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The Almighty Buck

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

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 serialband ( 447336 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @05:36PM (#43207757)

    People who do physical labor will work that much. Some people with 2 jobs work more.

  • by CriminalNerd ( 882826 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @05:42PM (#43207851)

    It's not like anybody clicks the link anyway.

  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Monday March 18, 2013 @05:55PM (#43207973)

    If your goal is just to live cheaply, and you don't have kids, there are plenty of places in the U.S. where you can live ok on $16k/yr. I did it as a grad student. Not in the SF Bay Area, though.

  • by matrim99 ( 123693 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @06:13PM (#43208117) Homepage

    The key is having no debts...

    Actually, the key is having no medical problems.

  • by Mathieu Lutfy ( 69 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @06:19PM (#43208163) Homepage

    If you're doing R&D on a project that you later want to commercialize, and you don't need to physically meet clients (or you have someone else who can represent you).. and no kids/family to take care of, you may as well lower your cost of living as much as possible.

    The problem is when your business model assumes you'll be in Malaysia forever, then you're stuck.

    I lived in Eastern Europe (BG) for 2 years. I would bill as a canadian company, get paid in Canada, then transfer money back. The cost of living wasn't very different though (circa 2002), when you even things out. Living in "poorer" countries looks appealing at first, but when you look further than the cost of food and beer, the costs of housing, health system, education system, social inequalities / security, etc. you usually don't want to stay there too long.

  • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @06:22PM (#43208183)

    That's those who hope to make it rich. Those who actually are rich AND smart delegate and "work" by browsing the internet or go golfing to "foster customer relations". Which can sometimes be hard work, but most of the time amounts to similar effort as average man's leisure. Of course, they often get the extra stress of "I have a lot, how do I not lose it" so their position is not necessarily an enviable one.

    Can't blame them for it either, that's what I would do in their position.

  • by udachny ( 2454394 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @06:27PM (#43208225) Journal

    Entrepreneurs never stop working, off hours, weekends, holidays, those are just words, they don't mean anything when you run a business.

  • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @06:34PM (#43208299)

    Your problem is you don't know what you are worth. I expect you're living in a small town and the employer thinks you have few options. However, they also have few options.

    All you need is to reduce your desperation level and all the power in that relationship comes to you. Get another contract or two. Make the effort. Offer rates similar to the one your giving now if you have to. Then let them stew, just turn down their change and let entropy take over. They will be back, on their knees. You should be charging them $50/hour or more.

  • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @06:43PM (#43208393)

    As I said, there are different people. There's a handful who actually did work for their money, and who tend to get used to working long hours. These certainly exist, but they're few and in between.

    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. As a result, their motivation to work is typically of the level of "minimal needed to keep the money coming and keep relatives satisfied". Hence you get the "country club" types of wealthy people who "work" at those clubs. Which is often actual work, as they are arranging deals in their own way.

    However the actual process is typically similar to that of exchanging drinks in a bar for poorer folk.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @07:08PM (#43208657)

    I believe you are what they call a "tax evader." Hope you lose your business license in the US.

  • by brillow ( 917507 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @07:08PM (#43208661)

    Malaysia sucks. Seriously, detention without trial? Death penalty for drugs? State religion? High risk of infectious disease? Monarchy? Sex-trafficking?


  • by Ryanrule ( 1657199 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @07:13PM (#43208717)

    You belong in jail.

  • by ModernGeek ( 601932 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @07:19PM (#43208777)
    You should quit buying into the propaganda put into place by popular media that every place in the world that isn't the United States is some sort of shit hole that is full of disease and famine. You'll find that the rest of the world is quite nice.
  • Re:Balkans (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:07PM (#43209207) Journal

    I find there's something about starting a new life in some cheap country which is kind of self-abasing.

    Don't know what you mean by "cheap" but Montenegro had a sophisticated civilization when the folks in North America were still running around in loincloths chasing buffalo.

    You can visit churches from the 13th century and ruins from the Ottoman Empire and before (way before).

    And the sexy girls in Montenegro speak very good English.

    Expats in China even have a phrase for it: "loser back home".

    Tell you what, an American computer geek who's living in a beautiful house on the seaside working 20 hours a week remotely would not be considered a "loser back home" by his friends back in the 'States who have to share a 500 sq ft studio apartment with some other geek making $15/hr, working 60 hours a week just to get by. That expat wouldn't be considered a "loser" at all. He'd be considered a hero.

    But make no mistake, it takes a little courage to get up and move. It's not for everyone. Some people just don't have what it takes to strike out on their own that way.

    In either case they failed in the game they were born into

    If you believe you have to stay in the "game you were born into" in order to succeed, that means you've already lost the game.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:33PM (#43209445)

    It does if you count high school and college and grad school. Tell me, how hard do you think those vegetable pickers were working when they were 16? Were they staying late after school to learn Calculus, or were they cutting class to get high with their homies? Working hard and being smart actually matter. Anyone who says otherwise has never tried either working hard or being smart.

    They were probably too busy picking vegetables at 16. They probably study when they can. College? Grad School? With fruit pickin' parents? You really are disconnected from the real world down here aren't you.

    Funny, most business owners/CEO's I've met are decent with basic algebra but weak when it comes to calculus, trig, etc.

    A.) They know people. (usually part of a boys club at an expensive university)
    B.) Have rich fathers
    C.) Work hard.

    Pick any two of the above and it will fit most CEO's... they also have to be willing to make hard choices at the expense of others to further their agenda.... or perform some CYA.

    No, it's because what he knows is 800x as valuable. Not all work is equal. That's one of the many flaws in Marx's philosophy.

    So Carly Fiorina's contributions were worth more than a seasoned electronics engineer with 25 years of experience? I think not.

    A CEO is a corporate face undeserving of being put on a pedestal unless they built the company they are running with their bare hands in the beginning.

    Sadly, on average, the most accurate predictor of someone's income is their father's income.

    That's because income is dependent on intelligence and hard work. Intelligence is highly heritable and appreciation for hard work is handed down in successful families.

    Spoken like a true wannabe aristocrat. The possibility of being intelligent may be inherited, but actual intelligence isn't. Most trust fund babies I've ever met have been pretty useless except for office political gain. Breeding has nothing to do with being fit for the job.

    The hard work that's handed down is soaked in the blood of the people who actually worked for it that were desperate enough to allow themselves to be exploited.

  • by hairyfish ( 1653411 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:36PM (#43209469)
    Ok let's test you theory:
    Bill Gates - nope
    Carlos Slim - nope
    Warren Buffet - nope
    Larry Ellison - nope
    Some of these people might have had upper middle class parents, but there's a looooooooonnnnngggggg way between "wealthy" and 'richest person on earth". I know a few people with similar backgrounds to the men above and not one of them is even close to breaking out of the upper middle class. and there are plenty of stories of 2nd and 3rd gen rich kids blowing their family fortune. It takes skill, hard work, ruthless ambition and extreme good luck to get rich and stay there.
  • by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:54PM (#43209615)

    Sure I have credit card debt, but the house is half paid for, I have a low(er) paying but pretty much guaranteed job working in education, a pretty much guaranteed retirement package. But not a lot in savings.

    On the other hand, I have a wife of 20 years who I presume still loves me, 3 wonderful kids, and a relatively stress free life. I get to do what I want every few weeks (spend a day shooting, fishing, etc), and in general I come home from work pretty happy.

    I'm rich.

    But I sure ain't wealthy.

  • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @09:47PM (#43209997)

    You're happy. Different things. Notably rich people tend to be quite unhappy throughout history, due to having extra worry of "who's out to get me for my wealth" which is constant.

  • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:40PM (#43210569)
    Bill Gates was rich in college, and became richer out of school, because he never had to work. He was never really smart. Everything that didn't involve cunning he was a failure at. Even his philanthropy reeks of self-inrichment of a cunning sort, more than anything else. He believes in giving a man a fish. Then charging him 10x for that fish the next time around. Check his history.
  • by Myopic ( 18616 ) * on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @01:35AM (#43211025)

    Poor people rationalize their lives by believing that myth.

  • by captainpanic ( 1173915 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @04:08AM (#43211507)

    Sssssssshhhht!!! Don't tell the Americans! :)

  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @07:53AM (#43212071)

    Money doesn't appear to bring addional happiness once a level of sufficiency is reached. That level is where the bank account stays in the black without you having to worry about it. Becoming rich enough that you don't have to work anymore, for example, won't make you happier.

    But poverty can certainly make you unhappy.

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!