My name is Kristen and I’m living the dream life that my husband, Greg, and I designed. We wanted to be digital nomads, and here we are doing it.
We wanted to move abroad.
We wanted to explore the world, and we wanted to show our daughter there is life outside of the United States.
We wanted to save money and pay off debt.
We wanted to achieve financial independence and “retire early.”
Our late-in-the-night conversations stemmed around our dream to teach our daughter about democracy on top of the Acropolis and evolution in the Galapagos. We imagined our daughter filling out college applications some day and having a distinct advantage because she’d be telling the story of how she traveled the world her whole life. That was and is our dream for her.
It wasn’t just for our daughter though.
Greg and I had excitement coursing through our veins about world travels. We were curious with adventurous spirits.
We wanted to create a life allowing us to work from laptops, and, of course, making enough money to make this happen. Living as digital nomads seemed so cool!
We wanted less shit and more experiences.
We wanted to tell stories more than accumulating things.
So, we knew we wanted to do this. We knew why we wanted to do it. But, we weren’t exactly sure of how.
How in the hell would we afford to move abroad and travel the world? We had a lot of things, cars, family… a life living in Arizona, right?
We knew it’d happen someday, we just never knew when that someday would arrive.
Planning for it was never a part of the pillow talk.
It was always just all the cool things we’d do and why.
Time went on, my daughter had another birthday (turning 6 at the time), and I read a book, Global Student.
The whole book was inspiring about families moving abroad. They were doing what I wanted to be doing.
Light Bulb Moment – We Could Afford This!
But there was one specific part where the light bulb went on for me. I realized we could start planning the chapter of our life to live abroad sooner than later. Like now!
I didn’t realize it, but, at the time, things had been shaping up in our life to support our dream.
As if I’d been subconsciously doing things to plan for this new life and not realizing it. I’d been slowly getting passionate about living a minimalist life.
So, for the previous few years I’d been slowly letting things go such that we didn’t have a home full of hundreds of thousands of things like most people.
Being digital nomads was much easier to plan when I realized how little I need to live, thrive, and be happy.
By that time, I’d been diving into frugal living so we could get out of debt. Our goal was to be financially independent. We wanted the freedom to work on all of our passion projects. I will share tons more on how we saved money living frugally and paid thousands of dollars toward our debt.
No more rent
At the time of reading Global Student, we were renting a condo and that light bulb moment said, “Your lease ends in June of 2018, and at that point you won’t be paying rent and can go live anywhere in the world.”
Whoa – wait a minute
We rent… we have a monthly nut of rent, utilities, Internet, etc. But… in June of 2018 that’s done! Or at least it can be done… We have choices!
We can renew the lease and stay there.
OR! We can move to another rental somewhere else in the Phoenix area.
OR! Wait, hold the fucking phone…
We can move to another part of the world and just pay rent there. In other words, we wouldn’t have bills in the USA so can simply take that money and apply it to the same things in another part of the world. I’d never considered this.
Traveling the world and living elsewhere doesn’t mean keeping everything the same in the USA.
If you have a home you can sell it. If you rent a home, you can stop renting it when the lease ends. (I can’t believe this didn’t dawn on me prior to reading Global Student.) For whatever reason, I thought living abroad meant basically having two places: one is the USA and one abroad (short term rentals or hotel stays). Silly me.
And let me tell you… you don’t necessarily need a lot either. We’re living on the cheap and saving money by not living in the USA – all while traveling the frickin’ world! More on that in future posts. The savings in health care alone is awesome.
The main bread winner in our house was Greg.
At the time of all of this, Greg was a business consultant with a home office. He essentially worked from a laptop, taking many client meetings over the phone or internet. Sometimes he took meetings face to face.
I was still blogging and had authored books that sold a few here and there. Nothing major because I wasn’t actively marketing them, blogging a lot, or doing much on social media.
It was also a time we had the idea of launching the children’s books he now co-authors and illustrates. We now have three of the books published and if you have kids, please check them out. They’re amazing!
With this in mind, we knew it was possible for Greg to continue his consulting and I could put new life into my online work. Being digital nomads wouldn’t be hard. So long as we had an internet connection we could pretty much work anywhere.
Greg’s long term goal was not servicing as many clients, but for the time being since that’s what he was doing, he started getting his clients used to the idea that he wouldn’t be available for face-to-face meetings. Over the time when we decided we’d move abroad, and the actual time of leaving, he started meeting clients via the internet and phone to help them prepare for this change.
So, we were digital nomads going into this. That helped.
But, if that’s not you yet, do not think this life doesn’t apply to you because it still can. In future posts I’m sharing how we’re making money now (when Greg doesn’t have hardly any clients) doing stuff we didn’t start until we had already moved abroad! And, if your family makes money with a conventional 9-5 job in an office, I’ll share more ways in the future about how you could still live a life abroad.
We’re not the only family doing this.
It got even more exciting when I thought it through more (inspired by that book, Global Student and others like Mother Tongue). I realized there were TONS of amazing places all over the world that were actually cheaper than living in the United States. This meant we could actually SAVE a lot more money. There were other families doing this exact same thing.
Bottom line: We knew we could afford this world travel lifestyle.
We could be digital nomads and live abroad.
Financial things were taking shape in my mind back then. I realized this was possible(!) and it could happen as soon as our lease ended. Mind blown.
When I realized this, and I took stock of the fact that we were essentially minimalists already. We could apply a frugal mind-set to living all over the world. The fire was lit under my ass.
I knew we could be digital nomads … and when.
That was in the fall of 2016. With the lease ending in June 2018, we had a year and half to plan (longer than we needed but happy to take the time).
We did it.
We sold pretty much everything, the lease ended, and I’m writing this 8 months into living abroad.
We talked about it, we dreamed about it, we made it happen.
It’s the most amazing feeling and experience. I can only describe it as a sense of freedom unlike anything I’ve encountered. This chance to pick new and different places to live any time we want. Having so few possessions we can literally pack and move whenever we need or want.
We’re having fun and loving our life. We designed it. We’re living it.
It’s been a learning curve the past 8 months. I continue to fine-tune the experience and I plan to share everything I’m learning with you here on my blog including everything we did to plan for it, how we’re making money to support ourselves, where we go, what we eat, how we stay healthy, basically everything about our digital nomad family life.
The point is to show you everything we’re doing so that you can see that you can do it, too. And, I do mean… you. I think this lifestyle is available for anyone who wants it.
If you have questions, I’d love to help. Email me at Kristen@GlobalKristen.com or tweet to me @KristensRaw on Twitter.