My one year plan to move to a new country and change my career officially started on April 1st. Only eleven more months to go. It really is amazing to see how much more valuable time becomes when you have a major goal to accomplish.
For those of you who haven’t read the previous posts, here they are: (Part 1) (Part 2)
Here is my progress report and an overview of my current thoughts and plans.
Sell our Business (or get it self-running)
I have put our English school up for sale on a couple of online classified sites in Japan. I have also been talking to several people potentially interested in some type of work share agreement. That would mean my wife and I would come back for a portion of the year to give the new manager a chance to take longer vacations. I am happy with all the interest so far, but nothing has been decided yet.
Get a New Income Online
I have been spending most of my free time on various web ventures that I intend to fund our future travels. I am not making any money yet but the sites are slowly making progress. They are still a little rough but you can take a look if you wish.
YouCanTeachEnglish.com – Information and Jobs for English Teachers.
EFLfrog.com – An online resource for English teachers; printable flash cards, game ideas, etc.
ABCfrog.com – A game and animation site for children to learn English.
A picture dictionary that is completed but not populated yet. This will still take a few more months.
JetSetCitizen.com – This site of course, but I don’t really have plans to make money from it. It is still just a vehicle to connect with people around the world. I have been surprised at the increase in traffic this past month.
Rent-out Our House or Not?
So far our plan is to keep the house in Japan so that we can return periodically. We need a home-base to keep things like our guitars, bicycles, computers, an espresso machine and all of those other absolutely essential items that we can never part with. 🙂 We are not exactly backpackers, I know. The plan is to keep the house until we can get another stable residence in another country and ship our things out. Or, maybe we will keep multiple residences and just rotate through them if we can afford it.
My wife and I didn’t just start thinking about my future last month. We have been preparing to do something new and drastic for quite a while. We just didn’t know exactly what it was going to be. Here are some of the things we have been doing to prepare to leave Japan next April and start a new business.
Started Our Own Small Business
Most entrepreneurs will agree that there is no better way to accumulate wealth than to go into business for yourself. If you don’t already have your own business, you should be working on one. A key component of lifestyle design is automating your income. Working for someone else means you only get paid for the time you put in and even then your salary is only a small fraction of your value to your employer. In your own company, you get paid exactly what you are worth and you can earn money off of the work of others. We started our current business, an English school in Japan, about 10 years ago now. This has provided the freedom to do what we want, increase our vacation time, reduce commuting time and earn more money than we could of in most other occupations available to us in Japan.
Saved Money and Cut Costs
To be honest, we haven’t really lowered our expenses much. My wife and are not students anymore so we are used to a more comfortable lifestyle. We love to eat out, take music lessons, travel and go to the gym. But at the same time we don’t buy unnecessary things. We live five minutes from work so we don’t buy $4 coffees during the day and there are no commuting expenses. We canceled our satellite TV because we didn’t watch it. We rarely buy clothes and the ones we do buy are from Uniqlo, an inexpensive Japanese clothing chain. Our car is five years old and still in great condition. We bought a house because it is cheaper than renting and have been pretty much set up for a few years so we are not always buying kitchen gadgets and new electronics.
I would love to buy more guitars but I know that purchasing them won’t make me a better player. I wanted to buy a big flat panel TV, we even have a space for it in our entertainment room. Fortunately, my wife was wise enough to point out that if we bought it, we would watch more TV and that would just get in the way of our life goals.
My wife and I have managed to save a little money by starting our own business and working hard on it for many years. Our expenses are much higher than they were 10 years ago but we are also making more money so we can still save a decent amount of money every month.
The largest cutback we are making in our final year in Japan is to not travel. Typically, we travel abroad two to four times a year. We just came back from Canada and we have decided not to travel again until we leave Japan. No traveling for a full year!
We have done a lot to save our time. We bought a house five minutes from our business so that we don’t waste time commuting. We don’t watch TV. Given that the average American watches 24 hour of TV, there are huge time savings from giving up the idiot box.
We have also gotten a lot smarter in our business. We have raised prices, cut back less profitable classes, reduced the number of classes per year and stopped many time consuming, non-essential services we were offering. This has probably doubled the amount we earn per hour of work. We are getting more than full time incomes on a less than 30 hour work week with 12 weeks of holidays per year.
It is impossible to be great at everything so I have been radically outsourcing everything I can. I now have several very talented and reliable people that I can trust to work on my projects. Success in business is all about people. I have made many mistakes in the past but I am finally pulling together a good team. I have outsourced to dozens of people from countries all over the world and I have learned a lot. Hopefully, this will help ensure success in the future.
For anyone considering changing careers, moving to another country or both; one year should be plenty of time to get your life in order. Work more and spend less to save more money. Also, get started on your next business now. Just start doing things, even if they are not that great. You will improve with time and you will be in a much better position when you leave your job in the future.
Please give your advice, suggestions or comments below!
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[…] My One Year Plan Part 3 […]
Here are my thoughts:
If you can be cash-flow positive and can find someone reliable to manage your home I’d rent it. That way you have the flexibility to come back to it later or simply keep it as an investment. If you’re 10 years into a mortgage you’re just starting to build equity so the value of each monthly payment will continue to increase. Be prepared for vacancies, repairs, and management fees. If you’re slightly cash-flow negative weight the estimated cost against the cost to sell then decide from there.
I’d store your things for a while but if you find you’re not coming back for a long time then I’d get rid of everything that can be replaced i.e. monitors, sofas, etc. Those storage costs can exceed the value of the items pretty quickly sometimes.
I’d probably sell the car. You can always buy another one – even the same model and color – when you get back. A car needs to be used and maintained so unless you have someone who will drive it periodically and get the oil changed you’ll be better off without it. Besides who needs all the expense for something you’re not using and can easily replace.
Thanks for the advice Ken.
You are definitely a voice of reason. It is still hard for me to get away from the “stuff” mentality. We keep changing our minds about what to do about the things in our lives. There are still 11 more months to go before my wife and I leave Japan, hopefully we will have a more minimalist existence by then.
Japan is a great country to return to. My wife and I really have to decide how many months of the year we are likely to spend here. Renting out the house would mean that we wouldn’t come back for a long time just because we wouldn’t have a place to stay. Keeping the house empty would force us to spend more time here. Both extremes are not optimal at this stage in our lives.
My parents currently live in Tokyo and my mom and I were thinking of venturing ot to do some entreprenuerial work. I just came across your site and wanted to know more information of your business you’re selling, the school. Do you have a website for the school? If you could email me back.
Hope to hear back from you!
cheers to your dreams!!!
Hi, great article/s, I’m touching 40 myself. and only just starting to get my head around the lifestyle design thing.
Probably the biggest struggle I have is letting go, of old beliefs.. owning a house/car/stuff. But the biggest thing is 20 years time. I don’t want to be the weird old guy that hangs out in Backpacker hostels…
Keep up the good work…
Thanks for the comment. It definitely was hard for us to get rid of our house, car and possessions. However, I have found it incredibly liberating to be free of attachments. It opens up so much time.
Don’t worry about being the only weird old guy, there are many of them around. 🙂
Just read straight through all the parts in this series, its great that you kept a record of your thoughts and actions during this period.
Yes, writing this blog has been incredibly rewarding just for the opportunity to follow my own development over the last few years.
Reading my earlier posts is a little scary though. I had some terrible content in the past. Hopefully, I’ve learned a little over the last four years.
my wife and I have simular plans. We currently live in Germany and now we are preparing to live in Iran, starting in January 2015. I´m gonna take as many German Teacher lessons as possible up until than to work as one when we reach there.
Our plan is to live in each country 1-2 years and than go for the next.
I´m so excited, just thinking about it, gives me so much energy to do so much more everyday.
Hope to stay in touch and learn from each other.
Thanks for the comment. Good luck with your move. Iran sounds like a very interesting country.