My wife and I like to travel. In the five years we have been together, we have created many unforgettable memories during our travels abroad.
But in July 2021, we took a cruise to the Greek Islands for my wife’s 49th birthday that really changed our lives. As we sat in our cabin overlooking the ocean, we talked about how we would spend our empty nest years. Our five children had all left home.
It felt incredible to travel again after the Covid-19 lockdowns were eased. So we took the plunge 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 an online education program that teaches entrepreneurs how to brand and market themselves. Our work does not require us to be in a certain place.
We were also frustrated with the circumstances of being people of color in the U.S. We often faced racism in the comments section whenever we published articles and videos online. We even had people tell us 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 Wealthy Journey, reading blogs like Nomadic Matt, and listening to podcasts like Chris The Freelancer Podcast, we realized we could save money abroad. YouTube channels like Passport Heavy also showed us that there may be less experience of racism in other countries.
So after the cruise we sold the 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 the first six months of the trip, including Airbnbs and our 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 income, my freelance writing hustle brings in about $1,000 a month.
When we first started traveling, we made a commitment not to spend more than we did in Florida. Our average monthly expenses at the time were:
- Mortgage (on two houses): 5686 dollars
- Maintenance and insurance fees (in two houses): 2385 dollars
- Utilities and telephone: 621 dollars
- Car and gas payments: 2058 dollars
- Car insurance: 275 dollars
- Health insurance: 548 dollars
- Food (food and eating out): 2500 dollars
- Fitness Memberships: 438 dollars
- Streaming services: 65 dollars
- Credit card debt: 525 dollars
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 give ourselves a maximum of $8,000 a 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’s a breakdown of our monthly expenses there:
- RENTAL (Airbnbs): 2683 dollars
- Flights: 1498 dollars
- Shipping: 131 dollars
- Food (food, eating out): 2137 dollars
- Streaming services: 65 dollars
- Phone: 121 dollars
- Car insurance (our daughter’s car): 195 dollars
- Small storage unit in the USA: 95 dollars
- therapy: 780 dollars
- Entertainment: 81 dollars
Total: 7786 dollars
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 over hotels because we want places with a big kitchen, a washer and dryer, a nice view, and dedicated space for us to work. Hotels simply cannot offer all of these.
We spend anywhere from one to three months in each country. 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 a lot of our time during the week. We’re on our computers and phones Monday through Friday, usually from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. I’m the chef in the family, so we eat at home on weekdays.
Weekends are when we can really have fun. We sleep in on Saturday morning, 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 we’ve watched.
We explore every place we travel to, indulge in local flavors and walk a lot. Our favorite city so far has been Rome. The Italian food there is second to none.
We love that we can walk from the Airbnb near the Vatican to the center of Rome in about 25 minutes. We could leave and indulge in pizza or gelato in no time. Walking around the city and back to the Airbnb helps us burn a good amount of calories.
Full-time travel is freedom for us
We’ve been digital nomads for seven months now and don’t regret our decision to sell everything and travel full time.
We are 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 removed from our family and friends.
We are saving money and staying in places that feel welcoming to us as people of color. Europe was such a good experience that we are considering taking a long-term stay there.
We are so thankful that we get to live a life of freedom, and where every day feels like a new adventure.
Constable Kimanzi 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 to YouTube to continue their journeys.