My Inspirations for Location Independence

Location independence, or being able to travel or live anywhere independent of a job, is something that has always appealed to me. Part of the reason is that Mr. ThreeYear’s family lives on one continent, and mine on another. So we always feel caught in-between. But even before I met Mr. ThreeYear, I dreamed about dividing my time between two places, or traveling the world.

My Inspirations for Location Inpdendence--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Along the way, I’ve been inspired by people who have lived a similar life.

The flight attendant from my TESOL program

In August of 2001, I traveled to Montreal to complete a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) training program before I moved to Chile. I met a Colombian flight attendant while I was there, and asked her where she lived. Her answer astounded me. “I divide my time between North and South America,” she told me. She lived in Montreal for the summer and fall and Colombia in the winter and spring. Her children were older, I remember, already in college, and she and her husband split their time between two places they loved. Continue reading “My Inspirations for Location Independence”

Interview with Mr. ThreeYear

Mr. ThreeYear, apart from increasing the height and attractiveness genes of my children (thanks, honey!), is one-half of the brains behind our location independence plan. He also has an incredible story of growing up in difficult circumstances and working very hard to make a better life for himself.

Interview with Mr. ThreeYear

Since normally, I write the blog and Mr. ThreeYear just reads it, I thought I’d turn the reins over to him and allow him to share his thoughts on location independence, overcoming obstacles, and reaching financial independence.

Can you tell everyone a little about your background?

I was born in Santiago, Chile, in the mid-seventies. I grew up under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Our family was not really political; however, it was clear to see that it was not a smart idea to publicly oppose the government because of the consequences it would bring to your family.

I was the youngest of four siblings. I have two much older sisters who married and left the house early. My brother was also older, by eleven years. We lived right next to my grandmother. The country was very economically depressed. It was hard to get jobs. Unfortunately, my dad was unemployed for a long time, which made my mom the main breadwinner, working three jobs at a time (she was a special education teacher). We never starved, but it was clear to me that we were at the lower end of the financial spectrum. Continue reading “Interview with Mr. ThreeYear”

What Money Can’t Buy

Last week, the boys and I returned back to New Hampshire from a month-long road trip in the Southeastern US. The Junior ThreeYears and I had taken our trusty Prius down to North and South Carolina to visit family, go to the beach, and soak up the sun and humidity. I find that when I get Southern heat and humidity a bit in the summer, winters in New England are easier to get through. To me, it never gets hot enough for long enough here. I need the “walk out into a sauna” experience to feel like I’ve truly had a summer.

What Money Can't Buy--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

We were on our way from the coast of South Carolina to Charlotte, North Carolina, to visit my sister, on a busy stretch of interstate near Columbia, the state capital. It was around ten in the morning on a Monday, and traffic was heavy.

Up until then, we’d had almost two full summers of uneventful road travel. Everything had gone just swimmingly. But luck was against us that morning. I was in the left hand lane, and was completely surrounded by fast-moving eighteen-wheelers and cars. Suddenly, right in front of me, I saw a piece of tire that had come off of a semi–they’re called road gators in trucker parlance–and I realized there was nothing I could do to avoid it. I thought about veering left, but there was no shoulder on the road. I couldn’t get over to the right, because I was hemmed in. I slowed down as much as I could so that the huge truck beside me wouldn’t plow into me, and ran over the piece of tire. Continue reading “What Money Can’t Buy”

Why You Should Spend Money on Travel

One thing I’ve learned about the journey of personal finance is that it’s personal. We all have different priorities for our money.

But today, I’m going to argue that everybody who can finagle it should spend money on travel. Whatever you call them–get aways, mini breaks, vacations, holidays–no matter how close or far from home you go, I believe there are major benefits to regular travel.

Spend Money on Travel--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Our family has been a fan of traveling for a long time. Because, what better way is there to prepare for a life where you can travel anywhere than to travel, well, somewhere? If you’re interested in becoming location independent, I recommend making it a priority to take at least one trip or mini-trip per year.

Yes, there is always debt to pay off, emergency funds to fill, and possessions to pare, but the benefits of travel are many. Taking a small percentage of your take-home pay and reserving it for a trip each year, even a brief, close-to-home one, is worth delaying those other goals by a few months.

Mr. ThreeYear and I took a weekend trip to Montreal several years ago, and it was nectar to our traveling souls. We’re only three hours away by car from Montreal, so we booked a hotel using our credit card rewards (thank you SPG card), drove up, and spent a fabulous weekend exploring the Museum of Fine Arts, the eponymous city park Mont Royal with the fabulous view of the city (boy were my legs tired after that climb!), and the heart of Old Montreal. We ate delicious ethnic food (including Korean BBQ and Szechuan) and drank lots of cappuccinos. Our trip lasted three days, and cost us about $350, but it reminded us why we love to travel so much and why we’re working so hard to become location independent.

Quebec--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
A long weekend in Quebec was a balm to our parenting-weary souls.

Michelle from Making Sense of Cents recently highlighted a blogger, Penny from Penny and Rich, who spends $53,000 a year on her family of six, with $22,000 of that going to pay back student loans. Even though the family earns so little income that they qualify for federal food assistance, her family makes travel a priority. They set aside a little less than $2500 last year for vacations for their families. Some snarky commenters gave Penny a hard time for spending money on vacation while qualifying for food stamps, but I believe she has her priorities in order. Here’s why you should spend money on travel: Continue reading “Why You Should Spend Money on Travel”

Location Independent, International Jobs: Ruby from A Journey We Love

Hello! Welcome to “Location Independent, International Jobs,” the Wednesday series where I showcase stories from people who have become location independent, work internationally, and/or continuously travel (check out previous stories here, here, and here!). They’ll be sharing how they became location independent or how they got jobs abroad, but most importantly, they’ll share how their lifestyle has positively or negatively affected their finances and how they got to the life they’re living now. 

 

The reason for this series is to showcase people who have already achieved what the ThreeYear family is working towards: location independence and/or securing international jobs. Since we’re not sure which route we’ll take, we thought we’d hear from people who’ve already achieved one or the other, so we can learn more.  

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Ruby from A Journey We Love. Ruby and her husband are thirty-somethings who travel a lot, even though they have full time jobs and are working towards FI before 45, thirteen years from now. Once they reach financial independence, they plan to become location independent and travel full time. Ruby says, “We want to have more of our time back to do what we want and focus on our passions instead of trading our time for money at a traditional office.” I’m with you there, Ruby, and I look forward to sharing your story with our readers! 

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I was born and raised in the Philippines, and only immigrated to the US four years ago because of a job opportunity. I met my husband in the US, and we’ve been married for a year but together for nearly four years. We don’t have kids yet but we plan to!

A Journey We Love--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Peter and Ruby from A Journey We Love

I was from a middle class background. I lived in the Philippines most of my life – I studied there from grade school until uni and also started my career there. Well, until that day when my employer in the Philippines (a multinational bank) sent me to the UK (this was in 2008). I met a lot of people who loved to travel and that inspired the travel bug in me. I got another opportunity to go back to the UK in 2011 (also through said employer), and I realized I didn’t want to go back home but wanted to live full time abroad. In 2013, the opportunity to move to a new office in Florida came through. It was an expansion and it was relatively new and I jumped at the chance. This contract was only supposed to be for three years, but they took me on as a full-time worker here in the US after I got married to Peter.

It was always my goal to leave the Philippines. Back when I was thirteen, I knew I wanted to go, but always thought I’d end up in Singapore, which was a first world country that’s close to the Philippines. I decided that if I looked for work, it would have to be at a multinational company to gain more exposure (and boost my resume if I wanted to look for jobs abroad).

Peter’s story is a bit different than mine. He was born in Bratislava, Slovakia and lived there until he was eleven. Then in 1997, his family moved to the US when they won the green card diversity lottery and has lived in the US ever since. I met him through work – we were working for the same multinational company that sent me to the US!

Not only did said company make my dream of moving abroad come true, it also gave me the opportunity to meet my husband!

How did you and your family make the decision to become location independent/move internationally?

My husband moved to the US when he was twelve from Eastern Europe, so he is fine with moving to different countries just to feel what it’s like to live there and be one with the locals. We also love to travel, so why not become location independent where we can earn a bit of money to sustain most of our travels? Well, that is the goal, but we’re not there yet!

Moving internationally is also a big plus for us, especially since we don’t have children yet. It goes to show potential employers that we are open to change and we are okay being uprooted and being thrown into a brand new destination to get used to other cultures and integrate with other people. It’s not as bad as you think either! You may also get to be exposed to multiple opportunities.

Where do you travel? (within the country, internationally, etc). Favorite place? Least favorite?

We travel anywhere and everywhere: it could be a state park in the city where we live in, it could be to visit family in the Philippines or in Slovakia. We also go wherever the sales are: we booked trips to Asheville, Memphis, Richmond, and St. Louis, just because the ultra budget carrier had deals for less than $100 roundtrip per person. We don’t have a least favorite place because every single destination we’ve been had something to offer: be it culinary treats or sightseeing. My favorite place would have to be London – I personally had a chance to live there for a few months. It was expensive but it was subsidized by the company I worked for at the time so it wasn’t so bad.

If you have kids, how have they adapted to the moves? Best part of traveling for them? Worst part?

We don’t have any kids yet but if we do have them, we’ll want to make sure that travel is part of their life. Expose them to the world that’s out there instead of isolating them inside the house or a community where they get too comfortable. If you are uncomfortable, it actually helps you grow and learn your real self. It also helps them to see the real world instead of just watching a manufactured world on TV.

How has becoming location independent positively (or negatively) impacted your finances (since this is a personal finance blog)?

When I first moved from the Philippines to the UK, and the US, it definitely impacted my finances! I am now earning much more than I was back at home, and so I’m saving more too. There are many more financial products I can invest in here in the US, and I can get to “travel hack.” There’s definitely plenty of other opportunities to earn and save more if you move from a third world country to a first world country! Plus, all those signup bonuses by opening bank accounts + credit cards. Oh my!

We’re not normal FI folk who cut a lot of “fat” out of their budget. If you look at our blog, we have a LOT of travel posts… and even though we want to be FI, we’re not cutting back on our travel… far from it! We actually travel more and more even as we try to achieve FI.

First off, we do travel hacking to offset our travel costs. Other specific things? We save 50% of our income by contributing the max for our HSA, 401(k) and our Roth IRA.

We also try to earn more by Airbnbing a spare room in our house. Yes, we don’t have as much privacy but who cares? The money that’s coming in from our BnB helps to pay off some of our mortgage, utilities & HOA bills. We also have a rental property which we rent out to help pay off the mortgage + a bit extra that we put towards principal pay down.

If we have a cash surplus, we save it and invest it in Vanguard funds or as a downpayment for another rental property (we’re still looking for our third property).

What are your future plans for your family?

Be able to travel more, and have more time for us to enjoy our lives without thinking much about money :slight_smile:.

Ruby and Peter have some very cool travel plans for their lives. Check out their adventures on their blog, A Journey We Love, where they record all of their travel adventures, or on Instagram (what a beautiful feed!!!) or Twitter.  Comments or questions? Ruby will be responding directly in the comments section so fire away! (No pun intended! Ok, maybe!). 

Location Independent, International Jobs: Adriana of Money Journey

Hello! Welcome to “Location Independent, International Jobs,” the Wednesday series where I showcase stories from people who have become location independent, work internationally, and/or continuously travel. They’ll be sharing how they became location independent or how they got jobs abroad, but most importantly, they’ll share how their lifestyle has positively or negatively affected their finances and how they got to the life they’re living now. 

 

The reason for this series is to showcase people who have already achieved what the ThreeYear family is working towards: location independence and/or securing international jobs. Since we’re not sure which route we’ll take, we thought we’d hear from people who’ve already achieved one or the other, so we can learn more.  

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Adriana, who blogs at Money Journey. Adriana and her boyfriend have lived in Italy for the past nine years. When Adriana first arrived in Italy, she had no job, spoke very little Italian, and hadn’t even finished college! Now, nine years later, she has a freelance career, has traveled all over the continent, and even occasionally gets mistaken for an Italian! I think you’ll find her story very interesting, especially if you’ve ever considered living abroad. 

Background

My name is Adriana and I’ve been living in Italy with my boyfriend for the past nine years.

Adriaa--www.thethreeyeareexperiment.com
Adriana of Money Journey, with Switzerland behind her

We’re not married yet, nor do we have any kids or pets.
Continue reading “Location Independent, International Jobs: Adriana of Money Journey”

Location Independent, International Jobs: Steve of Think, Save, Retire

Hi folks! Welcome to the second post in my Wednesday series. These are real stories from people who have become location independent, work internationally, and/or continuously travel. They’ll be sharing how they became location independent or how they got jobs abroad, but most importantly, they’ll share how their lifestyle has positively or negatively affected their finances and how they got to the life they’re living now. 

The reason for this series is to showcase people who have already achieved what the ThreeYear family is working towards: location independence and/or securing international jobs. Since we’re not sure which route we’ll take, we thought we’d hear from people who’ve already achieved the life, so we can learn more.  

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Steve, from the blog Think, Save, Retire.  Steve very kindly agreed to share his story when I reached out to bloggers on the Rockstar Finance Forums (check them out! Tons of financial nerd types like myself discussing all aspects of financial independence!).  

Steve retired at age 35 and he and his wife Courtney currently travel the United States in their Airstream (a.k.a. my dad’s dream mode of transportation). Steve has given up traditional employment and now blogs about how he and his wife created a life that freed them up to do more of what they really value the most–namely, travel. 

Without further ado, take it away, Steve!!

Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Where you’re from, how long married, degrees, pets, etc.

I’m 35 and recently retired from full-time work. I worked in the information technology industry for my entire career doing things from computer programming and database administration to being the Director of Information Technology at a not-for-profit organization. I was born on the East Coast, but I’m definitely more of a West Coast kind of person, so I moved out here in 2007 after starting my first real job in Virginia. I’ve been married for almost three years, and my wife and I live in our 30′ Airstream Classic with our two rescued dogs, Patti and Penny.

Steve of Think, Save, Retire--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Steve and Courtney enjoying the good life!

I don’t consider myself to be a “smart cookie.” No prestigious degree (I have a degree in Information Technology from a no-name school in Colorado). I’m not published in journals. My ideas haven’t been studied by industry experts. I’m a normal person just like anyone else. The main difference is I chose a very different life for myself. Continue reading “Location Independent, International Jobs: Steve of Think, Save, Retire”

Location Independent, International Jobs: Mavis

Hi folks! Today I am absolutely delighted to share a new series with you. I’ll be featuring people who are either location independent, have gotten international jobs, and/or who continuously travel. They’ll be sharing how they became location independent or how they got jobs abroad, but most importantly, they’ll share how their lifestyle has positively or negatively affected their finances. 

The reason for this series is to showcase people who have already achieved what the ThreeYear family is working towards: location independence and/or securing international jobs. Since we’re not sure which route we’ll take, we thought we’d hear from people who’ve already achieved the life, so we can learn more.  

Today, I’d like to introduce you to the first person featured in this new series. Mavis is a reader who reached out to me because, as she said, “You guys are on the same path that we are, but opposite! I’m an international teacher, and have worked in Bolivia, Honduras and now Saudi Arabia with my husband and two boys. We have taught overseas for several years and are hoping to achieve FI in the near future so that we can have location permanence for a while.” Mavis and her husband are both teachers, and have taught at international schools all over the world. She’s already been a great resources to me, pointing me in the right direction of the best recruiters and asking any questions I have about teaching internationally. 

I asked if she would share her fascinating story, and I know you’ll be as inspired as I was. So, without further ado, Mavis’s story! 

How International Teaching Has Provided My Family a Strong Foundation for FI

My husband and I turned to international teaching when we were fresh out of graduate school.  We were young, certified teachers, underemployed, adventurous, and ready to travel and experience the world.  We were introduced to the idea through a passing conversation with a colleague who had taught at a school in Taiwan.  Instantly, the scheming and planning began.

Location Independent, International Jobs Interview 1--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Mavis, her husband, and their two boys on a recent trip to Ireland.

After attending the AASSA Recruiting Fair, we found jobs at the American International School in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Our original plan was to teach in Honduras for two years, travel, and come home to Canada to settle into our lives.  After these two years finished, there were still no teaching jobs available in Ontario near our family and friends, and we were not thrilled about the idea of moving back in with our parents as a married 28 year old couple.  We decided to do two more years abroad, this time in Saudi Arabia, in order to save money, gain more experience and see a different part of the world.  Two years soon became three, and now, after a few great job opportunities and adding two new little boys to our family, we have now been in Saudi Arabia for six years.  In total, we have been teaching overseas for eight years, and have stopped making future promises of returning home to our families 😉 Continue reading “Location Independent, International Jobs: Mavis”

Letters of Intent

Mr. ThreeYear has been after me for a couple of weeks. “When are you going to contact international schools? When are you sending letters of intent?”

Our family is on a three-year journey to double our net worth and move abroad. One possibility for our move involves me getting a job as an ESOL Teacher in an international location.

Letters of Intent--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Why would I continue to work when we move abroad? Wouldn’t that limit our location independence? First of all, our plan is to move to one specific international location for a couple of years. We’d really like to expose our kids to new cultures, languages, and parts of the world. We do want to enroll them in a formal school, however. A teaching position gives us many of the benefits we’re looking for.  Continue reading “Letters of Intent”

How to Become Location Independent When You’re Not Yet Financially Independent

In today’s world, thanks to globalization, fast modems, and cheap airfare, it’s increasingly possible to live anywhere. So why don’t we? Mr. ThreeYear and I live in New Hampshire because of his job. We live in the US because it’s an English-speaking country where I was born and raised.

It’s been a dream for some time, though, to become location independent, not to be tied down by employment to one particular city or town,  so that we can move abroad, or even split our year between Chile, where his family lives, or the Carolinas, where my family is.

santiago graffiti--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Mr. ThreeYear and the boys in front of some prime Santiago graffiti

Dreams are fun, and they inspire you to think big and imagine. They can also inspire a certain amount of dissatisfaction with your life, if you let them. When I was always dreaming about moving abroad, but felt it was impossible, it was very frustrating. Continue reading “How to Become Location Independent When You’re Not Yet Financially Independent”