"Lifestyle Design" has become a hot buzz word thanks to Tim Ferriss and his #1 best selling book, "The 4- Hour Workweek" as well as his hugely popular blog. We love how he inspires, so were thrilled when we were contacted and told we were featured in the new and expanded 4HWW edition coming out on December 15th!
We have become accidental trail blazers in extended family travel with tons of varied experiences in digital nomad living (and roadschooling) on our open ended world tour since 2006, so hoped he would add more that was specific for families, since 70% of families dream about extended travel.
Can you imagine our excitement when I first got this email? "Out of
more than 400 pages of submissions, Tim personally chose yours for the
short-list for inclusion. He loved it." I can't wait to get my review copy and will keep you posted!
I am loving how new ways of being, traveling, educating and working are exploding in the blogosphere as people invent their own versions of "lifestyle design." We were also recently interviewed by our online friend Chris Guillebeau for his new book. Being a life long non-conformist, I admire the inspiration and great work he is doing with his unconventional strategies.
As I was writing this post, I was shocked to get a Skype call and Twitter message from one of my favorite New York Times travel writers, Matt Gross, The Frugal Traveler who wanted to do an interview with us! Have you seen it? Wow! We were also quite touched by many of the comments.
What an exciting time for us and we're so grateful that we can demonstrate through our lives, that even an ordinary family can do extended travel very comfortably on a tiny budget! We didn't know that was possible until we tried it!
We are in beautiful Barcelona right now, gathering information for our fourth winter in sunny Andalusia which has the best winter weather in Europe. I
am surprised that more people do not winter in southern Spain so will be
posting more on this topic as soon as we settle in for our 4th winter this
year.I get a lot of emails on this topic because we have more experience in this area as a digital nomad family, than anyone that I have seen online or in person.
Recently, I got a very interesting one from Liz that she also posted as a comment in reply to some of mine at the Location Independent blog.
"Hello,Thanks for providing your insights on this important topic.I have a question:You wrote: “…cost of living can be EXTREMELY low in rural villages. …We live large on less than most do in SE Asia!”Could you please recommend some of those rural villages or areas in
Spain that have a low cost of living. I speak fluent Spanish (I grew up
in S. America) and I’m planning to spend at least a month in Spain next
year. As long as there’s Internet Connectivity I don’t care if I have to live in a stone hut. :)Your plan of going to Croatia after 3 months sounds like a great
idea. It’s an awesome place still outside the Euro zone I believe which
makes it more affordable. Regards,Liz"
She brought up some common concerns that seems to resonate with many as we talked further:
"I'm obssesed with Europe but every one is always
pushing Latin America or Asia. I'm not crazy about Third World countries and safety
is always an issue. I like blending in with the crowd and not having people
staring at me thinking "there goes the gringa with dollars".Your information is vital as I haven't
found too many sites that promote Europe as an ideal destination for
Location Independent Professionals or nomadic travelers."
Here are the basics. I wrote about how to
winter in Spain in our popular classic post "How to do Extended Travel &
Mini-retirements" that is filled with links. I think Andalusia in the small villages, is the perfect combination of exotic and modern with wonderfully accepting people and fascinating culture with a rich history.
There are simply TONS of places
available in Spain, many new with every convenience & owned by Brits
or English speaking northern Europeans who rent them out for the week in the very
hot, summer high season. As much as I love it here, I wouldn't want to be here in scorching July and August, but now that we have seen how cold, dark and rainy some of northern Europe is in those months (especially Ireland) it makes logical sense for the sun starved. Fall, winter and spring are ideal and these same furnished vacation rentals are available by the month at bargain prices!
Places owned by Spaniards are even
cheaper...but can be more dated/authentic. Check Spanish websites too. Less
famous white villages can be MUCH cheaper & great for someone who speaks
Spanish! Do check weather and rain patterns as Andalusia is a very large area and some areas get a lot more rain. The further you go inland away from the sea, it also tends to get colder.
We walk or take cheap mass transit to everything we need & live like
simple locals. We even eat tons of avocados & citrus for free that kidlet
picks off trees in campo! We shop local market ...& hyper market...which
delivers! The weather is almost always sunny & T-shirt weather warm during
day, but can get chilly at night inside places made for hot summers, so we
bundle up then & use little heat.
The white villages are wonderful, so I started by getting to
know them online here:
just google the villages you like with the words "rental", "apartments" or
"holiday" etc & you will find endless possibilities. Contact the owners
& negotiate a monthly rental rate that is usually much cheaper than the
summer weekly rate! Most lay empty all winter, so most are thrilled to have
good renter for the winter. Don't be afraid to negotiate!
Free wifi & broadband internet is
available in many but not all. We've gotten around that with great places
without by using satellite and also contacting a Brit broadband cable internet
provider who lives nearby.(Usually the rental owner will split the $150. installation cost
with you as it increases his place's value, then you pay 29 euros a month for
high speed. ) There are other ways to get internet, but we have
not done them all as usually we find it already there.
For a really great and furnished 2 to 4 bedroom ( separate house in the countryside or village house or apt within) with every convenience and newly built or remodeled in the last 5 years (most with pools, washing machine, dishwasher, terraces and Med sea views) you will pay between 300 to 600 euros a month in our village and even less if you pick a further out, more remote village. ( A FAR inferior unfurnished 2 bedroom rental cost us $1700.00 a month in California before we left in 2005, after we sold our home).
For those with kids, we have found it very easy to enroll our child in the local school which is just a short walk away. 99% of the school are locals who have lived in our 15th century village for generations. My daughter has 6 sets of cousins in her small class! There is a tiny expat community (2 in my daughters class less as the grades go higher). We usually return in November and leave in April or May and have also had no problem taking our child out of school to travel during that time or when relatives visit.
Despite the cruise wear that tourists who visit wear, it is not a tropical climate in the winter, but a Mediterranean one. The locals usually dress more winter-y looking. A fireplace in winter is nice, as there is no central heating, although we have yet to get one.The pool water is not heated, but my daughter usually swims on hot days in November and starting again in March after school and on week ends.
There are two really nice parks in our small village of about 1000 people as well as a modern gym. There are after school classes like ceramics, rock climbing, flamenco and sports plus a pony club nearby. Andalucian's love very elaborate festivals and everyone in the village participates from the youngest to the oldest ( as I have written about before).
Right now I am
at a luxury campground in Barcelona w/wifi ( & 3 pools, restaurant,
cottage rentals etc) for 11-17 euros a night where many snow birds from Great Britain,
Germany, France, Swiss & Swedes etc stay the winter.
It gets too
cold for us here late winter, but before we return to our village we do the
above work, call friends & rental agents, line up the best ones before
heading south. That way we see them all in person before making final choice
& can move right in, usually same day as we arrive!
staying in the village instead of countryside to become part of the community.
Spaniards are Very accepting in our experience, especially if you speak Spanish. You
will be much more isolated in the "campo" (countryside) & need a car. Returning every winter
to same village makes it easier too. We just found ours blindly online, but
now it is part of us forever & the sweet people too!! Within an hour of our return, every knows that we are back.
Andalusia is a huge
area, so lots to pick from! If you have more questions please leave them here in the comments.