The Art of Mom Hacking

Living The Flex Family Dream: Don’t Wait For Retirement To See The World

Like every other mother in the world, I want my kids to have the best – without being spoiled or ungrateful.  This sometimes seems like an impossible balance, and it probably is, but I still love the idea of giving my kids the ability to see the world and give them every opportunity to experience new things while I still have the ability to monitor and protect them.  On the flipside of that coin, my husband and I want to travel and enjoy all of the world’s experiences without waiting until we’re retired.  So many people live by the mantra of waiting for some future event to occur.  Don’t wait for the kids to grow up and move out before you start your life.  You don’t need to be miserable every day in a job that you hate just for the slim possibility of being healthy enough at retirement to finally see Europe.  It has taken a lot of time and planning, but we now have complete flexibility to go wherever we want, whenever we want.  We aren’t strapped into the same travel requirements of school breaks and work schedules.

How do we travel whenever and wherever we want with a family of six?

Here’s the 6 step list for living without boundaries on a budget.

 

Find a solid home base.

It can be easy to overlook this requirement, especially in a conversation about traveling with no boundaries.  I’m here to tell you that this is absolutely necessary as a first step.  Everyone needs a place to call home and your kids will want that structure, too.  Outside of the psycho-social needs, there are a few practical reasons that this is necessary and it will set the stage for the other items in this list. 

Just as you choose a home within the boundaries of a great school district, you’ll want to choose a state that has a good reputation for delivering high quality online education for your kids.  This may also be governed by district in some places, so make sure to do your research on that as well. 

Another consideration is going to be finding a location near a major airport or one with an airline that has positions available with flight benefits.  Most will require you live within a specific distance of the airport.

Something that I don’t do, but you may want to consider is living in a location that will make your primary home attractive as a potential AirBnB or housing swap while you’re away.  This can help to offset any cost of being away often and deter would-be robbers.  Thankfully, I have a wonderful network of friends living close-by who keep an eye on my home and I love having pets, so I’m not willing to displace them every time I decide to go away for a while

Get a flexible job that allows you to work remotely.

This might seem like the impossible dream, but it really isn’t.  Technology has shifted the way companies operate and remote jobs aren’t the impossible holy grail anymore.  Whatever your current job is, simply update your resume to reflect your ability to do what you already do for work while using remote technologies effectively,  and highlight your killer skills at managing yourself (and your time) without direct supervision.

Post your polished resume on relevant job hunting sites like Indeed.  You’ll also want to post it on sites that are specific to your trade.  Then start scouring the listings for things that you know you’d be awesome at.  One site that I did find to be worth the subscription price for this effort was Flexjobs.com.  Flexjobs aggregates positions from other posting sites that offer flexible hours, freelance work or remote options.  They’ve also been vetted, so you don’t need to worry as much about being scammed.

Keep in mind that it isn’t necessary to find a super high paying job.  Your goal here is to continue the career path that you’ve already laid out for yourself and grow normally.  All that is necessary is to live within your means.  Don’t spend more than you have, just like anyone else.

Enroll your children in an online school.

The state of Utah has a ton of options for homeschooling, so this was an easy fit for us.  I work full-time, so even though I am home all day I don’t have the time available to commit to being the children’s full-time educator as well.  I’m not willing to sacrifice the quality of their education for a fun lifestyle, so we opted for online schooling.  With all of the new resources available these days, it’s actually easy to find a wonderful program that continues no matter where you are.  The greatest bonus is that while my children learn about the Boston Tea Party, I can actually take them to the place where it happened.  Learning ceases to be stories in a book and becomes real, at their fingertips.  This applies to everything they learn.

You can get started by using the Schoolfinder tool provided on the K12 website.  Don’t restrict your search just this site, though.  There are a lot of options that aren’t listed.  Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited and well suited to your family routine.

Find reliable and flexible pet care.

I actually posted about this before.  I participate in a petsitting site called Rover.com where I can easily find comfortable home environments for my dog and willing caretakers for my cats while I’m away.  I love my pets and I don’t want them to suffer for our wandering lifestyle.  I’m also not interested in sacrificing my love of animals to travel.  This is the perfect compromise.  The added bonus is that I can also petsit for others while they’re away.  This provides my family with additional income, a chance to play with new pets as much as I want and set my own schedule to do so. 

Rates vary by location, but I figure taking in animals while I’m home offsets the same cost of pet care that I need to pay while I’m away. 

Get a part-time job with flight benefits.

This is absolutely key.  Several airlines offer flight benefits to employees.  These jobs can be difficult to land, simply because of the amazing benefits but as long as you’re willing to work hard, show up on time and present yourself positively to their customers – you’ll have a long, wonderful relationship with your employer.  Watch the airline websites directly and setup alerts to notify you of new positions on these sites and general job posting sites.  If you’re willing to choose your home location based on your chosen airline position, you’ll greatly increase your odds of finding a job.

Start your own AirBnB’s in amazing locations.

The other major expense involved in traveling frequently is lodging.  When you’re running a family of six all around these 50 states, it quickly gets expensive to find lodging with enough bed space to be comfortable.  Not to mention space to work and participate in school, along with the WI-FI requirements that carries.  AirBnB solves most of these problems by offering larger spaces, including entire homes with a kitchen so you can maintain your grocery and cooking routine.  Don’t forget that eating out all the time adds up in dollars and inches around your waistline.  Even with all of these things available now at reasonable rates, it can still be pricey when you’re doing it all the time.

Why not invest in your own AirBnb’s in locations that you love?  This provides you with additional income above and beyond what you’re already making from full-time work and leaves you with a cost-free place to stay while you visit the area. Checkout the AirDNA website for more information on exactly how to do this profitably.  I’ll also be posting my own experiences with running an AirBnB.

That’s it.  Go forth and live the dream, no matter how big the family or how tight the budget.

These steps will get you going.  They are the baseline for raising a traditional family with non-traditional boundaries.  There are a ton of other tips and considerations that I’ll fill you in on in later posts, but as long as you’ve checked these off your list you’re ready to set off on your own lifetime of adventure.

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