I have the pleasure of hosting a fellow FI blogger today, Laurie from The Three Year Experiment. I asked her some questions I had about being location independent with kids, and she was kind enough to share her thoughts with us today! Please show Laurie some love and leave a question or comment!
I have a dream.
Okay, I’m not ripping off MLK, Jr. But I do have a dream. In fact, my entire family does.
We want to become location independent. What does that mean? It means we’re not tied to a particular geographic location because of a job. It means we’re able to travel for long stretches of time, working remotely and perhaps homeschooling our kids along the way. We’re free to pursue adventure.
We’re documenting our progress towards that goal on our blog, The Three Year Experiment, and we hope to get there in three years, by the time I’m 40.
This dream was born, slowly, over very many years, and was the result of some choices that we were forced to make because of finances.
You see, I’m married to an immigrant. My husband, who I call Mr. ThreeYear, is Chilean. I met him in Chile, where I’d moved just after college. It was not my intention to meet and fall in love with a Latino–in fact, I was diametrically opposed to the idea. But, fate had a sense of humor and tied my life irrevocably to a tall, dark, and challenging Chilean man (I’m his short, fair, challenging American counterpart).
When you marry an immigrant (or you, yourself, are an immigrant), you have to decide pretty quickly where you’ll live. We decided to start our careers in the US, as the economy here seemed more promising. But that meant that we left Mr. ThreeYear’s entire family, to whom he’s close, in South America.
We settled near my family, in the Southeast, for several years, but eventually, Mr. ThreeYear landed a great job with a great company in New Hampshire (See? Finances). That meant that we uprooted our entire family and moved to New England. Neither of us knows much about snow, but boy, have we learned. We have spent almost eight years living in the corner of the country where three snow storms in 10 days in March is par for the course.
A year ago, just after I turned 37, Mr. ThreeYear asked me what I wanted, and I told him that I wanted to be closer to one, or both, of our families. I wanted to be able to spend half the year in Santiago and half the year in the Carolinas. We knew this was impossible, given his job and our kids and their education, but we started to dream. If we doubled our net worth, would that give us enough saved that we’d feel more comfortable traveling for a few years? If we could negotiate working remotely, would that allow us to travel back and forth between continents?
There were more questions than there were answers, but we decided to try. We started to tunnel-vision focus and spent all of last year paying off any recurring debts that would get in the way of our saving (like the remaining mortgage on the apartment in Chile
that we owned). We began cutting expenses and saving extra money to grow our emergency fund and open a taxable investing account. I took on extra work so we could save more (I’m a part-time ESL teacher). Mr. ThreeYear began to work hard at getting the best reports at work so he’d get more significant raises. Last year, we increased our net worth by 32%
, almost one-third of the way toward our goal.
As we’ve continued to talk about what we’ll do at the end of 2019, the end of our three-year experiment, we keep getting new ideas. After we returned from a three-week trip in Chile this January, we realized that we stayed very comfortably in a 600-foot apartment, and began questioning whether we needed our 3500-square-foot house. We started to imagine living and working in different countries or contemplating work opportunities we hadn’t thought about before. By allowing ourselves this “crazy” dream, we began to take steps to make it a reality.
The questions we get the most often are:
What will you do about school for the kids?
This is a big one. School is vital for us, and our kids both have some difficulties with learning and need support. Our answer changes based on where we ultimately decide to move. If we move to one foreign country for several years, I’d probably get a job as a teacher at an international school, and we’d have our kids go there. These schools aren’t cheap, but they provide phenomenal educations and give students access to an incredibly diverse student body. If we stay in the US, we’ll move to a city that has outstanding public schools. If we travel around the world for months or a year, then we’ll probably homeschool using one of the many excellent virtual academies that exist.
My traveling heroine is Tsh Oxenreider, podcaster, blogger, and author. She and her husband traveled the world with their three kids for nine months and documented the journey in At Home in the World
(they homeschooled them, or I guess I should say world-schooled them).
How will you create a sense of stability while you travel?
This is an important question. I believe very firmly in creating stability for my family, but I think that travel is an essential part of that stability, paradoxically. We will probably not choose to travel with the boys full-time, for the rest of our lives. I recognize that we have a window in which to travel, and then we’d like to settle down for their high school years. However, one of the reasons that I became a teacher was so that we could travel during our summers. I think it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to travel for six weeks at a time and give your family the experience of slow travel to a place. I’m a fan of spending many weeks in one or two spots, to experience the local culture, food, and entertainment. This type of travel, to me, helps my family know who we are in relation to others. It helps the kids develop both a stronger self-confidence and a more profound sense of self, as they compare themselves to how others live around the world. It allows our family to test some assumptions and beliefs against different backdrops, and realize we’re not the center of the universe, as we’re often wont to think.
What will you do for health insurance?
I flat out don’t know. Just don’t know yet. This is something that we’re still exploring and researching. If we have jobs, that apparently makes the healthcare issue much more manageable. If we don’t, we know that healthcare in other countries is much cheaper than in the US, but we have to make sure we’re protected and can cover catastrophic illness, etc. GoCurryCracker has written extensively on this topic, and I recommend this post
as a start if you want his (traveler’s) take on it.
Becoming location independent is a dream that, just over a year ago, we didn’t even dare think about. Now, we’re taking steps to making our dream a reality. We know that ultimately, being closer to our families will provide untold benefits for our boys, strengthening their self-confidence and widening their support network, and traveling will allow them to have dreams of their own, and see this breathtaking world up close.
If you’d like to learn more about location independence and geoarbitrage, check out my post here.