TFC Special:Why Reggie Left Singapore [TFC 112]

Reggie, our regular host, is no longer in Singapore! Listen to this special episode as he bares it all: the reasons why he chose to leave Singapore, his decision-making process and what he hopes to achieve in this next adventure of his.

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podcast Transcript

Reggie: Hey Coconuts! By the time you hear this, I’m no longer in Singapore. I’m in Georgia… Tbilisi, Georgia. Not the US Georgia state but an ex-USSR nation in the south of Russia, south of Moscow to be exact. So I’m here and I’ll be spending some time talking to different people and I’m going to share with you today why did I decide to fly here. A little bit of mesmerization, a little bit of idealist thoughts, but yeah. I’m definitely very excited to be here and over the course of the next few months, you will hear some interviews from me. I may bring on some friends on this Tuesday segment, just want to share their thoughts, share their perspectives and why they are here in Georgia, digital nomad hub of Eastern Europe.

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Good morning, everyone. I welcome you to another day with The Financial Coconut. In our podcast, we will be debunking financial myths, discovering best financial practices and discussing financial strategies that fits our unique life. You get it, ultimately empowering us create life we love while managing our finances well, so today we’re going to spend some time… a more chill episode to share with you guys what am I trying to achieve here in Georgia and why am I here? What am I seeking for? Why did I not stay in Singapore? This is going to be a chill episode… you know, cannot everyday too geeky. I need a break, you need a break, we all need some fun and yeah, it’s coming. We’ve got to slowly wind down into the low season of content and of work. So yeah, join me today as I share with you and recount and think about what do I need and why am I here?

Today’s episode is not sponsored by Tourism Board, not sponsored by immigration, not sponsored by Georgian Immigration hub or I don’t know… work from Georgia program. They actually have a work from Georgia program by the way guys. You can check it out. It is a one-year visa arrangement for digital nomads to work from Georgia. They are riding the wave and there’s a lot of action here. Also, I’ve read online. A lot of digital nomads, a lot of crypto people they are all there, and it’s an interesting thriving, quirky hub. Kind of think like… What is a good place? I think like Malacca went digital, okay. But yeah, it’s definitely… you go and search and you can see the place. 

I’m not there yet. Currently, I’m still at home in Singapore and I’m recording advance. So by the time I’m there, I’ll have more experiences and I can share with you more about the place, about the people here, about life here and my experience here. Honestly, I’m feeling a bit jittery. At first, when I first bought tickets, I was very excited. I was like “yeah! I’m going to leave.” I’m going to go up there onto the world again because I actually came back in a rush. 

I was living in KL. I came back because of Covid. It was very bad at that point in time. I came back, ended up I stayed here for close to two years and it wasn’t easy, but it was great growing the podcast together with you guys. We have a team, we have supporters, we have sponsors and also that definitely kept me going, but I cannot deny that I did come back in a rush. I didn’t even complete my rent in KL. I still had two or three months left for my space in KL and I had to get my friends to help me clean up the place and clear at the end before handing back to the landlord. 

Came back and a lot of uncertainty because every few months, there’s some change. Every few months, it feels like “yeah, I can go out now… but no, no cannot go yet.” It was like what’s going on? It was very hard to plan. The first few… I would say the first year was very hard to plan which was 2020. I’m sure every one of you experienced together. 

But later part of this COVID situation, somewhere around mid 2021, you kinda see situation’s a little bit more controlled, maybe we could explore some other things. I definitely got myself vaccinated. When I saw that some of these other countries were opening up and allowing people to move, to travel there and just experience, I was like yeah, count me in. Count me in, I am coming! 

And that is why I’ve decided to leave. I’m not saying that you should all live on exodus out of Singapore. I totally get Singapore’s government’s position on trying to protect the mass and protect the people and all that. I mean, you don’t want your neighbours, friends or family members to randomly pass away. It’s painful. 

I am not taking a political position here and I’m not trying to tell you or tell the government what to do. But from my own perspective, I feel like hey, I’ve already spent two years here. I’m in my prime of my life. I’m like last year before I’m 30. I’m 29 this year. So I’m like yeah, I need to go out and see the world. The world is waiting for me and I’m already vaccinated and I think I’ll be fine. Whatever it is, I will bear the responsibility but I can’t wait to feel the world again. 

If you’re new to the podcast, you may or may not know that I used to be quite an avid traveler. I’ve traveled to many parts of ASEAN, many parts of Asia and I am the kind that travel for months. I will stay there for a month, two months, three months depending… and then once I think I’m done here, I’ve consumed enough of the energy and culture and experiences here, I will move to the next place and I’ll stay there for a few more months.

So yeah, crazy guy here and one of the main reasons… in fact, the very first reason I’m going to share with you today as to why am I leaving for Georgia? Why am I leaving Singapore more than for Georgia, I would say… and the first thing is of course my mental health. It sounds a little bit overused and probably not the most sexy thing to talk about, but periodically I also talk about it on our podcast and you know I’m quite a big proponent of taking care of your mental health. I tell you to rent a place outside so that you can develop yourself and if your home is not the best place, then why not go there and try to build your own home and what have you. 

I’m already quite a big proponent of mental health but I’m going to take today to expand on it because i think the social stigma is quite serious at this point in time. A lot of people have a lot of “you shouldn’t go out. You shouldn’t travel. You shouldn’t… you should stay at home. You should be safe” and all those kind of things. I get it guys. I totally get it that as a collective, we want to be safe and all that, but honestly, from a personal standpoint, I’m struggling, mental health wise.

I feel like I procrastinate a lot. I binge eat. I take more time to do everything. I take a lot of energy to reply one email. I’ll also be like ahhh! It’s taking so long! All these are signs of my mental health not in the best state. So I tell people that by the time you break, it’s quite late already. By the time you break down, things go crazy already so that is not the place you want to be. One step below the breakdown will be high stress where you start to binge eat, you start to be extremely forgetful, you start to isolate yourself. You start to do all those things that are not great, to be honest. 

I’m not a mental health expert but you get some of these ideas, right? Like self-mutilation, self-harm, isolation, depression, those kinds of things are before your mental health totally breaks. It’s what I called the danger zone and I don’t think this is the best zone to be in. Don’t get me wrong and I don’t think it’s something that people should pride themselves like “yeah, I’m very stressed, I still do it.” They’re also like… I don’t buy that shit: hustle porn and all those kinds of yeah, macho mas ideas. They don’t sit with me very well.

I think more people should be one step below, which is the stress. So you think… break already, mental breaking. That’s the part where totally cannot already. One step below is danger. I’m currently in the danger zone and one step below danger is stress. Stress is a very normal thing when you are trained to be stressed. Your body signals are trained over time to pick up what are some situations that are dangerous. You will build up stress hormones, you will build up all these kinds of stress signals for yourself and it may come with very small things. 

It can be you clenching your fist. It can be you wanting to go to the toilet more. I do that. Every time I go to a new place and then I’m like “oh my god, there’s so many people. I’m getting a little bit overwhelmed” and I’ll rush to the toilet. If I go to a new place, if I see you and I see a lot of people, don’t be surprised if I go to the toilet and I come out, I go to toilet again then I come out. I’m actually in the process of adjusting myself. You’re not weird if you do that. I just want to put it out there. 

This is the part where I think a lot of people can be at… when people say all the shit about you and then you want to shut off your mind or you feel very jittery… these kind of stress signals are healthy and you should work with it. They’re healthy and they give you a signal that “oh, I’m not in the most comfortable of situation”. I’m not saying that everybody should be very comfortable every single day. 

You shouldn’t be in chronic stress, which is where danger is. Stress is okay and we’re not here to talk about the stress part today. This is not a mental health podcast. If you guys love it, let me know. I’m happy to spend more time to talk about some of these things. I’ve spent a lot of time consuming some of these content and read up on some of these books and all that. I don’t like to read self-help health books that are super watered down. I’m the kind that read philosophy books, medical papers. I siao kia (crazy kid) one. I will not give you the risk and repeat shit that is out there. I definitely want to give you more insightful stuff that I’ve tried. 

But today is not the podcast for that. I am just here to tell you that I’m not in the best state of mind. I appreciate your support and I appreciate that you guys want me to keep doing more things but I cannot. I just cannot keep doing it while being here because this place is firstly very expensive to be very mentally healthy and I have a lot of traumatic experience here growing up. Singapore is super dense, very high stress. I mean, you don’t need me to tell you. 

I think the anxiety level here is a bit too high, especially amongst the locals. When I go downstairs, I feel the energy. I won’t call myself an empath. If you understand what an empath… is people that can feel the energy of other people and then they take on that energy load. But I want to take this opportunity to let you know that if you are in the danger zone and if you’re feeling the extra stress signals, and you feel it is chronic, then you probably want to do something about it. Whether is it pick up a new habit, whether is it go search for help or whether is it like me, take a break, break out of the system and go and do a little bit of light traveling. 

You don’t need to be like me. I’ve tried to do that for months, so I think it’s something that you cannot save on. It’s hard, it’s not very me. I know… today it’s not like super thought through and all that, but yeah. I wanted to tell you guys that it’s been hard and I feel like I am a magical hat pulling out bunnies every day. So that is point number one. I’m not in the best state of mental health so I definitely need to go. 

But I appreciate your support and I appreciate that you listen to me talk cock all the way until here, ten over minutes. It’s real nice. I love you guys and we’re doing a lot of great content or at least I hope we are doing a lot of great content. If anything, we probably couldn’t have gotten so far without the support of all of you and of course our sponsors. I’m not shy to say someone sponsored me and because they sponsor me, you should check out their platform, you should check out their services. I’m not paiseh (embarrassed). I don’t think there’s a need to hide and try to fluff up some rubbish about making you feel good and make you feel like we are objective. I’m not. 

If people sponsor, I will say it’s sponsored and I’ll say okay, thank you for sponsoring us. For all of you, if you’re exploring something like that, please go and check them out and if it fits your palate, go ahead because I feel like I have already shared with you a lot objective measurements, how to measure some of these things. You can decide for yourself if whatever these platforms are for you to go ahead. Sorry for my sponsor rant. 

But yes, so mental health is main reason. Which makes me to point number two. My second reason why I’m leaving Singapore and I’m in Tbilisi is for creative resources. I’m not saying here is not creative, but I keep pulling rabbit out of my head. I need things to come to my ecosystem. I’ll talk a little bit more about this after a word from our sponsor. 

Creative resources and creative insights, if you are creative or… I don’t want to put creative sound like… I don’t know. Okay, I don’t want to make creative sound like this up there, like we are arty-farty, we need our space, we need all these things to create and all that. But I need new experiences. A lot of you guys, you DM me, you tell me that “hey, I appreciate your content. I love how you look at certain things, I love your perspective of things, I love your insightfulness” and all that.

I appreciate that you love what I do and I really want to keep doing that for you. But recently, I just feel very dry like I got no new stimulus. I got no novelty in my life. I’ve got no new experiences. I just cannot give you more. I’ve struggled to give you… Although I say that, two weeks later, I will suddenly have more. It tends to be like that. But if I keep feeling this way, I keep feeling this way… it’s not the healthiest situation. Maybe it’s also a part of what is adding onto my stress to the work and to the podcast and to the community. 

I need novelty and I think in all your lives, you need novelty. You cannot live a life on rinse and repeat and de-humanize yourself. A lot of people, they are on this endless pursuit for wealth accumulation or career progression not because they really want it and not because they’re very aware. It’s okay if you are not very aware. Just be honest with yourself. It is fine. 

I’m going to record an episode about what I would tell myself if I was in my twenties or if I could do this again. Maybe when I was younger, I was more idealistic. But now that I have gone through this process, I think I have some insights to share. That’s a topic for another day, but the idea is that it’s okay to don’t know, but you must first recognize you don’t know and it’s okay that you are taking on a common narrative that people are doing. Its fine, but you must recognize that you are doing it. 

When you look at a lot of these people that they are on an endless pursuit, endless chase for wealth accumulation, for bigger portfolio, bigger house and career progression. Some people, they know why they’re doing it. They are very clear and they are very calm. Many other people I think… from a colloquial observation, they don’t know why they’re doing it and I do think that it is a form of escapism. 

They are trying to escape their lack of love, their lack of community spirit, their lack of reason, their lack of why that exists in their life rather than exploring into the unknown which is difficult. Rather than exploring into the unknown, they amp up what they are doing. They amp up what they’re familiar with and they just go on this high cycle. 

Although I use they… sounds a bit derogatory, but hey, if you do it, it’s okay. Because I also do it. Sometimes, I do it too. If I struggle, I just repeat the same thing and same thing, thinking that I will break out. Suddenly I have a new idea, suddenly I know what I want.

It is very, very human. I’m not saying that “oh, you know, these people are different”. No, I also go to this struggle which is why I’m doing this. I need to break out, I need to go there and I need all this new novelty. Novelty is extremely powerful and I’m sure you guys know this experience of novelty. When you were a kid or when you were younger in school, you try this new thing, you play this new game or you pick up this new sport, this new art, this new craft. First few months, you love it. After a while, you reach a point where you ask yourself: whether do I want to continue to do it or whether do I want to spend more effort to break through another level?

And if it’s not, close shop, move on, right? But I don’t know why as we get older, everything needs to have some long-term trajectory, must have planning, KPI, we must hit something. Please do not bring the office rubbish home. Whatever that is in the office, there is a long-term trajectory because there are business goals that these companies are trying to achieve.

But why do you bring that way of life into your life, that way of operation into your life if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve? If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, then your better bet is to try. Try many things, experience the novelty.

Guys, don’t get me wrong. While I’m here, I try very hard for novelty already. North, south, east, west. I take the MRT to Tuas Link, all the way to the end. I spent time walking around, feel the Tuas air environment. I go to Woodlands. I cycled around, I picked up longer distance cycling. I meet up with friends, we played board games. I tried a lot of things already and I don’t have a very big budget to keep trying all these things because the burn rate here is way higher and you know, I left my job to focus on this. 

So with limited resources, I don’t want to eat into my portfolio. I have limited choices. But all that being said, within my limited choices, I think I have tried a lot already. A lot of things that I think is novel, I have tried already and I cannot find any more here. I just find it very hard. I know some of my friends, they try very hard also. 

They go for the walk at the new Thomson East Coast line which is amazing. It links to some of my favorite places like Upper Thomson, Springleaf and all that. They go to the long kang (drain) at Springleaf because they gentrify the area and then they make it sound like it’s an interesting ground to walk around. I’m like guys, okay you tried very hard. I think you tried very hard to get novelty and all, but it’s running out here. So no more, I need to go somewhere else.

That’s one of the reasons, one of the main reasons why I have to leave. It definitely adds to my mental health but it also adds to my limited ability to create because there’s just not enough novelty in my life. 

Bringing me to point number three: why Georgia? I want to try out remote working and I want to try out exploring more in depth into this whole remote working idea. Georgia is a very big hub for remote working over there. Of course, they are a little bit more lax with the Covid restrictions at this point in time. Vietnam is also a very big hub for remote working. Bali is also a very big hub for remote working, but look at the situation here, it is a little bit wild and it’s not happening. 

Georgia is one of those places in Eastern Europe that is a very big remote working hub and I dare say that remote working is the future. It’s the future where a lot of people that do not operate in the highest band of a company… so if you think of a company, you can broadly separate them into three parts. 

The highest level are the directors, the people that set decisions, set directions based on the data that is out there, based on consumer trends, based on what they know of their resources and all that, they set the directions. “Okay, we’re going to go here. This is our plan for the next five years and this is our KPI for the next three years…” They do a lot of planning work. They do a lot of decisions. They do a lot of networking with the important people around in the sector and beyond. 

The second bunch of people are your managers. Of course managers… this range is getting bigger and bigger. Some of the managers are like senior VP and all that. Those guys also do a little bit of the director work. They join the director discussion then they come down and work with the management team to manage and operate the whole thing. But then there’s some people in the mid-management where they’re just really governing some processes and trying to push everybody to work.

The big bulk of people at the bottom are execs. The people who just do the work and do the heavy lifting and do a lot of all the liaison, creative, coding and those kind of hard work on the ground. Not saying hard work like people at the top don’t work hard. I’m just saying these people actually do the lifting work.

If you see a company in three segments: directors, managers, and executives, I am foreseeing more and more executive work to go remote. I’m also seeing mid-management work to go remote. You will continue to see directors stay together. You will see it localized. You will see it a little bit localized. You will see a mid-high management, a little bit more localized. You may see regional sub hubs. Instead of putting everybody in one office here, people may open office in Vietnam, they may open office in Thailand, in Hong Kong, depending what sector you are in. 

With this going into the future and I’ve talked about this before and there are a lot of reports out there. For us, our audio editor is in Malaysia. Our video editor is in Pakistan. We are exploring transcribers in the Philippines. So you already see, right? Certain companies, they are starting from ground up, they’re doing all that. 

Some of my friends have run other businesses. They have a very small base in KL also. Say hello to the people in KL. Shout out to all our KL listeners and Malaysia listeners. I know a lot of you guys are around. 

So yeah, it’s becoming more of a thing and people can do that these days and companies can do that. It’s more efficient for them also. With that, I want to be in the forefront of it. I want to go and explore. I don’t like to sit on the arm chair and critique and tell you “yeah can, yeah cannot”. I would rather go there to ask the people. So you will hear a lot of interviews while I’m there. I may replace some of the Tuesday segments with the interviews of the friends that I meet there, whether they run their own blog, they do their own small e-commerce business, maybe not that small drop shipping business or what have you. I love to talk to practitioners and I will be there to talk to some of them and explore the cutting edge of remote working to see what works. 

Thanks for tuning in 20 over minutes to hear me rant, but today’s episode is important to me and I appreciate that you listen all the way here because it’s hard to be vulnerable on air. I’m already one of the more forefront people. I think I’m already very vulnerable on air. So yeah, these are the three reasons why I’m leaving. I don’t think you need me to summarize, but I’m just gonna say. 

Amongst the three reasons why I’m spending time in Georgia, number one is mental health. I feel I need to go out there and I need to take a break from the high, fast, quick pace of life here in a very dense population. 

Number two is for creative resources. I think I need more novelty, I think I need to have more experiences to keep creating a good work, good angles and not just taking whatever I read online and rinse and repeat and tell you guys. To me, that is super lame, but that’s what a lot of people in the creative work churn. So I want to do that for you, I want to do that for me and I need that novelty. 

Number three is I want to test out remote working. I’ll be in the forefront of remote working, not just hearsay, just go down and talk to people and see for myself. 

I do this episode today… of course, number one is to take a break from all the intense episodes, but also to let all of you listening know that hey, you don’t always need to follow the narrative and you can be a responsible individual, take charge of your life. If you think you need something and you can afford and everybody can tell you something else, but if you feel you should do it, you do it. It’s not as simple. I know, it’s hard to make these decisions, but I want you to know that hey, you’re not alone, number one. And number two, don’t need to feel to pressured when people don’t agree with you, as long as you are clear why you’re doing it. Take care!

Hey, I hope you learnt something useful today and truly appreciate that you took time off to better your life with The Financial Coconut. Knowledge is that much more powerful and interesting when shared, debated and discussed. Join our community Telegram group. Follow us on our socials. Sign up for our weekly newsletter. We are doing a weekly newsletter reboot. We are going to have a lot of information within the newsletter. 

Everything is in the description below and if you love us and will help us grow, definitely share the podcast with your friends and on your socials. Also, if you have any interesting thoughts you want to share or you know someone that we would like to hear from, reach out to us at hello@TheFinancialCoconut.com. With that, have a great day ahead. Stay tuned next week and always remember: personal finance, can be chill, clear sustainable for all.

Okay, so it does not mean I will not be recording anymore or I will not be joining you guys for content anymore. But yeah, I may take a break for two weeks, three weeks while I’m in Georgia so you may not see me as commonly or as prevalently in some of our other shows like Market Updates, Geekout and some of these other shows that we have. But I will still spend time to record and do more stuff for all of you. 

Thanks for loving what we do. Thanks for supporting us and let’s see where we can bring this community, this podcast, this company, see how far we can go.

Next week, I am going to spend some time to talk about leverage. I think a lot of people don’t understand leverage very well. I’m saying this because everybody is talking about debt free. But then when they buy a house, they think differently. When they talk about buy(ing) house… “ok mah, buy house. Can loan money.” But actually your house leverage is huge, you know? The mortgage sum is not a small sum. So what do you need to understand about leverage? This is something that I want to be a bit more nuance and talk to you guys about next week. So take care, have fun, take care of yourself.

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