Jesse Schoberg began planning his escape from Elkhorn, Wisconsin, where he was born and raised, when he was a teenager. “It’s your typical Midwestern small town: small, quiet, not too adventurous,” he told CNBC Make It. “I always knew I wanted to get out and explore the world.”
The 41-year-old entrepreneur has lived abroad for 14 years, dividing his time between more than 40 countries – and he has no plans to return to the United States anytime soon.
Schoberg ditched the traditional path of attending college and getting a 9-to-5 job, choosing instead to move to Madison at age 19, honing his coding skills and helping companies design and build. develop their website.
By the time he turned 27, however, Schoberg began to feel restless. He decided to move to a new city and searched for apartments in Austin and Denver, but his mind kept drifting to Panama City, the capital of Panama, where he had “one of the best vacations of his life. “, he recalls.
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, a movement he discovered and inspired while on a working retreat in Curacao.
Between his travels, Schoberg now lives in Bangkok. He moved to Thailand in December 2021 and shares a one-bedroom apartment with his fiancée, Janine.
“The quality of life in Thailand compared to the United States, is much better for 90% of things and more without stress,” he says. “It’s also much easier to afford a luxurious lifestyle.”
Become a digital nomad
Schoberg has built a tremendous 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 company he started in the United States – and its list of clients.
In 2013, Schoberg and two of his friends who had worked with him on previous projects for the company, Jason Mayfield and Laura Lee, created DropInBlog, a software startup that helps website owners add an optimized blog for SEO to almost all platforms. minutes.
Today, DropInBlog has 12 fully remote employees, with Schoberg at the helm as CEO.
Becoming his own boss gave Schoberg a more flexible schedule, and he used his new free time to travel: after visiting several South American countries, including Colombia and Costa Rica, he decided to discover Asia, living for short stays in Taiwan, Japan. and the Philippines (where he met his fiancée on a Tinder date).
In 2015, Schoberg stopped by Thailand – and he immediately knew he had found his new home. “When I first arrived in Bangkok, there was just this pulse that felt familiar to Panama City… there’s just this incredible energy on the streets and with the people,” he says. “I knew right away that Bangkok was going to be my Panama City 2.0.”
Schoberg and his fiancée split their time between Mexico City and Bangkok while waiting for his Thai Elite Visa, a 5-year renewable visa that costs around $18,000 and gives you unlimited access to Thailand as well as in-and-out privileges.
“I live much better here than in the United States”
Since moving to Bangkok, Schoberg has been able to spend more on travel, meals and other hobbies, as well as increasing his savings. “Although I can afford a pretty good life in the United States, I live much better here than in the United States,” he says. “The level of services you get here – more sophisticated cinemas, nice cars – completely amazes what you get in the States”
As an entrepreneur and CEO, Schoberg earns around $230,000 a year. His biggest expenses are his rent and utilities, which together add up to about $2,710 a month. Schoberg and his fiancée live in a one-bedroom apartment in a building with a private gym, pool, coworking space, restaurant and daily cleaning service.
He and Janine spend around $1,900 a month on takeout and dining out, often ordering food from local restaurants on a popular app called gopanda. Schoberg’s signature dishes are laos khao soi, a tomato noodle soup with minced meat, and pad krapow, a basil-spiced chicken dish. Both meals typically cost between $2 and $3, Schoberg says, and local restaurants often offer discounts for long-term customers.
The culinary scene, he says, is a “huge plus” to living in Thailand, and one of the main reasons he chose to move to Bangkok. “Bangkok has an amazing food scene, you have pretty much every type of food in the world here,” Schoberg says. “Just around the corner from my apartment, there is a Belgian sandwich shop and a Vietnamese barbecue.”
Here’s a monthly breakdown of Schoberg’s expenses (as of June 2022):
Rent and charges: $2,709.52
Health insurance: $280.39
Thai culture and people are “much friendlier and more relaxed” than in the United States, adds Schoberg, and although English is spoken in the more popular tourist areas, such as Bangkok, learning Thai has given Schoberg “a huge advantage” as an outsider.
He attends two Thai classes a week, which cost $269.44 a month, and points out that “you can really engage with the culture and have a better life” in Bangkok if you are able to understand Thai.
As a new resident, Schoberg is still exploring Bangkok and all it has to offer, including its many shopping malls, parks, restaurants and music venues – one of the magical aspects of living in Bangkok, he adds. it, is that it can feel like you’re living in two different cities at once.
“You have the city at street level, meaning your food vendors, people running to work, taxis and motorcycles,” he says. “And then there’s this sky city happening in skyscrapers, with swanky rooftop bars, workspaces and shopping malls…here you have the contrast between the Chanel store and the pork skewer 20 cents grilled in the street.”