About Us

Rob and DianeOur Story

I’m Rob. My wife is Diane. Collectively, we’re Rodi.

Way back in 2013, my employer of five years “eliminated my position” due to budget cuts. Obtaining another job during middle age is challenging and frustrating. Already planning for early retirement anyway, we decided to push it up a few years.

Understanding the financial challenges, we concluded that leaving the United States might be both practical and exciting so we chose Malaysia as a starting point. Before moving to Asia, we needed to endure a long 18 month period of semi-retirement for only one of us thanks to an age requirement for the Malaysian residency visa. After two years of living in Penang, we decided there’s nothing worth staying there for and began to dislike our boring life in a dilapidated town disguised as a beach resort. Always loving Thailand, we moved to Chiang Mai in July, 2017 and began living Chapter Two,

Our blog is about becoming overseas expats. While I love sharing our experiences, I’ve found there’s not an awful lot of blogs out there about Malaysia. Given that we moved, I’ve changed the focus of the blog but somehow I keep getting questions about Malaysia so I need to reiterate that we have no affiliation or vested interest with our Malaysian visa agent and our opinion of life in Malaysia is relatively negative. As such, we’re not responding to questions about Penang anymore. We’ve moved on from a situation that wasn’t right for us and there’s plenty of chronological posts leading up to our decision if you’re curious why we didn’t like it.

A Brief Background

Diane is a Canadian citizen and Registered Nurse and I’m a Brooklyn Boy who worked in the financial services industry for over 30 years. We met in 1996 (before the internet was commonplace) through an antiquated forum known back then as a “mailing list” . Marrying in 2000, we left San Francisco in 2001 for Calgary, Alberta, where we bought our first house and then sold it six years later. Returning back to America in 2007, we tried San Diego but hated it. From 2007 through our move to Asia in 2015, Walnut Creek, California was “home”.

thailand marketThe Original Plan

Since we’re not entrepreneurs who sold a company nor are we independently wealthy, our lifestyle while still working was financially prudent; we lived below our means, invested diligently, and prepaid the mortgage regularly. We also took several annual “research” vacations  to discover an early retirement  destination overseas that affords a similar lifestyle, a warm climate and low-cost of living.

After stops in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Thailand, Singapore, Borneo, Mexico and Aruba, we decided on Penang, Malaysia . Despite thinking Penang isn’t a good place for retired and active middle-aged North Americans, the fact remains that Malaysia has Southeast Asia’s best visa program called MM2H (Malaysia My Second Home). Noting that the primary applicant needs to be 50 years old, we’d planned on working a few more years but unfortunately, the “new economy” had other had other plans for me and I found myself unemployed effective December 31st,  2013.  Job hunting sucks so we opted for something better than commuting and applied for the retirement visa in 2015 as soon as I turned 50.

The Leap of Faith

retirement bannerCapitalizing on a hot market, we  sold our suburban Bay Area house and all our stuff in the spring of 2015. I was in charge of all the planning while Diane continued to work right up until we left. Moving to Malaysia proved to be easier than we thought and we landed a two-year lease in a condo overlooking the sea less than two weeks after arriving. We learned almost everything we knew about Penang on a forum devoted solely to the MM2H Visa, social media and one meeting with our new landlord. Living on a $40,000 USD budget for two years, we used Penang as a base and visited Thailand (twice), Australia, Myanamar, Bali and Cambodia as well as returning to Canada for the a long (and cold) four week Christmas break.

hockeyAfter more than two years, we never regret leaving a nation ignorant enough to elect a a pathological immature lying lunatic and will never step foot in a nation taken over by racists and bleeding with intolerance. Financially speaking, we’ll never know if it was the right decision until later in life. And on terms of what we lost, one of the things we miss most is hockey. We’re half Canadian and there’s no such thing as ice in the tropics. It’s HOT. But blogging beats complaining about work every Monday morning. And thanks to modern technology, we avoid paying for cable, download all our favorite shows and stream all the live hockey we want from 11 time zones over breakfast. Cheers.

Read how we met online without eHarmony, J-Date or Match.com here

31 thoughts on “About Us

  1. mariawanders

    This really explains how you guys are experimental expats. I do hope the Gov’t rules in your favor so you can enjoy your retirement in Malaysia. If not, you may keep on experimenting with new lands. You guys are inspring.

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  2. Isabel Leong

    Be sure to visit Singapore, my hometown, when you’ve settled down! It’s a really different culture compared to the rest of SE Asia and I’m sure you’ll like it! 🙂

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  3. colibrist

    Hi,
    Thanks for visiting my blog! I’m happy to hear that you are following your dreams 🙂
    I’m currently in Malaysia and liked it a lot, people are nice and friendly, it’s cheap and there is very good food. By the way, I saw a small ice skating place inside a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, called Sunway Pyramid. I agree it’s not the same as ice hockey but there’s some ice 😉
    Wish you all the best for your new life!

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  4. clara@expatpartnersurvival.com

    Hi – this looks very exciting! I will be following your blog to find out where you end up. One hint from someone who has spent many years as an expat: read up on culture shock. You may well go through a honeymoon period where everything is amazing and wonderful and you’re in love with your new life. But that will almost certainly be followed by a slump where you start to hate everything and everyone around you. Things will get better but while you are in that slump it may not seem like they will. Malaysia (or Thailand!) is a great country though. Lovely people too. Good luck!

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  5. tonyasmithauthor

    Thanks so much for stopping by my site and for visiting. Like you, I am a hockey fan. I just moved from Detroit and miss seeing our Detroit Red Wings during hockey season. I really admire you both for stepping out on your new venture like you have. I think you made the right choice to do what you really want to do. I will be following and am glad to have met some new friends here. GOD bless you !

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  6. Moon

    Hi Rodi, your story is interesting and inspiring too. It’s good to know that you care so much about animals and willing to volunteer to save endangered species in Southeast Asia. I wish you all the best in your endeavour.

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    1. rodi (Rob and Diane) Post author

      Hi Moon
      Thanks so much for the comment and kind words. Animals need our help as much as other humans, maybe more and they never talk back; lol
      One of the best parts of the blog so far has been meeting so many people in other countries with different life stories (like yours)
      Happy Holidays !!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  7. trablog

    Wow.. what an interesting story!! You know the saying ‘everything happens for a reason’. So the early retirement has to happen a little earlier 😀 I am glad that you are enjoying your new life. It is good to meet you. Let me go through your travel memories 🙂

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    1. rodi (Rob and Diane) Post author

      Hi
      Thanks for the kind words and thanks for all the likes on my travel memories. I’m off to Canada on Saturday and already pre scheduled some posts so I can spend time with family so I have all day to read yours !!
      Great to meet you too and I look forward to sharing

      Liked by 1 person

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    1. rodi (Rob and Diane) Post author

      Hi and thanks very much for the heartfelt comment.Ironically, I always feel our lives are and have been very mundane and boring. For example, I just finished reading your “about” page and I’m always blown away by so many fellow bloggers that have lived in so many places, done more than I’ll be able to for the rest of my life and just live life with a different attitude than the what we grew up with. Feeling like Diane and I are the only two idiots in the world that subscribe to the notion of one degree, one career and a minimum of 30 years of “non-online income” work in the same industry, I’m always impressed and keep learning more every day. But we do subscribe to the notion of staying healthy and feeling financially secure enough at a young age to pursue whatever we want for what we hope is a longer retirement than our working careers. Thanks for following !! I do have good stories from the experiences we’ve had and people seem to enjoy my writing so I figure it only gets better from here

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      1. Turquoise Compass

        Wow, thank you for taking the time to a) stop by my blog, b) read my about page, and 3) write me a lengthy heartfelt message. I appreciate the time you took to correspond with me. It’s great to meet you! I love connecting with other bloggers and of course travelers.

        Well, your lives are no longer boring or mundane as you say, and I am sure they probably were not to begin with. You’re on the journey of a lifetime. We are always so hard on ourselves.

        I’m glad you found some interesting things in my about page. My life has been quite the roller coaster ride. I’m now transitioning back into the working world, after traveling full time for 14 months. It’s funny how life works. I never know what’s going to happen next, nor do I know where my life will take me after this current year of teaching. Like you, I too keep learning new things every day and also believe that it only gets better from here. You are never too young to dream a new dream.

        I look forward to your stories!

        Jessica

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  8. Constance - Foreign Sanctuary

    Hi Rob and Diane,

    Thanks for visiting my blog! I really appreciate your kind words!

    First of all, September 23rd must be a lucky day because my husband and I had our Canadian church wedding and reception on the same date (same date, different year though and I was lucky enough to get married to the same man twice on two different continents 🙂 ). Second, it must be a very exciting time for both of you. Making the decision to move abroad can be stressful but it is also exciting as well. I moved to Taiwan a couple of weeks after I graduated from university and what was intended to be a couple of years of teaching and traveling abroad has turned into a 15 years abroad and counting. I think you are lucky because there is a lot more information and resources available than there was in 1999. If you want to contact other expats, then I suggest you check out the expat sites which contain a list of blogs and they organize them by country and city.

    Hope you are having a great weekend!! If I can be of any help, let me know!

    Constance

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    1. rodi (Rob and Diane) Post author

      Hi Constance

      Yes I think 9/23 is a great date also. Diane and I both thought about teaching overseas before we met but you’re correct; it was a bigger challenge back in the old days (no internet; lol). We’ve not given a lot of thought to travelling in Thailand but I’m not sure why. Diane is Chinese and Taiwan is part of China (kind of) so maybe we’ll get there some day. It sounds like you will be there awhile so we’ll bring the Coffee Crisps and Ketchup potato chips or maybe some turkey for Canadian Thanksgiving

      I have been writing comments on many expat blogs on all the sites for expats but some of them seem to go dormant once they’re on the sites. I’m also trying to get listed as even though we’re still in transition but have only been accepted on one so far.

      Thanks so much fro following; as an honorary Canadian married to a real one, it’s awesome having friends far away

      Rob and Diane

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    1. rodi (Rob and Diane) Post author

      Thanks for the encouragement although I’ve just received words that the Malaysian government has tightened up the rules again and continues to demand income verification from an MM2H applicant’s bank in the form of a letter that will most certainly be ignored and possibly even flagged as suspicious by any American bank employee. So we may wind up in Thailand.

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    1. rodi (Rob and Diane) Post author

      Hi guys
      Thanks so much for the comment and for following. Ecuador posts are coming with all the stories and pictures. Although not our cup of tea for an expat destination, Cuenca is constantly voted as one of the top expat destinations in the world. The Galapagos Islands are spectacular experience that can’t be described in words. Everyone needs to visit there once !!

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    1. rodi (Rob and Diane) Post author

      Hi
      As a shameless newbie seeking all forms of praise and a following of three digits (maybe even……four digits?), I feel GREAT about being nominated for anything. As soon as I figure out what I’mm supposed to do, consider me nominated – lol –
      Thanks !!!

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