“I’m what they call a ‘digital nomad,’” one Englishman named Nigel told me.
Nigel has lived in Bangkok for three years. He makes money online with various micro-businesses.
He even uses Fiverr every once in a while to make some extra cash.
I met him while walking to my place a couple nights ago.
I was a few blocks from my apartment when I noticed a long strip of bars… bright lights… and a busy street.
Intrigued, I headed in.
The street ended up being none other than Soi Cowboy.
Soi Cowboy, if you don’t know (I didn’t), is Bangkok’s red-light district. Just a mere two blocks from my apartment.
Courtesy of Bangkok Hangover
I met some interesting characters on my way through the street.
Nigel being only one… but definitely one of the most interesting.
“Why Thailand?” I asked Nigel.
“For one,” he told me in a tone that made it sound like I just asked the dumbest question ever, “it’s cheap.
“Two, I came here to visit for a week and never left…
[Nigel sips his beer]
“Does that answer your question?”
“Yeah. Pretty much.”
“I’ve talked to several foreigners who have made the jump to live in Thailand.
Including, but not limited to, a few of your fellow LFT readers.
(A special thanks to one LFT reader for buying me beers and breakfast and giving me some worthy Thailand tips. Thank you. And also, a thank you goes out to Jud’s brother, who bought me dinner and shared some hilarious (and extremely enlightening) stories.)
Some of these expats, like Nigel, stay here because it’s a good fit for their lifestyle and their money goes a lot further. For most people like Nigel, it seems, Bangkok is just a stop along the way.
Some people I’ve spoken with come here out of necessity. Certain circumstances in life have just led them here.
And others have chosen to retire here. They’ve decided to live out the rest of their days in an awesome place where their retirement funds can be stretched out.
Whatever the case, whether these people know it or not, they’re committing a form of what Nigel calls “currency arbitrage.”
And it’s the savviest way I know of expressing your right to be free.
Currency arbitrage is a way to strategically increase your buying power (and your net worth) by leveraging differences in currency costs.
It’s the contrarian’s contrarian move.
See, making more money and investing wisely are two ways raise your net worth.
Living somewhere with a weaker currency (whilst making money in a strong currency) is another, sometimes easier way to go.
If you’re in a position to do so, of course.
And if you mix this concept in with travel hacking, you can travel to weaker markets and let those strong bills rest easy in your pockets.
Life, dear LFT reader, is meant to be lived.
Of course, in order to truly live, you have to push outside your comfort zone.
Some people just allow themselves to grow stagnant, stale…
And, heaven forbid, they become the dirtiest word of them all… indifferent.
We can’t reach to push you.
But we will be relentless in giving you the mental nudge you need to live a fuller, more satisfying, and freer life.
Count on it.
That’s why I sat down with a few digital nomads and got the lowdown on the best places to practice currency arbitrage…
If you’re interested, the following is what they told me.
Also, I’ve arranged these places so that you can visit each one while the weather is in its prime.
Follow this short guide, says our trusty Bangkokian digital nomads, and you’ll get the best of every world.
You’ll work in leisure… rest in luxury… and spend in discount.
This isn’t, by the way, only for those who are already running an online business…
This is also a guide for those who want to learn ways to make money online.
Because this guide will tell you… roughly… where the best online opportunities are in any given month around the world.
Many online opportunities, given the nature of the digital nomad, are always on the roam.
But, at any given time, there are vortexes where a lot of brains are meeting — and making a lot of money.
You see, it’s not always about having a great idea.
It’s also about meeting a lot of people who have a lot of great ideas. And then helping them realize them.
With that said, we’ve created a very special challenge for you today.
The first person to take our challenge (and prove it), will receive a care package from our Baltimore HQ.
OK. So, according to my “insiders,” if you start in January…
[You should already know this one.]
You’ll want to go to Bangkok, Thailand.
Cheap, delicious food. Great weather. Cheap accommodations. Friendly locals. Motorbike taxis. You name it.
What more do you need?
February-March, you go to Medellin, Colombia…
Medellin has a bad reputation for being a drug trade warzone.
This bad perception works for you: it makes it cheap. But don’t worry: the perception, says my confidante, is now way off.
And while the environment is changing vastly for the better, the reputation for being a danger zone is still there. In reality, it’s very modern, the people are friendly, and it has a rich, vibrant culture.
This makes it a best-kept secret for those digital nomads “in the know.”
Also, it’s not fully on the tourist agenda (yet). So there’s still plenty of time.
In April, hit up Buenos Aires, Argentina…
Cheap cost of living… amazing food (though vegetarians might be at loggerheads with this statement)… beautiful people everywhere you look… and tango!
Plus, which is an important for the nomad, Argentina has a great transportation system.
May through July, you’ll want to trek to Bali…
This might come as a surprise, but, according to one expat I spoke with, Bali is cheaper than Thailand.
Local food will cost you about $2. You can get a hotel room for $10 a night (an apartment will cost way less if you pay in advance).
August? Head to Berlin…
Berlin has, by far, the cheapest cost of living out of all European capitals.
Also, it’s crawling with business opportunities.
Easy access to the west and east of Europe — and the low cost of living — makes it a mecca for small startups.
And November through December, stop in Shanghai, China.
But book your accommodations far ahead of time. These months are popular for meetings and conventions, leading to more demand for rooms.
Shanghai is very safe. It’s diverse. And attracts plenty of nomads looking for like-minded people to share ideas… plans… and get help.
Is this the path to making a million?
Maybe. Maybe not.
But if you never go, you never know. And if you really did follow this timeline, imagine all the stories you’d have to tell.
I challenge you, if you’re an entrepreneur, to try one of these countries. Dip a toe in. Do a little networking… get a feel for the lay of the land.
And see what comes of it.
Let’s dig into the mailbag.
“Have you tried Thai iced tea?” Ashby M. asks.
“It’s really yummy — as long as you like it sweet. Don’t be put off by the color as it’s a bit unusual for Americans.
LFT: Upon your recommendation, I just ordered one. I’m at this amazing 24-hour library/coffee-shop called Too Fast To Sleep.
And I just noticed they have it.
Here is, by the way, what coffee shops look like in the “third world”…
Their Thai iced tea is delicious. Thanks for the recommendation!
“As I watch the snow here in Maryland I remember my visit to Thailand when I was stationed in Korea,” Stephen H. writes.
“I came back to Korea with a surreal understanding of the Eastern world, or thought I did. I got lost looking for a Bank America. I mean I couldn’t find my way out of a paper bag that day.
“Panic was on my oh s— face. Everyone went out of their way, non-English and all to help me.
“Even one man, while reading a small book, rode a train with me to be sure me and my GI uniform got back to the British base without a word being spoken. Amazed I was.
“An etched forever memorable experience that the Far East culture is chaotic but orderly, fast paced but peaceful, and each human views each other with respect without indifference to what’s important for the common good of everyone.”
LFT: Definitely my experience too, Stephen. Thanks for sharing!
“I’m a subscriber to tons of Agora publications,” Matt H. says, “but only get the free Laissez Faire letter.
“I have already been researching Thailand a place to go for hip surgery so I would appreciate if you could forward the original article about Medical Tourism, likely as it pertained to Thailand.
“I’ve seen reader’s comments from the article, but not the article itself.”
LFT: Sure thing. You can access the medical tourism episode right here.
Also, if you want to look back on any past episodes in the future, simply go to LFB.org. They’re all there.
”I’ve been an enthusiast of the respectful yet happy and laid-back Thai culture since spending a few days camping with Thais in the Khao Lak jungle during the rainy (leech) season,” Deane M. writes.
“I’m usually in Latin America. And a recent trip to Thailand felt more like home than any other non-Latin country I’ve been to.
“A quick word of advice regarding moto-taxis.
“If you are a typical tall farang, your knees are probably going to stick out a lot farther than the knees of your driver. You can easily get kneecapped if the traffic is clogged enough to make a moto-taxi really useful. So my advice is to always seek out the tallest driver you can find.
“I attached a picture I took very close to where you’re staying. The two motorcycles going the wrong way were just two of many. We also saw cars driving on the sidewalk, but I didn’t have the presence of mind to snap a photo of that!”
LFT: Ha. Nice. My knees stick out about six inches. You’re right: squeeze ‘em in. Also, one motorbike wrong-wayed it while I was riding.
But by that time, I’d learned how to play it cool.
“I looooooove Thailand & BKK,” one reader, ‘Mick Jag,’ writes.
“I am a German country boy living in the U.S. I hate big cities, but in BKK I feel at home. I am working on setting up my retirement in Thailand.
“The reasons Thais are happy when we speak their language is that they think it sounds funny (in a good way) when a farang (foreigner) speaks Thai, my Thai friends told me.
[I must sound real funny, then…]
“I’ve been driving in BKK and to other parts of Thailand (Lob Bury, Petchabun) and find it very exciting.
“I agree with many of your observation about their mentality and the way they handle their lives.
“Sanook, I have come to understand, is simply make the best out of everything. Everything goes better with a smile. But don’t let the smiles fool you. I have seen many that smiled at me and where heartbroken or in pain.
“I also love that I can get up in the morning and walk the streets of BKK and eat what I feel like since there are so many street vendors to choose from. There is just so much life in BKK I can’t stop experience it.
“Can’t wait to get things going and to move there. Thank you for reminding me of my best outlook to my future.”
LFT: My pleasure, Mick.