33 Months of Location Independence – A Personal Update

Next February will mark three years since we sold our business and left Japan. It seems like such a long time since we first made the one year plan to change countries and careers back in 2009. Here is an update on what is happening in our lives and some of the lessons learned over the past few years.

Location Independent 33 Months

Travel Plans

Today, we’ll be headed back to Asia for the winter. We will spend most of our time in Chiang Mai again, but also have some shorter trips planned to Singapore, Malaysia, Laos and possibly some other nearby countries. This will probably be our last trip to Asia for a while, as we haven’t been to Europe for a couple of years and we still haven’t made it South of Mexico.

New JetSetCitizen.com Website

This website has finally gotten a redesign. You’ll notice (I hope) that the site is simplified to make it easier to navigate and find past content. It is not 100% finished yet, but I wanted to get it up before I leave. I’ve lost the count of the Twitter shares, but everything else seems to have went well in the migration.

I’ve been blogging for four years now and for better or worse, this website has become my identity. I’m often introduced as JetSetCitizen and it is also how I explain myself to others.

Writing this blog has led to many new friendships and connections, online and in person. It was also instrumental in accomplishing my goal of changing careers and leaving Japan. If it weren’t for that public declaration back in 2009, my wife and I might still be in Japan wishing we were doing something different.

Thank you to everyone who filled out my questionnaire a few months back. It seems like almost everyone is interested in finding ways to earn money to fund their dream lifestyle. For that reason, making money online will become more of a focus on this site, but I hope to present an objective look at different income opportunities. From my own experiences and all the people I’ve interviewed over the years, earning an online income is definitely possible, but it’s not quick or easy.

Another direction I’m going to subtly push on this site is social good. Money and new possessions are nice, up to a certain point, but after that, they don’t bring any lasting fulfillment or meaning. In fact, my excessive consumerism actually got in the way of doing what I most wanted with my life.  To that end, I will be spending more time volunteering and trying to have a positive impact on the lives of others. I will start to do more social good animations and posts in the future.

Location Independence

My wife and I regularly talk about settling down somewhere and getting another home base somewhere in the world. We miss having our own personal space, yet at the same time we love the freedom and independence of not being tied to a physical location. The biggest problem we face is that there is no single location where we want to settle down.

My home city of Calgary is booming with the strong oil industry, an exploding start up scene and countless non-profit and social good initiatives. It’s a very exciting city to be, yet I would hate to make this the ONLY city I live in.

There are benefits to settling down though. It is great to have regular access to a fitness club. I love libraries with English books. It would be nice to be able to play music with other people on a regular basis. I would like to get more involved in the local community through meetups, volunteering or sports. I also miss the opportunity to build longer lasting friendships.

At the same time, I love the novelty of going to a new location. A whole new world always awaits at the end of every plane ride. Our location independent lifestyle is fantastic, yet I know how environmentally polluting air travel can be. We have some difficult decisions to make in the future. I’m still too selfish to give up travel completely, but we will definitely be traveling slower. Settling down in a single location might become necessary at some point, but I’m not ready for it yet.

Minimalism

I love having a minimum of possessions. It’s so liberating not to always be shopping for that new thing. It has freed up so much time in my life. Yet, I do like and want new stuff.

One of my biggest fears of settling down is going back into consumer mode. I don’t think people realize just how much of their lives are dictated by materialism. Think about it for a moment. How much of your life is spent buying, evaluating, maintaining and cleaning possessions? If you are not shopping or caring for possessions, it’s very likely that you’re either working to pay for those possession or you’re watching TV, where you’re made to feel inadequate for not owning the most recent fad. It’s a sad fact that most of us are consumers, not citizens. By the way, everyone I have this conversation with, thinks they do not consume excessively. It’s always a problem that others have.

What the future holds

The only real plan we have now is to be in Asia for the next 5 months. I love my life now. It provides time for all the things I love to do, so I’m not in a rush to make drastic changes. I’ve been seriously considering working in the non-profit sector, although that would require settling down in a permanent location. I’m still not ready for that yet, although my wife probably is. My wife and I keep discussing alternate future plans, but we haven’t come to any conclusion yet. There is not a day goes by where we are not thankful for how lucky we are to have this lifestyle. These are amazing times.

Do you think it is hypocritical to want to do good in the world, yet continue to lead an environmentally destructive travel lifestyle?

What do you think of the new site? Am I missing anything?

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

28 Responses to 33 Months of Location Independence – A Personal Update

  1. Dan says:

    Congrats John I’ve been following and enjoying your site since near the very beginning… I’m loving the new design. I still wish I didn’t have to fill out a captcha to comment! I suck at those things… anyway, looks like we’ll finally have an opportunity to meet in the next 5 months since I really loved CM and don’t need too many excuses to swing back through for a visit.

    • John says:

      Thanks Dan!
      It’s great to hear from a rock star in this niche. 🙂
      We’ll be in CM and I’m bringing a guitar this time around as well.

  2. James Clark says:

    Congrats on the the 3 years! The new site design looks great as well. I remember reading your declaration to quit your job and I can’t believe that much time has passed.

    Hopefully we cross paths in Asia again this season.

  3. Candice says:

    Your new website looks great. Looking forward to reading about your upcoming adventures in Asia!

  4. Man, time does fly doesn’t it? I’ve had my blog for over 3 years now and it has helped me retire. I wrote a book about how to profitably quit your job with a nice severance and plan on giving this online thing a go at least until Spring 2013.

    Stop by SF one day!

    • John says:

      Greetings Sam,

      Time does fly. That is a great reminder at how short life is. The last few years have been fun and personally rewarding but I haven’t really accomplished anything important. Maybe it’s time to take some massive action towards something of importance.

  5. Wow – Great minds think alike! After 6 years of location independence, I’ve come to crave all the same elements and benefits of having a home base, and yet I’ve wrestled with the consumerism-aspect of “settling down” (living in one place is almost always more expensive than full-time travel), and how to integrate a new lifestyle with a business/identity built on full-time travel.
    But I have made the shift, redesigned & refocused my site, and in fact, with my new (foreign) home base in the Caribbean, I am traveling with new vigour – and more energy to see the world. They’re just return tickets instead of one-way tickets!

    Here’s my post (that’s eerily similar to yours):
    http://www.theprofessionalhobo.com/2012/10/time-for-a-change-the-professional-hobo-switches-gears/

    • John says:

      Hi Nora,

      Thanks for the comment and G+ share.

      I love the opportunity to live in foreign countries to really experience the culture. Choosing one destination to settle down in still seems like a death sentence to me. 🙂

  6. Shayna says:

    “Another direction I’m going to subtly push on this site is social good. Money and new possessions are nice, up to a certain point, but after that, they don’t bring any lasting fulfillment or meaning.”

    I love this – you’re one of the first location-independent / lifestyle design bloggers I’ve seen even touch on this issue.

    My husband and I are just at the beginning of our location-independent journey (read: still building our online business) but it’s definitely one of our priorities to reinvest our success – whether through giving our money, time, or both – in others who have not yet had the same opportunities.

    BTW, the site’s new look is fantastic!

  7. Marcelo Chinellato says:

    John,

    It’s great reading your update. Ever since we met I have been following your blog and you have been a great inspiration for me to keep on track on the plans I have for the (near) future!
    I like the new design. Is looking great!

    By the way I dont think you are being hypocritical about your choices. You have already been doing a lot by reducing your possessions and now trying to give back something to society with your initiatives. It’s nearly impossible to have a life with no or little impact, but some people, like yourself, are concious about it and want to change it. And since you are just starting your new “giving back” journey, who knows? Maybe you are off to create something far bigger than you and that will substantially offset any negative environmental impact you believe you may be causing.
    I am pretty sure bigger things are still to come!

    Still waiting for your visit to Europe!

    Cheers,

    Marcelo

    • John says:

      Greetings Marcelo,

      Thanks for the comment and words of inspiration. I agree that it is impossible to have zero impact, but I think that most of us in the west are consuming far beyond our fair share. I hope that I can achieve more with my actions.

      We should make it back to Europe in 2013. Hope to see you soon!

  8. Wow congrats on 3 years! This is my first time to your blog…and it won’t be my last! Sounds like you guys have been having an incredible time! We have just started our location independent life this year and we are loving it!
    Best of luck to you both!
    Steph

  9. Tal Gur says:

    i’ts amazing how a 12 months becomes 33. I had the same experience – One year of travel became 3+ years 🙂

    I love that you’re going to subtly push on the topic of doing social good.

    Keep the good work my friend!

  10. Love the redesign, John! Looking good on the iPad 🙂

    Godspeed on your travels.

    -Rich

  11. Wietske says:

    Amazing goal to reach! And for sure there is too many people who let possesions lead their daily life.
    Enjoy Asia and say hi to Moloko for me.
    Xx Wietske

  12. TravelingFirefighter@yahoo.com says:

    Hi John,

    After 20 years as a Firefighter, I am retiring in about 6 weeks on Jan. 4th. On Jan. 9th I arrive in Bangkok (ticket already purchased)for the very first time! I will be spending several weeks in Chiangmai at the end of Jan. and into Feb. I hope to run into you while there.

    Todd

  13. Audrey says:

    Wow, it feels like just over a year ago that you left Japan on this adventure. Hard to believe it’s been 33 months already. I’m glad that we had a chance to meet you along the way at WDS.

    In the last year we’ve felt the need for a bit more stability and roots so we recently rented a flat in Berlin to use as a base for other travels. Our goal is to rent it out (e.g., AirBnB) when we’re not here, so as to still give us that independence and flexibility. We’ll see how it all works out…

    • John says:

      Thanks Audrey,

      It was great to meet you both at WDS. Hopefully, we’ll have more time to chat somewhere in the future.

      A permanent flat sounds like a great idea. I’m sure you won’t have much trouble renting it out. We are planning on going back to Europe next year, so please keep me posted on when it’s available.

  14. Hey John,

    To bad we didn’t get to meet up one more time in Calgary before you left but Im sure, we’ll end up meeting again somewhere in this crazy world.

    I feel you on many of the aspects. I too like the idea of having a home base. Although it would be much more difficult, one could always try to make enough money to have a home base (like Calgary) and then just return for a certain time every year or so. One could even own a place but that would be expensive, though possible if the business made enough. In my experience, traveling is about $1500 per month but thats including activities like scuba diving.

    Anyways, in the end its all the same outcome so just enjoy what you enjoy at this time while thinking about the environment and helping others and it will be great.

    Look forward to meeting again.

    Take care

    Matt

    • John says:

      Hey Matt,

      The problem with setting up a permanent homebase is that it would get too easy to stay there most of the year. Also, there would be the maintenance and shopping that seems to never end. If I were to set up a homebase again, it would have to be in a place I wanted to spend a LOT of time in. I don’t know where that is.

      We should schedule a Skype call soon.

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