Being A Jet Set Citizen With John Bardos


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  • Many foreigners come to Japan to teach English for a short time but few stay long enough to set up their own business. On this show, Anthony talks to John Bardos from Jet Set Citizen about owning a successful English language school in Japan for 10 years and making the difficult decision to dramatically change his lifestyle.
  • Anthony also answers a viewer’s question about why he started Tokyo Podcast and asks a favor from the audience to promote Tokyo Podcast.


Responding to an email he got from listeners as to why he came to Japan and why he started Tokyo Podcast, Anthony admits having a longing to go back to Japan given that he’s half Canadian and half Japanese. Being an ex-pat in several countries like Thailand where he has done a similar show for a long time, he enjoys meeting fellow ex-pats and knowing their stories on how and why they left their own country and living in another one. Doing another one in Tokyo this time would help bridge the gap between ex-pats and the local community.

Teaching and Owning an English Language School in Japan

With that, Anthony talks to a fellow with a similar background to his. John Bardos is from Canada but has been in Japan for 14 years, starting in it as a teacher for a year and a half before putting up his school. In his university days, he studied Japanese business practices and has always wanted to go to Japan as it was very successful in the business world back in the 80s. He finally came in 1997, feeling that he needed some change and thinking it was the place to do it. While business was no longer the same as it used to be, its so-called stagnation was very different from other countries. Even when calamities struck, opportunities are still plentiful and the country is resilient. The place has a good market as people have an appreciation for quality food, arts, and culture.

John initially did a few part-time jobs and learned to teach English with the help of instruction manuals. But once he gained more experiences and taught a variety of students, he became a better teacher. While a lot of teachers come to Japan for only a year or two, many stay for a long time due to the good quality of life and a fantastic culture. The low salary for teaching in some rural areas can make it hard for people to stay. But John slowly built his school which improved his living conditions. The process may be daunting but the taxes are low and having someone Japanese can make things easier. The biggest challenge is on finding good foreign teachers who have a sense of professionalism as well as a heart for teaching. 

Switching to an Independent Location Lifestyle

Having a successful English language school for over 10 years, John and his wife still wanted to do other things. They did not want to be tied to the business and work on it until they retire. Thus, they decided to let go of the golden handcuffs that come with having so much income. They sold everything in a year to change careers and countries.

With nothing but a commitment to their goal, they reinvented their lives and documented the process on the Jet Set Citizen website. Here, John wrote about having a location-independent lifestyle. A trendy topic about living on the road using one’s skills to earn income, the website details what it is like to live this kind of life. John also interviewed other people who managed to leave their 8-5 jobs and live abroad using a computer and technology to fund their lifestyle. John also delves into the real details of being a global citizen. Some may glamorize it and or simply rely on rich parents. So, John tried to get an honest view and acknowledged that it is not an easy life. Despite their love for living in other countries, they can still get sick of traveling and learning how to settle in a place. Their goal is just to enjoy life and not consume too much. The biggest reward is having freedom in time. John and his wife found more joy in simple things as well as some balance in their lives. They do not just travel in a place for a few days; they live there like a local for months.

As teaching English is one of the fastest and easiest ways to experience life overseas, John has another website You Can Teach English with more information on how to get English teaching jobs all over the world. The website provides a collection of articles from around the globe and tackles issues in seeking English teaching jobs such as visas and costs of living on another side of the planet. Living abroad can be personally rewarding as it opens doors to new experiences and put some spice to one’s life.

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