1. How and why did you choose to go nomadic?
It was a chain of events that led to the point of moving to Thailand.
Once I quit university to focus on my full-time job at an IT company, I realized how “expensive” life gets in The Netherlands once you’re on your own. While my salary wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t really satisfied. I then decided to work on side income.
That’s how I first looked into ways to start making money on the Internet. The first few “endeavors” in BitCoin speculation and day trading stocks went horribly wrong, but gave me some valuable lessons. One of which was the introduction to the internet marketing community. More specifically to affiliate marketing. That’s where I started my first serious business and after some struggling found a good mentor and made a decent side-income.
Along with that came something else that was far more important and had more impact on my life: I discovered personal development. Through a series of books and other material I realized that we have so much more control over the direction of our lives than we tell ourselves (or are told).
This made me want much more out of this enterprise than just some extra side-income. A few months into it I found out about the Digital Nomad lifestyle. I discovered a lot of travel bloggers and other online entrepreneurs that had an awesome life in exotic countries. What surprised me most was how little income was really needed to support such a lifestyle.
That’s when I made the decision to try it out, move to Chiang Mai and meet those people. In just a few days I did everything to prevent myself from chickening out: told my parents, quit my job, gave my notice on my apartment and started selling stuff.
2. What was it like leaving your home country?
Once the decision was made it was actually fairly easy. I’m very fortunate to have a family that’s always supportive of me and they were totally fine with it. Of course, people at my job had a bit of a harder time understanding what I was doing. Sometimes I just had to lie and tell people I was going on a trip for 2 years, as the real explanation was just too far out for them.
3. What are your biggest struggles? Fears?
When I lived in The Netherlands I was not a very social person. My group of friends was small and meeting new people wasn’t something I did regularly. When I came out here, I put in a lot of effort to turn that around and it’s been amazing. Both among the Digital Nomad community and while backpacking around the region I’ve met so many cool people, with great stories and personalities.
However, with the way this lifestyle works, these relationships are often quite short term. Although I’ve hopefully met a few people I’ll stay in contact with over longer periods of time, I often miss a few people that made a huge impact on me.
Obviously, if you’re looking for a romantic relationship, this will be an even bigger issue.
There are other challenges as well, but this is the biggest one.
4. How are you funding your lifestyle and what projects are you working on?
My main source of income has been and still is affiliate marketing. Through the use of advertising on Facebook, often combined with email marketing, I sell other people’s products and get a commission for it. On the side though I’m always working on new thoughts and ideas to expand to other areas of online business. That’s the great part about this lifestyle. It doesn’t take a lot to finance life in Chiang Mai, which gives you a lot of time to experiment, fail and try again.
5. What is the estimated monthly cost of living for one of your favorite locations? What lifestyle does that afford?
Chiang Mai, Thailand is one of the cheapest places to live for Digital Nomads. If you’re on a real tight budget, less than $600 a month will be enough to live here and bootstrap your business. But if you’re doing just a little bit better and can afford to spend $1000–1500 a month, your life here is amazing.
I’m living in a $170/month studio apartment in the middle of Nimman road, one of the central locations for Digital Nomads. There are many other options around this area, but I feel like I’ve got a pretty good deal here.
As long as you eat Thai food, you can eat for $2–3 per meal. Western food is definitely more expensive, but still very affordable compared to restaurants in Western Europe.
One of the things that often drive my expenses up a lot is alcohol. While beer and cocktails are quite affordable, wine is very overpriced due to huge import taxes.
6. What is your top tip for someone who aspires to earn money online and travel?
Pick one thing and ignore everything else.
Read a few stories from other online entrepreneurs to figure out which business model you like. Once you’ve done that, fully commit to it. Don’t think “oh, but I should try this other thing, because this seems kinda hard”.
Yes, it’s hard, yes it takes time, effort, some money, yes you’ll run into a million problems (challenges). But that is true for the “other thing” as well. So just stick to your guns and grind it out.
Any final thoughts?
If anyone who’s reading this is in doubt about becoming a Digital Nomad: just go and try it. I’ve met people here who just visit for a few months, then go back home. If it doesn’t work out, who cares?
It’s not failing, it’s just experimenting and making the best of your life. Come to Chiang Mai, it’s the easiest place to start, meet people and get a feel for what it’s like living in a completely different country and culture.
If you want to follow me, I occasionally blog about my travels, business, personal development and other random thoughts on libertytotravel.com. Links to other social media channels, such as YouTube, Instagram and Facebook can be found there too.