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moving to a country with a low cost of living
Thread poster: vieleFragen
vieleFragen
Local time: 17:40
English
Oct 3, 2007

Im not a translator, yet, but one of the things Ive asked myself before: Wouldn't it be possible for any freelance translator who say speaks Spanish..move to a south american country with a very low cost of living and still get paid the same hourly rates?

Or is there a problem with that as sometimes you have to be near your client's location?

Wouldnt the average freelance translator's salary be actually a very, very good one (compared to the cost of living)?

Do most people not do anything like that because of family/friends and not wanting to leave their country?


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dkalinic
Local time: 17:40
Croatian to German
+ ...
Depends on how you define "low costs of living" Oct 3, 2007

vieleFragen wrote:

Im not a translator, yet, but one of the things Ive asked myself before: Wouldn't it be possible for any freelance translator who say speaks Spanish..move to a south american country with a very low cost of living and still get paid the same hourly rates?

Or is there a problem with that as sometimes you have to be near your client's location?

Wouldnt the average freelance translator's salary be actually a very, very good one (compared to the cost of living)?

Do most people not do anything like that because of family/friends and not wanting to leave their country?


It depends on how you define low costs of living. Croatia is considered a country of low costs of living by some standards, but it actually isn't. Costs of living here are very high.

With best regards,
Davor


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Yaotl Altan  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 10:40
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Venezuela Oct 3, 2007

Everytime I visit my family in Venezuela from December to January I take the laptop so I can keep translating for my clients. It's cheaper than Mexico. I can extend that situation for 3 or 4 months, no more.

Some other translators do the same working for Germany or England and living some months in Mexico.

True. Many freelance translators have a relatively high income and living standards unless they spend a lot.

Yes. Some other translators I know are reluctant to immigrate, legally indeed, to Europe because they prefer the Mexican way of life. "Why should I go to Switzerland? Every problem is already solved there!" Mamma mia!!!! Some others are too close to their family or simply have not the chance to immigrate.

Davor: How high are costs of living in Northwestern Croatia, near Trieste, Italy?

have a nice day!

[Modificato alle 2007-10-03 16:15]


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 18:40
Turkish to English
+ ...
Residence and work permits Oct 3, 2007

Unfortunately things aren't quite that simple as you need residence permits and work permits to go and set up in another country. I have never looked into South America, but I have researched into the possibilities of operating as a freelance translator from various low-cost countries and there are always restrictions on foreigners moving in and setting up businesses - usually you have to import a considerable amount of capital, employ a quota of local staff etc. This is all very understandable - no country wishes to attract foreign residents out of altruistic motives alone.

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Ms.Straus  Identity Verified
Slovenia
Local time: 17:40
Member (2007)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
Clients might expect lower rates Oct 3, 2007

If it really all comes down to money matters, meaning there aren't any other factors luring you abroad, you should only move to a country with lower costs of living if your base of regular clients is large enough for you to make a nice living.

If a significant portion of your income depends on other than regular clients, you might experience one nasty consequence of moving to a 'cheaper' country - new clients will expect you to offer rates similar to that of your new fellow citizens.

In short: don't move if your client base isn't large enough.


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xxxLatin_Hellas
United States
Local time: 17:40
Italian to English
+ ...
Depends on customer base ... and family ties Oct 3, 2007

As Eva concludes, it depends on your customer base. If you have a close enough relationship with enough customers, then you may be able to do it with no interruption of work flow.

As for moving to a South American country from the Europe or US, for example, normally one would not do it without some kind of family ties, but of course there are thousands of exceptions.

Nevertheless, generally speaking, you can do it if you have a solid customer base in your region of origin and you have some kind of family ties in a target low-cost country.


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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 11:40
English to Spanish
Agree Oct 3, 2007

Davor Kalinic wrote:

It depends on how you define low costs of living. Croatia is considered a country of low costs of living by some standards, but it actually isn't. Costs of living here are very high.



People also tend to be grossly mislead as to what the "low cost of living" in South American countries actually means [edit: SA is not one big country and costs between different countries in the continent vary greatly].


Eva is also right:

new clients will expect you to offer rates similar to that of your new fellow citizens.


If I were to make an assumption based on the tempting rates that many (formerly potential) clients expect me to charge, I would probably think that Chile's inhabitants have lost that nasty little habit of, say, eating or sleeping under a roof.

Greetings

[Edited at 2007-10-03 16:22]


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Cristina Heraud-van Tol  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 10:40
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes, you are right Oct 3, 2007

I moved from The Netherlands to Peru, South America because I am of Peruvian origin. I had some clients in Holland to whom I charged in euros and when I told them I was moving here, they still wanted to continue working with me and they didn't suggest lowering my prices, which is great!

In Peru you live like a prince/princess if you earn US$1000 per month and like a complete king/queen with anything close to US$2000 (luxurious apartment with golf or beach view, member of a private club, private school for children, nice car, trips, etc., etc.). People who can translate into good Spanish are not only the ones who live in Spain; in the same way, good French translators can be found in France as well as in Ivory Coast. And customers worldwide soon realise this.

Now I have clients from several countries, including the US and Canada, and even though they are paying me a bit less than in their countries, still they pay twice or triple than Peruvian clients, so I can make a very good living here.


[Edited at 2007-10-04 03:48]


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xxxLatin_Hellas
United States
Local time: 17:40
Italian to English
+ ...
Comparative Expenses Oct 3, 2007

My understanding is that Chile is one of the most expensive countries in South America.

My own experience in another South American country is that basics such as housing, food, fuel, utilities, transport, and medical care are relatively cheap compared to US/Europe (around 1/7 in some cases) - though it should be pointed out that the items on this list, except for maybe food, are quite expensive in relation to local incomes - while imported manufactures in general are about 10% more expensive and the range of products readily available is much narrower.

I can well imagine that experiences will differ from country to country and within an individual country.

Anyway, hope this helps.

[Edited at 2007-10-03 16:06]


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Jan Sundström  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 17:40
English to Swedish
+ ...
Reasons to relocate Oct 3, 2007

vieleFragen wrote:
...move to a south american country with a very low cost of living and still get paid the same hourly rates?

Or is there a problem with that as sometimes you have to be near your client's location?

Wouldnt the average freelance translator's salary be actually a very, very good one (compared to the cost of living)?

Do most people not do anything like that because of family/friends and not wanting to leave their country?


Sure, from an agency point of view, location doesn't matter in most cases.
But there are a few exceptions:
- Some project managers feel uncomfortable if you're in a faraway timezone, ie can't be contacted by telephone if an urgent problem has to be solved. You have to explicitly declare that it's OK for the client to call in the middle of the night.

- Project managers might also be suspicious to perceived poor infrastructure in "3rd world countries". Again, you have to convince them that your internet and phone line is OK; and that you won't run into trouble.

- For short "over-the-day" projects, it's a disadvantage if you have different working hours. An agency might have the routine to always send out the job in the morning, and expect (partial) delivery the same day by 5pm.

- Projects where issues or term questions often arise might be unsuitable, because of the time lag. Projects with frequent interaction with reviewer or other third parties might also suffer from the same time lag.

- Some types of projects require that you're in touch with slang, trends and modern expressions. If you've lived long overseas, you might be out of touch, and disqualified from marketing/PR translation for that reason.

The reason why many translators stay put (apart from the above) is probably other tradeoffs in lifestyle:
- Inferior housing/food/shopping/other consumption
- Lack of pension funds/unstable currency/export restrictions/other financial disadvantages
- Inferior personal security/healthcare/political freedom/environment and traffic congestion
- Less job opportunities for spouse/childcare/schooling

Taking all these factors into consideration, there's no free lunch really, depending on your willingness to adapt and family situation.

Take a look at these rankings!
Mercer 2007 (top 50 + summary):
http://www.mercer.com/pressrelease/details.jhtml/dynamic/idContent/1268475

Mercer 2007 Quality of living (top 50 + summary):
http://www.mercer.com/referencecontent.jhtml?idContent=1128060

Economist 2007 (top 132):
http://shanghaiist.com/2007/03/08/hey_we_are_chea.php

UBS 2006 (top 71):
http://www.citymayors.com/economics/expensive_cities2.html

Mercer 2005 (top 144):
http://novia.com.sg/forums/index.php?showtopic=10626

Budget Travel (top 94):
http://gobudgettravel.com/budget-travel-destinations/11

Places that features solidly on all of the cheapo lists include:
Asunción Paraguay
Bangalore India
Ho Chi Minh Vietnam
Karachi Pakistan
Kathmandu Nepal
Manila Philippines
Montevideo Uruguay
New Delhi India
Phnom Penh Cambodia
Quito Ecuador
Tehran Iran

If you look at the lists of lowest cost cities, you'll find that the are usually the opposite to the top list for "highest quality of living".

Still, I know several western translators who have relocated to Thailand, for instance. At the moment, it's a tempting mixture of friendly and modern society, decent infrastructure, low cost of living and good flight connections back to Europe.

So once you've done your homework, go ahead and make the big move!

/Jan


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Nicolas Coyer  Identity Verified
Colombia
Local time: 10:40
Spanish to French
+ ...
relative advantage Oct 3, 2007

I moved to Colombia bc of (extended) family ties. I thought I would live like a prince, which is not completely true. I acknowledge I do live a lot better than I did in the US (or France) with the same amount of money, but still, I am living in the capital city, which makes the difference a lot smaller.
Plus, Colombia has a lot of citizens living around the world sending back money to their family or investing in their country, which has a dual effect (negative, in my case) on the dollar exchange rate and on prices.
Housing prices are each day coming closer to what they are in the US. Car prices are outrageous (sometimes almost double what you see in the US). The same is true for gasoline prices, being Colombia an oil producer.
Middle class families (like mine) usually enroll their kids in private schools (because it really makes a difference), which adds to the total bill.
Last but not least, tariffs are stiff on some imported goods (for instance, consumer electronics).
That is why I am charging my clients the same price I would charge in France or in the US.

[Modifié le 2007-10-03 16:29]

[Modifié le 2007-10-03 16:30]


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
not necessarily cheaper Oct 3, 2007

I'm considering moving from the United States to Guadalajara, Mexico, where my daughter with dual citizenship lives.

One financial drawback that I've discovered in researching this possibility is that it will cost me as much to rent a very small, mediocre house in the outskirts of Guadalajara (about $650) as it currently costs me for my mortgage, house insurance, and land taxes combined ($649) for the wonderful house I now live in in the States.

Another drawback: The car I own (a Subaru) probably can't be repaired in Guadalajara, so I'll need to sell it and get something else.

When it comes time to replace the computer, that will also be more costly than it would be if I lived in the states.

The one financial motivator that I have is health care, which will be cheaper for me because I can enroll in Mexico's socialized medicine program through my daughter.

If it weren't for that, and because I want to be near her and her family, I probably would decide that it wasn't worth the move...


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:40
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Sometimes things are not what they seem... Oct 3, 2007

Yes, you can move to another country and still get the same rates, since most work is done via e-mail. For instance, at the moment I live in Brazil but work for a company in Europe that pays more than twice the Brazilian rates. I have never found a reason to have to be near a client's location, by the way, because of e-mail, Skype, IM, etc.

However, since living here, I have discovered that the cost of living is anything but low...everything here is expensive, not just electronics as some people think. Food, clothing and housing are all expensive. So, before you actually move to, for instance, a South American country, it would be good to check up on how expensive things actually are.


Good luck in any case!

Amy


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Anjo Sterringa  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:40
Member (2003)
English to Dutch
+ ...
But the views.... Oct 3, 2007

I moved to a slightly remote part of Spain not because of the low costs of living but because of the views, the surroundings, the climate (YES some people actually love the Costa Verde after spending years in Catalonia and the Balearics) ....

The fantastic thing about translating is that you do not have to commute to a city or an office every day. It does not really matter where you live in this day and age. Well, unless you really need to keep up with the latest buzz words but in technical and legal translations that is hardly the case.

So I live in an area where there is not a lot of work and most of my "vecinos" are pensioners - and I absolutely love it. Ah, did I mention the dogs, the cats and the donkeys?


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TwArg  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:40
English to Spanish
Argentina - all the advantages at minimal cost Oct 3, 2007

Come to Argentina!
You can get a pretty good bilingual secretary for U$D 350 a month, full time.
Rent a small apartment for 150, go out for dinner for 2 with 10 bucks, and much more...


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