Our Next Life: The Series Continues

Based on an original series by Think, Save, Retire and continued by Our Next Life (the blog), I’m completing the “Our Next Life” series for Northern Expenditure. This means discussing the transition, the quitting, and the goals and plans for life after “work.” This is an interesting subject for me to tackle because instead of having super definitive plans, we’re sort of all over the place. But here’s where we’re at today:

Timeline:

December 2018 – Pay off the mortgage

2019 – Three years before retiring early – slow travel through the UK for the summer with the family. One of my priorities as a parent is to give my children an international mindset. I want them to realize that people live differently all over the world and that doesn’t make anyone right or better than anyone else. I want to start this in the UK because it is different enough to start this dialogue, but similar enough to make it an easy place to move (we speak English, I love the UK so much, etc.etc.).

2020 – Take the family to Cambodia for some portion of the summer. Continue the dialogue with my children. Mr. T speaks Cambodian. The kids and I are learning it (very slowly). I hope to pick up this language learning and have us all be semi-conversational by 2020.

2021 – One year before retiring early – Have Mr. T get hired by a company or University in the UK (or Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, … I’m open to most places) so we can live and work there for his final year. I would just move there for a full year after we retire, but I can’t figure out the legal way to do this and have my children be able to go to school. Homeschooling them abroad isn’t really what I have in mind because I want my kids to get a broader view of education by experiencing a different system.

2022 – Mr. T cuts formal ties with “work” (cutting ties won’t be tricky or dramatic. He’s a man a few words. He’ll just give his notice and walk away) and we venture forth…

Our Next Life:

Mr. T and I are project people. We always have a project going. So we will definitely keep doing things we find fulfilling. The idea is that we won’t have to rely on any of those things to make money. We are creators. But we’re realists. We mainly create out of enjoyment and if we can pay for our “expenses and a dinner out” (as my art trading Uncle used to say), we consider it a success. Our next life just means we can create more.

The reality of where we’re at geographically at this point highly depends on my ability to figure out how to legally put my kids in school in other countries. If anyone has tips on that, I would LOVE to hear them. If we’re confined to education in the United States, we will spend at least a month per summer slow traveling the world. We only have so many years with these kiddos and I would like to spend a lot of it traveling. We haven’t yet decided if we’ll stay in Alaska post-retirement or not. I think it depends on where our families end up at that point. Right now, our families are spread out all over the U.S., so living in Alaska (with the PFD and Mr. T’s job with tons of vacation time) is actually the best place for us to be able to see family. But if in seven years, they’re all consolidated somewhere, we’ll probably head there so the kids can have cousins. We love Alaska (as I’m sure you know), but we don’t have any family up here.

Work?

When Mr. T and I spent 10 month unemployed during the Great Recession, we sold things on ebay. We didn’t make money, but we hustled to pay the bills that we had (and thus emerged having maintained our savings!). Toward the end of that time, it became less of a stress and more of a game. Car insurance payment is due in two weeks; can we find something to sell to pay for it before then? I think the game will re-emerge to an extent (though probably not with ebay… the thrift stores up here are terrible!).

Another goal we have as parents is to provide our children with employment experience in their youth. Both of our parents were successful small business owners, and we both had the privilege of working for them in high school. We arguably missed out on employment experiences at McDonald’s, but we saw how our parents were able to put something together and make it work. Also, working for family allowed us to continue family vacations (it’s nice when you have the same work schedule as your family!). Selfishly, we want that for our kids, too. So, working in “our next life” will involve something that can involve our children. It’s less important to make money and more important to cover expenses, hire our children, and focus on teaching them the skills they will need for future employment. We’ve toyed with creating and selling something at the Anchorage outdoor market and festival in the summer (it’s a great venue, and there are a lot of tourists as well as locals!). I think it would be super fun and it would be the perfect opportunity for the kids to learn.

Goals:

As I’ve said, I’m learning Cambodian. I have been for TEN YEARS (no, there’s no Rosetta Stone). I want to get myself to Cambodia and stay until I can speak the language. And my kids can, too!

Also, exercise. I’m horrible at it. With school and work and projects and house and dinner and work and school (did I say those?), we’ll be so good about it for a week and then one “busy week” will hit and we’re off the wagon again. While the kids are in school, I would like to make this a major priority for our health. Mr. T and I need our own recess!

In Conclusion:

I’m horrible at waiting. I’m very impatient. But I’ve also realized that when I have to wait for something, or work towards something for a long time, I’m constantly hacking it to make it better. I should probably re-write this post once a year for the next seven years! I mainly can’t wait to see what Mr. T and I can do when we are able to do whatever we want on our time. And I’m excited to get the kids involved in the planning as it gets closer!

Any tips on kids living abroad and going to school?

next life

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19 Comments

  1. Your vision sounds incredible! I love how you’re raising your kids, and working so hard to give them that international perspective. I got to travel to Europe a few times to visit family as a kid, and it definitely broadened my horizons, though nowhere near as much as Cambodia surely will for your kids! Still, I’m always grateful for those experiences — getting to peer over the Berlin Wall at age 9, or just trying to communicate with people who didn’t speak much English. It all made me super appreciative for all we take for granted in the U.S. 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks for the motivation to sit down and write it out. There are still a few things to figure out, but the rough idea is there. My family went to Europe when I was young as well. We didn’t stay longer than a couple of weeks, but I remember standing in the middle of London and promising myself I would live there. Now that I have (for a brief study abroad), I want that for my children.

    • MaggieBanks

      love the new image, FYI.

  2. Absolutely fantastic that you have an encompassing goal to incorporate your children/family into your next life goals! I have always been intrigued on school systems in other countries because the dynamics and goals are much much different. I apologize I have no tips for what it takes to allow your children into school systems abroad, but I would be incredibly excited to hear if this is something that can be feasibly accomplished! Also, I am very impressed that you have been learning the Cambodian language! Best of luck, you have the determination to learn it & practice it!

    • MaggieBanks

      “Determination?” Maybe. Now that I put a date on it, maybe it will get me motivated to do it more. I really want my kids to be able to do some of the research and pick somewhere to go based on that for at least one of our trips. I think it would help them learn more and be more engaged in our travels.

  3. Seeing you writing out goals all the way until 2022 make me realize that I’d love to have a sit-down planning session with my hubby. We have until December 2018 planned out (that’s when we’re planning to ditch our mortgage too!!) but nothing solid after. I’m getting pretty jazzed about the thought of that long-term goals conversation! Kudos on your Cambodian study. I imagine that it’s a very difficult language to learn. We’ve been watching “Departures” on Netflix. They’re in Cambodia right now. It’s very interesting.

    • MaggieBanks

      Grammatically, Cambodian is a very simple language. There are no tenses or conjugations. But it is one of the biggest alphabets it the world. It has 27 vowels and two series of consonants. Which means there are 54 different sounds that vowels can make. Yikes! But luckily it isn’t a phonetic language!

  4. Thanks for continuing the series, and best of luck in your desire to live for a while in Cambodia and learn (or perfect) the language. I think traveling with your kids is one of the most worth while things that parents can do with their children. Far too often we get so wrapped up in how we currently live that we don’t realize the reality of the real world. Good plan!

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks. It will be interesting to see how it changes as we get closer and as our kiddos start adding input.

  5. Sounds like an awesome plan! I intend to lay out my plan as well, but I’m still 10 years or so from FI, so my plans will probably change 224 times between now and then 🙂

  6. You have a lot of awesome goals, and I’m impressed by your foresight! When 2021 rolls around and you guys are looking for international work, I heartily suggest Norway. Especially since you live in Alaska–they like Alaskans. 🙂 I did some work with University of the Arctic, which is a cooperative network between Canadian, AK, and arctic schools in Norway, etc. They are really open to facilitating and hiring international candidates. I ended up at University of Tromsø doing some work, and I loved it.

    • MaggieBanks

      That’s a great tip! Thanks! I was aware of the University of the Arctic and was trying to figure out if I could just become a student again and do a semester in another arctic school, but I don’t think it’s allowed if you already have a Masters degree. But I didn’t think to look there for employment! Thanks!

  7. I like all the international travel plans, and living abroad. We want to do that but I’m having some trouble getting Mrs. SSC on board. I think we’ll have to wait until her parents aren’t in the picture to do it longer than a month, her words not mine. Getting the kids in school is a hurdle I hadnt considered and good luck figuring that one out. I’m sure Google has some good ideas, haha.
    I learned to eat with chopsticks from a Cambodian refugee we hosted in the 80s. It was a culture shock for me but awesome growing experience. We whittled our own chopsticks from some branches off our redbud tree and she taught all of us. It was great! I bet the language could be real tricky though, good luck there too!

    • MaggieBanks

      Yeah – solving the international situation, especially for kids, is tricky. We’ll see how we manage. And our parents are already mad we moved all the way to Alaska! So we’ve already prepped them for taking the grandkids overseas. 🙂 Awesome story about whittling chopsticks! Cambodian is very simple grammatically, but has one of the largest alphabets ever (26 vowels!), so pronunciation and writing are very difficult… though it isn’t tonal (luckily!)

  8. Linda

    In the UK you will either need to pay for private education (and apply for student visas for your children), or for the parent(s) to be employed to allow access to the state school system. So your plan for your husband to work in a University in the UK would allow the children to go to school here. For information on work visas:
    https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/work-visas I hope this helps:)

  9. Woohoo! I love all your goals and it’s amazing to see them written out like that 🙂 My family and I lived in Germany for 3 years when I was a kid and then 1 year in Japan when I was a teenager (military family) & I’m a huge fan of moving around a lot because I think it provides a great perspective, resilience, etc. But, it’s also super hard. (My first two months of 5th grade at a new school were spent crying in a bathroom during recess, haha) And it only gets harder with teenagers. Leaving teenage boyfriends/girlfriends feels like the world is ENDING, hah. But overall, I think it made my sisters and I super close and I think we had pretty good perspective too (as much as teenagers/kids can 😉 )

    Good luck with all of your goals! I can’t wait to see what you and your family accomplish! Also, let me know if you need any UK recommendations when you go for a month. My partner is British and her family lives in London, so I’ve spent a lot of time over there 🙂 Ahhh, so excited for you!!

    • MaggieBanks

      Boyfriends/Girlfriends!? A great reason to move as soon my kids hook up with anyone… we’ll change countries immediately. 🙂 Just kidding. I’m not sure how extensively we’ll slow travel the world. I would just keep moving around, but Mr. T isn’t entirely sold on the idea yet. (He’s never been to Europe, so this summer is hopefully a conversion trip!) And I totally might reach out about our UK trip. We’re super excited and I’m sure tons has changed in London since I was there ten years ago for a study abroad!

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