Posts

Family Rocketship

Why We’re Leaving Mexico (& Where We’re Going Next)

(I hope you will indulge me just a bit as I share the next chapter for the Family Rocketship.)


It’s with a sad heart that I even write this. But I gotta say it.

We have decided to leave Cozumel, Mexico.

When I say leave, I don’t mean to spend the summer in Europe or the U.S. and then come back. I mean, we’re moving away from here for an indefinite amount of time.

Mexico, is now part of who we are. We love it. It’s a home for us. In fact, 5 years ago, I wrote a post called, “Confessions of an American Mexican”. I just gave it a quick read and I still stand by every word I wrote.

I still love the word “amigo”.

If you’ve seen our timeline, you know that we first came to Cozumel back in 2012. We planned to stay initially for only 6 months. “We’ll stay as long as it’s fun,” we said.

It turned into 2 ½ years!

When the time came to leave, we decided to check out Europe for a while and spent 5 months there.

Then we headed back to Southern California for an “American Breather”. After about a year there, we got bored and ended up coming back to Cozumel.

Why We’re Leaving

It’s hard to put into words why were leaving. We love it here.

I think it’s mostly a feeling of wanting to make forward progress. We have some big goals to knock out in the next two years. We feel like changing things up will help us do so.

We want to leave the familiar, comfortable life with the intention of getting uncomfortable so that we can grow more.

Also, being totally honest, we get a lot many visitors! In 2017 alone, we averaged about two visits a month from friends and family coming to check out Cozumel.

Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE our friends and family. BUT, while they’re on vacation, we’re trying to live a “normal life”. You know, work projects, school & homework, swimming lessons, etc.

Sure we can say “no” to visitors I suppose. But actually, we can’t. And we don’t. So while it’s not the main reason we’re leaving, it’s definitely on the list.

(*UPDATE – I’ve received some feedback on what I just said above and everyone seems to think I sound snotty. I promise it’s not meant that way! Yes, we worked hard to have a vacation lifestyle and enjoy having friends/family visit. But now, we’ve got some big plans and we need to roll up our sleeves and get to work.) 

When we left Cozumel the first time in 2015, we wept. Seriously, there was some ugly crying happening. We didn’t realize how much we’d grown to love this place.

The culture, the food (tacos!), the beach, the ocean, the scuba diving, and of course, the people. I can almost cry just thinking about leaving now… I’m sure I will when the time comes, which is next month.

Fam in Mexico

Where are We Going?

Obviously, the question is: where are we going next?

And that’s the hard question. When you work online and can live literally anywhere in the world, how do you choose one place to actually live?

It all starts with your values. It’s followed closely by your goals and the stuff you just plain want to learn and do and enjoy.

Because of that, we’re headed back to Europe. We’ve gone there a couple of times with the kids and we’ve always loved it. But it’s always been to slow travel, never with the intention of living there.

This time, we’re headed there with the intent to stay there for 6 months (it may become more – “as long as it’s fun”)

Fam in Europe

So which country are we going to specifically?

( queue drumroll now… )

Family Rocketship

Whaaaatttt?????

I know, of all the cool places (like New Zealand, Bali, Italy, Peru, and more), why in the world would we choose Scotland?

I know it’s not most people’s first choice for a vacation but it’s actually pretty perfect for us. In fact, here are a few very-specific-to-us-right-now-in-our-life reasons why:

  • It’s cold – I personally am more productive in the cold (I want to get a lot done this year)
  • It’s cold – nobody will be tempted to come visit us and get their tropical vacay selfie pics (correction: LESS people will be tempted to come and visit)
  • It’s the U.K. – full of amazing culture that Heidi and I both love
  • It’s the U.K. – which means we can stay for 6 months at a time on a tourist visa
  • It’s freaking Scotland! Have you heard their accent? In real life it’s even better
  • It’s freaking Scotland which means highlands to visit, castles to explore, and all the history we can handle
  • It’s a great base camp for the rest of Europe – seriously, for well under 50 euros a ticket, we can be in Rome or Prague or Istanbul or Mallorca or Lisbon or Marseille or well, you get the point
  • It’s a launching point for the next phase of our life – more on that later
  • And a bunch more less tangible but still super valid reasons…

So there it is.

We love Mexico. There are certainly a lot of things we will desperately miss.

But we’ve got to move on to the next chapter in our lives. Even if it does mean trading in tacos for (gulp) haggis.  🙂

::

5 Steps to Make the Leap to Living Abroad Successfully

5 Steps to Make the Leap to Living Abroad Successfully

Maybe you’ve always been obsessed with living in Paris. Maybe you’ve always wanted to live in the Caribbean. Maybe you love Chinese food and want to go to the source. Whatever it may be, we’re talking about you living abroad!

Regardless of the exact reasons, there are certain things you need to do to make the jump to living in another country other than your own.

But first…

WHY CONSIDER LIVING ABROAD

Why would it be good for you to live abroad?

I almost don’t even know how to answer this one. Why WOULDN’T you want to live in a cool place you’ve always dreamed about?

But to quickly answer my own question, here are some thoughts. By choosing to live abroad you’ll:

  • Learn about new cultures and increase your love and tolerance for people of all walks of life
  • Meet cool new people and friends you didn’t even know you had
  • Improve your communication skills
  • Possibly learn a new language
  • Become super intentional with what you own (escape consumerism habits)
  • Try & love new foods
  • Get to do the cool things your new country has to offer
  • Have a never ending pile of cool pics and videos
  • Help you learn about and improve yourself (maybe you need to develop your patience & flexibility for example…)
  • Come home with expanded horizons and an improved perception about people and life in general
  • And a million more great reasons…

Hopefully, you’ll consider living abroad. In fact, it used to be something only available to the super rich.

Now with the digital age, it’s becoming more and more popular. And it’s not reserved for college students backpacking through Europe. Heck, I have a wife and 3 kids and we’ve lived outside of our own country for 4 of the last 5 years alone!

If you decide to commit, here are some questions you’ll want to address first. In fact, these questions can basically serve as your checklist to get moving. Just follow the steps!

STEP ONE – DECIDE WHERE YOU’RE GOING

Where do you want to go? It seems pretty obvious I know. But you’ve got to go somewhere and with an entire world to choose from, narrowing it down can be harder than you think.

Some simple questions to ask yourself include:

  • What experiences do you want to have?
  • What kinds of things do you want to see?
  • Do you want to learn a new language?
  • What kind of food do you want to eat?
  • What do you want to learn? (If you want to learn how to be a samurai, Japan might be more appropriate than Greenland)
  • How close do you want to be to friends and family?

Just think about your values and what’s most important to you. Then think, does your country of choice line up with your values?

Sometimes you’ll come up with multiple countries that meet your requirements. In this case, it’s helpful to look at a map of the world and do a sort or “process of elimination” exercise.

When we decided to move back to Cozumel, Mexico, we started at the continent level. Antartica, Asia, and Africa were the first to go. Then South America was also out. We looked hard at Australia (actually, New Zealand – sorry my Aussie friends, soon enough we’ll get to Australia!).

Then we looked at Europe. We boiled it down to Spain versus Mexico. Obviously, Mexico beat out Spain… for now.

By the process of elimination and basing everything off of what’s most important to us, we ended up in a place that we absolutely love.

You can do the same.

I might add that the Riviera Maya is a lovely place… 🙂

Riviera Maya, Family Rocketship

STEP TWO – DECIDE HOW YOU LONG YOU’LL BE GONE

Once you’ve decided which country you’re going to, you need to think about how long you’ll want to be there.

In most cases, you’ll have to take into account country visa requirements. Most likely, you’ll be there as a guest (like, not working there) so you’ll effectively be a tourist.

Every country has different lengths of time you can stay without incurring any penalties. For example, in Mexico, Colombia, and the U.K., you can stay up to 6 months on a simple tourist visa. For places like mainland Europe, it’s 90 days.

In most cases, you can extend your visa time or do a simple “visa run” and come back to your desired country.

Apart from the country requirements, you have to decide how long you just plain want to be gone. If this is your first go of it, maybe start with 90 or 180 days. If you’re feeling more adventurous and really want to get into the local culture, consider at least doing a year.

Oh and here’s something crazy – leave it open-ended! When we came to Cozumel the first time, we had decided on staying for 6 months to try it out. Long story short, we loved it so much we stayed for 2 ½ years. And then we came back!

If you can, simply decide to NOT decide how long you’ll be. Who knows, maybe you’ll fall in love with your new home and want to stay…

STEP THREE – HAVE AN INCOME STRATEGY

How are you going to pay for it all? It’s a question that tourists, locals, and even the government of your new country will care about also.

“What do you do for money?”

This is the number one question we get when people find out we live here. I just say, “I work online”.

If you work online, then you’re in luck! You’re already ahead of most people. Now you just gotta go!

If you don’t already work online, you have a few options.

  • Set up a remote-work arrangement with your employer – this works especially well if you’re work is online or computer-based. This doesn’t work so well for nurses, dentists, contractors or anything where you need to be physically present to do the work.
  • Save and go – decide to quit your job but before you do, save, save, save! This is what Heidi did when she went to Europe solo when she was single. She saved every penny until she had a large cushion. When the time came, she quit her job and took off to Europe for 5 weeks.
  • Sell and go – if you can’t save enough from your job, consider selling everything you own to finance the trip. We have some good friends here in Cozumel who actually flipped a house before taking off. It gave them the piece of mind that even though he was quitting his job, they would have money in the bank.
  • The 60-Day EntrepreneurStart a lifestyle business – there’s absolutely no doubt that this is my favorite option. Having your own reliable source of income is what I feel the best way to make sure you’ve got dinero for what you need. This is one of the reasons why I put together the 60-Day Entrepreneur program. Get started with your own business and you’ll never have to worry about income.
  • Combo package – mix and match any of the above suggestions. When we first started our own journey 7 years ago, we had already been saving but also decided to sell everything we owned to boost our savings account.

I should note there is another option here – you can always try to get a job where you’re going to live. But it’s not always ideal and can sometimes complicate getting a visa and so forth. But it’s something to keep in mind!

Do whatever works best for you. Just make sure you have at least double of what you think you’ll need just in case.

STEP FOUR – DECIDE WHAT YOU’LL DO WITH YOUR STUFF

If you’re like most people in the western world, you have a lot of stuff. You may not realize it because it’s accumulated over years. Chances are, most of the stuff you have you don’t even need or use.

Just like with your income, you have some options with your stuff. You can:

  • Sell everything
  • Sell some things and put the rest in storage
  • Bring everything with you

When we left California this past year to head back to Mexico, we got rid of everything. I’m not kidding. The only things we saved were Heidi’s wedding dress, my 7mm wetsuit, photos, some books, and tax information. That’s really it!

Everything we owned suddenly got stuffed into a set of suitcases. It was great! It really feels good to be free from stuff!

Living Abroad

But what about the bigger stuff like cars and houses?

If you’re not driving your car to the new country (if you even can), sell it! Or let a friend or family member use or whatever. When Heidi’s cousin left for Mexico on his first 6 month stint, he sold his car. It also helped boost his savings.

But what about your house? If you rent, this one is easy. You just leave when your lease is up or get out of your lease early. Done.

If you own your home, then it’s a bit more challenging but you still have options. You can:

  • Sell your house
  • Rent it out
  • Get housesitters
  • Leave it as is and have someone check on it from time-to-time

What about your mail?

Hopefully you’re already living “green” and get most stuff digitally anyway. But with my own social commentary aside, there will inevitably be physical mail that comes. And occasionally it’s important.

One option is to get a PO Box and have someone you know to get the mail for you. Another option is to use a service like Traveling Mailbox or Earth Class Mail. Or you can always route everything to a friend or family member you trust.

With the stuff out of the way, now you have to…

STEP FIVE – PREPARE FOR YOUR NEW ADVENTURE

If you’ve done all of the above, you’re already 90% of the way there! Now comes the last-minute but kind of fun stuff.

For starters, you can spend your time doing research on your new country. Before we came to Cozumel for the first time, I think I watched every single YouTube that had the word “Cozumel” in it. I also hung out on Google street view trying to get a feel for the place.

You can also grab any other items you might need. I’m not trying to encourage you to have more stuff in your life but you also want to be prepared. Will you need warm clothing? What about a new GoPro or camera? Do you have what you need for work?

You can also get mentally & emotionally ready. Spend time with any friends and family you want to. Get in any last-minute things you love from your native country (like cotton candy from Disneyland… mmmmmm)

If you’re going to be learning a new language, get a head start learning verbs and nouns on DuoLingo. Get on Google maps and check out your new city. Learn about how you’ll get around, the fun stuff there is to do, and places to eat.

I WISH YOU THE BEST OF LUCK!

If you take this post seriously, which I hope you do, I wish you the best of luck! Becoming an internationalist by living abroad is borderline magical for your lifestyle.

One final insider’s tip: be sure to be flexible and ready for adventure. Basically, as soon as you leave your own country, things are not as easy as you may be used to. That’s where the learning and fun kicks in.

::

When you can live anywhere...

When You Can Live Anywhere…

“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.

Read more

Travel and Kids

Travel With Your Family: No Excuses

4:15pm, Friday Afternoon – Valencia, Spain

“Isn’t this great? Two guys talking about their businesses. And we’re in two different countries! And neither one of those is the United States.”

The words of my good friend Pawel hit me like a ton of bricks.

I paused, chuckled a bit, and said, “Yeah, I’m so super grateful for this.”

My thoughts immediately went to the past version of myself who used to sit in a cubicle dreaming of traveling the world.

I said, “It would be cool if there was a way you could time travel and go back to your cubicle-dwelling self and say, ‘Hold on man, it gets better!’”

Pawel and I met when we moved to Cozumel 2 ½ years ago. He’d been living there with his wife for 5 years already and both of them had built successful lifestyle businesses.

Pawel and I started meeting weekly to share insights, set goals, and generally push each other to grow our own individual businesses.

Now that we left Cozumel and are in Europe for a bit, we have our weekly meetings via Skype.

“Yeah man, it actually astounds me that we live in a day in age where we get to do this” I said.

“See you next week?” Pawel said.

“Yep. Ciao.”

Read more

Confessions of an American Mexican

Confessions of an American Mexican

I woke up just after 6 am this morning to the sound of my 8 month old baby saying what sounded like “Dada”. I looked into the crib and saw her sitting up and smiling at me.

“Dada”, she repeated with a huge grin.

I took her out of her crib and laid her next to her still resting mom.

I then looked out of our bedroom window to a beautiful new day. The white puffy clouds were already moving past in the tropical breeze.

The bright blue sky seemed to accent a patch of green jungle that lies between our house and the Caribbean Sea.

I spread my arms out wide in gratitude, took a deep breath and thought, “It’s Friday”. Always a good day.

“And I freaken’ live in Cozumel with my family!” Read more

Lifestyle Design: It's For Real After All

Lifestyle Design: It’s For Real After All

I currently live on the island of Cozumel off of mainland Mexico together with my family. We have a nice house that’s walking distance to the Caribbean Sea. I run a lifestyle business that funds all of this.

Life is pretty awesome.

But this really isn’t about me.

It’s about you.

And helping you to do exactly what you want to do. And I’ll get to that in just a moment. Let me first share some background to set the stage.

Check out this video!

Read more

10 Tips for Quickly Adapting to a New Place

On Change: 10 Tips for Quickly Adapting to a New Place

Sooner or later, you’re going to leave home and journey to a new place. It may be because of a new career opportunity, extended vacation, or even self imposed vagabonding! Leaving everything that you’re familiar with isn’t always easy even if you’re traveling to a really cool place with really cool people. Sometimes feelings of homesickness or even slight depression are easy to slip into.

So what’s the solution?

Well, I don’t pretend to be an expert but I do have some experience. With more than 20 moves in the last 12 years I know something about adjusting. The following tips have worked for me.

1 – Do a Mental Check

Nothing will shape your new experience as much as your attitude. Try your best to choose to be positive. When you’re fighting homesickness, choosing to be happy is vital. Easier said than done I know but at least try. If this is hard, don’t worry, there’s more tips to help.

2 – Be Grateful

Closely related to choosing to have an awesome attitude is to remember to be grateful. Even if you find yourself in the worst of circumstances, there’s always something to be grateful for. Always.

3 – Bring Something Familiar

Before you leave, bring something with you that’s familiar. Preferably this is something that’s also functional in your journey. For me, this means my backpack that I take everywhere with me. It could be a book, a jacket, or even a pillow case! If you have kids, make sure they have something familiar like a toy, blanket, or doll.

4 – Organize and Clean

Maybe your new place needs a little spring cleaning or just some rearranging. Change your new place to your liking. Add a flower. Hang a picture. Make it home. Similar to this is to…

5 – Take Stock of What You Have

Chances are, you have everything you need already. You probably have some means for food and shelter. With the basics covered, move on to what else there is to see and do in the area. And that leads to the next tip.

6 – Make It An Adventure!

Get outside! Explore and familiarize yourself with your new surroundings. There’s something cool about every place you go. Getting to know your way around will help you feel more at home. Plus, you never know what beautiful places there are until you get out and see them!

7 – Exercise

This is one that Heidi made me put in. While it’s never been part of my “adjustment routine”, I know that exercise helps you increase your energy and feel positive. Plus it has the potential to help you get outdoors and to meet people doing the same thing. If you’re in a different culture, few things help you bond better with the locals than doing something physical.

8 – Keep in Touch

Friends and family offer the familiar connection we all need. Now with the internet and cell phones, there’s no reason to be out of touch. If your friends or family happen to be with you, share it together. Express your feelings. Chances are, your friends or family members are feeling the same and you can work through it together.

9 – Meet New People 

Just as you need that familiar connection by keeping in touch with your family and friends, you should be excited to meet new people. There is so much to learn from every person you meet! Often, some of your biggest life changes will be a result of meeting cool, new people. There’s always room for more friends in your life.

10 – Serve Others

I can think of no better way to feel better than to serve others. Thinking of others is the best solution to feeling better yourself. By getting out and serving in your new community, you’ll feel better yourself and you’ll also be making many new friends. It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when you’re involved in something good.

The overall message here is to be active! Activity drives away homesickness. Change is hard but it’s the only way to growth. It’s always worth it in the end.

In your experience what else helps?

**