Your Three Year Experiment: Scott and Caroline

Hi there! As promised last week, today I have a brand new series for you, featuring people who are sharing their three year experiments, that is, their plans, goals, and dreams for the next three years. 

Your Three Year Experiment: Scott and Caroline www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Today I’m thrilled to introduce Scott and Caroline, who share their early retirement strategies at Costaricafire. In this interview, you’ll learn:

  • how they created a real estate portfolio to help them retire
  • the three income streams they’ll use to fund retirement
  • the first thing they’ll do when they’re fully location independent

If you’d like to be featured in the series, send me a note! My contact info is on the Start Here page.

Hello! Tell us about yourselves.

We are Scott and Caroline, 40-something parents of two daughters from New York City. Caroline has been operating her own Career Coaching business for over 10 years after a career in finance, consulting and recruiting, and Scott has recently stepped away from a 23-year IT career to focus on our real estate investments and IT consulting.

Scott and Caroline in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, one of the towns they plan to live in during retirement.

What’s your background? Early years, education, married, kids, jobs?

Continue reading “Your Three Year Experiment: Scott and Caroline”

What’s Next for the Three Year Experiment?

In July of 2016, I turned 37. My husband and I lived in New England, far from both sides of our family, because of his job. I longed to be able to live in a place with milder winters, see my family more, and travel for extended periods of time. I longed to be able to visit Chile and see his side of the family, more than once every three years.

What's Next for the Three Year Experiment? www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

So when he asked me what I wished for on that birthday, I voiced my crazy wish, “I want to be able to spend half the year in Chile with your family and half in the Carolinas with mine.” At the time, it was impossible. His job kept him in New Hampshire, our kids were in school there, and we were far from financial independence. Yes, we’d spent the last eight years growing our net worth, first by paying off our $38,000 of consumer debt in 2008 and then slowly growing our net worth from there, but we were no where near the amount needed to quit work. Continue reading “What’s Next for the Three Year Experiment?”

June Net Worth Update

Hi! I missed you last week. First, we had a joint work conference for Mr. ThreeYear, then we spent one day loading the moving truck, then one day cleaning the house, two days traveling from New Hampshire to North Carolina, and one day prepping for our close. By the time you’re reading this, we’ll be homeowners once again, this time in North Carolina.

June Net Worth Update www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

I wanted to blog so much but it wasn’t happening.

I’ve never been so tired. Maybe after having the kids. Definitely after having the kids. But man, this is a close second. Moving is hard. Of course, we know it will be amazing once we get moved in and settled down, but for now, not knowing where my pjs are, or Mr. ThreeYear’s iPad, or pretty much anything, is disconcerting. Throw a mandatory joint work conference, an 8-year-old birthday party, and a graduate class with tons of work into the mix, and I was fried.

Charlotte sign www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Seeing that sign after two full days in a car felt very good.

Also, yesterday, my sister thought she’d speed up my transition into North Carolina living, by taking me to a yoga class on someone’s back porch in 88 degree weather. Ten minutes into class, there was a puddle of sweat on my mat. And I think (ok, I know!) I belong in the beginner yoga class. These ladies were popping up into headstands on a dime. It’s a really good thing there’s no picture of that.

If you’re just joining, our family of four is on a three-year journey to double our net worth and become location independent. Since we’ve achieved the latter goal, we’ll be primarily focused on the former in each of these reports going forward. Each month, I record our progress on our net worth and our spending. Last year, we increased our net worth by 32% over the year before. This year, we’re trying to increase it by more than 65% from where we started in December 2016. Given the wild ride the market’s likely to take us on this year, I’m not sure it’s doable. But we’re going to try.

This month’s net worth report will be a little strange. It will take into account the (massive) loss of equity in our net worth from the move. We paid for realtors’ fees, closing costs, repairs, the move itself, attorneys’ fees, hotel stays, eating out, and the other myriad costs to move. Was it worth it? 100%! We’re living our dream of location independence (very firmly in one location, but hey, that’s what we want). It is a little hard to write down in black and white, though. Continue reading “June Net Worth Update”

Our Location Independence: Your Questions Answered

After I posted our news that we’re moving to North Carolina this summer and will officially be location independent, some of you had questions. I thought I’d publish a follow up post to answer those questions and hopefully shed a bit more light on some of the decisions we made.

But first, make sure you read this post that details that plan. It contains a lot of information about where we’ll be and what we’ll be doing!

Okay, on to your questions!

The Numbers

Jalpan from Passive Engineering asks, “My question would be on the numbers. How did you decide your original number  and how did you reach the conviction that you’ll still be okay even though you’ve not hit it?”

Great question, Jalpan. When we first decided the net worth number we wanted to hit, we knew it wasn’t the same as our FI number. In order to be completely financially independent, we’d need to save up more than our double net worth goal. But, we assumed that during location independence we’d either:

  • be working full time or
  • be traveling for a short amount of time, like a year

Continue reading “Our Location Independence: Your Questions Answered”

The Big News

Mr. ThreeYear and I have some news to share. I’ve been waiting to tell you for awhile, but I wanted to wait until everything was finalized first.

The Big News www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

This summer, we’re going to be location independent!

That’s right, we’re doing it a full year and a half earlier than our plan. Needless to say, we’re pretty excited.

No, we haven’t reached our goal of doubling our net worth (we’ll keep working on that). And no, we aren’t going to take off on an around-the-world trip (yet!). But we are going to be able to move wherever we’d like.

We’ve sold our house in New Hampshire. We’re just waiting until the end of the month to close and move. I’ll be sure to write about all the details of our house sale and move later this summer.

And, we’ve found a place to live in a small community in a lake town of North Carolina.

How Did This Happen?

We felt very good about our timeline of becoming location independent by the end of 2019, and were working hard to save up and make decisions about how we’d make our location independent lifestyle look (if you read earlier posts, you’ll see we’ve changed our minds on that a lot over this past year and a half). But, this January, I had a fateful conversation. Continue reading “The Big News”

Location Independent, International Jobs: Jaime from Keep Thrifty

Hello! Welcome to “Location Independent, International Jobs,” the Wednesday series where I showcase stories from people who have become location independent or work internationally.

Today you’ll hear from Jaime from Keep Thrifty. Jaime and her husband Chris write about exploring the location independent lifestyle over the last year . I’m amazed at how brave and out-of-the-box they are in the decisions they make for their family. They refuse to take the road that they’re “supposed to,” and instead make the decisions that are right for their family.
This interview will cover:
  • How to take a mini-retirement
  • Financing a traveling lifestyle
  • The downside of location independence
For the complete story of how Jaime and Chris have made a mini-retirement (and trial location independence) work for their family, read on.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Family on a Hawaii beach www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Chris, Jaime, and their girls in Hawaii this year. 
My husband and I met while in college at UW-Madison. Before Chris graduated, he was offered a full time job at GE where he had his co-op. This allowed him to stay in Madison since I had two more years before I graduated. After I finished school, I worked as a personal trainer, we bought a house, got married, Chris got his MBA, and we had our first baby, N.

We were settled and content, but under it all we longed for more. Then I found out I was pregnant with twin girls, had a tough pregnancy, prayed for my babies, and at 37 weeks welcomed A & B into the world. A had surgery right away and spent a month in the NICU. Our life was at once overwhelming, but it was the push we needed to move past contentment and start working on our dreams.

Jaime in the hospital with twins location independence www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
After the birth of their twins

Your Complete Guide to Location Independence for Families

Have you ever dreamed of having the freedom to live wherever you’d like? Have you thought about moving to a warmer/cheaper/bigger/smaller town or city? Have you dreamed of being able to travel for longer than two weeks a year with your entire family?

Your Complete Guide to Location Independence for Families www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Our family is pursuing a dream to become location independent, in order to be able to be closer to our families who live on two different continents, enjoy warmer weather than we currently do in New Hampshire, and travel for longer stretches of time.

For the last year and a half, we’ve been exploring ways to make that dream come true. We’re investigating overseas employment options. We’re saving and investing in order to double our net worth. We’re looking into non-traditional work arrangements.

What is location independence?

Location independence is a term used to describe a lifestyle in which you’re not tied to one location. You are free to travel for long stretches of time, if you so desire. You’re not tied to a place because of your job. You don’t have work obligations that mean you need to report to an office each day. You may live in one city, but you’re free to choose that city. You’re able to practice geographical arbitrage, and live in a region of your country or the world that costs less.

It’s generally a term that’s used when people are still working, and haven’t yet reached financial independence, but because of the way they’ve structured their lives, they’re able to work from anywhere, or almost anywhere. Location independence for families is building a lifestyle where your entire family can come with you. Whether you’re a family of 2, 5, or 25, location independence can work for a family, but extra planning IS required.  Continue reading “Your Complete Guide to Location Independence for Families”

Location Independent, International Jobs: Dana Leigh Lyons of Alchemist Eating

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.

In today’s interview, you’ll hear Dana’s story. Dana is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, teaches at a Chinese Medicine college, and runs her own coaching business: Alchemist Eating.  As a long-distance eating and lifestyle coach, Dana helps people eat in a way that’s healthy, intuitive and uncomplicated. Her work combines eating, medicine and minimalism.
This interview will cover:
  • how Dana created a location independent career in an unlikely field
  • why it can make sense to change careers in your 30s
  • tips to eat well for less, including the foods you should buy
For the complete story of how Dana has made a location independent life, read on. 
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I come from a small, rural town in Maryland but lived abroad on-and-off throughout adulthood.

Dana Leigh Lyons www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Dana Leigh Lyons of Alchemist Eating. (Photo credit: Bobbi Barbarich)

I’m now in my 40s but in my 20s and 30s worked as a location-independent translator, editor and writer. In that “past life,” my homes included Washington, DC, (where I completed my Master’s degree), Egypt, Thailand, and many super-temporary spots (China, Ethiopia, Lebanon and Mongolia, to name a few!).

Dana Leigh Lyons--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Dana meditating with her cat by her side. (Photo credit: Bobbi Barbarich)

I tended to change homes (and continents) every few years during my 20s, but then moved to Nelson, British Columbia, for Chinese Medicine school. The doctor program here is 5 years, which meant staying put! Thereafter, I spent time in Florida and Colorado, where I’m licensed as a doctor and started my own business. Until… the Chinese Medicine school invited me back to teach. I was thrilled to return to my “true home” of Nelson, where I now teach acupuncture, herbs and food therapy. I’m also helping develop the college’s upcoming nutrition program.

Continue reading “Location Independent, International Jobs: Dana Leigh Lyons of Alchemist Eating”

The Best Advice I Know for Becoming Location Independent

Our family is currently on a three year experiment to double our net worth and become location independent. While we’re not there yet, we’ve learned a lot on this journey.
The Best Advice I Know for Becoming Location Independent www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
If you’re thinking about cutting the ties and becoming location independent, here are a few things we’ve learned (some, the hard way):

Kill the Debt

First things first, get rid of your debt. There is nothing more binding than owing someone or some entity money. Pay off your credit card balances, student loans, and car loans as fast as you can. Consider selling your house to rent. When you owe money to a person or an institution, not only are you beholden to that person or entity, you’re stuck working long hours, in order to pay your fixed expenses and pay back your debt, as well.
If you’re thinking about traveling, living internationally, or taking on a job that allows you to live anywhere, I highly recommend paying off your debt first. There’s an inherent unpredictability that can come with location independence, especially if it involves living in an international location or traveling for long stretches, and being out from under the burden of debt payments is freeing.

Continue reading “The Best Advice I Know for Becoming Location Independent”

Location Independent, International Jobs: Kara from Provincial Table

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.

Kara Provincial Table winery Germany vineyards www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
In today’s interview, you’ll hear Kara‘s story. Kara is a mom of 4, married 22 years to her college sweetheart, and a simple living blogger. I asked her to tell me her story after I kept seeing her amazing Instagram accounts of her European trips. 
This interview will cover:
  • how Kara and her husband TJ are able to travel around Europe for a month at a time
  • how frugal living has allowed them to pursue their love of travel, even while raising four kids
  • how they keep their spending low, even in a HCOL area and with kids at home and in college
  • best tips for low-cost travel
For the complete story of how Kara and her husband take month-long trips to Europe, read on! 
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I don’t consider myself an expert in travel, money or simple living. My blog is a space to have conversations about ideas that can add value to life. Sometimes I talk about money, and other times the topic is growing vegetables. It’s really about all the activities that are necessary to live well; food, exercise, money, goals, self-investment, travel, gardening, minimalism and lots of other things. Habits can have a big impact on our quality of life; everything really is related. Working toward financial freedom and living frugally doesn’t have to mean operating from a place of scarcity. I’ve been so inspired by others’ stories and it brings me joy to pass it along to someone else. I hope in sharing my thoughts and experiences, I can encourage others to find their version of happy too.

Kara and TJ--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Kara and TJ on a recent trip to Hawaii

I grew up in the Midwest, married my high school sweetheart at nineteen, and had four children. We’ve been married for twenty-two years.

Our oldest daughter is twenty-one and works as a gas turbine engineer in the Navy. We have three boys, aged 19, 17, and 16. Our oldest son is studying software in college and shares an apartment with roommates. Only our two youngest boys live at home now and will both be graduated from high school in two years. Since we started out so young, it seems like we’re on the verge of life 2.0 and it’s exciting! We’ve got big ambitions!

I studied respiratory therapy and worked in that capacity in the hospital setting. When we moved to Colorado, I was ready for a change and went back to school to study science, a field I’ve always loved. I have four more classes left to complete my degree in molecular biology. In order to earn some extra money and keep developing my skills, I’ve done some work part-time as a teaching assistant for the writing department at the university I attend.

My husband TJ manages a product development group for an AV company based in Orange County, California. He works out of their smaller Colorado office and travels to the California office often. He loves the creativity and flexibility of his profession.

We’ve always been frugal and have saved money as we could over the years. A little over two years ago, I began reading more about finance and learned how we could be leveraging our money more effectively.   Paying off consumer debt, downsizing our lifestyle, fully utilizing saving vehicles such as 401k, IRA, HSA and after-tax investment accounts has significantly increased our savings rate and brought us peace of mind.

In order to accomplish this, we live modestly. We own a 2-bedroom townhome and try to minimize our possessions more each year; following a minimalist lifestyle has freed up so much time, space and money. We have one car, a Toyota Corolla; we drive only when necessary. Instead, we bike whenever possible, even to the grocery store. We plan our meals, shop sales, eat leftovers, pack lunches, rarely eat out, and use our chest-freezer to minimize food waste. We use a clothesline to dry most of our laundry. We have Netflix instead of cable TV. We have a wide range of interests and entertain ourselves at home with cooking, hiking, listening to music, reading, and gardening. Rather than a miserly or spartan life, it’s full of life! And sprinkled in between is travel to interesting places. The goal is to invest in and improve ourselves along the way.

Continue reading “Location Independent, International Jobs: Kara from Provincial Table”