Why We’re Expatriating

Paul asked why I was looking for a job in Japan. I think a response is worth a separate post.

My job has taken me to Japan quite a few times (I think my passport has 14 Japan entry stamps in it). Prior to taking this job five years ago, I had rarely left Pennsylvania, and had only once left the United States when we had driven through Canada when I was a kid (I slept the whole way).

My travel to Japan, and other parts of the world, has left with a real exposure to the huge differences in culture between the United States, Australia, England, and Japan. Since then, I wanted to make sure that my kids have an awareness of the different cultures around the world.

When Sarah and I made the decision to homeschool the kids, we both agreed that we wanted to make the most of the kids’ time at home with the family. Not being tethered to a school means that the family can travel with me, and we can move to different locations around the world and have hands-on exposure to the world around us.

Here’s my incomplete list of pros and cons for moving to Japan:

Pros:

  • I did received a promotion to a senior staff position at Lockheed Martin. This usually requires a lot more experience than I have, and I’m excited to be “ahead” in my career.
  • My company significantly reimburses us for different costs, which will allow us to save more money.
  • Japan is a major country that is little known to the rest of the world. There is a lot of potential for outreach to a normally inaccessible culture.
  • Despite the fact that over 128 million people speak Japanese, it’s one of the more little known languages amongst non-Japanese. One reason is that Japanese is a hard language to learn, but when my children learn the language, they’ll find that their skills as native English speakers with an understanding of Japanese will be potentially very beneficial to their careers.

Cons:

  • Being away from my family is going to be hard. Despite Vonage, email, webcams, and other technologies, we won’t be able to just hang out like we do now. Plane tickets to Japan are not cheap either, but hopefully, our families will be able to come visit and have an experience they wouldn’t have otherwise
  • While the weather is just as cold as it is in SE Pennsylvania, they get a lot of snow. They average 35 feet per year. That’s a lot.
  • It’s not Tokyo. In Tokyo, you can eat at a different restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day for a lifetime and never hit the same place twice. The area is pretty rural and poor, so we’ll be traveling by car and when we go out to dinner, we’ll probably hit the same few places.

I’m sure there are more, and I might edit this post in the future to add other reasons. But that should be start.

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