Yeah, I can absolutely buy this argument. For the past 2 years I lived in Chiang Mai and I took it easy. For 20 years of my life I wrote software for other people and I decided it was time to work of things I enjoyed - my own projects, blogging and open source contributions.
Because the cost of living is so low here I never really pushed myself. Whenever I needed money I would pick up a paying project for a few months, saved up a bit of money again and then went right back to working on my own stuff.
So basically I earned according to my what I needed for expenses. Now that I am thinking of moving on to more expensive places, I am starting to take things more seriously. I can absolutely sense a change in attitude as I am focused more on maximising earning potential.