Dear Affiliates Suffering From The Truman Effect

I wouldn’t be a true Londoner if I didn’t spend every hour of the day complaining, bitching, whining or just generally living as the Daily Mail tells me to live. And so a few months ago, I had a decision to make. Commit to another year in the Rat Race, endlessly overspending in a city where my high income would be seen as no more than par for the course. Or move to Thailand and engage in a little lifestyle arbitrage.

If you don’t know what lifestyle arbitrage is, I guess the best way to explain it would be “to get the maximum bang for your buck out of life”.

Or to quote Charlie Sheen; #Winning.

Most affiliates have “fixed income”. I say that with a hint of irony, obviously, but what I mean is that we can go anywhere in the world and still be present in our jobs. We can be making exactly the same money whether we’re chained to the suburbs of the neighbourhoods we grew up in, or traipsing across the globe on the back of an elephant.

It’s easy to get caught up in the obsession of making more money. There’s a common feeling among some marketers that more profit will somehow equal a better standard of living. While it’s true sometimes, the nature of our jobs throws so many more options to the mix. Lifestyle arbitrage has always been close to my mind. I guess that’s what you get for growing up and making ends meet in one of the world’s most expensive cities. Everybody knows a job in London pays significantly more than a job outside London (for those in the UK), and that’s because the cost of living is so much higher.

But what if you could earn a London executive salary while living somewhere cheaper?

When I was an affiliate working in London – albeit let’s face it, a guy sat at a desk twiddling his balls who just happened to be near the Metropolitan line – I was automatically raising the stakes of how much I’d have to earn by restraining myself to such an expensive city. I could handle it, and I did handle it, but why pay the premium when you have the one trump card that ejects you from the rat race altogether? A fixed income that doesn’t depreciate with the economy around you.

I remember reading a few comments saying it was an embarrasing step backwards when I announced I was moving to Thailand. A baller would never turn his back on the American Dream, would he? Why trade the western way for a bunch of ladyboys and “third world” living?

Well, I’ve spoken to various affiliates earning large figures, and many of them haven’t even visited a country outside their own. This is particularly the case in America. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. But are you sure you’re aware of the sheer opportunities that full-time affiliate marketing has already opened up to you?

You can go anywhere and do anything. It’s a license to live! The sort of privilege you look back on when you have three kids and a bunch of responsibilities, thinking…damn, why did I blow the easiest chance I ever had to go and live the dream?

I remember when I made the decision. I was sitting in a Nero coffee shop with my girlfriend, nursing a property viewing hangover and weighing up my next move. It was only when I’d been forced in to making a decision (my rental contract was expiring) that I actually weighed up my options.

Inevitably, you can decide to pay the premium if a particular lifestyle is all you want to know. There’s nothing wrong with bedding down and saying “this is what I know, this is what I love”. But that attitude is ingrained in adults who’ve been chained to the careers they’re supposed to have. It’s an attitude born out of convenience more than anything. Thanks to the Internet, we are the kind of professionals that lifestyle arbitrage was made for.

My decision was pretty simple really. I could spend $3000/month renting a shoebox apartment in Central London, or I could spend that same money living in a huge apartment with my own pool, gym, games room and temperatures of 35C all year round.

So I decided to move to Thailand instead of Fulham Broadway, convinced in all of about 7 minutes that it was time to make use of the greatest luxury an affiliate can have; the flexibility to go anywhere.

This is lifestyle arbitrage. Changing your life in an instant by simply defining your own economy. It’s about getting more for less, just because you can. A choice that confronts you every day, but one that most choose to ignore. I’m willing to bet there are countless professionals who will read this post, who could choose to get more from their lives if they seized the true potential of the flexibility this industry provides.

I know we all have our puppet strings. For every reason to get up and go, there are several you can find to justify why you need to stay in the rat race and keep on grinding the grind. Loved ones, friends, kids, commitments, responsibilities…yeah, these are all perfectly valid reasons why you might not be able to get up and move to the other side of the world.

But it doesn’t have to be that extreme. Opportunities for lifestyle arbitrage are everywhere when you become your own boss. So many of the stresses and strains we place on ourselves are there because we expect them to be there, and because we feel too absorbed by the status quo to challenge them. Ultimately, I think most of us resign ourselves to the idea that we’re going to be corporate slaves for the rest of our working lives. A bunch of Truman Burbanks forever thinking about flying to Fiji but watching the years go by and getting no closer.

If your affiliate career ends tomorrow, when will you ever get a better chance to see the world without having to report to your boss at the end of the week?

You can stack money until the taps run dry, but it’s not all about money. Are you doing enough with your life to make it all worthwhile? Or are you just accumulating interest in the hope that someday it’ll add value to your life?

Recommended This Week:

  • In the last few hours, I’ve launched a brand new – which is going to offer something a little different to the already rammo “blogging about blogging” niche. Every month, my readership on this site has grown to the point where I’m collecting readers who don’t even know what affiliate marketing is, but still come to see if they can make some sense of it.

    The temptation has always been to branch in to more general entrepreneurial topics where I think I can help an audience larger than just affiliate marketers to make money. The more diversified my business becomes, the more I have to remind myself that most of you guys only give a damn about the tips and posts that make a difference to you.

    Of course, I don’t want to to become one of those affiliate bloggers who starts publishing shit that has absolutely zero relevance to real life affiliates. So I’m keeping this blog for strictly affiliate related perspective. But if you want to read more of my thoughts and tips on general online business, subscribe to the new blog and you might find something you like.

    If not, don’t worry. There’s plenty of my balls to go around.

About the author


A 29 year old high school dropout (slash academic failure) who sold his soul to make money from the Internet. This blog follows the successes, fuck-ups and ball gags of my career in affiliate marketing.


Leave a comment
  • Good post, it’s been a thing on my mind for a while now (my flat contract runs out in like 4months so will have to think harder in the near future). I’m from Sheffield and this UK weather/cost is a little depressing considering the options I have – although we have had like 3 days of *fairly* sunny weather this week 😛

    How’s the move working out for you so far? Granted you probably took a break when you first did the swap but I would find it 10 times harder to work in sunny weather but I’m not sure if that’s just because I’m not really used to it and in the UK you have to grab every ray you can.

  • @Mike – I haven’t found any yet. And even if I did, it’d be the last you ever heard from me.

    @Richard – It’s definitely a challenge, but I guess it boils down to having discipline. I like to go out and enjoy the sun in the day. But it’s dark by 6pm, even in the summer. And being somebody who works better at night, there’s plenty of time to get through my business without missing out on pool time.

    I’d been renting at my old place for two years before I decided to go. It just felt like the timing was right. I guess it was. Sounds like I escaped the coldest winter England’s had for a while!

  • Very interesting post Finch… And what an amazing coincidence, lately I’ve been thinking of moving out of Paris for a while now because I could definitely have a much higher quality of life while having the same expenses. Thank you for writing this post. It might be the little push that I needed.

  • Right on. I’ve been in this mindset for about 6 months now. I’ve been living in the US my entire life (other than 1 year abroad in England), and I expect to move back to England for a bit to check it out more. Not London of course. The daily expenses are obviously higher, but it gives me an opportunity to see more of the world, which is really why I’m doing it. Thailand someday? Maybe. I’m thinking a world tour before then though.

  • Nice parting shot “Is the stacking making a difference on your quality o life?”…
    Honestly, I don’t get Thailand for affiliates. I would go to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ibiza, heck Uruguay is really nice if you want to go cheaper… Thailand… It’s a place I don’t want to go on business or vacations, let alone move there. I guess it’s a good thing there are different favorite places for everyone or real estate prices where I like would be ridiculous.

    I will confess part of me thinks you moved there for easy acccess to ladycock – hey, at least I’m honest. I had a friend pull a similar move to Brazil and that’s exactly what he moved there for.

  • Just moved from Canada to Australia myself (3 weeks ago), and i plan on moving to a new location again in 1 year. For a lot of people the luxury of proper affiliate marketing isn’t the income, it’s the freedom you get while making an income.

    Whoever said this is missing out on life!
    “I remember reading a few comments saying it was an embarrasing step backwards when I announced I was moving to Thailand.”

  • While you can live in Bangkok for relatively cheap, having spent half the year in Bangkok the last five years, I find myself spending more money in Thailand than I ever do in NYC, SF or LA.

    I wouldn’t recommend affiliates moving to Bangkok due to the low cost of living, but rather the pure luxury of living. The amount of opportunities to have daily enjoyment with incredible, genuine service, sprinkled with Thai friendliness and kindness is indescribable. It becomes an addiction. However, its not cheap. A day at The Paragon, dinner at a place like Hyde and Seek a night out in Thong Lor is going to cost you just as much (if not more) as a similar spent day in any big city.

    Its true, though, that your money will go significantly further in renting property, as mentioned in the post.

    For those commenters about ladyboys, please never visit the Land of Smiles.

  • @Peter – I definitely agree. I spend probably more money than I ever did in London, but I get so much more out of it. I’m not quite sure how people survive on the famed $500/month retirement plan. Tourists seem to live by a different economy here.

    But it’s a life of a luxury. Living that same luxury elsewhere would cost even more.

    @Jonah – Not great. I had a few Internet problems getting setup, and the reliability is patchy. But it depends how picky you are. I can get my work done easily enough.

  • Who tf are these people telling you that youre not a real baller???

    I lived in thailand for a year and will go back…. You made the right decision fuk the rest.

    Though i have no idea how youre spending so much, in bangkok of all places.

    My wife and i lived in phuket, 3 bedroom house with a pool, car, and didnt limit ourselves, and our most expensive month was about $1700. Kickboxing full time….. Awesome.

  • Nice Post! The opportunity to live anywhere in the world, is the reason I became an affiliate marketer. Thank you!

  • You took the easy route out by going to Thailand. You could have grinded and balled out in the UK (where people would respect you more) but you took the peasant route like Justin Dupre. Apparantly making $200 a day is satisfying enough for you.

    I have all the things you described: Gym, Pool, Spa. $6000/month rent. Get to my level.

    P.S. Thai girls aren’t even hot. I can see myself going there for a vacation, but living there? Fuck that.

  • Dude, I like how your logic works. Pay more for the same. That’s real smart.

    Why anybody would want to spend $6000/month RENTING when they could just buy a place outright and get a return on their investment is beyond me.

    Have fun wasting that money.

  • fuck all the haters. I live in China and lifestyle arbitrage is where its out. new york is a dirty rat’s asshole compared to shanghai and beijing.

  • Glad someone brought up lifestyle arbitrage (sorry I missed you in BKK btw). My plan of living there fell through and I had to move to Australia for a couple of years. Coming back to western world after living in Thailand and Malaysia is a culture shock in itself. $15.00 US for a shitty thai green curry when I could get 10 times fresher and more delicious meal for $1.00 US is insane. I’m paying $2k a month here and watching my money burn. The stresses of hitting the next big campaign are creeping back in and lowering my quality of life.

    One thing to note is that if you stay in a place that costs so much less for long you will acclimate to that lifestyle and it will always be harder to move back. I had a friend who lived in China for 4 years and litterally couldn’t stand being back in the States for more than 6 months before he had to book it.

    Good luck though I’m keen to see if your opinion changes over time.

  • Just as about anything you choose to take the time to tap out and pump online, Finch, this post kicks ass. But I HAD to respond to this one.

    Maybe you know a guy like this . . .

    I’ve got an older brother who is a true hick. His wife made him spend a month touring Europe about 15 years ago. When he landed back home in the “Good Ol’ USA” he literally knelt down and kissed the ground and hasn’t left his home-town since! He hated nearly every minute of his trip to Europe. But he also hates just about anything that doesn’t fit in a fairly narrow world view. (Essentially if it is different … it is wrong! lol!!)

    But the thing is . . . as least he made that trip and found out for himself! (Even if he had to be dragged, kicking a screaming.)

    In Sacramento, CA for 18 years I had a solid business that made GREAT money . . . and hated it. It was like a ball and chain that kept me trapped there. (A great income can be a huge “gilded cage”! hey, if you’re broke, celebrate; you’ve got nothing to lose!) After spending the month of September of ’97 traveling Japan, I returned home with a Holy Quest to find a way to dump my business and get paid to travel.

    Enter” Affilate Marketing

    I knew that the answer was on the Internet; that I could have a business anywhere in the World that I could plug into the Internet. (But how the fuck to get started???)

    Knowing me and my cushy situation, I was clear that if I didn’t burn my bridges AND boats (and the shoot the bridge engineers and boat-makers) I’d spend the rest of my life stuck where I was. So I unloaded my business and moved to Japan! (Also became a newlywed while I was at it.)

    At that point I had no choice: Fly or Die, as they say. Being completely committed — but also considerably retarded — it took me a good year and a half working 12 – 17 hours a day to figure out how to make a decent living online. And believe me, it got REALLY ugly for awhile there.

    Looking back …

    Totally worth it! There is little I would have changed. All my “mistakes” I learned a lot from. All the painful struggles I grew from. My wife hasn’t killed me in my sleep. It’s all good.

    What’s up next? In May we’re going to be traveling in Europe. (Maybe we’ll go visit your old neighborhood Finch!) And every day, I’ll be making more money while I’m traveling and having fun, than I’ll be spending. That is just taaasty, id’nit!

    Thanks Finch,

    PS If Finch wants to explore his sexuality with the lady-boys . . . who are we to judge. 😉 lol!! Face it, his girlfriend is hotter than the the hazy skanks that show up in the wet dreams of all you amoeba shaped dorks still living in your parent’s basements and calling yourself “affiliate marketers” and telling Finch he ain’t a “baller”. WTF??

  • @Tranque – It sounds like a lot of hard work paid off in the end, so congrats on making it all work. I hope you’re not living anywhere close to the most badly affected parts of Japan! That poor country has seen enough bad luck to last a lifetime in the last week.

  • I have kids so like you mentioned it is really not possible to move across the world. However, I am able to move and once I am making it enough to where I can survive with just my online endeavors I will be moving. Luckily, there are things like vacations and I can actually work when on them as well so that is when I will visit places across the world.

  • I moved to the Middle East just over a year ago – I prefer a dry climate – but apart from that difference, I totally agree with you. There’s no reason to stay in a huge, dirty, cold, expensive city when you can have such a better quality of life elsewhere. I have an amazing view of the Red Sea from my desk, I can take off to the beach anytime I want, I have a fantastic apartment for slightly less than I was paying for a small place 60 miles outside London. If this is “selling out”, bring it on! My total income doesn’t come from affiliate marketing yet, but it will do.

    @Jonathan, I have friends with kids who have done the same thing. Check out the Soul Travelers for a couple who travel non-stop with a young child 🙂

  • Salut Finch,

    So far I am enjoying reading your blog along with nickcakes. I do internet marketing on the side and it’s definitely interesting way to make money.

    I thought about moving to a poorer Asian country but the term “Lifestyle Arbitrage” is a misnomer. Definition of arbitrage involves having nearly no risk of losing. The premium you pay in western countries comes with certain perks such as the justice system, health care, emergency services and government infrastructure that adds to your personal well being.

    I sometimes fantasize about moving to Philippines because I mean the living cost is as cheap as Thailand. However, I don’t believe moving to a place of cheaper living costs would be optimal for me because there is always risks involved living in a country with a poorer economy.

  • Respect. Life is an adventure. And as a bonus, if you can save & invest much more now early in life, it’ll compound over the course of your life and pay off even more in the long run!

    I recently got back from a month in a half backpacking cheaply around costa rica and panama, doing web design. But web design doesn’t scale. It’s still 1:1 with effort put in. So lately I’ve been diving into IM. My definition of success is earning enough to live anywhere in the world via a means that lets you actually do it/move anywhere. So congrats fitch! You reached my definition of success. That’s my goal.

    My eyes have recently been opened to using CPC/CPV to convert to an offer instead of just creating sites and SEOing for them. Is this really the best way, using CPC/CPV leading to a landing page or even directly to an offer if it converts well?

  • Whatever way you need to justify the move… write it in a post.

    You’ve got some great marketing nuggets, so it does seem you’re a misfit in a world of squares, and high rent.

    Thailand: great place for cheap ass and garlic smelling oxygen.

    Excellent choice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Copyright © 2009-.