Written by: Rafael Pena

Existing but not living. That’s how I felt residing in New York City for the last ten years of my life.

My early 30’s were full of epiphanies about my family, my life decisions, and the dreams I was chasing. The people that were close to me expected more of me, and I expected even more from myself. The fantasy of living abroad had peaked when I was about 27, but I admit my follow-through game wasn’t the best. Then two years ago, I made a new best friend who would become the love of my life.

We both had very demanding careers. I was an Events Coordinator and Freelance PR & Brand Manager. She was a Creative Director at VH1, where she produced the marketing for all the top reality shows. We both had full, 12 to 16 hour days, with me also taking care of my son, and trying to maintain our relationship the best way we could.

While getting to know each other, we realized we had one strong shared interest, and that was the desire to live in another country. Not to start over, but to experience something fresh, stimulate our senses, and enhance our quality of life. We both loved to travel, and four months into meeting each other, we were already in Montreal. The month after that, we planned our trip to the south of France. Adventuring to new places, tasting new foods, with a fully thought out plan on how to make it work – our city of choice was Bangkok.

By America’s standards, the price of living in Bangkok was affordable, and we had faith we could create the quality of life we desired. To save money for this voyage, we stopped going on dates and fancy dinners and put our money away for our big move. We brainstormed ways to increase our finances as a unit. We began using ourselves as formidable brands and offering career advice over the phone, or as we would call it, #CareerBites, under my freelance endeavor Levels Management. Slowly but surely, we made our financial goal of $10K within one year.

This money was our budget and safety net for when we made our big move. But first, we needed to visit.

We landed in December during the holidays. We were relieved by how peaceful but vibrant Thailand was. It was the perfect blend we were looking for, and we couldn’t wait to move.

Before we knew it, we were packing bags, selling our belongings, ready to say our goodbye. In April, we handed our jobs our letters of resignation. When I explained the reason I was leaving, my coworkers were astonished. Some wished me the best. A lot of friends I spoke to thought I was crazy or just making it up. They didn’t feel like that was something that was actually possible. I was excited to show them anything is possible. But then I also had to have a talk with the most important person in my life, my son Skyler.

I didn’t surprise him with this information. He knew for a whole year and a half that this day would come, and the more we talked about it, the more he accepted it and was comfortable to speak his mind with me. I had to make it clear that I wasn’t leaving him. I wasn’t trying to avoid him. He needed to understand that this was for my well being and that I loved him very much. By the time you read this, he’ll be on his first visit to Thailand, so I am already extremely grateful and excited. Having his blessing was most crucial when it came to a decision like this.

Early May, with four suitcases and one duffle bag, we said goodbye to our family and friends and flew across the world to start our new adventure.

Photo Courtesy of Rafael Pena

Today, my senses have been rejuvenated. For the first time since I was a child, I’m no longer just existing. My days are filled with feeding my curiosities, learning how to walk and talk, and discovering that all people everywhere want the same things — love, family, and the ability to really live.

If you’d like to schedule a consultation with Rafael of Levels Management email: contact@levelsmanagement.com

Follow Rafael  on Instagram: @rafaeloflevels