South America Living

Nine Years Living Abroad – How We Funded Our Travels

by Molly McHugh, Former Editor/Publisher of South America Living.           About the Author

Make that nine years PLUS! If you’re going to do something, might as well do it right, no? Go for it, make it worthwhile, put your whole heart and soul into the effort… right?

Yet ANOTHER Bus Ride! Time for a Nap.

That could be seen as a bit of my ‘family living abroad’ credo – single Mom, one son, first one doggie, now two. I wanted to live outside the U.S. since I first backpacked in Asia at the age of 24 (Thailand, India, Nepal) and had made a few serious attempts to do so, that had ended with my reluctant return. It is very hard to get a job in Bangkok at an English-language newspaper… did you know that?

Life went on and a college degree obtained, single pregnancy successfully executed with the most amazing of results, real-life adult job(s) in the tech industry and much chasing after the good ol’ American dream. Nothing wrong with that, right? Nothing until it all comes crashing to an end and you have serious health issues to deal with. Then things get a little bit more touchy.

Two years of unemployment ended with a SSDI (disability insurance based on past work earnings) settlement and a plane ticket purchased within a few months after. I wanted to give my child opportunities I would not have been able to provide on our limited income if we stayed in the states, and enjoy life a bit more; preferrably somewhere warmer and near the beach. I wanted my son to learn a second language as well, an advantage in life that even a low-income single Mom could afford… in Mexico.

A huge factor of my decision to move was the re-election of George Bush and not being able to stomach the general consciousness of the country at the time. I worried greatly about our future and the “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” (quote from George Bush during his presidency) attitude of our highest leaders and what that would mean for myself and son if we were a part of the ‘not really with ya’ group. Don’t even get me started on his claiming to have heard the voice of God telling him to invade Iraq.

First stop was Mazatlan, Mexico then Baja – all expenses paid off of the monthly SSDI funds. We lived month to month and sometimes it was tight, but what the heck is new about that? The majority of Americans live that way.

As my son got older and more independent, I became bored not working. I began doing some freelance writing and then an eBook project. A few extra hundred bucks here, a few there. Then three years later after an extended 18 month cross-country journey after deciding to move to Argentina… I did a few guidebook gigs that paid $2000 USD or so here and $1000 USD there. Extra cash that paid for my son’s surfing excursions, BMX bike riding years… money that made life more fun.

It works for us and I know how lucky I am. I always empathize greatly with those who do not have a fancy house to sell (or rent out) to go travel the world, or a large nest egg put away. Many still do what we have done, but have to rely on income earned as digital nomads, which is definitely doable but can be very difficult. I don’t.

I work hard to bring up our income level so we can afford to do more things and have a more comfortable lifestyle – the primary impetus behind the creation of South America Living – but never have to worry about not being able to put food on the table.

So there you have it. If you were curious how this family has lived abroad for over 9 years, that’s the skinny. It’s not as luxurious – or exciting – as having a trust fund, but it works. Happy trails.

Family Travel Blog Hop

We’re participating in a family travel blog hop organized by SixSuitcaseTravel. Thank you Theresa! Click on the link to read other great family travel blog posts.

More ‘How We Funded Our Travels’ Articles From Family Bloggers Living Abroad:

Digital Nomadism – Travel Blogging for an Independent Lifestyle
You Would Die If You Knew Just How Rich We Are

Photograph by Molly McHugh, all rights reserved.




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