My wife and I love to travel. In the five years that we've been together, we've made many unforgettable memories during our trips abroad.
But in July 2021, we took a Greek Isles cruise for my wife's 49th birthday that truly changed our lives. As we sat in our ocean view cabin, we talked about how we would spend our empty nest years. Our five children had all moved out of the house.
It felt incredible to travel again after Covid-19 shutdowns eased. So we took the leap and sold our belongings to travel full-time as digital nomads.
How we moved abroad and became digital nomads
Several factors influenced our decision. First, my wife and I run a consulting firm and online education program that teaches entrepreneurs how to brand and market themselves. Our work doesn't require us to be in one specific location.
We were also frustrated with the circumstances of being people of color in the U.S. We frequently faced racism in the comments section whenever we published articles and videos online. We even had people flat out tell us that they wouldn't do business with us because I'm African American and my wife is Puerto Rican.
But after watching YouTube channels like Our Rich Journey, reading blogs like Nomadic Matt and listening to podcasts like Chris The Freelancer's Podcast, we realized that we could save money abroad. YouTube channels like Passport Heavy also showed us that there could be fewer experiences of racism in other countries.
So after the cruise trip, we sold our car and belongings, except for a few special items that we keep in a storage unit. We also sold our five-bedroom, four-bathroom, 3,100-square-foot home in Lakewood Ranch, Florida for $810,000, and our second home in Bushnell for $265,000.
We used the profits to pay down debt and invest in our retirement and emergency funds. Part of that money also helped pay for our first six months of travel, including our Airbnbs and flights.
In October 2021, we finally landed in Puerto Rico, where we were able to connect with my wife's heritage. Since that trip, we've lived in places like London, Rome, Lisbon and Nice.
How we earn, save and spend money
In addition to our online business, which generates an average of $19,000 in monthly revenue, my freelance writing side hustle brings in around $1,000 per month.
When we first started traveling, we committed to not spending more than when we did in Florida. Our average monthly expenses back then were:
- Mortgage (on two homes): $5,686
- Maintenance and insurance fees (on two homes): $2,385
- Utilities and phone: $621
- Car payments and gas: $2,058
- Car insurance: $275
- Health insurance: $548
- Food (groceries and eating out): $2,500
- Fitness memberships: $438
- Streaming services: $65
- Credit card debt: $525
Our goal was to live a comfortable and fun life while also saving money. Now, we've cut our monthly budget by more than 50%, and we give ourselves a maximum of $8,000 per month to fund our lives as digital nomads.
So far, our monthly expenses have averaged $7,886. We put every purchase we can on our credit cards to accumulate points and miles, then redeem them for free flights.
We spent February this year in Lisbon, Portugal. Here is a breakdown of our monthly expenses there:
- Rent (Airbnbs): $2,683
- Flights: $1,498
- Transportation: $131
- Food (groceries, eating out): $2,137
- Streaming services: $65
- Phone: $121
- Car insurance (our daughter's car): $195
- Small storage unit in the U.S.: $95
- Therapy: $780
- Entertainment: $81
How we choose our digital nomad destinations
We choose our destinations based on seasonal weather, cost of living, and whether the country is on either of our bucket lists.
We stay in Airbnbs over hotels because we want places with a large kitchen, a washer and dryer, a nice view and dedicated space for us to work. Hotels just can't offer all of that.
We spend anywhere from one to three months in each place. For some people, it can feel tiring to have such a transient lifestyle, but we love it.
We structure our schedule to balance work and fun
Work takes up much of our time during the week. We're on our computers and phones Monday through Friday, typically from 8 a.m. to about 4 p.m. I'm the chef in the family, so we eat at home during the weekdays.
Weekends are when we really get to have fun. We sleep in on Saturday mornings, and I wake my wife up with coffee and a homemade breakfast. Then we have a list of attractions we want to visit from YouTube videos that we've watched.
We explore each country we travel to, delight in the local delicacies, and walk a lot. Our favorite city so far has been Rome. The Italian food there is unbeatable.
We like that we can walk from our Airbnb near the Vatican to the center of Rome in about 25 minutes. We could leave and be indulging in pizza or gelato in no time. The walk around the city and back to our Airbnb helps us burn off a good amount of calories.
Full-time travel is freedom for us
We've been digital nomads for seven months now and we don't regret our decision to sell everything and travel full-time.
We're currently in Medellin, Colombia.
While traveling, we use Zoom and FaceTime to stay in touch with people back home. Technology allows us to live the full-time digital nomad lifestyle without feeling so distant from our family and friends.
We're saving money and staying in countries that feel welcoming to us as people of color. Europe was such a good experience that we're considering getting long-term residency there.
We are so thankful that we get to live a life of freedom, and where every day feels like a new adventure.
Kimanzi Constable is an entrepreneur and a freelance writer. His work has been published in Fortune, Entrepreneur, Black Enterprise, SUCCESS, NBC, Travel & Leisure, CBS and Parents, among many others. Follow him and his wife on YouTube to keep up with their travels.
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