We have experienced difficulties and transcended them together as well as some beautiful moments and made incredible memories together.
Once you make the decision to venture into the world of unique living situations, you find out that you need way less than you think and that you can get used to and make do with whatever you have.
Introduce us to the people you live with?
I live with 3 amazing guys (I’m a lucky girl!): Billy, my husband, and our two kids, Desmond (7) and Roman (3). Billy was the one who came up with the at-the-time crazy idea of traveling full-time. He owns an educational business and decided to expand it internationally. I didn’t think we could pull it off; he convinced me that we could. He’s amazing at thinking outside of the box and always comes up with ways to stretch our finances a bit more or to make a bucket-list destination a part of our journey. He loves being active and is enjoying bike riding around the town and the hills. Desmond is our head strong child. To our constant amusement and sometimes chagrin, he will stand his ground no matter what you bribe him with. He loves listening to stories and drawing. His favorite part about moving to different countries is getting to see what his new room will look like. Roman is super easygoing and is currently enjoying the ride. He loves copying his older brother and playing with Desmond’s toys. His favorite superhero is a Japanese character called Anpanman. Anpanman has a head made of bread (pan in Japanese) filled with anko (red bean paste). Anpanman spends his days fighting his enemy, Baikinman (germ man), and giving pieces of his head to hungry children.
Where are you in the world and what are you living in?
We currently live in Chia, Colombia, just north of Bogota. We are living in what they call a “casa campestre,” a country home.
Why did you choose to live in your current arrangement?
Initially, when we decided to come back to Colombia, we thought about living again in Bogota. However, it was becoming more and more apparent that our boys needed more space to play and grow and in a high-rise city with 13 million inhabitants, we couldn’t find a home to match those needs. So, we looked at surrounding towns and found several lovely homes for rent in Chia. We chose our home based on the fact that it had a wonderful yard with two soccer goals, a fruit and vegetable garden, and lovely flowers surrounding it. To us, it was the surrounding nature that inspired us to live here.
What do you do to personalize your unique (less traditional) living situation?
If we are staying in one place for less than three months, we generally leave the decor and furniture as is. However, if we plan to stay for longer than that, we really need for the space to feel like a home. To that end, we do rearrange furniture and decor to our liking. My boys and I love to create, so I’ll routinely hang the boys’ artwork on the walls and display their handwork and crafts on coffee tables and mantles. We also travel with some small objects we picked up during our travels that are meaningful. We make sure that those are displayed as well.
Tell us your favorite and least favorite room in your space and why?
My favorite room is definitely my bedroom. We have vaulted wooden ceilings, a fireplace, and a lovely little balcony. I love opening the shades in the morning and seeing the sun rise above the mountains. My least favorite room is probably the downstairs bathroom. The shower looks like it could literally electrocute us. We have not used it and are in talks with the owner to come up with a better solution.
What is the biggest misconception you had about your current living situation before you started living in it?
Just having a yard, doesn’t mean that our kids are going to use it. It isn’t easy to encourage our kids to spend time outside. We have to nudge them to spend time outdoors. More space isn’t always better: we love our spacious room, but hate having to walk downstairs at night for water or to help one of the boys. Cleaning and maintaining a larger house is time and energy intensive as well. I’d much rather have a smaller space.
What is the one household item you carry with you every time you move or the one item you cannot live without?
My kitchen knife and knife sharpener.
What do you miss most about permanent, stationary, traditional living?
The opportunity to be involved in a community. We form wonderful friendships and relationships while we’re in a place, but we don’t have the time necessary to integrate ourselves into the fabric of the neighborhood. My husband would love to coach a youth basketball team, I would love to teach yoga classes to children in schools…We want to make a difference in our community and sometimes, with our short time frames, we just can’t.
What is the one item your children carry with them to make their unique (less traditional) home more comfortable?
Definitely their favorite toys. It seems like the toys have grown to take up almost an entire suitcase of space. Roman loves his stuffed Anpanman and Peppa Pig dolls. Des loves his Legos and starts putting them together to display the day after we arrive to a new place.
Do you have a pet joining you in this journey? If so, has this been complicated? Any advice?
No pets unfortunately.
What is your best resource to find items you need for your place?
We generally do our shopping at the mega supermarkets (which are similar to Super Targets), like Jumbo or Exito in Colombia and Auchan and Carrefour in France. We also like to buy stuff on the local Craigslist-type website (Le Bon Coin in France and MercadoLibre in Colombia).
If you could only have one of the following in your home which one would it be and why?
space, natural light, dishwasher or above average internet.
Definitely above average internet. Our livelihood literally depends on having a fast internet connection.
If you were to compare your unique (less traditional) home decorating style to a kitchen appliance or gadget what would it be and why?
It would have to be a crock pot. We throw seemingly disparate things together and it comes out looking, feeling, and smelling like home.
How do you keep traditions alive for your family in your unique living situation?
We always celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. We’re not a religious family, so these celebrations center around our American/Hispanic cultural traditions. We spent a few months living in Oaxaca, so we make sugar skulls and try to find marigolds to enrich our traditional American Halloween. No matter where we are in the world, we always try to find a restaurant that serves a traditional or fusion Thanksgiving dinner. Two years ago, we spent Christmas in Tokyo, taking in the sights. We would have eaten KFC for dinner that night (as is the custom there), but realized that Christmas is a holiday celebrated mostly by couples and decided to make some maki rolls at home.
How do you decorate for the holidays in your unique (less traditional) home or do you skip it all together?
We love decorating for holidays! The kids are the driving force behind the decorations. Often, we’ll buy decorations that come from the particular area where we are living. For example, papel picado for Day of the Dead celebration or Anpanman garland for our Christmas tree.
What is your favorite part about this lifestyle choice?
My favorite part is definitely meeting new people and forming relationships with them. Two of my closest friends are from Japan and France, mothers I met through my sons’ schools and with whom I’ve formed really close bonds. I highly doubt that if I would have stayed living in Salt Lake City, UT that I could count those two very unique women as my friends. Also, (second favorite part) I love that we have grown so much together as a family. We have experienced difficulties and transcended them together as well as some beautiful moments and made incredible memories together.
Many traveling families subscribe to the “house is not a home” theory. What is home to you?
Of course, wherever my family is, that’s my home. But on a more concrete level, a home is where I feel contentment, love, and comfort. When we are traveling to lots of places in a short time, we really do feel a bit home-less. When we choose to live longer in a place, then it takes about 1-3 months to really feel like that particular place is our home. We have to imbue it with our personalities, make a few memories, before we start calling it “home.”
What makes you love the place you live?
The people and culture, the food, and the availability of unique and fun things to do.
Can home be a person, or an idea?
My “home” is intricately tied up with my husband, our kids, and the part of the world we are living in. ’m not sure if my version of “home” could be an idea…maybe the idea is that we could be at home anywhere if we are together in a place we love.
Words of wisdom to anyone considering venturing out into the world of unique, less traditional homes?
We once read somewhere this quote: “It’s either one day or day one.” We tend to live by that a lot. Someday will never be a good time. You will never be 100% ready. You have to just start. It’s so natural to fear a possible change that big that sometimes, you freeze and you can’t make a decision to go ahead. But growth occurs when you toe the line between comfort and discomfort. Once you make the decision to venture into the world of unique living situations, you find out that you need way less than you think and that you can get used to and make do with whatever you have.
What is next for you? Will you continue to live in your current home or try something different?
We will be moving again next August. Right now, we are considering spending a few months in Japan, this time traveling to different places (each with their own unique living situations : cabin, boat, apartment) and then probably back to France to live in a Toulousain-style home.
How do you educate your children?
We do a mix of homeschooling and “regular” schooling. The pedagogy of Rudolf Steiner (Waldorf schools) has always resonated with us, so if we choose to stay in a place for more than a few weeks or months, we will try to find a Waldorf school to enroll our children (our kids are currently attending a charming, small Waldorf School here in Chia). If we are a bit more mobile and traveling a lot, we homeschool. Our homeschool life is very fluid and not at all regimented. It is informed by the culture of the place we are visiting and the pedagogical offerings of the country (nature reserves, beaches, museums, music groups, cultural performances, etc).
How do you make a living?
My husband owns an educational company. He offers standardized test prep to students in international schools all over the world. When we are choosing a new place to visit or live, we choose one that is more or less centrally located in the region he wants to target. We don’t have many of the “bills” that we would have if we were still living in the States nd since we can write off some of our expenses as living and travel expenses, we are able to live on a budget that is smaller than we lived on back “home.”
Quote to ponder
But growth occurs when you toe the line between comfort and discomfort.
What a lovely family! Scarlett makes it sound so easy with her laid back attitude. Guess what? It is that easy, not necessarily in the beginning, but once you find your groove it is smooth sailing all the way. Can you see yourself in Japan or France or Colombia? Maybe you have another country on your wish list? The possibilities are endless when you fight through those fears and go for it.
WorldTowning’s services can help make this travel dream ‘your reality’ and we can do it all stress free. We will be there with you every step of the way.