Thursday, November 30, 2017

At home on the road

This summer, after leaving Kenya, we took a ~5 month road trip with the goal of picking a new home city!  This research included career options, lifestyle, and lots of time with family and friends after 4 years abroad.

We lived off of a portion of our savings -- less than you'd think!  While we were mostly frugal, we had one big expense: We bought an amazing used Mercedes/Dodge Sprinter camper van that we love, and hope to keep for a long time!  (Note, we did not embrace the popular "VanLife" and advertise on social media the products which paid us most.)

Here's a walkthrough of the van:

We spent:

  • Roughly 150 nights on the road, at 62 different spots (2.5 days / spot on average).
  • Roughly an average of only $14 per day in accommodation (=$430/mo), including 117 nights of $0, and a couple of necessary fancy hotel visits.
  • Roughly half the nights sleeping in the van itself, and half either tent camping or staying in friends' guest beds (thanks, friends!).

During our road trip, we:

  • Traveled ~12,000 miles, at ~21 mpg of diesel.
  • Hiked many days, swam many creeks, kitesurfed, and star gazed.
  • Visited countless local, State, and National Parks - a huge draw to North America for us.

When it comes to career & work:

  • I  had 50+ meetings with startups, investors, accelerators discerning my next career step.
  • I had ~30 consultations with startups that I advise; most by phone.
  • Meagan worked part time through the summer, and tried various coworking spaces for possible future offices.

What we learned:

  • We visited and had many, many conversations with residents of towns we visited, whether existing friends and new acquaintances. The overwhelming, vast majority were in their town/city as a consequence of a career move.
  • We paid attention to gender attitudes in the cities we visited, and while the west coast is definitely the "left" coast, we noticed a large portion of the child-rearing responsibilities fell on women, even in otherwise progressive families.
  • We confirmed that we can be happy in many places - and ultimately our decision was *not* driven by things like days of sunlight as we'd intended, but rather by deeper motivations to live a lifestyle that we believe in.
  • We also learned that we love being on the road and love our van, Kifu (short for Kifaru, meaning rhino in Swahili)!

Our most important lesson, however, was that although Denver was high on our list, we ultimately picked Vancouver, BC!  When visiting, we really connected with the city - it shares our interest in work/life balance and also a strong premium for the environment, human diversity, and compassion for global refugees and local underserved communities. Meg's a dual citizen, and has wanted to live in Canada for a while as well; I've applied for my work permit and residency.