“Ultimately, we would not have quit our jobs, sold all of our stuff and became perpetual world travellers if not for the inspiration of Kristy and Bryce. I highly encourage this book to everyone that wants to regain financial control over the life. It has been life changing for us so will it be for you!” – Mr. NomadNumbers
After putting 2 years of work into writing Quit Like a Millionaire, getting reviews like this is my favourite part of book publishing. Sure, it’s exhilarating watching your book rocket up the Amazon charts and the crazy media frenzy, but that’s not why we write.
The reason why we write is because of feedback like the one above from Mr. NomadNumber, and e-mails from MRF.
Every day I wake up and I can’t believe this silly little blog has not only been read by people all over the world but has actually positively impacted their lives.
That being said, as a pragmatist, there’s always a part of me that worries when someone tells me they’ve sold everything and started travelling because of us.
What if they end up not liking it? Will they have the same mind-blowing experiences? Or is it a specific experience only to us? And what about costs? We found it easy to travel the world for less than staying at home by living like locals, but can other travellers replicate our budget?
Well, luckily, Mr. NomadNumbers agreed to come on the blog to give us an insider look!
First, a bit of background. We met Mr. and Mrs. NomadNumbers at a previous Chautauqua and back then they were working in expensive San Francisco. And since SF is one of the most expensive cities in the US, becoming FI while living there seemed like a pipe dream. Fortunately, Mrs. NomadNumbers held a position which enabled her to work remotely. During our discussion about how much they love to travel (especially in South America), we realized that since Mrs.NomadNumbers can work from anywhere, they don’t actually have to live in SF! What if they became nomadic and used geographic arbitrage to get to FI faster?
The thing I love about the Chautauquans is that they don’t just dream, they act. Which is why I think Chautauquans are special, and Mr. and Mrs. Nomad Numbers proved this fact by selling everything they owned and travelling! As a result, instead of paying over $2000 a month for rent in SF, that cost plummeted to a measly $800/month in Oaxaca, Mexico!
And I’m happy to report, they’ve since reached financial independence and have quit their jobs to travel the world! They’ve even managed to travel on just $28,628 USD for the full year last year (which matches our yearly travel costs of $30K USD or $40K CAD!)
So without further ado, here’s Mr. NomadNumbers:
1) What did it feel like to quit your job?
It was a very different experience for the two of us. For me, it was easy and felt amazing. For Mrs. NN, it was a tough decision and the amazing feeling came later.
I was completely mentally prepared and ready to quit and had approached it with that attitude. In fact, we had already started planning our move and booked flights to Montreal so everything was already moving forward prior to giving notice.
I gave notice to my boss during our 1:1 and he was initially shocked and concerned. After I explained that I wanted to spend time with my new wife to take a year to travel the world, he went from surprised to really happy for me. He told me through the conversation that he thought I was going to leave for the competition (which is why most people quit). I gave the company 4 weeks notice to give plenty of transition time but I was prepared to leave right away if asked to.
Then the courage of being FI and having “FU money” (a la JL Collins) worked in my favour. My company asked me to stay for an additional 2 months so I negotiated to only work from home and only on one of the 4 projects I was managing. They were surprisingly cool with it and I was able to work remotely from Montreal with a reduced workload but with full salary and benefits, it was a win-win situation. It ended up being a smooth transition and once I had my last day at work, I was able to fully enjoy our new lifestyle.
For Mrs. NN, it was not quite as smooth because she was not as mentally prepared to quit. She had the fortune of working a remote job that allowed her to work from anywhere in the world so she was getting the best of both worlds – earning a salary and traveling the world. That was hard for her to let go but eventually a few stressful events at work plus seeing me fully enjoy FI life, helped her to take the leap and quit. She still had a lot of doubts and hesitations at the time of quitting but now she has no regrets!
2) Was it difficult selling everything and packing 2 carry-on bags for travel? How did you pick what to keep and what to get rid of?
Selling everything was time consuming but relatively quick as we managed to sell 10+ years of stuff we’ve accumulated in about 6 weeks. It had to be quick because we still needed to use our things before our move so it was a tricky balance. We put everything in a spreadsheet that I shared with my coworkers (they probably bought more than half of my stuff), we did one garage sale on Craigslist and a “take our stuff” party with our friends. Anything left was donated to charity. We ended up having a lot more stuff than we thought and it was very liberating to get rid of it all except the essentials. We are now extra conscious and careful about what we accumulate moving forward.
Packing was challenging but thanks to blog posts like yours and others on the essentials of packing, we felt like we had a decent handle on it. I prioritized electronics that others may not choose to travel with like a drone so I had to make compromises on what to leave (less clothes!). Mrs. NN packs more clothes and self-care items like massage oil, a journal, and salts and herbs for cooking – she is often carrying unusual health food items like coconut flour, tiger nuts and a big bag of sea salt in her bag! But to take a lesson from the KonMari method, each item we pack ‘brings us joy’ and is a necessity because we are very aware that we have to carry it on our backs.
3) What did your friends and family think of your plan to quit and travel the world?
We shared the news at our wedding with our closest friends & family and most people were really supportive. Not surprisingly, our parents were concerned and didn’t fully understand how this lifestyle was possible. They didn’t understand why we would want to stop working and earn money while we were still young. They also didn’t understand our desire to travel the world rather than settling in one place and getting a home. Even though they don’t fully understand, they are supportive – especially if it means the flexibility to spend more time with them.
As for our friends, we naively thought that once we shared our plans that everyone would want to do the same! To us, it was a no-brainer and a dream come true but surprisingly, there wasn’t much interest in pursuing this lifestyle. Partially due to not believing they can financially do it and partially due to not being able to imagine a different lifestyle. However, they are all happy for us and hope to visit at some point along our journey.
4) Now that you’ve been FI and nomadic for 1 year, what are the 3 biggest lessons you’ve learned?
• Lesson 1: We (especially Mrs. NN) were worried for no reason. The FI numbers made sense, we were well informed from blogs/podcasts/books and yet Mrs. NN was worried if it would truly work. It was more of a mindset shift than anything, everything logically made sense. Well a year into it, we are very comfortable in our new lifestyle and have seen firsthand that the FI and nomadic plan really works! We are funding our lifestyle with our savings and investments and we have been able to stay within our budget easily. Plus we’ve experienced that it would be really easy to apply geo-arbitrage and dial our expenses down by basing ourselves in cheaper cities. There’s also no sacrifice in staying in cheaper cities because we love spending time in those places.
• Lesson 2: Sustaining and creating new relationships is much harder when nomadic. When we travel to California or France, we are able to spend a lot of quality time with friends and family thanks to our flexibility. However, it’s a different kind of scheduled catch up versus being integrated into each other’s lives. People we meet along our travels are so interesting and people we would love to hang out with but the reality is, we will be in a different country in a few weeks. We are doing our best to keep in touch regularly with friends and family at home and staying in contact with new friends, we also love meeting like-minded people virtually through our blog. This is something important to us and we want to get better at.
• Lesson 3: There’s no playbook for our lifestyle, we can define it how we like. We might be considered travellers, digital nomads, backpackers or flash-packers. Mostly we don’t know how to cleanly label ourselves and that’s ok because we are trying to figure it out along the way. Most people associate travel with a 2 week intensive vacation where they spend a lot of money and try to see everything. Although we knew we didn’t need to spend a lot of money, it took us more time to realize that we preferred spending our time doing normal everyday things than trying to see all of the touristy sights. It can be exhausting to try to do everything and we are in this for the long haul so we need to define a lifestyle that is sustainable and works for us.
5) Do you ever plan on settling down?
Yes and no. Yes in a sense that we want to have a home base in the next 4-5 years. We feel that this is the only way we can build a sustainable community and there are a lot of aspects of non-travel life that we enjoy. For example, we would love to have a garden one day.
No because even if we have this base, we see ourselves still traveling for at least half of the year to keep exploring the world… slowly. And that takes time 🙂
Will we ever settle down permanently? We would never have thought 10 years ago that we would be FI and nomadic, so anything is possible! We are sure travel will always be a passion and major part of our life in some way. The beauty of being FI is that we are in control of what our lifestyle looks like and we don’t have to adhere to any one location or one schedule.
6) Are there any challenges with spending 24/7 with your spouse?
Finding our space. Mrs. NN was working remotely full-time for the first 8 months of our nomadic journey. So that helped us to divide our time and space naturally because we were on different schedules.
After we both weren’t working, it got more challenging because we had to set our own boundaries for personal time and project time. Since we mostly don’t have other friends and family around, we quite literally with each other 24/7 and that can be great but it can also lead to unpleasant moments!
We have gotten into a much better rhythm now, we usually spend half of the week on our personal projects and the other half exploring the cities we are in. For example, I spend time on photography and video editing for the blog while Mrs. NN studies nutrition. We found this schedule was a good balance and what works well for us. Traveling and living with someone 24/7 is challenging but makes your relationship stronger!
7) What’s your favourite country you’ve visited so far and why?
We have a couple of favourites for different reasons:
• As a place we could live in: Spain. Specifically the Costa Brava area which we recently visited this summer. The food is amazing, the beaches are beautiful and it’s a very relaxing place. Europe is also very appealing because of the short distances to travel to many countries.
• As a place to visit: Aruba. It was never a destination that we thought we could spend a month in but we did (and it was still cheaper than staying at home!). The weather is perfect and the Caribbean waters are just stunning. We went swimming in the ocean everyday and couldn’t believe that this was our life, we were living in paradise.
• Since we travel slowly, we’ve only been to 5 countries in our first year of travel so we are looking forward to seeing more of this beautiful world. We are really excited to visit Southeast Asia at the end of this year and have a feeling we will be adding to our list of favourites.
8) What is your favourite thing about travel? What’s your least favourite thing?
Favourite: constantly having new experiences and exposing ourselves to different cultures and ways of living. There’s nothing like travel to give you a whole new perspective on life and appreciate the beauty that exists in the world. We love the feeling of going to a new place for the first time and seeing what it has in store for us.
Least favourite: packing & planning. When you are nomadic, the packing and planning is constant and it can get tiring. We travel slowly in order to limit the amount of logistics but it’s still one of those things you just have to do. That’s another motivation to pack light, it helps to limit the amount of packing needed.
9) Do you have any regrets?
Honestly we don’t have any at this point. Maybe we could have done it sooner but I think we needed the time to mentally be ready even if we were financially ready.
10) What would you like to tell other readers on their way to FI?
Focus on the journey and not the destination. For me, I didn’t know what FI was until the past couple of years and all of my decisions were for my own interest. For example, moving overseas from France to the US to explore a new country and changing jobs to learn new skills. I might not have taken these risks if I was laser focused on a FI goal but it ended up resulting in great experiences that I would never trade.
So keep your goals in the direction of FI but make decisions for a journey that you would enjoy and love because it is a long period of your life.
Thanks, Mr .NN for the fantastic tips and life lessons you’ve shared with us!
If you want to find more about this exceptional couple, check out their NomadNumbers.com
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What do you think? Would you ever sell everything to travel the world after FI?
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