Ten years ago I found myself travelling through a sleepy town in the tropical foothills of northern Thailand. I really loved the area. But, sadly, I’d had to return home to London to make money.
Over a decade later after getting married, starting a business, buying a house, getting divorced and losing half a house, I’ve finally been able to return to Chiang Mai to combine two of the greatest loves of my life: travelling and business.
I used to get up in freezing cold dark mornings in London to endure a nasty commute to get to a boring, meaningless job and, then, return on the nasty commute to an evening of equally boring, meaningless TV.
Yes, I know that I’m lucky. I love my life now. I’ve never even had a feeling like this before. I have to stop myself from worrying about when it’s all going to end.
More time to spend on my business
Chiang Mai has the cheapest cost of living out of all digital nomad destinations. This means I didn’t have to perform the domestic tasks of supermarket shopping, cooking, cleaning, washing up, etc. I had this done for me. Yes, it was a dreadful imposition, but I got used to it.
A more positive environment
During the three months I’ve been here, I can only remember hearing one argument – and that was farang on farang (farang is the Thai word for European). Thai people are notoriously friendly, happy and co-operative and this attitude even passes over to the ex pats who have been here for a while.
This positivity – or lack of negativity – made me more relaxed and freed up my thinking.
Meeting a different type of business person
I was always meeting other entrepreneurs in London. But in Chiang Mai, a digital nomad hub, I meet a special breed of online entrepreneur.
In London, I met a more financially successful but “traditional” entrepreneur (there’s a contradiction). In Chiang Mai, I meet more beginner entrepreneurs but also more creative and more “out there” entrepreneurs.
Making new friends
In your 30s, most of your friends are married with kids and move out of London to a place where they can afford to buy a house. After 15 years of over-socialising singledom and 5 years of a cocooned failed marriage, I, rather shockingly, had no friends. Nobby No-mates, as we say in England.
I had completely forgotten what it was like to make new friends. And, it was heart-warming to know I could still do this.
So, in Chiang Mai, I mix with the thriving ex-pat population (digital nomads et al) as well as the famously friendly locals. I’m so lucky I meet such amazing people. I may not always show it but I have a lot of affection for people that I meet. If you’re reading this and I met you in Chiang Mai, just remember I love you.
It’s all rather amazing.
But it hasn’t all been good news. With my new found fun came the old familiar temptations.
I’d been so proud of myself for not drinking much, not taking any drugs, reading and exercising. I’d thought that I’d conquered my old demons with willpower alone.
Not a bit of it. I’d only managed to stop drinking because I’d had no one to drink with. In Chiang Mai there’s more opportunity to have fun and party and I embraced this opportunity with open arms.
But, you can do it
Never mind me. I’ll return next year and enjoy the delights of Thailand with a book rather than a beer in my hand.
But you can follow me to Chiang Mai – literally – or follow what I’ve been doing and go anywhere. You can earn passive income to create a lifestyle business that will give you the time and freedom to do what you want when you want.
It starts with giving away great free content …