Our Next 12-month Experiment

Enjoying a $0.67 Thai lunch:)
Enjoying a $0.67 Thai lunch:)

What’s next?  What happens after your travel year? Everyone’s asking us the same question so I figured it was time to answer it.

Now that we have sampled a series of 3-month relocations around the world in 2013, we’ve decided to test living in one of them, Bangkok, for longer.  What’s “longer”?  Well, another 12 months, of course!

Here’s why we picked Bangkok for 2014:

We can’t stop now!!  –  2013 was hands-down the best year of our lives so far.  Jettisoning the predictable grind of our Northern Californian lives and taking off on the adventure of our lives was the most invigorating thing either of us had done.  There is something about intentionally designing a new life in a new place that is extremely fulfilling.  Previously we had basically accepted the default life options that were right in front of us.  When we decided that was a dead end we took off on our 2013 world service trip.  We have not once regretted it.  We are going to continue rather than return to the old.

Meaningful service opportunities - Intentionally taking out a year of our lives for service has only given us an appetite to do more of it.  In the last few weeks we have hunted down a whole range of volunteer activities for next year.  In addition to our original Bangkok projects (orphanage and prison visits), we may be adding visits to refugees in their homes, volunteer journalism projects and high school teaching.

Unbeatable continued travel options - We are definitely not done traveling.  The only thing that is changing is the model.  Bangkok is the ideal hub for discount flights anywhere in Asia (and, coincidentally, anywhere in the world) because of its popularity as a tourist destination.  In 2014 we plan to make Bangkok our base but be able to visit other parts of Asia on a frequent basis.  This may actually end up meaning more travel than we did in 2013.

A job offer I could not refuse - I’ve said in previous posts that this year has brought a lot of really interesting job opportunities our way.  I want to say a big thank you to all the CultureMutt readers that have gone out of their way to provide us with these opportunities.  You guys are amazing!  We really appreciate your looking out for us!

There was one offer I simply could not refuse: Business Development for a US-based educational company.  More details on this job will have to come in another post but for now I will say that it is a dream come true and will allow us to make a solid living during our 2014 Bangkok Experiment.  Thanks for this opportunity goes to yet another CultureMutt reader.  You know who you are.  Thank you for sharing our vision and appetite for service and global adventure!

Quality of life for a lot less.  Nowhere we have lived (or heard of) allows you to live as well as you can in Bangkok for so little. The extremely low cost of living in Bangkok allows you to save more easily than anywhere else we’ve lived.  In a world where it is hard to get a job and often even harder to make ends meet, let alone save, working in Southeast Asia offers an amazing alternative.  If you have a degree from a Western country and a little bit of work experience under your belt, the job possibilities in a place like Thailand are endless.   Thousands of Westerners live and work in Bangkok for this reason.  There is more work, you can often find decent pay and your living expenses are (even conservatively speaking) a third of what you were spending on scraping by in the US or Europe.  I have gone over actual dollar figures and why it makes a lot of economic sense to live in a country like Thailand before but if you want a brief recap, check out “Things I wish I’d known about long-term world travel before I quit my job”.

The future is Asia.  The writing’s on the wall almost everywhere we look: there is absolutely no place on earth that can match the pace of progress in Asia.  Yes, there are also risks, of course.  Those who follow the news know that Thailand is not immune to political turmoil.  But the fundamentals of life and work availability have not really changed in decades (no matter what set of politicians is ousted).  And foreigners are generally safer living in Bangkok than they are in most American cities.

No other part of the world that we visited in 2013 can match the frenzied pace of progress and the giddy optimism of Asia.  Everywhere you look, there is construction.  There is an obsession with education and advancement that absolutely blows the US and Western Europe out of the water in comparison.  It may upset some to hear it, but it is true:  the 21st century is the Asian century.  The balance of world opportunity, wealth and influence has shifted East.  For Millennials it makes a lot of sense to follow this trend and go where the opportunity is.

More updates to come.  We are home with family in Los Angeles for the holidays and head back to Thailand in January.  Do you have any tips for us as we tackle our first longer term relocation?  Hit us up in the comments.

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35 thoughts on “Our Next 12-month Experiment”

  1. Hi Bjorn, This sounds like a great opportunity for both of you! After reading all your posts, it was obvious that life as you had known it would not ever return to ‘normal’! And, congrats on that. How exciting to have the vision to live life to the fullest, and to jump when the opportunities come along. Thanks for bringing us along on your adventures. Looking forward to hearing more about the next chapters! Very Best, Lauren Strach

    1. Thank you so much, Dr. Strach! We are extremely excited about it! Thanks for the inspiration back in the AU days to pursue a life of options:)

  2. Quite right! Once you get out, you never go back!

    Incidentally, my godfather (bet you didn’t think I had one of those!) lived in Bangkok for a few years so if you have questions, I’m happy to pass them on.

    xx

    1. Kate! Thanks! And no, I did not know that… I might have to take you up on that…

      Sorry we didn’t make it out for a visit… I’ll let you know when we make our next German stopover… :)

    1. Haha!! Thanks a lot!! How about you? What’s next for the ultimate world travel pro?

      PS… what an honor to get a comment from one of the best travel bloggers around… I am VERY impressed with the fact that you are able to blog and travel as a full-time job… one day we will be there!!

  3. Great idea Bjorn… could it be done with 3 kids?? Perhaps it would be a great experience for them too. After all I grew up in Papua New Guinea. Keep it going – curious to hear how things go in the new job. Also would love to sit and chat and brainstorm about out-of-the-box pastoral ministry too.

    1. Tony!! Now that you mentioned OOB pastoral ministry I definitely want to chat! When works? I am gone next week mostly but then in LA for the rest of the month…

  4. This is awesome for 3 reasons. One thrilled and happy for your continued adventure and travel (and for pushing back on the status quo and creating the lives you want)

    Two, can’t wait to meet you, your families and the family dogs. It’s been two long since we all spent Christmas together.

    Three, I’m going to be in Malaysia middle of the year for a few months so thrilled of my new digs in Thailand.

    What’s that quote again – bloggers are like the family you never had, then you meet them and become family. then visit and stay with them when they travel around the world. I think it was Tim Ferris or the like who said that one.

    Hope we can meet up, really! In America ideally!! I’m probably like 10 minutes away. Just call me guys…text…facebook…twitter lol

  5. Bjorn,Jammie: so glad to hear that you’re back in the good old U.S. Miss you bunches, but glad you are doing so well. Wish I was making a trip to SoCal. Would love to see you guys! Keep on blogging though.I love reading about all the travels. Love you both!!!

    1. Marianne! Thanks for the comment! We are coming through Paradise next weekend and want to see you… I am going to FB message you right now…

  6. Dear Bjorn and Jammie,
    I am so delighted to hear about your plan for 2014 and your new job. I hope you will describe your job in more detail in your upcoming posts. Your fellow Toastmasters in Paradise are rooting for you both. Be sure to consider joining a Toastmasters Club in Bangkok. On the Toastmasters International website (toastmasters.org) there are 16 Toastmasters Clubs listed located in Bangkok. Thanks so very much for keeping in touch. I send great love to both of you!

    1. Linda, we are so grateful for your support! And yes, we will definitely join a TM club in Bangkok. We did visit one that was quite large and happening..

  7. Awww you guys! This post put a big smile on my face and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Your joy and excitement is contagious. Thanks for sharing, and all the very best for your upcoming adventure!

  8. So glad that everything seems to be working out well for both of you. Hope there will be no delay due to the amount of paper work needed for staying and working in Bangkok.
    One little hint- be prepared to entertain a stream of visitors. We had quite a few when we lived in HongKong. One of them decided to stay as long as the tourist visa would allow which was three months for a Swede! We have joked about that many times as the years have passed.
    Love,
    Inger

  9. Sounds like a great learning adventure. Best of luck in all you undertake. Forty years ago, no children, and it might even be tempting to me…

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  11. Dear Bjorn and Jammie,
    My husband and I talked about traveling around the world before we got married,but with work and children after marriage it didnt happen. I am doing it through you vicariously . Wishing you all the best.
    Love
    Maggan

    1. Well, from what I hear you are doing quite a bit of traveling now as well! Thank you for the words of encouragement, Maggan! We hope we get to see you soon!

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