Money

Mindy – Bangkok to Blighty- Living Abroad – #ukpersonalfinance

Ms ZiYou UK PF Bloggers

I am so happy to introduce to you a new series here on Ms ZiYou, Let’s meet UK Personal Finance Bloggers. This week please welcome Mindy from Bangkok to Blighty.

What I love about Mindy is how she’s been following her dreams and living the life she wants. In her case this has been working abroad and experiencing new cultures.

Handing over to Mindy – About You & Your Blog

Please introduce yourself and your blog

Hi everyone, I’m Mindy, and I blog over at Bangkok to Blighty. I moved over to South-East Asia in 2010– initially for just a year. But the high quality of life, low cost of living, and interesting work opportunities have kept me in Asia until now.

I decided that 2018 would be the year I would transition back to living in the UK/Europe and take some time to figure out where I want to settle with my partner, and what to do longer-term.

What sort of finance blog do you write?

My blog is a broad mix personal finance, lifestyle, travel, and living abroad. In terms of personal finance, I write about lessons I’ve learned by turning my finances around. In my twenties, I was so focused on developing a career in non-profits, that I was digging myself into a financial hole.

My first job in Thailand working with refugees paid me just £400 a month, which was high in comparison to local salaries but wasn’t financially sustainable for me in the long-term. I’ve since managed to find a balance between meeting my financial needs while still working in line with my values. I’m also passionate about financial independence (FI), so I hope to use the blog to document my own alternative ethical and sustainable route to FI.

I’ve also been blogging about Bangkok life and will be writing about my travels around Asia. I’m currently on a mini-retirement, and will be backpacking with my partner for at least the next 3 months.

How would you describe your current stage of life?

I’m in a transition phase where I’m not sure where I will be in a year’s time. This is both exciting and scary. I look forward to resettling closer to home – missing friends and family is a big downside to living so far away. But I’ve also learned that the 9-5 office environment is not really for me. I will, therefore, need to find a way to earn money on my own terms while adapting to a higher cost of living.

What are your personal values?

I’ve had progressive values from a young age, which have only become stronger as I’ve grown older, especially after working with communities impacted by neoliberalism.

I believe something has gone very wrong with the system, and that we’re seeing the impacts: environmental destruction, climate change, and widening income and social inequality. This presents a personal dilemma: traditional financial independence relies on capitalism chugging along as is, but my values and beliefs go against this. This is why I need to find an alternative route to FI.

Tell us about the challenges you have overcome

In the past 5 years, I’ve managed to get myself out of negative net worth by increasing my income and upping my savings rate to at least 50%. I’m now so in-tune with what I value spending money on, that there aren’t many things I regret when I look back on my expenses each month.

What are your dreams and plans for the future?

I would love to be as self-sustaining as possible; to make my own things, grow my own food, and generate my own power. But I would still want to have access to amazing culture, like theatre, museums, and exhibitions J

How do you keep fit?

On good weeks, I exercise about four times a week and do a mix of yoga, swimming, jogging and high-intensity interval training. But as I’m on the road right now, my exercise options are limited, so I’m walking thousands of steps every day and fitting in squats and stretches whenever I can.

Tell us your favourite drink?

There are too many to choose from! I’m partial to a glass of Malbec, and a hot mug of PG Tips, but having lived in Asia I also love matcha green tea and bubble tea.

I’m writing this from Japan and I would say Japanese plum wine has to be one of the most delicious things ever created.

UK Society and Media

How do you get your news?

I’m an absolute Guardian addict, which is unsurprising given my views. On my real-life Twitter, I’m active in the social justice space, so it’s full of news and updates from activists around the world.

And the UK housing market – what are your thoughts?

While the situation might be different in other parts of the country, the house prices in London/ Southeast are absolutely nuts. Most of my friends have now bought houses after scrimping and saving for years, but I’m not sure I’ll get on the housing ladder unless there’s a major correction in price (which I wouldn’t necessarily wish for as that would be bad for those friends who’ve just bought).

Please share your top 10 blogs you follow with us.

My current favourite blog is The Luxe Strategist. I love her writing, and while I don’t care for luxury items, we do have a love for vintage in common. I find Jillian’s content at Montana Money Adventures incredibly impactful, while the writing at Triple Bottom Line FI and Frugasaurus matches my values. And of course, I like to follow UK-based bloggers, including Ms Ziyou, Weenie from Quietly Saving, and theFIREstarter.

On reflection having a look at the list above, do you have any thoughts?

Most of the blogs I currently follow are written by women, but it wasn’t that way when I first encountered the FI space about 5 years ago. I’m glad that more women, and especially women of colour, have entered the FI blogging community.

How do you feel about privilege in the UK?

I would definitely say that privilege plays a massive role in our society and politics, and that systemic discrimination is very real. However, I do believe that regardless of background, most people do have the means and opportunity to improve their situation; it’s just that there are greater obstacles to overcome, and others have a massive head start.

Money Advice

What questions would you ask people to understand their priorities?

What does your ideal day look like?

If you could write your own obituary, what would it say?

Do you have a financial tip for someone interested in learning about money?

There is so much that the average person can learn about when it comes to money, whether saving, earning, or investing. But reading Your Money or Your Life will transform your money mindset, which is more fundamental.

How much do you talk about money in real life?

I blog anonymously, and none of my friends know about my blog. But they know I’ve managed to save enough money to stop working for a year, so they’ve been asking more questions, and I’ve been more forthcoming about my savings goals.

What advice would you give to people about investing?

Make it simple, and just start. The easiest option would be to invest in a Vanguard LifeStrategy fund, which is how I got started. But when I’m back in the UK I would like to research alternative ethical options.

Parting Words

What is one awesome thing in your life now?

Flexibility. I had my ideal job in Bangkok, but the daily 9-5 grind really wore me down. I’m currently spending my days exploring incredible cities, meeting new people, and stuffing my face with amazing food!

Anything else you’d like to say?

A big thank you to Ms Ziyou for having me participate in this series!

How can people connect with you?

You can find me at Bangkok to Blighty, or on Twitter.

Ms ZiYou Back Here

Thanks so much to Mindy for sharing her unique experiences and perspectives, I’ve found them so interesting. And I might steal the obituary question, what a great way to get people to think!

If you blog about money in the UK and would like to be featured on Let’s meet UK Personal Finance Bloggers – please get in contact.

And as always, it’s over to you – what are your thoughts after hearing from Mindy? 


Thank you for reading – please leave a comment below and join in the conversation. You can also connect on Twitter or contact me privately.

8 comments on “Mindy – Bangkok to Blighty- Living Abroad – #ukpersonalfinance

  1. Fascinating interview.

    Question for Mindy: you found your dream job, earned a reasonable living doing it, yet still burned out within a relatively short timescale. Knowing what you know now, what could/should/would you have done differently to make living that work dream sustainable?
    Few people get to experience their “dream” job, even for a little while, so yours is a valuable perspective indeed!

    1. Hi indeed-a-bly – thanks for the incisive observation. I’m still trying to grapple with that question myself. I think that while I did find my dream job, it still came with all the frustrations that you’d find with any office-based job – limitations on my time and freedom, the commute, office politics, repetition of tasks, etc. My ideal job now would still be in-line with my values, but would give me more autonomy, flexibility, and time for other life priorities – very similar to what a lot of others in the FI community are trying to achieve!

      I will no doubt stay active in the social justice space – but maybe through a voluntary basis for now while I figure out whether to take my existing career forward or choose a different path.

  2. I enjoyed reading your answers. I can relate with the conflicting emotions of enjoying your time in a foreign country but missing friends and family from home! I worked in Asia for a few years and had some great experiences, but living so far away from family wasn’t always easy. But of course, now I’m back in the UK, I sometimes find myself thinking about moving abroad again for another few years. Seems I can’t win! Do you think you’ll find yourself yearning to return to Thailand or to seek work outside the UK in a few years?

    1. Never say never! While the immediate plan is to resettle back in the UK (or perhaps Germany, where my partner’s from) we haven’t ruled out moving abroad again. We can imagine living in most cities we’ve been to the past month, like Shanghai, Kyoto, or Taipei. Ideally we’d spend 6 months at home, six months abroad, and that’s where FI and life design comes in!

  3. Great interview, Mindy – it was interesting to find out more about you and what makes you ‘tick’!

    I think it’s fantastic that you’re currently on a ‘mini-retirement’ – there’s no one size fits all with FIRE and you’ve got enough stashed to be able fund your current lifestyle/travels. You’ve always got the option upon returning to the UK to work, save up and then fund another mini-retirement, or to do something closer to your heart/values.

  4. Very cool. I’ll spend a lot more time in Thailand over the next few years so I’ll check out her blog.
    It sounds like a tough financial transition to move to the UK. It’s better to do it now rather than later.
    Great answer to the JOB question above. Even the best dream job comes with baggage.

What do you think?