How to Run Your Business From Anywhere in the World—Mikkel Thorup, CEO, Expat Money

Have you ever dreamed about running your business from the beach in some country around the world? Or wondered about what it would be like to offshore your business or investments?  

Our guest today is Mikkel Thorup, who is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments. Mikkel is the founder and CEO of Expat Money, the host of the Expat Money podcast, and the author of the #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets – How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money. 




Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and CEO at Expat Money™, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets – How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money.


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Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team: (00:00)

Welcome to the Multiply Your Success podcast, where each week we help growth-minded entrepreneurs and franchise leaders take the next step in their expansion journey. I’m your host, Tom DuFore, CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team, and as we open today, I’m wondering if you have ever dreamed about running your business from the beach in some country around the world, or wondered what it might be like to offshore your business or investments. And if you’ve ever had those thoughts, then today’s episode is for you.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team: (00:29)

Our guest today is Mikkel Thorup, who is the world’s most sought after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high net worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments. Now Mikkel is the founder and CEO of Expat Money. He’s the host of the Expat Money Podcast and the author of the number one bestselling book, “Expat Secrets: How to Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas and Make Giant Piles of Money”. Let’s go ahead and jump right into my interview with Mikkel Thorup.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (01:06)

Happy to be here, Tom, and what an amazing show you have and an amazing audience, and I’m certainly hoping to be able to inspire and hopefully educate your audience today. So yes, my name is Mikkel Thorup, I’m from Southwestern Ontario, born and raised Canadian, but I have been living overseas for going on 23 years now.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (01:23)

I run a company called Expat Money. We’re basically a consulting firm where you can think of us as a shared family office, a virtual family office, where we deal with a lot of the tax issues and immigration issues and the restructuring of businesses when someone decides that they want to leave the States or Canada and move to another country. So I formed this company back about seven, eight years ago now, and it’s great. We have a lot of clients that we’re helping and it’s a lot of fun.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team: (01:49)

Well, thank you for that overview, and this is exactly why I wanted to have you on as a guest on the show. Just to talk a little bit more about this idea of doing business remotely, internationally, potentially as an expat. And so just for a real simple starting point, would you mind telling us what an expat is and why someone would consider it?

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (02:10)

Yeah, absolutely. Great question. So an expat is somebody who lives overseas, who moves to another country. Now, you might think to yourself, well, that sounds like an immigrant. Well, an immigrant and an expat are kind of similar except an immigrant is going to move to a country. They’re going to basically sell everything they have, they’re going to move to that new country and that’s it. That’s where they’re going to live, they’re going to get their citizenship, they’re going to do their green card, and they’re never going back. That is kind of the plan. Now, with an expat, they can do that, they can move to another country, however, most likely they’re going to return to their home country at some point or they’re going to move on to another country.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (02:48)

So take me for example, as I said, I’m a Canadian citizen, but I’ve been living overseas for almost 23 years. So I lived in Australia for three years, I lived in Singapore for a year, I lived in New Zealand for a year, I was in the Middle East for eight years, I’ve lived in Brazil and Guatemala and the Arctic and many places around the world. And now I’m in Panama City, Panama. We’ve been here for four years, and Panama’s an amazing place and I love it here and I will certainly have Panama part of my life, but I probably won’t live here for the rest of my life. We have homes in other countries and we’re buying other real estate and we’re getting other citizenships. So we are going to continue to move around the world.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (03:25)

So that’s kind of the difference between say an immigrant and an expat. Now, a lot of people will ask me, well, what about a digital nomad? A digital nomad is someone who is not going to be actually living in the country, they’re just going to be there temporarily, most likely on a tourist visa. They have come out with these new, what’s called digital nomad visas, which will allow you to stay in the country for six months, nine months, or even a year. But at some point you’re going to have to go. With an expat, we have a permanent resident here, we have the legal right to live and work in the country. If there’s tax obligations, we pay those tax obligations. We really incorporate ourselves into the country and the culture a lot more. So those are kind of the three areas and probably more of a description than you wanted, but there it is, Tom.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team: (04:06)

Well, with that being said is you’ve been overseas and living out of country for over 20 years now. One of the things that you had shared in your onboarding form is how folks can either invest in international investments, moving funds or investments, offshoring, and these terms come up often. So I’d love for you just to talk a little bit there. What if I said, “Mikkel, I want to stay in the States or in North America, but I see opportunity to invest in some of these countries you’ve already mentioned”.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (04:35)

Perfect. So while we are talking about lexicon, because I think it is important, the word offshore, I’m going to break that down really quickly for you. So offshore means, okay, clearly outside of your home country, but when we’re looking at an offshore jurisdiction, what we’re looking for is a country that has favorable tax laws, so that means zero or close to zero taxation, and they’re going to have strong asset protection laws and they’re going to be politically stable. These is kind of the trinity of things that we’re looking for when we’re looking at an offshore jurisdiction. Now, there’s 193 countries in the world. By my definition, we can count probably about 40, 42 countries as offshore or even nearshore, so they have taxation, but the taxation’s very, very low, these types of places.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (05:18)

Now, I will say if your audience is American and they start investing offshore, you have to understand that you still have a legal obligation for reporting all of your income to the IRS. You still have to file your taxes, you still have to pay taxes on all of that. Now, most countries in the world, when you move overseas and you leave and you say goodbye to your home country, you’re going to have no further tax obligation. But with the United States, with America, you still have to go through the taxation process and you have to file everything. Now, there are a couple of programs in place that will help to legally reduce your tax, and we can talk about them later if you like, but just understand that things can get a little bit complicated. There’s a lot of filing, there’s a lot of paperwork. Some of it goes to the IRS, some of it goes to the treasury department. If you have offshore companies, offshore corporations, offshore bank accounts, there’s things like FATCA and different reporting that needs to be done.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (06:10)

So these are the things that I work with a lot of my private clients on to make sure that we stay compliant, we stay legal through all of it. I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a CPA, I’m a coach or a consultant. I actually outsource all of the legal work to either lawyers who work directly for me or who I have partnered with in different jurisdictions. They sign off on it and then we make sure that we’re staying above board with everything.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team: (06:33)

So then if we were to take someone through that scenario, maybe just by way an example, you could just talk through the lifecycle of a typical customer coming through because our audience very well is going to be listening and thinking, okay, well Mikkel, I’ve got a business. I’m going to maybe stay put here, but I’m interested that process look like, what’s the lifecycle look like there?

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (06:52)

Yeah, absolutely. So I work with kind of a 50/50 bucket of people. So I have the first group who comes to me and they say, that’s it, I’m done with Canada. I don’t want to shovel any more snow or I don’t agree with the politics in the United States, or whatever it is that’s going on right now. They’re done, they want to move overseas or they want to retire overseas or they just want to go and enjoy the beach, I’m not sure. So that’s probably about half of the people. I am helping them to either restructure the business or new corporate structures overseas, the bank accounts, we’re getting them a permanent residency, maybe another passport. If they own precious metals, we move that offshore to a vaulting facility. If they want to purchase precious metals that we assist with that. Same with foreign real estate, a lot of the real estate can really assist you in getting residency in these countries. So we look at what that might be like.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (07:42)

So that’s kind of one bucket, Tom. The other bucket is people who are like, I’m not ready to leave yet, or retirement is five years away, or if things get worse in my home country or I don’t like what’s going on, there’s a lot of problems in Europe right now with the energy crisis and things like that. They sleep a lot better at night knowing that they have these plans in place, that they have a home overseas, they’ve already purchased a place, they have a legal residency where they can go and work and a bank account and a credit card in a foreign country, different types of currencies and things like that. So that’s kind of the two different buckets of people that I help.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (08:21)

Now, the majority of my private clients fit between the two and $10 million range of net worth. I do have a client who’s worth $150 million, another one who’s about $70, $80 million, but those are the outliers. The majority is that two to $10 million sweet spot. That allows someone to set up these types of things, go through the process, pay my fees, and still be a value add at the end of it.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (08:44)

I never want to work with someone, Tom, that at the end of the day, it ends up actually costing them anything. So you can think of it like this, you might pay me, but it’ll never cost you anything. I will either save you in taxes or I’ll put you into investments that you wouldn’t normally see that have above average returns, or I’ll just keep you away from fraudulent people in this space. When you go offshore and you start looking at different countries and different legal systems and different languages, it can get really complicated. And if you don’t know who you’re working with, if you don’t have that relationship, it’s really a hit and miss. It’s like flipping a coin and this is your life. I would never want this for my clients.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (09:23)

So everybody that I work with, all the lawyers and CPAs and service providers, I’ve done an immense amount of due diligence on them. I’ve spent well over a million dollars building out my network and visiting these people and going through the process myself.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (09:36)

So what would happen is a client would approach me, they would fill in an application form to work with me. If you guys go to, you’ll be able to find out more information, and then we would schedule a phone call together and we would get to know each other and see if it is a good fit. I’ll explain how I work, and we just start working through everything. And usually to go through the whole program takes between four and six months, but I always quote for 12 months of consulting just in case things take longer or bureaucracy with foreign countries or paperwork or anything like that. But you should expect everything to be done certainly within a year, and it can be really transformative. There’s a lot of things that we can do in a short amount of time, and then you’ll wake up one day and everything will be done and you can sleep soundly and it’s really amazing to see.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team: (10:25)

Excellent. Well, one of the things that you shared is that some of these unique investment opportunities, you just mentioned some of these alternatives and some of them, as I understand you mentioned things like old vaults or various forms of asset protection that come along. So would you mind giving a few examples or some details on what some of those might be?

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (10:43)

Sure. So I’m very much a sound money type of guy, I like tangible assets. I like real estate, agricultural land, communities and homes, I like precious metals that we talked about. I’ve had the privilege to visit vaults in Singapore, Austria, Switzerland, UAE, Germany, here in Panama and many other countries. I get invited around the world to tour things, I’ve even had TV crews who have followed me around on different vaults and things like that.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (11:15)

I don’t really care for the paper gold or the unallocated. I like a hundred percent allocated, a hundred percent segregated. So what that means is when you go to a vault, whether you bring them a bar of gold and you put it on the shelf, that is your space on the shelf. So they know that it’s not going to get mixed up with anything else. Your bar has a serial number on it. Whether you come back in a day, a week, a month, a year, a hundred years, you are going to get returned that exact same bar. So there’s no question, because with these different ones, with any type of precious metals, there might be slight variance in the amount of weight or the quality or anything like that.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (11:49)

There’s also the history of the bar that you have to look out for, how it’s held will also affect your reporting requirements. So if it is deemed, I don’t want to get too technical, but if it’s deemed a financial account, then you have to file a FATCA, which is you have to file an FBAR, which is part of FATCA, which goes to the treasury department, which is any accounts that have aggregate of over $10,000 a year in a foreign financial account.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (12:08)

So there’s ways that we can do this without triggering those types of things, and one of the ways is to do the a hundred percent allocated, a hundred percent segregated. So anyways, there’s a lot to break down and usually when I go through a clients, as I said, it takes four to six months to go through this. So we’re just trying to go a really, really fast, top level, 40,000 foot view, but those are some of the investments that we might be looking at if we decided to move offshore.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team: (12:33)

Very interesting. In addition then, also it sounds like you help, I think of our clients that we help franchise their business and one of their dreams is to essentially live on a beach and run the business remotely. I get that kind of, or some conversation or orienting around that, and certainly living in Panama City would be a great place to be doing that. And so you also then help folks through that process as well, is what I understand.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (12:54)

Yeah, absolutely. So we deal mostly with the legal side of things. So it’s the structuring, it’s the banking, everything like that. Now, I do try to set it up from the lifestyle perspective. So when I start working with a client, we’ll really create a matrix of their likes, wants and needs. What are they after? What are the objectives here?

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (13:13)

I have lots of clients who absolutely want to be on a beach in Costa Rica or out on the islands in Belize, but I have just as many clients who are like, I don’t want it too hot, I don’t want it too cold, they want that springtime type of weather. So we might look at a place like Columbia or something like that. Be up in the highlands there, or in the highlands of Panama or the south of Brazil or in Uruguay or south of Argentina where the weather’s a lot cooler. We can still do things in a very tax favorable manner. We can have it so that they’re learning a new language and challenging themselves and exploring the world. And it’s important to go through all of these types of things as well.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (13:51)

The one thing that I will mention that I don’t do is I’m not the one who is physically moving them, so I don’t work with the shipping containers. I’m not turning on your electricity bill or setting up your cell phone or anything like that. I do the legal and the immigration and the tax and the investment, that kind of level. Now, from the other side, I can always give advice and I can always help, but it’s more on the planning stage opposed to the nitty gritty. You still need to figure out how to turn on your electricity in the new place, but we can usually point you in the right direction of someone to talk to about those types of things.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team: (14:26)

And I guess as an introduction, you had mentioned a great place to start, but do you have any resources or any information someone could maybe gather to start just digging into it if they’re interested?

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (14:35)

Oh, definitely. So I’ve been hosting a podcast called The Expat Money Show for well over six years now. We’ve got 220 episodes or something like that. I’ve had people like Jim Rogers and Doug Casey and Grant Cardone on the show and lots of big names, but I’ve also had a ton of names that you’ve probably never heard of, and that’s because they’re the lawyers and the accountants that I work with, as well as just everyday folks who have made the move themselves and breaking down what their life looks like overseas as they’ve restructured their business or retired in a new country and how that has come about.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (15:10)

So you guys can find that if you go to pretty much any podcasting app, wherever you’re listening to us today and you search for Expat Money Show, you’ll find me there. Otherwise, go to We have a ton of blog articles, we do monthly webinars. I just hosted a summit, we had well over 7,000 people attend the summit. A ton of free resources that are out there to try to get you guys educated and up to speed on everything that we do. And then if you need that handholding in the one-on-one and want to take it to the next level, then I encourage you to reach out to me and we’ll schedule a call to discuss.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team: (15:43)

Excellent. Well, Mikkel, this is a great time in the show for us just to make the transition where we ask every guest the same four questions before they go, and the first question we ask every guest is if you had a miss or two along your journey and something you learned from it.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (15:58)

Yeah, this is an interesting one. I like this question a lot. I was trying to think on what it would be. I suppose one of the biggest misses, and I don’t even know if I would call it a miss, but I had to try probably a dozen or a half a dozen businesses before I figured out what really spoke to me.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (16:16)

So really quickly, I’ll tell you a story. So I’ve been traveling and living overseas since I was a teenager, and I was doing finance and investing for probably about seven or eight years. And I had tried all of these different types of businesses and I was really big into fitness for a while. So opening a gym and a clothing company, a supplement company, and all this type of stuff, and it all fell completely flat on its face. And then I decided to try to take the two things that I know the most, which is living overseas and finance and these types of structures, and I just mashed them together and that’s how I created Expat Money.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (16:48)

But I think that I was trying to follow in so many other people’s footsteps of what they were doing for businesses and think in other people’s terms before I just went out there and created something completely from scratch. I don’t know anybody else who was doing a business like mine. I literally created it from nothing. This is what I want to do, this is what I’m an expert at, and now every day I get to talk about these things and come on amazing programs like yours and share and inspire people, and I just think it’s fantastic. I just love it so much.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team: (17:17)

Yeah. Well, thank you for sharing. And how about a make or two? We’ll look at the other side, you’ve shared some throughout the program already, but I’d love for you to talk a little bit about it.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (17:24)

So this is a really trivial one I know, but I remember when I was in my twenties and I was really big into stock markets and equities and things like that. And in one day I made a trade and I got over $6,000 in one day and I was just so stoked. This is a guy who was not doing very well, I mean, this was a long time ago. I was doing really terrible in the market, I was trying to learn everything I could, but it was very hard. And you figure, I mean, that was quite a few years ago as well, so the availability of information on the internet is not like it is today, like you can go on YouTube or listen to podcasts and just get so much.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (18:01)

But I made this $6,000 in one day and I was so excited, and I took the majority of the money and I went and bought a brand-new computer with dual monitors and all the bells and whistles and everything like that. And I swear to God, that one computer, I generated well over a million dollars from over the next couple of years. I didn’t go out and party, I didn’t go out for a nice dinner, I took all of the money, I reinvested it in a tool that I could use to continue to educate myself and to be the framework for my business. And I just remember that special moment. Yeah, it was just really cool. I liked it a lot.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team: (18:34)

Well, let’s talk about a multiplier. The next question is, have you used the multiplier in growing yourself or your businesses over the years?

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (18:41)

So the way that I like to think of things and that it really works so well with living in Latin Americas, I’m constantly trying to buy time. So what does this mean? Well, we have a full-time nanny who helps care for our kids. We have a cleaning lady who comes in and cleans the whole house. I haven’t cleaned a toilet or mop the floor or anything like that in years and years and years. What I want to do is basically write and speak. Those are my core competencies. I’m really good at both of them and that’s where I earn the majority of my money. So if I’m speaking, I’m talking with clients, I’m consulting on them, I’m working through these things, I’m problem-solving, and then I write articles and I produce podcast episodes and I do interviews like today, and that is it.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (19:25)

Now I’ve gone through my life systematically and anything that is not those two things, I outsource to someone else. So I have a team, we’ve got 17 employees who work for me, full-time employees, and they do everything else in the business. I have a full-time graphic designer, full-time lawyers, I have full-time web developers and all of these different types of positions who will allow me to just focus on the things that I’m really good at.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (19:50)

Now as an entrepreneur, I think the sooner or the closer you get to this realization, the better off you’re going to be and the better off you’re going to be able to scale. And I say all of this because if you are running your business and you are successful, you’re most likely the rainmaker. Now what are those one or two things that are your core competencies, and how can you outsource everything else which will allow you to live overseas and build your dream life overseas, build your dream life abroad? And I think that that is just so important for people to understand, to really focus on that, because if you’re living on the beach in Costa Rica or the highlands of Panama, you’re not going to be able to do every single thing in your business. You’re not going to be able to watch every single thing that someone does. You have to be able to let go. But if you just do those core competencies, I think everything will be okay.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team: (20:38)

Point well taken. And certainly, a lot of our clients, part of the reason they end up looking to franchise is because they recognize where their skillset is. It’s not in running the day-to-day operation, their value, they’re worth more for what they know than what they can do in a given day. And so they’re thinking, wow, how can I hence the title of our show, Multiply My Success and what I’m doing and creating this. So I really relate and resonate with that, and I love when business owners and small business owners make that conversion and they realize, wow, we need to focus in and do that. I think it’s brilliant.

Well, the final question, Mikkel, that we ask every guest is what does success mean to you?

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (12:15)

Okay, good question. Success for me is, and this is just on a personal side, this is not for anybody else, but from a personal side, I want my business and my work to have meaning. I really do. I know this is going to seem super cliche, Tom, but every day I wake up, I am so stoked to do my work. There’s never a time when it’s like, oh, I don’t want to go to work or anything like that. I’m not saying that work isn’t challenging, it is absolutely challenging, but it scratches an itch for me that nothing else does.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (21:44)

So really what I do is I work, which I find very rewarding, and then I spend time with my wife and my kids. That is my life. We travel together as a family, I can work on the road. The more I travel, the better my business gets, the more my knowledge and experience grows, and I have everything going in the same direction.

Mikkel Thorup, Expat Money: (21:04)

My wife is fully on board with this. My daughter, she’s six years old, she speaks three languages at native level and another language we’re teaching her right now to be fluent. So she speaks English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, and we’re teaching her Russian now. She’s already been to 15 countries. So the whole family is very, very international and we’re all going in the same direction, which I just think, for me, is success. Having the family and the business and your ethics and your morals and your hobby and everything going in the same direction, that is success to me.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team: (22:36)

Mikkel, thank you so much for a fantastic interview. And let’s go ahead and jump into today’s three key takeaways. So take away number one is when he gave us the definition for an expat, and he described that as someone who lives overseas but will return to their home country or another country at another time.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team: (22:56)

Takeaway number two is when he described offshoring. And that means a company that is looking to offshore into a country that has favorable tax laws, strong asset protection laws, and is politically stable. I think those three parts are critical if you are starting to think about offshoring or becoming an expat yourself.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team: (23:16)

Take away number three. I love takeaway number three, when he described in his miss in the interview, when he said that he had to try about half a dozen different businesses that didn’t work, they failed or didn’t work for one reason or another, and then all of those misses converged into what has become for him, his current business with Expat Money in helping others become an expat like what he’s done. I thought that was excellent.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team: (23:44)

And now it’s time for today’s win-win.

So today’s win-win is when he talked about the make that he had, I thought this was brilliant. He said in his twenties he wasn’t making a lot of money personally and he was stock trading and he said that he was able to make $6,000 in one day. And when you have no money and you make $6,000, let’s be real and frank that that’s a big deal. $6,000 in a day is a big deal for most anyway, but when you don’t have much, that’s a huge deal.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team: (24:18)

And I loved what he did. Instead of going out and spending that like a lot of 20 something’s might have, and like I might have very easily done when I was 20 or in my twenties, he took that, invested it, bought the best computer he could buy and monitors and a whole system to invest in himself and his ideas and his businesses. And that computer allowed him to generate over a million dollars in revenue over the next two years. I just thought that’s a brilliant takeaway to take your proceeds to reinvest in yourself, reinvest in your business, and multiply your success, like the title of our show.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team: (24:58)

And that’s the episode today, folks. Please make sure you subscribe to the podcast and give us a review. And remember, if you or anyone you know might be ready to franchise your business or take their franchise company to the next level, please connect with us at Thanks for tuning in. We look forward to having you back next week.

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