The age of 30 is when many consider to be the defining age in which we start to; “settle down” – Start thinking about finding a nice girlfriend? Put a deposit on a house? Maybe a few kids? Start acting a bit more sensibly… ?
It all sounds great in theory, but there are a number of people who have decided to spend their “youth” enjoying life to the full, travelling the world and spending their savings on life experiences rather than overpriced bricks and mortar in a London suburb. With ever increasing taxes in the UK, the terrible weather and the general expense, the idea of living and working abroad is becoming a more attractive option for those who have no responsibilities and want to “improve their quality of life”..
We speak with Jon Scales, who at almost 30 gave up a successful life back in London to travel the world and now lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand – on his thoughts about his new life and decision to leave the UK and move to Thailand.
So tell us about your background?
I have been self employed since i can remember, my main business was in the hospitality industry, essentially promoting nightclubs. I did this for 7 years, before taking an offer to buy my business out early 2015. The industry was partly the reason why I never held down a long term relationship, and allowed me to make the decision to leave the UK with no responsibilities, so it was kind off a blessing in disguise…
What made you decide to leave?
Having lived in Fulham, London for 7 years, in a pokey studio apartment shelling out 1100+ a month just to have a roof over my head, along with all the other expenses that come with living in the capital, it meant that to enjoy a “decent lifestyle” i was having to dedicate a vast majority of my time into work to sustain it, which left very little time to actually enjoy anything. It just stopped being fun.
It was after I sold my business I read a book called the “4 Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferris, which completely changed my outlook on life and the work / life balance. It just hit home that we spend a very short amount of time on this planet, and why spend it stuck behind a computer screen, working yourself to death? I just imagined how I would feel as a “ghost” looking back at myself in the coffin, I came to the conclusion that i would absolutely gutted i hadn’t spent my time having more fun.
What happened after you left?
The first 5 months i just had a blast, it was a huge release for me after spending every day working in the UK. I travelled all over Thailand, island hopping in Phi Phi, motorbiked across Malaysia, visited Vietnam etc, I also lived in Bangkok for a few months just enjoying myself and meeting some great people. I just had a “bucket list” of things I wanted to do, and did them.
How do you feel about the UK now?
To be honest my opinion of the UK has gone further downhill, I feel so disassociated with the country now. I read the UK news everyday and hear stories about how people are being fined for accidentally dropping litter, rail prices increasing, BBC license fee money being wasted, new laws being introduced every day taking away every last bit of fun and freedom you have left. It really saddens me that people just sit back and allow themselves to be treated like shit everyday by the government.
How does your life compare now?
It is really in-comparable – I find it funny that people spend all year to save up money to have 2 weeks away in Thailand as a holiday, and yet don’t consider living here, It really is possible to have a holiday 52 weeks of the year. I am making much less “money”, but actually the lifestyle I am living is so much better, so really the amount of money I make (comparably) is largely irrelevant.
How do your family feel about it?
My family has always been supportive whatever I do, I imagine they would prefer me to be closer to home, but we keep in touch via Skype every week and keep everyone updated. This is the hardest thing about making the decision to live abroad.
Describe an average day?
I wake up to a hot day every morning, every other day i will have a massage in the morning before hopping on a scooter to do some work in the coffee shop. When i‘ve finished, i’lll grab something to eat, a big plate of chicken and rice with a soup, costs 40p or so. The afternoons I have free to meet friends, travel outside the city and relax by the river or visit a temple, go bowling , etc. In the evenings, I can have a beer / play pool in the bar or watch a movie on my balcony watching the sun go down. There is always new people to meet here, and especially in Chiang Mai there is a large ex-pat community, so the social scene is very similar to that in the UK.
What advise do you give to anyone considering doing something like this?
I can only recommend it, it does take a certain type of person to take these “risks” but really when you look at the “risk” itself, there is none? You can always try it, come stay here for a month and if you don’t like it go home and carry on life as normal, or you may find (like me) that your life can be improved significantly. There are plenty of businesses that you can run from a laptop in a coffee shop in Thailand, you also don’t currently need to be on a work Visa to do this, teaching also remains a popular choice and can pay quite well, If you earn anything above 1500 a month in Thailand, you can really live like a king/queen which is below the Uk national average I believe, so it really is achievable?
Where do you see your future?
I try not to think or plan to far ahead, its much easier to just go with the flow. The great thing is that I can work from my laptop anywhere, so if I fancy going to work on an Indonesian Island next month, I can? It’s much better to not have a plan, but for now Chiang Mai I feel very relaxed and have everything I need, the girls are very hot as well 🙂