We are coming upon two years since we sold our business, house and got rid of almost all our possessions. Do we have any regrets or did we make any huge mistakes? You will have to read to find out.
We are in Thailand
At the beginning of January we have come back to Asia for a few months. We started off in Japan and are now in Thailand. We will be here for a couple of months before going to Australia and then Japan again. I need to get some dental work done, and Thailand is a great, inexpensive country for dentists.
We have been based out of my home city of Calgary, on and off for the last couple of years. We stay in Calgary because we have family there and an inexpensive place to stay.
As much as we love being abroad, we don’t like to travel so much. Constantly moving to new locations take a lot of time and effort. By being based in Calgary, we have been able to forge some great new friendships, organize a conference and monthly meet-up groups, volunteer, go to the gym regularly, meet old friends, enjoy familiar cafes, cycle a lot and do many more activities that demand some stability.
At the same time, I was born and raised in Calgary, so I am keen to live in and experience other cities around the world. Calgary is convenient for us, but I don’t think we will ever put down roots there.
How We Have Become Rich
Our old business in Japan provided us a great standard of living. We had enough money to do or buy anything we wanted with almost three months of vacation time per year. The only problem was that it was no longer challenging us. Everything became so routine that we were mentally stagnating.
We did what most consumers do, we bought new and expensive things to bring excitement to our lives. However, the novelty of anything you can buy soon fades. Expensive restaurants, travel, alcohol, furniture and electronics might make you feel better about yourself temporarily, but they only mask the root cause of an unfulfilled life.
We now live on less than 20% of the monthly expenses of our old lifestyle, however we feel much, much richer. If you don’t own a big house, you don’t need to buy furniture, do yard maintenance, pay expensive mortgages and bills.
If you don’t own cars, you don’t need to pay for insurance, gas, parking, maintenance, repairs and monthly payments. I calculated the total monthly costs of the last car we owned in Japan to be close to $800 per month, after factoring in the purchase and final selling price. It is not only the cost, cycling and walking everywhere helps us to stay in shape and enjoy the commute much more. We won’t own a car again anytime in the near future.
Not spending much money is obviously good for the bank balance, but the real value has been the freed up mental energy. When you are not thinking about buying things, maintaining things, cleaning things, moving things and protecting things, you have a lot more mental space for friends, hobbies, personal projects and career goals.
How we Earn Income
In Calgary, I did some part-time freelance marketing work that paid well and more than covered our living expenses last year. However, there are not many businesses that I truly believe in. Life is too short to work for uninspiring companies.
We still don’t have a decent online business, but I haven’t really been trying to monetize the work I have been doing. We have enough savings to fund our simple lifestyle for the foreseeable future, so we are not in a huge rush to find a stable income.
I am still searching for something meaningful to contribute to the world. Selling expensive ebooks, affiliate programs, membership sites, or consumer goods just doesn’t cut it for me. I am very interested in the non-profit sector but I haven’t figured out how to best contribute.
I am making a few hundred dollars per month on some of my websites through Adsense and selling advertisements. I have only recently started actively developing some old websites I have been sitting on thanks to the advice of James Clark of NomadicNotes.com. This site is a great vehicle to connect with and meet other like minded people around the world, so I don’t want to cheapen those relationships by hawking expensive ebooks and affiliate programs.
My teaching English abroad website has been getting some good traffic so that will be our immediate focus.
Do We Have Regrets?
We definitely made some mistakes getting to this point, but I can’t say we have any major regrets. Buying a house in Japan was foolish. If we didn’t buy that house, we would easily have another $100,000 or more in the bank now. I don’t have a very good track record in the stock market either. It is much better to invest in my own business projects. Live and learn I guess.
Other than that, giving up everything to live life on our own terms has been fantastic. We have learned just how little money and possessions we need to have a quality life. All the previous stresses of our past life are completely gone. It has been so liberating.
I haven’t focused very well on all the projects I have been working on, but that is changing. I hate spending more than I am earning, and that will need to end soon. It shouldn’t be too hard to get to a break even level because our expenses are relatively low. I will let you know how everything is going in the near future.