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”

Why Location Independence Might Make Sense Even if You Don’t Want to Travel

Lots of people, including our family, talk about location independence. What does it mean, exactly?

In the broadest definition of the phrase, location independence means being able to live wherever you’d like in the world. People achieve this in different ways.

Why Location Independence Might Make Sense Even if You Don't Want to Travel--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

If you’re financially independent, and have enough assets or investments to live off indefinitely, you can probably become location independent without too much trouble. If you keep your cost of living the same, you can probably pull from your investments from anywhere around the globe. Yes, you might have some hoops to jump through to get there, like health insurance, but if you’re no longer working to pay your bills, chances are you have the freedom to move from place to place. Continue reading “Why Location Independence Might Make Sense Even if You Don’t Want to Travel”

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”

That Time I Moved to a Different Continent

Our family is on a journey to become location independent in three years. One of our plans is to move across the world for a few years. Today, I’ll share the story of the last time I moved to a different continent.

Travel back with me, to many, many, many (ok, not quite so many) years ago. The setting: a shabby chic apartment near my college campus. Two twenty-something women are starting to realize that the real world was closer at hand than they would like.

The Conversation

When I was a senior in college, with “real life” bearing down on me hard, I had a conversation one night with my friend Liz (maybe over martinis, I forget) about what we would do after college. The year before, we’d spent our fall semester in Madrid in an exchange program. We’d had the time of our lives, and were still having trouble adjusting to college life.

“Maybe we should move back to Spain,” I said.

Continue reading “That Time I Moved to a Different Continent”

Why Location Independence is Important for Us

Our family is on a journey to become location independent in the next three years. Currently, our plan is for either Mr. ThreeYear or me to take a job, since we won’t quite be ready to retire. If I take a job with an international American school, I will see if I can negotiate my boys attending as part of my compensation package.

What Does Location Independence Mean, Anyway?

Location independent means different things to different people. Some families, like Tsh from Art of Simple, take a year to travel around the world, spending days or weeks at each location. They’re free to travel because they can work remotely from anywhere.

Travel bloggers like Goats on the Road are permanent travelers, and spend months traveling around different continents, or house sit for a few months at a time between trips. They finance their trips through the income from blogging.

I know Our Next Life was strongly influenced by Robert and Robin Charlton, authors of How to Retire Early. In their book and blog, they spell out how they take frequent long trips throughout the year and return to their home base, a condo in Boulder, Colorado. They saved up a nest egg and retired early and now live off the proceeds.

Continue reading “Why Location Independence is Important for Us”

Let’s Move to: Singapore

My family is on a journey to become location independent in three years. We plan to leave New England and give our family the opportunity to travel together. I can teach English while we’re there, which would give us health insurance and free schooling for the kids, or we might find remote jobs. So today, let’s contemplate moving to Singapore!

The City-State

When my friend moved to Singapore a few years ago, I admit to not even knowing where it was, or that it was both a city and a country.

I had to do some quick Wiki research to figure out that Singapore is a young country (only just over 50 years old) and is on the tip of the Malay peninsula, just below Thailand and Malaysia.

Lee Kuan Yew became the country’s powerful prime minister, implementing strict rules to unite the country’s three distinct ethnic groups—Chinese, Malasians, and Indians from the Tamil region. It’s infamous for one of its rules—no chewing gum in public. According to our friends, these rules were necessary because Yew had inherited a country of people with little education and had to institutionalize polite behavior, so that he could successfully modernize the country. And he did. Singapore went from a third-world to a first-world country in a single generation.

Continue reading “Let’s Move to: Singapore”

Let’s Move to: Bangkok!

Yesterday my husband sent me a link to this school. Last February, almost a year ago, we went on an incredible, two-week anniversary vacation trip to Asia. I’ll highlight how we did that in a future post. We started our stay in Bangkok and my husband loved it. I mean, really loved it.

First of all, Bangkok is an incredibly cosmopolitan city. The food, which is abundantly piled on practically every square inch of sidewalk space, is delicious. Everything is shockingly cheap. We stayed in an AirBnB at the edge of Sukhumvit, a really nice part of the city, for about $23 a night. We ate meals on the street for around $2, for both of us. We splurged on an English-speaking guide, who took us anywhere we wanted to go all day long, for about $80.

Continue reading “Let’s Move to: Bangkok!”

The Three Year Experiment

In July, I turned 37. That felt older than 36. A lot, lot older.  For some reason, probably related to the fact that human beings have an innate sense, even as newborns, of the number 3, this made 40 feel really close. 40 feels old. I remember when my parents had their 40th birthdays like it was yesterday, and friends brought black balloons and tubes of BenGay over as gifts. I mean, look at the birthday gifts you get at 40! (I’m joking. I’m sure 40 will be very nice. I’m just particularly relishing the three years before I have to put a “4” on front of my age). Continue reading “The Three Year Experiment”