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This 33-year-old left the U.S. for Georgia and lives on $1,592 a month

Mike Swigunski was one of millions that were kept in captivity during the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead of staying with family or roommates, Swigunski traveled 6,000 miles to be alone, in another country.

Swigunski only intended to travel for 30 days to Georgia, which is a tiny country between east Europe and west Asia. The virus spread quickly and Georgia shut down its borders early March, forcing the Missourian to stay longer in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. 

Swigunski says that Tbilisi was a place where he found a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, and he soon fell for its old-world charm. Swigunski (33) now lives and works in Tbilisi, as a nomadic entrepreneur. This has allowed him to enjoy a “higher quality of life at a fraction the price,” he says. CNBC Make It

If he was living in the U.S., Swigunski adds, “I would have to be working a lot more … now, I’m semi-retired.” 

Wanderlust, tragedy and then 

Georgia’s living costs are ten times lower than those in the United States. 

Swigunski’s annual income hovers between $250,000 and $275,000 — and thanks to tax benefits in Georgia, he gets to keep a lot more of his income than he would otherwise.

Georgia offers a flat 1% rate of tax for small-business owners such as Swigunski. The U.S. provides a tax benefit to expats, which excludes income up to $112,000 from being taxed.

He explains that managing multiple businesses in Georgia is a lot more easy than running them from the U.S. It mainly comes down to cost. If I was trying to replicate the same infrastructure in America, it would likely be about ten-thousand times more expensive. 

For more information, please visit: Georgian lawResidents of 98 countries including the U.S. are allowed to reside in Georgia for up to one year without needing a visa. After that year Swingunski can apply for an extension.

The largest expenses he has are rent and utility bills, which total $696 per month. Swigunski lives alone in an apartment that has two bedrooms and a private garden. He found it through a realtor. Swigunski says that he fell in love as soon as he saw the place. 

This is the monthly breakdown of Swigunski’s spending, as of February 2022

Mike Swigunski’s monthly average spending

Gene Woo Kim | CNBC Make It

Utilities and rent: $696

Food: $469

Transportation: $28

Phone: $3

Subscriptions: $16

Insurance for health: $42

Travel: $338

Total: $1,592

One aspect of living alone that Swigunski learned he didn’t enjoy early on is cooking — so once he moved to Georgia, he hired a private chef to come to his house six days a week and prepare meals for him, which costs about $250 per month. 

Swigunski believes that a private chef is a luxury expense. However, it actually has saved him lots of money. He says that if he didn’t have a chef, he would have been eating out more or ordering takeout. But having a chef allows you to eat better and also saves time which I can use for my business.

“It’s a better place to live in Tbilisi than anywhere else.” 

Swigunski loves the fact that every day is different. 

Swigunski loves to have a cup, drink a coffee, and then read outside. After that, he will try to get in a short meditation or workout before heading into work. 

Because he is “most productive” at home, he works most of the time from his house. But sometimes he will go to co-working spaces or coffee shops with friends. 

Swigunski stated that the greatest difference between Georgian and American living is their “a lot less relaxed” lifestyle. Swigunski says that not all places open before 10 a.m. in Georgia, while most people work for their lives, not just to make ends meet. 

Georgian hospitality is described by a saying: “A guest, a gift from God”. Swigunski has found that Georgians are very welcoming of foreigners and they have been “absolutely amazing” to him. 

Living abroad can be as exciting as you might think. Swigunski said that “it’s not for everybody.” There will be many variables you can’t replicate in your previous life living in the U.S. 

Because Georgia is still a developing country, Swigunski explains, “your electricity or water shuts off a little bit more here than other locations — this isn’t happening every day, but it does happen a couple of times a year.”

Swigunski admits that he sometimes feels homesick for friends and family in the U.S., but he says he is happier living in Tbilisi than anywhere else. He plans to remain in Tbilisi indefinitely.

“Would you ever allow me to return to the U.S.?” He says he doesn’t like to make absolute statements, but he loves America. But as it is, my experience overseas makes me enjoy life more than if i were to be living in the U.S.

You can check out these:

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This 29-year-old left the U.S. for Budapest. Now he makes $120,000 — and lives in an $800-per-month apartment

This 31-year-old quit her Wall Street job to travel the world: ‘I knew I would regret it if I didn’t do it’

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Mike Robinson
Mike covers the financial, utilities and biotechnology sectors for Street Register. He has been writing about investment and personal finance topics for almost 12 years. Mike has an MBA in Finance from Wake Forest University.