In two and a half years, my husband and I will be taking an early retirement (I’ll be 33) so that we can travel around the country with our kids in a tiny house on wheels. While this sounds like the kind of radical life change that only a free-wheeling, fly by the seat of your pants sort of family would embark on, it has actually been quite a journey to get here.
If you had told me a year ago that this is the direction my life would be heading, I would have called you crazy. We hope that by sharing our story, we might inspire you to change your life and provide a roadmap for how to make it happen.
Step 1: Wishing for a Different Life
For us, it started with looking longingly at Instagram feeds that reflected a certain lifestyle: outdoorsy, full of adventure, lots of campfires.
Instead of enjoying our own lives, we lived vicariously through the lives of others. Our conversations kept circling back to the way we wished our life looked. We wished for shorter commutes, more fulfilling jobs, less stress, more adventure…the list was long.
We didn’t know what exactly we were missing in life, but we knew that we weren’t leading the lives that we wanted to lead and that we probably needed a radical life change.
Step 2: Identify a Why
A lot of our wishes were framed negatively. We were really good at identifying the things that we didn’t want, but not so good at figuring out what we did want. We knew that we didn’t want to feel so rushed, we didn’t want to stay in the jobs we were in, and we didn’t want to spend most of our lives working.
Once we stepped back and looked at the parts of our lives that made us happy: being outside, spending time with our kids, taking new adventures, it was a lot easier to figure out what we wanted to do. All we knew before was what we wanted to run away from, identifying our goals gave us something to work towards.
We ended up coming with a succinct Why Statement for our lives: We want to spend time as a family exploring the world.
Step 3: Expand Your Definition of Possible
We spent most of our lives assuming that anything that wasn’t the norm wasn’t a possibility. Once we figured out that there were people who were successfully (and happily) living pretty radical lives, we decided that there wasn’t any reason that we couldn’t too.
We had our Why statement, we just needed to figure out what that life actually looked like. At that point, we left every option on the table. We didn’t worry about logistics, we just worried about figuring out how our life and our Why could intersect.
We considered job changes, location changes, changes to our daily routine; no stone was left unturned. When we stumbled upon the community of nomadic families, we knew that it aligned perfectly with the life we were searching for.
Step 4: Do Your Research
Once we discovered what we wanted to do, we needed to figure out how to make it happen. We found people via blogs and Instagram and Twitter that were already living this life and we made friends with them. Most people are happy to answer your questions.
With each answer we got, more questions presented themselves. We found options for healthcare when you’re an early retiree, options for homeschooling when you’ve got young kids on the road, options for housing for a nomadic family of four. All of these options required us to make even more decisions.
Step 5: Make a Plan to Change Your Life
Once we compiled our massive list of options to consider, we started actually making a plan. We set out a timeline, figured out how to make the financials work, and identified a plan for healthcare and homeschooling.
We literally have a binder where we store the information we’ve gathered, to do lists, and resources for next steps (can you tell I’m a little Type A?).
If you’re going to embrace a radical life change, it’s a good idea to have a roadmap.
Step 6: Take Action
All that’s left now is to begin executing our plan. We’re downsizing in preparation for the move to the tiny house. We’re saving up so that our retirement fund is full. We’re talking with tiny house builders.
This is the most exciting but also the most difficult part of the whole journey. We’re like children with an hour left to go until they leave for Disney World. We couldn’t be more excited and impatient for our journey to begin.
Embracing Your Own Radical Life Change
Your radical life change might not look like ours. Maybe you’re thinking about starting a nonprofit because you want to have a bigger impact on the world. Maybe you desire a career change because you want a job that you feel more passionate about.
Whatever it is, my guess is that you’re following a similar trajectory as ours.
The reality is that you’ve only got one life. You’ve got one chance for adventure and excitement and to be with the ones that you love. If your gut is telling you that the life you’re leading isn’t the life that you want, don’t be afraid to listen to it.
By day, Katie is a teacher, wife and mom to two young kids. By night, she writes about money, minimalism and her family’s journey towards a nomadic lifestyle at Retiring To The Road. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.