Few backpackers travel through Southeast Asia without thinking at least once, “Wouldn’t it be nice to just live here for a while?” If you’re coming from a cold and drab part of the world that’s moving too fast, it certainly does seem like paradise. In How to Make a Living in Paradise, Thai resident and businessman Philip Wylie gives you the lowdown on how to make it happen.
First I had to get past the silly cover, with its tilted horizon and a bikini babe about to ruin her laptop. But inside I found this book to be well-grounded in reality and full of practical advice, both general advice for expats and specifics on things like valuing a business you are looking to buy.
The preparation part covers what you need to be thinking about as well as some things you probably hadn’t considered, but should. The author hits all the key points without getting bogged down in any, going over basic considerations for compatibility, health, work options, visas, and survival tips.
Most readers will end up skipping around after that since the book covers all the possible ways to make a living in Southeast Asia. Those who will find it most useful are the ones who are entrepreneurial and are planning to start a business. Only 13 pages are dedicated to teaching English, which is probably the most common employment path for expats, but 72 pages are dedicated to buying a business or a franchise. The author obviously wrote most about what he knows best and the main fault with this book is there is a heavy bias towards Thailand, with scant information for the other countries besides some resource listings in the back. While this is a “Southeast Asia Edition,” you’ll still need to do lots of digging elsewhere to learn about working in Singapore, Indonesia, or Vietnam.
Thankfully Wylie brought on another business owner, Andrew Bond, to help with the book and Bond runs a series of websites from Thailand. So he provides good insight on freelancing and running a virtual company—the best options for many who can easily become location independent. There are also case studies throughout and advice provided by people doing specific jobs, like teaching English.
How to Make a Living in Paradise is available from Amazon and Amazon UK. Unfortunately, there’s no e-book version you can just download to your laptop, iPad, or Kindle. Since this is a “straight from the Word doc” publication with no graphics, hopefully that’s in the works. If you’re in Thailand, you can find it in stores there or order it from the publisher (priced in Thai baht!).