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.

A friend of mine had come over for a get-together. Last year, her mom got sick in her home country of Colombia, so she traveled back and forth as much as she could to be with her. Unfortunately, her mom got progressively worse and died. This winter had been especially hard, as my friend is grieving, and she struggles with depression in the winter.

We were talking about this, because I also struggle with depression in the winter. And she looked at me and said, “Then why do you live here?”

“Oh,” I replied, “because of Mr. ThreeYear’s job.” (Of course I didn’t call him Mr. ThreeYear. I’m just protecting his privacy and saving you from saying his hard-to-pronounce real name. Also we were speaking Spanish so this whole conversation is paraphrased).

Snow--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Winter in New Hampshire can be tough (this picture was taken April 1st a couple of years ago).

“Laurie,” she said (I remember like yesterday, in the precious way she says my name in Spanish), “he could get a job anywhere. You need to move and be close to your family.”

Do you know that feeling you get when someone tells you something with a bone-shaking conviction born from speaking absolute truth?

My friend stared at me intently. She’d lost her mother six months ago and had her priorities crystal clear. We kept talking and I gave her more reasons, and she of course politely said, “Oh that makes sense. I see why you’re here,” etc. But she couldn’t take back the truth. It was already out there.

It was a similar moment to Mr. ThreeYear’s and my conversation about what I wanted to do on my 37th birthday and I told him I wanted to travel back and forth between continents.

Both times, my heart recognized those words for what they were. The right path.

This entire school year, we had been recognizing our oldest son’s need for a better support system. He struggles socially, and although he’s bright and funny and kind, he has a hard time making friends. He’s also finishing up fifth grade this year, and in most places, sixth grade will mark the beginning of middle school. He blossoms under the support and love he gets from his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. And we haven’t been able to find the right kind of professional support that is available in larger metropolitan areas.

So, when I shared the conversation I had with Mr. ThreeYear, I started the wheels turning in his head. I only shared with him what our friend had said. I certainly didn’t expect anything to change about our timeline. But Mr. ThreeYear decided to see if working remotely with his current company was a viable possibility. He negotiated for weeks with his boss, figured out ways to make it work, and finally, was given the green light.

Opportunity Costs

Every decision involves tradeoffs and this decision was no different. One of the hard decisions Mr. ThreeYear faced during our experiment was leaving his job. He loves his job. So when he got permission to work remotely, it was a dream come true.

But staying with his old company meant certain things for our location independence:

  • We needed to live in the US so Mr. ThreeYear could travel back and forth to New Hampshire.
  • We needed to live near a major airport, for said reason.
  • We needed to have a home base where Mr. ThreeYear could have an office and do video conferencing, etc.

As we’d been thinking about our location independence, we’d realized that our boys, especially Junior ThreeYear, do better with the structure of a regular school.  Public schools provide lots of resources (Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, classroom support, etc.). We also wanted to have access to the counseling and support we’ve been looking for.

Plus, living near family and having cousins grow up together is a pretty big deal.

The Lake Town

How do you decide where to live if you could live almost anywhere? That was our conundrum. We knew we wanted to live close to our family in the South, and great schools were a must. So that narrowed our options a bit. We also needed to live close to a major airport, so we knew we needed to pick a fairly large city.

But the truth is, after living for eight years in such a rural community, we didn’t want to live in a large city. We weren’t ready to be part of the suburbs either.

So we researched several smaller communities near bigger cities. Summerville and Daniel Island, both near Charleston, South Carolina, were contenders. Schools were good but prices were very high on Daniel Island, even to rent. Also, we were worried about the traffic in nearby Charleston, as the city is growing by leaps and bounds because of new industry there (a Boeing plant). Finally, we would be several hours away from family members–closer, but not super close.

We considered Atlanta and surrounding areas. We’d lived there before, but the traffic is killer (traffic is a big deal to us, apparently). And again, we’d be even farther away from family members.

Charlotte seemed to be a great pick. It’s a smaller city, and has many compelling suburbs. Plus, my sister and her family live there and it’s only two and a half hours from my parents’ house.

Beach sisters seagull The Big News www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Living close to my sister and my niece will be pretty amazing.

We looked into suburbs there and identified Fort Mill, South Carolina, as a great option. Charlotte sits on the border between North and South Carolina, so several of its suburbs are in South Carolina, even though the city itself is in North Carolina. Fort Mill has great schools and people seem to love it there. However, it’s definitely a big city suburb, not very bikeable or walkable, and again, the traffic is really bad.

My sister suggested several towns near her: Cornelius and Davidson, North Carolina. These two towns are located just north of the city, and are only a few minutes’ drive from her house. The schools are very good, and there’s not a lot of traffic in either city.

We went to visit and fell in love with Davidson. It’s a small town (just over 12,000 residents), a college town, and is known for being walkable and bikeable. It’s located on Lake Norman, the largest manmade lake in North Carolina. It has a Saturday Farmer’s Market where the whole town seems to come out and hang out in the middle of town.

Downtown Davidson The Big News www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Downtown Davidson, North Carolina.

Also, the schools are incredible. The middle school, where Junior ThreeYear would be attending, is large, has lots of resources, and is very well ranked. The high school is the 925th best high school in the country, according to US News and World Reports (for comparison, I looked up our local hot shot high school in nearby Hanover, New Hampshire, and it ranked 2031). There are also several charter school options we could enter the lottery for (like Lake Norman Charter, ranked 163 nationally).

The town is in North Carolina, which would mean we’d be residents of NC when the boys pick colleges. And guess which state school is one of the best values in the country? That’s right, UNC Chapel Hill, an incredibly well-ranked college (2017 costs were $18,609 and it was ranked fifth best public university).

The town is 30 minutes from the airport and only 15 minutes from my sister and brother-in-law (and niece).

So what’s the downside? I’ve already mentioned that all our choices have come with trade offs. If Davidson is such a great town, why doesn’t everyone live there? You guessed it, the cost. It’s very expensive to live there. The cost is higher to live in the center of town, where you can walk and bike everywhere. You can still live about 10 minutes away from town and get some more affordable house deals, and there are apartments and condos, but single family homes close to town are very pricey. But we decided that it was worth it for us to pay more for a smaller house and have all the other benefits we were looking for.

Structure and Travel

One of the reasons we decided to pick one community for our location independent base was because we were able to satisfy so many of our values that way. We could be close to our US family, travel more and for longer amounts of time, and continue to pursue financial independence, which is ultimately our goal. Plus, we’ll get to be a part of a community, which is something we believe in.

We’ll use our summers for extended travel. Because we’ll be living right next to our US family, the boys and I can spend most of the summer in Santiago with our family there. And we’ll be able to spend long stretches at our family beach house as well. We’re still figuring out how much travel we’ll be able to take and when, but it will definitely be easier since we won’t need to use our vacation time to see our US family.

Chile--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
We’ll use summers for extended travel opportunities, like seeing family in Chile.

The Future

So what now? We’ve reached our goal of being able to live wherever we want. We’ll be close to my family, and have way more flexibility to spend long stretches in Chile near Mr. ThreeYear’s family.

What in the world will I possibly blog about now? Turns out, I absolutely love to blog, and I’ve loved connecting with the readers who actually follow our up-and-down journey. So I’ll keep writing about working towards FI, travel, and how you can save money and invest even if you’re not a super frugal person or able to save 50% of your income. Because I feel like we need to hear more stories from average-Joes who’ve made tons of mistakes but still have some financial gain to show for it.

Plus, I think it will be pretty fun to see how the reality of location independence lives up to the vision in our heads, and also how FI will change things even more.

I’ll also be talking about three year experiments in general–how we can use them to help us prioritize and do things we never thought were possible.

I hope you’ll join me for the ride.

Author: Laurie

Hi. I'm Laurie, and my family and I have set out to double our net worth and move abroad in the next three years. Join us on our journey!

41 thoughts on “The Big News”

  1. Congratulation, Laurie! Maybe I missed it – but are you going to look for a teaching job there? My cousins and Aunt live right near there too. They keep their boat on Lake Norman! We were just there in April when we met up with the Groovies! Looking forward to following your journey!

    1. Vicki, Wow what a small world! Yes I think I’ll probably get a teaching job in NC but I’m going to be slow about it. Want to make sure everyone’s settled in first and get the right job (the ones I have now are a little crazy schedule-wise). I am going to have to reach out to the Groovies! I know they’re in Charlotte too! 🙂

    1. Thanks Brad! We’re so glad to be back. Ugh, traffic. I haven’t missed it. Here’s hoping that working from home keeps us out of some of it.

    1. Thanks Jaime! We are very excited about the Saturday Farmer’s Market. We hear really good things about the town, so it’s hopefully going to be a great transition.

  2. Exciting changes for you! We are sort of on a similar journey, as we are moving this summer to Wisconsin. The primary reason is to be nearer to most of our family and good friends, with job opportunities being a bit better as well. We also love smaller towns and are excited to start our oldest in kindergarten where we hope to stay long-term. It will be awesome to be closer to the kids’ grandparents, cousins, etc., since we’re currently a 10-hour drive from much of our family. We hope to see everyone more regularly so we can then use our summers off to take longer trips, too! Good luck with your move and settling in your new town–it looks beautiful!

    1. Wow, Mrs. COD, so happy for you. I feel like living closer to family is so good for the kids. Plus, those summer trips. Congratulations! We’re really stoked about the town, so I’m looking forward to settling in.

  3. Well there wasn’t much build up at all – oh man – I thought you were busy but I didn’t know this busy! I love it when somebody tells you something so simple and it’s like BAM, oh my god why didn’t I do this before!

  4. Hey y’all! You’re right up the road from us in Raleigh! I have a friend that moved near there in Huntersville and he’s happy with the area.

  5. Hello Laurie, first of all congratulations. Wow I am impressed by all the efforts and all the possible scenarios for you. It must have been pretty overwhelming but your criterias were pretty clear so that is great. Looking forward to hear more and once again congrats, it must have been a few sleepless nights in the process ;).
    All the best, Jonathan

    1. Thank you thank you Jonathan!! It was a big decision for sure and we’re glad it’s made. I know you can relate! How is your apartment sale going?

      1. Yes I thought of less options than you for the relocation since have less to think about (no kids, no wife) and it still is overwhelming in a way. The apartment sale went very well, it took less than one month from the first discussion with the RE agent until it got sold :). I am thinking of reinvesting 10% of the cash and have the rest in a high yield account or something (the goal is to re-use it in max 2 years as a downpayment). I have some time to think about it.

        1. That’s amazing. When we were thinking of renting I was in the same conundrum–what to do with the proceeds from the sale? The issue is getting the highest yield you can but not tying it up. I don’t know what options you have in Europe but the best I could get for a savings account was about 1.15%.

  6. This post was a compelling way to urge any reader to sit up and look at their priorities. Some conversations have a way of making you act.

    I am really happy for you and your family, Laurie as being location independent is not easily achievable. Kudos and good luck with the move 🙂

    1. Thank you Aparna. 🙂 I’m anticipating a busy/rough couple of weeks ahead, but at the other side will be a pretty cool situation, so I’m trying to remind myself it’s temporary!

  7. wow. i didn’t see that coming. best of luck as it’s great to see people make a leap. that’s good news about mr. 3 being able to stay with his employer. we were just visiting family in saratoga springs this past weekend and people kept asking when we’re moving back. it’s hard figuring out where to live but social life will be the biggest factor for us.

    1. Freddy, it was so hard to keep quiet, let me tell you! Yep, Mr. Three is so relieved it all worked out. It was a tense couple of months figuring that out. I’m 100% for social life moves. I really feel like that makes such a difference to your overall happiness. We’re excited because we actually get along so well with my sister and brother-in-law; they’re our favorite friends.

  8. This is awesome news Laurie, so happy for you and the family. And wow, just taking that bold step of asking has allowed you to become location independent in half the time, very impressed.

    1. That’s a really good point, Ms. ZiYou. It was really hard to ask but he did it and it worked. Like people say, it helped that we had some financial independence so that if something terrible happened and they said no we weren’t going to be destitute. It really does change things when you have money in the bank.

  9. how we’d make our location independent lifestyle look <<< this is where i got stuck… job is allowing people to work remotely if they move out of state… what i'd been wanting…now i have the key to the road and no where to go…. saw your feature on Chief mom officer …said you were moving to NC…i'm here now and trying to go east or west… it's great for families so i can see the appeal…but i'm just me…curious to read more about your journey thus far!

    1. It’s so hard to figure out where to go. I know I sound like a broken record but I really fall back on our core values all the time… family, financial independence, travel. Those really helped us figure out what made the most sense. I know what you mean, though. West Coast has its appeal for sure! And I don’t think we’d have ended up in NC without family nearby, although the weather is great! I think if we didn’t care about being close to family we’d have ended up in Charleston (Daniel Island for good schools but crazy pricey).

  10. How do you decide where to live if you could live almost anywhere? << can you friend come speak some truth into my life… i'm stuck here too…

    of davidson is nice….the ben and jerry's was plenty of fun for the summer… also in the summer Duke TIP hosts an academic summer program at Davidson College for gifted and talented school-aged kids…if your boys don't attend as students…then it's a nice summer job close to home when they get to college! Now I'm really curious to see how you love NC!

    1. Oh my gosh I was a Duke TIP scholar (or something like that) growing up! I will look into that for Junior ThreeYear. Sounds awesome!

      It’s strange that I never thought we’d be moving this year until that conversation. You could try talking about your dreams and plans to a lot of people. You never know when you’ll have that life-changing moment!

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