My Brave New Life Anniversary
It’s a year since I walked away from my corporate job in Singapore with grand plans to become a location independent entrepreneur.
And what a year it’s been. Not the year, I expected, that’s for sure.
The highlights of the past year have been amazing — not just for the places we’ve been and the food we’ve eaten but also for the amazing people we’ve met.
From my point of view, a year after dropping out of the rat race for a second time, the risk we took leaping into the unknown has paid off in the form of a more fulfilling lifestyle. Far less money but a far better life.
I spent September last year in a state of anxiety. I kept waking in the middle of the night, my heart racing and my stomach fluttering, terrified of the craziness I was dragging my family into. All that seems like a waste of energy now.
I didn’t become a location independent entrepreneur but I have managed to support my family over the past year, which I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do.
I am still the sole income earner, although our exciting new project will change that soon.
(The work I’ve been doing is location independent, the project we are working on is entrepreneurial but location dependent, so I don’t really know what to call myself now. I think I’ll just have to go with the fallback option of just calling myself fabulous.)
Between my part-time remote editing job (which is still kind-of chugging along in spite of some bad news a few weeks ago), this blog and a dribble of corporate work, I’ve been bringing in between $1,000 and $3,000 a month. That has been enough to live quite comfortably — and travel from Asia to Europe and back again!
That small-by-Western-standards income allowed us to live for six months in a cute three-bedroom furnished house in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, eating out often, riding a rented a motorbike around the region and paying a part-time helper.
My part-time work paid for our rushed trip home to Australia last October when my father died unexpectedly — and far too young.
We used home exchanges and stayed with friends to make our European extravaganza affordable. Our trip to Europe was just one more thing that didn’t go to plan. Our two-month camping and cycling odessey didn’t happen because Darling Man was refused a visa. Instead, Miss M and I had a five-week girls-only trip, visiting Cairo, Paris, Provence and Switzerland (and cycling for one amazing and unforgettable day in L’Isle sur la Sorgue in Provence).
We’re not swimming in cash, by any means. The trip home for Dad’s funeral, which wasn’t covered by our travel insurance, meant we didn’t have enough money to attend a friend’s wedding in Phuket.
But the principle of geoarbitrage that Tim Ferriss talks about in his Four-Hour Work Week is working for us. While I work for Western pay rates we can live quite well in Southeast Asia. I can work part-time so I can enjoy more time with Miss M than I did when I was a exhausted full-time working mum paying ridiculous prices for everything in Singapore.
The past year, and my previous dropout, drove home to me how expensive it is to get sucked into consumerism. We do have a nice house here in Ho Chi Minh City. We rent it fully-furnished so we need minimal stuff, just cooking things mostly. We drive the same old motorbikes that we had last time we lived in Saigon. (Don’t ask me how Darling Man re-aquired them again, I have no idea. I only know our motorbikes have had a rough couple of years without us. They are battered and scraped … but they still go.)
We have minimal clothes and shoes, two laptops, basic mobile phones and a few other bits and pieces. We don’t have a fancy sound system, a flat screen TV, the latest designer duds, a gazillion toys — we know that stuff is not going to make us any happier. All we need is the basics and each other. I think I am incredibly lucky to have come to this realisation, even if it was quite late in life.
Our lack-of-stuff is liberating. We can pack up and leave the country without much fuss. But I’m sure our lack-of-stuff puzzled the people who came to my birthday party last week.
The past year has also thrown Darling Man and my differences into stark relief. While I think my ideal lifestyle would be to spend six months at a time in every single exotic destination in the world, Darling Man has discovered he wants to stay home. In Vietnam. So that’s where we are for now….
Which is why we are going ahead with our street food tours in Ho Chi Minh City.
We are just waiting for some paperwork to be finalised and for our new website to be finished and then we will officially launch Saigon Street Eats. It’s a very very exciting time and I can’t wait to start taking people out to explore the Saigon I know and love.
All in all, it’s been a fabulous year of dropout living. And the year ahead looks even better.
I can hardly believe I pulled this off. But I did.
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238 days ago