There are many things that I look forward to after Mrs. 1500 and I leave our jobs. Near the top of the list is extensive travel. In our current lives, vacations consist of one week of running around like crazy people trying to squeeze in far too much. Post-work, I look forward to travel that is measured in weeks and months instead of days.
Fellow blogger Tawcan has similar dreams. I was eager to learn more about them, so I asked him for a guest post. He was awesome enough to come up with a pretty great post and include some of his breathtaking photos.
Take it away Tawcan!
Traveling and living abroad
Every human wants to be free, free from being controlled, free from being told what to do. We as humans however also like to stay in our comfort zone, because it’s comfortable and we don’t like changes. Being someone that’s left-handed, I like to think outside of the norm. This leads me to be a true believer that if we’re not extending our comfort zone and learning, we’re busy dying. We only fear what we don’t know and this is perhaps what’s holding many people back from looking at different alternatives than the typical lifestyle also known as the norm. We all need to sit down and think through our lives and determine how we can improve our lives. For us, traveling and living abroad is one of the ways to expand our comfort zone.
One of our dreams when reaching financial independence is to explore the world by traveling and living abroad. Our love for travel started when we were both young. Since we were kids, both Mrs. T and I have had the opportunity to visit many different countries with our parents. In our 20’s, we were fortunate enough to explore the world on our own. As a young Dane, Mrs. T worked as a tour guide in her early 20’s and this experience allowed her to work and live in Egypt, Lanzarote (Canary Islands), and Sri Lanka. As a young Taiwanese-Canadian, I worked in Germany during my university time and travelled all over Europe. Although we have traveled to many different countries on our own (24 for her, 19 for me), we have only visited a few countries together. Thanks to the world scratch map hanging in our living room, we have something visual to inspire us to explore the world together.
Achieving Financial Independence Faster
Before I go on further, please allow me to define our definition of financial independence. For us, financial independence means our passive income equals or exceeds our expenses. We have the choice to decide whether we can continue working actively or not, we have the freedom to decide what we want to do with our lives. Right now the majority of our passive income comes from our dividend portfolio – averaging about $950 Canadian per month. We are aiming to have the dividend portfolio covering our monthly expenses in roughly 10 years.
Traveling and living abroad doesn’t necessarily mean our expenses will increase. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. We can certainly accelerate our 10 year financial independence plan by setting foot in lower cost countries compared to Canada, such as Mexico, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Croatia, or Taiwan. By living in a “cheaper” country, we don’t need as much passive income to be financially independent. Essentially, we can become financially independent quicker. We can retire and live around the world, earn a modest amount of money, and continue having a similar lifestyle as what we currently have living in Vancouver. How much cheaper would your monthly expenses be if you don’t have to pay some of the “fixed” cost like mortgage payment, house insurance, electricity, gas, car insurance, and etc.? By living in a lower cost country, we can lower our living expenses significantly. For example, instead of a monthly budget of $3,000 Canadian, we may live comfortably on a $1,500 Canadian budget in a country like Thailand.
Think of the Children!
Traveling and living abroad is perhaps more straight forward if you’re DINK (Double Income No Kids). Since we have a 2 year old toddler and another one on the way, due in Q1, our idea of traveling and living abroad requires us to think more about the kids and how we can do that best.
Mrs. T and I realize that education is important. However, our traveling plans would mean that the kids will be away from school for an extended period of time. After some discussions, we believe home schooling is probably the best option. Language(s), Math, Science, Social Study, and Physical Education, are part of the typical education curriculum. But ask yourself, what is a more effective way of learning? Sitting in a classroom, reading books and watching videos about WWI? Or physically being in the WWI battle fields, walking through the trenches, seeing thousands of crosses in the different cemeteries, and having the chill down your spine on how terrible wars are? I never liked memorizing the different geographic items during geography classes, but love exploring different cities without a map and learning the geographic locations of the different cities through my own experience. What’s a better way to learn a different language than living in a country that speaks this particular language? To Mrs. T and me, we believe traveling and living abroad would provide so much more learning opportunities than the typical school educational system for our kids.
Examine the Options
When it comes to traveling and living abroad, we believe there are two options for us.
First option is to sell most of our belongings to become nomads, roaming from city to city. We can stay in one city for an extended period of time, explore the area, move to another city or country, and repeat. This option require us to understand how long we can stay in each country and possibly find ways to extend our visitor’s visas. Because both Mrs. T and I hold dual citizenship, we perhaps have more flexibility. For example, since Mrs. T holds a Danish passport (and our kids too), they can stay in Europe for as long as they want. For me to stay longer than the maximum allowed 90 days, I will need to explore getting a permanent resident in a European country or other methods to extend the stay.
Second option is to become part time nomads. We would continue living in beautiful Vancouver, Canada, but we would live somewhere else for parts of the year. For example, we can live in Vancouver during the summer time, then live in Taiwan one winter, traveling around in Asia during that time. While we are away from Vancouver, we can rent out our house to generate additional income. Cost of living is high in Vancouver so another option is to move to a smaller Canadian city, live there part of the year, and travel abroad the rest of the year. This should help reduce the “fixed” cost.
We have examined both options and believe the latter option is better suited for us. Since we are both not originally from Canada but love what Canada has to offer, why not call Canada home? It’s also nice to know that you have a place to call home. Having a home base will allow easier enrollment of different medical and travel insurance, making sure that we’re covered while abroad.
Non-location dependent work
Having sufficient passive income to cover expenses during traveling is great but that doesn’t mean we can’t work. As part of our plan, we have started pursuing non-location dependent work. For example, we have written a couple of cookbooks that are being sold in the US, as well as over the web. Some other non-location dependent work Mrs. T and I can do including photography, cooking classes, self-improvement workshops, holistic healing treatments, personal finance coaching, and internet radio show, to name a few. I have not included my personal finance blog as a non-location dependent work since I’m writing it for fun, but hopefully with a steady readership growth, one day in the near future the blog can generate some income as well.
Since our kids are young (one still in the womb) and do not need to start school just yet, there’s no reason why we can’t pursue our dream of traveling and living abroad now. We are free to travel for an extended period of time. We can certainly start living in a different country for the maximum allowable time (i.e. 90 days in Japan) and live in Vancouver for the rest of the year. Because I deal with people all over the globe for work, working remotely in a different time zone is definitely a possibility, as I demonstrated in our 4 week Danish vacation this past summer, working remotely for two of the four weeks. There are lots of possibilities, the only limitations are the ones we’re creating in our mind. Since traveling and living abroad is very different than the typical lifestyle, the biggest setback is our belief system. We need to first break away from the normal way of thinking and start looking at all the different possibilities we have right in front of us. Instead of thinking that we can’t afford it, start thinking how can we afford it, how can we get it to work?
In case you’re wondering, here is a list of countries that you can easily get around in with English and also have a lower cost of living that may work for us – Bahamas, Belize, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, and Fiji to name a few. If we were to expand the countries to include languages such as Danish/Swedish/Norwegian and Mandarin speaking countries, that list certainly would expand quite a bit. Now, the Scandinavian countries are not the cheapest but they have excellent social benefits and the government pays you money to attend post-secondary education. Perhaps living in Denmark when the kids are older is an excellent idea.
Is traveling and living abroad one of your dreams? How would you make it work for you?
Thanks again Tawcan for the inspirational post. I hope that our paths cross someday.
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