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From New Jersey to Thailand: Expats With Cats

05 June, 2017 08:30  Erin Erin

Expat with Cats Hi! We’re Tom & Lauren, both from the U.S., where we grew up together in New Jersey. We are currently living in Bangkok, Thailand with our two cats Linus & Luna.

1.    Why did you move abroad?
Back in 2013 we had made our first “big” move and decided to leave New Jersey for Florida. Realistically, we had no idea how long we’d stay with no set plans, but we ended up living in Orlando for two years. We headed back to New Jersey after our hiatus in the lovely sunshine state. When we came back to what we had been so familiar to before, everything seemed so different from what we had been used to in the past, yet felt so unchanged at the same time.

Being back was nice for the perks of being surrounded by family, friends, and familiar places again, but we instantly knew it wasn’t where we wanted to stay. It’s good to remember where you came from, but our surroundings just seemed so stagnant and uninspiring. We began to brainstorm about where we wanted to go next, considering Nashville, Austin, San Diego, or possibly back to Florida. We had even considered purchasing an RV and hitting the road for a while to explore the states.

All the while, we also fantasized about moving out of the country at some point and exploring so much more of the world. But, we pushed that idea off to the side thinking it was just a pipe dream for right now that we’d have to wait to experience when we are much better off financially. Then we switched gears in our thinking process and said, “Why wait when we can do this right now?” The future is unpredictable, and putting off dreams and aspirations out of the fear of not being “ready” is just an illusion.


That’s when we decided that we could sell all of our stuff - car, studio gear, furniture, electronics, household items, etc. - and put that money towards an adventurous experience of living abroad! After much research, we chose to begin this newfound journey in South East Asia. In less than six months of planning and preparation we were on a plane heading towards the exhilarating unfamiliarity of a new environment, culture, and adventure.

2.    How do you make a living?
Even after selling his beloved studio gear, Tom will always have his passion for music. Though traveling makes it a bit more difficult for him since he had to slim down his set up from a big studio to a laptop, he continues his work with recording and mixing. Tom also works with web development, photography, and videography.

I (Lauren) work as a freelance writer, creating copy for blogs and online articles, as well as developing website content. I’m currently learning about photography, video editing, and website development, and hope to be able to add these attributes to my skill set in the near future.

We both really enjoy the freedom that working remotely gives to us and are so grateful for the flexibility it offers to our current lifestyle.

3.    How often do you communicate with home and how?
We frequently communicate with friends and family back home. Fortunately, we live in a time where social media makes staying connected very easy. Since we got new phone numbers when moving to Thailand, we do use the app called “WhatsApp” to text, call, and video chat. But for the most part, Facebook is our go to source for communicating. Using Facebook messenger is so simple, and can also be used to call our loved ones. Plus, it’s nice to share pictures, videos, and experiences as well as talk to them all in one place. We stay connected daily with all of the social media outlets, and the only real issue can sometimes be the difference in time zone. But, we make it work!

4.    What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Thailand?
Our favorite thing about being expats in Bangkok, Thailand is the experience of living in a large city. While I’ve never been much of a city person, Tom has always wanted to get a feel for the buzz of living in the heart of a big city. It has definitely been interesting so far, and no matter where we go we are always coming across something new and completely unexpected. To be surrounded by restaurants, bars, malls, and so many things to do, our options are limitless.

5.    What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Thailand?
I’m sure there’s worse things that could come to mind, but realistically the first thing that came to mind was the cost of cheese and the lack of abundance in “cheese-smothered food items.” But besides that, we can also factor in the copious amounts of traffic. Don’t underestimate the traffic when heading to the airport; you may just miss your flight - but hey, that’s a story for another time!

6.    What do you miss most?
We really miss food from back home. We miss our family too, but that’s comparing apples and oranges! In New Jersey we could always count on great pizza, sandwiches, breakfast foods, and such an extensive variety of things that we love.

7.    What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Luckily, Facebook is also helpful for this. Prior to our actual move itself we had both joined several Facebook groups such as “Bangkok Expats,” “Bangkok Digital Nomads,” “Expats in Thailand,” “Thailand Expat/Thai Discussion,” “Bangkok Expats Classifieds Forum,” etc.  From local events being advertised and apartments/condos being listed, to advice being given and experiences being shared, these groups are a really helpful way to meet people and to help you with your transition into a new place.

8.    What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?

Hmm.. A few things come to mind. Ketchup on pizza. Ice in beer. Sometimes having to pay to use a toilet. Touching people on the head is taboo. The majority of napkins here are equivalent to a piece of tissue paper the size of a post-it note. And lastly, by law, alcohol can only be sold from 11:00AM-2:00PM and from 5:00PM-12:00AM (though there are still places you can buy it at any time). But what’s “strange” in one culture is “normal” in another, and that’s what makes things interesting.

9.    What is a myth about your adopted country?
Well, some assumed that when we said we were moving to Thailand that we’d be living in an undeveloped area in a bamboo hut with dirt floors and limited access to electricity and clean water. Rest assured, none of the above has been an issue for us! Also, another myth that many seem to believe is that Thailand is very unsafe.

10.    Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
The cost of living is significantly lower here in Thailand than in the U.S.A.  This was a huge factor in our destination choice because working remotely we can balance out our low cost of living and still maintain an income like we could back home. Now we have room for opportunity to invest more time into our goals and less into burning ourselves out working 40+ hours a week to just barely get by.

11.    What advice would you give other expats?

Don’t overthink things too much. The “unknown” will still be the unknown even after extensive amounts of research and preparation. That is the best part! DO be safe, DO be aware, and DO embrace being a bit nervous. But DON’T let it stop you from taking chances in life and challenging yourself. Another person’s journey will never be identical to yours, so continue to create your own path and welcome the uncertain.

12.    When and why did you start your blog? Expat with Cats
We started working on our website a couple of months prior to our move, and began adding content to our blog in January of this year (a little over a month before arriving to Bangkok). Tom and I started this blog to not only share our experiences with our loved ones, but also with the world. We were feeling uninspired in life and almost stuck in a place that provided no growth for us. Our decision to cut ties with the illusive limitations we created for ourselves was the best one we could have ever made.

We don’t know exactly where this journey will take us; we only care to ride the wave of this incredible adventure and to inspire others along the way, as well as help them take a leap in life. Maybe that for someone else isn’t moving to Thailand, but to at least challenge themselves to break free of comfort zones and restrictions. We hope you’ll follow us through our growth, struggles, and experiences; we’d love to have you along for the ride! :)

Blog LinkTom & Lauren's blog, Expats With Cats

Guide for expatriates in Bangkok, Thailand 

  To find out more about living in Thailand, refer to our

Bangkok Guide

 

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