Apr 18

Q&AI regularly get e-mails from readers with questions related to my lifestyle, which I try to answer as exhaustive as possible. Some of them could be interesting for other readers as well. Here we go with a new section of this site. These are the first questions answered:

  • You are a German but write in English, are you mad with your home country?
  • What’s your take on LASIK Eye Surgery in Bali?
  • What’s your opinion on purchasing Real Estate, Land or Villas in Bali?
  • How do you do it – money-wise?

Question: Why are you writing your site in English? You are a German like us and should write in your mother tongue. The topic would be interesting for a lot of us, but most of my colleagues can’t read English. Will you offer a German version? (question translated from a German e-mail)

Answer: I’m not mad at my homeland. I just prefer to live somewhere else, a ‘Cheaper Cost of Living Country’ with better climate. The reason for me writing in English is simply because of the greater reader potential. It comes all down to numbers:

There are only about 80 million Germans. 70% of them have internet, that would leave around 56 million potential readers. Maybe 30% of those are either too old (children or retired already) to appreciate the topic of this website, that leaves about 40 million potential readers. From those maybe 75% enjoy working, they want to get married and basically settle down in or close to their family or hometown. They want to build or buy a house, have a great BMW, Mercedes or Audi and live a typical middle-class lifestyle. That leaves maybe around 10 million. Of those maybe half don’t know yet, that they might have the desire to retire early and travel the world forever, so they won’t look via search engines or portals to respecting sites. Or they are not that internet savvy to know how to use search engines; so maybe only some 5 million potential readers are left.

That’s actually not that much, considering the fact that I reached about 10% of this potential already. Compare that with a population of 1-2 billion people on this planet who can read or speak English. Even if I reduce the potential with the above questionable method, that would still leave a potential many times higher to come to this website. That’s basically the only reason.

And yeah, if you only speak German, you are probably not the right candidate to move to a foreign ‘Cheaper Cost of Living Country’ anyway. Sorry! ;-)

Question: I am in America studying at the moment, but want to live in Bali for a while. Reading about Lasik eye surgery your blog came up in a search. I am curious where you had it done and if you can recommend eye doctors?

Answer: I had my eye surgery done in Singapore in 2003, where I lived at that time. That was at the National Eye Center in Singapore (just google it for their website) and the prices were around 3.000 SGD per eye, which is around USD 1.700. But that was 5 years ago – these days I hear that they charge only 1.200-1.500 SGD per eye, which is more around 600-800 USD. I was more than satisfied and achieved perfect vision and would recommend it to anyone to whom it would apply (Pre-Check will find out).

Bali – I’m not so sure, while you surely can get very low prices there, I wouldn’t trust them with my eyesight. But that’s up to you. Also I wouldn’t know, where to go, don’t think that BIMC (an Australian-run clinique targeting foreigners in Bali) offers LASIK.

Question: What’s your opinion on purchasing Real Estate, Land or Villas in Bali?

Answer: I don’t believe in owned property for oneself and would certainly not invest in real estate in a holiday paradise in Asia (apart from Singapore maybe). But yeah, there are troubles in owning land or villas not only in Indonesia, but Thailand, India, Vietnam, Laos or elsewhere, so why spill out money for something uncertain? They will change the rules how they want to and your money can work in better and safer ways for you.

Question: How do you do it? I mean, money wise? Do you have good savings with a fixed deposit? Investments? You have no worries in terms of $$? A business? Any hints. I am ready to create something for myself.

Answer: I basically worked 14 years in a row in various sales-related jobs with an European Outsourcing Company in several cities. Was very mobile and took any opportunity offered and which paid more. Okay, it paid well, because I really worked my *ss off for the company and its customers in a global business environment – I was basically available 24/7.

So I didn’t have much private life, didn’t spend much money, was never in debt and practically saved most of my salary. Over the years I invested heavily in dividend stocks (long-term), fixed deposits and real estate back in Germany to rent out. I try to buy value stocks when the markets are down (like right now) and sell, when the markets are up – all with a multi-year horizon. I diversify broadly and try to use advantages in currency trading also. Liquid assets are held in EUR, SGD and USD; from where I withdraw according to favorable Forex conditions. Expenses are usually in weaker currencies in the countries where I stay.

That’s basically it. If you can generate a decent passive income from rent, interest and dividends; living frugally and having low demands – that makes a pretty good surviving possible. After all I’m living my dream now and that almost guarantees happiness. ;-)

That’s it for now!

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written by Chris

18 Responses to “Q&A #1”

  1. MikeNo Gravatar MALAYSIA Says:

    I am thinking of moving to bali, so I have been going through your old archives.

    I would like to hear your advice on renting a place in Bali. What kind of place did you stay in when you were there.

  2. Richard BNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    Very interesting ! You seem to have been in Goa for a long time. How many times can you renew a visa when you are in India ? How do you manage to stay a long time in Asia ? I suppose you stay at one place till a visa expired and you renew it or go to another country, then come back to India or another previous place you were. Is it something like this ?

  3. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Mike, I rented a house in Seminyak/Kerobokan, close to Denpasar when staying there. But there is soooo much choice. Best advice I can give – simply go there first, drive around the area of your choice with your rented scooter and check the places with a rental sign. Avoid agents and try to talk to owners directly for better deals. Make long-term deals for better value. You might want to check this spreadsheet for a cost overview, including housing.

    Richard, I’m in Goa for the last 6 months. You actually only can renew your Visa when leaving India and applying new outside the country. Still better (6 months in a row without any hassles!) than any other country in SE Asia. So yeah, you are completely right about the Visa issue. It’s actually *the* main issue of staying long-term in a certain country. Here is an example on how the procedure works for Indonesia.

  4. Richard BNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    Thanks Cris ! I did 4 wonderful trips to India but always for 2 to 6 months, then coming back home. Once i renew a visa in Sri Lanka. I plan to stay longer when i retire in a few years and i was wondering if someone can renew an indian visa 3 or 4 times or more. My dream is to live forever in Rishikesh : )

  5. Mike OwenNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Hello Chris and your readers, I have thought hard and long whether I should write this post at all. I have been a member of the Nomadforever family for around two to three years and I think in that time I have got to know you, Chris, fairly well. But—having said that–I feel I must write regardless. Its only a small point, but I am from an age group that lived through the war (dont mention that) and had it drummed into us constantly—the Fatherland of Germany. Now you have a German writer talking about his “Mother tounge.” Well, make up your mind, is it the Fatherland or isent it? Mike

  6. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Mike Owen, seems I had a bit less drumming regarding my fatherland in the following Cold War times. After all I grew up behind the iron curtain during the Pershing II Missiles stationing and ‘Anarchy in the UK’. Maybe the long pointed trigger finger of Margaret Thatcher made me running more for my mummy. :D

  7. ConorNo Gravatar IRELAND Says:

    hi Chris,

    im new to your site and enjoying its content immensely, thanks!

    im wondering how you manage your internet access in the various places you have stayed. beyond forking out for home internet connections have you any recommendations on mobile internet access across asia, any tricks?

    is there mobile broadband providers available in your experience in the likes of bali, goa etc? ive been looking up gobi technology which allows users to lieterally surf the web from anywhere where theres a mobile/cell phone signal without having to change providers . OQO handhelds have this tech.


  8. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Conor, thanks for the friendly words, I try my best.

    Regarding internet access, my current favorite is 3G/HSDPA, which works prepaid in a surprising list of countries (Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines). I used it in Germany also for prepaid 25 Euro unlimited volume per month. I’m sure they have it also in Thailand now, unfortunately not in India yet. There, internet was the worst so far I ever experienced. They also just finished the 3G auctions, so the rollout of reliable and affordable 3G networks will probably take another year at least.

    Whenever I stay longer in one location, I try to find a more permanent (and possibly cheaper solution).

    For Bali, I wrote a few articles about internet access, simply click on ‘internet’ in the topic cloud in the upper-left corner and scroll through the existing articles (or enter ‘internet access’ in the search box in the right sidebar).

    I never heard about ‘Gobi’ yet, but usually a solution that tries to cover more than one country is less specialized and more expensive. How are those Gobi and OQO thingies working out for you??

  9. ConorNo Gravatar IRELAND Says:

    had a look at the articles.. seems to be bali can be a bit problematic for consistency. nowheres perfect i suppose!

    i havent yet used gobi , have just read a bit about it. youre right, i believe expensive to use aswell!

  10. J BernsteinNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Great blog. I have spent a number of years abroad in Asia. I have lived in Vietnam, South Korea and Indonesia, as well as travelling to a number of other Asian countries on a short time basis. But, I have always worked for companies while living abroad.

    When my current contract expires, I plan on extensive travel in the region. How would you suggest setting up my accounts in such a way that would allow access to my money without incurring large fees in multiple countries? Also, you mentioned Forex trading, which broker do you find most accessible in Asia? I currently use Oanda, but it is tied to my US accounts and I want to find a dedicated broker for this journey.

    Selamat Jalan

  11. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    J Bernstein, I would avoid setting up an account in every country I plan to travel to. Leave your money in your base currency and withdraw simply from ATMs. The fees aren’t *that* high and you avoid the currency risks. The currencies in the region fluctuate quite a lot and this way you never know, how much money you got. Regarding Forex Brokers, there are half a dozen in Singapore, among them POEMS/Philip Securities, ETrade Asia, as well as the major banks with their online arms. There are of course countless brokers in every country, but myself I’d stick to Singapore due to better diligence and law security. Also, why not keep our accounts in the US or wherever you are from, as most Asian markets still follow the US markets.

  12. KiwiNomadNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    “Question: What’s your opinion on purchasing Real Estate, Land or Villas in Bali?”…
    As a foreigner we cannot personally “own” land in Bali, or anywhere in Indonesia. This also applies to many countries in Asia. I am lucky that my wife can own here in the Philippines.

  13. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Nothing against your lovely wife, but how is that an accountable option, KiwiNomad? I’m all for mixed relationships, but with divorce rates around 50%, you are basically playing Roulette with your own savings.

    The stories of foreigners losing their life savings by putting everything in the name of their wives in Asia are legend.

    If you think you want to take the risk – go for it! But better make sure, that it’s not a substantial part of your funds you are investing. ;-)

  14. KiwiNomadNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Absolutely true Chris, I have seen the disasters happen so many times. We have been together now for so many years traveling and creating businesses around the Asia Pacific, but she wanted a “home-base” so we did that. The great thing is she put up half from her earnings and the price hardly made a dent in mine. I spend more money on the boat in a year than the cost of a farm in the Phil!

    BTW, I love this site and check it at least twice a week. Bali is my next stop.

  15. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Yup, that sounds more like a strategy, KiwiNomad! You are already in a bettter position than 95% of those Expats, whose partners don’t have any funds of their own.

    And sorry for the lack of updates, I wish I could write bi-weekly, just there is so much life to live out there right now; that time in front of the computer isn’t so tempting currently. I will be in Pinas from Monday onwards and back to Bali latest 1st of May. Maybe we’ll bump into each other somewhere along the road, here or there…. ;-)

  16. KiwiNomadNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    For sure! Am leaving Manila this month and I have a quick trip to NZ (first visit since 1986!) and then off to Bali after a month or so. I will keep in touch.

  17. KiwiNomadNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    With regard to the land ownership in the Phil there is a space on the title that indicates that I have a 51% financial interestin the property (8 hectares).
    Catch up with you in Bali I hope.

  18. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Alright! ;-)

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