In 2020, Mike Suigunski was in the lockdown among millions of people as the Covid-19 epidemic spread worldwide. But instead of hanging out with roommates or family, Suigunsky was alone in a foreign country, 6,000 miles from home.
Suigunsky planned to visit Georgia, a small country located between Eastern Europe and West Asia, for only 30 days. But when Georgia closed its borders in early March to help stem the spread of the virus, local Missouri residents were forced to expand their location in the country’s capital, Tbilisi.
As Suigunski recalls, however, he quickly fell in love with the old-world attractions of Tbilisi, as well as the culture of good food and the comfort of warm hospitality. Now, Suigunski, 33, living and working in Tbilisi as a nomadic entrepreneur, has made a decision that has helped him “live a higher quality of life for a fraction of the cost,” he told CNBC Make It.
If he had lived in the United States, Suigunski added, “I have a lot more work to do. Now, I’m semi-retired.”
Tragedy, then wandering lust
Suigunsky always dreamed of traveling the world, and before graduating from the University of Missouri in 2011, he found himself in a dilemma: pursue a traditional corporate job or travel to Prague, where he was given the opportunity to lead a team. Students studying abroad.
Then, a month before graduation, Suigunsky’s mother died of breast cancer. “I was devastated,” he said. “I was 22 years old, and I was confused about which way to go… but I knew my mother would want me to follow my dream.” He decided to follow his passion and book a one-way ticket to Europe.
Since then, Suigunski has visited more than 100 countries, living and working in different locales for months or years at a time: he was a travel writer in Korea, an advertising manager in Australia, and a marketing and sales manager in New Zealand. Jobs
Four years ago, Suigunsky decided to monetize his skills in remote work and travel. His business, global career, job board, workshops, coaching and much more is an online resource where people can learn about entrepreneurship as a digital nomad.
“These services are helping inspire other people to take a different journey or start their own global careers,” he said. “I want to help other people become digital migrants faster.”
Living in Georgia is ‘ten times’ cheaper than in the United States
Suigunski’s annual income is between $ 250,000 and $ 275,000 – and thanks to the tax benefits in Georgia, he can keep much more than his income otherwise.
Georgia has a 1% tax rate for individual small business owners, such as Suigunski, and a tax benefit for expatriates in the United States that deducts income up to 2 112,000 from paying taxes.
“Running multiple businesses from Georgia is certainly much easier if I live in the United States and it basically depends on the cost,” he explains. “If I were to try to replicate my same infrastructure in the United States, it would probably be ten times more expensive.”
Under Georgian law, citizens of 98 countries, including the United States, can reside there for a full year without a visa and apply for an extension at the end of the year, just as Swingunski is still living in Georgia.
Her biggest costs are her rent and utilities, which together are about $ 696 per month. Suigunsky lives in a two-bedroom apartment with a private Italian garden that he got through a local realtor. “I fell in love as soon as I saw this place,” he said.
Here is a monthly breakdown of Suigunsky’s expenses (as of February 2022):
Rent and utility: 696
Subscription: $ 16
Health Insurance: $ 42
Travel: $ 338
One aspect of loneliness that Suigunsky learned was that he didn’t like cooking at first – so once he moved to Georgia, he came home six days a week and hired a private chef to prepare meals for him, at a cost of about $ 250 a month.
A private chef may sound like a luxury, but Suigunski says it actually saved him a lot of money. “Without a chef, I would order a lot more meals and takeouts,” he said. “But having a chef allows me to eat healthier and it saves me money and time which I can put into my business instead.”
‘I’m happier living in Tbilisi than anywhere else’
Suigunsky’s favorite part of being a nomadic entrepreneur is that “every day looks different.”
Every morning, Suigunsky likes to have a cup of coffee and read a book outside his garden, then he tries to meditate and exercise quickly before logging in to work.
He usually works from home because this is what makes him “the most productive” but sometimes he goes to a coffee shop or co-worker with friends.
One of the biggest differences between living in Georgia and the United States, Suigunski says, is that Georgians are “much more comfortable.” “A lot of places don’t open until 10am, and in general, Georgians are working to survive, not living for work,” he added.
There is a phrase that describes Georgian hospitality: “A guest is a gift from God.” This is especially true of Suigunski, who notes that people are “very welcoming to foreigners” and that his experience is “absolutely wonderful.”
But living abroad is not as glamorous as it seems on the surface. “It’s not for everyone,” Suigunski said. “There are going to be a lot of different variables that you won’t be able to replicate from your old life in the United States.”
Since Georgia is still a developing country, Suigunski explains, “your electricity or water supply is cut off a little more here than in other locations – it doesn’t happen every day, but it does happen several times a year.”
Although he sometimes feels homeless for his family and friends in the United States, Suigunski says he is “happier living in Tbilisi” than in “anywhere else in the world” and plans to stay in Tbilisi for the foreseeable future.
“Will I live in the United States again? I don’t want to talk nonsense, I love America,” he said. “But so far, I enjoy my life abroad a lot more than living in the United States.”
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