Mini Retirement Day 1: Bangkok, Thailand

So here I am on day one of my mini-retirement. I flew from Chicago to Bangkok with a layover in Shanghai.  I reached my destination around 1:00 am and grabbed a few hours of sleep and now it’s 10:00 AM.  What better way to start the day then hitting an American based international coffee chain? (Just once I swear.)  I got a latte and egg sandwich and am sitting in a Starbucks writing in central Bangkok, Thailand. So what’s going through my head?

Bangkok View
The view from S-Box Hotel in Bangkok. After some 22 hours of flying and passing out at my hotel. This is the view I woke up to.

My initial feeling is a mix of happiness to enjoy travel freedom but with some feelings of being desensitized to my reality. Much has happened and I’m still processing everything. Here’s a recap of recent weeks.

  • I finished up a consulting contract and am now recently unemployed.
  • I sold virtually all my possessions and vacated my apartment about a month ahead of my lease end date.
  • I packed up what was left and flew out to Asia. My ultimate destination is Taiwan, but I’m stopping over in Thailand for a while first. The itinerary consists of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket before heading over to Taiwan.

Traveling Pro Tip: If you’re flying to a specific location in another country, it’s worth doing a bit of research to see about the cheapest way to get there.  Here’s what I mean.  Find the cheapest flight to that continent.  Then you can sometimes find a cheap flight over to your ultimate destination.  For example, I was looking at tickets from Chicago to Taiwan and most were over $1,000.  But I found a ticket to Bangkok, Thailand for only $679,  From there, you can get a round-trip ticket to Taiwan for around $250.  it’s like a free mini-vacation flight.

I’m making good on a promise I made to myself to be done with midwest winters. I can’t take any more 10 degrees below zero days January/February days. This trip is an undefined break from corporate life. I’ve been freelancing and have rental income and this could transition to a life of freelancing and travel. Or I might end up back in the US this spring to do another round of contract consulting. I’ll see how I’m feeling in March.

My head is swirling a bit from big life changes.  So I’m recently unemployed as a result of my contract ending. I sold all my stuff. I just spent about 22 hours flying which consisted of a rushed layover in Shanghai and a 1:00 AM arrival in Bangkok Thailand with onward travel to Chiang Mai, Phuket and then later Taipei, Taiwan after I catch my breath.

I’ve lived a fairly dull life the last few years that was focused mostly on work and I realized I’ve got to try to get off the mode of being a “work robot”.  My life consisted of grinding out the nin to five and living frugally. Delayed gratification and stoicism was the strategy, but perhaps at the cost of a bit of my soul.  Of course, I spent some good time with friends and family but most of my life was spent working in the office or on freelance projects.

At least now if I’m working, it can be on the projects where total ownership is in MY hands. As a side note, I’ll mention to anyone reading that I just recorded a podcast episode of Choose FI which is scheduled to drop in early January. Hope I sound good. It was a lot of fun recording with them. They really are great guys even behind the scenes a shout out to Jonathan and Brad.  Keep up the great work guys.

Thoughts on Disconnecting from Corporate Life

Man, working in an office for years took a toll. The past four years of cubicle sitting hasn’t done me well physically.  I think I may have overdone frugal with sleeping on an air mattress.  But no more.

But the real consideration is a mental and psychological one. Working in an office gives you structure and order. When you don’t have a 9 to 5 job you potentially have chaos. 

Bananas from a street vendor in Bangkok.

Tools That Made My Trip Go Smoothly.

You can usually get good hotel rates on Agoda.  I recommend them and I’m a partner so if you book using that link I’ll get a commission at no charge to you. I also like their app that has a feature called “Taxi Helper” to show your taxi driver your hotel address to assist in getting you to your destination.  This is helpful if you’re still brushing up on your language learning.

Also, I recently signed up for Google FI.  This is Google’s cell phone service may be very appealing to the right type of customer. The appeal to me is that fact that it works virtually anywhere in the world.  It’s nice to hit the ground in a new country and not have to go buy a SIM. The data rates are decent, perhaps not the best if you comparison shop.

  • You get unlimited calls and texts for just $20
  • Data is $10 per gig and caps out after 6 gigs and then you have unlimited internet.  I.e. $60 data cost for unlimited internet. It’s not Bad but other deals out there may be better
  • What seals the deal for me is the ability to hit the ground in a new country and be connected while exiting the plane.

I recommend Google FI for frugal world travelers that hit different countries often. I think it’s generally true in many countries you can get enough data for a couple weeks for $25 or so but then you’ll need to get a new SIM and switch SIM’s and then do this again when you hit the next country.   Here’s referral link that will get you a $20 credit when you sign up.  No obligation so consider trying it.

The next stop on the itinerary was Chiang Mai. It’s known as one of the hot spots for digital nomads because of the great year round climate and super affordable cost of living.

I saved a lot of money by ditching my car insurance, and moving to Asia and taking a tuk-tuk instead.

This post contains affiliate links for Agoda and Google FI.  I may receive a commission for some sign ups.  I personally use these services regularly and wouldn’t recommend them if I didn’t use them.

Shanghai and Chiang Mai and Taipei Oh My!

Asia Trip Booked

Recently unemployed(again). So I’ve booked for a trip to head out to Asia next week. On the itinerary is a layover in Shanghai. Then I’m flying on to Bangkok, Thailand for transit to Chiang Mai to test the waters of a top destination for frugal living and digital nomadism.

I’ll see what type of budget I can keep at Chiang Mai, I’ll share my findings and maybe make some videos. Chiang Mai is on the agenda for a few weeks before heading over to Taipei, Taiwan which is where I’m planning to make my home base. I’ve got some friends there and I know the territory well.

Chiang Mai is known for very affordable living and is a popular retirement destination for many. I won’t be there long enough to warrant getting an apartment, but I’ll check out some hostels and affordable hotels.  I’ll look into the cost of apartments when you do a real-world search.  A quick search on Agoda shows how affordable Chiang Mai can be.

Here are some of the things I plan on checking out and reporting back for Chiang Mai cost of living in late 2018.

  • Cost of hotels and amenities and real-world experience staying there
  • Exploring Chiang Mai co-working offices and
  • General travel and tourism experience
  • Eats.. Thai food..yum.
  • Meeting other expats and their experience

To anyone considering traveling to Chiang Mai/Bangkok/Taipei, Feel free to share any requests for places to check out. Stay tuned.



Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links from Agoda.  Booking a trip from this link, may result in me receiving a commission.



Job Loss AGAIN. Next stop ASIA.

Well wouldn’t you know it, the “Getting Canned” blogger is about to deal with job loss again. But this time around, I won’t classify it as truly getting fired because this is more like a contract wrapping up. Nevertheless, this is the end of a job and time to move on to the next thing.

At the time of the time of this writing, it looks like my current contract gig will end around November 26th. The death of this income stream is in line with my timeline and plan to get out of the Midwest by mid-winter to avoid the impending deep freeze.  Chicago winters get COLD.

I’m planning on getting away from the Midwest as far as possible and leaving the country to head to Asia for the winter or longer. On the itinerary is

  • Taipei, Taiwan
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Guangzhou, China
  • Laos
  • Phuket, Thailand
  • Singapore
  • Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

I’m going to travel the world a bit and hit a few spots in Asia. I’ll make sure and do some recon on potential retirement destinations and report back here. Subscribe below if you want a reminder.

Past Travel

But before I go, let’s take a look at a few memorable pics from the times I lived in Taiwan in the past.

There’s the famous “Toilet Restaurant” where you sit on toilets and eat out of little toilet shaped plates and bowls.  Good times.

Ximending "Modern Toilet" restaurant
Modern Toilet Restaurant – 便所歡樂主題餐廳 in Taipei Ximending area.  Sitting on Toilets!

You eat from little toilet-shaped bowls. Yum.

Yum Toilet shaped bowl
Modern Toilet Restaurant – 便所歡樂主題餐廳 hot pot bowl shaped like a toilet.

Oh, how I miss Asia! What other distant memories were captured? Let’s take a look. It was often the little things that were amusing.

My first trip to a night market back in around 2010
Quaker Oats Drink
These were a favorite of mine. Some type of quaker oats drink. Why not drink your oatmeal?

In Taiwan, the majority of people get around by scooter. It’s an economical way to get around. The streets are flooded with mostly scooters although some people do drive cars. The first time I saw a parking lot packed with scooters it was pretty wild. It reminded me of that scene in “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” where he knocked over the motorcycles and they went down like dominos.  I had a fear of scooters tumbling down in this way.

Scooters Parked
Don’t tip these scooters over, lest they fall like dominos

So Just What is My Plan Anyways?

Travel.  Exploring. Earning side gig income through a variety of income streams. I’m doing some consulting for CRM databases. I imagine I’ll do a bit of remote English teaching here and there. I have a few clients that need WordPress sites managed. And then there’s this blog which has a little income potential.

The Risks

There is, of course, the risk that my income will fall short of what I’m hoping. This is a bit of a trial break at life abroad and I imagine, I’ll likely return in the spring. Although nothing is written in stone. There is a chance that I’ll face a different job market from what exists at this point. Right now it’s a glorious market with plenty of opportunities. In six months that could change.

Another concern of mine is that our Western culture seems to really frown on time spent not working. “You haven’t been working for six months? Well, the only possible explanation is you’re incompetent and your skillset it now outdated…”No job for you!”

Job Loss and Employee Benefits

After getting fired, the first thing that usually comes to mind is when you’ll receive your final paycheck.  You’d also be wise to consider budgeting out your expenses after the loss of income.  But I’ve got more bad news.  After getting canned, you’re most likely on borrowed time with your employer-provided health insurance as well as your employee benefits.

Coverage End Date

Every company has their own rules for how employer-provided health insurance coverage is administered, but generally speaking, your coverage will typically end:

• At the end of your current paid coverage period following your termination date
• After a predetermined set of time as outlined in an employment agreement

Typical Scenario: End of the month following the termination date

After working in HR for several companies, I can say it’s fairly common for companies to let your medical and dental coverage continue until the end of the month following your termination date. For example, if you lose your job on Jun 5, you’re likely to have coverage through the rest of June.   Then starting on July 1st, you’ll no longer have health insurance unless you elect to continue coverage or get a new plan.

Special Case: Some defined period

It’s not uncommon for executives and highly sought after employees to have contracts that spell out how their benefits might continue in the event of employee termination. These are often spelled out in severance agreements.
A severance agreement can consist of any terms that the employer and employee agree to, but it’s fairly common that an employer might provide six months of ongoing coverage following a severance date. This coverage might be completely company paid or the company may continue to pay just the employer portion leaving the former employee responsible for the remaining amount.

So now what?

What Are My Options?

At a high level, your options are to continue coverage under your employer’s COBRA plan or get coverage through the governments Health Insurance Marketplace.  You can also get a private policy through any health insurance provider you choose.  Make sure you pay attention to eligibility dates.   You’ll typically want to secure coverage within 60 days of losing it, or you may have trouble with a coverage gap.

COBRA Coverage

By law, employers need to send paperwork to the employee notifying them of their loss of coverage and their eligibility to participate in COBRA coverage.  COBRA, which stands for consolidated omnibus reconciliation act, is a set of laws that allow your coverage to continue for up to two years.   Typically COBRA coverage is expensive.  COBRA coverage is just the continuation of your existing plan without the employer paying their portion so you’ll be paying the full cost and also may pay up to an additional 2% for the cost of your employer administering COBRA.

Health Insurance Marketplace

The government provided Health Insurance Marketplace is an option worth exploring.    At certain income levels, you may be eligible for subsidized pricing.

Private Health Insurance

It doesn’t hurt to consider going directly to the health insurance companies.  They likely have a wide variety of options choose from with a variety of premium options.