Yesterday was my blog’s two-year anniversary. Last year my anniversary slipped by, unnoticed, but this year, as I’m just back from FinCon, the financial bloggers’ conference, I’ve been more introspective.
When I started my blog, at first, I posted about once a month. I was scared, frankly. I didn’t know what I was doing and sent the poor guys at Squidix, my web host, emails about every other day because the back end stuff was over my head.
And honestly, I wasn’t sure that my plan, the one I’d announced so grandiosely but still felt so tentative about, would really work.
I puttered on with my monthly posts for a while, and then, in January 2017, I had the profound good fortune to meet up with Liz of the Frugalwoods blog. She is, in person, just like she is on the blog. Frugal, of course (we met up in a local library after Littlewoods had a playgroup and ate our brown bag lunches together), but also down-to-earth, approachable, and nice. She’s also really good at blogging. Not in the “make a bunch of affiliate income” way, but in the “setting goals and creating an engaged audience” kind of way. Continue reading “Two Years of Blogging”
Just after July 10, 2016 (i.e. my 37-th birthday), Mr. ThreeYear and I set a goal. Well, I set a goal and he went along with another crazy-will-this-actually-work idea of mine. A goal to double our net worth and become location independent in three years.
The seed was planted that summer, in a graduate class I was taking, when my professor mentioned an option for ESL teachers with Masters degrees to teach overseas as part of a program with the State Department.
It was planted fifteen years earlier, when I’d met a flight attendant in my ESL training program in Quebec who divided her time between Ecuador and Montreal.
It was planted three years before that, when I’d met a guy in college who grew up the first half of his life in South America and the second in Asia.
The seed was planted when I read about Tsh Oxenreider, founder of the Art of Simple website, who traveled around the world with her family and chronicled their journey in her book.
Where do you live? Is it on purpose or by chance? Since we’re moving in a few more days, I thought I’d take a look at some of the best places to live in the US (sorry international readers!).
US News and World Reports tallied major metropolitan areas in the US to come up with this list. They used a strong job market, cost of living, quality of life, desirability (whether you want to live there), and migration to rank the cities.
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!
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
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”
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?
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.
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”
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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”