This digital nomad left the US for Bangkok and lives on $8K a month

Jesse Schoberg began planning his escape from Elkhorn, Wisconsin, where he was born and raised, as a teenager. “It’s your typical small Midwestern town: small, quiet, not too adventurous,” he tells CNBC Make It. “I always knew I wanted to get out and explore the world.”

The 41-year-old businessman has been living abroad for 14 years, dividing his time between more than 40 countries, and has no plans to return to the US any time soon.

Schoberg opposed the traditional path of attending college and securing a 9 to 5 job, instead choosing to move to Madison when he was 19, honing his coding skills and helping companies with the design and development of their software. website.

However, when he turned 27, Schoberg began to feel restless. He decided to move to a new city and researched apartments in Austin and Denver, but his mind kept wandering to Panama City, the capital of Panama, where he had “one of the best vacations of his life,” he recalls. the.

He moved to Panama City in 2008 and lived there for six years before packing his bags to travel the world full-time as a digital nomad, a move he had learned about and was inspired to try during a work retreat in Curaçao. .

Between his travels, Schoberg now calls Bangkok home. He moved to Thailand in December 2021 and shares a one-bedroom apartment with his fiancée Janine.

“The quality of life in Thailand compared to the United States is much better for 90% of things and more stress-free,” he says. “It’s also much easier to afford a luxurious lifestyle.”

Become a digital nomad

Schoberg has built a formidable career as an entrepreneur and web developer, earning a six-figure salary every year, but his success didn’t happen overnight.

When he first moved to Panama, Schoberg brought with him the web design and development firm he established in the US, and his list of clients.

In 2013, Schoberg and two of his friends who had worked with him on previous projects for the firm, Jason Mayfield and Laura Lee, created DropInBlog, a software startup that helps website owners add an SEO-optimized blog. to almost any platform in minutes.

Today, DropInBlog has a fully remote staff of 12 employees, with Schoberg at the helm as CEO.

Becoming his own boss gave Schoberg a more flexible schedule, and he used his newfound free time to travel: After visiting various countries in South America, including Colombia and Costa Rica, he decided to visit Asia, living for short periods in Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines (where he met his fiancée on a Tinder date).

In 2015, Schoberg stopped in Thailand and immediately knew he had found his new home. “When I first came to Bangkok, I had that pulse that was familiar to me in Panama City…there’s an incredible energy on the street and with the people,” she says. “I knew immediately that Bangkok was going to be my Panama City 2.0.”

Schoberg and his fiancée have been dividing their time between Mexico City and Bangkok as he waits for his Thai Elite visa, a 5-year renewable visa that costs about $18,000 and gives him unlimited access to Thailand as well as entry and exit privileges.

‘I live much better here than in the United States’

Since moving to Bangkok, Schoberg has been able to spend more on travel, dining and other hobbies, as well as increasing his savings. “While I can afford a pretty nice life in the United States, I live much better here than in the United States,” she says. “The level of amenities you get here (fancier movie theaters, nice cars) completely exceeds what you get in the US.”

As a businessman and CEO, Schoberg earns about $230,000 a year. His biggest expenses are rent and utilities, which together add up to about $2,710 each month. Schoberg and his fiancée live in a one-bedroom apartment in a building with a private gym, pool, coworking space, restaurant, and daily maid service.

He and Janine spend about $1,900 each month on takeout and dining out, often ordering food from local restaurants on a popular app called gopanda. Schoberg’s favorite foods are laos khao soi, a tomato and ground beef noodle soup, and pad krapow, a spicy chicken dish with basil. Both meals are typically $2-$3, Schoberg says, and local restaurants often offer discounts to long-term customers.

The food scene, he says, is a “huge advantage” of living in Thailand, and one of the main reasons he chose to move to Bangkok. “Bangkok has an amazing food scene, you have almost every type of food in the world here,” says Schoberg. “Around the corner from my apartment, there’s a Belgian sandwich shop and a Vietnamese barbecue.”

Here’s a monthly breakdown of Schoberg’s expenses (as of June 2022):

Rent and utilities: $2,709.52

Food: $1,900.52

Transportation: $197

Telephone: $40

Health insurance: $280.39

Subscriptions: $78.48

Discretionary: $2,669.37

Total: $7,875.28

Thai culture and people are “much friendlier and more relaxed” than in the US, Schoberg adds, and while English is widely spoken in popular tourist regions like Bangkok, learning Thai has given Schoberg “a great advantage” as a foreigner.

He attends two Thai classes per week, which cost $269.44 per month, noting that “you can really get involved in the culture and have a better life” in Bangkok if you are able to understand Thai.

As a new resident, Schoberg is still exploring Bangkok and all it has to offer, including its many shopping malls, parks, restaurants, and concert venues; One of the magical aspects of living in Bangkok, he adds, is that it can feel like you’re living in two different cities at once.

“You have the city at street level, which is your food vendors, people running to work, taxis and motorcycles,” he says. “And then there’s this sky city that’s happening in skyscrapers, with fancy rooftop bars and workspaces and shopping malls…here, you have the contrast of the Chanel store with the 20-cent pork skewer being grill on the street”.

Planning a lifetime of travel

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