I take calculated risks – and no I don’t receive alimony

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.

13 thoughts on “I take calculated risks – and no I don’t receive alimony

  1. Wow thank you so much for sharing about your journey. I’m also 29 and still single and have always dreamed of living abroad but can’t seem to know what to do to take the first step. This was certainly very helpful for me to broaden my perspective. Wishing you all the best :))

    Liked by 2 people

  2. IchbineineHongkongerin

    Hello! I found your blog through Rice Media. I’ve always been a globetrotter and can never seem to be in the same place for more than 5-6 years. Born in Hong Kong, my family and I moved to Singapore when I was in primary 5 then I moved to Canada to finish my final year of high school and to complete my first degree. After that I went to the U.K. for my masters before coming back to Hong Kong to work for a few years. I then relocated to Shanghai. After a few years in Shanghai, I sort of wanted to move back to Hong Kong because, while Shanghai offerred lots of excitements, I didn’t like the culture there (people from Hong Kong and Taiwan tended to get bullied by the little pinks or ultra-nationalistic mobs). But one thing that gave me great shock when I tried to look for a look back in Hong Kong was the attitude of Hong Kong people towards others who have not worked in Hong Kong, even if it’s just for a few years like me. I got a lot of questions like, “So you have been working in Shanghai for 5-6 years, does that mean you are not familiar with the Hong Kong market?” The role actually covered APAC including China which was actually one of the key markets, not just Hong Kong! So I can relate when you said you felt you didn’t fit in when you went back to Singapore for vacation, yet deep down you loved Singapore.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Jane, after reading this post, would like to share with you and those who read this comment.
    I have been fascinated to look for opportunities in the digital world 10 years ago till now.
    Have attended few courses, talks, big events by the so called internet “gurus” . End of the day they want to sell you their so call “make money system” and it’s not cheap. 🤭 I did not buy. Was going through countless YT vdo on these until I stumbled across this guy who is no selling anything to you. What he does is paying it forward. You may find some inspiration from his blog, YT vdo regarding what you can do with all your passion, hobby etc. I am starting learning from his course how to start a blog…..how to make money online. As my age is not that young, hope my dream to create an online income in a few years time. You can check out his blog here. https://www.milesbeckler.com/
    **He don’t sell anything.
    He don’t need our money!
    All his stuff are free. !
    All the Best!! 💖
    **Remember Lee Kuan Yew’s advice to ‘follow that rainbow’ through …….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Star

    Hi Jane,
    Happened to chance upon your article and it’s inspiring. You have big dreams, the kind of big dreams that is different from a typical Singaporean. A life time of life experience you will gain.
    I’m 45, lived in states for almost 20 years, building a family of 5 but decided marriage is not working out for me. Now, I’m with my three kids and have plans to move back to singapore. It really scares me to step foot back in singapore as living expenses is just insane.
    Your article enlightened me to let me stop for a while and really think what I want in life.
    Thank you for sharing your story and will be happy to know you more and follow your adventures. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetoryl

      Wow it does sound like a lot to consider! Either way you will know once you’ve gone down a path. Plus paths can always change again 😁😁


  5. Kenny

    Just read the Rice article and came here via the link. I’m working in Singapore but Scottish. I came to Singapore from Australia and hope to return there….but travel/work more.
    I wanted to say it’s great advice you gave, especially to sheltered Singaporean’s about getting out and finding themselves. I’m in my 50’s, divorced twice and I wish i’d got out more earlier in life.
    Keep being an inspiration for younger folks. Letting them know that life is for living now…not saving 40yrs for retirement.

    Take care on your journeys 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hello Jane!

    I love the article you did with Rice. A lot of us could relate to your story, be it we’re considering to do so, or already part of the process.

    I hate it that everyone SO FOCUS on this question, (whenever we’re away from home travelling somewhere else). It’s just the way we choose to live.

    How do you afford it? – this question is really asking so many things.

    Retirement? I don’t know why people even want to wait to retire to travel or to do nothing? It’s important for one to think of investment in their early days, keep their brain going no matter how old and how to live their best life while their knees are still working. Whatever advice we can give a person, it wouldn’t be applicable to them if they do not have the same ‘mindset’ to begin with.

    Your story relates a lot to a book that I am going to publish. I want to send you an e-copy when it’s ready 🙂

    Best wishes for your exciting journeys ahead.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. X

      Hi Yuan! I agree that up to a certain point, it’s mindset that determines whether someone is willing to leave their comfort zone and become a digital nomad or not. However, I think you’re ignoring that financial security has a big impact on that mindset and how comfortable people are taking risks. For young people struggling to even find their first job in the pandemic and who have ageing parents they have to think about supporting, I think it’s very understandable to look at the kind of lives people like yourself and Jane live and see the obstacles more than the opportunities. The fact remains that to leave Singapore and start a new life anywhere, you need capital, and you need a financial safety net in case things don’t work out, and if you don’t have those things, how can you even begin to think of nomadism?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I agree with you that some form of financial security (savings/ investments) is needed for this instance. Some years of working experiences are important before becoming a freelancer/ digital nomad. I do chance upon young entrepreneurs who lived nomadism (that also provided one do not have other commitments like ageing parents or pets to care for). In the end, it really boils down to the individual. Jane’s story can inspire one to be fearless, but it doesn’t mean everyone should take the same step. What works for her may not work for others.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. janetoryl

        I think the other things that are unsaid includes trying to live up to parents’ expectations. In Asian families, we are much more “pressured” to take care of our parents for much of our adult lives and I think this is the reality for many people including my own parents. Would be an interesting topic to discuss about though!


  7. X

    Hi Jane! I must admit I was skeptical when I first read the RICEmedia article and then immediately after that, saw your feature with TTI. But this post of yours cleared up a lot of doubts I had and, I believe, puts across a much more positive and nuanced message much clearer than RICE or TTI did. I feel there could have been much more detail provided on the logistics of your move, your backup plans in case things didn’t work out, the resources you relied on and how you gained access to them, as well as your core message about being willing to explore possibilities. It would have gone a long way into reassuring readers that the material luxuries of your new life are not the key point of your story.
    I’m a fresh grad entering an uncertain workforce and do not have the foundations, capital or the safety net required to become a digital nomad the way you have (at least, not right now) but I can definitely get behind your message here: that we have to look beyond what we know, to know if there could be anything else. Thank you for this, and I will be redirecting anyone I know to this blog if they are confused about your story.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. janetoryl

      Love this!!! I’ll keep this in mind for when I interview some other inspiring friends of mine who have overcome hurdles of their own to live out their ideal lives. Thank you for this!


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