It has been about 16 months since my wife and I left Japan and almost two and a half years since we made our commitment to change countries and careers. Here is an update on how our life has changed since we decided to give up our old way of life.
We are back in Canada now until the end of summer. My wife’s six month visa expires in September so we have to go somewhere before then. We still haven’t decided where or for how long.
Overall life is good. We really have few complaints. I am doing some part-time marketing consulting work with a few companies which more than pays for our living expenses. We have time to regularly exercise, read a lot, meet new people and generally do anything we want. With the exception of my terrible marathon performance last month, I would even say that life is perfect. 🙂
We are Homeless
Our house in Japan was up for sale for a long time but we finally sold it a few of months ago. Getting rid of the house will save us a lot of money every month so we are happy to lose that expense, but it also makes it difficult to return to Japan. Japan is still our home base for bank accounts, taxes, credit cards, etc. so we will return, however that will probably wait until the nuclear crisis is resolved.
In a previous post, I wrote about the idea of creating a Digital Nomad Network of accommodations to share with other location independents but only a handful of people were interested. I have a few possible locations arranged, but I think it will have to be a more closed group with close friends and family.
The Case Against Location Independence
My wife and I have been based out of Calgary, Canada for the last 5 months and it has been great to be able to build some connections and friendships. The Internet is great to connect with like-minded people, but nothing beats real world meet ups. It is a lot of work, but I have been trying to meet with several new people every week. This has been a fantastic source of ideas, new connections and even work opportunities.
If you are thinking of doing freelance work while traveling, I highly recommend building strong local connections in your home city. You can earn a lot more money selling your services to people who trust you, than to compete anonymously with the thousands of others offering the same services online.
Life is Good
Overall, life is fantastic. I can easily earn enough money to cover all of our expenses in a couple of hours per day. We are eating lots of healthy, home cooked meals, spending time with friends and family, cycling a lot, exercising everyday, and generally living a completely stress free life.
How our Lives have Changed
We no longer have the new car, big house, latest electronics and endless useless household gadgets, but that is a good thing. We also have no pressure to work. We are no longer spending our time shopping, maintaining the goods we have, or worrying about what to buy next. Less stuff really does mean more life.
Owning a house meant working in the yard, shopping for furniture and other household items, cleaning, taxes and a general mental focus geared towards possessions. Now all of those obligations and pressures are gone.
Not having a car means much less monthly expenses, not getting stressed out in traffic, more opportunities to walk and cycle. Even taking public transportation has become enjoyable. It is great to listen to an audio book while taking the bus and not have to worry about driving.
We are not sure what the future will bring, but we are not anxious to alter our current lifestyle either. Life is good.
This is sooooo great!!! I’m very pleased to hear that you are doing well – and are happy. Living the dream! It’s also nice to read that you and your wife have found a “rhythm” that works for you. Congratulations!
Sounds like you have a simple and exciting life style! I didn’t know you were so close by. My current home is Edmonton and soon to be the world. Your interviews have been inspiring so myself and a couple of my friends. Would love to chat with you some time next time I am down in Calgary.
Thanks for the comment. Please email anytime. I would love to chat.
I am on day 1 – wish me luck 🙂
Good luck Marco. Safe travels!
It’s great that you are doing well. Now that it’s Sept, to where have you decided to relocate? Any unanticipated problems or benefits in your new lifestyle? I still have four years to go before I embark.
In the meantime, good luck and stay safe.
We were just in Mexico for a little while, but we are still not sure for the fall. Maybe SE Asia and Australia, but possibly also Budapest again. Budapest, is probably our favorite city.
Are you in Japan?
What kind of budget is necessary for Budapest? It sounds intriguing….
Budapest is amazing. We had a beautiful apartment 5 minutes from the castle hill for 550 Euros per month with internet and all utilities included. Groceries were probably about 300 euros a month including wine. We probably spent another 300 to 400 euros eating out and on entertainment. We ate out at almost everyday.
Daily breakfast and lunch specials are a great deal. You can often eat a full meal with a drink for less than 5 euros.
Many businesses will try to cheat you so make sure you know the menu prices and always count your change. Other than that, Budapest has great cafes, amazing live music and is one of our favorite places in the world.
You mentioned that you sold your house in Japan, as it would help save you money. But I’m wondering why you decided to sell instead of renting it out. If renting you would be getting a passive income and the house might appreciate in value over the years. Maybe property in Japan is different to the UK, but I rent out my apartment in London and it gives me a monthly income of $3,000/month. If I’d sold it I’d be spending the proceeds and eventually be left with nothing. But perhaps you have invested the proceeds or something. Just wondering why you chose to sell rather than rent.
Actually, we tried to rent it out at first but the two Japanese real estate companies we tried to have manage the property were terrible to work with. It was very hard to manage remotely. After countless headaches and over a year of the house being empty, we finally decided to sell it. House prices don’t appreciate in Japan any longer. Japan has been going through a couple of decades of deflation. House prices depreciate as they get older.