What Would Happen if I didn’t Renew my Contract in Japan?

September 18, 2017

I’m approaching the six-month mark in Japan. Within the next few weeks, I’ll either have an offer to stay another year at my current job, or told to sod off to another country.

I have to say I’ve lucked out as far as work in Japan. Not only do I have a spacious apartment good for hosting friends and Couchsurfers, my job isn’t particularly stressful; the worst thing I can say has happened is being asked to stay late, and I’m given the opportunity to make up that time later. The pay is decent with my online gigs, and I’m just a train ride away from Tokyo. Why would I even consider giving that up?

Staying in the Country

There are a few reasons why I might search for other employment, but at this point the pros far outweigh the cons. Work isn’t stressful, but it also isn’t challenging; I might not have any luck finding a job in Japan that treats me like more than a sidekick, but it could be worth it to at least try. Nor would I be likely to find any company that has a better apartment available for employees than I do now.

If I were to decide I wanted to stay in the country, it would be a crapshoot. I was amazingly lucky to find my current position after years of searching, and am not eager to go back to job hunting. I’m still a prime candidate for plenty of private language schools in Japan, but those would involve working late hours, being “on” (genki) far more often, and teaching little children who would make me question whether I still had my dignity.

Returning to Freelance Life

Thinking back on my time as a digital nomad last year, I recall just how bored I was. Even in Bali, when I was a short walk from the beach and any number of activities, I tended to just want some consistency and creature comforts, e.g. a familiar breakfast so I would have the energy to run. I met plenty of people and was able to stay with friends, but didn’t always see the point in socializing when we would both be headed for lands unknown soon.

More to the point: money. I didn’t have much. I made enough to survive, but certainly not enough to wire home and pay my bills or amass any savings. As much I would enjoy the freedom of not being asked to wake up at 5 AM to do my run before work, I think the lack of funds and energy would hurt me more.

Back to San Francisco

When I was working in San Francisco, both as a contract employee and a freelancer, I had to bounce between temporary accommodations all the time to just stay afloat. I was rejuvenated by the feeling of being in such a beautiful and historic city, but the cost of living left me unable to get ahead. There was more free time and less stress, but more jobs requiring selling my soul just to be able to afford to stay.

Japan isn’t Forever

Okay, Japan may be forever assuming North Korea doesn’t bomb Tokyo. There are opportunities to work my way into more creative jobs here, and I have had the opportunity to appreciate waking up in the same bed and eating fancy Japanese dinners. I’ll always have some place in the US to go back to, and am confident in my ability to find short-term work on the fly. Ultimately, where I choose to spend the future will depend on who I meet.

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