Our Grand Nomadic Plan

A week and four days ago, Catherine and I vacated our apartment in Portland. We gave away or sold perhaps a tenth of our belongings, packed our most important things into the Camry, and put the rest in storage. (Thanks for the garage space, Moms and Dads!) Then we drove to Denver, Colorado, with our cats and our excitement.

We’ll be living in Denver for a total of two and a half months. It’s the first stop in what we expect will be a lifestyle of traveling around the world. Stay tuned for more on why specifically Denver, tomorrow.

The idea is novel, but pretty simple. When your work is Internet-based and not tied to a specific geographic place, you can work from anywhere that you have decent Internet bandwidth.

Now we are Digital Nomads

By choosing to live simply and carefully managing our finances, we can trade having lots of things for having lots of new experiences, without a significant change in our income.

We can rent cozy, fully-furnished homes anywhere in the world on flexible schedules, for about the same cost as rent and utilities in a traditional long term lease. It’s all made possible by Internet-based services. Airbnb connects us with new landlords. Directories like Yelp crowdsource local knowledge to help us find great places to eat, and attractions to visit.

This is not a vacation. We aren’t spending money we have saved up to adventure full time for several days, before heading back to the grind. We continue working full time to sustain our income, even as we travel. This lets us travel more often, enjoy local experiences during nights and weekends, and continue advancing our businesses and careers simultaneously.

This translates to living more simply (in some ways), being more mobile, seeing more places, and having more adventures. It’s a bit like retirement, without stopping work.

Itching to Travel

When we met two years ago, we were both interested in seeing the world. We shared a passion to make this happen for ourselves somehow, some way, and sooner than later.

Catherine felt she’d missed out by not studying abroad during college. She’s been wanting to try living anywhere outside of Oregon for years. She misses the sunshine something fierce during Portland winters, and would like to reconnect with her childhood home state of California. She also wants to see the country, and spend time in Europe, Southeast Asia, Latin America … name an interesting place, and she’s probably up for it.

And I craved the full time globetrotting-while-working lifestyle. I was introduced to the idea by colleagues in the WordPress field, where it is fairly common for teams to work remotely spread across the globe, and meet up a few times a year for workcations in far-flung places, to see the sights and collaborate on work projects in person. This has always appealed to me, because my idea of vacation includes work. Leisure quickly bores me. I want to chew on stimulating problems with a beautiful view by day, and to play hard with great food and friends in novel places at night.

Getting ready for this

So together in the last 18 months, we’ve read books and blog posts from people living the wandering life. They’ve paved the way for us with inspiration and insights.

We’ve learned about traveling light. (We have more of that to learn.) Catherine has mastered credit card mileage rewards like a boss. We’re working on building “passive income” (misnomer alert!) businesses. We’ve learned to make mail forwarding sane despite moving frequently. We’ve socked away some dollars in a safety fund.

Here goes!

Catherine and Matthew on a Seattle water taxi

Pandas. On a boat! In Seattle. Not quite as baffled as we look.

8 thoughts on “Our Grand Nomadic Plan

  1. A wonderful, visionary letter, Matt. You are paying attention, and I suspect you always have. Take notes for the bildungsroman, a hard-covered lab journal for every venture. You will cherish it forever. Art

  2. Marsha Steffen says:

    Matthew! how exciting. I wish you both a splendid adventure/experience. This is a great time to try this out I look forward to reading your blog posts! take care.

  3. That’s awesome to hear! We met on the first stop on our similar adventure. My wife and I were in Portland after quitting our jobs and spending 6 months on the road. Now we’ve transitioned to working remotely and traveling full time. Currently we use an RV because of our dog and cat but we’re looking forward to ditching the RV at some point and traveling with just some bags. I’ll be watching to see how you’re doing!

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