A Careersaas guest post from Gemma — how to go all in for remote work in Thailand
In 2015, I lived in a dingy shared apartment in London and worked an office job that I hated. I was deeply unhappy with my life. Like many other travel lovers, I tried to find fulfillment by taking regular weekend city breaks around Europe. While these trips were fun, I would always find myself back in the office, dreaming of a life of freedom.
Knowing I had to make a drastic change if I wanted to create a better life, I booked a one-way ticket to Melbourne, Australia. I spent the next two years traveling, living, and working down under. While I had the time of my life, I knew that it would eventually come to an end, and the fear of being back in an office for 8 hours a day loomed over me.
Aside from travel, I had an immense passion for yoga. I first started practicing yoga in London and found it to be highly beneficial for my mental health. Then when I spent a year living and working in Melbourne, I deepened my practice and began going to my local studio almost daily.
Although I loved my Aussie life, I started to feel it was time for something new. I felt a calling to go to Thailand and train to become a yoga teacher. So in March 2018, this is what I did.
My first taste of Thailand
I found myself drawn to a particular Thai island called Koh Phangan. At the time, I had no idea this island was so popular with yogis and spiritual seekers. Nor did I know it would later become a digital nomad hotspot! However, I was clearly drawn to this island for a reason, as it was not just where I started my yoga career but also where I met my partner.
After completing a month-long intensive yoga teacher training in Koh Phangan, I immediately began teaching on the island. I then secured a teaching placement at a yoga retreat center in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and spent a month living there.
In August 2018, my boyfriend and I returned to the UK with the plan to stay for one year before heading back to Asia. I began teaching yoga in studios and gyms. It was a great way to build up my experience, but it was not the lifestyle I wanted to live. After years of living and traveling overseas, I knew I had to create a lifestyle where I could be free to live wherever I wanted while working remotely.
Becoming a digital nomad
We stuck to our plan, and in October 2019, my partner and I went back to the country we had fallen in love with. After traveling around Thailand, we returned to Koh Phangan. It was the beginning of 2020, and full of positivity, I began teaching yoga on the island again. However, in March, the global pandemic of Covid-19 arrived, and the country, like many others, locked down.
During this period, I transitioned to working online. I started teaching private online yoga classes and creating yoga content for corporate companies. At the same time, I began writing articles for travel blogs to share my experience of Thailand and beyond.
Our original plan was to spend a few months in Thailand and then go to the Canary Islands in Spain. However, since travel had now become so complex, we decided to stay put in Thailand. After 10 months in Koh Phangan, we moved to Phuket, where we live today. I now work remotely full-time, writing for travel blogs and teaching my online private yoga clients.
The pros and cons of being a digital nomad
In this last year of working remotely in Thailand, I’ve definitely experienced both the pros and cons of the digital nomad lifestyle. Here are the main ones.
- Flexibility — By working remotely, I can work when I want. I can take time in the mornings for my meditation and yoga practice, and I can take a day off whenever I want.
- Low cost of living — Like most digital nomads, I live in a country with a low cost of living. As I earn US and UK rates, my money goes a long way in Thailand. This means I can enjoy a very comfortable life and live in a house that I could only dream of back in the UK.
- Freedom — Even though we are not so free to travel right now, once the world opens back up, I can go wherever I want without the worry of losing work.
- Fluctuating workloads — Because I work as a freelancer, I get many temporary contracts. This means some weeks I’m overloaded with work, and other weeks I have little. Likewise, I could make a lot of money one month, and half the amount next month. This does take some time to get used to, and you have to learn to go with the flow.
- Technical problems — In Thailand, WIFI problems are common. If I’m writing an article, this isn’t a big deal as I can just go to a cafe and work from there. However, If I’m about to teach a class, it can be highly frustrating. What’s more, if you have any laptop issues, this can cause you to lose a lot of time.