Welcome to the new retirement. It's about having the freedom to decide when and how you want to take a break from work - to rest, recharge or start a new adventure - no matter your age. In our Redefining Retirement series, you'll learn how real people are living their lives to the fullest, and the steps they took to get there.
Here, a 28-year-old woman from New York City shares how moving to Thailand helped her grow her business - and realize some new entrepreneurial dreams.
The first thing most people notice about me is how much value I place on work. Ever since I was 14 and working at my local Hallmark store, I've been the type to throw myself fully into whatever it is I'm doing. I even took on extra shifts whenever I could.
Since then, I've developed a pattern: I throw all my energy and time into a position for a year or two to the point of being a workaholic, and then I tire of it. Throughout my career, I've been a software trainer, an associate director of marketing, a director of communications and had more than two dozen side jobs in between.
Every day I ask myself whether I would feel satisfied with what I've accomplished if I were hit by a bus. Yes, it sounds morbid, but if I'm feeling stagnant, asking myself that question helps me decide if I need to move on.
The last time I found myself ready for something new, I wound up launching a software business - and moving with my family to a different country.
PLANNING MY NEXT STEP
From about 2011 to 2014, my husband and I were both working a lot, he as an account executive and me as a software trainer. One of my side hustles by night was launching a software business, EHR Tutor, with my mom and brother. We saved a lot of money during this time, not only because we were constantly working but also because we lived frugally by keeping our food and entertainment expenses low. We set aside a large portion of our paychecks to put in our IRAs and overall savings.
It was amazing to be able to focus on the business without any financial pressure."
After having a son in June 2015, I decided I wanted to pursue my fledgling company full time, and my husband was on board. I'd already left my job prior to getting pregnant and he found himself out of work a few months later, so we started examining our options. We knew that moving to a place with a lower cost of living would help our savings go further. So after doing some research, we decided to move to Bangkok. On average, we'd be saving almost $2,000 a month by living there over New York City. Plus, not only was it a cheap place to live, but I would also get to fulfill my wanderlust.
So in the fall of 2015, we packed up, sublet our apartment, got our visas and left for Thailand.
TOURIST BY DAY, ENTREPRENEUR BY NIGHT
While my mom and brother worked to finesse the software from Cleveland, I grew our customer list from Bangkok. I worked for months without seeing a penny, and it was amazing to be able to focus on the business without any financial pressure. I believe the quality of your work, especially on a passion project, is better when you're not worried about money.
We lived in Thailand for almost eight months as the business took off. During the day, we'd explore the city as a family, visit temples, eat the local food and travel to nearby countries like Myanmar, Singapore and Malaysia. It was the first time that my husband and I were able to spend without having to count every penny. Then when our son went to bed, we'd start our work day. I spent my time building valuable business partnerships that led to a massive spike in customers. Eventually I was able to start paying myself and rebuilding the savings we'd exhausted.
Once the company took off, we decided it was time to move back to New York. In the spring of 2016 we left Thailand, and I started to think about what to do next. I had been working diligently on the business for three years, and now that it was past the startup point, I felt it was time to think about next steps. So I stepped down and took some time to recharge and casually start two new passion projects: a non-gendered children's clothing line called Every Bean Boutique, and a holistic products company for pregnant women called The Relievery.
My life would have never taken this entrepreneurial turn had I not taken chances. I didn't know someone could move to Thailand without a job, until I did it. I didn't know I could build a successful company, until I built it. So now when I ask myself if I feel satisfied with what I've accomplished so far, the answer is a resounding "yes."