Southeast Asia is a subregion of Asia, and consists of 11 countries, Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
It is busting at the seams with rich history and heritage and is a proverbial melting pot of religions, cultures, and languages. If you’re interested in a history lesson, check out this Wikipedia page.
More and more people are finding a home there… and it’s a lot easier (and cheaper) than you probably think.
In Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2k a month will buy you the royal treatment and a lifestyle of luxury. You’ll find a friendly local population, and a bustling expatriate community. Excellent medical care is available, and the crime rate is quite low.
Malaysia is glossed over by many Americans, but it deserves a second look as well. Where else can you live in a high-rise that looks and feels like high-end Miami…but pay less in rent than you would in Cheyenne,Wyoming? Nowhere else we know.
For now, we will focus on what makes Southeast Asia so attractive to entrepreneurs and adventurers alike, and why you might want to consider relocating there.
There’s no doubt about it that relocating to Southeast Asia (SEA) can save you some serious coin. That’s why everyone from Aussie retirees to Silicon Valley engineers are bailing on their home countries and heading to cities like Penang, Ubud, and Chiang Mai.
“Depending on where you’re from, you can expect to see a drop in living expenses from 50-80 percent,” says Abbie Walker, a writer and travel blogger who has spent the last 6 years island hopping in SEA.
As every entrepreneur knows, being able to cover monthly expenses and still have a cushion for emergencies and business development costs is imperative. Especially in the early days of bootstrapping, when you’ve got way more important things to worry about then where your next meal is coming from.
These days a lot of people are discovering and taking advantage of the great business opportunities popping up in Southeast Asia. “Venture capitalists are flocking to the region in droves. It is quickly becoming one of the best places to grow a startup in today’s ecosystem”, comments Thomas Clayton, CEO of Bubbly.
The massive price disparity can really make or break a business in the early days. Many Passport Business owners have found that they can relocate to a country like Thailand or the Philippines and build a high performance team for 1/5th of the cost of doing so at home.
They can then pump that remaining eighty percent of funds back into the business and foster exponential growth rates much faster than would have been available by the traditional approach!
It’s no secret that you can lock down a much higher standard of living in Southeast Asia for far less than in a western city. Whereas one can expect to scrape by in a drab major city apartment in the West for 3-4k a month, that same person can rent a cushy, modern, balcony apartment in Thailand, complete with maid service and driver, for under $1,000 a month.
“Having all that excess capital lying around can really free up your brain for more high end tasks. You can afford to outsource the parts of your business that you either aren’t good at, or simply don’t want to do,” notes Ryan Morris, self proclaimed expat and niche site flipper.
If you’re coming from a city where you had to work 40 hours a week just to cover expenses, and everything on top of that was what you put in to build and grow your business, then suddenly finding yourself in a position of capital excess can make you feel like a lottery winner.
To put it simply, many expats in Southeast Asia find that whole new arenas and opportunities open up to them that were far out of reach back home.
As all internet entrepreneurs can agree, it can be downright exhausting always trying to explain to people what we do for work. No matter what we say, a lot of friends and family simply don’t get it.
We get hammered at times with comments like…
“You work online, can’t you just take a day off to help me move?”
It doesn’t work like that.
“I wish I had a cushy job like you, typing some shit into the computer for 15 minutes whenever you feel like it and having people throw wads of cash at you. Alas, I’m stuck working a real job every day in my soul sucking cubicle. You must be a scamster.”
These people do not understand what it takes to do what we are doing. Maintaining priorities is difficult enough as it is, but constantly being bombarded with comments like these can leave you feeling guilty, and pressured to try and cram even more in to your already busy schedule.
One of the coolest and most unexpected things many people report is that upon arriving in a place home to so many digital nomads, they are immediately immersed in a group of like-minded people who share the same goals and desires.
“The people made us feel like we belonged.” said James Stafford when asked to comment about his experience relocating to Bali.
Hook up with a group of folks doing the same thing as you and you no longer have to explain why you would rather work on your business than attend that lame party. You won’t be scoffed at when your workday stretches in to the mid-morning of the next day, or if you find you do your best work while wearing your panda bear p.j.’s and sipping tea on the sofa of your apartment. (Well, you may hear a tiny snicker about the panda’s, but you get the point.)
From affiliate marketers to travel bloggers, course site owners to consultants and online coaches, being connected with those walking the same path as you will provide you with fresh insights and inspirations on a daily basis. Having people to learn from and grow alongside is imperative in the business we’re in.
This is not to say, of course, that you’ve got to move around the world to find a group like this, but it’s sure good to know that there are a myriad of people out there doing the same thing as you that are more than willing to show you the ropes.
“You are only confined by the walls you build yourself.”
It’s a know fact that comfort breeds complacency. If you are in need of some inspiration, you may consider shaking things up a bit and taking the leap to Southeast Asia. As global citizens, we know that often times a change of scenery can be just what the doctor ordered when the ol’ noggin is in need of some fresh fuel.
Moving away from everything and everyone you know really forces you to put yourself out there. Old, unconscious behavioral patterns, especially ones that keep you from reaching your full potential, will be brought to the surface, thus giving you the much needed opportunity to smash them to little bitty bits.
Southeast Asia is full of opportunity and low hanging fruit. Many have compared it’s current status to that of China 15 years ago. It’s just getting started, and has nowhere to go but up when it comes to development and growth potential. If you have been thinking about making the move for while, there is no better time than now to get your foot in the door.
* This article written by: Amanda Linato
Are you planning a move to Southeast Asia?
We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!