If you’ve followed this site for a while now, you’ll know I’ve basically suffered from lifestyle ADHD. I’ve covered various versions of location independence: from blog-stalking wandering RVers and vandwellers, to minimalist world-traveling backpackers, to liveaboards on sailboats. Pretty much any of those options are available to just about anyone, and I want to do it all. It’s a big world, and I want to see all of it.
Getting to the point where income happens no matter your location on a globe is pretty key. Once that’s in place, the options are limitless, and your specific location or method is largely irrelevant. If you can generate income from anywhere, it really doesn’t matter where anywhere is. If all you need is to handle email, post completed work, make calls, or even log into a system remotely, that can be done from almost every spot on the planet now (and even in space). I’ve already been doing that for years, so I was ready to see more of the world when I wasn’t working.
Why We Chose Thailand Specifically
I’ve been fielding questions about traveling to Thailand ever since I started talking seriously about it back in August. I know so many people living in or who have lived in Thailand by now, that people think I am just doing what all the Digital Nomads and expats seem to do. But that’s actually backwards. I know all these people because I wanted to go there, so I found them.
If you read any of my story about this whole location irrelevant lifestyle of mine, you’d know it involved a girl when I started this journey about 8 years ago. At first it was only to fix the long-distance relationship problem we were having at the time, but once I began to see the possibilities, the world just opened up like never before.
Maria had met a friend from Thailand while taking a class at home in Florida in about 2002. They became good friends. When her friend went back to Thailand, Maria flew over to visit her in Bangkok. It was a standard American-style vacation at the time. There was no thought of constant world travel or anything like that.
So ever since I’ve known her, she’s said she wanted to take me back to Thailand. She was thinking as another short trip, but since I’d been working to make my work life location independent, I wondered why we couldn’t do more.
Occasionally, her Thai friend would come visit us while she was in the U.S. on business. I constantly asked her questions about working remotely, as she managed a department and projects for an international non-profit. She assured us that she never had any problems other than occasional internet hiccups or logistics issues. But otherwise, she attended video conferences in dozens of countries as though she was sitting right there in the office.
The internet digging began in earnest back when I started this blog years ago.
“But it seems so hard”
I choose my friends well, so I didn’t meet a lot of the typical resistance or naysaying that some people get. I got a lot of awesomes, I’m jealouses, and you’re so luckys (which piss me off, but I’ll tackle those in another post).
Basically, my friends, family, and clients are the best.
But there were legitimate concerns about picking up and moving to a country on the other side of the planet where they speak a language neither of us spoke:
- It’s on the other side of the planet
- We don’t speak the national language (we arrived knowing only Thank you and Hello. Seriously bad planning there.)
- No family in the same hemisphere
- All the standard American travel worries like quality medical care and Hulu streaming
- What if we just don’t like it?
This is just the short list of concerns. When you’re planning it for real, the list can get scary big.
Why we did it anyway
Whether we were going to roam the Americas in a van or RV, live aboard a sailboat and circumnavigate, or spend time traveling abroad out of backpacks, we were going to need to change our current life in Florida. We had to deal with the condo/car/stuff accumulation regardless of the path we chose.
Having a roaming home of any kind was going to be a consideration. A boat, van, or RV are large purchases. If we took any of those on at this point, it would be something we’d have to get rid of or store for who knows how long if we decided to travel abroad later.
Since we were getting rid of everything already, it was easier to just get on a plane with what little we had left, and start traveling the world now. We may not like the world traveler lifestyle and want to come back to try a different path, so a plane ticket to the other side of the globe is actually a much smaller investment than something in the 30-40′ range, whether parked on land or water.
If we got tired of sailing, we’d have to get rid of a boat and a bunch of boat stuff again. So it seemed to make the most sense to do this now rather than have to buy a whole bunch of other stuff to get going.
Enough with the talking, Get to the Doing
While we were paring down our things, I found a card from Maria that said “Can’t wait to go to Thailand!” It was dated 2005. We’d been talking about it for too many years. Years that kept passing by while we said we’d go someday.
“Someday” kept not showing up on a calendar, so when her Thai friend once again visited us in August 2012, she called us on it. She reminded us that we’d said we were going to come to Thailand the last few times she’d stayed with us. Her most recent trip being nearly 3 years earlier in 2009.
So we told her back in August that we would do it. Our entire plan was “in 6 months, we’ll move to Thailand and travel for at least year!” We picked a date, stated a goal, and we would have to just figure out the rest as we went.
It took us 7 months to get deal with more “stuff” than I knew we had and get on the plane to Bangkok. I’d only received my first passport in 2011, and here I was flying to Bangkok via Shanghai.
Between all the things we learned from internet friends, local friends who had been there, and her Thai friend, we made it in one piece – Even her luggage! (I only had carry-on). We initially moved in with her Thai friend to get our bearings, but we just moved into a small studio apartment of our own in a very Thai neighborhood.
It’s a bit far from the expat ghetto of the lower Sukhumvit area so hardly anyone speaks any English and Dwight Turner at In Search of Sanuk told us that he has rescued several refugee families out of our neighborhood. So it’s got a lot of local flavor, so to speak. Exactly what we wanted!
We still don’t have much as far as concrete plans. We’re enjoying the culture, the food, the idiosyncrasies, and mostly the people of Thailand. We’re debating taking a language course while we’re here, and planning a trip to Laos in the next couple of weeks.
We intend to stay in Thailand until we get sick of it or they get sick of us. But there is still a lot of this big world to see.
We’re only getting started.