Two months have now passed since my wife and I committed to our one year plan of leaving Japan and living in a new country. We are still ten months away from making this latest major lifestyle change but our excitement for future opportunities seems to grow day by day.
Not much has materially changed in the last month, except for my way of thinking. I have changed countries once, and know how liberating and amazing the experience can be, so it is not like this is entirely new to me. But it is difficult, in the same way it is difficult for others making drastic changes in their lives. Uncertainty is damn scary. And the older you get, the harder it gets because risks have much greater consequences.
It is hard to give up a good income, and leave your own house and material possessions. When you are just out of university, you have nothing to lose so it is easy to backpack around the world and put off your career ambitions for a year or two. But what happens when you start getting the lifestyle you wanted? What do you do after you have the money to travel, can buy anything you want and do anything you want, but are still unfilled? There is far more to life than the things you own and the things you can buy.
This past month has helped me realize that there is little reason to have unnecessary attachment to my “things.” We can always buy a new leather sofa, espresso machine, computer monitor or anything else my wife and I may want. I would love to get rid of my car just because I know it makes it too easy to not cycle or walk as evidenced by my physical deterioration. I still want my guitars, but the rest of my possessions are just replaceable things. I believe I have grown somewhat in this respect.
House in Japan
We would love to keep our house in Japan, just so that we can have a place where we can return to regularly. I have said it before, but it is worth saying again, Japan offers the best quality of food and is the safest country in the world. No other country in the world compares to the quality of fresh, seasonal food Japan has to offer. If you want to live longer, take up a traditional Japanese lifestyle.
There is a small chance that we can share our house with another couple who will take over our English school. Otherwise, we will still have to decide between renting out our house or keeping it vacant for a majority of the year while we are in other countries. Renting the house out will be good for our bank balance but it will be difficult to return to Japan for extended periods because we will not have a place to stay. Keeping the house here will mean that we will be spending more time in Japan and will have to restate my claims that we will be “living in a new country.” I made a commitment that I am advertising to the world and I don’t want to break it.
Sell Our Business or Not?
This really is the most important decision we have to make and the most difficult. We can hire a teacher and manager to run our English school in Japan, but the remaining profits will be marginal and it will still require administrative work and entail risk and liabilities of trying to run a real world business remotely. The difficult part is that it is a school for children. It is not really a business and I don’t want to look at education just in the profit or loss sense. Keeping it self-running will allow us to return to Japan with minimal expenses and even work and earn a decent salary while here. On the other hand, it would be great to free ourselves completely from the obligations of running a school so that we can focus on future opportunities. We have a teacher and manager seriously interested in working for us, so this decision has to be made soon. We are still completely undecided on this issue.
In the last month I have connected with many people who have been able to make long-term travel work. Perpetual travel is no longer a dream, it is a real possibility made all the more probable by the number of people I found doing it. I know we can survive from a variety of means that I will make clearer in future posts. People like Nomad4Ever, HoboTraveler, and TheProfessionalHobo are proof that perpetual travel is possible if you keep your costs low enough.
Don’t Make Money Blogging
While it is obviously not impossible to make money blogging, I am quite certain that I do not want to pursue that route. The time, effort and traffic required to start making just a pittance are not worth the investment in my mind. WorkingNomad said he only made $550 over a 4 year period. I have to agree with Chris Guillebeau when he says, “Adsense ads suck.” Anything easy to do is easy to copy and there is no sustainable business model in something that is easy to copy. I am going to focus my efforts on businesses that are harder to start, and therefore more defensible.
There are people making money blogging and writing ebooks, so I don’t want to discourage anyone. NomadicMatt says he makes more than $3000 per month from his travel websites and NerdyNomad says she was making more than $1000 per month back in 2007. Of course, there is the world famous Chris Guillebeau who estimates that he will make $48,50o in 2009. You can make money if you are willing to put in the work. However, my recommendation would be to focus your efforts on something that you truly have some advantage in.
How to Become an Overnight Success
I am now starting to see the results of what all respectable internet marketers have been saying all along; the key to success is still good old-fashioned hard work. I still have a lot more to learn and do, but it is encouraging to see steady increases in traffic. Here is some advice you have surely heard before:
1. Post comments on many other blogs.
2. Write guest articles for other blogs.
3. Post on your own blog several times per week.
4. Write high quality and well researched posts.
5. Connect with people on social media sites.
6. Promote and support your readers and they will reciprocate.
7. Twitter is amazing! I know, it may seem like a waste of time at first but it really is a great way to connect with people.
Ten more months to reset our lives. I am no longer afraid of giving up my current income and way of life, my wife is a little hesitant but she is up to the challenge. We are excited to have the opportunity to do bigger and more challenging things. The absolute worse situation is that we lose our life savings and have to get jobs or start a more traditional business to earn enough to live again. At least we will have several years of doing the things we want, where we want. Even total failure will be worth the experiences we will have over the next few years.
Please give your advice, suggestions or comments below!
My wife and I have a one year plan to move to a new country and find new careers, if you are interested in hearing more about our progress, please subscribe to my RSS feed and follow me on Twitter.