This digital nomad has left the United States for Bangkok and lives on $ 8,000 a month

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

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

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

By the time he turned 27, however, Schoberg began to feel restless. He decided to move to a new city and looked for apartments in Austin and Denver, but his mind kept wandering in Panama City, the capital of Panama, where he spent “one of the best vacations of his life”, as he remembers. he.

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 movement he had learned and was inspired to try during a work retreat in Curaçao.

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

“The quality of life in Thailand compared to the US is 90% much better and more stress-free,” he says. “It is 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 company he had founded in the United States and his client list.

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

Today DropInBlog has a 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 new free time to travel: after visiting several countries in South America, including Colombia and Costa Rica, he decided to visit Asia, living briefly in Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines (where he met his girlfriend on a Tinder date).

In 2015 Schoberg stopped in Thailand and immediately realized he had found his new home. “When I first arrived in Bangkok, I had that heartbeat that felt familiar to Panama City… there’s just this incredible energy in the streets and with the people,” he says. “I knew immediately that Bangkok was going to be my Panama City 2.0”.

Schoberg and his fiancée split their time between Mexico City and Bangkok pending his Thai Elite Visa, a renewable 5-year visa that costs around $ 18,000 and gives you 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. “Even though I can afford a rather pleasant life in the United States, I live much better here than in the United States,” he says. “The level of service you get here – fancier cinemas, beautiful cars – completely wipes out what you get in the US”

As an entrepreneur and CEO, Schoberg earns around $ 230,000 annually. His biggest expenses are rent and utilities, which together add up to about $ 2,710 per month. Schoberg and his girlfriend live in a one-bedroom apartment in a building with a private gym, pool, co-working space, restaurant, and daily maid service.

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

The food scene, he says, is a “big plus” to living in Thailand and one of the main reasons he chose to move to Bangkok. “Bangkok has an incredible culinary scene, you have practically every type of food in the world here,” says Schoberg. “Just around the corner from my apartment, there is a Belgian sandwich shop and a Vietnamese barbeque.”

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

Rent and utilities: $ 2,709.52

Food: $ 1,900.52

Transport: $ 197

Phone: $ 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 United States, Schoberg adds, and while English is spoken in popular tourist regions, such as Bangkok, learning Thai has given Schoberg “a huge advantage “as a foreigner.

She takes two Thai lessons a week, which cost $ 269.44 a month, and points out that “you can really engage in the culture and have a better life” in Bangkok if you can 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 halls – one of the magical aspects of life in Bangkok, he adds, is that it can feel like you. in two different cities at the same time.

“You have the city at street level, which is your food vendors, people rushing to work, taxis and motorbikes,” he says. “And then there is this city of the sky that is happening among the skyscrapers, with trendy rooftop bars, workspaces and shopping malls … here, you have the contrast between the Chanel store and the 20 cent pork skewer. which is grilled in the street “.

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