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Since starting our nomadic lifestyle we have met many like minded people. All have interesting stories to tell on why they decided to take up this lifestyle and how it has changed their life.
The Nomadic lifestyle Journey
We are Ian and Vanessa, full-time travellers and house sitters, who have been living a nomadic lifestyle since 2014.
We came together a year earlier, both at the end of long term relationships, and both looking for that “perfect” partner. Someone who had the same interests and the same love of adventurous travel. Upon approaching mid-life, it seems so much more important to find a person who will share your unfulfilled dreams, and support you in the odd crazy idea before it’s too late!
Ian had made inroads into creating his nomadic life before I met him. He’d already bought himself a small mangrove island in Bocas-del-Toro, Panama, where he’d built a off-grid property. I’d just moved to London after selling up my home in Wales, and that’s where we met, as he was just passing through.
A few months later I joined him for a vacation in Panama, and never went home! We started our new life together, enjoying a year in Panama as we made plans for our future.
Our nomadic lifestyle was fuelled by a loathing to return to mainstream society, which we both knew, lacked the fulfillment we sought. So we started exploring other ways to live.
House Sitting Becomes a Reality
Ian had been using house sitters to look after his island home whenever he left, and we had a light bulb moment one day, when we realised the house sitting lifestyle could actually work for us too!
The island was put up for sale, and we set about planning the first stage of our nomadic lifestyle. We offered our house sitting services to friends around the archipelago and found ourselves quickly in demand.
But, we were both keen to see more of the US, and we started our new lifestyle by buying a big old RV (from a consignment centre in Houston, Texas), which became our “home” for almost six months. As we road-tripped around the southern states of America we house sat occasionally too, adding to our references and learning more about how house sitting could be part of our travels.
Using TEFL to fund our travels
After six months we were sure that house sitting and the nomadic lifestyle was right for us, but we still had the issue of how would we fund it. Of course, house sitting provides a tremendous saving on accommodation costs, but there are still many associated expenses. Travel from one continent to another can be expensive, especially when you are tied to dates and seasons, and cost of living can be more, depending where you go. We’ve learned over time to plan the logistics of our trips carefully, which does help minimise costs.
Our short-term solution came from a friend who suggested we follow in his footsteps and teach English to Chinese students, in Shenzhen, China. He explained how the opportunities were endless and the pay extremely good. So that’s exactly what we ended up doing. We sold the RV, went back to the UK and got ourselves a couple of house sits, while we studied for our TEFL qualifications and organized visas for China.
The final piece of the puzzle slotted into place, when after an amazing year in China, the school we were working for offered us jobs teaching “online”. Now we could earn anywhere we had a stable internet connection. This was perfect, we now had a year of savings, and the ability to continue earning enough to support ourselves while house sitting full-time. Better still, we calculated this could be achieved by each working only 30 hours a month!
When you have no property, no mortgage and no debt – you really don’t need too much in the way of a monthly income. Our aim had always been to support ourselves throughout our early retirement without touching the equity we’d realized by selling our properties. Within two years, with a bit of flexibility, we’d achieved that goal!
Top tips for successful nomadic living:
Prioritise the areas within your life where you can save, or make most money. What can you live without? What could you change to add 10% extra to your monthly budget.
Become reputable house and pet sitters as quickly as possible. The cost saving will provide the basis on which your nomadic lifestyle can grow. It will also provide fulfillment, making you more confident about your new lifestyle choices.
When exploring options for working remotely, don’t expect results overnight. As with any business, it takes time to develop a new enterprise. Invest time for your eventual success.
Be adaptable and open to change. Travelling and nomadic living presents an ever differing perspective on life and if you can’t keep up with it you’ll possibly find yourself disillusioned and unhappy.
Choose a country where the cost of living falls within or under your budget so that you can maximize your living experiences. For instance, when we were house sitting in Mexico, our food and day-to-day travel costs were so low, we found ourselves saving money each month. This meant we could afford to enjoy a month traveling around Cuba shortly after.
Pick a continent and look at all the options for travel or house sitting in that region of the world. This will minimise your between continent long haul flights, and keep costs down. Explore inter-city travel by coach to save on airfares.
Find a bank that gives you great deals on currency transactions. We recently discovered Starling Bank in the UK and our exchange costs are so much less. Charles Shwab is also highly rated for the US. All these little savings add up, especially as full-time travelers.
Travel light. We pretty much follow the sun, so it’s easy to travel with the minimum of clothing, and we manage to fly carry-on most of the time. If we need more clothes, we buy from second hand or op shops on arrival. In a “throw-away” age, we’ve found some great bargains on almost-new clothing.
Don’t forget your family and friends back home. We stay in contact by regular video chats, that make them feel comfortable and supportive of our ongoing adventures, wherever we are in the world.
But… be prepared to lose some of your friends too. Not everyone will “get” or want to be inspired by your adventures. For some it’s just a reminder of how they are “stuck”, longing for, but not having the ability to live like you. Instead meet-up and form new friendships with like-minded people on your travels.
If traveling as a couple learn tolerance and give each other space.
Re-evaluate your lifestyle at least once a year. See what’s working, what needs to change, and what you are still aspiring to achieve.
We love our nomadic lifestyle, but we’ve had a few challenges along the way. Still, after five years we are now healthier, happier, much more fulfilled, and have very few worries to add any stress to our lives.
Our final tip… if you’re on the fence thinking about change, jump down to the other side and at least give it a try!
BIO of Vanessa and Ian
Vanessa & Ian are full-time international house sitters, bloggers and publishers of House Sitting Magazine.
Passionate about house sitting and their nomadic lifestyle, they enjoy the freedom to explore the world, inspiring and helping others along the way.
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