My One Year Plan to Find a New Country and Career – Mission Accomplished!

We are Leaving Japan!

We are Leaving Japan!

It has been a few months since I have written about my progress of achieving my one year goal of leaving Japan. I didn’t have much to report so I spared you the boring details, however, now my goal is much, much closer.

Step One – Mission Accomplished!

The biggest challenge my wife and I had in order to begin our new nomadic lives was to sell our business in Japan. We just received the money for the sale of our English school so now the hard work is finished. That was the only major obstacle holding us back and now that it is complete there are only small details and preparation left ahead of us.

We have to stick around and train the new owners and teacher, but we will be free from all obligations a couple of months ahead of schedule. We are leaving!

Japan is a fantastic country, so don’t get me wrong. We definitely plan to return regularly. However, running the same business for a decade was growing tiresome and we are definitely ready for a change.

Step Two – Rent Out Our House

The next step is to decide whether or not to rent out our house or to keep it as a home base. This is still uncertain although we are about 90% leaning towards renting it out. It would be great to have a place to keep our things and have somewhere that is completely ours. At the same time, it is a little foolish paying for a house when we are not going to be here for most of the year.

Also, keeping the house would definitely encourage us to spend more time at home which defeats the purpose of getting rid of our business in the first place. This is definitely not our dream house so we don’t have any special attachments. It makes much more sense to rent it out and earn a little income from it, rather than keeping an expense. Okay, I am 95% certain now that we are going to rent it out.

Step Three – Get Rid of the Car

The next project is selling our car. We have a great vehicle with very low miles but owning a car has made us lazy. It is too easy to drive rather than cycle or walk. I love the convenience of a car, but I really miss cycling everywhere like I used to in my university days. Hopefully, we won’t have a need for a car for a long, long time. I haven’t started to sell it yet, so I am not sure how long it will take.

Step Four – No More Stuff

After that, there are only minor details to take care of. We will have to store, sell or give away all of our stuff. Some things like my guitars and bicycle, I will never part with so they will have to be kept somewhere. The rest are just possessions that can be disposed of. My wife and I have a fairly minimal existence but buying a house has led to a lot of lifestyle inflation. The more space you have the more you try to fill it. I am not looking forward to cleaning out our house.

Step Five – Decide Where to Go

We still haven’t decided about where we are going to go first. Maybe Thailand, that seems to be the headquarters of many of my blogging colleagues. Thailand is a good stop over on the way to Australia, however I am not a big fan of Bangkok; It is just too crowded and polluted. We also plan to visit Canada soon because of a sick relative and to spend some time with my 90 year old grandmother. We will wait until early January to decide.

The Future

We have managed to save up a decent amount of money from running our own business. We are not rich enough to retire but we can survive for many years without an income. That means my wife and I can focus on the projects and businesses that we want to work on.

I am really excited to be able to have the time and money to invest in several projects that were neglected over the last few years. The future looks great! Hopefully, I will get a chance in the near future to meet up with many of you.

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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.

53 Responses to My One Year Plan to Find a New Country and Career – Mission Accomplished!

  1. NomadicNeil says:

    Well done! If you were able to set up a bricks and morter business then it should be easy to set up online businesses. Make sure you take a holiday first though!
    .-= NomadicNeil´s last blog ..Why I bring my guitar everywhere I go =-.

  2. Learn Creative Visualization says:

    excuse me to ask, what about the kids? Do you have any kids?

    • John says:

      Hello Avraham,

      Thanks for all the comments. It would be great if you good use your name in your comments so people can get to know you as a person.

      My wife and I do not have children so we will be traveling alone.

  3. Kirsty says:

    That is some seriously exciting news! Leaving home is one thing but leaving home when you have loads of ties to it like a business, a house and a car is a completely different thing and kudos to you for making it happen. I’m excited to read what the future holds for you guys. Good luck, wherever you end up for the first stage of your journey!
    .-= Kirsty´s last blog ..November Earnings Report =-.

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Colin Wright, travoholic. travoholic said: Colin Wright colinismyname RT @colinismyname Reading: My One Year Plan to Find a New Country and Career <– me too […]

  5. John says:

    Hey Kirsty!

    Long time no talk. How have you been?

    Thanks for the great comment.

    When I first moved to Japan I had nothing so there was nothing to lose. It is definitely harder when you have more to give up. However, we were going crazy being locked into a lifestyle we don’t particularly want. Life is short. The time to live is now.

    Let’s meet up sometime soon!

  6. Hi John,
    Congratulations. I admire what you and your wife are doing.

    Buenos Aires is also becoming a hub for location independents now. Is it another option for you?
    .-= Gordie Rogers´s last blog ..New Domain Name: =-.

    • John says:

      Greetings Gordie,

      Thanks for the comment.

      We will definitely spend some time in BA but I think it is too far from North America to make it a good travel hub. Costa Rica or Guatemala are still high on my priority list to maybe buy a small apartment and set up a home base.

  7. Dan says:

    yeah! What an awesome post John. Congrats on the big move. What a case study in setting clear goals and kicking butt. I’m excited to hear what the future brings.

  8. Hey John, congratulations for selling your business and I wish you all the best for the future.
    .-= Oscar – freestyle mind´s last blog ..How to Pragmatically Integrate Any Habit in Your Life =-.

  9. Baker says:

    My vote is that you swing by Thailand sometime before the end of February.

    Selfish? You betcha ya!
    .-= Baker´s last blog ..Top 10 Money Movies of the Decade =-.

  10. Kirsty says:

    Hey John,

    Ya it’s been awhile but I’ve been in the middle of nowhere in Indonesia. I’m in KL now for a week and loving being online again and getting to indulge in non-fishy foods.

    If you end up in BKK sooner rather than later I might see you there in March.

    Take care,
    .-= Kirsty´s last blog ..November Earnings Report =-.

  11. Nate says:

    Congrats! I’m really happy for you. It must feel awesome to have the weight of that business off your back. Looking forward to hearing more about this as it develops.

  12. Alan says:

    Let the excitement begin! Interested to hear more about how you prepare for your upcoming departure. What other cities besides Bangkok are you considering?

  13. John says:

    Thanks Alan,

    First it will likely be South East Asia and Australia. Then Canada for a couple of months. Then Europe for the end of summer and fall.

    Those plans are not set in stone but just a rough idea. I don’t really have specific city destinations planned.

  14. Congrats John!

    I tell ya though, if you’re used to living in Japan, you will probably HATE to live in Bangkok! People are in Bangkok often times b/c they can’t afford to be anywhere else. Now, a different part of Thailand, that’s a different story!

    Trust me on this. I’ve lived in both countries and I tell ya, you will probably want to leave Bangkok after 6 months!
    .-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..Why The World Forgives Rich And Famous People For Cheating =-.

    • John says:

      Yes, Bangkok is definitely not my favorite city in the world. I won’t be living there but a few months in Chang Mai or Samui would be nice.

  15. Nate says:

    John – Congratulations. I can’t imagine how good it must feel to finally have some sort of plan set in motion or at least know that you have some money saved up to do what you want to do. Just wonderful.
    .-= Nate´s last blog ..Getting a Living =-.

    • John says:

      Hi Nate!

      Thanks for the kind words.

      Yes, it does feel good to be moving ahead. I have always found that it doesn’t matter how much you have now, what counts is how much you are striving to achieve and contribute. Happiness is about the striving not the having.

  16. Ken Kurosawa says:

    Congrats John!
    The sale of the business must have been quite the adventure.

  17. Congrats! Getting a plan DONE and moving on is quite the accomplishment – kudos to you!
    .-= Barbara Ling, Virtual coach´s last blog ..How kids REALLY have total recall – Today’s Humor of the Day =-.

  18. Earl says:

    Well done John! And now that most of your goals are achieved and you’re soon ready to move on to the next stage of life, enjoy the excitement that starts to build up! For me, this is the most inspiring part of the journey, the part when you’re almost fully ready to take on the next adventure, but not quite at the departure date. it is a time when my motivation often reaches its peak levels and my confidence in turning any dream into reality is unmatched.
    .-= Earl´s last blog ..Standing Speechless at a Communal Sink =-.

  19. Congrats! Getting that big step out of the way is a terrific accomplishment!
    .-= Sharon Hurley Hall´s last blog ..The Ebook Has Landed! =-.

  20. Brian says:

    Great news, John! I’m very happy for you and the misses. What you’re doing is very inspirational to me and a lot of others, as I can see from the comments! I look forward to reading about the next chapter of your adventure.
    .-= Brian´s last blog ..Untamed-PSG Collaboration Coffee Stout =-.

    • John says:

      Thanks Brian,

      I hope your beer life is coming along well. Maybe I will have to start that beers around the world blog we were talking about.

      Talk to you soon,

  21. Betsy Talbot says:

    Congratulations, John! What a relief it must be to have sold your business. We are leaving in 298 days for our own adventure, and the one thing that has me worried is selling our house or being able to rent it without a loss. The market is recovering, but not fast enough for my timeline!

    We’re starting out in South America on October 1 and hope to meet you someday on the road. Happy travels!
    .-= Betsy Talbot´s last blog ..How we saved enough money to change our lives (and how you can, too!) =-.

  22. John says:

    Thanks for the comment Betsy.

    Yes, I agree that a house is a big headache, but you still have another 10 months. A lot can happen in that time. Good luck!

    We should be in South America sometime by the end of the year as well. Maybe we will have a chance to meet up. Please keep in touch!

  23. Wow, I’m really excited to hear that it’s finalized and official John! Congratulations! I hope to see you/meet you in person for the first time in Thailand sometime in early 2010, because a host of awesome peers will be here, including Adam Baker, Sean Ogle, Dwight Turner, myself, and others. We’ll have to plan a digital nomad conference or something buddy! 🙂

    • John says:

      Greetings Cody! Thanks for the message. Thailand is definitely in the cards sometime soon. I have a sick family member that I would like to see so that is the only thing delaying my visit. I will keep you posted.

  24. Dezso says:

    Hi John,

    Great news, I see. A bit jealous. If heading for Thailand I have heard only good about Krabi. Ok, I might be inclined towards climbing and sea kayaking too much. Way too much 🙂
    Good luck with the next steps and please keep mind about the old adage of mountaineers that “the descent is usually riskier than the ascent!”


  25. Cath Duncan says:

    That’s fantastic news, John. Congratulations and well done!

    .-= Cath Duncan´s last blog ..Why I’m a Christmas Holiday Grouch… =-.

    • John says:

      Thanks Cath!

      I appreciate the comment. I hope we get a chance to meet up somewhere soon. I would love to make it to South Africa but that probably won’t happen until 2011.

  26. Congratulations!

    I agree with you about Bangkok. Lovely people, but it can be very polluted. Those tuk-tuks with the lawn mower engines can’t be good for the environment.

    I like that phrase “lifestyle inflation”. So true. Buy a house and the natural order of things says you need to fill it. You can’t have empty rooms, walls and shelves. Doesn’t feel right.
    .-= brian | No Debt World Travel´s last blog ..Best Travel News and Deals – December 8, 2009 – Dubai, Chinese Rapping Pig, 10 Best Airports, Crime in Paradise, The Reality of Travel Writing =-.

  27. Elizabeth says:

    Congratulations on the move John! [Belated, I’m writing my book & not reading online much]. You both have done this in a much more sensible way than the Man and me….we left our home countries 6/7 years ago and haven’t stopped moving!

    Hope to see you in Bkk. I’ll have a studio there from late Feb till sometime in June.

  28. John says:

    Thanks for the comment Elizabeth.

    We are still not sure on BKK in February though. We are still trying to decide. It seems a popular place to be in 2010 though!

  29. AdventureRob says:

    Wow, congrats on the business sale John, will be looking forward to seeing how you get on now 😀
    .-= AdventureRob´s last blog ..Things Are Going Well =-.

  30. Atsushi Mihara says:

    Sounds like the end of one great adventure (what else can you call travelling to a new country, starting your own business, and meeting your wife!) and the start of another great adventure.

    When you travel throughout Asia, Canada and Europe, is this a linear travel, from one point to the next, or is it a succession of hubs (with each hub like a two to six month base) from which you plan to make shorter trips?

    Best of luck

  31. John says:

    Hello Atushi,

    Thanks for the comment.

    We have family in Asia, Canada and Europe so we will spend some time with them every year (Just like we have been). Everything in between is not planned. We hope to spend at least a month or two in major locations so that we can get some work done and get a better feel for the country.

  32. Eric C says:

    Hi John,

    Good on you for making it happen. Just a quick question: you stated on your blog that you lost $100,000 by buying the house. Or, you would have been $100,000 richer had you not bought the house. Why is that?

    • John says:

      Hi Eric,

      Our main school in Japan had two floors so we lived above the school and basically shared our living space with the school’s office. That means we effectively didn’t have to pay rent. We had to make sacrifices and it was confining, but we were able to save a huge amount of money. For the first several years of running the business, we were saving 80% of our income because we lived so cheap.

      After about five years of living really frugally, we started to get bored with the work and thought that buying things would make us happy. We went from saving 80% of our income to consuming 80% of our income. That included buying a new house, spending $40,000 on renovations that we couldn’t recoup, all the furniture and appliances in the house, mortgage, taxes and insurance for the 4 year we owned the house, etc. When we first left Japan, the house was empty for a year so we were paying all the bills and not even living there. Altogether, it added up to close to $100,000. That doesn’t even include all the silliness of buying expensive gourmet food and alcohol, eating out once or twice a day, luxury travel 2 to 4 times a year, and a whole host of other excessive indulgences.

      We thought buying all of those things would make our life so much better, but it didn’t. The real problem was that we were no longer being challenged by our business and needed a major life change. Buying stuff only temporarily distracted us from the fact that we wanted to do something else with our lives. If we could have remained frugal for just a couple more years, we could have sold the business earlier and all that consumed money could have been in our bank account.

      It was a very expensive lesson to learn, but in the end, it was probably worth it. We will never be mindless consumers like that again. We now know that we don’t need much possessions to be happy. In fact, possessions get in the way of happiness and just distract from doing the things we really want to do. (I don’t want to spend my free time maintaining a house and yard and going shopping every weekend for the newest technology and gadgets.) We also know exactly what we want from a dream house. It will be much, much smaller and simpler than the house we had in Japan.

      Thanks again for the comment. I appreciate your interest!

  33. Eric C says:

    Hi John,

    Thank you again for the detailed reply. I’m impressed with your thoroughness. To be honest, I think some people spend a lot more to learn the lesson you describe and some people never learn it.

    I assume you’re familiar with the Small Homes movement. If not, check out this guy’s blog:

    I like your mantra, by the way: less stuff, more life.

    You should pat yourself on the back a few times a day. Do you know how few people quit a job merely because it’s no longer challenging? Most people cling like grim death to security.

    Keep up the good work!

    • John says:

      Yes, I am familiar with the small homes movement. I have been researching to build my own small house some day. It definitely won’t be one of those McMansion monstrosities.

  34. Christine says:

    Dear John
    Just came across your website. Very inspirational. I have a dilemma. I am 45 year old woman i don’t own a business don’t own any property. However my issue is I live in a council property in the UK in London. This means i have secure tenure for the rest of my life. This tenancy is very difficult to get in the UK and there is a big housing shortage in London. This means i am so so reluctant to leave this property. It is illegal for me to rent my property out so if i decided to just pack up and leave i would have to say goodbye to this lovely flat in a well sought after area in London. This would also mean i really couldn’t come back to London to live if i were to fulfill my dream of travelling and working abroad. If i did come back it would mean renting a room in a house share which is not something i would relish in doing especially not at my time in life. However i am torn between freedom and security and i know life is short. So my question is what advice can you give to someone like me. It seems all the blogs i read about people doing this giving everything up are young people who,if it goes wrong they have time to make it right again. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    Kindest Regards

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