Beyond the tools previously discussed, Chad and I are lucky to be in very good circumstances to take on this type of lifestyle change. I don’t take that luck for granted.
Here is a brief rundown of some of our current circumstances that are helpful to making this work. Please don’t mistake this for bragging – just a list of the extremely fortunate circumstances (that we in no way earned) that are working in our favor and that one might want to consider when considering this type of decision.
- Ready for a change – we both reached a career crossroads at about the same time, so this wasn’t a situation of either of us asking the other to give something up. This is a complete change for both of us, but one that we both embrace wholeheartedly. At worst we will return home in a year and get jobs, but we were both looking for a career reset, or at least a career break, anyway. So making this change isn’t that scary for us.
- Lovely, supportive, healthy parents – I don’t think we could bear to go so far if any of our parents were struggling and I am so grateful that all are healthy. All of them have been completely supportive of our choice to try this travel lifestyle. We’ll have a place to stay with them for weeks at a time on our return trips home. Most importantly, our dog Hodge will have a happy home with Chad’s folks as we travel. And, though I don’t think it will come to this, they’re an added safety net if anything goes horribly awry. (Featured photo of this post is me, my sister and my parents at a winery in Napa on a recent family vacation.)
- Strong dollar – a lot of our budgeting hinges on how strong the dollar has been in the last several years. It has weakened a bit recently, especially in relation to the euro, but the exchange rate for the dollar versus other currencies remains outstanding. Exchange rate is a big key to being able to earn a lot less money but still have a nice lifestyle abroad. When you’re earning in dollars but spending in pesos, forints and baht, you can stretch a dollar a lot further. At the same time, we will be conscious of the extremely privileged position we’re in coming from the United States and try not to take advantage of other countries’ economic circumstances.
- Being debt-free and having some savings – I can’t imagine taking this type of risk if we still had a student loan payment or any sort of other monthly payments that we’d have to deal with over and above our daily living expenses. We’ve pared down our living costs to limit our spending on the trip to about $100 per day. Adding a payment on top of that would bring added stress. We’re also fortunate to have been able to save some money from the films and Chad’s freelance work in recent years, so we have some buffer as well as some “untouchable” money to come home and restart with. I don’t think the amount of this is important – it is just enough to me feel secure and not stress out over whether we’ll be able to earn enough right away.
- Obamacare – there are many things to like about the Affordable Care Act, but I truly feel it has been a boon to entrepreneurship. Too many would-be entrepreneurs get trapped into jobs based on a benefits package. Being able to get reasonable health insurance via the exchange is allowing both Chad and I to both be freelancers rather than employees for the first time. Yes, we’ll be facing a high deductible if we need to use our insurance in the US. But the vast majority of places we’ll be visiting have excellent healthcare that costs a fraction of what it does in the United States. And we’ll be purchasing a travel insurance plan for the months we’re abroad to cover any emergency medical expenses.
I don’t believe that if any of the above listed items is not true for you right now that you wouldn’t be able to try out full-time travel. But I’m grateful for these good things in our lives that are making it easier for us.
You might be surprised by some of our circumstances not making this list. My next post will talk about some of the things you might have expected to see covered (like being childless) that I really don’t think are big factors, and I’ll say why I think that to be the case. Stay tuned!