What are we doing in 2014? It’s a question that’s had dozens of different answers over the past 6 months: Spend a second year in Japan, teach in another country, move back to Canada, or maybe give house sitting a long-awaited try.
The decision ended up forming much in the same way our decision to leave Canada came about over 2 years ago. We were sitting in a bar, talking not about what was safe, but about what we really wanted for ourselves.
More than anything, we both want to be part of a community again. I’ve alluded to our isolated home bases occasionally on this blog, but the full truth is that Brent and I have been feeling increasingly lonely. Our work exchanges were lonely, and our teaching positions have been lonely. We’ve met some wonderful travelers in passing, but after a while, the pattern of meeting people, forming quick friendships, and then saying goodbye a day or 2 later is exhausting and unsatisfying.
It also became clear that we needed to revisit the main reason why we started this trip: Freedom. We succeeded in leaving Canada, but we’ve yet to succeed at becoming truly free. We’ve lived in 7 different countries over the last 28 months, but we’ve always traveled based on volunteer exchanges or jobs – we’ve always been locked into something. We never stopped having a schedule, fixed vacation periods, and exasperating employers. In many ways, our time has been no more our own than it was when we were living in Canada. Every evening when Brent and I put aside our own projects and haul ourselves into the company car to drive to our classes, I feel like I’m still comprising what I really want for the sake of stability.
So when we sat down to ask ourselves what was next, we began to realize that the answer was not another job or another fixed arrangement. So: We’re moving to Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Over the last few months, I’ve been taking on more and more freelance writing and editing projects. And I love it. I love picking and choosing the projects that interest me and setting my own schedule. It’s the flexibility and freedom I’ve always wanted – the antidote to why I’ve always been a little bit frustrated with every salaried job I’ve ever had. So, I’m going to freelance full-time. That might even still involve some teaching, but we’ll find our own private students and do it on our terms.
If you read other travel blogs, then the reasons why we’re choosing Chiang Mai as the place to do this are probably obvious. Chiang Mai offers (almost) Western standards of living at half the Western costs, amazing food, fast Wi-Fi, and a thriving expat population of bloggers, entrepreneurs and digital nomads. It’s true that there was a time when I couldn’t wait to get out of Thailand, but Chiang Mai couldn’t be more different from the dead-end town where we spent 10 months teaching. If we’re going to make a relatively ballsy move like this one, there’s some modicum of comfort in at least doing it in a country where we already feel at home. Plus, if we can make it work in Chiang Mai, then we’ll have the confidence and resources to go just about anywhere afterwards.
Am I terrified? Totally. The next few months might be a colossal success or gigantic failure, but at least I’ll know if I’m capable of being self-employed. The only way to find out is by throwing my hat over the fence, diving into the deep end, and embracing a whole bunch of other metaphors for fully committing.
For now, this move also means refocusing on what this blog is all about: Travel – throughout Thailand, SE Asia and everywhere else.
Have you been to/lived in Chiang Mai? What do think of our plan? Are you planning to be in SE Asia over the next 8 months – let’s meet up!