My adventurer friend Meg just sent me a beautiful email and in it she said, “I am reading through your blog to figure out what the heck you are doing down there!” I figured it required some sort of response so here you go Meg!
Kurt and I both want to buy time. In a way we realized how precious life’s little moments truly are and how running around with our tails between our legs doesn’t actually get us any more time. In fact, we have lost years on our life over the last two years due to work and trying to advance to the next leg of our career only to find there is A. no next level and B. tons more energy required to compete with the fresh blood heading into the work force (they are willing to work much more for much less than we are and let’s face it, they are way faster). We never got to see our daughter and when we did we were totally distracted and disengaged. There were too many things keeping us away from our life as The Brand Fam – work and social engagements, trips to visit extended family, meetings and friend obligations. It just became too much. We never stopped to smell the flowers or hear the rain.
After looking at our 5 year plan this past spring we quickly realized there is NO way we could afford some of the amenities we still want, be able to pay off debt, save and retire at any point before 80. We started asking ourselves what we wanted to do and how we could actually get more out of life without having to work harder for it. Essentially finding a way buy ourselves time towards figuring out a way to be sustainable without having to always compete on such a high level. Holly, our financial planner and close friend said to me onetime after I asked her how to grow my investments, “Don’t spend.” That has stuck with me. So we are heading towards a cheaper life.
We did try to get jobs and the best I could do in my field after 117 job applications around the world was 1 call back from Graze, a budding company in the US which has its roots in the UK. Love the company, but the compensation package was going to cut my salary in a 1/4 and we would have to move to NJ. Kurt had 3 bartending interviews (just for a part-time gig while he kept making his art) and each one did the floor to face scan and after seeing his age said, “We actually decided to hire in house.” Super degrading.
We did not get discouraged though, we just redirected. We did a scrape of the world on Airbnb.com and searched the cheapest places to go where you can still have the best life. We ended up in 3 locations: Sri Lanka, Lake Atitlan and Thailand. Of course there are many better ways to find cheaper options for housing, but we wanted to make sure we could rent from a viable source. After researching flights and thinking through the logistics Lake Atitlan won out and we are so glad it did.
Life moved quickly for us after making this decision. I had a big project complete and then rolled into 2 enormous deadlines, we had trips already planned and family visits all over, we had to sell our cars and leave our beloved apartment in NYC, putting everything we had back in our bins and back in storage. It definitely got complicated and after we packed up our 2 eBags with our life’s belongings for the next 4-months, we realized how much better everything felt. We had the wind at our fingertips. The Brand Fam unite.
How are we making money? Kurt is doing custom wall art and murals through Brand-Commercial.com and still working on his conceptual art and I am still working on food and restaurant projects. Together we are developing Ra’Co as a voice for living a balanced, blended life. And we have our hobby’s which still could eventually make money like my small run tight line and patterns and Kurt’s limited edition multiple sculptures and art. When it all breaks down each opportunity makes a certain % of our revenue making it possible to survive. I suppose as long as we have internet we are okay?
Even Iza has created her own little thing called, “Z-love.” On the subway and now on the boat she stares people down until they connect with her… always has since she was about 2 months old. Really intense. She seems to pick out the people who are not than interested in her or distracted. She stares at them until they connect with her and then she gives them a huge winning smile. So we made little business cards to support the cause. In Spanish and in English she can now leave a true lasting impression wherever she goes with a little “Z-love.”
What’s next? Who knows where we will go, but for the time being we are happy with a traveling lifestyle. Maybe we will go other places, or maybe we will stay here forever. All we know is that we want to live in a way that buys us the ability to be a family and have breakfast, lunch and dinner together each day (or most days) and make get in a hike or swim after work. We can be there with our daughter through all her important steps in life and make our way as a family. We have a lovely life here and have already met a lot of wonderful people who are doing exactly what we are doing: living.