After two years and eight months being US residents, we left for good on 1 May 2021. 

It is not an easy decision, but my wife, son, and I agreed that it is an excellent move.

We moved back to Asia, to a country we love to visit, in a city where we wish to reside for an extended time. Most importantly, it is so close to home — Malaysia.

What do we need to give up in the US?

America is commonly associated with “big”, e.g. big cars, wide roads, spacious houses, supersized meals, etc. One of the few things I will miss is the “biglyness”. (Trump made up this word, not me.)

What happened to our possessions there? The house, the cars and all the other belongings?

I’ve never shared the interior of my house publicly. Since we are no longer there, let me share a gallery for a nostalgic reason.

We sold our Mustang and Volvo. Soon, we will get used to being carless for a while. We sold almost all the oversized items in our household because we will be downsizing to a smaller space in Taipei.

We are all excited about the move. My wife left a big tech MNC and joined an even bigger tech company that is still growing tremendously. She got a raise and a promotion. Of course, I am very proud of her achievement. 

What’s in it for me then?

I get to move back to work in the same time zone as my clients. Meanwhile, my son gets a conducive environment to practise his Mandarin language more often. Again, most importantly, it is closer to home.

Even though our flight was delayed for 18 hours, we were very pumped up when arriving at Taoyuan Airport. It means a new beginning to the next chapter of our lives. 

At the airport, everything worked smoothly. We got a new SIM card to register with CECC (Central Epidemic Command Center) for quarantine monitoring. The airport personnel are extra helpful with immigration clearance and custom declaration. By the time we stepped outside the airport, our pre-booked transport van was already there. Then we happily arrived at the hotel.

Everything was so great until we got into the hotel room.

The room is smaller than my home office back in the US. It’s not that we don’t know that it will be small. But you can certainly feel the big difference moving from a huge country where everywhere used to be spacious.

We would have to spend the next 14 nights in this small room. Furthermore, my son has to wake up at midnight to “get” to school, following the US time zone. After a few days, my wife started to attend online meetings. And I would have to conduct a few webinars from the room too. Therefore, you can imagine how we will constantly be disturbing each other. 

For the first night, I felt that it was a significant downgrade. From a 2600 sqft house, we squeezed into a small hotel room. Needless to say, there was some discomfort amongst us all. 

HOW ARE WE GOING TO SURVIVE THIS 14-DAY QUARANTINE?!!

There are two sides to a coin. I always pick the positive side, the upside, or the winning side… whatever you want to call it.

After a few days, we naturally adapted to the environment. Then magically, we began to appreciate what the place has to offer.

Last time we lived in a relatively big house for a three-member family, with a fully-equipped kitchen. But I need to cook almost daily. Now, I don’t see the need to cook anymore. With Uber Eats and Food Panda delivery, I can order practically anything that Taipei has to offer. 

Goodbye to the amateur chef, welcome convenient and delicious meals, for 1/3 of the price I used to pay.

The restroom is half the size of what I have in the US. However, the toilet comes with a Toto electronic bidet toilet seat. We no longer have a bathtub, which we seldom use anyway. Instead, I am so amazed by the functionality of the Onsen-like shower set, which you can control the water temperature without affecting the shower volume. I can turn it up to get a shower or lower the knob to flow the water through the lower faucet instantly. The system is the smartest I have ever used. And the WATER PRESSURE — I truly enjoy the splashing shower.

Gradually, we learnt how to optimise the limited space. Even though the room is small, it is very much optimised for practicality and functionality. It even has a Google home smart mini speaker mounted on the ceiling. In a nutshell, the hotel provides everything we ever need and more.

LESSONS LEARNT:

  • Humans are highly adaptable to change. A little discomfort outside your comfort zone is an opportunity to grow.
  • Material pleasure is temporary. You’ll adjust to it. I am lucky to realise this early in life: no matter how big your bedroom is, you will not notice it when you sleep like a baby. So it is more important to be able to sleep well than having a big luxurious bedroom.
  • The less thing you have, the less you get to worry about.

It reminds me of the epiphany moment I had. I wrote it in the final chapter of my book, Money Smart.

I realised long ago that no matter how rich I am, I would still be driving one car at a time. When I fall asleep, I would not know how big my bedroom is. I enjoy hiking, playing the piano, reading a good book, singing a song I compose, and watching a great movie. All those do not cost much money. I guess I am blessed to know what I want in life. Some people chase wealth their entire life, and when they finally got all the money they wanted, it felt empty. It turned out that some of them sacrificed too much to get there. I hope you too, know what matters to you. Your target is different and unique. When you achieve your goal, that is a success worth celebrating.

KCLau, Money Smart

Life is short. Changes spark new adventures.

If you are hesitating for a career move, don’t overthink it. No matter what, pick the upside of a coin! 

Here is a common question we get: Did we sell our house in Portland?

We had made a decision. Whether to sell or put it up for rent, it has everything to do with money. 

Could you help me share this article on Facebook? If we get enough “shares”, I will tell you more details about it.


KCLau
KCLau

Personal finance author and trainer

    2 replies to "From Portland to Taipei: Lessons Learnt During Quarantine"

    • Ricky Teoh

      Thank you for sharing your new journey. All the best ya.

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