CNBC make it 2024-07-08 07:25:25

28-year-old left the U.S., relocated to Thailand, and pays $544/month for his 1-bedroom apartment

In April 2021, Paul Lee took a vacation to Thailand. Five months later, he decided to leave the United States behind and make a permanent move to the Asian country.

Lee, originally from Georgia, had been living in New York City and grossing around $1 million a year thanks to his e-commerce business. Despite doing well enough to pay for his parent’s retirement, the 28-year-old tells CNBC Make It he found himself without purpose, feeling depressed, and needing to make a change.

“When I first arrived to Thailand, I just felt rejuvenated. Everything was completely new to me, and I felt like it was a fresh new start,” Lee says. “The more and more I live here, the more and more I fall in love with the city.”

Since moving to Bangkok, Lee has been making around US $150,000 a year as a content creator and real estate agent, according to documents reviewed.

Working in real estate helped Lee find several living arrangements in Bangkok, including luxury condos. The apartment he’s in now is a one-bedroom in the Thonglor neighborhood which Lee says is “the Soho of Bangkok.”

It’s a 650-square-feet unit that costs 20,000 baht — around USD $544 — in monthly rent. Lee also pays $20 for Wi-Fi, $80 for electricity, and $3 for water each month. The apartment came furnished, and Lee has access to amenities, including a pool and a gym.

To move in, Lee had to pay a security deposit of two months’ rent or about $1,088.

Despite lower grocery costs in Bangkok, Lee eats out for every meal and spends $500 a month on food. “I’m not gonna lie, the food in New York City was very good as well, but I think in Thailand, it’s just a lot more homey, a lot more local, and a lot spicier,” Lee says.

His other expenses include a $93 monthly gym membership which is a bit of a splurge considering Lee has free access to a gym in his building. But the cost is worth it for Lee, because he can take advantage of the co-working space, coffee, and numerous networking opportunities in the space.

Also his current gym’s price is nothing compared to luxury gyms in New York, like Equinox, where memberships can start at $240 a month.

Lee has only returned to the U.S. one time since his big move to Thailand — for his sister’s wedding. He tells CNBC Make It he chose to leave New York City because he found himself being too materialistic and living in an “environment that was just very individualistic, very doggish, and very hyper-aggressive.”

“Bangkok stood out to me because it seemed very metropolis. It seemed very fun. It seemed very affordable and it just had a very good culture and didn’t really have any major compromises to me,” Lee says.

Lee has made a new life for himself in Thailand, he says, and returning to the U.S. doesn’t feel likely.

“I had to go through this journey of being poor and becoming quite wealthy to realize all this wealth that I had accumulated didn’t really give me what I wanted and didn’t give me the satisfaction I was looking for,” Lee says.

His parents were initially shocked he’d moved so far but ended up following in his footsteps when they moved to South Korea. They visit him in Bangkok from time to time, and Lee travels to see them, too. He says it’s one of the best perks of his new life in Thailand.

“At the end of the day, even though I don’t make nearly as much money as I made in New York City, I am far… wealthier in terms of my happiness, in terms of my well-being, my peace,” he added. “These are things I never was able to achieve back home in the States.”

Conversions from Thai baht to USD were done using the OANDA conversion rate of 1 baht to 0.02 USD on July 1, 2024. All amounts are rounded to the nearest dollar.

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Psychiatrist: Bed rotting is ‘tempting,’ but doesn’t really help you rest—here’s what to do instead

Millennials and Gen Zers are taking advantage of their off-days and weekends by “bed rotting” — a trend that involves spending the entire day under the comfort of their duvets while sleeping in, watching television or mindlessly scrolling a device.

It’s meant to be their way of decompressing or staving off burnout after a long work week, but the trend could be doing more harm than good, according to Samantha Boardman, a psychiatrist and clinical instructor at Weill-Cornell Medical College and author of the book “Everyday Vitality, Turning Stress Into Strength.”

“It’s very tempting,” Boardman tells CNBC Make It. “But the reality is, many people after they engage in some extended period of bed rotting, they don’t feel that much better. If anything, they feel a little bit more drained.”

Why bed rotting could be doing more harm than good

Bed rotting could potentially disrupt your circadian rhythm, your body’s natural alarm clock that tells you when to sleep and wake, Boardman says. If you’ve ever had a rot day, or just slept in longer than normal, it may have left you feeling groggy and less refreshed or made it harder to fall asleep at a reasonable time at night.

Getting enough sleep is important to your health. But too much sleep is also associated with many health issues, including heart disease, obesity and depression, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Similarly, research shows that extended time staring at your phone or TV screen can cause eye strain, sleep disturbance and poor mental health.

When you’re sleeping too much, binge watching a new series or getting lost in social media, you aren’t engaging in true rest, Boardman says. You’re merely distracting yourself from whatever problem is at hand, be it exhaustion from work, a stressful problem or an unhealthy lifestyle.

Better ways to recharge

Lounging in bed for hours might sound like a good idea when you need to recharge, but the key to actual rest is more “intentional” and that’s “often the opposite of what we feel like doing,” Boardman says.

Try shaking up your routine, she says, recommending any low intensity exercise or relaxing activity that puts you in a good mental space and helps your body recover.

It sounds counterintuitive, but rest, in Boardman’s opinion, can include whatever activity restores your mental or physical well-being in the long run.

“When you go for a walk outside, you meet up with a friend, you do something that even though you might dread it, you’re probably going to feel a whole lot better,” Boardman says.

Research shows that nature walks are especially effective in promoting mental health and well-being. A 40-minute walk in nature, for example, helped people feel more restored and focused than a 40-minute walk in an urban area.

Push yourself to do something productive, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Boardman asks her clients to keep a log of the activities they dread doing, ranking their dreadfulness on a scale of one to 10 and then writing how they felt after the task was done.

“They’re typically really glad that they did that thing… They went outside, they had one-on-one time with somebody who they care about, they were out in nature in some way,” she says. “Doing a little bit of something is much more restorative [than bed rotting].”

If leaving your home is absolutely out of the question, you can still find a better way to rot than just lying in bed, according to Dianne Augelli, a sleep medicine specialist at Weill Cornell Medicine/New-York Presbyterian.

So that you don’t interfere with your sleep at night, move your rot session to the couch, the kitchen table or a guest bedroom, she told in 2023. Swap scrolling time with reading or meditating, she added. You can also walk around your home or turn on a quick follow-along workout to get your blood pumping.

Active resting might require a little bit of effort, Boardman says. But “it can be really helpful” in making sure you’re actually refreshed and recharged.

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Here’s how much money Americans in their 30s have in their 401(k)s—and how much they want to retire with

People in their 30s may be a long way off from their retirement savings goals, but they have plenty of time to get on track.

On average, Americans say they’ll need around $1.46 million saved up to retire comfortably, according to Northwestern Mutual’s “2024 Planning and Progress” study. And for millennials, the majority of whom are in their 30s, that number is a little over $1.6 million.

However, many in their 30s have much less than that saved.

The median 401(k) balance for people in their 30s is around $22,100 as of the first quarter of 2024, per the latest data from Fidelity Investments, one of the country’s largest 401(k) providers.

Here’s how much Americans have in their 401(k)s by age, according to Fidelity.

To be fair, many Americans are stretching their funds to cover a number of expenses which may impact their ability to save more for retirement.

Over a third of people cite the rising cost of living as an obstacle to reaching their retirement goals, per Fidelity Investments’ “2024 State of Retirement Planning.” And nearly 30% say that paying off credit card debt and unexpected expenses are barriers.

How to get your retirement savings on track in your 30s

If you’re in your 30s and worried about your retirement savings, the good news is that you have time to get on track.

First off, rather than solely focusing on your account balance, which can be impacted by factors such as market volatility — and which will ostensibly grow at a compounding rate over time — take a look at your savings rate. That’s the percentage of your pre-tax annual income that you set aside for retirement each year.

Fidelity recommends a savings rate of 15% which includes your employer’s match, if offered. However, you may need to increase that savings rate if you’re just starting in your late 30s, compared to your earlier years, says Anne Lester, a retirement expert and author of “Your Best Financial Life: Save Smart Now for the Future You Want.”

“If you’re starting at 39, you’ll need to save a bit more aggressively than if you were starting at 32 or earlier,” she tells CNBC Make It.

To that point, if you’ve got nothing saved for retirement, Fidelity recommends a savings rate of 18% if you’re starting at age 30 and 23% if you’re beginning at age 35.

One way to reach that suggested savings rate is through auto-escalation, which allows you to set your retirement contributions to automatically increase by a certain percentage each year. For instance, you could automatically increase your savings rate by 2 or 3 percentage points each year until you reach your target rate.

Another way you can give your retirement savings a boost is by mentally preparing yourself to set aside a portion of any financial windfalls you may receive in the future such as raises or tax refunds, Lester says.

“Those raises and refunds are one way you can relatively painlessly start saving for retirement because you’re not giving anything up you already have,” she says.

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The best—and worst—things about living in the U.S., according to expats living here

Expats living in the U.S. say the best part of living here is having plenty of career opportunities, but for many, a high cost of living makes it a challenging experience.

The U.S. ranks as the No. 35 best country for expats out of 53 global countries, according to the latest Expat Insider report from InterNations, the global community for people who live abroad.

The report, which considers survey responses from more than 12,500 expats around the world, covers their satisfaction across five broad indices: quality of life, ease of settling in, working abroad, personal finance and “expat essentials” like the ability to find housing and navigate the local language.

Out of these indices, the U.S. ranks highest for “working abroad.”

The U.S. stands out for its local job market and career prospects for expats, according to survey respondents. Expats say the local business culture supports flexibility, and 65% of people are happy in their job, compared with 60% of people who feel the same way globally.

However, foreigners say American work culture isn’t great. Expats working full time in the U.S. say they work an average of 43.7 hours per week, versus the 42.5 hours global average. They also point to limited vacation time as a factor that negatively impacts their experience.

Outside of work, about half, 52%, of expats in the states say they’re dissatisfied with the overall cost of living, compared with 39% of expats who feel similarly around the world.

The biggest financial barriers are the costs of housing, health care and transportation, especially in areas without a robust public transit infrastructure where people must rely on cars. Only 31% of expats in the U.S. say they’re happy with their living expenses, versus 40% globally.

Newcomers say Americans are friendly overall but also express difficulty making friends and settling into a social life.

Overall, expats in the U.S. rate the country highly for its robust digital access (ranging from high-speed internet to the use of digital payments), ease for navigating the local language, leisure options, and a welcoming culture.

The average expat in the U.S. is about 48 years old, according to the InterNations survey data. Their top reasons for moving here are to attend school or university (16%), because they were sent by their employer (12%), or because of their partner’s job (10%). For those working in the U.S., they’re most likely to work in finance, health care or information technology.

The top countries for expats this year, meanwhile, are Panama, Mexico and Indonesia, according to InterNations.

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I became a millionaire at age 27—here are 4 ‘unpopular’ rules rich people follow that most don’t

I wasn’t always good with money. I had to learn how to be. I grew up in an immigrant Chinese home with two very loving but frugal parents — where clipping coupons and reusing ziplock bags was the norm.

It wasn’t until I began my career on Wall Street that I realized the ultra-wealthy were less concerned with scrimping and saving and more focused on investing and growing their wealth.

By observing and learning from their habits, I made my first million by age 27. Here are four unpopular rules rich people follow that most others don’t:

1. Don’t worry about impressing people

Rich people put most of their spending power into buying assets (stuff that makes them money over time) instead of liabilities (stuff that costs them money over time).

Instead of buying, for example, a flashy Lamborghini that loses a third of its value as soon as you drive off the lot, a truly rich person will take that same chunk of change and buy a two-family duplex and rent it out.

They don’t care what you think of them or whether you’re impressed. They’re happy to just cash your rent checks and let you pay their mortgage.

2. Have an abundance mindset

So many people have a scarcity mindset — a constant feeling that we’re never going to have enough money, that we’re one slip-up away from disaster and we have to hoard every last cent.

The problem with this mindset is that it can make people very competitive with other folks in similar financial situations. So you have people at the bottom of the pyramid spending all their time and energy fighting each other for resources, instead of trying to overthrow those at the top.

Rich people have an abundance mindset. Since they know they’re going to be able to take care of their bills, they’re not worried. This gives them the freedom to decide what they want to do with their time, rather than only focusing on what they need to do to survive.

3. Think long-term

Rich people understand that sometimes, things take time, and they’re happy to wait. They’re kings and queens of delayed gratification.

A rich person has no problem, for example, socking away money in a retirement account. Yes, the $6,000 they invested in their IRA account this year is off-limits until they’re 59-and-a-half.

But they know that just because they can’t spend that money now, it’s not like it has disappeared. It’s actually the opposite: the longer they wait, the more money they get later on.

4. Share, swap and scratch each other’s backs

Rich people love being known as the smartest person in their friend group: the one with the best taste, who is on top of all the trends. You’ll often hear them say things like:

  • “I have this great tax person — you should work with them.”
  • “I found the best cocktail bar — you have to try the martini.”
  • “I joined the best country club — and I’ll sponsor you to join, too.”

They recognize that when they’re open about their knowledge, other people will be more inclined to share what they know. It is another valuable form of currency, and it’s the same reason rich people love nothing more than putting their besties in positions of power.

Their thought process is: “I’m not qualified for this job, but my friend is, and once she gets it, she’ll owe me a solid. Then, as soon as she’s in a leadership position, I’m automatically tapped into that whole network.”

Yes, it’s because they like to see their friends succeed, but it’s also because they’re thinking strategically — and towards the future.

Vivian Tu is a former Wall Street trader-turned expert, educator, podcast host, and founder of the financial equity phenomenon Your Rich BFF. Her new book, “Rich AF: The Winning Money Mindset That Will Change Your Life,” is a definitive guide to personal finance for the new generation. Follow her on TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram.

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