My wife and I love to travel. In the five years that we have been together, we have created many unforgettable memories during our trips abroad.
But in July 2021 we took a cruise to the Greek Islands for my wife’s 49th birthday which really 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 left home.
It was amazing to travel again after the Covid-19 closures eased. So we took the plunge and sold our stuff 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 company and an online training program that teaches entrepreneurs how to stand out and market themselves. Our work does not require us to be in a specific place.
We were also frustrated with the circumstances of being people of color in the United States. We frequently faced racism in the comments section whenever we posted articles and videos online. People even told us outright 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 we could save money overseas. YouTube channels like Passport Heavy have also shown us that there may be fewer experiences of racism in other countries.
So, after the cruise, we sold our car and our 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. Some 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 legacy. Since that trip, we have lived in places like London, Rome, Lisbon and Nice.
How we earn, save and spend money
In addition to our online business, which averages $19,000 in monthly income, my freelance writing job brings in about $1,000 a month.
When we first started traveling, we made a commitment not to spend more than when we did in Florida. Our average monthly expenses at the time were:
- Mortgage (on two houses): $5,686
- Maintenance and insurance costs (on two houses): $2,385
- Utilities and phone: $621
- Car and gasoline payments: $2,058
- Car insurance: $275
- Health insurance: $548
- Food (groceries and restaurants): $2,500
- Fitness subscriptions: $438
- Streaming services: $65
- Credit card debt: $525
Our goal was to live a comfortable and fun life while saving money. Now we’ve cut our monthly budget by more than 50%, and we’re giving ourselves a maximum of $8,000 a month to fund our digital nomad lives.
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:
- Lease (Airbnbs): $2,683
- Flights: $1,498
- Transportation: $131
- Food (groceries, restaurants): $2,137
- Streaming services: $65
- Call: $121
- Car insurance (our daughter’s car): $195
- Small storage unit in the United States: $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 one of our bucket lists.
We stay in Airbnbs rather than hotels because we want places with a large kitchen, washer and dryer, a great view, and a dedicated space to work. Hotels just can’t offer all that.
We spend between one and three months in each location. For some people, it can seem tiring to have such a fleeting lifestyle, but we love it.
We structure our schedule to balance work and pleasure
Work occupies a large part of our time during the week. We’re on our computers and phones Monday through Friday, usually around 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. I’m the head of the family, so we eat at home on weekdays.
Weekends are when we really have fun. We sleep on Saturday morning and I wake my wife up with coffee and a homemade breakfast. Next, we have a list of attractions we want to visit from the YouTube videos we’ve watched.
We explore each country we travel to, delight in local delicacies and walk a lot. Our favorite city so far has been Rome. The Italian cuisine here is unbeatable.
We love that we can walk from our Airbnb near the Vatican to central Rome in about 25 minutes. We could leave and indulge in pizza or ice cream in no time. The walk around town and back to our Airbnb helps us burn a good amount of calories.
Traveling full time 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 are currently in Medellin, Colombia.
When traveling, we use Zoom and FaceTime to keep in touch with people back home. Technology allows us to live the full-time digital nomad lifestyle without feeling so alienated from our family and friends.
We save money and stay in countries that welcome us as people of color. Europe has been such a good experience that we are considering doing a long-term residency there.
We are so grateful to be able to live a life of freedom and where every day feels like a new adventure.
Agent Kimanzi is an entrepreneur and freelance writer. His work has appeared in Fortune, Entrepreneur, Black Enterprise, SUCCESS, NBC, Travel & Leisure, CBS and Parents, among others. Follow him and his wife on Youtube follow their movements.