Saturday 1 February 2020

Battambang Bliss

Early retirement

Been thinking about me old mate Aussie Russel who passed away a few years back. Sad.

One day, circa 2012, we were sat drinking Leo in his dream retirement home when I asked if he missed working?

"Ain't got time for a job Steve" he slurred, stubbing out a joint as we gazed across the Gulf of Thailand.

No time for a job? Is there any truth to that? Let's look at today's routine:

0830 Wake up. Coffee in bed.
1000 Cycle 2km to the cafe for an omelette and coffee. Chat to friends.
1300 Cycle home. Chill.
1400 Gym
1500 Sauna and massage (yes 4hrs!)
1900 Evening feed
2000 Home. Blog. Youtube. Online chat. Learn Khmer. Research finance. Etc.
2359 Sleep

There doesn't seem to be much time left for a job. I'm beginning to see where he was coming from. Was scratching me heed then ..... but not now.

Street near apartment
I'm loving being free from the shackles of modern day wage slavery. I shudder when I think of the years I wasted in mind-numbing, spirit-crushing employment. I may not own much in the way of possessions but I do reign sovereign over my most precious resource: time. There's not a woman on earth who could peel me away from the freedom I currently enjoy. There's not a single material item that could entice me back onto the plantation. I have everything I need. My needs are simple. I want for fuck all.

But how much does it cost to not work? Well, not very much at all. Providing one is willing to eschew decadence and embrace minimalism.


In January I spent $444. All in. Everything. I entered every single purchase into a phone app.

However, I shat $87 of that on the following one-off purchases:

$45 Laptop battery
$10 Shirt and printing
$5   Battery powered lamp

$20 Massage
$7   USB 8GB stick

These purchases were essential as they enabled me to generate additional income as an online English teacher. Thus, this $87 is more of an investment. Subtracting it from the $444 leaves $357.

The beast of Battambang
So, a minimalist man can live very comfortably on $357/month in Cambodia. Providing he foregoes alcohol, nicotine, women, relationships and petrol-driven transport. However, he can indulge in saunas, massages, gymnasiums, bicycle trips, coffee and excellent food.

Some retirees complain of boredom. Not me. It's been 4 months and I haven't felt an ounce of it. In fact I've appreciated every moment of not being in some shitty full time job.

People might look at $360/month and think "I couldn't live on that." Well, I'm here to tell you, with a bit of self-discipline, you could. Easily. I'm reminded of something Dave said recently when he was explaining how he could live on the Cambodian minimum wage:

I wouldn't just survive, I'd thrive.

It's all about your mindset. I guess.


Given that January was my first month in normal-routine, I was pleased to see I can easily live off my $550 dividend-investment-income. However, there'd be no harm in bolstering that with a little part-time gig. I taught maths for 4hrs/week in a local school ($10/hr) for a few weeks before being informed this was illegal. Turns out you can't work on a retirement visa. I quit. Immediately.

With time on my hands, why not try something new and legal? So I did, I ventured into the magical world of online teaching for $18/hr. I teach 3 x 25min on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. So 4.5hrs/week for $324/month. Not too shabby.

$550 + $324 = $874. More than covers January's $357. Perhaps I'll start throwing in a few luxuries? Push the boat out a bit? I could even increase the online hours and eat lobster. Though anything over a 5hr-work-week is taking the piss.

I've really enjoyed it so far. You don't have to go anywhere. No monkey-suits. No exams. No assemblies. No planning. No meetings. It's superior to a bricks-n-mortar school in almost every way.

Battambang has its fair share of power cuts so a good laptop battery, a battery-powered lamp and a 4G data package are essential.


I give the money changer a crisp $100 bill. They give me 40 x 10,000Reil notes back.

Some of the dudes living here. All good value. I never get tired of the characters in SEA.

The $3 beef loklak is superb in this joint. Nice views of the river. Good atmosphere. Fit birds.

Should give an extra mention to Dave - the Cambridge-educated, Khmer-speaking, poverty-living guru. Known around these parts as Strange-Dave. His current employers exploited his precarious financial situation and have him slaving away as a science teacher while holding his passport ransom until he pays off the visa and work permit. Could take a while to pay $450 at $8/hr given that he only teaches 8hrs/week.

His situation is no different to those abused Filipina maids you hear about in Saudi.

A new decade. Perhaps a time to reflect on the past and look to the future?

Set new goals?

Don't just survive ..... but thrive?


  1. Go for it. Did you ever get back some money from Grant Thornton?


  2. Good blog. What are you main dividend stocks? Yields?


  3. How much does 4hr sauna and massage cost?

    1. $6. 1hr massage. 3hrs of hot/cold tubs, steam room and sauna (or as long as you can handle).