2016 Is The Year We Change Our Lives

2016 Is The Year We Change Our Lives

After getting burnt out working both in corporate jobs and our side hustles in Sydney, Australia, we decided that it was time to change.  So, we spent a weekend doing research and looking at flights to South East Asia, booking accommodation and decided to make some radical changes.  

Our Exit Plan: Leaving The Rat Race

In 2015, we were burned out.  I had been working a demanding corporate role as a Business Analyst in a software development agency, plus I started working with a few businesses in my own web design freelance business.  Kayley was working 6 days a week and clocking up huge amounts of overtime in her corporate role too – both of us were working to the bone to save up to buy a house and pay off our student loans.  But Sydney was expensive; after our weekly rent, utilities, food and the rest, we felt like we weren’t making as much of a dent.  That’s why we started looking at how we could accelerate our business plans.
At that time, I was working with a handful of start ups who had asked me to partner with them as their CTO/digital strategist.  Even though I had little time to commit to these side projects to start with, I wanted to cast a wide net and do my best to work with other companies as well; whether they could be clients or partners I was open to see what could work to allow us to work remotely online for ourselves.

What I didn’t realise is that by over-committing on all fronts, I would hit a wall.  I found myself working 12 hours a day for months on end.  My partner, Kayley, hardly saw me.  I struggled with anxiety and stress.  

So we decided to take a break.  Kayley wanted to go to Thailand for a 2 week holiday.  We had been travelling together quite frequently before this crazy period, so a trip sounded like a great idea.  Then it dawned on us.  I’m fairly sure it was Kayley who asked me, “Why couldn’t we just stay in Thailand”?

That moment was a pinnacle moment.  We started figuring out how much it would be to live in South East Asia.  From our research, we found you could do it for under $500 a month.  You could live like a king, all costs added up, in most Asian countries for $1,000 per month.  That was cheaper than our rent in Sydney, unbelievable!  Who wouldn’t find that appealing?  At this stage, my side projects were picking up and looking like they could start making me some income.  The problem was, I didn’t have enough time to commit to these projects.

Travelling & Working; They’re Not Mutually Exclusive

So we made the decision to do it.  We did a bunch of research to figure out how we could put our life savings into a year long working holiday to allow us to minimise our expenses and dedicate more time to our small businesses.  We decided to focus on web design to bring in cash flow to support us, while dedicating 20 hours a week to other startups that needed more time to develop.  Kayley would help me with sales and marketing for our web design business.  I would work on the websites and our multiple startups.  We’d spend a year living in Thailand, Vietnam, Bali (Indonesia) and the Philippines.  We would get apartments and stay in each country as long as our tourist visa’s would allow, to minimise travel costs.

We booked our tickets, our accommodation and got our visas.  All up, we pre-paid $6,500 AUD for just under 12 months in South East Asia.  That was our flights, visas and accommodation sorted for the two of us.  That’s 3 months of rent in Sydney.  We just saved 9 months of rent by outsourcing ourselves!

So flash forward and we were poolside in our luxurious Thailand studio apartment.  We spent 2 weeks at the beginning of our trip doing absolutely nothing besides eating, drinking and lounging by the pool.  Those 2 weeks were  a little holiday treat, and then we started to work.  We built websites for clients, friends and family.  We spent most of our time in Hoi An, Vietnam – a tropical paradise and my favourite place in the world (so far).  While there, I worked up the courage to propose to Kayley in a full day proposal that ended on a private river cruise, roof top where I had “Marry Me” spelt out in candles.  It was the best day of my life!   

We spent a year beach side, enjoying our lives and creating our company.  We built over time, grew our client list by referrals and word of mouth.  We worked for charities and all sizes of businesses, from mum’s starting their own kids’ clothing lines to Australian Telco companies.  All of our clients came from friends, colleagues or referrals.  Kayley worked on finding more clients, learning more about digital marketing and she studied and passed all Google Certifications.

By the end of our trip, we were in the Philippines and celebrated Kayley’s 28th birthday together on the remote island of Malapascua.  We took time to celebrate and look back on the first year of our business.  We decided it was time to head back to Australia and make a home for ourselves.  We picked Brisbane to be closer to my parents and to buy our first home together.  After a year abroad taking the biggest risks of our lives, we returned engaged and with our first baby, Maple & Honey.

Do you have the desire to learn more about how to travel and work for yourself?  Why not book a free consultation with me and let’s chat.  

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