I roll out my yoga mat. And I spend 15 mins meditating. Meditating is a new practice I’m picking up and it’s becoming an enjoyable routine.
I walk to the first living room, which is my office space and I start checking my emails. Marin my housemate peeks in and asks “coffee?” I nod yes and carries on speaking to a teacher I’m interviewing for Learner Net.
My phone pings me and I see someone ask me on Instagram “I would really love to have your life, but how?”
I ruminate on this question for a while……and I keep trying to think. How can I share more?
The thing that troubled me is that I wasn’t sure who to write for. After reading the hardware zone comments, and some other comments on various social media pages, I realized one thing.
That my story divided readers by class. Or it accidentally alienated people who came from a lower income class. That fact stung hard. I didn’t want that be the point of my sharing.
I’ve been writing and re-writing this so it makes sense to me – the messaging I’m trying to put across.
And I keep thinking about the people who inspired ME to change my life. And when i picture their faces – few of them are better off than me (socio-economically). Most of them just took a leap of faith, and made it work. So i started seeing a pattern in all of them – me included.
It’s not about what we don’t have, but it’s about making use of what we do have.
I could sit here and talk about all the disadvantages of being female, being asian, etc etc and how it would have made me fear traveling as a solo female. But I’ve never once felt that those limited my opportunities or choices. I always just looked at how I could make use of my resources to get what I want.
One day i’ll start a series, and share my friends’ stories with you, so you can hear it from them.
Today, all I can do, is share some details that the RICE article didn’t cover, so it hopefully helps.
The one question that keeps coming up is – HOW DO YOU AFFORD THIS?
Before I got this job at Learner Net, I wanted to just continue volunteering.
When I first quit my insurance job, my main goal was simple.
Find what you love Jane. Find what interests you. Find what you’re passionate in – and follow that longing.
I went back to giving private tuition, I also started teaching toddlers and babies to swim at Jump! school. Twice a week I worked at Playfacto after school centre, taking care of children. Twice a week, I worked at Adler’s hostel as a receptionist. I also worked at Ah sam cold drink stall as a waitress/bartender.
I went back to basics. I went back to what I remember loving. I didn’t care that these jobs were ‘less desirable’. I didn’t care what society deems as jobs suitable for NUS graduates.
From when I was 14 to uni, I worked in service-oriented jobs. And i loved them. I worked in Starbucks, in restaurants, in sentosa as a segway guide, in events, a tour guide with Dynasty and even as a lifeguard in Morey’s piers (in the USA).
Even during my insurance days, the thing I loved the most was servicing my clients and helping them achieve their financial goals. Till now, most of them still keep in contact.
I’m a people person – I just didn’t know what else was out there that I could learn from.
Volunteering on Workaway was huge fun for me. I loved mowing the lawn. I loved babysitting. I loved sanding down bricks. Of course, I knew that I didn’t want to do these things forever. But i loved these experiences and what I was learning from them.
When I left my insurance career – it was very clear to me that my 20s and early 30s are for me to grow my skills, expand my network and grow as an individual. I wanted to learn how to be more resourceful.
I didn’t feel that just by sticking to one job I disliked could do that for me.
Every experience we go through is an opportunity to learn about ourselves. And I wanted a variety of experiences.
So before I got my current full time job, my plan was to do volunteering and find paid jobs where ever I went. It could be waitressing, it could be babysitting, it could be doing copywriting. It could be teaching English. It didn’t matter. I was ready to do whatever it took to earn a small income in exchange for a life of adventure.
In the end, my current company came along and offered me a job. They even accepted my request to move to Europe and work remotely from there.
Now. How do you afford it? – this question is really asking so many things.
Jane, how do i still plan for retirement? How do i afford housing? How do i still give my parents allowance? How do i still pay off debts? How do I still pay for holidays?
I can’t give you a solution because it’s your life. But this is why my current life solves many things for me.
When I was living in Singapore doing insurance, I earned a more than decent amount of money.
But not only did I not like my job, I didn’t enjoy living in Singapore either.
I’m not a city person. I would choose living in Sabah or a rural village, or a small town somewhere, over a bustling city ANY DAY.
That’s why I know that moving out of a mega huge city like Singapore was a clear choice for me.
What many of us think is necessary to be happy – is not for me.
What makes me happy, is being able to learn about cultures and history, picking up new languages, connecting with people from different backgrounds, learning how other societies have been shaped due to so many political and socio-economic differences.
I’m an explorer at heart, and so traveling around slowly and experiencing living in different countries excites me.
Also, because Singapore is such an expensive city to live in, I didn’t have much disposable income when I was living there.
Now, because my rent is lower, my food is cheaper, alcohol is cheaper, standard of living is cheaper, I have more disposable income. I can save more than 60% of my salary, and I’m living large. If I was living large back in Singapore, I couldn’t save so much money. Having more disposable income means having more money to invest.
I know many Singaporeans rely on CPF to plan for their retirement but personally, I’ve never trusted CPF as a safe vehicle to provide for my retirement income.
My rent is now between $350 to $500 sgd a month. In Singapore it would be at least $800 – $1000 for the same kind room. Close to city, good room size, includes wifi and utilities etc. That’s an additional $300 a month I can use to invest.
I love drinking wine/alcohol. A decent bottle of wine in Singapore is $20. Here it’s $5.
Back in Singapore, I always felt the need to escape. So i spent alot of money on holidays. I travelled very frequently. Maybe 4 or 5 times a year.
Now, because I’m living in foreign countries, there’s no need for a holiday. Every day is a holiday. Every day is an adventure.
I don’t worry about retirement, because I don’t see Singapore as the only alternative to retire in.
I could always live in Lombok, buy a piece of land there and grow my own crops. If I really wanted to, I could sign myself into a retirement home in Thailand or China, where you can mix around with other retired people and enjoy a luxurious retirement life. There are just so many other options out there, that we don’t know of. Because we haven’t explored what’s out there. And we think that the media tells us everything we need to know.
I didn’t know about volunteering opportunities until I was traveling. I definitely had never heard of the concept of working 8 months a year and then 4 months backpacking. My point is, there is so so many types of lifestyles and solutions out there, that I don’t know about.
If I had given into fear, and stayed back in Singapore, knowing that I would spend more unhappy than happy days there……I wouldn’t have known of all these different alternatives.
My standard of living has become more affordable and the quality of my life has increased by folds.
I understand that many people have considerations.
My parents wouldn’t support me. I have children to consider. I’ve already gotten to a point in my career that I can’t waste it. etc etc.
Please don’t get me wrong.
The point of the RICE article is not to encourage everyone to come out and live life like me.
The solutions to my problems cannot be the same for yours.
My point is to consider what your problems are, figure out if there are really no alternative solutions. Because sometimes there are, but you’re holding out on them because of fear.
It could be a job change. It could be deciding whether to break up an engagement. It could be deciding whether to go to JC/Poly. It could be deciding whether or not to give your parents allowance. It could be whether to get a divorce. It could be how to speak to your boss for a promotion. It could be a career switch. It could be deciding to have a child.
We’re all facing crossroads and different phases of our lives.
In sharing my story, I’m showing you that when you face your fears, and you change your perspective on things, sometimes the solutions become less scary. You have more confidence to believe in yourself and make the decision that feels right, even if it scares the hell out of you.