How do I work and stay long-term in Bangkok with only one backpack?


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I'm not calling myself a minimalist but I've been following minimalism living style for a really long time. Now I would like to share with you some of my experiences about it. Like how I really did it in practice? How do I work and stay long-term in Bangkok with only one backpack?

Why do I follow minimalism? Because I love the feeling of being freedom, where I can go everywhere, at anytime I want. I did not come to this result in a day, it has been a progress to build up my own experience to see what are the best things that suit me and work for me. I have written a lot of articles about minimalism but they are all in Vietnamese, now this is the very first one in English.

Who am I?

I am a 30 years old software engineer guy from Vietnam. I like to travel and experience new things. I have no debts, not even one. In the past, I had been to the United States for a few times for short-term working. Now I have found a job in Bangkok so that's why I am staying long-term in this beautiful country. The day I got on the plane to Bangkok, I only brought with me a backpack and a small sling bag because I love to travel light. No matter it's a 3-day or a 3-year trip, I always pack the same.

One backpack and a sling bag were all I have when I first moved to Bangkok

How do I spend my paycheck in Bangkok?

No matter where you are, there are 3 things that you always have to consider: food, accommodation, and commute. Base on that, I need to calculate my living expenses in Bangkok. My goal to work in Bangkok is to save as much money as I can to send back to my family and to spend on the things that I really care about. So I need to cut down all the expenses I could, except for the food because I love eating very much, and besides, food is not really expensive in Bangkok.

The first month of accommodation would be paid by my company, they booked me a luxury condo which was really fine but too expensive for me. After the first month, I had to go find myself an accommodation. Because I live alone in Bangkok, so it's not that hard to find myself a shelter, and I don't to want to spend too much money on accommodation just to live alone. Most of the expats in my company, they all do the same: rent an apartment with at least ฿10,000/month of rent (some even rents an apartment with more than 20k if they live with family),  and you have to deposit for 2 months and pay in advance for 1 month, together it makes at least ฿30,000, which is a really big money.

Then I realized that I have a small discount for every booking that I make, so I decided to stay in a hostel, sleeping in a bulk bed, sharing the room with other tourists so I would have to pay only ฿3,000 - 4,000/month. That way, I don't have to care about the water and electricity, and the deposit is really cheap, just ฿200 - 300. And if I get bored of the hostel, I just need to look for another one (which is plenty in Bangkok) and make a new booking so I can have new experiences living in a new place.

I chose a hostel which is just 3 km away from my company, so instead of commuting by BTS/MRT, I decided to walk back and forth and every single day, which is really good for me because it keeps me in shape so I can eat whatever I want. And also, I don't have to spend one single nickel on commute. The money I saved from commute, I use it to buy flight tickets to visit my family in Vietnam for at least once a month.

About the food, even if I eat a lot of food for a day, it could never make over ฿300. Actually it's just ฿150 - 250/day. So all together I only spend maximum ฿15,000/month and can send a lot of money to my family.

What's in my back pack?

The first day I moved to Bangkok, I brought a water bottle, 1 umbrella, 2 pairs of jeans, 3 black t-shirts, 1 laptop, 1 smartphone, and some miscellaneous stuff. Then I realized that the jeans are too heavy and consume too much space in my backpack. Also, it always rains in Bangkok so the jeans and the shirts take a lot of time to dry out. Then I decided to get rid of those jeans and shirts. I went to Big C and buy some clothes from Mountain Peak which is really light weight, cool to wear in hot weather, and very easy to dry out after washing by hands. I so get rid of some other miscellaneous stuff like water bottle, electronic devices by selling to my colleagues.

Now for the clothes I only have 2 pairs of jogger pants, 2 shirts, 1 thin jacket, 1 pair of sneakers, 1 mask, 1 cap. All in black. Actually I only wear one set of clothes. I just wear the same outfit everyday. After leaving my office, I take a shower and wash the clothes by hands then hang them up to dry out for the next day. I also changed my backpack to a smaller one which is the Xiaomi Urban Lifestyle Backpack. In case I want to have checked-in baggage when I fly, I just need to ask for a carton box to pack all of those stuff.

This is how I wear everyday

I remember the first day I moved to Saigon 12 years ago for university, I brought a big suitcase of clothes and stuff, then I even bought some furniture for my place, and every time I moved to a new place, it was a real pain. Now all of that is gone, I always feel light and free, because to me, "moving is living".

This is all I have in Bangkok, for now

Am I happy?

Yes, absolutely. The way I live might annoy some people, they think that I am so fuckin' cheap and poor. I just don't care what people think about me because I'm really happy with who I am and how I live right now. I love waking up every morning not to waste my time on thinking of what should I wear today. I love packing up in just 5 minutes and head up to the airport right away. I love when I can bring money to my family, take them places and buy really good food for them. If I lost my job right now, I don't feel so bad because I am debt-free, I have all the time and money I need to keep enjoying my life and find another job. That's how I am living a happy life and mind.

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