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.”
Swigunski was a dreamer of travelling the globe. Before he graduated in 2011 from University of Missouri, he had two choices: travel to Prague or a job as a manager for a company.
Swigunski’s mom died of breast cancer one month after he graduated. He says, “I was devastated.” “I was 22 years old, and I was confused on which path to follow … but I knew my mother would have wanted me to follow my dreams.” Then he decided to pursue his passion, and booked an all-inclusive ticket to Europe.
Swigunski traveled over 100 countries in his travels. He has also lived in and worked in many other roles, including as a travel writer in Korea and an advertising manager in Australia.
Swigunski started his business four years ago to capitalize on his experience in travel and remote working. His business. Global CareerThe website enables people to find information about digital nomad entrepreneurship, including job boards, workshops and coaching.
He says that these services “help other people in inspiring them to make a new journey or begin their own global career.” I want to assist other digital nomads on a quicker path.
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
Utilities and rent: $696
Insurance for health: $42
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.
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.
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