Originally from Canada, John and his wife sold their permanent home in 2010 and have lived a nomadic live ever since, spending time in Budapest, Istanbul and Chiang Mai amongst other places. The live a location independent life, fuelled by a mix of consultancy work and an online suite of businesses focused on learning English. Read more about their inspiring life below.
1. Where are you from originally?
I’m a Canadian that lived in Japan for 14 years. I owned an English school in Nara, Japan for about 10 years.
2. Where do you live now?
In 2009, my wife and I made a one-year plan to sell our business, car, house and get rid of all of our possessions to live a nomadic life. We haven’t had a permanent home since March 2010. After Japan, we have lived in Budapest, Istanbul, Chiang Mai and have travelled to many other countries for shorter periods.
3. What do you do for a living? Where do you physically work from? Do you work with clients/customers back in your home country or your new one?
I’m juggling several websites and consulting projects. I do some marketing consulting for smaller businesses, but I spend most of my time on my own web projects. I have a couple of blogs that bring in a small amount of advertising revenue, but my main business is a group of websites for English teachers around the world. Among other things, I sell PDF download materials and advertising on a teach English abroad job site.
4. Do you work online? If so, what is the internet connectivity like? What software do you commonly use on day to day basis? What would be your top tip for online working from your new country?
Yes, virtually all of my work is online. Internet connectivity varies a lot around the world, but it has become surprisingly good in recent years. Even countries like Thailand are starting to get decent internet speeds. The biggest problem is in large apartment complexes where the internet connection is shared. When many people are sharing a single connection, speeds can slow to a crawl. Generally speaking though, internet access is not a problem any longer.
Running a business on the road can be very difficult if you lack discipline and motivation. There are always many interesting distractions to keep you away from work. There are times, when travelling or meeting up with friends and family, that I can’t get any meaningful work done for a week or more at a time. It is hard to build a business if you don’t do much work. Using co-working spaces and having regular business hours can help a lot.
5. Are you paid in your new home currency or in pounds/dollars/euros? Do you exchange money often? If so, what service do you use?
Most of my consulting work is done in Canada, so that is paid in Canadian dollars. All the online work is paid through PayPal so currencies and conversion are not an issue.
6. Do you have children? If so, how did they adapt to the move? How are their schools? Are they bi-lingual? Are their good future career opportunities within your new country?
No, we don’t have children.
7. Did you bring any pets with you? Or leave any behind? How did this work out?
We are far too mobile to have pets, although it would be nice to have a dog someday.
8. Is your life better than it was before? If so, how?
In Japan, my wife and I had a successful business and a good life. The problem was that, after doing the same thing for so many years, we were no longer being challenged or fulfilled by our work. Instead, we had become full-on consumers to fill that void in our lives. We bought a new car, new house, electronics and expensive food and drink. We traveled several times a year and found countless other things to spend money on in the belief that consuming would make us happy.
Of course, none of it had any lasting impact. Our lives just became more and more about possessions, and much less about the kind of pursuits that create genuine satisfaction and fulfilment. We finally realized that our consumer lifestyle was getting in the way of doing the things that were most important to us. Giving up a permanent residence was the best and only way to completely cut off the detrimental conspicuous consumption that had taken over our lives.
Having few physical possessions is amazingly liberating. We’re not spending our free time in shopping malls, doing yard work, cleaning and servicing possessions or spending evenings on the couch watching TV. It frees up dozens of hours of mental energy every week. We exercise more, eat healthier home cooked meals, have more time for hobbies, and can focus on our businesses.
9. What are the best things about living in your new country? Has the move been good for the whole family?
We regularly move to different countries, and each country has it’s own positive and negative aspects. We love the cafe culture of European cities like Budapest or Berlin. Chiang Mai, Thailand has great food and a hot climate at inexpensive prices. Japan has the highest quality and healthiest food in the world with a creative culture. We also visit Canada regularly, to visit family and enjoy the clean air and abundant nature.
10. What are the most challenging things about moving to and living in your new country?
There isn’t really anything overly challenging with moving to a new country. It takes some time to find accommodations and get settled in, but with the internet and social media in particular, it is very easy to connect with local expats and get information and advice for the new destination.
11. Are you here for good? If so, why? If no , why not?
The idea of having a permanent residence sounds attractive, however we haven’t been able to identify a single location where we will settle down. Different countries offer different trade-offs and for now we want to continue to enjoy the best aspects of many countries.
12. Any partings word to people thinking of moving to your country?
Living a location independent lifestyle is not for everyone, but it does have it’s benefits. Getting rid of a house, cars and a materialistic lifestyle can free up time and money for what is most important. It’s great to be able to move to different countries with a lower cost-of-living and take advantage of better weather.