Lifestyle Design: My Exile Lifestyle : Under30CEO Lifestyle Design: My Exile Lifestyle : Under30CEO
Join the Under30CEO Community We deliver tips, tools and inspiration for your business. Daily to your inbox.

Lifestyle Design: My Exile Lifestyle

| October 8, 2009 | 31 Comments

exile lifestyleTwo months ago I was living in a townhouse on the West side of Los Angeles, driving my CR-V to and from parties and other social events and running my sustainable design studio from my home office. This morning I woke up in my apartment in the Recoleta district of Buenos Aires, threw on one each of the five shirts and three pairs of jeans that I own and walked a block down the street to snag a cup of maté and a few facturas (smallish, sweet croissants) before taking a few hours to wander around, explore the local shops and museums and recover from the all-night party I went to a few days previous.

In a few months I will be exploring all over again, enjoying a different combination of foods and drinks for breakfast, and very likely recovering from a completely different kind of party, because in a few months I will be in Albania. Or Thailand. Or New Zealand. Wherever my readership decides to send me is where I’ll be headed, spending my time learning about the local cultures and languages as I work to further optimize my businesses for my lifestyle in exile.

My Motivation

I love my work, so developing a new business is always fun for me. I started my first one back when I was 19, and though it wasn’t a huge success, I learned a lot and had a blast. Starting up Exile Lifestyle has been even more fulfilling, however, as it has allowed me to take my passion for learning and combine it with my passion for design and consulting to create a completely novel business model. There’s something incredibly exciting about casting off all the trappings of your life – your habits and possessions and home and sense of place – in order to take on completely new, more dynamic ones.

Knowing that I only have a short time in each place instills a sense of urgency that I didn’t have living in LA. There, I could take the time to slowly ease my way into new circles and situations and businesses and skills. Living here in Buenos Aires, I feel an almost frantic need to create create create! I want to meet new people while I can and bull my way through obstacles! It’s an invigorating feeling, and one that I’m already hooked on.

My Money

At the moment my main revenue stream comes from my studio, Colin Is My Name (I’m building and designing websites, doing branding work, and consulting on a variety of topics; all of which have been easy manage via Skype and email). This brings in plenty of money, but requires a lot more direct involvement from me than the other businesses I’m building.

I’m working on a handful of revenue models for Exile Lifestyle right now, including sponsorships and longer-term streams of income rather than the traditional ad-based methods. I’m also considering what other kinds of media I can create and market through the brand, including ebooks (I’ve already created a free one on personal branding), video content and hopefully some kind of print- and ebook-deal through a publisher.

More and more I’m thinking that automation of certain aspects of my work will be key to achieving my goals while continuing to reduce the number of hours I work every month. Because what I do is so personality-based, though, a lot of the advice on out-sourcing that’s already available doesn’t work very well for me.

My Freedom

There is a freedom of mobility that owning very little and streamlining your business affords you. Just knowing that I could pack up everything I own in 10 minutes and be out the door and on my way to the airport, ready to fly anywhere in the world is a great feeling. I thrive on change, and knowing that I’m not anchored to one spot by anything makes me feel like I can take more risks and really put everything on the line. It’s like vacationing every place you go: you don’t have very much to lose if you make an ass of yourself.

My Advice

I built my business and evolved it to the point where I can run it from anywhere by following some simple tenets which apply across all industries and professions:

  1. Do what you love: I would design things and give advice every day, even if I wasn’t getting paid for it. If you can’t say the same, it’s time to rethink your lifestyle. You only get one time around, so every second you spend in a situation that makes you unhappy is a second wasted. Additionally, you do better work and provide better value if you’re excited about the good/service/idea you sell. Everyone benefits if you keep this in mind.
  2. Streamline: This will mean different things to different people, but for me it involved making use of the 80/20 Principal in order to reduce the time-intensive, low-value projects and activities from my life in order to make room for more of the opposite. By handing lower-paying clients off to other designers and reducing the amount of time I spent doing things I didn’t enjoy (finances, for example, are very easy to automate), I was able to reduce my workweek from 60-80 hours down to about 10. Reducing the amount of ‘stuff’ you own can also have some serious benefits, though they are more mental and harder to quantify.
  3. Pay it forward: I can’t tell you how many times a bad situation has just worked out because of something nice that I did for a client or friend or stranger. Take the time to be a good, helpful, friendly person and drastic changes to your lifestyle will go much more smoothly.
  4. Avoid making enemies: Invariably at some point you will offend someone. If the rift is permanent, don’t do anything to perpetuate the problem. In general, the fewer enemies you have, the less time you have to spend looking over your shoulder and the more time and energy you can focus on the things that matter.
  5. Plan for the worst, expect the best: I’m not naturally an optimist, but I have reason to assume things will go well. I plan for just about everything and if something happens that I haven’t planned for I know I’ll be able to figure out a solution, largely because I enthusiastically practice tenet #6.
  6. Seek out knowledge: Part of my lifestyle goal is to have the ability to learn whatever I want whenever I want. Reclaiming so much time every week has allowed me to take courses I didn’t have time for when I was in college, drown myself in online tutorials and read six or seven books per month on average. These are things I enjoy, but they are also an investment, allowing me to expand the scope of my businesses, solidify my position as an expert in several fields, and be prepared for unexpected eventualities.
  7. Be social: Most of my clients come to me via recommendations from other clients, but I’ve found the most effective way to market myself is by going out and talking to people in real life and taking part in discussions online. Being a good conversationalist is key, and talking to people about what is important to them is a great way to make friends and allies (you’ll also learn a lot about what they do, and if there’s an opportunity to work together it will likely come up). Keep your conversations organic both online and offline, build relationships by helping others solve their problems, and have fun.

My Conclusion

A lifestyle in exile will not be right for everyone, but knowing that the opportunity exists should be freeing. Take the time to refine your business and streamline your processes and you will be able to take more risks. At that point if something goes wrong, you can always hop the next flight to Buenos Aires, fully confident that your life and business will continue to function and thrive.

Colin Wright is a 24-year-old sustainable designer, entrepreneur and world traveler who is currently living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Find out more about him at or follow him on Twitter @colinismyname.

Opt In Image
Awesome People + Awesome Places
Travel around the world while making new friends

Under30Experiences curates awesome experiences around the world for young travelers.

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Startup Advice

  • Diggy –

    Heya Colin!

    Really cool post explaing what you do and how you live! I had no idea! It sounds fantastic :)

    Good luck with everything man!

  • Jeffrey Tang

    Love it, Colin. I have to disagree just a little bit with “Avoid making enemies.” I understand where you're coming from, and I'm not saying we should go forth and make enemies, but in this crazy, wonderful, messed-up world of ours, people who don't make enemies probably don't make a difference either. Avoid making unnecessary enemies, sure, but that's about as far as caution goes, I think.

    By the way, love your blog. Got a new subscriber :)

  • Colin Wright

    Thanks Diggy!

  • Colin Wright

    You make a very good point, Jeffrey, and maybe my opinion about it as time goes on, but at this point I do try my best to keep lines of communication open, especially with dissenters, so that if there is a disagreement, misunderstanding, etc, I can try and sort it out without having someone silently hating me from a distance!

    There is a certain feeling that if you're not offending someone (and haven't been in prison at some point), then you aren't trying hard enough, though, so maybe I should get cracking :)

    Thanks for the kind words! Very happy to have you!

  • kristinnorris

    Fabulous post, Colin! I was already stalking you online, but I'm sure you've managed to gain at least a couple more stalkers through this post. And now we all know where you live, so that's also exciting. Thanks :)

    In all relative seriousness, though, keep that momentum going and please keep letting us know where the rocks in the path are.

  • jetsetcitizen

    Very cool Colin.

    It is great to hear more about your story. I keep saying that we live in amazing times. Opportunities are endless for challenging and enriching careers. Congrats on reaching your goals so young.

  • sbriansmith

    Awesome story, Colin – I love your blog too. I just started up a new website to help people achieve location independence, like yourself. It's like HARO or HAEO, but for people who want to achieve location independence –

  • Jared O'Toole

    Awesome story Colin. I think your really living the dream life that so many people want but just are to scared to take the leap.

    The streamline tip is so great. Focus on the things that are really making you money and find ways to delegate the other smaller and not so fun off. This ends up saving so much time and stress so a lifestyle like yours can be achieved. Even if you can't do this right from the start keep the idea of 80/20 in the back of your head as a goal to work towards.

  • Jared O'Toole

    Good point Jeffery. I agree that if your really making big moves you will end up having haters. Its just important to try and address them and see if you can help and if they are just there to hate let them be.

    We all know that big guns like bill gates, garyvee, and so many others have tons of haters but its inevitable as you grow and expand.

  • Colin Wright

    Thanks Kristin!

    Haha, stalking is the sincerest form of flattery(?)!

    I'll do my best to keep everyone updated and pass on what information I can. I've gotten a whole lot from the blogging community, so I wouldn't be very gentlemanly of me to not return the favor in kind.

  • Colin Wright

    Thank you sir; it is amazing what we can accomplish if we set our minds to it!

    I was fortunate in a lot of ways, which allowed me to pursue mine now rather than later, but I feel like with the resources we all have available these days, with enough gusto and effort, there's not much that outside of our reach.

  • Colin Wright


    I just checked out your site and signed up for the mailing list. Looking forward to seeing what kind of resources you're making available. Good luck with it!

  • Colin Wright

    Thanks Jared!

    Fear is the biggest hurdle most people seem to have when I talk to them about the project. Most people have SOMETHING they'd rather be doing and someplace they'd rather be, but the forces of habit are very strong, and in the vast majority of cases being comfortable trumps being happy because of the effort and risk required to achieve the latter.

    There are little things people can do to reduce the risk, and streamlining is one of them. As you said, keeping it in the back of your mind, even if you aren't actively pursuing a new lifestyle, can only be beneficial.

  • sbriansmith

    Awesome. I've been getting a good response. We'll see what it is that LIP's out there need!

  • rumfordaquatics

    Awesome lifestyle to say the least. Nice site as well, I'll be following your blog!

    I'm not sure if you've written a blog post on what you have in your luggage but it would be interesting to see what you think are the essentials, especially since I've been trying to figure this out as well.


  • Colin Wright

    Hey Andrew-

    Thanks for the kind words! I've actually been thinking about writing a post about what I have with my (it's really very, very little), and I think this was the encouragement I needed to knock that sucker out! Think some photos of the appropriate items would help, or do you think more or a list-format would better serve the purpose?

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Lifestyle Design: My Exile Lifestyle | Under30CEO --

  • Jen

    Really inspiring Colin! it's so great to hear what you are up to and the courage you have to follow a different path. Love the list too, some great practical tools here! I steer clear of making enemies as much as possible, but have realised, sometimes people just don't like you however hard you try! I agree, if you keep the lines of communication open, you are doing your part.

  • Greg Rollett


    Just like many of the others, I knew you from Twitter but not your whole story. I wish you nothing but luck and keep sharing your experiences and ideas.

  • ryantbrowne

    You're the “James Bond of Lifestyle Design” – yes, you can steal it… ;-)

    Mad props for implementing the Ferriss Method; I can't wait to get to the point where I too can jet to Buenos Aires, et al on a whim. Happy travel is light travel.

    Keep up the good work, and maybe send us back some 'facturas'…please? Hehe.

  • Colin Wright

    Thanks Jen :)

    Yeah, having some 'enemies' is unavoidable, which is really unfortunate because I find that I learn so much from everyone I meet, and that's one person's-worth of information that I'm missing out on (though I suppose I still learn something from the enemy-experience, though it's not necessarily my preferred kind of lesson!).

  • Colin Wright

    Thanks so much, Greg! I'm a big fan of your blog, so that means a lot!

  • Colin Wright

    Haha, I just might!

    I definitely learned a lot from Ferriss, though more than anything (like with many other location independent lifestyle designers) he provided me with a lot more in the way of inspiration than anything. I definitely don't do much the same way he does, but after reading his book I definitely got a better sense that it WAS possible and that opened up a whole new range of possibilities for me.

    Drop me a line if you find yourself in the same country and we'll grab some facturas (or whatever the local pastry happens to be)!

  • Jeff Slobotski

    Great post and thanks for sharing this great advice! Would love to connect more at some point in the future…

  • rumfordaquatics

    No problem, I'm liking the blog.

    I think a mix of photos and text would work well so like item: explanation [Picture] and whatnot. Personally I never travel with more than a small LLBean duffle bag or a small suitcase and then a small backpack for my laptop and a travel info and some cliff bars or beef jerky.

    I've been trying to figure out what the bare essentials are, and what others use.

  • Colin Wright

    Thank you sir!

    I'd love to connect; drop me a line and let's start a dialogue!

    colin [at]

  • mikemonty

    I am incredibly jealous of you man… If I could find a way to build a residual income company (of a product or service I believed in) I would build it up big enough to pay rent, buy food, new occasional clothes, and give me extra money for travel and then I would be off like a bullet!

    Personally I love educating myself and feel like lately my passion has begun to shift from my hobby (of yo-yoing) to reading business philosophy books and writing. I know it's a crowded realm but if I could adopt my own version of your lifestyle (funded via that residual income I hear all the books talking about) and go off interviewing successful people everywhere… that would be the life!

    Anyways, thank you for inspiring me! Now I just need to figure out how to implement this…

  • Colin Wright

    Thanks man!

    There's definitely no reason you can't do the same; the resources are all out there, and it's really just a matter of finding something you're passionate about and going balls-to-the-walls (as the kids say) with it and making sure that it's something you can do from anywhere.

    Constantly educating yourself is a good habit to be in, too. You'd be surprised how many really bright people are out there who find themselves in complicated situations they have no idea how to handle simply because they stopped reading, exploring and learning on a regular basis.

    Good luck! Let me know how it turns out!

  • Pete

    Hey Colin,

    that's motivating, I hope I can enjoy such a life soon too. I love traveling around, and if you could even do your business on a trip- great feeling!
    Keep up the good work,

  • Pete

    Hey Colin,

    that's motivating, I hope I can enjoy such a life soon too. I love traveling around, and if you could even do your business on a trip- great feeling!
    Keep up the good work,

  • Pingback: 17 Lessons from 17 Books to Learn From in 2013