Five Winter Location Independent Destinations

Let’s face it, winter will soon be upon us, and it’s already getting cold. Or at least it is here in Portland.  While personally I’m pretty pumped to get some ski days in this year, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to be a bit of a Snowbird here in the next few months and try and spend a little time some place warm.

Part of the beauty of location independence is being able to leave the cold and rain behind whenever it becomes too much and go some place warmer, and more importantly, cheaper.  For those of you who are looking for a good place to sit on a beach and get some work done in the process,  here are five of my favorite winter location independent destinations.

1) Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand. This was my destination of choice for the winter of 2010.  I spent a good portion of last January here, and I gotta say, there aren’t many better destinations to be location independent in the world, just ask Cody Mckibben and Brooke Ferguson who are currently making Ao Nang their home.  Reliable internet is relatively easy to find, the outdoor activities are second to none, and the place is really cheap as far as beach towns go.  You also have unparalleled access to other world class destinations like Railay, Phi Phi, and Phuket.

Viewpoint of Railay Beach

2) Puerto Galera, Philippines. This is probably the most remote location independent location on the list, but it may very well represent the best opportunity out there right now for those of you looking for a little adventure.  I was in Puerto Galera back in May with Dan Andrews, and it’s not only beautiful, but has the perfect setup for those who want the true tropical island feel.

The guys over at Badladz Dive Resort have put together a hell of deal for entrepreneurs who want to spend some time there.  For $1,000 a month, you get a room, two meals a day, all the coffee you want, wifi, AND a free open water dive course.  I won’t lie, I’m seriously considering spending a month out there early next year.  It’s exotic, has a small community of entrepreneurs already there, and has some of the best diving in the world.  What’s not to love?

Life in Puerto Galera Philippines

The Office in Puerto Galera

3) Bali, Indonesia. Despite what modern media may have you believe, Bali can be cheap.  Really cheap.  Just a month after Puerto Galera, I was able to spend some time down in Bali, and I gotta say, the place lives up to its reputation as the ultimate island destination.  It doesn’t matter what you want, total seclusion, party scene, beach front living, or a mountain retreat – Bali has something for you.  I had no problems finding decent wifi in both Kuta and Ubud.  So if you’re looking for a destination with a little bit of everything,  I can’t recommend Bali highly enough.

View of Ubud from the Teba Guest house

View from Teba Guest House in Ubud, Bali

4) Utila, Honduras. This is another destination I’m thinking of heading to early next year – and the only place on the list I haven’t been.  Utila is a very small island off the coast of Honduras near Roatan that’s known very well known as being one of the cheapest places to scuba dive in the world.  Relatively speaking, living expenses are pretty cheap, and the scenery is gorgeous.  Utila can be a bit of a pain to get to, but now with Continental becoming part of Star Alliance, it’s much easier to get close using frequent flyer miles should you happen to be a member of Star Alliance.  I’ve heard of individual dives being as cheap as 10 bucks with open water certification being a mere 200 bucks.

Sunset on the island of Utila of the coast of Honduras HDR

Utila, Honduras HDR Photo by Steve Ogle

5) Buzios, Brazil. Of all the places I’ve been in my life, Buzios definitely ranks pretty high on the list.  A short 2 hour bus ride from Rio de Janeiro, Buzios is everything a beach town should be.  It has a wildly diverse range of beaches, from the party scene to the desolate, and the weather is amazing.  If you’re lucky enough to be there over carnival in February, you can count on a bunch of crazy parties and a LOT more people.  During a normal time period though, there are few places I’d rather be than hanging out in Buzios.  It’s also known as the St. Tropez of South America – but without the St. Tropez prices.  This place isn’t going to be quite as inexpensive as some of these other destinations, but if you’re used to US prices, this will be a welcome break.

Buzios, Brazil near Rio de Janeiro

One of the many beaches in Buzios

So there you go, whether you’re location independent or merely looking for a little winter getaway, any of these places are guaranteed to impress.

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll probably really enjoy my new ecourse teaching you exactly how to live the lifestyle I mentioned in this post.  Check it out over in the sidebar – best of all, it’s free!  You can also check out our Twitter and Facebook page.

Alex November 22, 2010 at 6:39 am

Looking good Sean! Not sure I’ll make it away this winter, but hopefully next! Enjoy PDX

Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World November 22, 2010 at 9:25 am

Ao Nang… those cliffs look inviting. Do you know if there’s any rock climbing in the area?

Sean November 22, 2010 at 10:17 am

@Alex Yeah I’m still torn between the ski bum and island lifestyle – hoping for a little of both this year.

@Jill Oh, there’s rock climbing. Some of the best in the world about a 10 minute boat ride away on Ao Nang. See the following photo:

Mark Powers November 22, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Way to add another four must-see destinations to my list.
Damnit, Sean . . .

Sean November 22, 2010 at 12:58 pm

@Mark Glad I could help 🙂

Karen November 22, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Well, Sean, we just had our first major snowstorm last week so winter is definitely here (Prairies in Canada).

This is great timing because I was just thinking this morning that I am already dreading the first week in January and the entire month of February – which are the coldest parts of winter.

It would be fabulous to get away to any of these places! I can imagine myself in any one of those pictures 🙂

Jason Ford November 22, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Sean, found you through a comment on AONC. You talk about entrepreneurs living in the Philippines for $1,000 a month and growing their business. What types of businesses are these folks working on? Are they building blogs, affiliate sales, or something else? Just curious.

John DeVries November 22, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Oh you’ve got me thinking now.

I’ll have to revisit this post in a week or two when we’re covered in snow, to remind myself that eventually those locations will be my winters!

After listening to the lifestyle business podcast (check that out everyone) where Dan talks about his and your experiences there, I’m dying to check it out.

Can’t wait until this is my reality. I know I’ll get there. Thanks for all your help Sean.

Dan November 22, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Ohhh love this post!

Mars Dorian November 22, 2010 at 8:11 pm

oh man,

you are making me jealous. This winter is going to be nasty-cold Berlin for me ;(

Adam Mayfield November 23, 2010 at 11:19 am

They all look much better than the 18 degrees F I see out my window right now! 🙂

Peter Zink November 23, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Sean, really inspiring and motivational stuff. I found your blog about a week ago through a comment on Foolish Adventure. I have a little time left in my Army commitment but I’ve resolved to strike it out on my own after that. I can’t wait to check out Thailand someday. I’m a very active sailor, so if you find yourself in the Savannah, GA area I’ll be more than happy to show you the ropes (or in nautical terms, lines). I hope to sail permanently while generating income online someday. Looking forward to talking to you more as I start my journey.

James Shannon November 23, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Ski bum lifestyle is what I lived last year in the Canadian Rockies (in Jasper, Alberta you can ski on deserted slopes during the week, crossing your own tracks, as it is off the international ski tourism beaten track) … this year, it’s SE Asia, my first time overseas.

Spent 6 days in BKK, and I have been in Koh Chang for 5 days … you gotta check this place out, only 5,000 permanent residents, underpopulated/deserted beaches, all manner of watersports available, dramatic mountains rising almost straight from the ocean to ~2,300 feet above sea level!

Would be great to cross paths with you at some point this “winter”, let’s keep in touch!

Bill November 24, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Nice list. I hope to see them all one day.

I must say that I really like PDX – even with (maybe because of) the rain and cold. Mom and sis live around there and I always enjoy visiting.

In the meantime come on down to South Texas. It is not quite as exotic as your list, but at least you can play golf all winter.

Audrey November 24, 2010 at 11:54 pm

We’re in Thailand now as an escape from winter and are thinking to go to the Gulf Side to do some work the next couple of months. Any suggestions for a good beach with reliable interent and still affordable? I know, I’m asking for a lot here!

Dan and I spent several weeks on Utila last year working on a website design project. Our apartment had wifi, but it was quite slow during the day. The situation may have improved. But, it’s a really great place for diving, eating seafood and just relaxing.

Sean November 25, 2010 at 10:17 am

@Audrey On the gulf side my favorite spot was Ko Tao. The internet was a little sketchy at times but there was a coffee shop we used to always work at that at pretty reliable internet. Diving there is super cheap, and generally the island is way more chill than Koh Samui and way less expensive than Koh Samui. Let me know if you want to chat more about specific destinations!

Financial Samurai November 28, 2010 at 10:44 am

All great places! I just spent 2 weeks being “location independent” in Mexico and it was awesome!

I only have 6 weeks of vacation a year unlike you guys, but I try and spend at least 2 weeks abroad every year visiting a new country. I’ve got to say though, work makes vacation more fun!

Troy November 30, 2010 at 4:58 pm

This is just what I needed. Anyone know the cheapest way to get to Utila from the states? Bus from Tegucigalpa?

Sean November 30, 2010 at 9:27 pm

@Troy Good question, I know you can get flights that route Houston –> San Pedro Sula –> Roatan and I believe you can get puddle jumpers from SPS that go straight to Utila – otherwise a ferry from one of the coastal towns near SPS or direct from Roatan. I need to look into it a little more, but I did find PDX to Utila for around $670 today…

George December 1, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Hey, really great blog post… I’ve enjoyed reading through your blog because of the great style and energy.

I actually work for the CheapOair travel blog. If you’re interested, we would love to have you on as a guest blogger. Please send me an e-mail: gchristodoulou(at)cheapoair(dot)com, and I can give you more information. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Kuno December 2, 2010 at 1:55 am

I’ll be in Thailand climbing late December with a few friends. See you there?

Natalie - TT Blog December 14, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Wow, the picture of Utila looks fantastic. Desperate to get away this winter but have to get the pennies in so I can go away in the summer.

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