Have you thought of becoming an expat, but don’t know where to start on choosing where to live? Although we strive to give you as much information as possible through our site, Expat Central America, there is nothing like experiencing areas of interest yourself. If you are thinking of becoming an expat in Central America or anywhere else in the world, there are a few ways you can get to know the unique countries which have captured your attention.
Many, who want to work abroad and especially retirees, have taken the traditional routes to explore countries around the world. Outside of tons of internet surfing and magazine reading, vacations and to be more specific, relocation tours have become a splendid way to gain expert advice and see appealing areas.
My wife and I have used these great tools to learn about living abroad and enjoyed ourselves at the same time. If you don’t stay at an all-inclusive resort the entire time, and get out into the public areas, these adventures work well and allow you to cover an extensive area if done right. In fact, I’m sure you will see an article from me on the benefits of this research. For now, I want to give you an alternative, that not only is always cheaper but could provide a much truer learning experience for expats seeking their new home. Volunteering abroad.
Did you know you can travel all over the world and stay in countries short term or long term for little cost outside of your airfare and a little spending money? People do it every day, and the world has become a better place for it.
What type of Volunteering is available?
When thinking of volunteering for learning about a new country, religious organizations come to mind. Most of us are familiar with this type of volunteering and it has rewarded some through this work. There is a tremendous amount of information online about volunteering through churches and other religious groups. Not everyone is interested in this type of volunteering abroad, so what else is out there?
There is a world movement that you may or may not be aware of. Sustainable farming is about living off the land, in a throwback before mechanized corporate farms and using chemicals for fertilization. Most of these farms are in remote areas, although many are close to and inside cities of the world. Many are also off the grid where solar panels and compost sewers are utilized. The good news is, they are everywhere and count on volunteering to run.
Some of the work can be physical as you may weed with a hoe or rake, or maybe you will pick fruit from trees or spreading natural manure for fertilizer. Doesn’t sound like a vacation? Well, it is, and it’s not. I guess it really depends on what you do for a living. Are you stuck in an apartment and craving nature? Have you been driving through a city for years, headed to a job in a factory or office building? If this is the case, you will probably enjoy the stay. And look, people of all ages do this often, so don’t assume this is back-breaking work. For most it is a learning experience and teaching others about sustainable living is part of the curriculum of these farms.
Where Do I Stay?
One of the best things about volunteering on a sustainable farm is that either you will have housing for free, or at a very low cost. You are trading a few hours a day, usually 4 hours or a certain number of days a week in exchange for a base camp to explore the area from. What better reason than to choose this type of trip when volunteering abroad?
A vacation with flights can run $2500 and up. Add in tours and you could end up spending hundreds more. For a volunteer trip to Costa Rica, with airfare for one, we are talking as little as a $300 flight from a few countries and some spending money. I think spending a few hours working on a sustainable farm is well worth the tradeoff.
What Will I Learn?
As we discussed, most sustainable farms also teach their volunteers about sustainable living. Others offer comradery of other volunteers, music, and even yoga. On your time off you will explore the area on your own time and learn the ins and outs of the nearby communities from the farmers themselves. Who else would know more about the area than locals? If you have time, volunteer abroad at multiple places in a few different areas to get a feel for the country.
You Had Me at Sustainable Farming|How do I take part?
There are platforms online which host farmers in need of volunteers around the world. Although, a quick good search for “volunteering abroad”, or “volunteer for sustainable farming” will give you plenty of results, one we found is World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or WWOOF for short. This is not a paid advertisement for them, and we have received no money. They are simply the most extensive place we have found to volunteer through. For a price of around 20 to 30 Euros (34 U.S. dollars), you have access to thousands of hosts around the world.
Give them a look or find your own organization. The point is, you can get to know a country without breaking the bank, if you are willing to trade part-time volunteer work for a place to stay and some food. Personally, I love the idea. Give it a go.