If you’ve been following our adventures since last fall, you might be asking yourself why we returned early from our 1-year planned trip and have not talked about heading back abroad yet? This is an excellent two-part question. Being in the fortunate position to live virtually anywhere we want for virtually any period of time, the decision boiled down to several very specific criteria…
A) The Monthly Movement Effect:
When you vacation somewhere for a week or so, you are typically living in the center of the city (cities) you’re visiting, eating out for most meals and visiting the top tourist locations mixed in with a few off-the-beaten-path adventures (same with cruises). This makes for a wonderful, pre-planned and often very relaxing trip. Because you’re not staying for an extended period of time, you typically spend a little more than you might otherwise spend in day-to-day living back home.
While working and living abroad, we were more focused on balancing our cost of living and finding a happy medium between the adventures we went on while still working a relatively normal schedule. Moving nearly every month opened our eyes to a few key factors.
First, it takes approximately 2 weeks to get to know your way around a city. This includes finding local amenities like grocery stores, food markets, clothing shops, pharmacies, general goods stores, co-working spaces, the ‘good’ coffee shops, laundromats (or figure out how to work the washer/dryer), etc. Being the creatures of habit that we are, it took Danielle and I a couple weeks to find each of these places and develop new routines around work schedules, shopping, cooking, chores, adventuring and more.
B) Growing Businesses:
Although I had been doing freelance work for years in addition to the agency jobs I’d worked, I was really only a few months into 100% full-time self-employment for my growing business and Danielle was about 1.5 years into hers. Our approach to business is a little different than your typical marketing company’s, as all our team members work from their homes or offices across the globe. As a result, it’s more like working with a whole bunch of self-employed contractors, which means they are hard-working and good communicators.
In Q1, when we were beginning our journey abroad, we won a few key larger projects and as a result both Danielle and I had extra meetings with clients and resources back in the states. With the 6 hour time difference we were getting into the office around 10AM (Central Europe Time) and had meetings with folks back in North America anywhere from 3-9PM. It was great having several hours to work before communications started from team members, but made things difficult when we just needed a quick answer on something or needed to schedule a meeting.
While all the great progress was being made on client projects, we also had to hire new team members and either let go or had others leave. This put a certain amount of stress on the businesses, our other team members and the two of us. However, each of those experiences helped us to learn and grow into a more solid, stable corporate structure.
C) Pre-Planned Mid-Year Return:
We had originally planned to return in June for a little over a month to attend 2 weddings and a family reunion before heading back overseas to continue our journey. There is a slim chance that we’ll still be doing that come August, but we are pretty sure we’ll be staying in the USA until at least Spring of next year.
We’ve now reached the 1.5 month point of being home in Michigan. The summers here have always been beautiful and this summer is no exception. I have to admit, although we’re not abroad, we continue to bring our adventurous spirit with us. Since our return we’ve spent a good amount of time with family and friends, exploring South East Michigan as well as ‘Up North’ in true Wander Forrest style. It took about 2 weeks to develop a new routine, but things are once again familiar and for the time being we’ve even been fortunate enough to be rent-free (thanks Moms and Dads)!
Our biggest struggle has been figuring out where we’ll go next. For the next 3 weeks we’ve got a set schedule of family reunions, client meetings, visiting friends all topped off with a wedding in Virginia. After that we haven’t completely decided, but we’re pretty sure wherever it is we’ll call it home for the next 6-12 months. So, where should we go? What places have you been that have a strong mix of history and innovation? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.