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A corporate lawyer leaves Singapore and moves to Bali for a creative, slower & happier life



JEAN VORONKOVA
Surf Teacher & Vlogger
Bali, Indonesia


I'm excited to invite you to my conversation with Jean Voronkova. Jean was born and raised in Singapore, but now lives with her husband Vitaly in Bali, Indonesia. Together, they have built passive income streams and investments to be able to live a slow, simple and fulfilling life in Bali. They have intentionally opted out of the workaholic 9-5 culture, and now prioritize joy and peace over the golden handcuffs of a corporate paycheck. By design, they have given themselves ample time to be creative and surf. One of their creative pursuits is running a popular Youtube channel, where Jean shares practical advice for others who dream of leaving the rat race behind.


Jean's day-to-day now could not look more different than her previous life in Singapore. Looking back at her journey, she still can't believe she was able to move away from the previous life path she was on and build a new chapter on her own terms. It took a lot of courage and inner growth for Jean to get to where she is today.


Jean grew up in a traditional Singaporean family, and had conservative money and lifestyle values drilled into her from an early age. She was expected to either become a lawyer or doctor, with no wiggle room to explore another path. When she was a teenager, she did a lot of theater acting and performance work. She was a TV host, commercial actor, and even performed in a few soap operas. She wanted to go into theater studies when it came time for college, but her parents wouldn’t allow it. Eventually, Jean acquiesced and went to law school, knowing that it would make her parents happy.


After law school, she worked as a corporate lawyer in both Singapore and Dubai. At that point, it felt easy to submit to convention. By all standards she was a success, living comfortably with ample means to shop, eat out, and travel. Yet, deep down, she was desperately unhappy, but rarely had time to ponder the greater questions of life. She worked 80+ hours a week and a full day off was a rarity.



A couple of years in, she picked up surfing as a hobby and completely fell in love with the sport. The community she found surfing made her rethink what she valued and how she was living her life. Her surf friends didn't care what labels she were wearing or what new restaurant she just ate at - they simply wanted to laugh, connect and spend time outside. The act of surfing was a meditation, allowing her ample time and space in her body to reflect on what truly held importance and meaning in her life. Jean realized she wanted to have more time to do the things that she loved - she didn't want to live out her years trapped in a cubicle.


She decided to quit her corporate job right before the milestone of her 30th birthday. She knew it would be much harder to leave the longer she stayed, and the higher the paychecks became. She told her family she was taking a brief sabbatical and moved to Vietnam to teach surfing. It was there that she first met her partner, Vitaly. Together, they built a successful surf school and eventually decided to plan and save to move to Bali full time.



Jean and Vitaly had been to Bali a few times on holiday, and instantly felt a deep connection to the people, landscape and way of life. Since moving to Bali, Jean's Youtube channel has grown immensely. She began sharing her story online of how she quit her corporate career and a lot of people in similar situations began to reach out to her. She realized just how many people are desperately unhappy in their pursuit of conventional success, but are afraid to leave the financial safety net of a high-paying job. Jean admits that if the cultural conditioning she faced wasn't so difficult to break through, she would have left a lot sooner.


In the traditional Singaporean sense, Jean says she would be considered poor. But she really doesn't feel that way. Her life is rich in love, time, and joyful pursuits. She and her husband surf nearly every day, and have ample time to do the things they love including painting, reading, playing music and spending time with friends.



In our conversation we speak about Jean's journey from corporate law to surfing, how she built passive income, the trap of workaholism, breaking away from rigid cultural beliefs, spirituality, and so much more. Jean opens up about the pushback she faced from her family and friends after leaving her career, and how difficult it was to feel estranged from her loved ones. Thankfully, after some time, her family has come to accept her new life path after seeing how much happier she is now.


She offers so much deep wisdom, thoughtful and practical advice, and is really vulnerable about the process she went through working through her fears to now live an intentional life on her own terms.


This is a story about following your inner voice, bravery, and the profound joy of living with less. I hope you enjoy.


LINKS
Jean's Youtube Channel
Instagram