Question, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
And you would really want to live there long-term?
What if it were just for six months to a year?
What then? Where you go after that?
LIVING THE EXPAT LIFE
When we moved back to Cozumel in 2016, I wrote about being able to live anywhere and what a challenge that actually can be. It doesn’t sound like it, but it is.
I also wrote, that in the end, you must choose where to live based on your values as well as what place will give you the biggest return on your investment of choosing to be there.
If you haven’t read our timeline, our crazy adventure began in 2010, when we started our business and moved to Seattle for a year. Back then, we only had two kids, ages 4 and 2.
And even then, although we were unclear about our future lifestyle (and location), we decided that when our oldest turned 12, we would settle down and be “grown-ups.”
A year later, we moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for a year and then to Cozumel, Mexico for 2 ½ years. We traveled around Europe for half a year and then returned to Southern California for a year.
After that, we returned to our beloved Cozumel for another two years. As our oldest approached 12 years old, we began to seriously consider where we were going to settle down.
We decided we had time to squeeze in one more small adventure and went to Scotland for 6 months – which we loved!
WHY WE DECIDED TO SETTLE DOWN
With our time in Scotland coming to a close, we needed to decide where we were going to live once and for all.
Some people have asked us, “Why settle?”
It’s a good question, actually.
We worked really hard to have a business that would allow us mobility. Why settle down and be just like everyone else?
Trust me, this has been a topic of daily discussion for the last couple years of our life.
There are two main reasons why we’re putting down roots in one place.
#1 – Education
#2 – Community
EDUCATION – WE WANT THE BEST OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUR KIDS (& OURSELVES)
Now that our kids are at an age where their education really starts to matter much more, we want more for them than fun, social time for 7 hours a day. To us, their education means more than just attending a good school.
It means having having opportunities for learning outside the classroom which includes time in nature, learning from people in the community, and so on.
This also means going deep into nurturing our kid’s natural talents and aptitudes. We feel it’s our job to help them discover what they’re good at and expose them to opportunities to develop them.
This also includes Heidi and myself. We want to get more involved in the things that we love to do. This also means having like-minded people to do those things with – which is the next point.
WE WANT TO BUILD A LONG-LASTING COMMUNITY
The other big reason for settling down is to build a community. By community, I mean family, friends, as well as other like-minded people in our surrounding area.
This also goes back to education. We want our kids to be able to develop professionally, yes, even starting now.
By having a network of friends who own businesses, for example, we can have our kids volunteer and intern with them. This puts their education to work in a very practical way and prepares them for when they get older.
WHERE WE DECIDED TO SETTLE
With education and community in mind, we decided to settle back down in….
Yes, I know. A bit anti-climatic, right? I mean, it’s where we’re from so no big shocker.
And yes, I can already hear you complaining about the high taxes and the crazy politics and the traffic.
We get it.
We sometimes think we’re crazy to settle here, too.
We looked at two other places pretty hard. Specifically, we looked at the Reno/Tahoe area and also Florida. Both have tax-friendly laws. Florida gives us the ocean life and the Caribbean at our doorstep. Reno/Tahoe gives us the mountain life and tons of outdoor stuff to do.
Over the years, we’ve learned that there is no perfect place. Nevada, Florida, and California all have their own downsides. So, where is the “most” perfect place we can find?
For us, for at least the next decade or so while the kids grow up, it’s Southern California.
We love having both mountains and ocean so close to us. We love having the best weather in the world. We love being surrounded by a lot of sharp, driven people. We love Disneyland.
Most of all, it’s just a feel. We love the energy of this place as well as the feeling we have by being here.
OK, BUT YOU CAN GET EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY IN MEXICO OR EUROPE… RIGHT?
The natural question is – can’t we give our kids opportunities for their education and to build a community in Mexico or Europe or anywhere else we choose to call home?
Does it have to the United States?
As we’ve debated about where to live, it’s raised a lot of questions over the years.
Can we really live long-term in another country? Could we move there forever? Do we really want to? What about our friends and family?
Ultimately, it boils down to the feeling. It’s not logical. It’s certainly not very logical to willingly choose to live in one of the most expensive parts of the world. But the feeling overrides it all.
Yes, we know that California (and the U.S. in general) has its challenges. The leadership is embarrassing. The laws being passed are scary.
But isn’t that kind of happening everywhere?
Having lived in and visited other parts of the world, we see that the US system is still very effective. If you have the right mindset, like a hard-working immigrant, you can use the American system and the opportunities here to make your life whatever you wish it to be – in a way not as easily achieved in any other country that we know of.
CONVENIENCE DOES PLAY A FACTOR
To be totally honest, while we miss the culture that living in other countries expose us to, we do really like the ease of living in the U.S. It’s not THE reason to be here but it’s definitely a bonus.
A friend of ours recently called it the “United States of Convenience.” And she’s absolutely right.
I personally LOVE super high speed internet. I love paying for something and not having to do a quick currency conversion in my head. I love carpet. I love washing machines and dryers.
Also, we don’t have to worry about leaving every six months or renewing any kind of visa. We get to just be here and stay here. That’s kind of nice.
So I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the sheer ease of life here in the U.S. doesn’t factor in. It does. And because of that, it gives us time to focus on education and community.
TIME TO GET BUSY
We love the friends we’ve made in other countries. We cherish the experiences we’ve had.
For now, it’s time to work hard.
And when we need to get out, there’s always travel…