Anna fell in love with Goa from the first day she arrived in the town in January 2013. She left to go explore other lands but Goa eventually drew her back and she is enjoying the culture, spirituality and vibrant life that comes with living in Goa India!
We truly believe there is no better way to learn about a new city, new country or a new culture than living there. Our Living Abroad series is designed to tell stories of living overseas and show people that the world is really not such a scary place. We hope it inspires more people to pack up their bags, travel slow and see what it’s really like to live in a different place. If you’d like to tell your story, there’s more information at the end of Anna’s story.
Here’s what Anna had to say about Goa.
Where do you live?
I’m currently based in the small tropical seaside state of Goa in India.
Where are you originally from and what did you do before?
I’m originally from a small country village in sleepy Suffolk in England. After university I went interrailing around Europe and things were never really the same again. After seeing what a huge, diverse and beautiful world there was out there I couldn’t bear to spend my life chained to a desk in a rainy, cold country like the UK. So I took whatever job I could (I worked in sales for a large energy company – a really soul destroying job) and saved up until I made the leap to travel full time. You can see more about why I decided to travel full time and how I made it happen.
When I left the UK I knew I wanted to go somewhere as culturally different as I could get so I choose India and just fell in love with the country. I first came to Goa in January 2013 and spent a few weeks here before moving on to travel the rest of India, Southeast Asia and then spent a year living and working in Australia. But India left a massive imprint on my heart and I returned and have spent most of the last 2 years being based in Goa and slowly exploring India.
What is it like to live in Goa as an expat/ foreigner?
Life in Goa can be as relaxed or as crazy, as basic or as luxurious as you make it! There is a Goa for everyone it just depends on the lifestyle you want.
What does a typical day look like for you?
The life in Goa is very laid back but I usually try to wake up early and start my day with a yoga class under the palm trees. I pick up some groceries on the way home and then have a healthy breakfast and settle down to some work.
Writing blog posts is only a small part of what I do, there’s social media accounts that need updating, emails to answer, comments to respond to, photos to edit. I also work as a freelance writer, social media and digital marketing consultant so I spend a lot of time writing for clients blogs, managing their social media, building websites, chasing payments and pitching for more work.
By late afternoon I’m just dying to get out into the sunshine so I head down to the beach for a swim, meet friends and enjoy a late lunch at a beach shack and watch the sunset.
In the evening I’ll often try to get a few more hours of work in before going out for dinner, watching a movie on my laptop or at the weekends going to the Saturday night market or sometimes raving all night long at a beach party! See more about a day in my life as a travel blogger living in Goa.
Why did you choose Goa?
Since my first visit I was just captivated by the colour, culture and craziness of India – I really feel alive here and there is so much to see, do, experience and learn here that it would take a lifetime to see it all.
However, after 3 years of full time travel and trying to juggle working on the road I really needed a base where I could relax, work, make friends that stick around and build a life for myself and Goa just called to me and felt like home.
Goa is the the most westernized and easy going state in India and it’s pretty cheap to live here, the days are sunny and relaxed and there is plenty going on and a lot of nature and culture to explore.
What do you love about living in Goa?
Goa isn’t the typical place for digital nomads – it’s far from ideal in fact the internet is shocking! But I love it – I love the beaches, the markets, the spirituality, the food, the parties, zipping through the countryside on my motorbike, the captivating blend of Portuguese and Indian culture and the diverse community of hippies and expats that stay here, many for 6 months at a time every single year.
It’s fun, it’s affordable, it’s well connected to the rest of India but is a welcome escape from the chaos of the big cities. Goa is really a special and unique part of the world.
What are the local people like?
Goans are really different from the other Indian people as their culture has been influenced a lot by the Portuguese who ruled for hundreds of years until 1961. Goans have a very relaxed, laid back, fun loving approach to life and are very tolerant of others – this is why Goa became a hippie haven in the 1970s.
Also, English is widely spoken all over India especially in Goa. English (and Russian!) speakers won’t have any problems communicating here.
Anything unique about the local culture?
I love the fusion of the Indian and Portuguese culture and also everyone from all the world comes to Goa so there’s a really interesting multi cultural community of other expats, hippies and long stayers. I love being a place where different cultures mix together so well.
Are there any challenges that you’ve faced?
Goa is easy for those on holiday but working here is a different matter. Some of the infrastructure is lacking, roads are full of potholes, there is no trash collection and I have power cuts daily.
As is the case in the rest of India, here in Goa things often don’t go to plan or work how they are supposed to and the internet is just shocking.
The other challenges I don’t mind so much – it’s all part of the unique charm of India but when you make a living online and the internet is dodgy it’s a real problem.
What work do you do in Goa?
I work as a freelance writer, travel blogger and digital marketing consultant which means that I help companies with their seo, social media and website design. Most of my travel blog now focuses on traveling in India as I’m here so often but the other companies I work for remotely can be from anywhere in the world.
What is the cost of living in Goa?
Goa is a very affordable place to live in compared to most places in the world. You could live here for dirt cheap (under $500 a month) but there are also increasingly luxury accommodations and fancy restaurants that will tempt you to spend more. I broke down my costs of living in Goa here.
What’s the availability of short term accommodation in Goa?
There are many, many accommodation options in Goa from cheap guesthouses and beach huts to luxury hotels. If you’re planning on staying for a few months then you can find a house or apartment to rent.
A basic house would start at about 10,000 INR per month (US$150) and could go up to anything like 60,000 INR (almost US$900) for a large, modern house with a pool.
You won’t find the cheap accommodation online instead you’ll have to come and drive around looking for the ‘house to rent’ signs and asking the locals. I wrote about how to find a cheap house to rent in Goa and I also wrote about and made a little video of my house in Goa.
What is the food like? (eating out & the quality of supermarkets)
Food in Goa is amazing, fresh, affordable and really diverse. You can get cheap Indian street food, eat in a shack on the beach or dine in a fancy restaurant and every cuisine from all over the world can be found in Goa. I eat out at least once, often twice, a day without breaking the bank.
For grocery shopping you can go to the local market and there are also a couple of expat focused shops where you can buy imported food that you might be missing from home.
Are there good places to work online e.g cafes/coworking spaces in Goa?
Honestly, No! As much as I love Goa it isn’t the ideal place for digital nomads and I struggle finding good working environments here.
There are not really any cafes or coffee shops with WiFi to work from or co working spaces. Most restaurants and beach shacks advertise that they have WiFi but in reality it’s usually just a 3G hotspot with a very weak connection – it hardly ever works and broadband WiFi, when available, is painfully slow and intermittent.
Finding a decent internet connection is the biggest headache – most of the cheaper houses won’t come with WiFi but if you can get a good 3G signal it’s often faster than WiFi anyway.
Do you need a visa? If so how long can you stay in the country for?
Pretty much everyone needs a visa to visit India – the length of time you can get depends on your nationality but most people get the standard 6 month tourist visa. The paperwork is a bit of a hassle to sort out but you can see my guide to getting a visa here. You can also now get an E-visa but it’s only valid for 30 days.
How safe is Goa?
I feel really safe in Goa. My mum also came to visit for her first trip to India and said that she never felt unsafe. I wear what want (I don’t dress conservatively) and I ride around in the middle of the night alone and I’ve never felt unsafe.
Is there a big expat community?
There are a lot of foreigners in Goa. There are many tourists mainly from Britain, Russia, Israel and Europe who come for 2 weeks (as well as a lot of Indian tourists who come at the weekends) but there is also a big community of hippie and long stayers who live in Goa for the season (Oct – April)
Are there any other good places to travel to close by?
There are many different beaches all along the coast of Goa which you can explore and lots of things to do off the beach as well. Goa has an airport that is well connected to the rest of India which offers a lifetime of incredible experiences.
Mumbai (Bombay) is a fascinating metropolis that’s 1 hour flight or overnight train journey away. The magical ruins of Hampi are also well worth seeing and only an overnight bus ride away.
Any other advice/tips for someone who might want to live in Goa?
I get emails from people all the time who have never even been to India but want to sell up, quit their job and move here. My advice is always to come and check it out for a 2 week holiday first before you decide to live here – Goa is not for everyone!
Before you come, check out my huge Insider’s Guide to Goa which really goes into detail about all the best places to go in Goa.
And, finally any advice or encouragement for someone wanting to take the leap and live overseas?
If you don’t go you’ll never know so just try it, if you don’t like it you can always go back – I think that’s better than always wondering ‘what if.’
Anna is a writer, dreamer, digital nomad and travel addict from the UK who left her job in the UK in Dec 2012 to pursue her dreams of a life of travel and adventure. Anna has been on an indefinite journey around Australia, South East Asia and India ever since traveling slow, independently and on a budget and is now based in Goa, India.
Anna travels because she believes that “We travel not to escape life, but so that life does not escape us” She shares her tips and experiences on her blog Global Gallivanting to inspire others to make travel their lifestyle choice too.
Fulltime Nomad Fulltime Nomad is your passport to saying no to normal, and yes to a life of unlimited travel. Founded by Radhika & Johnny, this blog will help YOU take that big scary first step towards building your own freedom lifestyle. Are you new? Start here.