Black Expat Update: ‘Leaving America Saved My Life’
By DeAnna Taylor
A little over a year ago, we spoke with Florida native Craig Kingston, aka The Cheap God, on his decision to leave America and move to Southeast Asia.
What made his story stand out to many of us, was the fact that he moved across the world with no job lined up. He started this journey in April 2018 by moving to Thailand and then made his way to Vietnam for a little while.
Fast forward to today and Craig is still living and enjoying life as a Black expat. Since we last spoke he has lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Bali, Indonesia as well as traveled to several countries including South Africa, Dubai, and Sri Lanka. He has now decided to settle down in Medellin, Colombia. So far he is loving his new home.
We had a chance to catch up with Craig and learn what life abroad as a Black man has been like over this last year.
Travel Noire: Overall would you say that leaving America was a great decision?
Craig: Hell Yea!!!! It was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. I was literally on the brink of suicide before leaving America and getting on that plane literally saved my life. I was in one of the darkest stages of my life and needed a way out. I’m fortunate a light bulb went off before it was too late.
TN: What have you learned in your time as a Black expat?
Craig: Everyone around the world wants to be Black without actually being black. People around the world love our culture but they could never bring me home to their parents. Anti Blackness is a worldwide thing, from people not wanting to be dark in Vietnam to police officers in Malaysia only stopping and questioning black people.
The black woman and the black male have two different travel experiences. Black women are sexualized worldwide and black males are demonized worldwide.
“All skin folk ain’t kinfolk”. Traveling has put me into contact with many other black travelers. Some cool and some oblivious to what it is to be Black in a world that really only sees you as a zoo animal that can sing, dance and play sports.
TN: What are the hard parts of living in a foreign country?
Craig: The language barrier is one the hardest because in a lot of these countries English is nonexistent. With that being said, it is my job to learn the local language and not the people of that country’s job to learn English.
I’m not religious at all so being in Malaysia and Indonesia, which are Muslim countries, and seeing some of the religious practices, was hard. I have tattoos all over my body, so the stares I would get from older people on the train or street was very uncomfortable at times.
Dating in Asia is super trash for a black man because there aren’t that many Black people. If you are down to date outside of your race, 99% of Asian women want white men because in their culture white skin means wealth. Living in Colombia I hope it gets better for me since there are Afro Colombians here. I really would like to settle down and have a wife and kids one day.
TN: Have you found a job abroad? If not, how do you manage financially?
Craig: I don’t work. I haven’t worked since I left America. I am a military veteran so live off of my disability pension which can barely pay rent in America, but lets you live like a king in a lot of these countries where the U.S. dollar is stronger.
For example, my current apartment in Medellin, Colombia is 1.6 million Pesos which equals $455USD. It’s a one-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms, laundry, and fully furnished. Included in my $450 are all utilities, Wi-Fi, and cleaning service. My weekly grocery expenses run me about 60,000 Pesos which is about $17USD a week.
TN: Is this the final stop for you?
Craig: Colombia is my final stop. I will still do short trips around South America and the Caribbean, but my new home is Colombia. Like I said earlier, I am trying to start a family. It’s cheap, there are Black people, good music and good food. Why not make it home?
TN: Where can we continue to keep up with your journey?
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.