The Business Benefits of Living in South East Asia

JillAffiliate Marketing, Lifestyle30 Comments

It’s no secret that we abandoned the Western lifestyle in search of a more simple existence in a cheaper country where we could easily bootstrap our business and get it to the level we have been craving since writing our first post on our first website.

We had worked our (cute) asses off to get our income levels to a stage where we could support ourselves while in an expensive Western city. But we were pining for more.

We wanted to live better. We were aching to be in a place where we didn’t have to think about every dollar we spent. And we craved being in a location where there were others just like us, building a life that most people don’t understand.

We were a little apprehensive but more so excited, elated and hungry to get the long-haul flight over with and kickstart the life we felt we were meant to live.

Fast forward 5 months and it’s the best decision we have ever made for our business, and more importantly, ourselves!

Want to know why?

Why You Should Move to a Cheap Country to Build Your Business

There are three main reasons why making this move has been our smartest business decision yet: the community, an improved lifestyle and crazy productivity levels.

So let’s get into it…

The Community

If there is one thing that was obvious after stepping off the plane it’s that people here just get us.

What I mean is that every expat we have met in Asia so far has made the same decision to leave the constraints of Western life behind. They have chosen to go off the beaten track. They are motivated. Ambitious. And they are creative in their chosen businesses.

On top of that there are meetups, expat groups, shared workspaces full of online business owners making shit happen and mixers (wow, I feel old using that term).

So far, in Thailand, we have met a bunch of different people, all doing their own thing.

From sites teaching people how to pass the CPA exam to pay-per-click marketers, travel bloggers to e-commerce experts, product manufacturers to affiliate marketers, consultants and online business coaches, the online opportunities are virtually  endless.

Each new connection we make here is one we can learn from, grow alongside and potentially even partner up with.

It’s a community we never had before moving here and one we are incredibly grateful for.

The Lifestyle

It’s no secret Southeast Asia is dirt cheap and you can live exponentially better here for far less than living on a budget in any Western city.

For example, before Josh and I moved to Thailand we were living in a two bedroom apartment with my sister and her boyfriend (who is luckily Josh’s best mate from Australia).

There wasn’t much to the apartment, it wasn’t overly spacious, there was no balcony or backyard, the walls were paper thin and the tenants that bookended us were miserable and would scream hatred nearly every day.

Western living expenses vs living in south east asia

The apartment was $1000. Now that may sound ridiculously cheap for a 2 bedroom apartment in a big Western city but that was just our basic rent.

Add to that:

  • $100/month for electricity and internet
  • $275/month for car insurance
  • $200/month for gas
  • $600/month for groceries
  • $120/month for our cell phones
  • $150/month at coffee shops (sometimes you need to get out of your apartment to work)
  • $70/month for our gym memberships
  • $30/month for laundry
  • $1500/month for entertainment – dinners, special events, parties, cottage weekends and movies

And that’s just off the top of my head. I’m sure we had a bunch of other incidental expenses as well, like wine.

Add that all up and we were spending on average $3545 to live in an apartment that we didn’t love, in a city that stole our soul with no one around us who truly understood what we were doing.

Compare that to our current expenses:

  • $600/month for rent – which includes internet, maid service twice a week, rooftop pool, small gym and parking in a gorgeous one bedroom apartment slightly smaller than the 2 bedroom apartment we lived in Toronto
  • $70/month for electricity – that’s if we are running our air conditioning all day
  • $100/month for our scooter
  • $12/month for gas – it costs $3 to fill up our tank
  • $300/month for groceries
  • $10/month for our cell phone
  • $80/month at coffee shops
  • $70/month for our gym memberships – we chose a plush Western gym instead of the tiny one in our building
  • $6/month for full-service laundry
  • $400/month for entertainment

Add that all up and we spend $1648 a month, meaning it costs us $1897 less to live better and in a place that makes us happy.

Another bonus about our cost of living here is we can use the money we save each month to invest back into our business.

With that excess money we have chosen to outsource all of our content, guest posting and social media management for our two big affiliate sites, ultimately freeing up our time to work on this site as well as our third authority site we launched a few months ago.

Simply put, we just didn’t have that opportunity back home.

The Lack of Distractions

One of the biggest hurdles we faced while living in Toronto was the countless distractions we had in our day-to-day life.

We had family obligations, dinners with friends, parties, events and the faint pressure to abide by others work schedules.

Here it is a different story.

Since we have a small network of friends who all work online we are able to pass on dinners, events or parties without having to worry about offending anyone by choosing to work instead of hanging out with them. And they understand that.

It is because of this laser focus that we have been able to launch our two new sites and grow our business to the point of being on the cusp of reaching our goal of 5 figures a month.

I know it may sound like a grand statement, or even boring to some (I mean, who wants to work all the time?), but it works for us and it can work for you if you are willing to take this step.

If you are at a place in your life where you want to take the leap and create a lifestyle business for yourself – one that can satiate your wanderlust as well as start you down the path to making more money than you ever have before – consider relocation.

You don’t have to move to Southeast Asia but you should choose a location that is overflowing with opportunity and possibilities for your chosen path.

Remember, this lifestyle is possible for anyone, you just need to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.

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  • mame clark

    I think one of the most important factors of why your business is so successful is that you can work together 24/7. I’m sure there are alot of couples who couldn’t do that. You have such a beautiful relationship where you can do what you do and love being together at the same time. That’s a very special thing you have going there!

    • Jill

      Thanks mom 😉

      It’s a balance for sure and occasionally a challenge but anyone who works with their partner knows that sometimes you need a few hours of silence to realize how lucky you are to be working with your best friend 🙂

  • Great post Jill! I can relate to everything you just said especially about the lack of distractions over here. Back home I remember feeling guilty every weekend because there was always some “super important” birthday party or event that I had to turn down because it was the only time I had to build my business before returning to the dreaded 9-5 on Monday morning.

    Quitting my job and moving overseas was hands down the best decision I’ve ever made not only for my financial reasons, but for my life as well. Keep kickin ass and taking names,
    Bryce

    • Jill

      Bryce, I love hearing this! I think most of us digi nomadic biz owners can relate to the distractions part of living back home. And I hear ya on the ‘super important’ events…I used to get so frustrated because I just kept thinking but our business is ‘super important’ to us so where do we draw the line? It’s hard to relay that to anyone who doesn’t live this kind of lifestyle though…they just don’t get it.

      It’s been our biggest lesson so far – learning not to discuss our lifestyle/business with those who aren’t in that headspace because really, there’s no point.

      Anyhoo, *high five* for taking the leap and moving overseas. I can’t imagine us ever going back! lol

      Oh and we’re super excited to catch up with you again in BKK in a few weeks!

  • Stacey

    Great Post! 🙂

    • Jill

      Thanks lady!

  • ali

    Woah this 5 months has gone by so fast! you guys really are kickin ass!! love reading and love reading moms sappy comments haha

    the crazy alchys downstairs say hello

    • Jill

      Hahaha yeah her comments make me giggle every time 🙂

      And tell the alchys I say shut the hell up 😉

      Miss you guys!

  • Sara and Alex Choj

    Fantastic read guys!! Can’t believer its been 5 months already!! As I always say you and Josh are an inspiration to us and to so many others around you. We will strive to one day be able to follow our dreams in such a way. I think I can speak for everyone when I say great job on the website and thanks for taking the time to share all of this with others! I am sure we will find lots to learn here!!!

    • Jill

      Aw thanks guys! Such a nice comment to read 🙂

      And we have faith that if you ever did want to take the leap, you absolutely could! In fact, the book we’re releasing in 8 days could be perfect for you Sara if you did want to leave the job!

      We’ll be giving everyone a heads up once it’s live.

      Miss you guys *hug*

  • You already know I think this (because I’ve said it about a gazillion times) but INCREDIBLE POST! I’m sending everyone I can here to read it!

    • Jill

      And you should already know that I’m going to say I freakin’ love you! Thank you so much girl for sharing the post, you have no clue how much I appreciate it 🙂

  • Jill and Josh,

    Great articles, great passion and great pick of location, we to live off the beaten track following our dream here on Koh Tao. Love reading your blogs, can’t wait for the book.
    Big love from ‘The House of Raw’
    Lisa

    • Jill

      Thanks Lis!

      We miss you guys and hugely miss Koh Tao! Can’t wait to come back, move into our place and saunter down to Raw for a big ol’ glass of wine 🙂

  • Hey guys,
    Came across your site via Mish and Robs Facebook antics.. My plan is to move to Chiang Mai later in the year to live on the cheap and get involved with the travel bloggers community there.. This is a great post backing up all of my ideas of living there..

    I am Living in New Zealand at the moment and although I highly recommend it and think it is the most beautiful country I have ever been to – it is very expensive to live in!..

    We have had to work in actual ‘jobs’ to fund our way and save for the next adventure 🙂

    • Jill

      Hey Adam!

      Ahhh we LOVE NZ! We lived there for nearly 6 months back in 2010-11 and absolutely adored it. Seriously, the South Island is the most stunning, insanely beautiful place we’ve ever seen. And I just love the Kiwi accent…it’s mean bru! haha 😉

      Couldn’t agree more though, that place is ridiculously expensive to live in! Worth it, but expensive.

      Happy to hear that you are making the move to Chiang Mai! It’s SO sick here. The community is awesome, the price of everything is unbeatable and it just breeds an attitude of productivity and I-want-to-make-shit-happen.

      Be sure to keep in touch because we will be here until mid-April next year and would love to meet up 🙂

  • That side by side pic with the cost of living and you in the snow on the left pretty much sums up the entire post. Brilliant!

    • Jill

      Haha thank you! We really wanted to drive the point home 😉

      Glad you’re digging it!

  • Great read! I’m about to make a permanent dive into that lifestyle (presently I travel 5 months a year — not too shabby). I’m full of (good) anxiety and so it’s great to read stuff like this — especially great that you’re from Toronto as well!

    I won’t miss a shitty transit system (paper transfers?!), 13% sales tax, $7 cocktails with a strict OUNCE of liqour… and I’m sure you don’t either.

    • Jill

      Oh my gosh you will LOVE it! And f*ck no, I haven’t missed that since the day I left! lol

      Where are you headed? Anywhere in particular?

      And gotta love the positive anxiety…I’m convinced it’s a good sign 🙂

      • I’ve been traveling to Asia every year for the past 7 years, so I’ll probably start in Bangkok. Love the infrastructure and that parts of it are looking like Tokyo.

        Haven’t been to Chiang Mai in 4 years but honestly don’t remember the attraction of it and why there’s so many digital nomads there — so I want to find that out as well. I feel like I’d be more about Krabi than CM, which makes sense since I’m about beaches.

        • Jill

          Oh we did LOVE Krabi…well…Railay more specifically 🙂

          As for CM – I think the appeal of it (at least for us) is the community, the pace of the city, the prices (of course!), the scenery and the overall vibe of the place!

          Also we really dig all the options for places to work – from Punspace to the hundreds of cafes, all with crazy-fast internet, there is never a shortage of places to go if you need to get out of your place for the day.

          But we’re also not fans of BKK so maybe a faster paced city is more your thang and CM would be a little slow for you.

          Either way, if you do make it over here, hit us up and let’s meet for coffee…or a coconut 🙂

  • Hi Jill & Josh

    Only just found your blog (I was referred here by a Jimmy Rose who says Hi!) and I am glad I did.

    I am moving out to Chiang Mai in 6 weeks to do pretty much the same as you guys!

    Great to see your success and I’ll be regular visitor to these pages now.

    Thanks for sharing the notes on your journey so far. Very inspirational.

    AJ

    • Jill

      Hey AJ!

      Thank you so much and tell our friend Jimmy we say hi right back 😉

      Get a hold of us once you’re in Chiang Mai, we’d love to get together!

      Have a great and safe trip here!

  • Interesting post. So what are your other two big affiliate sites?

    • Jill

      We have a skincare site, a beauty site and a weight loss site 🙂

  • Hey guys..
    I hear what your saying! We lived in New Zealand before Thailand and it was something like this:

    Rent $720pm
    Internet $150pm
    Electric $500pm
    Water $120pm
    Food $700pm
    Few beers $150pm
    Transport $35pw… and it goes on.. Thailand.. $320pm accom+bills. Food for two people $450MAX… Best decision ever to move here!

    • Jill

      While I absolutely adore NZ, it is insanely expensive to live well there. That’s why we love Thailand so much. You can spend money here without ever having to think about it! lol

      It’s my kinda country 😉

  • AlexChampagne

    Good post — it’s nice to hear the story of a couple who is making this kind of a lifestyle happen. What country are you guys in currently?

    • Josh Stanton

      Thanks Alex, we’re currently in the Philippines for a month, then back to Toronto for a bit, before heading out again.