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.
Hey John I love hearing the personal updates from you, been following you all this time. Looking forward to meeting someday.
Thanks for the comment. I met up with Jenny and David the other day as well. Thanks for the connection!
I hope we can meet up soon as well. Any chance of getting to Thailand in the next couple of months?
You guys have a pretty nice lifestyle. I’m planning to have a similar lifestyle in a few years.
I’d be interested in a post on getting dental work done in Thailand. I need quite a bit of dental work myself and I’ve been told that I could probably save enough money getting it done in Thailand to pay for a vacation to Thailand.
I will be writing a post on medical tourism shortly but if you have any specific questions feel free to email. I agree that the money you save, will likely pay for your vacation here. Just make sure that you schedule enough time to get the work done. Many specialists only work at each clinic one or two days a week, so it might take a month or more to get all of your work done.
Great update John. I always enjoy hearing how things have been going for you. Would love to hear more about your websites that are doing well.
Doing well means traffic continues to increase. I am still a ways away from making any decent money. My two main projects are going through a major upgrade right now. I will definitely talk about them once the new changes are finished.
Great post, I enjoyed to read each sentences of it. I admire your decision being able to change your life and good to know, your new life gives many positive aspects.
I hope your road turns towards Hungary soon!
Thanks for the comment. We are not sure when we are going to be in Hungary next, but I hope it is soon as well. This year will probably be difficult, but we will see.
Great to hear of the updates and I love to hear of your travels. I’m living vicariously through you.
I do wonder how you manage the Visa issues? Do you do border runs while you’re in Thailand? Visa issues are the only thing that keeps me from moving overseas.
We have a two month visa, which you can renew in the country for 30 days. If you get the double entry visa, you can come for 60 days, renew for 30, leave the country and get another 60 and renew one more time for an extra 30 days. That means you can stay in Thailand for 6 months, leaving the country only once.
Remember that there are many countries only a short bus, train or airplane ride away. There are many tour companies that offer the visa runs to neighboring countries for $20 or $30. It is possible to fly to Singapore or Malaysia for under $100.
I know of one person in Chiang Mai that leaves the country every 15 days by land to renew his visa, so it is definitely not that difficult or expensive.
What a refreshing and honest post – always happy to read your updates and see what you two are up to and how you’re managing. This location independent/travel lifestyle is a challenge whether you’re 20 or 40!
PS: If you’re ever in Beijing sometime, look us up. We’re (mostly – ha) based here for the next 3 years.
Actually, we will be going through Beijing on April 2nd, but it is only a stop-over. I will try to organize something next time, but we need visas for China. That is a pain.