I had an amazing run over the last two or so years in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
I got in the best shape of my life. Wrote my second best-selling book. Met a wonderful woman. Made lifelong friends. Invested and gave away thousands of dollars. Visited exotic locales.
It was one life-changing adventure after another.
But the end has come.
Thailand’s decision to become far more restrictive with broader immigration policies has made it very difficult for me (and many others) to continue living here long term.
This led to Oh and I having a series of lengthy discussions on how we could and would respond.
Ultimately, we both concluded that traveling abroad for the foreseeable future was our best choice at this time.
I’ve been very comfortable here in Thailand. Perhaps too comfortable.
Truth be told, left to my own devices, I wouldn’t be leaving. Not right now, at least. I’m honestly not a huge fan of traveling. I like having structure, visiting my favorite haunts, and feeling a sense of ownership over my local domain. I’m a creature of habit. Furthermore, I find the whole “digital nomad” thing extremely overrated and not sustainable for very long.
However, being forced out of my comfort zone is a blessing in disguise in many ways. I’m looking forward to pushing myself, overcoming new challenges, and experiencing different adventures. I’m excited to grow.
Here’s where I’m going, when I’m leaving, and what’s next.
Leaving Thailand On December 27
I’m leaving Thailand this Friday, December 27.
My ED visa expires in early January. However, I didn’t want to push things to the very last minute.
Moreover, I didn’t want to pay for another month of rent, gym membership, mobile phone, etc. Not for just a few days of the month. I could try to get into daily rates for certain things, but I didn’t see the point of going out of my way to delay the inevitable.
This date worked out well with Oh’s schedule. And Friday tends to be a pretty light day on the productivity front for me.
Going To Kuala Lumpur
I’ll be setting up shop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, flying in directly from Chiang Mai.
Kuala Lumpur is, in my opinion, a fantastic option in Southeast Asia for early retirement (if you can get past the heat and rain).
The city is well developed, clean, safe, and very cheap. In some ways, it’s cheaper than Bangkok. And Bangkok is already one of the best bang-for-buck megacities in the entire world.
I’ve arranged to be there until at least late March. I could (and might) extend things in KL past that point, but I have limited visibility on that for right now.
Kuala Lumpur is the perfect base for the next few months. That’s besides the fact that I’ve been wanting to check it out for myself.
I’m waiting for Oh to sell her house, quit her job, and tie up a number of loose ends in Thailand. She can’t come along on adventures until all of that is done. I believe it’ll take her at least a couple months to square things away.
Seeing as how Malaysia is one of Thailand’s bordering neighbors, it’ll be very easy for her to join me when she’s ready. I’m just a short plane ride away. And she gets an easy visa on arrival.
From Kuala Lumpur, we can disembark for the next leg of our journey when we’re ready.
Departing alone like this gives also gives Oh some space and time to think about things and be really sure that she’s ready to commit to the travel and future plans that we’ve sketched out. I already told her that I would totally understand if she were to change her mind. I’d be sad. And disappointed. But I’d understand.
The Rest Of 2020
The rest of the year is still up in the air at this point.
Much of it comes down to how much I (we) like Kuala Lumpur, when Oh is able to join me, and what kind of mood we’re in down the road.
But I think it’s likely that we end up in Tbilisi, Georgia for a good chunk of the summer and fall.
I think it might just be the best city in the whole world for early retiree expats.
Istanbul could make sense for a month in the late fall. Turkey is right next to Georgia. It’s a little warmer that time of year. And Istanbul looks fascinating.
Beyond that, we may skip around Southeast Asia together for a bit. Hanging out in Vietnam in the springtime, before heading off to Georgia, is a potential option. Frankly, we have a lot of options.
Finally, returning to Thailand later in 2020, around the holidays, is something we’re keen to do. We’ll reassess life at that point and decide if we want to travel more or settle down.
I’ll See You In 2020
This seems like a great juncture to conclude 2019 for Mr. Free At 33.
I’m going to spend the next few days wrapping things up in Chiang Mai, reminiscing, and having a great time with Oh before I leave. Then I have to spend time this weekend getting my bearings in a totally new city.
I’ll have my usual UDGSOW article going live this Sunday. Otherwise, the next full post here on the blog will be late next week, when I update the FIRE Fund for January.
That will be my first full blog post from Kuala Lumpur. I hope it’s the first of many.
I’m looking forward to putting out new content over the next few months relating to Kuala Lumpur, how it stacks up as a city for Western early retiree expats, and even how it compares to options in the US and Thailand.
The whole of 2020 should be a very interesting year for new content and ideas. It’s exciting stuff.
As I look back on my time in Thailand, I’m proud of everything I’ve done. I’d be disappointed if I had let the last two years go to waste, but I don’t believe that was the case at all. I accomplished so much. I really do feel like I took maximum advantage of everything this place had to offer me. And I also feel like I gave as much as I possibly could have to everyone around me. I leave with no regrets. I lived my best life.
Thank you for all of your support this past year – and every year that came before it.
Being able to help, motivate, and inspire others is a dream come true for me. Providing value to people and showing them what’s possible in this life is an honor that I take very seriously.
Thank you very, very much for your ongoing readership.
I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and happy holiday season.
I’ll see you all in 2020 after I’m settled into my new home in Kuala Lumpur!
What do you think? Ever been to Kuala Lumpur? Any thoughts on it?
Thanks for reading.
P.S. If you’re interested in becoming financially independent and geographically independent, check out some fantastic resources that I personally used on my way to becoming financially free at 33!