The Chiang Mai effect: Why digital nomads are broke in low cost countries

There's a stupid bias against entrepreneurs who live & work from Bali, or Phuket, or Pattaya.

Because the cost of living is low in general, it's easy for people based in Western countries to 'call out' people from the comfort of their homes.

In many cases, it's justified - there's a lotta life coaches & wanna be gurus who travel to these places, coming & going on tourist visas, nursing a small coffee and 20c bottle of water all day, to get a free office/co-working space.

But here's a huge risk I realized many years ago:

I call it the 'Chiang Mai Effect.'

And it's very real, and very dangerous.

It works like a cup of water - cups come in all different sizes. Some hold a lot of water, some only a little.

What you've probably figured out, is that the cup is you, and the water is money.

The danger of living a low cost lifestyle is that you cup size can change.

See, once you fill your cup with water, it just overflows.

In your life, this means that once you get to a certain income level, you'll self-sabotage anything that takes you over that income threshold - your Cup Size.

Motivational speakers have talked about increasing your cup size for years. Basically retuning your mindset to expect and receive more money, becoming wealthier etc etc.

And it works. My cup size now is unrecognizable from when I first learned this stuff.

But what nobody talks about is the danger of REDUCING your cup size.

And unless you're real smart, and real careful with your money - paying $250 a month for rent could end up being a disaster.

This is why The Chiang Mai effect leads to a widespread perception that anyone who lives in these cheap places is broke.

Because so many are.

But not all of us.

One thing that grinds my gears is people thinking we all go around eating $2 meals and scrimping on every penny.

For many of us here, that's total BS.

I know I spend as much here as I would in the west.

I live in an Apt in the middle of the city, we go to nice restaurants, travel a lot, and invest money.

And most of the people I hang out with here in Thailand do the same.

It's a different mindset to some people I know who are just looking for a cheap place to hang out, where they don't have to grow, or work too hard, to make a living.

My argument against the bias is - You can't insult me for living in paradise!

I stole that from Mitch Miller. He lives in a mansion in Phuket, no Chiang Mai effect there.

The west is great, in many areas. I love the Gold Coast, San Diego, NYC, and I'm about to spend an extended time in Europe & the UK.

But I choose to build a 3rd home in Burma, I choose to hang out in Phuket & Pattaya, I choose to spend my money in these places.

The people who accuse us of living here just for the $2 meals, 99% have never been here for more than a few days.

They're locked into a mindset that The West Is Best and everywhere else is a shithole.

But just living in the west does NOT guarantee you got a bigger cup size than me.


Founder of funnel building company, Brian is Mindvalley's former senior copywriter & funnel builder, entrepreneur, published author, international speaker and the youngest looking 15 year veteran in the industry.