When I sat down on my twelveth day in Thailand to brainstorm my first blog post, ‘My first 2 weeks in Thailand’, I quickly realised that a better beginning would be my reasons for moving here in the first place.
I first entertained the thought of moving abroad to a new country nearly two years ago. I was on a gap year from college, and into my sixth month living in Galway city, in an apartment with five guys who were in college – an experience in and of itself! I had been working in a small web design & marketing agency in the city throughout my 1st year of college and at the start of my gap year, but the owner ended up shutting it down, so I turned to freelancing to pay my bills. That wasn’t working too well as I struggled to bring in enough sales, and I switched to my contingency plan – Deliveroo cyclist. I got through the online application and into the trial phase; an experienced rider showed me and another applicant how to use the app and got us to do a mock delivery in the city.
A few days later, Deliveroo emailed me telling me I hadn’t gotten the job. Ouch. Surely I wasn’t that slow on a bike. You can imagine my ego and feelings of self-worth were taking a bit of a dive here – I couldn’t support myself with my freelancing skills or get a delivery job! Things weren’t looking good. But sometimes good opportunities come at the right times, and a friend put me in touch with a business owner looking to hire someone with my particular skill set.
I spent the next five months working with the owner of a small software startup called Plan It Appy. It was just the two of us working on his business – an online platform and app that lets gym and fitness instructors manage their members and classes. The owner, John, was on a college startup program for new businesses in GMIT (Galway Mayo Institute of Technology), and we worked out of a shared office with other business owners on the program. The role was perfect for me and it required a little bit of everything; web & graphic design, photo and video editing, sales, copywriting, customer support and coding.
My hours were 7 hours a day, 4 days a week. I used the 5th day to start growing my freelance career, working on a few websites here and there, with the aim of making it my full-time career.
Around this time, I was talking regularly to a close friend, Oliver. We had both done a STEM challenge in school called F1 in Schools, that saw us compete in the World Finals of the competition in Abu Dhabi. We’d worked on a small hardware startup together too. Both of us were driven, smart, ambitious, and open-minded. We saw that there were a lot of paths we could take in life, especially since we were both interested in being able to work from our laptops. We began looking at countries around the world that had a cheap cost of living, and hence would be easier to survive in. We narrowed down our list to Portugal and Thailand, eventually settling on the latter.
A few days later, I very nervously asked my boss if we could explore the option of me remote working from Thailand. He thought about it and said no. Fair enough, to get the most use out of me he needed me in the same office, since, as his sole employee, my role required a lot of flexibility, including assisting him at meetings or promotional events.
Having previously failed to make ends meet here in Galway through my freelance career, I decided I was best to stay put and get more experience, expand on my skills and grow my network. And I did just that.
The 14 months that followed saw me rapidly grow, professionally and personally. I joined forces with local businessman Michael Coyle, and we grew his business, Concordi, into a limited company, providing a full range of digital services to local businesses, with a total of six employees at its peak. The hands-on learning experience we both got was phenomenal, certainly more than I would have gotten in college,
Throughout that time I was reading, thinking, learning, having deep late-night discussions with friends, and finding my place in the world. I was starting to settle on a personal philosophy to live by, got better at decision making, and got wiser about the world, learning to separate truths from fictions, even when the truths were harsher. I got better at analysing my life and my mind, through reading and meditation, and learned to subdue my ego so that I could be honest and critical with myself.
I settled on a couple of facts:
- I wasn’t ready to take on the responsibility of having to bring in enough revenue for four people’s wages, as well as my own. That takes an immense amount of work and skill, and while I was able to do it, it took more time to sustain than I was willing to part with. If I was going to take on this level of responsibility and dedication in a career, it would have to be something I was truly passionate about, and while I enjoyed this role, I knew I could find something that suited me better.
- I wanted time more than I wanted money. I had become less material and more minimalistic, and wanted to work less to free up time for reading, studying, and working on side projects. The next few years of my life were likely to be the ones where I would have the least amount of external responsibilities – down the road I would have a family to look after, a mortgage to pay, etc.
- I wanted to explore the world. I was part of a Scout group when I was younger and really enjoyed exploring the Irish countryside. I wanted to start seeing different regions and meeting people from other cultures.
- I had become very interested in philosophy, and wanted to spend time living in Eastern culture, after 22 years in the West.
- I wanted to grow and develop myself even further. From reading online I knew that moving to a different country was a good way to ‘reboot’ ones way living, and was in a way nearly like starting a new life.
Lo and behold, it turns out Thailand is a good place to live for all of the above!
- Thailand has a lower cost of living than most countries in the West (if not all of them). By working as a freelance web designer for countries in the West, while living in the East, I could cut back my work hours to 3-4 hours a day, 5 days a week.
- The low cost of living also lets you save time by removing some tasks you’d usually do; eating out is cheap, letting you skip food shopping, food preparation and cleaning up afterwards, giving me even more hours in each day
- I was able to fit all of my belongings that I wanted to fit into one backpack, so packing up and moving abroad wasn’t going to be a big ordeal.
- It’s a whole new country to explore, with different weather, landscapes and people. And it’s awash in Eastern philosophy too.
- I would be by myself. I spent a lot of time in Galway with close friends, tending to my extroverted side. Now I wanted to start a new period of my life with more solitude, resulting in fewer distractions and more time to work on myself.
On top of all of that, Oliver made the bold decision to move abroad without me. He was still living there and loving life when I was re-visiting my plan to move abroad, and I liked the idea of moving abroad to somewhere where I had at least one friend.
So, I made the difficult but right decision to leave Concordi, and began preparing to move abroad.