EFP 94: Pros And Cons Of Baselining Your Business in SEAsia

Justin Cooke

May 15, 2014

EFP 94- Pros And Cons Of Baselining Your Business in SEAsia

We’re huge fans of Southeast Asia and the fact that we’ve been here for half a decade shows proof of that. There are plenty of benefits that made us fall in love with this place and really allowed us to grow our business to where it is today.

But of course, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies out here.

Are There Too Many Disadvantages Basing a Business Out of Southeast Asia?

Today, Joe and I talk about both the pros and cons of baselining your business and living in Southeast Asia. Even with all the disadvantages of being out here we still are proud to call this place home. Over the years we’ve met tons of brilliant location independent entrepreneurs and have really seen growth in the expat community.

We’re not trying to force you to move out here but it’s definitely something you should consider if you want to take your business to the next level.

Check Out This Week’s Episode Here:

 Direct Download – Right Click, Save As

Topics Discussed This Week Include:

  • The mileage your dollars get you in SEAsia compared to anywhere else.
  • Expat entrepreneurial hubs and the benefits of community.
  • Spending less for talent of the same caliber of higher salaries you’d pay back in the states.
  • Cons of being in SEAsia such as being an outsider and common inefficiencies.
  • The cost of traveling and adapting to your surroundings.


Help Us Out:

  • “There’s a sense of ‘we’re all in this together’ in SEAsia that you don’t get at home.” – Justin – Tweet This!
  • “It’s hard to realize that you can design and build out the life you want because everyone is following a script.” – Justin – Tweet This!
  • “You get better pound-for-pound value with hiring local talent in SEAsia than most anywhere else.” – Justin – Tweet This!

Do you think the pros outweigh the cons? What would it take for you to start your business in SEAsia? Please leave your thoughts on SpeakPipe or comment below to start a discussion!

Photo Credit: Vagabundo Magazine

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  1. JakubHanke says:

    I think considering $1500 a month to be frugal living in Thai is kind of overkill… I live for less than $2000 in Sydney and pretty much don’t feel like missing on something.

    Sure eating out every day, having a maid etc would be great, it’s just not necessary :)

    I took it the other way. Moved from a relatively cheap place (Prague) to one of the most expensive you can find. That allowed me to easily bank few dozens thousands $ (while doing literally nothing at my job) and move on.

    Also getting away from friends who, exactly as you said in the podcast, are forcing you to go to a party or whatever every single day helps to actually get ahead. It isn’t as much fun without them for sure, but I wouldn’t get anywhere otherwise :)

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Hey Jakub,

      Unfortunately, “cost of living” is just one of those things that’s heavily relative. $1,500/month is “baller” for some currently living in Chiang Mai on $600 – $800 per month, and it’s not living well for someone that’s accustomed to $3K-$4K per month in that same place.

      For me today, living in place like San Diego on $2K/month wouldn’t be acceptable. I’ve never been to Sydney, but I’d imagine I’d feel similarly, especially after discussing the cost of real estate over a few beers with a few Australian buddies.

      Take into account the different prices of good/services across countries and you’ve got yourself a hot mess when you try to explain how all the $$ works out.

      Again, trying to determine what’s “necessary” is along the same lines, I think. :-)

      • JakubHanke says:

        Hi Justin,

        I know it’s extremely dependable on one’s lifestyle. Still, I think that someone who doesn’t have big stash just can’t spend that much in Thai while trying to get a business off the ground. Suck it up or I’ll punch you in the face as MMM would say :))

        From a quick look on numbeo – Sydney is about 50% more expensive than San Diego.

        And yea, real estate prices here are crazy… ie http://news.domain.com.au/domain/real-estate-news/unliveable-redfern-cottage-sells-for-1-million-20140201-31tq8.html

        • Comparing apples to volkswagens..

          I am a Sydney-sider and let me tell you the kind of lifestyle Justin lives would cost $10k+ in Sydney per month.

          The house alone is 4-5x cost than in the Philippines.

          Housestaff? almost unheard of in Sydney and would require at least $4-5k per month

          Food, clothing, transportation? 3-4x

          • JakubHanke says:

            I agree with you Damian. My main point is that someone without nice chunk of savings, who wants to change his/her life by starting a business can easily live for under $700 in Thailand. That’s what I meant by overkill when hearing “$1500 is doable for short term”

            Disclosure: maybe my view is little skewed after I wasted a lot of money on luxury stuff while thinking the income will last… and it did not last. So after getting out of debt and again having some cash-flow and assets I’m much more careful :)

          • Justin Cooke says:

            Hehe – that’s what makes discussions around cost of living so difficult – one person’s baseline is vastly different from someone else’s!

            A funny note – whenever we bring this subject up I almost always get called out from one side or another. Some say, “No way it costs that much to live here/there!” while others think I’m downplaying the costs/expenses, hehe.

  2. Dom Wells says:

    Great episode guys. I’m based in Taiwan and there are definitely some similarities, most notably how far the dollar goes here, and how hard it was to find a good hair cut initially! I do wish there was more of an entrepreneur hub out here, there’s a great expat community but most people are teachers or working for western companies over here on assignment.

    Also, appreciate the shout out!

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Happy to give you a shout, man!

      Yeah – I’m looking forward to visiting Chiang Mai later in the year – tons of other entrepreneurs up there.

    • Scott says:

      I used to live in Taiwan too. Loved the place, great people, wonderful, great place to learn the language (i think better than China). I hate to say it, but the problem is the laowai (the foreigners.) Taiwan is a great place to teach English, not really much of a start up community or even a place to find a non English language teaching job. The foreigners tend to be much more more chilled out, not much hustling going on. At least in Taipei, I can’t speak for any other areas of the country. I suppose that’s good if your goal is to travel for a few years.

      Also, get a guy to cut your hair. As someone who lived in China and taiwan for a while, Asian men are some of the best hair cutters I’ve ever had in my life. You may wish to note I have very curly hair, hard to cut.

      • Dom Wells says:

        Totally agree with you Scott, I’ve been here since 2008 so well aware of the situation. It’s like you said, people are content with being Teachers for the most part, and for those who aren’t, options are limited. That’s why I turned online to get out of the teaching “rat-race”. It would be great if there were more of a “start up community” here though. Interesting tip about the male hair cutters!

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