When we depart for France in May of next year, we have no plans to return to the United States for at least a couple of years, and may be outside the U.S. for as long as four or five years, depending on what’s going on with our family, how we feel, and if we are continuing to enjoy full-time travel. It sounds very exciting, but we are at the beginning stages of figuring out the positives and negatives of leaving the U.S. for a long time without a permanent overseas address. We will maintain an address in Hawaii for tax and other purposes, but otherwise will have nothing left to tie us down here.
There are both positives and negatives to being full-time nomads. I’ll start by getting the negatives (so far) out of the way first:
- We will not see our family for long stretches. While we plan to visit Japan and see our son and his family at least once a year, spending time with the girls is going to be a bit more difficult. Meiling and YaYu are able to afford to travel and have said they will try to visit us once a year in one of our locations, but it will be much harder, if not impossible, for YaYu, who will be attending grad school. We’re going to set aside a little each month so if necessary we can help with the girls’ transportation costs if they’re able and want to come and see us overseas, especially YaYu (maybe a good reason to get that Delta card and miles?).
- Our driver’s licenses will expire during our travels. This was one of the main things that was going to keep us on Kaua’i until the end of 2022 – we just could not imagine existing without a driver’s license. Without licenses we would not be able to rent a car overseas for short road trips. However, we finally realized we lived successfully for months on end while we were traveling before without a car and were fine, and that we will be okay again with or without driver’s licenses. Will we want licenses again when we eventually return to the U.S.? After a lot of discussion the best answer we can come up with is maybe. Another problem: without having license (or a car) when we return, how would we go about getting a license again if we do want one? That has turned out to be pretty easy to overcome though. We can sign up for a day or two of practice with a driving school, then use one of their cars and insurance to take the driving test, if necessary. People do it all the time.
- We’re still responsible for paying U.S. taxes no matter where we go. All I can say is thank goodness for online tax preparation. Brett took care of our taxes while we were on the road before and he can do it again. They were very simple while we were traveling.
- We will be unable to vote, or at the least it will be very difficult. As two people who have always voted, in every election, this has the potential to be a big negative for us, but we’re also thinking with everything going on right now it might be time for us to be able to observe things from a distance. We’re already looking foward to being outside of the U.S. for next year’s midterm elections.
There are positives to being outside of the U.S. for a while, for us anyway:
- We can get necessary dental work done for less overseas. We both have major dental procedures coming up that would cost us a small fortune in the U.S. At first, the thought of having to have dental work done overseas was a huge negative, but the more we’ve learned it’s turned into a positive. There are locations overseas where we can get high quality dental work done for far less than it costs in the U.S., and our dental insurance will still cover some of it. So, the big question has become, “Where should we spend some time and see the dentist? Spain? Prague? Malta?” Medical care, if necessary, will also be less expensive.
- We will be living car free. Brett and I have dreamed about living without a car for a long, long time, but we will have a big opportunity to put it into practice and develop strategies to see if living completely car free actually works for us. We figure if we were able to live without a car in the rural Cotswolds for three months, we can adapt the skills we used then to living car free almost anywhere, although urban settings will obviously be the easiest. We know we may still end up wanting a car once back in the U.S. – that will depend on where we eventually decide to settle – but we may learn we can live without one for good.
- We will continue to see, explore, and learn new things about the bigger world. It’s not that we wouldn’t or couldn’t learn new things if we were staying in the U.S., and it felt comfortable coming back to the U.S. after being outside of it for several months, but this time around we are looking forward to being “uncomfortable” a bit longer and having to see and adapt to things with different eyes, not only to find what we need to get things done but to understand how others think and see the world. We enjoy learning more about the rhythms and culture of each place we visit and hope longer stays in each place will open our eyes and minds even more.
- We’ll be putting some distance between ourselves and the current negativity and political polarization in the U.S. This, we feel, will be a very good thing. Sometimes we honestly can’t believe or get over some of the things happening these days, and the anger – the rage – and violence we read about in the news. Although we are still doing well in spite of the current inflation and other changes, there are times when we feel like we can’t recognize our country, while at the same time recognizing the current situation seems the logical end to so many things that happened in the past. We are looking forward to looking at our country from a distance for a while.
Both the pros and cons of living outside of the U.S. are of course highly personal, and particular to our situation. With a permanent overseas residence some of these things would not be an issue or occur, but there would of course be other issues popping up that we’ll be avoiding because we’re nomads. We’re also sure other issues are going to pop up that we haven’t even considered yet. But that is one of the things we found we loved about being nomads before: facing new situations, sometimes difficult ones, and finding strengths we didn’t know we had as well as challenging ourselves to figure things out, all the while learning more about not only ourselves but others as well.