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This lesson on elllo.org we hear from Dan from Tropical MBA Podcast as he shares basic living costs for working in Southeast Asia. You can see the full lesson here!

Transcript of Conversation

Todd: So I'm here with Dan, and he lives in Bali, Indonesia. And he’s talking about slow travel, which is the concept of living in a foreign country for a long time to experience the culture and the lifestyle.

Dan, can you talk a little bit about the cost, like if somebody wants to really do this, how much money do they need for housing, transportation, food, things like that?

Dan: Well, when I quit my job four years ago, I had a mantra in my head. And I always said, all I need to be happy in life is a thousand bucks and a backpack. And I thought, if I could really simplify my life and take away all the overhead cost of car payment or a mortgage on a house or student load debts, credit cards, things like that, all I would need is a thousand dollars of income a month in order to own my time and to spend my time going to anywhere I wanted.

I think realistically in places in Southeast Asia, if you want to move around every two or three months or go visit friends at another city, you're going to want at least $1,500 to $2,000 a month. And that’s going to give you, I would say, a quite luxurious lifestyle.

Obviously, you could come here to Bali and live for $700 a month and you could do the same in Nha Trang like we’re talking earlier, maybe even easier in Vietnam. But the real cost come in is when you want to explore and move around internationally. So if you’re living in Nha Trang and you’d like to visit a friend in Bangkok every three months or something like that, you’re going to want more like 1,500 to 2,000 a month.

Todd: So could you like break down the cost? So what kind of cost are we talking here? Like how much would you pay for housing? How much would you pay, you know, for food every month? How much would you pay for health insurance? Things like that.

Dan: Sure, I mean, if we can make like a vast generalization across Southeast Asia in general. I know it’s a huge place but in most places for a furnished apartment, for a solo traveler, you’re going to look at anywhere from $250 to $750 a month. So let’s just ballpark it and say $500. You know, in a place like Manila, you’re going to get a great apartment for $500. In a place like Bangkok, you’re going to get even better apartment for $500. And again, you have to commit to a month at least to get these kinds of rates. But if you’re willing to do that, stay for few months, you’re going to get really good advantage there.

Let’s take Bangkok as an example. $500, you’re going to have a great apartment. For another $500, you are going to eat like King Midas. And then let’s say your internet is $30 a month and your health insurance in $120 a month. We’re at about $1,200 a month now. And I’d say, on top of that, it's all about the most dangerous habit for your wallet on the planet, and it is travel. So if you decide that you want to go home for Christmas and you want to go home for Thanksgiving as well for Americans, you know, that’s going to kill your piggy bank. But if you don’t travel so much, you could easily stay in a place like Bangkok for $1,000 to $1,500 a month.

Todd: So, what about like a, you know, going out having beers and thinks like that? Like are there certain habits that you have to kind of curtail or keep down so that you save money?

Dan: Well, it really depends where you live. So, in the Philippines you could go out and party every night and it won’t make a dent in your wallet. Whereas in places like here in Bali, you had to be really careful because beers can be $7 for one cocktail. So if you go out to the club and you order 4 cocktails, and you meet a cute girl and you buy her 2 cocktails, that could easily turn into a $50 evening, and that’s going to kill your traveler’s budget.

So generally in Southeast Asia going out for social drinks isn’t a big impact on your wallet because booze here is relatively cheap. But definitely that can have a big impact.

Todd: Alright, thanks for the advice.

End of Transcript

Direct download: Podcast-1326-Dan-Costs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:28am EDT

This week on elllo.org we hear from Dan, an Americna businessman working abroad, and he talks about why he likes to live in Bali and why it is a good place to set roots.

The full episode online comes with a video, quiz, audio vocabulary and a speaking/listening challenge. You can get it here or at the link below:

http://elllo.org/english/1301/T1323-Dan-SEA.htm

Transcript of the Conversation

 

Todd: So now Dan you live in Bali, Indonesia, which is a very beautiful place and you do a lot of business in Southeast Asia. Why do you think Southeast Asia is a good place to do business?

Dan: Well, one of the primary reasons is the lifestyle. If you are generating a reasonable income on western standards, you can—what we do is, you know, perform some global arbitrage. You can take that western level salary and move it to a developing area of the world like here in Southeast Asia, and your purchasing power is much greater.

So if you’re selling products in a higher valued economy like Germany and you’re living in Vietnam, you’re going to be able to experience a much higher lifestyle. And we call that concept arbitrage. You know, currency markets and stock traders have used that kind of concept all the time because they’re dealing with very liquid assets. In our case, you know, our locations weren't always so liquid. It wasn’t always so easy to change your location. Now with internet style business, it’s getting easier.

So primarily, the lifestyle, I found that that’s a great tool for recruiting because staff, they want to have a great lifestyle too. So if you can set up an office in a place like Bali, Indonesia, it’s like paradise on earth. It’s so beautiful here, people want to join you, and so it’s great for recruiting as well.

Todd: Do you find it’s harder to get work done in a beautiful place. I mean, Bali is basically paradise. Can you still follow the nine-to-five work grind and get things done?

Dan: I find that I get more work done in Bali because the cost of living here is lower on all fronts. Not only is food cheaper, rent cheaper, but it’s easier to get people to help you out to do things. For example, in United States, I can't afford to pay somebody to do my laundry. It’s too expensive. But here in Bali, I have somebody do my laundry and that saves me two hours a week.

Simple things like that start to add up. It’s a very relaxed and healthy place that helps me focus on work. I have a lot of friends that live in New York city for example and they spend so much time traveling on the train, making money to afford living there, and I see that as a much more stressful, difficult environment to really be productive and creative. Here in Bali, I have no problems focusing on my work.

Todd: So what kind of work schedule do you follow, like do you work every day? Do you work like eight hours straight? Do you work at night? Because you’re dealing with different time zones with people all around the world. You said your market is mainly in the States. Could you talk a little bit about your work routine?

Dan: Sure. It’s actually defined by what I feel like my biorhythms are. To use a really colloquial phrase, car guys in United States use a term called torque band. And that’s when your engine is the strongest—at what time your engine the strongest? And for me that’s 7:00 to 11:00 in the morning, and 7:00 to 11:00 in the evening, and right now it’s sort of 2:33 PM. This is generally a time that I would relax. I would close my computer. I would get in the pool. I’d meet with some friends, maybe take a walk, listen to some podcasts, and relax until dinner time. After dinner time have a coffee and continue working.

So, it’s primarily for me, that just seems to be when I’m most creative and I have no idea why.

Todd: It sounds like a nice life.

 

Direct download: Podcast-1323-DAN-SEA.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:38pm EDT

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