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”

When You Want to Move, But You’re Scared

Sometimes, new opportunities can seem amazing. Becoming location independent, traveling the world, taking a job in a foreign country.

Move Scared Bali Coast Blue Ocean www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

But let’s face it. Those opportunities can also be terrifying. How do you leave a place where you’ve lived, maybe for years? How do you take your kids out of the only school they’ve ever known? How do you leave your family behind?

Related Reading:

With exciting new opportunities come LOTS of feelings. Mr. ThreeYear and I have wrestled with lots of these feelings and emotions during our three year experiment. And it turns out, we’re not the only ones.

Jaime, who runs the blog Keep Thrifty with her husband Chris, is facing the same daunting challenges of leaving what she knows and loves to face the great unknown as her family debates taking another year of mini-retirement, going back to traditional corporate jobs, or moving somewhere new.

Like us, Chris and Jaime are contemplating moving somewhere new or possibly, extended travel. They have lived their entire married lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and are surrounded by their extended families, whom they and their three girls see regularly. They’re facing the uncertainty and guilt of leaving behind their families in the face of a really strong pull towards adventure.  Continue reading “When You Want to Move, But You’re Scared”

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”

How We Are Working Towards Location Freedom: Guest Post on Keep Thrifty

Today I’m excited to guest post on Keep Thrifty. Keep Thrifty is a personal finance and travel blog run by Chris and Jaime, who live in Madison, Wisconsin. They’re run some amazing lifestyle experiments in the last few years, including living in half their house, moving to an apartment, and taking a one-year mini-retirement. I love how brave and willing to think outside of the box they are for their family.

In the post, I share how I caught the travel bug, met and married Mr. ThreeYear, and then settled into… life as we know it! I share the reasons we’ve embarked on our three year experiment and what we hope to get out of it as we work towards location independence, or location freedom, as Keep Thrifty calls it! It sure is freedom!! Not being tied down to one job or one place is such a freeing thought. Gives me goosebumps just thinking about it! Continue reading “How We Are Working Towards Location Freedom: Guest Post on Keep Thrifty”

How to Cut the Cord: Guest Post on 99 to 1 Percent

Our family is on a three-year journey to double our net worth, sell our house, and become location independent–in other words, to cut the cord and travel.

If you haven’t read our complete story, it was just featured on the blog 99to1Percent.

How to Cut the Cord--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

99 to 1 Percent

Here’s a sample:

Have you ever woken up to a truly terrible winter day, with snow and sleet pouring down, gray clouds and cold everywhere, and thought, “Get me out of here! I want to live somewhere warm and tropical!” before you pulled the covers back over your head? Continue reading “How to Cut the Cord: Guest Post on 99 to 1 Percent”

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”

My Inspirations for Location Independence

Location independence, or being able to travel or live anywhere independent of a job, is something that has always appealed to me. Part of the reason is that Mr. ThreeYear’s family lives on one continent, and mine on another. So we always feel caught in-between. But even before I met Mr. ThreeYear, I dreamed about dividing my time between two places, or traveling the world.

My Inspirations for Location Inpdendence--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Along the way, I’ve been inspired by people who have lived a similar life.

The flight attendant from my TESOL program

In August of 2001, I traveled to Montreal to complete a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) training program before I moved to Chile. I met a Colombian flight attendant while I was there, and asked her where she lived. Her answer astounded me. “I divide my time between North and South America,” she told me. She lived in Montreal for the summer and fall and Colombia in the winter and spring. Her children were older, I remember, already in college, and she and her husband split their time between two places they loved. Continue reading “My Inspirations for Location Independence”

Interview with Mr. ThreeYear

Mr. ThreeYear, apart from increasing the height and attractiveness genes of my children (thanks, honey!), is one-half of the brains behind our location independence plan. He also has an incredible story of growing up in difficult circumstances and working very hard to make a better life for himself.

Interview with Mr. ThreeYear

Since normally, I write the blog and Mr. ThreeYear just reads it, I thought I’d turn the reins over to him and allow him to share his thoughts on location independence, overcoming obstacles, and reaching financial independence.

Can you tell everyone a little about your background?

I was born in Santiago, Chile, in the mid-seventies. I grew up under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Our family was not really political; however, it was clear to see that it was not a smart idea to publicly oppose the government because of the consequences it would bring to your family.

I was the youngest of four siblings. I have two much older sisters who married and left the house early. My brother was also older, by eleven years. We lived right next to my grandmother. The country was very economically depressed. It was hard to get jobs. Unfortunately, my dad was unemployed for a long time, which made my mom the main breadwinner, working three jobs at a time (she was a special education teacher). We never starved, but it was clear to me that we were at the lower end of the financial spectrum. Continue reading “Interview with Mr. ThreeYear”

Location Independent, International Jobs: Kerri

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, here, and here!). Guest posters will 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 Kerri, who happens to be… my sister! Not only is she one of the most creative people I’ve ever met, she and her husband Joel have created an incredible Etsy business making handcrafted leather goods. Their business was recently featured in the Charlotte Observer (they live in the Queen City). About a year and a half ago, the business had grown to the point that Kerri was able to quit her job at a design firm and work full-time from home. I interviewed her last week while I was staying with her for a few days. Here’s her inspiring story of entrepreneurship and location independence! 

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I was a graphic design major in college. I’ve always been someone who likes to make things and I’ve always been crafty. When I was a kid, my definition of playing was making things. [Laurie: Yep. She and I had many a Barbie fashion show, and Kerri created fabulous Barbie outfits out of bits of fabric and ribbon. She also made crazy cool tree houses and forts in the woods]. After college, I got a job with a yearbook design company doing corporate marketing and I worked there for one year. After college, I moved to Milan, Italy, to attend Domus Academy, a prestigious design school, to obtain my masters in design. I’d always wanted to move abroad, and I teamed up with a friend of mine from college to plan a way to get there. I was there for a year and while I was there, I got a crash course in product design and the Italian design process.

Kerri in her studio--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Kerri in her Charlotte, NC, leather working studio.

When you think of Italian design, you think of some of the greatest designers in the world. And I was heavily influenced by the Italian way of doing things. They have such an incredible sense of history and craftsmanship there, a strong sense of history and tradition in everything they do. There is always a nod to the past and to the process. That stuck with me, not to mention the leather.

When I got back from Italy, I moved back to Charlotte, where I’d been living before I got my Master’s. It was a down economy, so I felt very lucky to get my old job back. It wasn’t my dream job, but it was stable design work. Joel, my then-boyfriend, and I had been dating for a few years at that point, and we got married in 2010. We met in college, where he was also a graphic design major. While I was in Italy, he’d gotten a job with Rubbermaid designing their packaging.
Continue reading “Location Independent, International Jobs: Kerri”