I am writing this to provide context and also as a means to log my thoughts.
What have you done up until now?
I’m a Master’s student in Statistics at the National University of Singapore. I spent two years serving the army as a signals officer, two years working in a biomedical lab as a high school student. As part of a school program, I did two six month stints at two early stage startups in the Bay Area and took some classes at Stanford. I graduated a year early and was originally hoping to head back to the Bay Area. I decided against it after COVID-19 hit and instead I stayed in Singapore and spent half a semester studying Statistics, Databases, and Art History before taking leave to join a talent accelerator (EF). I left the accelerator last week and I am currently writing Elixir code for Betafi. I also spent about three months in 2020 solo backpacking around Asia and Europe. I am currently deciding between a move to South America and working at an early stage startup in San Francisco.
What is the internal motivation for heading to South America?
- Impact. Growing market, which means that there is an opportunity to create consumer tech products which have concrete impact on millions of lives. I realize that the same could be said of South East Asia but I don’t wish to stay within South East Asia(SEA) for now.
- Independence. I don’t want to stay within in Singapore – I want the space to define myself. I’ve spent bulk of my life living in Singapore and have wanted to leave since university.
- Adventure. I know that this will probably be the only time in my life which I can make such a move.
What tradeoffs are you making? Do they matter?
There’s clearly a huge initial financial tradeoff. That said, I am not opimizing for cash. I realised through various life experiences that I will probably have more cash than I have need for even if I spend the next five years of my life not making money. What about the opportunity cost? Progression? At present moment, I see no significant difference to my quality of life if I have $100,000 at the end of my life or if I have $10 million at the end of my life
I grew up in public housing and I generally don’t spend much; I don’t need that much in life. After reflection, I realize that the main reason I would want for more cash is for social status. I doubt that will matter much once I move. An enjoyable life to me involves being able to eat three regular meals and exercise.
I can imagine living out my final days in an old folks home without a house to my name. That said, I do have hopes that I might be able to settle down.
What are your major concerns/fears about moving downwards
- Growth, can I continue to grow as an engineer(e.g can I understand enterprise infrastructure, patterns) especially without mentorship
- Relationships. Can I continue to cultivate meaningful relationships? I don’t have major ones at the moment so I stand nothing to lose. However, at the same time I wonder what the world will look like after ten or so years of not interacting with family, friends. How would one build meaningful connection after spending an extended period away.
- Finances. Will I have sufficient funds to pay the bills for emergency medical expenses