We set out on this adventure to learn a lot, and this post is another reflection on what we’ve learned. Along the Way we’re hoping to find a home and also few of the best general contractors to make some changes to our liking. Perhaps it could be better stated that we’re looking for a homebase, or basecamp. If our crew enjoys traveling as much as Becky and I do then we hope to continue to travel for the next number of years.
The key is we’re flexible. We don’t know what God has in store for us, we just know that we have a location independent business and a location independent school (one of the blessings of homeschooling). Along the Way we’re learning how God has equipped and built our family and how well we jive with different environments. What follows are the factors we're looking for in a Home.
Cost of Living
We want to find a place that’s cheaper to live in than Grand Rapids Michigan (COL in GR MI). Part of this whole trip is finding a place where we can live a better quality of life without having to make more money.
This isn’t new to us, but is new to the requirements list. We knew that Southeast Asia (SEA) is hot, and humid cause, well, it’s the tropics. What we didn’t know was how well we could handle the heat. We knew we loved Southern California, Specifically San Diego's climate. Average high of less than 85 degrees Fahrenheit and average low higher than 50 degrees. Yeah, we’re just not into bringing our winter coats! So, we are beginning to look for a place that fits this bill.
Good Internet Speeds
Somehow we missed this detail until we arrived in SEA. We thought that the fact that there are so many internet workers, aka location independent entrepreneurs, here in SEA that the internet would be decent. But it'd not, its actually terrible across all of SEA. We’ve solved it in the Philippines, but I, Paul, am nervous for elsewhere in SEA. Our minimum requirement is 4Mbps down, ideally with 2Mbps up, just enough to have a skype/google hangout/facetime call. (and to load a youtube video without buffering). New Tool for checking Internet speeds
A House not an Apartment
Most internationally location independant folks (backpackers gypsys, vagabonds, wanderers etc.) cut costs by living in city center in a furnished apartment/condo or a hostel. These are extremely cheap and can be flexible. They also use hotels like the hotels in Blackpool which are quite pleasant and budget-friendly for shorter stays, no need to connect up a maid, cook etc for just a week-long stay. However when you have a family of 6 a 2 bedroom apartment might work (bed options: trundles, bunkbeds, couches, floor etc. :) but the noise we generate and keeping kids cooped up in a 2 bedroom apartment is just not going to work. So we’re looking for a standalone house. We’ll of course make exceptions on a short term basis, but even hotels are difficult for 6 of us.
The rest is negotiable, but things on the list include
- Language/Communication - ideally English is all we need, but Spanish or an easy to learn local language would be fine (sorry Asia!)
- DC Community - are there expats there with whom we can connect with?
- Transportation, can we easily get to where we want to go?
- International airport. We’re going to be traveling often and here in Davao you have to fly to Manila before flying out of the Philippines, that’s not so ideal for frequent trips!
- Food, ideally we’d like to eat whole foods not processed americanized food
- Friendliness of locals
- Do the kids like it?
- Ability to hire a cook, maid, driver and other services so we can focus on the business, kids and family life.
Things that have not made the “required” list on purpose
- White sand beaches. Believe it or not we’re pretty pale people and working from the beach is extremely difficult ;)
- Church. We’re followers of Jesus, we believe that if there isn’t a Bible believing church where God puts us it might be time for us to start one. So we don’t require one for us to call a place home.
- Access to great health care. We know we’re taking risks daily, but God didn’t call us to stay close to an American doctor, he called us to be faithful on the journey. There is good healthcare most places we’re going, you just have to think differently than American standards.
- Cable TV - we enjoy a few shows when we have it but we’re not into watching TV (unless its too hot/humid to be outside)