How To Live Comfortably In Chiang Mai For Under 500$ Per Month

If you’re fed up with waiting for your freelance career/business to take off so you can afford to quit your dayjob, moving to a cheaper country can be like a cheatcode that cuts that wait in half. One of the most popular places to leave the 9/5 behind in an economical way is Chiang Mai. And for good reason.

I’ve only been here for a few weeks, and it’s already starting to feel like home. The food, culture and atmosphere, city size(not too big not too small), the moat(in all it’s dirty glory), and the contrast between hyper-developed and not-quite-so-developed. Those are just some of the things that make me like this city. There are more good things and some bad ones that I will come back to later in a different post.


Option #1: Find A Cheap Studio Apartment

If you’re not quite sure about this whole “location independence” thing, a furnished studio apartment is your best bet. There are plenty of affordable ones available for short term rent. page lists a lot of your options in a pretty comprehensive manner. Easily the best resource on the internet for short term rentals in Chiang Mai(that I’m aware of). Try to remain within the 110-170$ range if possible.  (3500 – 5500 THB) Continue reading

How To Light A Fire Under Your Own Ass When You’re Not “Feeling It”. (And 29 Days To Liftoff)

IMG_7859So you’ve set the goal for yourself and you’ve started working towards it.

But most of the time “you’re not feeling it”. It’s not “clicking”.

You do the bare minimum to sense some sort of progress, and to feel good about yourself, and then that’s that.

When you have no deadline, it’s all still an abstract project. And sure, while there’s no real risk of failure or giving up, there is absolutely no sense of urgency. No extra propellant to drive you to go the extra mile.

Let me give you an example from my own life.

When I first started trying to make money online, I had the abstract idea that “some time during 2014” I wanted to be making at least 1000$ per month. And I’ve got to be honest. It became an excuse. I felt like I had “all the time in the world” and whenever I had a minor success, I felt comfortable just putting my feet up and tapping myself on the shoulder for a job well done.

My parents are too nice and polite to tell me to get my ass in gear, I have to do it myself. And just standing in front of a mirror telling myself “man you need to get your ass in gear” never seemed to do the trick for me. The only thing it invoked was a feeling of guilt.

So here’s what to do instead:

Set An Unavoidable Deadline And Get Specific

Whether it’s a plane ticket, notifying your landlord that you’re going to move out, or telling your boss you’re leaving at a certain date, an unavoidable deadline gives you something tangible to work towards. It also forces you to think pragmatically about how you’re going to make the deadline, helping you eliminate endeavors that won’t be helpful in the short term. Continue reading

Operation Location Independence

location independence
So the decision has been made. One of the things that I struggled the most with these last few months, is the idea of moving away from traditional success. Because like all other members of our society, I have been conditioned to long for it. Money, power, fame, popularity you name it. And these goals only seem attainable if you jump through the hoops that most other people do, but jumping through hoops is something that I’m terribly, terribly bad at. Although if I put my mind to it, I could probably leverage my current position into some form of traditional success with some work and persistence. But that’s not what I decided. I’ve decided to pursue one of my main goals in life, location independence.

What Does It All Mean?

Location independence is basically the idea that you’re able to live wherever you want in the world. And of course you need to have the financial capacity for travelling wherever you want. Strategically I will be starting out with countries that have low living costs, and then if things start to work out to the point that I can go to other, more expensive countries I will do that.

I prefer slow travelling, so the goal is to travel large parts of the world, staying in each country for a month or two, or more, depending on how much I enjoy it.

What’s The Point?

Because I’m not that attached to my country, I don’t really like the climate and the high living expenses pretty much limit you to working in a very traditional sense, the idea is basically checking out alternatives. It’s unlikely that I will ever relinquish my Norwegian citizenship because of the stability of the economy, and the safety and what not, but who knows.

Maybe all I will realize is that I don’t like traveling as much as I had imagined, or that the uncertainty is too much, or that I like Norway a lot more than I had imagined… either way it would be a welcome conclusion to a chapter in my life that feels necessary at the moment.

Set Backs

I’ve been borderline sick, with headaches, coughing and an absurdly overwhelming level of exhaustion, and I used that as an excuse for inaction. An excuse to dream and wait, to distract myself while nothing changed. I guess it’s not the worst excuse I’ve used because I have been a bit under the weather, but if I still have the energy to move my fingers there’s really no excuse to not be writing.

Freelance Writing

As far as I can tell, the most logical path for me to enable myself to travel with the skillset I currently have and the situation I am currently in, is to pursue freelance writing. While I decided that quite a long time ago, I have realized that I underestimated the difficulty and the amount of required to get established. So I’ve decided to approach it a lot more like an actual job, scheduling work days and weeks, and focusing a lot more on directly reaching out and marketing, instead of coasting along and postponing that part.

Other Options?

I mentioned that I was going to get a job in one week almost two weeks ago, things didn’t exactly pan out, although I tried a lot less hard than I had imagined. Job searching seems to be a black hole for any motivation and energy I have, because I get so caught up in the idea that I am basically struggling for a chance to maybe get a “dead-end” job. Perhaps my absurdly forgiving parents are part of the problem.

My part-time job teaching Japanese to some kids once a week is about to end, and I feel like the smart choice is to find a replacement that involves a lot more frequent work. I have a few things in the works, we’ll have to see how everything works out, but hopefully I’ll end up with a job that allows me time to at least process ideas and maybe edit outlines during lunch breaks.

Handwritten Checklists

I’ve heard rumors of the power of writing things out by hand, versus simply typing on a computer, and it’s time I put it to the test myself. I’m going to finally try handwritten checklists to keep myself focused. I will do both daily, and weekly and see what works best.


If I had to choose one thing that I’ve failed miserably at in the past, it just might be prioritizing. Hopefully that’s not going to be the case this time around.

No one knows what the future brings, or at least so we have been lead to believe. How things work out only time will tell.

The bird in the picture, the alpine swift has been registered to stay airborne for over 200 days a year, making it the longest flier of all birds. It sustains itself partly from airborne plankton, pretty much the definition of location independence.

Picture by Dave Curtis

6 Ways To Invest Your Time Better (And Get More From Life)


The amount of time you have is finite. You can’t make more of it, you can’t buy more of it. But what you get out of your time, more often than not, has immense room for improvement.

Invest Your Time Better With This Framework

My 5 core principles of what makes something a good investment of time:

New habits you choose to start, should meet at least 2 of the following criteria:

  • It Contributes to personal growth
  • It Contributes to happines/mental well-being
  • It Contributes to health/physical well-being
  • It Contributes to financial well-being
  • It Saves time/increases efficiency

Investing money is commonplace. It’s accepted as a skill that takes time to learn and master. But time is your only constant commodity. No matter what happens, as long as you’re alive, you will have time on your hands. So why not apply some of the same principles to investment of time? Why not master the art of time investment?

Because I’m not a very finance driven person, I have chosen to focus on returns as not only being money, but mental and physical health, time savings and personal growth.

Let’s say you love reading. Focus on reading books that could help you grasp concepts you need to know about in your career of choice. Or you could read books that would help you spend less time on active studying or research.

An example of the other kind, would be finding a shortcut that saves you 2 hours every week. That way you have more time to spend on things you really love, grow as a person, or earn more money.

Save Time By Saving Money

You can think about investing time to save money in two ways: You reach your money goals faster. Whether that’s paying down your debts, or saving for a new car. And you get more value from the time you have already invested in making money.

Let’s say you spend 168 hours per month working to earn 3000$, but you spend everything every month. If you lower your expenses to 2000$ per month, that means your 168 hours became 33% more effective.

33% of 168 is 56, and it is highly unlikely that you will spend 56 hours per month saving that money. Another way to look at it, is the time you spend saving money, is actually you earning money.

If you spend 5 hours every week finding deals and improving on your spending. If at the end of the month, you saved 1000$, that means your hourly wage would effectively be around 50$. Almost three times the return on investment compared to your normal wage.

And it’s not like you have to rob your life of enjoyment to achieve lower savings either. If you absolutely HATE saving money, here’s a thing to consider. Do you dislike it more than working your current job?

Then compare the rates of the effective savings per hour of work you do, versus your hourly rate at your job. If you prefer working X hours over saving for one hour, that’s your call. You can ask for overtime, but when you’re in a spending mindset, it’s easy to spend every last cent you earn.

If you’re stuck in a job you don’t like out of necessity, increased saving is one of the best ways to enable yourself to leave the job faster. If you’re not familiar with his blog, I recommend you check out Mr. Money Mustache.

(He recently did an article on a low information diet but usually writes about frugality and good investments.)

When you focus on saving money, you teach yourself a clear “problem-solver attitude”. Teaching yourself to see several solutions to problems, and enable yourself to flex your creative muscles. Plus, if you master saving, you could teach people teach others the same techniques, and perhaps charge for it. So personal growth, potential for a side-business and extra money. Pretty good investment of time in my book.

Know When To Outsource

By this I don’t necessarily mean managing a team of employees in south east Asia… but also times when it’s better to hire a carpenter or a tiler than doing it yourself. If you find the work to be stressful, not giving in any way and you spend so much time on it that you would easily earn more working than you would end up paying for help, outsource.

Some people love to fix things themselves. They get fascinated with learning a new skill, and what makes things work or not work. If that’s you, by all means, don’t outsource. But if you’re like me, somewhere in between Ikea proficient and technical dyslexic, then sometimes outsourcing will be a clear best choice.

When it’s work related, if you can make more money hiring help than you can by not hiring help.. outsource. But realizing when it’s time is a different matter. Avoid teaching yourself new skills when you can hire someone to do it better.

Classic examples being web design, programming and even copywriting. If you’re an entrpreneury type, here’s the why and the what/when.

And when you’re arranging something social.. like a small get-together. If you know people that are better at cooking than you, that love to cook while you only tolerate it, just let them do it.. they probably want to! In situations like that, it’s more about letting people help you, than actual outsourcing.. but it can save you some real trouble on your quest to be a social butterfly.

Increase Efficiency And Follow The 80/20 Rule

Sometimes little things can make a large difference. I have 3 huge notepad files that are full of ideas. Each one has hundreds of ideas that I wrote down on topics to write about.

But I neglected to categorize them, something that would have taken a few seconds per idea, tops. So what I have now is essentially 3 more or less useless documents that I spent hours writing. If I had organized them, I could have saved myself time and increased efficiency when it comes to the writing process.

One of the things that inspired this line of thought, was Tyler Tervooren’s post on the 80/20 rule and business.

But I want you to find out what is most effective for you in other areas of life. Write down what makes you happiest, what enables you to relax the best. Then you can see which of those things are also contributing to other areas, such as personal growth

Perhaps a better example, is getting enough sleep. Not only does it contribute to your general health, you have more energy throughout your day, and less likely to become stressed/exhausted. There might be a few times in your life where you have to get something done as fast as humanly possible, but try to always prioritize getting enough sleep. 7 and a half hours a day is recommended.

Check out Tyler’s more recent post, about real life cheat codes that can save you a lot of time, money and effort.

Use Pockets Of Time (And Exercise Hacking)

Instead of letting these moments go to waste, there are a few things you could do. The easiest, most normal solution, is to read. Other alternatives include working out, learning a new language, quick meditation session or teaching yourself new skills little by little.

Another concept I like, is using pockets of time better. Hacking them, to magically get extra time to exercise. Let’s say that you take the bus to your job. The busride takes 15 minutes, and you usually have to wait for 3-10 minutes. If walking takes 40 minutes or less, consider walking. That way you get 40 minutes of exercise for a 15-20 minute investment. I’m not sure if this is applicable to other areas, if you can think of ways, please leave a comment.


When you buy less stuff, you spend less money. But you also spend less time organizing all the stuff you have. If you’re like me and you still don’t have an overwhelming amount of stuff, cut down the biggest time drainers. Clothes is big for me. Although I don’t really like buying clothes, and rarely do so, a lot of them have amassed over the years.

Sell/donate or even throw away the clothes that you never use. Sell cooking utensils, pans and tools you don’t use. This is perhaps most relevant if you’re going to be moving multiple times in the future. Consider it a time investment

When it comes to gifts, you can request consumables or experiences. Like movie tickets, a dinner.. things that don’t clog up your living space. Some more benefits of minimizing.

Start A Profitable/Healthy Hobby

Or turn an existing hobby into one that earns you money, or makes you healthier. I could perhaps have put saving money under this category, but I felt it deserved one of it’s own.

Thinking of a profitable hobby can seem overwhelming at first. First of all, discard the notion that it has to be a “traditional hobby”. As long as it’s something you enjoy enough to want to do in your free time, and you earn money doing so.. consider it a profitable hobby.

It’s often easy to oversee the actual talents that could end up making you the most money. If you analyze your skill set, and then compare it to services other people are already selling online, or in person, that can give you a good idea of something that could work for you.

If you like teaching your friends, or strangers, new things, try tutoring. This is a hobby that starts out profitable , and as you become a better tutor you can increase your rates. If you’re a skilled musician, you can tutor  in that.. or anything else you may be skilled at. You can create unique paper airplanes and sell them on Ebay..  the possibilities are endless.

If you like fitness, you could be really effective. Or if you are really good at a specific sport. If you like it enough to be a coach, it can contribute to your health, happiness, wealth and personal growth all at the same time… more or less.

More examples of profitable hobbies. But I don’t want you to be constrained by that list. Find your own unique way to turn a profit with your hobby.

Starting a healthy hobby is pretty simple. If you have hobbies that could include physical exercise, include it. If you’re interested in a sport, try it. If you’re a secret martial arts enthusiast but never actually learned one.. learn one. You get the general idea.

The great thing about profitable hobbies, is with nurture and the right circumstances, they can become your career.

I’ve taken my blogging efforts and started offering freelance writing services. And I’ve started taking long relaxing walks again. And also playing the piano.

Share Your Ideas

What are your core principles for time investing? And according to them, what is your most rewarding activity?