How Living in an Ant-Infested Apartment Changed My Life

Note: This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click on a link and purchase an item, we will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.

I left San Francisco on a one-way ticket to Bali in early 2017. And little did I know that living in a really shitty apartment would be one of the most transformative decisions of my life.

In San Francisco, I lived in a spectacular one-bedroom apartment in Pacific Heights that featured panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay.

In Bali, I lived in a room that featured mold everywhere, cockroaches, a frog that lived in the downstairs bathroom, and a flying ant colony that lived in my wall. It also had the worst mattress that I’ve ever slept on, and I consistently woke up with neck pain.

It was truly a terrible apartment.

Yet, despite all of this, I was so fucking happy living in this Bali apartment. I was drinking coconuts on the beach, eating incredible meals for $5, and I had a renewed sense of purpose and direction in life.

Gone were the days of being so stressed out that my Uber driver stopped to ask me if I was okay. Instead, I was surrounded by a tribe of people who had left their home societies in pursuit of a different way of living life.

One that focused on freedom and quality of living, not floor-to-ceiling windows and buying nicer cars.

Loving life while living in a shit-hole apartment permanently broke my association between happiness and things. It taught me that where I’m living, who I’m with, and what I’m doing are exponentially more important than how nice my apartment is.

I’m forever grateful to the flying ant colony that lived in my room. Because if it wasn’t for them, I might still be on the treadmill of trying to make more money to acquire nicer things.

I've been building digital businesses, wandering the world, and writing about optimizing life for freedom since early 2017. My mission is to lower the barrier for people who want to live with more freedom: whether that be as an entrepreneur, a digital nomad, an early retiree, or just as someone who wants to live a happiness-driven life.