“Well, what about New Zealand?” I asked Heidi.
“It would be awesome but it’s too far. Nobody would be able to come visit us.”
“What about Hawaii?”
“The cost of private school for the kids would be nuts!”
“What about Spain?”
“Spain… hmmm… yes. Maybe Spain”.
What you just read is part of a conversation that my wife Heidi and I had on an almost daily basis just a short while back.
But let me give you some background…
HOW TO DECIDE WHERE TO LIVE WHEN YOU CAN LIVE ANYWHERE
When you make money without being tied to a location, like working online, the entire world becomes a potential place to live.
It sounds like a 1st-world problem for sure, but deciding where you would like to live is a bigger challenge than most people think.
For many people, they just live where they grew up. For others, they live where they can get a job. But for those working online, especially with their own businesses, there’s literally a world full of opportunity and adventure.
The entire goal of a lifestyle business (something that I talk about A LOT) is to fund your desired lifestyle. For many people, they just want to be free of a job and have options.
However, for many others, it means being able to travel or live in other parts of the world. Heidi and I fall into this category.
We love Southern California (our home) but we also love many other parts of the world. We’re pretty sure we’ll end up back in SoCal one day but for now, we’re enjoying living abroad.
One time while in Venice, we were taking a ride on one of the famous gondolas and checking out the buildings and canals.
Then Heidi said, “You know what’s cool? If we wanted to, we could live here.”
To me it was a super fun thought! And actually totally realistic.
And it happened a lot! When we got to Barcelona, we thought, “We could live here…maybe we should…”
Then we got to Mandello del Lario and looking at the beautiful Italian mountains we thought, “What if we lived here?”
For us, that’s one of the main benefits of operating a lifestyle business – to have that freedom and flexibility.
So if you’ve already freed yourself of a job, and are debating on making a move to somewhere different, how do you decide where to go?
IT ALL STARTS WITH YOUR VALUES
A lifestyle business frees you up to do whatever you want to do. So what do you want to do? How do you fill your time?
All you have to do is take a look at your values.
For us, one of our core values that motivates us the most is fun. It’s what most excites us. So when we look at a possible place to live, we ask questions like:
- Would it be fun to live there?
- Are there lots of fun things to do in that location?
- Are the people fun?
- What about the culture & food?
The fun thing actually also includes more “responsible” things like work and also education for our kids.
- Where would the kids have the most fun going to school?
- Would they get an education that will prepare them for the real world?
- Will I be able to get a decent WiFi signal?
- Are there cool people to network with?
You get the point.
As you think about your values, you can start to zero in on some places in your state or country or even another country where you would be able to live out those values.
WHERE SHOULD YOU LIVE?
OK, I need to preface this section by saying, just because you can move doesn’t mean you have to! Many people are totally content living where they are.
That said, I’m a huge fan of experiencing other places and even cultures, languages, and countries. A lof of our social challenges could be done away with if everyone just traveled a bit more. But that’s for another day…
This may come as a bit of a shock to you, but the place you were born and raised in, might not necessarily be the coolest place on the planet.
In my own case, I was raised in the Seattle area.
Yeah, Seattle is a super cool place that’s full of culture but it’s also super wet and rainy. Being a family of sun worshipers & warm ocean lovers, Seattle obviously isn’t a place for us.
The idea of growing up in a place and calling it home just because your parents moved there or just because you happened to get a job there doesn’t make it the best place in the world.
Again, it goes back to your values.
What’s the return on investment (ROI) of living in a particular place?
Will it help you advance? Will it open you to new opportunities? Do you even like where you live? Does it help you live your values?
DECIDING ON A PLACE TO LIVE
First, a caution: it’s easy to get caught up thinking the grass is greener somewhere else and that if you can just move to that other place, THEN you’ll be happy.
This is NOT what I’m talking about here. I’m referring to being free to move as you please and to find a place that’s always excited you.
One of my friends told me a while back that he and his wife lived in Kansas City and always wanted to move Colorado. It’s only about a 9 hour drive by car but that’s not the point. The chance to live in Colorado and explore the mountains and all of the nature is what motivated them.
In our case, we first started our adventure by leaving SoCal behind and heading to Seattle for a year. After a year there, we headed to the San Francisco Bay Area. Heidi and I both had roots there and it was a great place to take our business to the next level.
After 2 ½ years of fun, we moved to Europe for about 5 months and back to SoCal for just over a year. Now, we’re back in Cozumel.
Every place I mentioned above (Seattle, San Francisco, Cozumel, Europe) was a highly intentional, well-thought out move and completely based on our values.
After Europe we returned to SoCal because I felt we needed to take what I call an “American breather”.
Basically, life in the United States is incredibly easy and Americans often take it for granted. High-speed internet, baggers at the grocery store, carpet, you know, the little things.
In fact, on our very last day in London, the day before we were flying back to the states, we were all feeling a bit down – like the adventure was over.
So we did one final family vote and all decided on returning to the U.S. to live for a while. There was one stray vote – Heidi. She voted to go back to Mexico.
Another time I will write about how you need to always listen to your woman (guys, I’m talking to you). But for now, let’s just say that Heidi was right. I was blinded by getting a new car. I was blinded by buying new furniture for a ridiculously big American house. I was blinded by buying a TON of Christmas presents for the kids.
It wasn’t until after the new year started that I realized something was happening to me. I was starting to get very unsettled. Don’t get me wrong. Where we lived was a great place with great people! It was relatively close to the beach and Disneyland and friends and family but I was feeling anxious. I longed for the taste of something more foreign.
I finally got the nerve to confess to Heidi how I was feeling and said that I wanted to move international again. Instead of getting mad and saying, “I told you so!” she simply smiled and said, “Where?!”
So we got out a map and literally did a process of elimination with the world. We decided what was important (relying on our values) and looked at the map.
Asia? Nope, didn’t want to have to make the kids learn yet another language and it’s too far away. For now…
Africa? Nope. South America? Yes, but not yet. Australia? Yes also! But not yet. Long story short, we boiled it down to New Zealand, Hawaii, Spain, and Mexico.
They would all be fun. We already know the languages spoken. They all have cool cultures and people. And so on…
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we eliminated Hawaii based on cost. New Zealand was next because of distance – too hard for people to come visit.
Then it was a toss up between Spain and Mexico. I didn’t want to go back to Mexico because I felt like we already did the thing.
We really enjoyed our time in Spain, especially Barcelona, so it seemed like a great choice. It seemed to check every single box of values except for one thing – warm ocean.
The Mediterranean is great but it’s similar to SoCal – nice in the summer but cold-ish in the winter. Living in the Mexican Caribbean really spoils you. We’ve even gone swimming on Christmas Day!
So, with an entire world to choose from, that’s how we ended coming back to literally the exact same tiny island we lived on before. We’re steps away from the beach and we eat tacos pretty much every day.
Sure, we’ll move on to other places, but for now this is home base. And we couldn’t be happier!
HOW LONG DO YOU CHOOSE TO LIVE SOMEWHERE?
Once you decide to go somewhere, you have to decide how long you’re going to be there. You may have to take care of a few things (like visas & residency) and it’s good to have a timeline on the outset.
That said, our motto is “if it’s fun, why would we leave?” This first came about when we moved to Seattle and Heidi said, “What if we love it there and we want to stay?”
I laughed and then just repeated back to her what she said but slowly.
Since then, it’s become a theme of ours. If we’re in a fun place, we might as well soak it up!
There are other things you might want to consider as well such and friends and family, personal and business growth, and kids – especially if you have kids. What kind of childhood are you giving them and will they turn into high functioning adults who will contribute to the good of the world?
When we came to Cozumel, we had the intention of just giving it a whirl and stay for 6 months. It turned into 2 ½ years. We only left because we felt like we should do more stuff. Not because it wasn’t fun.
So your timeline will depend on your own personal values, goals, and just plain how long you want to stay. Everyone is different. Do what feels good for you.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, WHY
The one question I haven’t touched on so far is why.
Why would you possibly even want to live in some other place?
This one is worthy of it’s own post but to be brief I’ll sum it up with this: to expand.
To expand your mind, your beliefs, your experience, your friendships, your tolerance, your tastes, your opinions, your knowledge, your memories, and so on.
It doesn’t matter if you’re from a small rural town in Kentucky or a large city like New York or San Francisco, traveling and especially living in another part of the world, will help you grow in ways you can’t if you simply remain where you are.
I’m talking especially to you, my fellow Americans. We have a large diverse country. But it’s just one country. It’s just one way of life.
By growing through living elsewhere, you’ll come home (should you choose to) a little more grateful. You’ll also be more tolerant of others, even those that have one narrow view of the world. I’m sure you’d agree that we could all use a bit more tolerance & understanding in our lives!
Most of all, choosing where to live makes you incredibly intentional with your life. It puts you in control. The control gives you freedom. And having freedom makes life blissful!
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