As we’ve grown as WorldTowners and expanded our audience, we receive many, many questions about our journey. We are committed to authenticity, truth and being real about the journey – after all, we are all in this big life adventure together! We wanted to share another step in our journey from suburbia, to traveling family, to living in an RV: The year we spent in Ecuador.
If nothing else, remember: Your story is your own, your journey is your own and at the end of the day…
You get one shot at this life so make it worth it. Regret sucks. Go after those dreams no matter how crazy they sound to everyone else. Follow your heart, it will not lead you astray. ~ Jessica
Introduce us to the people you live with?
Hello, we are the Sueiro family, but most of you already know that. I am the mom, multitasker and master of ceremonies. I play the role of blogger, photographer, chef, world school facilitator, and hobbyist real estate investor. I am a glass is half full (even if the glass is broken), anything is possible (yes, I can still become president) personality to a fault. And I will fight for my family ’till the end. My main goal in life is to inspire my children to dream big, fight hard, dance crazy, love deeply and never ever give up on things that matter to them. But most of all I want them to know they were loved unconditionally from the day they were born and that it is ok to choose a path less traveled (literally and figuratively).
I have been married to my hot latino hubby Will for 15 years. He is a corporate america drop out who works hard every day to reinvent himself as a contractor. Will wakes before everyone, works his butt off all day and is the last one to retire each night. I know it was not easy for him to step away from a secure career in his early 40’s and take a huge risk, but he did it and I am so proud of him. I am grateful that he values travel and family as much as I do. Will starts ever day with a snuggle with his kids, breakfast preparations and a Math lesson with Avalon before he retires to his home office. When he is not with the family or working he is running marathons or playing with his latest Go Pro gadget.
Avalon is our vivacious eleven-year old girl who has plans to change the world one day. She is a ball of innovation who is continually creating and dreaming. Avalon would probably shrivel up and die if all the books on the planet ceased to exist, thank goodness for her Kindle. Since we have transferred to a travel life she has had many changes in her life, particularly the fact that she is now world schooled. She was the driving force behind this schooling option and as a result she has enthusiastically embraced it.
Largo is the house master snuggler, some say he should be a professional snuggler when he grows up. He has a charming wit that stretches way beyond his years and a positive energy that is contagious. Largo skips and sings when he moves, which is pretty much all the time. When he grows up he plans to design Lego’s because he is concerned they won’t have enough that interest him at an older age. Largo makes friends very quickly when we move, but he still misses his grandparents and friends back in Cambridge. This new environment has ignited a creativity within him that is on fire from the moment he wakes until the second he snoozes.
Where are you in the world and what are you living in?
We currently call Quito, Ecuador home. We spent our first year of travel in this home in Costa Rica, but once our year was up we knew we wanted to continue the adventure, hence Quito.
We currently live in a three bedroom and four bath (I know, weird, right?) apartment near Carolina park. The place is bigger than we need, but we picked it because of its proximity to Largo’s school. We don’t have a car, therefore we needed to be within walking distance. The apartment has worked out well for us because it is convenient to everything the kids are involved in, plus there is a movie theatre next door. Yeah! The apartment is a bit above our budget, but we have found ways to make it work by cutting expenses in other areas.
The apartment is extremely modern compared to our place in Costa Rica and it even has piped in gas, not a propane tank. Woo Hoo! Unfortunately we cannot flush the toilet paper because of the plumbing system in Quito, but we have learned to adapt. We have traveled to many countries where this was the case, but this is our first time living long-term someplace where we cannot flush it. It took the kids some time to get used to, but they have it mastered now.
Our building has a great view of the mountains and the city below, plus it gets a lot of light. Light is a requirement for me. I cannot live anyplace that is dark considering how much time we spent at home. I do love all the bathrooms, even if they are unnecessary and they are perfect when we have guests. Plus, we now have a washing machine and dryer in the unit (thanks Patricia and Carlos). The building is incredibly clean, has a doorman and even has a rooftop deck for parties. I know, fancy, right? We are not that fancy of a family, but it is fun to see how other people live for several months.
If I could change something about our situation it would be to have access to outside space from our front door or a slider, either a balcony or a patio would be ideal. And maybe a little heater for the cold nights, but we understand it is typical for apartments in Quito to not have heaters. The lack of heat gives us the opportunity to do extra snuggling.
We truly enjoy living in this apartment. We probably won’t have a place this nice again in our travels so we are taking it all in. Oh and the sofa is super comfy!
Why did you choose to live in your current arrangement?
We were living in Costa Rica and we were not ready to end our travel adventure. We had heard many people say that Quito was a cool city so we started researching it and discovered that it had everything we wanted. We wanted a French school, a Spanish-speaking country, an inexpensive cost of living and a place rich in culture. Quito met all of our needs so we named it as our next destination.
We found our apartment on airbnb.com. We rented the place for a month and liked it so we negotiated a monthly rate for the following eight months. We find it convenient to rent places through airbnb because they come furnished and since we only travel with two bags each this set up is very convenient. In addition, the airbnb owners are usually willing to negotiate a lower rate to guarantee long-term income. It’s a win-win for everyone.
What do you do to personalize your unique (less traditional) living situation?
Honestly we do very little to personalize our space in regards to making purchases. I usually buy each kid a throw blanket and maybe a fun pillow for their bed, but that is pretty much it. However, we are a very crafty and creative family so our apartments are always littered with paintings, drawings, legos, clay creations and much more. In addition, we usually rearrange the furniture to work with our lifestyle and our digital nomad professional work. Since we don’t watch TV we always relocate that to an area that is not the focus of the room and if it is small enough we just put it in a cupboard. We also turn the coffee table into art central. It is important that our children have access to art supplies. I don’t want them in a draw someplace were they are forgotten. Our art supplies are very colorful, therefore they also double as a design elements in the center of our living room. AvaLar (as we often refer to them) are big book kids so we make sure they have access to books in our living room as well. We have been known to create reading corners in every place we have lived. Our goal with our home is for it to be a space for the whole family. We have always been like this even when we had a house in the suburbs.
Tell us your favorite and least favorite room in your space and why?
This is a tough one. I have several favorites. First, I love having a bathtub again. I know this is not a room, but I just had to mention it. We all love to take baths. When we lived it Costa Rica it was our first time not having a bathtub and we really missed it. And since we are mentioning items instead of rooms I need to mention our sofa. Ah! Oh thank you travel gods. THANK YOU! I don’t have a lot of opportunity to sit on it, but when I do I feel complete ecstasy. Our sofa in CR was horrible, really horrible.
As for rooms I guess I would have to say the kitchen. It is so nice to have a large window to look out while in the kitchen. Our kitchen in CR was like a big dungeon and quite depressing. I like that we can cook and watch the sunset. Plus, I love the modern appliances. I guess another favorite room would be our bedroom, mostly because we read and snuggle in there together. The bed is not as big as CR, but we make it work.
I don’t think I have a least favorite room. If I had to pick one I would say that we could do without two of the bathrooms and that would mean less to clean. Ha.
What is the biggest misconception you had about your current living situation before you started living in it?
First, I thought the hill outside our apartment would get easier to walk up as we acclimated. Nope, it’s still hard. Ha!
I cannot think of any thing specific to our living situation in Quito so I am going to make it a little broader. I thought we could live out of two suitcases each, but I also thought we would miss much of our “stuff”. We don’t! Nothing! Nada! Occasionally we make a small purchase for our new place, for example, a crock pot. We use this baby to cook the majority of our meals so we think it is a worthy investment. But, otherwise, we are able to live on very little. I let the kids decide for themselves what they keep, what goes back to the states and what gets donated. Our rule is that they get 3 large ziplock bags to put all their goodies in, the rest they have to decide what to do with on their own. I am personally on a quest to get my items even more simplified. I truly feel free, happy and not weighted down with responsibilities involving my stuff with this new lifestyle choice. We still have a small storage unit in Maine that we plan to sell off when we are back in the states next time. Anyone need some kitchen items?
What is the one household item you carry with you every time you move or the one item you cannot live without?
My spices. I know you were all probably thinking I was going to say my cork screw. I would be dying here without many of my spices since some of them are not available outside of the US. Before we left I transferred them into prescription bottles so that they were in non breakable containers. The spices were easy to travel with and I am happy to have them each time I cook dinner.
What do you miss most about permanent, stationary, traditional living?
This is an easy one, my Kitchen Aid mixer. I love that thing and I miss it. Yes, I can make it work without it, but I used it for everything and the old school mixer (aka Will) is not as efficient.
What is the one item your children carry with them to make their unique (less traditional) home more comfortable?
Stuffed animals, hands down. Largo also brings his special blanket that he has slept with since he was a baby. Their stuffed animal collection seems to be multiplying the longer we are here. Both kids are big into rescuing discarded stuffies and they have been known to pull them off the tops of dumpsters or sides of streets.
Do you have a pet joining you in this journey? If so, has this been complicated? Any advice?
Our dog Peanut joined us in Costa Rica once we had settled in. She was 15 and we knew her days were numbered, therefore we wanted her with us in her final months. Peanut lasted about four months in CR before she passed away. During her time she had many adventures with us, plus she got to travel internationally. I know she had been wanting to do this. Ha! It is not easy bringing a pet to another country, but I highly recommend it if you can make it work.
What is your best resource to find items you need for your place?
Like I said before, we don’t really buy much, but if we do need something we have a box store next door. I am not a fan of box stores, but it is our go-to for art supplies and anything we need when having parties. However, we try to make what we need before we ever attempt to buy it.
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.
We have lived in places with all four and with none of the above. I NEED internet for work, but I WANT light for my sanity. I guess if it really came down to it I would have to go with internet, but I would never rent a place without lots of natural light, unless of course it was free and then I might consider it.
If you were to compare your unique (less traditional) home decorating style to a kitchen appliance or gadget what would it be and why?
A blender with the top off. You know what happens when you forget to put the top on, right? We’ve all done it. I don’t want to call our decorating style a mess, but I would say it is an eclectic array of creative juices sprinkled or splattered (hence the blender with the top off) all over our house. We decorate the walls, the floors, the doors, the chairs, basically anything we can get our hands on. When the kids were young I never wanted our house to look like it just stepped off a magazine cover. I knew I could decorate it that way, but I knew giving my children the ability to display their creativity throughout the house would yield a much more beautiful outcome and it did. Blender with the top off, that’s us.
How do you keep traditions alive for your family in your unique living situation?
As we travel so do our traditions, we never leave home without them. Each new country brings new traditions that we add to our repertoire. For example, we now celebrate the Epiphany like the French with the Galette des Rois. In Ecuador we plan to continue the All Soul’s day tradition of wawa. I like to say we collect traditions instead of souvenirs. We love traditions and we won’t compromise them as we travel, but we sometimes have to modify them.
How do you decorate for the holidays in your unique (less traditional) home or do you skip it all together?
As I mentioned above we are a bit of an arty family. We still decorate for the holidays, but now as we travel we make more of our decorations than we did before. We use recycled material for our decorating and we have a tendency to decorate through baking. There is nothing like a yummy batch of local cookies to make our house feel festive. The kids and I have decorated and baked since they were very young, now we get a little more creative with our resources. The advantage is that we get to learn all about another countries traditions for decorating. In Costa Rica we tried our hand at making our own Christmas tree out of recycled material. I think it was our best creation yet.
What is your favorite part about this lifestyle choice?
How much time do you have? We love it all, except missing family and friends. We love exploring the world through our children’s eyes, plus watching them grow and learn through travel. Living in a temporary home is not always easy or ideal, but the trade-off is completely worth it. One day these little beings will be off on their own adventure and I will be wishing someone was making art for the walls, exploring far off lands with us, learning a new language, showing compassion to someone less fortunate, creating a business inspired by local culture or just snuggling with me.
In addition, I love all of our time as a family. Our bond as a family has been strengthened in ways I had never imagined. Time is on our side in this lifestyle choice. Isn’t that what we all want, more time with our children? This lifestyle choice has afforded Will and I copious amounts of time with our children and the benefits from that are endless.
Finally, there is a tremendous feeling of satisfaction when one goes after their dreams and succeeds in bringing them to fruition. Our life is full and so much more than I could have imagined 10 years ago. We realized that “it’s” all possible and that living against the “norm” can be tremendously satisfying and rich if you are true to your deepest desires.
Many traveling families subscribe to the “house is not a home” theory. What is home to you?
Simple… home is where the four of us are. If we lost our money, jobs and possessions we would still have a home in the four of us.
What makes you love the place you live?
I wish I could sum this up in one simple word, but I just can’t. First, I have to say I pretty much love everyplace we live if it is rich culturally, the people are kind/welcoming and we are all thriving. What do I love specifically about Quito? There is a lot. First, I love the people. We have experienced some very kind, generous and overall really neat people here in Quito. We have been welcomed and accepted with open arms and for that I am grateful.
Also, Quito is culturally rich and after our year in CR we were really craving a richer culture, history, art and music. We like to label our time in different countries according to what occupied most of our time. Our nine months in Quito will be classified as our year of history and culture.
Finally, I love that we use our bodies to move us around here in Quito. This city is very manageable without a car. We are truly enjoying walking and using public transportation, plus this “on the front lines” view affords us the luxury of having a richer cultural experience.
Anything else you would like offer?
Oh boy, well if you are a regular follower you know I am a huge fan of long-term travel for families, the digital nomad lifestyle and world schooling. If you are interested in pursuing this less traditional lifestyle feel free to contact me. Our goal is to inspire other families to follow their dreams and learn through travel and the world. It is possible, we are living proof. And it is a fabulous lifestyle. JUST FABULOUS!
Words of wisdom to anyone considering venturing out into the world of unique, less traditional homes?
Just do it! I can sit here today and say it was one of the best decisions we made for our children. It’s fun to live differently and kids enjoy trying out unique living situations. Our thoughts are that there are many places that can be called home and we want to expose our children to as many as possible. This way of living will give them a pool of options to choose from when they decide what home works best for them. We don’t believe our way is the only way to live and we want them to know that life has many different versions of home.
What is next for you? Will you continue to live in your current home or try something different?
That is the million dollar question. Yes, we will be switching countries in the end of August, but you will have to follow the blog to find out where. I promise to disclose the next location in the upcoming months. However, I can tell you that we will spend July in a different country in South America and August in the US visiting family and friends.
How do you educate your children?
We are currently world schoolers with one child (although they both get a lot of education through our travels) and traditional schoolers for the other. Both will eventually be world schooled if they choose. I have written about world schooling in great detail on the blog and the traditional school posts are coming soon.
How do you make a living?
Our parents support us. Bah! Come on, get real. We work and we work hard. Until last month I was a graphic designer with my business, Cucumber Design. I am now focusing on my blog as my business, writing a children’s book, world schooling and figuring out ways to invest in more real estate on a limited budget. Will is an independent contractor in the field of Accounting. We have worked very hard (and still do) in order to make this lifestyle work. We are not on the “4 hour workweek” schedule, but we do aspire to be there one day (wink, wink). We often have to work early mornings, late nights and weekends, but we get to do it all while traveling the world and living in other countries, as a result we feel the swap off is worth it.
I hope you enjoyed learning about Ecuador! It’s fun to look back and take stock of where we were, to understand how much we’ve grown. None of it would be possible without our fabulous adventure minded WorldTowning University students, followers, blog readers, and family!
Inside A Traveler’s Walls is where we feature families living in less traditional and unique homes (tents, boats, camper vans, yurts, flats, etc). If you think you might be one of those families and are interested in being profiled, please contact us for details.