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”

What You Shouldn’t Spend Money On and Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Me

Mr. ThreeYear and I have, over the course of our ten years of paying attention to finances, amassed a pretty decent net worth. We have done it by prioritizing spending in the areas that we care about (like saving for the future) and cutting spending in other areas. Many times on the blog, I write about the things that we do spend money on, like travel, and I can’t help but get excited and implore you to adopt similar spending habits. However, the truth is, this is a mistake on my part, and I apologize for it. You should not necessarily spend your money on the things I spend my money on. Nor should you save your money for the reasons that I save mine.

What You Shouldn't Spend Money On and Why You Shouldn't Listen to Me www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Why? Because you and I have different values. I’m sure some of our values coincide or else you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog for very long, but it is almost definitely true that you and I value some different things. Your values are based on where you grew up, how you grew up, the challenges you faced, things that went well for you, and special circumstances you currently have in your life. You prioritize your spending based on those values.

In our family, we value three things particularly highly: Continue reading “What You Shouldn’t Spend Money On and Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Me”

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”

Figuring Out the Why

Sometimes we follow paths in our lives for no particular reason–they’re the expected thing to do, or we’ve told ourselves the story of how our lives will look, and so we go about making our lives look like the story.

Boy walking in fall woods Figuring out the why www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

If you’re starting to ask yourself why you’ve made the decisions you’ve made in life, that might be the first step toward realizing you may want to change some things. Our family definitely got to that point after mounting frustration with our inability to spend enough time with our respective families.

We knew that in order to reach our dreams of location independence we would have to make some big sacrifices, ask some hard questions, and explore scary and unfamiliar options. We’d probably have to live in the land of limbo for awhile. Continue reading “Figuring Out the Why”

Location Independence, International Jobs: Jim from Route to Retire

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. I’ve interviewed all kinds of people who all have slightly different takes on location independence or living internationally. Posts include Steve from Think, Save, Retire,  Pete of Do You Even Blog?, and Mrs. Adventure Rich

Guest posters will be sharing how they became (or will become!!) 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

Today, I’m thrilled to introduce Jim from Route to Retire. I reached out to Jim when I heard him share his plans to retire to Panama. Jim discovered the idea of FIRE (financial independence/early retirement) a handful of years ago. On regular salaries, he and his wife (Mrs. R2R) worked hard to reach a $1 million net worth in 2017. They’re now slated to retire at the end of 2019 (Jim will be 44 years old). They plan to move to Panama (along with their daughter, of course) in 2020 as part of their retirement strategy. 

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

I’m 42, my wife is 40, and we’re both from Ohio. I graduated with a degree in Computer Information Systems and my wife with a degree in Child and Family Development.

We met right after I graduated from college – at a bar of all places! It’s a little more innocent than it sounds, though. We were both there with mutual friends that introduced us. We hit it off and have been together ever since and we’ve been married now for over 11 years.

We have a seven-year-old daughter and she’s the most amazing kid in the world. She actually recently wrote part of the second most popular post on my blog’s site titled “Like Father, Like Daughter….” I love her more than anything and she’s really the catalyst for why I want to retire early. It sincerely crushed me that I had to go to work every day shortly after she was born instead of spending those first few years with her. Continue reading “Location Independence, International Jobs: Jim from Route to Retire”

How Much Should You Spend on Travel?

Do you love to travel as much as my family does? For some people, travel is icing on the cake. For others, like me, it gives me life blood and makes everything else I do worthwhile. Long week teaching? That’s okay; our trip in a few months will give me time to rest and see new sites. But how much should you spend on travel each year?

How Much Should You Spend on Travel? --www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

There are so many rules of thumb for other expenditures: 10% of your income on food, 20% on savings (ha! laughs the personal finance community–we know that number should really be 50-70%!), 10% to charity. But there are no good rules of thumb for travel budgets.

Like most expenditures, how much you should spend on travel is highly personal. If you’re still paying off debt, should you allow yourself to travel at all? How much debt do you have? Should you travel if you’re working towards early retirement? Let me just say, to get it out there, that I am assuming you’re able to pay for the vacation outright with cash. Putting a vacation on a credit card is probably about the worst idea ever (although Mr. ThreeYear and I did just that on our honeymoon to Greece. Yes we did. We were dumb).

Full disclosure: Mr. ThreeYear and I have always traveled, even when paying off our $38,000 of credit card and car debt. Continue reading “How Much Should You Spend 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!

Continue reading “Location Independent, International Jobs: Ruby from A Journey We Love”

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”

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”