Well, khop khun kaaaa Chiang Mai, it’s been fantastic! Reflecting on the almost 3 months all up that we’ve spent here, we realised we’ve actually achieved quite a lot on our path to becoming a couple of real digital nomads.
Why Chiang Mai?
We decided to head to Thailand’s northern capital and spend a bit of time here out of our 12-month year of travel for a few reasons.
It’s cheap. We’ve been very spoilt for choice for great places to eat at incredible value. Grabbing a substantial meal for less than $3 for the two of us is pretty amazing. We’ve stayed in some great clean and comfortable apartments for a fraction of the cost of our Sydney rent.
In all seriousness though, the real reason is really not to take advantage of a cheaper cost of living, but to remind ourselves of the real value of money and what we buy with it. Evaluating our spending with the scrutiny of a tight daily budget has kept us on track, and the reality is, every dollar we save now, is another dollar we can spend later.
Ultimately, it might keep us travelling that touch longer should we want to.
It’s a digital nomad hub. There are lots of people here from all over the world doing all sorts of amazing things, and still earning a crust while they travel. We’ve met writers, yoga instructors, teachers, coaches, fitness instructors, drop-shippers, SEO specialists, marketers, town planners, engineers, coders – every one of them with an entrepreneurial energy (albeit sometimes, a little evangelistic perhaps).
While we don’t subscribe to everyone’s methods, what is undeniable is that there’s a realisation amongst this community that the traditional work model we’ve all grown up with is by no means an indicator of what the future of what work will look like. And that’s what’s really damn exciting.
Chiang Mai tops many lists for best places in the world to be a digital nomad, and there are more and more people arriving every week who are seeking the same inspiration. Families with small children looking for adventure and richness of experience. Retirees looking to extend their pensions and live in luxury and relaxation.
So, what has Chiang Mai given us beyond this?
Well, we’ve learnt a LOT.
Beyond the obvious immersive cultural experience, being here was as much about the gift of free time.
It’s really astonished us how many new things we can do. We had never created websites and now we’re are running several. We’d only ever had normal jobs where you show up for work every day. Now we are making a few dollars online freelancing and keeping whatever hours we like. This means if we want to go out and have fun, or if we want to learn some new skills, or enjoy quiet self-reflection, we can do all that without worrying about being late for work… and that’s what we hoped being a digital nomad would be like.
Supplementing our existing skills with online courses and reading a bazillion blogs we never knew existed, then envisioning how it could all be turned into something which could generate income for us online has been mind-blowing.
It has felt SO GOOD to LEARN new stuff. Our brains have been like sponges – which has also proven to be detrimental to getting to sleep, with a mass of new ideas buzzing around in there preventing switch off.
But it’s been so different to a night of sleeplessness back home. Because it’s all within our control.
We know we aren’t the first people to realise this, or even the millionth.
Reading all about this lifestyle in the first place was what prompted our move. It’s just now that we’re doing it, it feels really good. If we happen to create sustainable income in the process – fantastic!
This isn’t at all meant to be a big middle finger to life back home or anything like that. It’s just a realisation that we’ve set goals for ourselves, and achieved them. It’s also exciting to think of what we could achieve over our remaining 8 months or so of this mid-30s “gap” year.
We’re leaving Chiang Mai with a new perspective on life. That’s exactly what our intention was when we set out to do this.