensive things when traveling, with the perks of tax refunds or privacy protection.

For example, I bought my Mac and phone from Amsterdam, Netherlands, and saved $335.44 simply by a tax refund. I got the keyboard I needed too. Fun fact:  The Dutch keyboard is almost the same as the American English one.

Tax-free shopping is not rocket science; simply ask the store staff for a tax-free form when paying. Keep the receipts and prepare enough time to get the stamps at customs, ideally before check-in.

Another hack is buying Bitcoin hardware wallets when traveling, I believe it is more private this way too, as you don't need to give out any real address or name. For example, I ordered ledger when I was traveling in Europe; not only is it faster for delivery, but it's also much cheaper since Türkiye has a high import tax. ( however I regretted buying them after I learned how to make my own cold wallet - what a waste of money. )

Digital Migration

I used to use a VPN  for services that weren't available in my location, but I got to test out more arbitrage fun after living in Türkiye.

I learned that most SaaS services price differently to meet local markets, a.k.a. localized SaaS pricing. For example, the chart below shows these services between pricing in Turkey VS pricing in the USA, and I convert them into sats for you to see how much sats you could potentially save monthly simply by switching locations, and this is doable for most people — all you need is a good VPN or local bank account sometimes.

Monthly PriceSpotifyCanvaNetfilxYoutubeExchange Rate
In Turkey₺59,99₺99,99₺119,99₺57,99⚡️1000 = ₺22.75
In USA$10.99$14.99$6.99$13.99⁠⚡️1000= $0.7

You can easily check the pricing difference by switching the VPN location.

Make the most of VPNs! You might be surprised that many websites are blocked in different countries, the internet is not as free as we think; Also, some content is unavailable in some areas due to IP protections, but simply changing the VPN location often solves the problem, and more fun here .

Medical Treatments

Certain medical treatments in some places have become very popular with tourists because of the huge pricing difference between countries. For example, many British people fly to Türkiye to get hair implantation because it is much cheaper than in the UK; Some Middle Eastern women come to Türkiye to get nose jobs; Laser eye surgery is quite popular in Hungary, while many people go to Thailand for orthodontics, South Korea for plastic surgery, etc.

Why pay more when you can pay half or even less but get better quality? All you need is to do some digging to find good services. One basic rule is to stay away from those that target international tourists, I have tried checkups, mold removal, orthodontics, and laser hair removals during my adventure so far.

I enjoyed the checkup when I was living in Penang, Malaysia. It was quite good value for money, nice service and excellent English available too.

As for orthodontics, I compared Thailand, Malaysia, Georgia, and Türkiye during my travels. I chose Türkiye eventually, which cost less than $3k. It was an amazing experience, although I'm not finished with it yet.

As for laser hair removal, I noticed that different cultures see body hair differently. For example, most people do not pay much attention to body hair in Asia generally; thus, hair removal is quite expensive there; While in Türkiye, even men care about maintaining well-groomed eyebrows 👀 so I did laser removal two years ago in Türkiye, which cost less than $300 and had amazing results!

It's really fun exploring and seeing the difference, then figuring out where is the better place to solve specific problems; I know getting treatments abroad could be scary and confusing, but it does not have to be this way.

Remote Hiring

One of the nice things about the pandemic is that more and more people have started to work from home. For employees: Did you ever think of working for companies in higher-paying countries? Or for entrepreneurs: Have you ever considered hiring people from lower-cost countries?

Here were some of the setups I used to build my websites: I was hiring devs from Egypt and Serbia, designers from Armenia. I value skills and experience over degrees or nationalities, and what really matters is knowing how to get things done. But the hardest lesson I've learned is eliminating as much as possible before delegating.

Tip: Upwork is your best friend for reaching talents from different countries. ( However, I stopped using it now - I'm paying sats to the skilled and trusted people I've connected to over these years of testing. )

Value Comes from Scarcity

Let's start with dating.

Dating culture differs a lot in different places, and so do standards of beauty. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and most of us are drawn to exoticness — simply by looking differently, you might already be ahead of the local competition in the dating market.

Did you notice that you get more attention when abroad? Westerners might be asked by people in the street to have their photos when traveling in Asia. This happened to me all the time when I was traveling in Armenia, even though Armenian women are really beautiful! But I was considered special because my looks is scarce there 👀 ; However, I think it is quite superficial when others only like you for how you look, instead of who you are. I think the real hack is to keep improving yourself. Even though your differences can help you stand out at first, but to keep the relationships long-term sustainable and healthy should come from within.

Besides looks, let's talk about skills! An average Westerner in Asia could quickly get a job teaching English, French, or Spanish with a really good pay by local standards; What you think of as common and normal skills might be worth a lot more in other countries due to their local scarcity.

The trick here is knowing that scarcity creates value, and this bring us back to Bitcoin too!

Leveling up the Fun

These are just some samples of geoarbitrage fun in daily life, but maybe you don't care about making the most of your money. But what if geoarbitrage could potentially help you gain more freedom in this unfree world?

Simply by being creative, using your imagination, and doing things differently, the world becomes your playground instead of a cage.⚡️

Stay tuned for more fun!

updated in April 2024