This digital nomad left the U.S. for Bangkok and lives on $8K a month

This digital nomad left the U.S. for Bangkok and lives on $8K 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 small town: small, quiet, not too much adventure,” he tells CNBC Make It. “I always knew I wanted to explore the world.”

The 41-year-old entrepreneur has now lived abroad for 14 years, dividing his time across more than 40 countries – and has no plans to return to the US anytime soon.

Schoberg rejected the traditional path of going to college and securing a 9-to-5 job, instead opting to move to Madison at age 19, sharpening his coding skills and helping companies design. and developing their website.

However, by the time he turned 27, Schoberg began to feel restless. He decided to move to a new city and researched apartments in Austin and Denver, but his mind kept wandering to Panama City, the capital of Panama, where he had “one of the best vacations of his life,” as he remembered. reminds.

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 come to know and inspired to try during a work retreat in Curaçao.

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

“The quality of life in Thailand compared to the United States is much better for 90% of things and stress-free,” he says. “It’s also a lot easier to afford a luxury lifestyle.”

Becoming 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 come overnight.

When he first moved to Panama, Schoberg took with him the web design and development company he founded in the US – and his list of clients.

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 SEO-optimized blog to almost any platform. in minutes.

Today, DropInBlog has an all-remote staff of 12 employees, with Schoberg at the helm as CEO.

Becoming his own boss gave Schoberg a more flexible schedule and used his newfound free time to travel: after visiting several countries in South America, including Colombia and Costa Rica, he decided to explore Asia and spend a short time in Taiwan. to live in Japan. and the Philippines (where he met his fiancée on a Tinder date).

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

Schoberg and his fiancé split their time between Mexico City and Bangkok while he waits for his Thai Elite Visa, a five-year renewable visa that costs about $18,000 and gives you unlimited access to Thailand, as well as entry and exit privileges.

‘I live here a lot better than in the US’

Since moving to Bangkok, Schoberg has been able to spend more on travel, food and other hobbies and increase his savings. “Although I can afford a nice life in the US, I live a lot better here than in the US,” he says. “The level of service you get here – nicer movie theaters, nice cars – completely beats what you get in the US”

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

He and Janine spend about $1,900 each month on takeout and dining out, often ordering food from local restaurants through a popular app called gopanda. Schoberg’s go-to meals include laos khao soi, a tomato noodle soup with ground beef, and pad krapow, a spicy basil chicken dish. Both meals typically cost $2-$3, Schoberg says, and local restaurants often give customers long-term discounts.

The food culture, he says, is a “big plus” of living in Thailand, and one of the main reasons he chose to move to Bangkok. “Bangkok has a great culinary scene, you have pretty much every kind of food in the world here,” says Schoberg. “There is a Belgian sandwich shop and a Vietnamese barbecue place around the corner from my apartment.”

Here’s a monthly breakdown of Schoberg’s expenses (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 US, Schoberg adds, and although English is spoken in the more popular tourist regions, such as Bangkok, learning Thai has given Schoberg “a huge advantage.” as a foreigner.

He takes two Thai classes a week, which cost $269.44 a month, and emphasizes that “you can really participate in the culture and have a better life” in Bangkok if you can understand Thai.

As a new resident, Schoberg continues to explore Bangkok and all it has to offer, including its many shopping malls, parks, restaurants and concert halls — one of the magical aspects of Bangkok life, he adds, is that it can feel like you. live in two different cities at the same time.

“You have the city at street level, that’s your food vendors, people running to work, taxis and motorbikes,” he says. “And then there’s this sky city set in the skyscrapers, with chic rooftop bars, workspaces and shopping malls… here’s the contrast of the Chanel store with the 20 cent pork skewer grilled on the street.”

Planning a life full of travel