As a teenager, Jesse Shoberg began planning his escape from Elkhorn, Wisconsin, where he was born and raised. “It’s your typical small town in the Midwest: small, quiet, not much adventure,” he told CNBC Make It. “I always knew I wanted to go out and explore the world.”
The 41-year-old entrepreneur has been living abroad for 14 years now, splitting his time between more than 40 countries, and he has no plans to return to the United States anytime soon.
Schoberg skipped the traditional path of attending college and securing a 9-to-5 job, choosing instead to move to Madison at age 19, sharpen his coding skills and help businesses design and develop their websites.
When he reached the age of 27, Schoberg began to feel uneasy. He decided to move to a new city and looked at apartments in Austin and Denver, but kept going to Panama City, the capital of Panama, where he spent “one of the best vacations of his life,” as he recalled.
He moved to Panama City in 2008 and lived there for six years before packing his bags to travel the world full-time as a digital nomad.
Between travels, Schoberg now calls Bangkok home. He moved to Thailand in December 2021 and shares a one-bedroom apartment with his fiancée, Janine.
“Compared to the United States, the quality of life in Thailand is better for 90% of everything and less stressful,” he says. “A luxury lifestyle is also very easy to afford.”
Becoming a digital nomad
Schoberg has built a stellar career as an entrepreneur and web developer, earning a six-figure salary every year — but his success didn’t happen overnight.
When he first moved to Panama, Schoberg brought with him the web design and development firm he had founded in the United States and a list of clients.
In 2013, Shoberg and two friends who had worked with him on previous company projects, Jason Mayfield and Laura Lee, founded DropInBlog, a software startup that helps website owners add an SEO-optimized blog to almost any platform. minute.
Today, DropInBlog has a remote staff of 12 employees and is led by Schoberg as CEO.
Being his own boss gave Schoberg a more flexible schedule, and he used his newfound free time to travel: After visiting several South American countries, including Colombia and Costa Rica, he decided to check out Asia, living briefly in Taiwan and Japan. and the Philippines (She met her fiancé on a Tinder date).
In 2015, Schoberg stopped in Thailand, and he knew right away that he had found his new home. “When I first got to Bangkok, there was a familiar pulse to Panama City… There’s just this incredible energy in the street and the people,” he says. “I knew right away that Bangkok would be my Panama City 2.0.”
Schoberg and her fiancé are splitting their time between Mexico City and Bangkok while they wait for the Thailand Elite Visa, a 5-year renewable visa that costs about $18,000 and gives you unlimited entry into Thailand, as well as entry and exit privileges.
“I live better here than in the US”
After moving to Bangkok, Schoberg was able to spend more money on travel, food and other hobbies, as well as increase his savings. “Although I can afford a pretty nice life in the US, I live better here than in the US,” he says. “The level of service you get here — nicer movie theaters, nicer cars — completely blows away what you get in the U.S.”
As the owner and CEO, Schoberg earns about $230,000 a year. Her biggest expenses are rent and utilities, which are about $2,710 each month. Shoberg and her fiance live in a one-bedroom apartment in the building, which has a private gym, pool, office, restaurant and daily cleaning service.
He and Janine spend about $1,900 each month, often ordering food from local restaurants on a popular app called gopanda. Schoberg’s main dishes are Lao khao soi, tomato noodle soup with minced meat, and pad krapow, a spicy basil chicken dish. Both meals typically cost $2 to $3, Schoberg says, and local restaurants will often give discounts to longtime customers.
The food scene, he says, is a “huge plus” to living in Thailand and one of the main reasons he moved to Bangkok. “Bangkok has an amazing culinary scene, with almost every kind of food in the world,” Schoberg said. “Right around the corner from the apartment is a Belgian sandwich shop and a Vietnamese BBQ joint.”
Monthly breakdown of Schoberg’s expenses (through June 2022):
Rent and utilities: $2,709.52
Transportation: 197 dollars
Phone: 40 dollars
Health insurance: $280.39
Schoberg adds that the Thai culture and people are “kinder and more relaxed” than in the United States, and while English is spoken in more popular tourist areas like Bangkok, learning Thai gave Schoberg a “huge advantage” as a foreigner.
He takes two Thai classes a week, which cost $269.44 a month, and emphasizes that if you can understand Thai, you can “really engage with the culture and live better” in Bangkok.
As a new resident, Schoberg is still exploring Bangkok and all it has to offer, including its many shopping malls, parks, restaurants and concert venues—one of the magical aspects of living in Bangkok, she adds, is that it can feel like you. We live in two different cities at the same time.
“You have a street-level city with food vendors, people running to work, taxis and motorbikes,” he says. “And then there’s this sky city that’s happening in skyscrapers, with fancy rooftop bars and workplaces and shopping malls … where there’s a contrast between a Chanel store and a 20-cent barbecued pork skewer down the street.”
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