August was our first full month of being out of the country. We finished up in Europe during the month and spent the second half of the month hanging out in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
In contrast to the action packed first month of the trip in Europe and Morocco, we decided to take a slower approach in our second month in Chiang Mai, with a lot more rest, recovery, and focus on health. We bought month-long gym memberships and have been going consistently 4-5 times per week, while we’ve also been sleeping at least 8-9 hours per night. We also got massages, and Whitney even talked me into getting a pedicure for the first time. Traveling nonstop can be tiring (first world problem, right?), so it has been nice to take things slower and rest a little bit before continuing on our journey around SE Asia.
Chiang Mai is a wonderful place, and we’re glad to have an additional two weeks in September here to enjoy. Whitney and I are in agreement that we will definitely be spending more time here in the future to work on various projects and focus on our health for a month or two at a time.
I have been surprised at how incredibly cheap it is to live in Thailand, especially coming from big cities in Europe where everything is expensive. Our AirBnB in Chiang Mai for 28 days costs less than it would cost for us to stay 7 days at an AirBnB in Berlin. We’ve also found that it’s not very difficult to eat out 2-3 meals per day and spend around $5 each per day. Even with weekly massages, eating every meal out, seeing a couple of movies in theaters each week, getting a gym and pool membership, paying for (relatively) overpriced AirBnB places instead of finding a cheaper comparable apartment, and renting a motorbike (which we haven’t done this trip, but plan to in the future), it would be no problem for us to live here for less than $800/month… which is pretty amazing in my opinion. I’ve found that the cheaper prices have allowed me to loosen up a little on spending and enjoying different activities (including the above mentioned massages, pedicure, and movie theater trips), which has been a nice change.
Since we haven’t worked for almost two months as of me writing this update, I haven’t had any income coming in from work. My only source of income has been from the blog as well as investment returns. Despite no actual work income coming in, my net worth increased substantially in August which was surprising to me! A little over a $3,200 increase in net worth to be more exact!
It’s a weird feeling to not bring in any income but still have your net worth increase, especially since I was anticipating it either staying stagnant or decreasing for the next several months while traveling around the world and not working. It makes me feel like I’ve already reached financial independence, and in some respects I have, but this is a bit of an illusion. The reason is that my investment returns were unusually good in August as the S&P 500 index continues to rally, which can’t be expected to continue in perpetuity. I also had higher than average blog income in August, which should continue for the next couple of months, but then will likely drop back down unless things change significantly before then.
Even with the $3,000+ increase in net worth, my financial independence date slipped by a month and is now estimated to be April 2019. That’s still 6 months before my 31st birthday, which has been my goal for a while now, so I’m not too worried about it.
Overall I’m extremely happy that we took the leap and started this trip before I officially reached FI, because we only have a finite amount of time to spend traveling internationally before we will likely decide to have kids. Even though it would have been less scary to wait until I reach a point where my yearly expenses are less than 4% of my net worth, it seems that I will still be fine. I should likely return to the US with a significantly higher net worth than I left with, even after not working for 5 months, barring any major market corrections.
September should be a good month for us as we continue to relax in Chiang Mai for two more weeks, before heading to Laos for the second half of the month. I’m expecting September to be a good month for blog income, so hopefully my FI date will remain around April 2019 and not slip any further away.
I plan to write a lot more content about how we’ve been able to travel internationally so cheaply, as well as make a big announcement about the future of this blog in September. Stay tuned for some exciting times!