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How a Programmer Gets By On $16K/Yr: He Moves to Malaysia 523

Posted by timothy
from the wouldn't-be-for-everyone dept.
An anonymous reader writes "If you can make $10 and hour doing remote work, you can afford to live in Malysia. Make it $15 or $20, you can work 30 hours a week. Real money? Make it ten. This article talks about how John Hunter did it." Malaysia's not the only destination for self-motivated ex-pat programmers, of course. If you've considered doing this kind of sabbatical, or actually have, please explain in the comments the from-where-to-where details and reasons.
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How a Programmer Gets By On $16K/Yr: He Moves to Malaysia

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  • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Monday March 18, 2013 @05:41PM (#43207815) Homepage

    My job is split about 50/50 between sitting in front of a computer designing complicated radio systems, and the manual labour involved in hauling all the kit up to the roofs of very tall buildings and putting it together. It's still only about 30 hours a week.

  • Ubatuba, SP Brasil (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @05:44PM (#43207877)

    Graduated with my Masters in EE/CS at 23. Got a job that allowed for remote working. Saved up the required $50K to apply for a permanent resident visa as a foreign investor. Opened a shop and hired some local Brasilians to do contract programming work for US firms. Learned Portuguese and became a Brasilian citizen. Quit my job and renounced my US citizenship once I was making enough on my Brasil business. Ignored letter from IRS demanding "exit" tax.

    Now do contract work for US firm at US labor rates via sales office in the US, and the money comes to Brasil where it goes farther, and I live on a beach in a Pousada. I don't even speak English well anymore. I'm not even 40 and I could quit work today but the money is too good.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @05:53PM (#43207951)
    I know it was a joke, but generally I would find the opposite is true. highly educated and rich tend to actually work far beyond normal working hours. If I worked only 30 hours a week it means I was very sick or took a few days holiday. I would expect the average working week for most people I work with (all highly paid and highly educated) would be a minimum of 50+ hours. most probably higher.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @05:55PM (#43207967)

    ha- are we taking smart or educated? My experience is they are not one in the same. Smart people can't be educated. They can learn. Stupid people can be educated.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @05:57PM (#43207983)

    This. I've spent the last 10 years working in South East asia (Malaysia now, but Singapore before that for 3 years). As a white guy with any level of technical smarts you're easily earning 100+, 180 for managers. My coworkers are pleasant, cost of living is very low meaning I've been able to save quite a lot up. I don't see myself moving home so much as I do retiring.

  • by bhoult (132229) on Monday March 18, 2013 @06:03PM (#43208027) Homepage

    I have been doing this for about three years now in the United States. Basically, bought property ($6000), built small dome to live in ($3000), went half time at work (4 hours a day doing low stress programming). I make about $17,000 a year and live pretty comfortably on that. The key is having no debts, eliminating as many recurring payments as possible (I pay about $300/mo for all utilities and phone), drive as little as possible and don't eat out much.

    I even wrote a blog about it. http://www.minimalintentions.com/search/label/Geodesic%20Dome

    My plan was that when I had all this free time I could work on my own projects (of which I have many). Unfortunately turns out that I am pretty lazy so instead I sit in a hammock and read books more... ah well... I still plan to get motivated at some point... eventually.

    (repost since I was logged out the first time)

  • China (Score:3, Interesting)

    by longk (2637033) on Monday March 18, 2013 @06:20PM (#43208173)

    I've been doing this in China for the last 7 years. The good thing here is that live is very scalable. If income is low you relocate to the countryside where you get by quite decently on $100/month and 4M Internet. If income rises you move towards bigger cities where you can spend over $10.000/month and have FTTH if you must.

    And by scalability I don't just mean the living expenses. Also moving from place to place is dead easy. I arrive in a place and spend a day if not just a few hours on finding and renting a flat. I'll move in that same night or the next day and have my stuff arrive by truck a few days later.

    If you're a remotely political person or care mildly about human rights, China may not be for you. For the average person however who just wants to work the least amount possible and yet have her/his dinner cooked, house cleaned and pussy licked/dick sucked as if she/he were queen/king, it's an awesome place.

  • Re:What article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Monday March 18, 2013 @06:28PM (#43208243)

    I know Malaysia well (even though I live in the UK). I first went there in '97 and married a Malaysian-born woman. Some observations:
      They really like and respect white people.
    They don't particularly like Chinese people (my wife is half Chinese so I see rampant discrimination against this large minority - about 25% of Malaysia's population - all the time).
    The weather is great (although sometimes a little too humid).
    Kuala Lumpur is a very advanced city that can compare to anything in the West.
    Broadband speeds are so-so according to my cousin-in-law.
    There appears to be a demand for good engineers (according to another cousin-in-law, a Chinese who studied IT in England). So, assuming you can get a visa, getting some interesting work shouldn't be too hard.
    The political situation there is... interesting. But I get the impression that if you don't cause trouble you will be left alone - especially if you are white.

    HTH

    The reason is that after the war or so, the first people to start running businesses and such were Chinese (most likely chased out from Singapore by the Japanese), and they got very rich doing so.

    The government exploits the fact that a lot of Malaysians are jealous of the Chinese for being successful (which happens because they worked hard at building businesses and such) , so they put up huge campaigns of national identity and such to encourage hatred of the Chinese. However, they government doesn't really do anything about it (they can't - said Chinese businesses pay a good amount of tax and employ a lot of Malays). So basically the Chinese are demonized for being successful and "exploiting" Malays

    If you're white, you're usually a tourist or an investor, so you're treated well to get at your $$$. If you're a Chinese investor with $$$, everyone eyes you like you're going to enslave them.

    The government feeds off this sentiment and basically just fans the flames. There's no real democracy (there is voting, but the opposition is usually highly discredited, or even arrested if they have a chance of winning - being a Muslim state, there are plenty of "crimes" that one can accuse the Opposition of).

  • Argentina (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lexluther (529642) on Monday March 18, 2013 @06:47PM (#43208431) Homepage
    About 7 years ago, I moved from California to Argentina for work. I had a degree in CS and had worked professionally as a Java dev for three years. I couldn't get any work in the US so I decided to brush up on my spanish and see if I could find a job down there.

    After arriving in Argentina, I translated my resume and started looking for work by finding the equivalent of Monster.com (bumeran.com). It took about 3 weeks, but I got interviews at both Sony and IBM. IBM wanted to send me to Canada for consulting because I spoke english :). Since that wasn't the goal, I went with Sony. Lots of the labor in these places is not actually employed by the large corporation, but by a "placement" service. This company paid me $600/month for full-time employment. I had been making around 70k in the US, but in argentina the 10x paycut was manageable. Indeed, I was making 1/2 of some of my coworkers - because I wasn't legally employed, the placement company paid me less, but paid me in cash.

    The experience was fantastic. There, 9-5 actually meant 9-5 - very limited flexibility in terms of hours and what I could work on, but it was okay, I was doing it more for the concept. The engineers were all excellent and my American education didn't either disadvantage or help -- we all were pretty up on the lastest java techniques.

    After about 4 months, I decided that this glimpse into the future was sufficient so I returned to the US to do a PhD.
  • Balkans (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Monday March 18, 2013 @06:55PM (#43208509) Homepage Journal

    If you can make $15/hr remotely, I'd suggest Montenegro. Find a place near the sea, you got it made. You might have to work at getting a really great broadband deal, but there are some to be had.

    If you're single, the women there are beautiful and have sexy accents, you've got the sea and off-season the tourists go away and you can really enjoy the good life.

    You're a short hop from shopping in Italy, skiing in the Alps and you're still not in the EU (yet). Learn to play tuba in a Balkan horn band. Drink lots of coffee and slivovitza. Go out in your backyard and pick fresh figs for breakfast.

    Even if swimming in crystal-blue seas is not your idea of fun, you can set yourself down in a sidewalk cafe and watch one Mila Jovovic after another walk by. And there's none of the snobbiness of Western Europe.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @07:46PM (#43209027)

    Our culture celebrates those that came to money all on their own, and generally keeps quiet about the sad fact that they are a small minority. Most people classified as rich either inherit or marry into money..

    Thanks for outing yourself as an unintelligent and/or lazy entitled leech on society. I know that facts are inconvenient for someone of your ilk (seeing as they, you know, illustrate your worthlessness as a human) but go ahead and check these out:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/post/research-desk-did-the-top-1-percent-inherit-its-wealth/2011/11/04/gIQA4T8kmM_blog.html

    Whoops! I guess there _isn't_ a giant conspiracy scheming to keep you poor and stupid. Maybe you should've gotten off the couch and worked hard at something at some point in your life.

  • Re:What article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kagato (116051) on Monday March 18, 2013 @07:52PM (#43209071)

    That closes the loop on what I noticed about the Chinese in Singapore hating the Japanese. I actually witnessed a shop keeper play dumb with a Japanese trying to buy something using Engrish. Old Japanese guy stormed out in frustration. I go to buy something, no problem, he explained the other guy was Japanese.

    I don't know if I would choose Malaysia or Singapore though. Both are kind of strict countries if you run afoul of the local powers that be. Fun to visit, not so much on the living there. I'd hit up Belize. Nice locals, cheap and only 1 hour plane ride to Miami if the shit goes down.

  • Re:Lese Mageste (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ladislavb (551945) on Monday March 18, 2013 @07:56PM (#43209115) Homepage
    Any country that welcomes you to its shores by photographing you and taking your finger prints, then forces you to either go through a "naked" scanner or lets big guys touch your genitals, is absolutely off the list of any freedom loving individual.
  • by jrumney (197329) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:41PM (#43209501) Homepage

    It's quite awesome and I tend to catch less exotic diseases here than in Malaysia.

    From the UK recent travel health advisories:

    Malaysia

    1 November 2012
    Sarcocystosis in travellers to Malaysia

    USA

    16 January 2013
    Seasonal influenza – advice for travellers
    23 November 2012
    West Nile virus: advice for travellers to USA, Europe and neighbouring countries - update
    5 October 2012
    West Nile virus: advice for travellers to USA, Europe and neighbouring countries
  • by SpaceMonkies (2868125) on Monday March 18, 2013 @09:19PM (#43209821)
    If you can make $15/hr remotely, I'd suggest Montenegro. Find a place near the sea, you got it made. You might have to work at getting a really great broadband deal, but there are some to be had. If you're single, the women there are beautiful and have sexy accents, you've got the sea and off-season the tourists go away and you can really enjoy the good life. You're a short hop from shopping in Italy, skiing in the Alps and you're still not in the EU (yet). Learn to play tuba in a Balkan horn band. Drink lots of coffee and slivovitza. Go out in your backyard and pick fresh figs for breakfast. Even if swimming in crystal-blue seas is not your idea of fun, you can set yourself down in a sidewalk cafe and watch one Mila Jovovic after another walk by. And there's none of the snobbiness of Western Europe.
  • Thailand (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AndyCanfield (700565) <andycanfield&yandex,com> on Monday March 18, 2013 @10:20PM (#43210187) Homepage
    I've been in Thailand (& Laos) for twenty years. Now most of my work is done through the Internet, even for local companies. Living costs are low. A Company puts money into my bank, the ATM card takes it out. Work at home means long hours with lots of breaks. Rural Thailand is wonderful. I jumped ship from California in 1990 and have never regretted it. But I live a Thai lifestyle, not an American lifestyle. More information at http://dl.dropbox.com/u/72291163/index.html [dropbox.com] . Cold water baths, no air conditioning, travel by bicycle or motorcycle or bus. No (English) computer books to speak of; all technical information through the Internet. I still read the news, but don't much care what that idiot government in Washington does. Eighteen years ago I decided I'd rather die in Thailand than live in the United States. I have had seven children; my children have had five mothers. Every time I say this some lady in the crowd raises her hand and shouts "NUMBER SIX! NUMBER SIX". Two kids are in America; the other five were all born in The Land Of Smiles. Sometimes I have a little bit of money, so I can eat. Sometimes I have a lot of money; some Thai lady comes along, and goes away, and I have a little bit of money left, so I can eat. No problem, no worry, no stress.
  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @07:39AM (#43212023)

    The premise of the book seems to be that the ordinary working stiff can have a net worth (including his house) of a million bucks, by the time he retires. If he works hard, operates in a miserly fashion, and invests wisely.

    First of all, it shows selection bias by not considering those that thought they were investing wisely, but happened upon a banking crisis for example. The book having been written in a bull market.

    Secondly, the premise itself shows that, due to inflation, one million bucks isn't "rich" any more. Truly rich people are well out of the reach of aspirations of employees. Their wealth has been accumulated over generations.

    A "millionaire" was being used in the 1920s as a word for a rich person. There's been an awful lot of inflation since then.

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