I had considered moving to Korea for a number of years, as I watched several of my best friends make the exciting move. While they took trips to new, exciting countries like Malaysia, Thailand, China and Japan several times a year, I convinced myself I was moving forward in my “real” job, rather than avoiding real life responsibilities and stresses. My 5 hour trips to my hometown for a little fishing just didn’t seem to compare to horseback riding in the mountains in China. After about 7 years of working 50-70 hour weeks, in jobs I enjoyed but didn’t love, it was not bringing me any closer to the happiness or freedom I wanted for myself or my new family. To add to it, we were working hard, with solid jobs, and sliding into debt, as seems to be the norm in North America. We may have had more material things than my travelling friends, such as a nice car, owned our house (or should I say had a nice mortgage payment on our house), and of course the important things in life like a reclining couch to watch TV. What we didn’t have was the free time to enjoy life, or the vacation time (or money) to take the trips my wife and I both desperately wanted. Being land locked in Central Canada is not the easiest place to just hop on a plane to explore the world.
We ventured to Korea with our 8 month old son in tow, and our parents most certainly thinking this would not work out for us. In under 2 years, we met people from several countries of the world, learned to live without such things as a King Sized bed, I lost 25 lbs due to the healthier lifestyle in Korea, paid off ALL of our debt, and started this company so we now both have jobs we thoroughly.
What you will realize when you live in Korea, and Asia, is the opportunity for growth in these countries is amazing. We have all heard about the emergence of these countries on the news, so wouldn’t it make sense to be where a lot of the action is nowadays? As we move forward, with globalization, it will not only be the smartest people who get the jobs, but it will also require a mobile workforce willing to move to where the best work is available. One of my favorite books is “Four Hour Work Week”. Sorry, in Korea you don’t work four hours a week, but one theme I love in the book is to improve the balance between your monthly expenses and your income, to allow you to do things you love.
I remember 2 things that made us realize moving to Korea was the best move for us. One was when I had 2 days off from work, and we wanted to take a one hour car ride, to a nearby city to do a little shopping, and enjoy a nice lunch together. With such a tight budget, we decided we just could not justify such a trip. My thinking that day was that I could not possibly justify working the same types of jobs, if such a trip was not possible. In other words, why am I working so hard, if I can’t even go on such a simple trip with my wife.
The next was talking with a friend in Korea, who had one of his friends move to Toronto, which is about 2,000km’s from his hometown. His friend did well, as an accountant, but with limited vacation time, and even less disposable income, he had not been home in three years to visit his family. My friend who had been in Korea had been home at least once a year, for at least a month at a time (not to mention his other trips around Asian each year). Admittedly he had worked himself up the ladder to a good job in Korea, but the opportunity was certainly evident. It showed me that thinking outside the box was sometimes the best way to think. My parents thought moving so far didn’t make sense, but remember, nowadays it’s only one plane ride away.