Reader Case Study: Becoming a Travel Nurse and Stay-at-Home Dad During a Pandemic
Emily and Chase live in suburban Kansas City with their two young boys. They’d planned to head out in July on a family adventure of Emily working as a travel nurse in different cities every three months, while Chase became a stay-at-home dad. But then, the pandemic happened. Today they’re looking for advice on how to proceed and whether or not their plan is still viable in light of the coronavirus.
What’s a Reader Case Study?
Case Studies address financial and life dilemmas that readers of Frugalwoods send to me requesting advice. Then, we (that’d be me and YOU, dear reader) read through their situation and provide advice, encouragement, insight, and feedback in the comments section. For an example, check out last month’s case study. Case Studies are updated by participants (at the end of the post) several months after the Case is featured. Visit this page for links to all updated Case Studies.
I probably don’t need to say the following because you folks are the kindest, most polite commenters on the internet, but please note that Frugalwoods is a judgement-free zone where we endeavor to help one another, not to condemn.
And a disclaimer that I am not a trained financial professional and I encourage people not to make serious financial decisions based solely on what one person on the internet advises. I encourage everyone to do their own research to determine the best course of action for their finances. I am not a financial advisor and I am not your financial advisor.
With that I’ll let Chase and Emily, this month’s Case Study subjects, take it from here
Emily and Chase’s Story
Hello Frugalwoods! Chase (age 32) and Emily (age 30) here and we are excited to chat. We have two boys, ages four and two, and no pets (Emily is allergic and Chase isn’t a fan, so we work great together). We currently live in a Kansas City suburb where Chase works in youth sports and Emily is a nurse in the mother and baby unit at a hospital. Pre-pandemic, we’d planned to start a new chapter in July with Emily working as a traveling nurse and Chase becoming a full-time stay-at-home dad.
The Pandemic Hitch
Of course we devised this plan pre-pandemic, so there’s now uncertainty surrounding it, but we’re still committed to making it happen. Emily won’t take a position as a travel nurse until we feel it’s safe for our family and that we wouldn’t be putting others at risk. Here’s where we’re at right now, in light of the coronavirus:
- Chase still plans to quit his job by May 1st so that he isn’t required to sign another year-long contract. We don’t want to be tied to the Kansas City area any longer and he’s ready to move on from this job. Chase will continue to work and be paid through June 30th.
After June 30th, the plan is for Emily to pick-up additional shifts at her current job. Alternately, if needed, Chase will pick-up gig work, such as driving for Door Dash. If all else fails we will dip into our savings to cover our expenses.
- Emily’s prospective position with the Travel Nurse Agency is still secure. They don’t technically “hire” you until you accept a job through their network so it doesn’t matter if Emily makes the switch in July or many months later. Currently the available jobs in her category have been cut in half (from 40ish to 20ish) but they’re expected to rebound in a few months.
- We’d planned to sell our house before traveling, but that seems less likely now and we haven’t listed it yet. We could rent it out, but it’s a little too big to make it a rental (for the margins we want) and we’d prefer to sell. If needed, we could rent it for about $300/month over the mortgage.
- Depending on the timing of the sale of the house, we’re not opposed to selling it and living with friends or family before travel. Alternately, if the house doesn’t sell by the time we need to leave, we might lower the price.
Emily and Chase’s Background
We met during undergrad at a small college in Kansas and got married in 2013. We then moved to Iowa City for a year before moving to Kansas City in 2014 to start our current jobs. After moving to Kansas City, Chase quickly realized he didn’t like his job as much as he’d hoped he would.
We purchased our current home in July 2015 before our first son was born that November. We love our house, but our actual town has never felt like home. Sometime during 2015 we found ourselves stuck in a rut and not really knowing why. Luckily, in 2016 we discovered the FIRE movement (FIRE = financial independence, retire early).
The FIRE is Lit, The AirBnB Commences
On Valentine’s day 2016 we printed off all of our bank statements and stayed up half the night highlighting and categorizing to see where we’d spent every dollar the previous year. Ultimately, this was a huge wake-up call. We’d done a decent job of saving (Chase has contributed to his Roth IRA every year since age 19 and neither of us ever had credit card debt) but we were still spending way more than needed.
During 2016 and 2017, we greatly decreased our spending, learned more about investments and started an AirBNB in our basement… after Chase convinced Emily that all guests would not be serial killers. As for the AirBNB, we ended up having a perfect setup and loving it. Guests have a separate entrance with a lockbox to get their key, so sometimes we don’t even see them. We also read tons of blogs/books and listened to multiple podcasts that really shaped our new mindset and how we lived with the ethos of frugality, minimalism, and intentionality. The most impactful blogs include Frugalwoods, Our Next Life, and Mr. Money Mustache while our favorite podcasts are The MadFientist and Radical Personal Finance.
Buying Real Estate, Becoming Landlords
In January 2018, Chase read Rich Dad Poor Dad and the real estate light clicked (affiliate link). He read a few other books, then got hooked on real estate podcasts and realized we live in a great market to buy rentals. April-June of 2018 was quite busy for us as we purchased our first rental in April, our second child was born in May and we purchased our second rental in June (Emily was not the most stress-free person during that time). Since then, we’ve added two more rentals to the mix including a duplex. Now we have four units total with five doors, which we are managing ourselves.
In March 2019, Chase did not get a promotion/job change that was expected. At first this was devastating, but a few months later we realized it was a blessing in disguise. Although our housing is cheap and we make decent money, where we currently live is not where we want to raise our kids. That new job would have kept us here longer when we already knew we wanted to move. Although we’re ready for our next chapter, we’re extremely thankful for the financial opportunities of the last few years because without them we wouldn’t be able to even think about doing something crazy like…
Become A Traveling Nurse
In October 2019, we decided Emily would become a traveling nurse, which has been a dream of hers for a while, and Chase will transition to being a stay-at-home dad (gulp). The plan was for this new life adventure to begin in July 2020, but that was the pre-pandemic plan. We’re planning on doing this for around 1 to 3 years. This was an extremely exciting and nerve-racking decision. We both love to travel and think it will help our family grow closer together (with many bumps along the way). At the same time, taking two young kids all over the country with no place to call home is a stressful thought, but one we’ve fully embraced.
For travel nursing there’s no specified income because it’s based on the cost of living for the city where she’s working. However, there is a travel stipend, food stipend, and housing stipend that’ll accompany her hourly wage. Our best guess is that Emily will make between $50,000-$70,000 after all the stipends are paid out. Emily will work three days per week and the rest of the time we will explore new places as a family.
2020 is the final year before our oldest child starts kindergarten and it felt like it was now or never to embark on this journey. Looking at homeschool curricula, we think kindergarten and first grade could be manageable but after that we want to leave it to the pros (maybe that will change but that’s where we are now). Since we know the travel life will not be forever, we plan on getting rid of a lot of our things but also storing items we know we’ll want to have in the future. Obviously the more we store the more expensive the storage unit, so we’re trying to balance getting rid of stuff with the knowledge that we’ll be settling down again in the future and will need furniture, etc. Most of our family was not pumped about our decision but with technology, we believe we can stay close to them.
The Financial Plan
Rentals are our primary long-term financial play. Our goal is to net $5,000/month from our rentals and then live off of that income by the year 2033 (lofty goal, but still our goal). If we fall short of 2033, hopefully we’ll only be a few years away from FI (financial independence).
We purchased our current home (4 bed, 3 full bathrooms) in 2015 for $145k. It’s now worth between $170k-$200k and we plan to sell it before we travel. We are a little nervous that after we finish the travel life our new spot will be much more expensive and kill our savings rate.
However, we fully expect to be able to live in much tighter spaces with very few items (as we will while traveling). We know we want to live in a smaller town after our travel adventure and as of now, our plan is to move to a smaller town close to our families in Kansas. However, if we travel somewhere and absolutely love it, we’re not opposed to living there, at least for a period of time.
Where Emily and Chase Want to be in 10 Years:
- We’d like to be 3-7 years away from FI (financial independence)
- Earning $3,500/month after expenses (including savings for capital expenses) from our rentals and have the mortgages on the rentals greatly paid down
- Have $210,000 in our Roth IRA
- Have $50,000 in our brokerage and bank accounts
- Have our two kids age 14 and 12, with potential for another mystery aged child
- Spending a lot of time together with both our immediate and extended families
- Emily would still like to be in nursing
- Chase would ideally like to be an entrepreneur of some sort and managing our rentals (really not 100% sure on this one)
Emily and Chase’s Finances
|Chase’s Net Income||$4,400||Minus insurance, retirement and taxes|
|Emily’s Net Income||$1,692||Minus taxes (Emily works part-time and no longer gets retirement or benefits, but does get higher pay)|
|AirBNB in our basement||$450||Minus the $15 in snacks and drinks we provide.
This is currently at $0 due to the pandemic, but we hope to open it up once things calm down. In past summers we’ve made between $800-$1,000 per month (the $450 here reflects the annual average, which includes the slower winter months).
|Rental Duplex||$361||Rent: $1,566
Saving for Capital Expenses: $200
|Rental House #2||$190||Rent: $775
Saving for Capital Expenses: $100
|Rental Townhome||$110||Rent: $725
Saving for Capital Expenses: $100
|Rental House #1||$60||Rent: $850
Saving for Capital Expenses: $100
|Item||Outstanding Loan Balance||Loan Terms|
|Mortgages on four rental properties (consolidated into one commercial loan)||$211,200||4%|
|Mortgage on primary residence||$115,000||4%; 30-year fixed|
Non-Real Estate Assets
|Item||Amount||Notes||Name of bank/brokerage|
|Roth IRA||$48,000||Retirement Investments: SWTSX, SWPPX, BRK/B||Charles Schwab|
|Brokerage Account||$34,000||Taxable investments: SWTSX, SWPPX||Charles Schwab|
|Chase 403b||$27,500||Chase Work Retirement||PEERS|
|Bank Account||$25,000||Checking Account: Earns 1.75%||CACU and GSCU|
|Emily 401K||$24,000||Emily Work Retirement||TIAA|
|LLC Bank Account||$7,000||Checking Account||CACU|
|Cash||$500||Box In Closet|
|Vehicle make, model, year||Valued at||Mileage||Paid off?|
|Chevy Impala 2016||$10,000||90,000||Yes|
|GMC Terrain 2010||$5,000||92,000||Yes|
Non-Mortgage Debt: $0
|Mortgage on primary residence||$1,020||Mortgage is $920; we pay an extra $100/month towards principal. This includes homeowners insurance and property taxes.|
|Charitable Donations||$680||We give to our church, two missionary friends, a local homeless shelter and sponsor a child from Peru|
|Medical Bills/Health Insurance||$516||Chase has free insurance through work (high deductible) while Emily and kids are on Christian Healthcare Ministries Insurance at $343/month. Once Chase quits his job, he’ll join this insurance plan and the total will be $516/month.|
|Groceries||$449||We shop at Aldi’s and get 6% cash back|
|Car||$364||Gas, maintenance, taxes, tags, new tires (shocked it’s this high)|
|Utility Bills||$343||Electric, Water, Gas, Trash, Internet|
|Restaurants/Eating Out||$288||We (Chase) fell off the wagon in 2019. Would like this to be under $100|
|Insurance||$184||American Family: Car and Life|
|Household Supplies||$120||Both kids have bad eczema and we get special lotion/soap that we now all use (and love). We don’t buy napkins or paper towels but instead use t-shirt scraps from a t-shirt quilt Emily made.|
|Vacations||$118||Went on a few close weekend getaways and one full week trip (airlines through credit card points)|
|Home Goods||$94||Paint, stain, decorations, mulch, wood for barnwood door that Emily built from scratch, bird feeders, flooring|
|Gifts||$72||Birthday, Christmas etc. for family and friends (we have a regift box that we pull from too)|
|Entertainment||$50||We love board games and parks but do have a zoo pass and take the kids a few other places and try to escape with no kids on occasion|
|Misc||$40||Weren’t sure where to put a few things|
|Clothing, Accessories||$31||We like to think this is $0 but we do buy things now and then|
|Kid Related||$27||No more daycare payment, so this is just for clothing and diapers (we do cloth diapers but still have occasional disposable)|
|Personal Care||$27||We both get a couple haircuts a year and one massage but Emily cuts Chase’s hair most of the time and the kids hair all of the time|
|Cell Phone||$12||One work phone fee (other phone still graciously paid for by parents)|
|TV/Subscription||$10||Purchased an antenna for $20 a few years ago (so primarily watch for free) but don’t watch much tv outside of sports. Sometimes rent a movie (when library doesn’t have it) or pay a friend for their ESPN Plus account|
Credit Card Strategy
- The American Express Blue Cash Preferred, which offers 6% cash back on purchases made at grocery stores/supermarkets, 3% back on gas, and 1% back on everything else. It also has a couple other 6% and 3% categories that do not affect us (annual fee of $95 but very worth it).
- The Chase Freedom, which offers 5% on rotating categories every three months and 1% on everything else (no annual fee).
Emily and Chase’s Questions for You:
- Now that the coronavirus has impacted the entire world, do we need to reconsider our plans completely? As in, should we not quit our jobs, sell our house and travel the country as a global pandemic and potential financial crisis are upon us?
- What signs/factors should we look for to know when the timing is right to travel? Should we wait an extra couple months, six months, a year?
- Before heading off on our travel adventure, how much of our stuff do we sell vs. put in storage vs. donate?
- Neither of our current vehicles has enough room to fit our needed items for travel. What to do?
- Do we purchase a pick-up truck or van?
- Which vehicle do we trade in or do we try and store two vehicles while we travel and then sell whatever we travel in upon completion?
- If we store two and sell what we travel in, pickups have much higher trade-in value but are also much more expensive. Minivans have better gas mileage and better leg room for everyone, but their resale value is not as high.
- Do we explore the idea of RV living? We’re not opposed to this, but we’re very nervous about the learning curve.
- How do we get plugged in socially since we’ll only be in one spot for three months at a time?
- Recommendations for insurance/health share plans? Preferably with tele-health options.
Mrs. Frugalwoods’ Recommendations
First off, I want to congratulate Emily and Chase for their excellent financial decisions over the years. They’ve put themselves in an enviable position with no debt, several rental properties, retirement investments, taxable investments, a manageable mortgage, and low expenses. They’re a great example of what’s possible when you get your financial life in order. Before we delve into today’s topics, they should feel proud of the choices they’ve made.
The Pandemic Changes Everything
Unfortunately, and with regret, I have to tell Emily and Chase that despite all their planning, despite all their savings, and despite all their diversified revenue, the time for this change is not now. The top line (or the bottom line?) in my opinion is that now is not the time to quit their jobs, try to sell their house, and travel the country.
Not only are we in the midst of a global pandemic, the economy is in a state of high uncertainty. I’d characterize this as basically the worst time in the last, oh, 100 years or so for making this kind of change. Under normal, non-pandemic circumstances, I’d be cheering Emily and Chase on. My recommendations would be devoted to their questions about which vehicle to travel in, whether to sell or store their stuff, and so on. But right now, there are just too many uncertainties in the world.
The Double-Edged Sword
The issue right now is that this isn’t just an economic downturn (such as the 2008 recession) and this isn’t just a health crisis–it’s both at the same time. Since we’re in a period of economic uncertainty, I can’t see how this is a good time for anyone to quit their job (unless they’re fully financially independent). If it were me, I would have Chase sign another year-long contract for his position. I totally get that this is not what he wants to hear. I completely understand that he was done with this job years ago and that he and Emily have carefully planned this life change for months now. Unfortunately, this plan is not compatible with a pandemic (I mean, few things are).
Here Are My Concerns About Chase Quitting His Job And Emily Becoming a Travel Nurse:
1) Rental properties are not recession (or pandemic)-proof.
It’s possible their tenants will stop paying rent. At present, Emily and Chase have a carefully tended portfolio of rental properties. However, if one (or more) of their tenants were to lose their jobs–and not qualify for an adequate amount of unemployment insurance)–they very well might stop paying their rent. Without rental income–but still with mortgages, taxes, and insurance to pay–Emily and Chase would dearly need his income. Additionally, Chase and Emily manage their rentals themselves, and they’d need to hire a property manager for the time that they’re traveling, which would further eat into their profits.
2) The AirBnb probably isn’t coming back for quite some time.
I love Emily and Chase’s ingenuity in creating an AirBnB property in their home and it’s this type of creative diversification that makes financial independence possible. However. It’s very hard to predict when services like AirBnb will ramp back up. At this point, it’s a demand-side issue: no one wants to stay in an AirBnB right now because no one is traveling or leaving their homes.
Even if the country were to re-open tomorrow, it’s unlikely Chase and Emily would see sustained occupancy throughout the summer because:
- People are scared and still might not be willing to leave their homes except when absolutely necessary;
- Most people have incurred a financial hit and won’t be going on vacations (or business travel) for awhile;
- Epidemiological models indicate it’s possible (if not likely) that another round of coronavirus will ravage the country after things re-open (and hence more people have the chance to get infected).
All in all, this is just an awful confluence of factors–none of which are Emily and Chase’s fault, but all of which make their plan seem particularly un-viable right now.
3) Emily and Chase don’t have enough in savings for Chase to quit his job right now.
Emily and Chase have a TON of money in savings and they’ve done a fantastic job building up their investments. However. They’re not financially independent yet and without Chase’s job, they stand to run a pretty significant deficit every month, as outlined below:
|Current monthly income||$7,263|
|Minus Chase’s net income||-$4,400|
|Minus AirBnb income||-$450|
|New monthly income:||$2,413|
Their current monthly spending is $4,445. Given that, if Chase were to quit his job on May 1st as planned, they’d be looking at a $2,032 deficit every month (the difference between their new monthly income and their expenses). They noted that Emily can pick-up additional shifts at her current job and so, if that could make up the $2,032 difference, that’d be ideal. I’m not clear on why Chase would want to pick-up gig work at this time since it seems that would unnecessarily expose him to the virus and would earn significantly less than he currently makes.
4) This is a terrible time to try and sell a house.
Very few people are moving right now. This is, again, a victim of the double-edged sword: because of coronavirus, real estate agents can’t offer open houses or in-person home tours. And because of the spiraling economy, few people are interested in incurring the expenses of buying a home. It’s hard to see how Emily and Chase would be able to sell their house right now and it seems they’d lose a lot of money if they had to reduce the price by or try to rent it out.
5) Traveling and moving (with kids) in the time of social distancing sounds awful.
On the non-financial, non-health side of things, I’d encourage Emily and Chase to think hard about what their daily life would be like if they did travel around the country with two little kids right now. Emily would be working in a healthcare setting and so presumably would need to go through a process of decontamination when she got home every night. Chase would presumably be stuck inside all day in a strange city with two little ones.
Since all schools, daycares, playgrounds, parks, museums, etc are closed right now, it seems like it might be a difficult and lonely existence for Chase and the kids. Where they live now–at the very least–they have a routine and a comfort level with their home and neighborhood. Additionally, they have ample space inside for the kids to play and they have allllllll the toys. If they were moving every three months with limited possessions and limited ability to leave their rental, it seems that could be a very challenging situation. Moving every three months would be exciting during normal times, but it seems it would be incredibly stressful, complicated, and lonely during a pandemic.
Wait a Year and Reassess
If it were me, I would put a pin in this plan for a year. In a year, Chase and Emily will–at the very least–have the benefit of a year’s worth of data on how their rentals and AirBnb are performing, the landscape of their jobs, the real estate market and the viability of selling their home, and whether or not the country has returned to a semblance of normal. Plus, with another year of saving, they’ll be in that much better shape financially.
This is Not Their Fault: It’s Just Bad Timing
None of this is their fault and it’s just plain bad luck that a global pandemic broke out a few months before they planned to leave on this adventure. I hate to give them this news today and I wish I could paint a more optimistic picture, but I fear it’s just too risky to quit their jobs, try to sell a house, and travel around the country right now. I hope they will come back to us in a year and I hope at that time we can focus their Case Study on what they (and we!) all want to talk about: their awesome life plan to work as a travel nurse and see the country together as a family.
Emily and Chase have put in so much hard work to get to where they are today and I would hate for them to lose all they’ve gained by quitting jobs and moving during a time of such intense uncertainty. If we were only dealing with one of the factors (pandemic or economic), we might be able to find a solution for them right now. But given the interplay of the two, I just can’t see a way forward that’s responsible and not reckless.
This is a very personal decision and only Emily and Chase know what’ll be best for them. If I were in their shoes, I would do the following:
- Have Chase keep his job and sign another year-long contract, knowing that this is not what he wants to do, but that this is the most responsible choice given all the uncertainty in the world right now.
- Do not put the house on the market right now.
- Have Emily keep her current nursing position and look into taking on additional shifts to cover the potential loss of Airbnb income for at least the rest of the summer (if not beyond) a well as the possibility of their tenants defaulting on rent payments.
- Continue saving and investing wisely as they’ve been doing.
- Continue planning for travel nursing next year.
- Reassess in April 2021 and take into account where we’re at with the pandemic, what the economy is doing, and their local real estate market.
Ok Frugalwoods nation, what advice would you give to Emily and Chase? We’ll all reply to comments, so please feel free to ask any clarifying questions!
Would you like your own case study to appear here on Frugalwoods? Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) your brief story and we’ll talk.
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Interesting plans and an adorable family. I think I may have some advice on a few points.
About the timing- I agree, wait a year. The pandemic and its knock on effects may well worsen again in the coming winter. Also, going now is likely to affect the quality of your experience. No doubt the businesses and attractions in your destinations would be happy to see you but will you really be getting the full experience? I reckon you want something besides the pandemic to be the most memorable part of your adventure.
We moved overseas with our kids when I was 32. Before we left, we sold our single home and bought a townhouse outright in a development with communal grounds, so that snow/lawn maintenance helped the place look occupied. We stored our minimal belongings in it, and used it as a summer home to visit family (who were nearby and could check on things in our absence). Since work contracts and visas were on a yearly basis, and therefore made the future uncertain, we made sure it was in a school district we’d be happy with if we had to return on short notice. (We didn’t and eventually sold. NOTE: ended up having to wait for a seller’s market to do this.) Maybe you could do something similar, or even use one of your properties? Maybe you can rent your house but move your stuff into your AirBnb basement? We didn’t want tenants living with our stuff, but we did end up having two close trusted people living there during their divorces. We were happy to help them and have our place occupied.
As for plugging in socially….in my experience, people want to make friends with people who are going to stick around. Unless they are newcomers or transient themselves. Maybe there are groups for nomadic homeschoolers?
Although venturing into new places can be isolating, sharing the experience brought our family closer together.
You are 100% right regarding the quality of experience which is the main reason we want to travel in the first place.
Thanks to the internet, there are indeed on-line groups for families who home educate and travel full or part time. Searches such as world schooling, RV schooling, travel schooling and others will help as would FB group searches for specific cities one would find themselves in. However (these days there is always a ‘however’ isn’t there?), as a home educating family (my kids are 8 and 9 and have never been to school), nobody is homeschooling these days. If anything, one can cal this pandemic schooling with traditionally schooled kids doing school at home (which is not homeschooling) and home educated kids isolated from the many activities and experiences to which they normally have access. Since this family’s children are so young, I don’t know that this would make as big of a difference as it would for even slightly older children. But, I agree, if only from the home educating side of things, this would be an unfortunate time to travel and live without a home base. We are very fortunate to to live in a rural area on 30 acres with access to 100s more due to good relationships with our neighbors. I can only imagine how trapped people who live in cities and suburbs feel now but, at least, it is familiar and you can be creative with things that are known. I have known several families who travel primarily to give their children a world of tangible experiences and this just isn’t fully possible now. A silver lining may be to think that, next, year, you may be able to do more and different things as your children will be a little older. My mother has always said, “You have have it all, just not all at once or always when you want.” This advice has alternately calmed and annoyed me in the course of my life but it has turned out to be very true. Hang in there and enjoy your planning. The pandemic can’t stop you from doing that.
Thank you for the insight, and your mothers advice is very timely.
It looks to me like your traveling plans would make RV living ideal. My husband and I lived and traveled in an RV for 8 years, starting with a newborn and a 3-year-old. We loved it! The most important thing is to see the RV as your kitchen, bedroom and bathroom and wherever you are parked as your main living area. There tended to be an immediate social connection with the other RV’ers parked nearby. We were definitely different because we had small children and most of the others were older/retired. However, that definitely had advantages because the majority of them loved interacting with our children and our children grew up very comfortable interacting with adults. The kids (grown now) are also not afraid of change and are very adaptable. With all that said, I totally agree that you should postpone your traveling plans for a year to see how everything shakes out. That year would also be a good chance to research RV’s and look for good deals on a used one.
Thank you for the suggestion.
We are not opposed to the RV life, just nervous of the learning curve. However, you are right, now we might have plenty of time to research and learn more.
I understand your nervousness about RV life. For the past year, I have been watching youtubers, like Keep Your Daydream and Drivin’ and Vibn’ and From She to Me to understand RV life – the pluses/minuses. I do this while cooking dinner every night! It’s fun entertainment while cooking and also super informative as my husband and I are trying to decide if we want to get an RV. After all I have learned so far, it tells me it’s best to test out the idea first. Rent one first if you can. See if you like doing it for a week or two before you commit to the lifestyle. RVs can be a lot of work as far as I can tell, so our plan, if we do it, is to be as simple as possible.
I’d recommend renting an RV for a few small trips before even considering this as your option when you eventually do put this plan to action. I LOVE the thought of an RV, truly. But in reality, nope. I have a friend who shares my view, though her husband loves making that his home. I seriously thought I’d be one to adapt to that lifestyle. I work remote so I don’t have to be in a single location. But there are things I didn’t even know I’d miss! I like having a space that is my own and the RV just didn’t cut it. In theory, it’s a traveling home on wheels. It didn’t correlate to reality. For. Me. Some people love the lifestyle for sure. I really thought I would until we did some trial runs and I’m so thankful we did before dropping 100k on something we had to then sell. It might be exactly what you’re looking for, but I highly recommend trialing it before assuming. I’m a bit disappointed in myself that I didn’t like it, to be honest!!!
That is a great idea. We like the concept of the RV but then thinking practically about maintenance and personal space it gives us pause. A short trip in one would definitely help us know if we could maybe do it or if it is not right for us.
This resource can help with the learning curve… https://www.escapees.com/education/?gclid=CjwKCAjwte71BRBCEiwAU_V9hzm5bq1oOc1JzufBiqoDy1KLtlBZ1JvWdAPOyYzwG5cgRMeySadZTBoClOoQAvD_BwE
Thank you so much Mrs. Frugalwoods.
Although it is not the advice we want to hear, it is probably the advice we need to hear.
Chase & Emily – nope, NOT the advice you wanted, but easier to hear coming from a neutral person vs family. 🙂 What I’ll say is you’re plan sounds awesome, it’s just the timing. How many things in life are all about timing? MANY! How/when/where you meet your spouse was dependent on many things coming together at the “right” time. In a parallel universe (if such a thing were to exist), a different set of decisions could have resulted in an equally-beneficial relationship, but one that was different. Anyway… timing is critical. My reaction to this post was, “Oh he||s no should you put this plan to action right now!” Like, that would actually be fairly miserable right now b/c you can’t take advantage of any of the fun things you want to do by traveling around! God forbid Emily gets sick as well. Now she has to be separated from her dear family in a location you’re not familiar with. Nope. But after this stupid pandemic deal chills out… DO IT! You’ll have more money saved and more time to plan. Don’t forget to factor in property management when you DO travel. That can eat away at your budget more than you might think.
My wife, who’s a mother-baby RN transitioning to L&D, and I have been living the travel nurse life for about 18 months now. I work remotely, which has really helped from an income standpoint, and it was also just us two and our small dog. Here are a few points to consider based on our experience:
– California has hands-down the best contracts and highest rates. My wife was making ~$1900/week after tax in her first contract in the Bay area. Nurses in CA generally just make a lot more – starting pay for fulltime nurses is $65-$70/hour. That said, CA housing is extremely expensive, especially for short-term furnished rentals…we were lucky to find a 1BR for $3,000/month.
– Mother/Baby is not as in demand for travel nursing as other specialties. My wife had some trouble finding contracts in places we wanted to go (San Diego, for instance). If you’re able to take the next year to train to L&D or NICU, that will open up more opportunities.
– I would not leave a secure position right now. Hospitals are laying of staff left and right, and we’ve heard on the travel forums of travel nurses getting their contracts cancelled last minute. There may still be some crisis rates available in places like NY, but overall the market’s drying up pretty quickly for at least the next few months.
– Taxes: These get complicated with travel nursing, since most of your income is a tax-free stipend. However, in order for this to be tax free, you need to maintain a “residence” outside of the area you’re working in for the contract. It’d be easy if you keep your house and rent it out, but if you decide to sell it, you’d need to put your main residence as a family member’s address, such as your parents’
All in all, travel nursing has been an AMAZING experience – we’re just finishing up 7 months in Denver, which was great during ski season. However, it might be tough with 2 kids, and I’d definitely recommend Chase see if he can find some remote work, which makes travel nursing more financially doable, especially in a place like California where the rates are best.
Also one other note: The nursing agencies will assign you a recruited to help you get jobs/contracts, but contracts are NOT guaranteed, and you don’t get paid without a contract. We had 1 or 2 stressful moments where my wife’s contract was ending but she wasn’t seeing a ton of contract options that we wanted…it all worked out, but again this is less of a problem if you’re in a more in-demand specialty like L&D, ICU, etc.
Good to know.
Emily has been in contact with a couple recruiters the last 6 months and settled on one about 4 months ago.
Contracts seems to have really dried up the last few weeks.
The point about travel nurse contracts not being guaranteed – even in nonpandemic times, I would very much reassess your likelihood of making 70K as a contract nurse. The thing about contract nurses is that you’re often the last to get hired and the first to get fired, and hospitals are definitely going to be cutting costs wherever they can in the near future.
My mom was a travel nurse and her income was very unstable – she often didn’t know if she’d get her next contract or not. You need more cash savings if your going to rely on travel nursing as your sole income. Assume you may need to go a couple months between contracts, add in the coat of moving, and calculate savings accordingly. Don’t rely on investments either – you need cash you can access when a contract job falls through.
Thank you so much for all the info and to know it has been a good experience.
I (Chase) have looked at a number of different remote jobs and agree that would be something we would consider if/when we travel (as long as it does not take away from the kids/family).
Sure thing! Feel free to ask other questions you might have 🙂
I whole heartily agree with Matt. I have been a travel nurse for 4 years. Right now is NOT the time to start traveling. I can not find any positions right now. In this industry ALWAYS have a minimum of 3 months cash to take you through dry seasons.
Look long and hard into the tax implications of seeking your home. You can find great information on Travel Tax website. We have our home and we travel in an RV. I have a 3 yo and 5 yo. Social distancing was incredibly hard when we were still in assignment. We came back home a week ago after my contract was cut short. It’s still hard with the littles in our actual home but it is hands down better than in an RV or even apartment in a strange city.
Another thing to consider is whether you would get a babysitter in your new town for occasional nights out. If you are used to having grandparents or friends watch your littles a couple times a month, know that this will be a HUGE adjustment not having a night alone for 14 weeks or more.
Obviously 4 years has taught us a lot and we love being on the road and encourage you to re evaluate in a year or so.
Seconding the need to look into nomadic communities online to make friends–there are certainly people w/children who do this and worldschool. Though…..who knows what that’ll look like going forward. And seconding the RV idea too, @themomtrotter on instagram just sold her house and moved her whole family into an RV right before the virus hit.
I’m not certain it’s a bad time to sell a house. Rates are off the charts low and for those who qualify now’s the time to buy. We easily bought a house during COVID-19, closing in 11 days from today and got the clear to close from the lender already. We did have to wear masks and gloves during showings, but that was really it. And common sense dictates to keep your mouth closed as much as possible while in the house and avoid touching things. We definetly weren’t the only people looking to buy either; one house sold before we could even get a chance to go inside and the house we got, we were nearly outbid. I’m guessing this is different region by region, I’m in a relative hotspot.
Who is managing the rentals as you travel? The margins do seem a bit tight but I am no expert. We considered buying an owner occupied multi unit rental property pre-COVID, but the once the pandemic hit and we saw how many people can’t pay rent we decided this was a game we didn’t want to get into at this point. How long can you afford the mortgage if all the tenants stop paying?
Ooh, i see Matt above me has made good points particulary re: the taxes on travel nursing and keeping a residence. Good point!
Thank you for the suggestions.
We have looked at a few Facebook groups and websites committed to the nomad lifestyle think there could be community (at least online) if/when we travel. We will have to check out @themomtrotter.
Agree on real estate, we just had a friend sell their house for over asking price on day two of listing so wondering if that trend will continue.
We have an older friend that has owned/managed rentals his whole life and would be the main person but we would still be the first point of contact for the tenants. If all five tenants stopped paying today and we both lost our jobs we would be alright for about four months before dipping into investments to cover mortgages. If we both continue working we would be fine indefinitely but would no longer be able to save at a high rate.
If anything it seems to oddly be advantageous to both sellers and buyers right now. We did pay close to list price for our house (which we still think is a good value!) and mortgage rates are ridiculously low for qualified buyers. So perhaps you might want to think will the market be better this time next year, or worse, and if you deem it worse then sell the house now and live in a rental if possible while planning for travel life next year. Sounds like you have a solid plan for the rentals! We might consider becoming landlords down the line.
To your point, it might be a great time to sell the house and then purchase a new house that can be turned into a rental later.
I just want to say that while I agree with the advice here completely, I understand the disappointment you are feeling and it’s real. After painstakingly planning and saving for a yearlong round the world trip with my husband, we had to delay – first six months, then another six. All our well designed plans got messed up… we had nowhere to live after the first six month extension so we had to move into a temporary place, and the shift in timing messed up our order or itinerary bc or weather and seasons. We had to do it for financial stability – my husbands job initially offered a sabbatical and then delayed it in order to ensure job security. We simply NEEDED that financial security in order to take the trip with emotional freedom. And you know what? We still had the experience of a lifetime, the trip of our dreams. It was so upsetting to delay and I wondered if delay would spell derail but if you are committed in your heart you will make it happen when the dust settles. Good luck!!
Thank you for the encouragement and personal story. We have always said it seems like it is now or never with our oldest son starting kindergarten in 2021 but are realizing waiting can be doable as well.
Depending on your kids and you – and it’s always individual – but as a former teacher and former homeschooler, things are not really “set in stone” in elementary school. By Junior High you most likely will want to be settled. I do know someone who had an opportunity to work 1 year for the UN in France – so they bought a yacht (for real) and docked it in the French Riviera. That year, their kids studied all things France with their mom. They even sailed said yacht back to Maryland at the end of the year. They had studied all the countries they would pass along the coast of Africa, etc. No school could *ever* replace that, right? We traveled a lot with my kids (I was freelancing at the time) and the trips were all history and English lessons. The kids are grown, and I still have the journals. They are wonderful, brilliant adults. Please don’t pressure yourself on “now or never…”
Came here to say pretty much the same. While I agree with Mrs. Frugalwoods & others, I want to acknowledge the anger, grief, etc. that comes with planning so well and being so close to a goal only to have to put it on hold. We are in a similar position with our goals and plans, and are going to re-assess as things progress with the current pandemic. I am trying to remind myself that things may work out even better in the end, and to just focus on surviving for the time being. It is really hard as a type A to not have something to strive toward right now.
Thank you for acknowledging that. The disappointment of it potentially not happening now after thinking about it for so long is tougher than expected.
I agree with Mrs. Frugalwoods about putting the pin in the plan till next spring.Otherwise,to me it sounds like a great adventure ,I’d love to travel and live in an RV like that for a time…. Although I’d personally prefer a pull behind trailer to my regular vehicle vs. an actual RV,for ease of getting around etc. once at your destination for three months.
Don’t stress overmuch about homeschooling your youngsters,even moving it back a year, is very doable,and they’ll still be a great age to enjoy this with you. (I homeschooled my kids from beginning till graduation,you will be ok!)
Unfortunately, this story is like so many other stories right now, good plans being put on hold until things settle down a bit,and we’re able to continue with our plans.
Thanks for the encouragement about home school.
We know we are in a very fortunate position compared to many people right now and putting things on hold (although not ideal) is very doable.
Add my voice to the chorus! I think you should postpone this adventure. Continue to save your brains out! Can Chase look for another job in his field where he’ll be happier/earn more money?
Also, will your kids really be that comfortable with moving every 3 months? I know they’re still little, but not all children are comfortable with change. How comfortable will Chase be with the idea of being cooped up in an RV all day with 2 little ones? It sounds great now, because he’s unhappy at work, but will he still like it after 6 months?
It sounds like a great idea but I strongly recommend that you hold off & reassess in a year. Wishing you peace!
Since we will have so much time as a family we think the kids will do great and overall have never had problems with change. I (Chase) was definitely not comfortable at first with the thought of being a stay at home dad in a tight space but over the last year my thoughts and feelings have changed and now it is a welcomed next chapter.
All stay-at-home parents are rock stars, no matter the gender. Some people will not understand – just as they didn’t understand women going back to work in the 60s, 70s, 80s…today? Good for you for even considering something that isn’t “average” – both of you!
One advantage to the RV route for the kids is the continuity of living in the same house while the town outside changes. But if they are OK with change, that may not matter.
100% agree with Mrs F. I think you’ll look back and appreciate the timing and feel grateful you had not embarked on your plan prior to the pandemic. Status quo for now. Even though it’s disappointing, reassess in 2021.
That is so true, we are extremely grateful we didn’t start this adventure a couple months ago.
Chase and Emily, I love your story! So many parts of it resonate with me and my husband who hope to be doing something similar with rental properties and cute babies in a few years! And we met in Kansas City! My husband is from Colby, KS (extremely small town!) and I am from Maryland but was out there for work. I don’t think I really have advice, it seems like everything is so unsure. I had been planning on starting my own business in a few months and we too have decided to delay that a bit. So disappointing but we keep telling ourselves that the best we can do is get ourselves in a good position when we come out of this! We are trying to find frugal ways to enjoy this time until we can get back to our plan. At least you already have financially savvy goals, plans, and habits. To me that is 80% of the battle and will help you adapt to anything.
Just wanted to send some encouragement and please let us know whatever you decide!
We love KC as a whole and agree that although it is disappointing when plans go awry, we can use this time to get into a good position for whatever is next.
I wouldn’t try to do travel nursing now or in the next year with a family. Emily can work more or Chase can work somewhere else if he doesn’t like his job.
I agree with this advice. Rental properties are great as long as every property has a tenant and every tenant pays on time. But if just a couple of tenants stop being able to pay, you’re still stuck with the mortgage—and if you don’t have the cashflow to support multiple mortgages, you’ve got a foreclosure on your record. I saw many people fall into this trap after 2008. You need stable income to support this kind of debt.
Congratulations on setting your goals and working hard and getting creative to achieve them! I only had a small comment about the Christian Healthcare Ministries, which was labeled as insurance, but may not actually be an insurance plan. Although it offers cost sharing, it may not be a regulated Insurance product. There have been a few articles I’ve seen the past few months that share examples of families who had large medical bills for their children, but weren’t assisted by the ministry because it wasn’t legally bound to cover member claims.
The only reason I mentioned it was because it was called insurance on the budget, and some healthcare ministries have been accused of hiding that they aren’t insurance products. I hope you get back to your exciting plans soon, and wish you and your family the best.
Healthshare ministries definitely are NOT insurance and despite being mostly “Christian” they have objectionable policies (IMHO) on certain exclusions; they do not cover pre-existing conditions, and they can and do deny claims that would be covered by law under real insurance. I have read many, many articles and postings where people who have paid into a healthshare ministry for years have been denied.
This was my concern too! And, because it’s cost sharing, not actual insurance, it (a) doesn’t have to pay and (b) doesn’t protect you financially in the event that the group runs out of money. Under normal circumstances, this type of “insurance” might be ok, but with a global health pandemic happening and the potential for astronomical care costs associated with long term hospitalization and rehabilitation, the financial capacity of this type of healthcare coverage could easily collapse. Chase and Emily could find themselves financially liable for all health care costs in the event of an emergency. With actual healthcare insurance, consumers are protected it the insurance company goes bust, but not under these ministry cost-sharing plans.
I totally agree with all of Mrs. FW’s recommendations. Now is just not the time to enact your travel plans. I’m a former L&D RN and like Matt’s suggestion of training from Mother/Baby to L&D, if at all possible. At one time in my life, I thought about travel nursing. There were multiple opportunities available for L&D nurses at that time. Or other specialties like NICU, ICU, OR, etc. I hope things improve and that y’all can go on this adventure next year!
I agree. Now is not the time. Too much uncertainty. You both have jobs. Keep them. Many people will lose jobs and no insurance will keep more people out of hospitals. I know you work in mother/baby but admits throughout the hospital will be down, leaving no unit for you to float to if your unit census is down, therefore causing nurses to be cancelled. I worked at a hospital where the loss of one teachers insurance contract caused our admissions to drop by 30 percent. We were being cancelled one to two times per week, every week for most of a year until those contracts were renegotiated. One thing I always did in my 43 yrs as a nurse was keep a side job. I worked full time at the hospital day shift and worked pool at nursing homes and private duty. This way I always had my foot in two doors. Served me well when others were worried about having enough to pay the rent. This will be a little easier for you since you work 12 hr shifts. I was an 8 hr worker so it was harder to do but you do what you must to get ahead. I kept that extra job for most of my career, other nurses would back off their primary jobs as soon as they could due to husband getting a raise or his working more shifts. I never did, I kept plugging along and we are FI today because of that. My husband worked extra shifts at General Motors too when he could. We had contract nurses at times too but if there were not enough shifts their contract was cancelled. I do not know the particulars of that but I do know it happened a few times. Those nurses were all there one day and the next they were gone. You have saved a lot of money, a great beginning for your ages, you do not want to have to draw that down and end up starting over. We only had one child and are so great full that we chose that. Our daughter only had one and they are near FI in their late 40’s. You have two healthy beautiful children. I encourage you to embrace that and be satisfied with that. It is so hard for young people today starting out that they need a little help from mom and dad in the way of college without debt when they are done, help with a house down payment, etc. we just Gifted our granddaughter enough for down payment and most of the closing costs on a new home. She knows she can count on us and her parents if anything were to happen to her job or her fiancés job. She also has 6 months of emergency money saved. It is just easier to help one or two children than 3, 4 or 5. I will get flack for saying that but it is the truth. I wish you luck as a fellow nurse. It was a great job for me , not a ton of money but with being frugal buying a 1600 sq foot house, mostly fully funding retirement accounts, etc, it allowed the worry free retirement we have as long as the financial markets do not totally collapse and pensions and social security can continue. We have room to cut tighter to the bone if needed and that is always a must. Take care
When you do make the vehicle switch, I’d definitely go minivan. I wouldn’t worry about the resale value. My husband and I got a 2012 Honda Odyssey minivan with $125K miles on it for under $10K earlier this year, and we LOVE IT. We have hauled so much stuff in it, it’s so comfortable, and flexible. I did not expect to enjoy owning a minivan as much as I do.
Thanks for the recommendation. We would prefer to spend under $12k on a vehicle which is very difficult for a pickup and very doable for a minivan.
You have my total sympathy and understanding! My partner and I decided after a trip home to Vermont in October, that we would be moving back there from Florida, in May or June. Fast forward to now! We are no longer looking forward to moving at any particular time, or even possibly not this year. I am retired, so it is not as pressing for me. He, however, works in construction and has work here in Florida for the foreseeable future. Vermont had jobs available before this happened, but as a much smaller state, which is not on a growth curve, this may not still be true post Covid. We are fortunate to rent an apartment with a monthly lease, but it is so frustrating to not be able to plan. We are also trying to wrap our heads around the fact that it may be another year before we can realistically make a move.
You have gotten great advice on full time camper living but just wanted to add a couple of thoughts to that. If you decided to take that route, the style of camper you buy will determine what type of vehicle you need to tow it. Also, keep in mind that if you are using a truck for travel, you have an increased risk of theft of personal property from the bed, even with a cover and you will need to make sure you get a truck that will be comfortable for long distance travel. Not all are.
I’m a nurse who has looked into travel nursing multiple times as an option for the future (it’s not currently lucrative enough for me to make it a viable option yet). Anyway, I definitely remember hearing about so many contracts drying up once the economy falters. Hospitals don’t have money for outside contracts and the current employees don’t leave and often pick up extra hours. As much as I know it probably devastates you to wait another year, I’d recommend you wait it out. It also gives Chase more time to find opportunities for remote work, etc. Hopefully the world will be much more stable a year from now. Good luck to you! You’ve done beautifully so far!
I hear the excitement in this for an adventure and agree with the advice given.
My only concern was the brief mention of healthcare- Christian Healthcare Ministries is not, strictly speaking, health insurance. It is a cost-sharing plan, and I would be very careful. There has been a significant amount of reporting on the last year about the risks inherent in these plans-they seem so affordable when you are healthy, but many families have been wiped out financially when an emergency wasn’t covered, because there is no real obligation on the part of the ministry. In fact, there is little to protect you or your finances. I am a pastor and deeply committed to Christian solidarity, but these “plans” make me nervous.
My commentary is not just a “current climate” response. I agree with the points made about life being difficult right now should you decide to travel, but I consider waiting prudent because just a couple years would mean you are set for life, and never have to work again. I would say the same, pandemic or not.
I strongly recommend hustling hard to pay off the rental properties you currently own in full before spending time traveling. With the rental mortgages paid off in full, that’s an additional $1.800 a month coming in (the amounts of the mortgages you are currently paying) on top of the $721 already coming in for a total of $2,500 a month – not including the $500 earmarked as savings for capital expenses. It means you don’t have to worry if one of your renters miss a month of rent (recession/pandemic proofing), and allows you a lot more flexibility, especially with your current cash reserves. Then as a traveling nurse, you don’t have to take every hour offered and every gig offered, or even any, should something happen. If you do keep same hours/salary, the $2,500 + $1,700 is $4,200 which would cover your current spending almost entirely, with a couple adjustments. Between hustling hard and consolidating and cutting sharply where you can, paying off the rentals is entirely doable. Waiting a couple years now to travel the world means you are set for life. You never have to go back to a full time job if you don’t want to, and you’d also have a landing pad if you need one (as you could live in the rental short term if it’s vacant).
Don’t play the “renting primary house out” game. It almost never ends well. I wouldn’t start traveling until the house is sold.
Sell everything you don’t need, and enjoy a simple travel life. Don’t waste the money on storage. Stuff is just stuff. Wherever you land after you are done traveling, it can be replaced. Why save a couch for three years, decide to move to Alaska since Alaska is so fabulous and you’ve stayed there months during your travels, and now try to sell the couch remotely or pay big money to ship it after paying big money to store it? Not worth it. It’s never worth it. I basically furnished my house for free with the Craiglist “Free” listings when I moved from Michigan to Florida (I had NO money left after I bought my house), and it was actually great to move down unencumbered. I packed everything for my move into an SUV and off I went, but I was single with only a puppy at the time.
99% sure you would love and thrive in RV living, since it’s clear you’re in love with nature and outdoor life. You can test it by renting or borrowing an RV for a weekend. Sell both your cars when you are ready, and buy a truck that can pull the RV. That way, you can park the RV and will still have a vehicle to go to the grocery store or nursing hours while leaving the RV parked at camp.
Thank you so much for the well thought out response and the link to your blog.
Our perfect world long term goal would be to add 10 more rental units and then pay them off ASAP but agree that we could be in a good spot if we never acquired any more.
Also, we agree that we are in about the perfect financial spot to set us up for long term financial success when considering cost of living and current pay. However, we have never loved it here (our exact location, although we love KC as a whole) and have known we wanted to move for a few years now.
Originally we had planned to continue to save hard and after our kids graduated then explore the world but feel like we have a small window right now due to the ages of our kids.
We also agree with the sell everything. When we were first marred we can proudly say our coffee table, tv stand, kitchen table and chairs were all free from the side of the road (we have upgraded only slightly since then).
Just a note on not loving where you live. We never loved Ohio but because of General Motors we stayed until my husband was able to retire after 30 yrs with a pension. I was a nurse, I could go anywhere. We did not follow our dream until after my husband retired. You do what you have to to make your money and then be more stable to make a move. If he had quit early on we would not be FI due to lack of his pension and health care benefits that stayed with us until we could have Medicare benefits. I encourage you to think it all through carefully. There may be a blog out there from a traveling nurse that can help you to understand the good and bad points of the job.
You can take a year or two or ten off at any age thanks to the home school options. Definitely look into homeschooling, especially on the road. Technology is a huge help. Often, the smartest kids thrive in homeschool, because public school is supposed to cater to the masses.
Don’t put it off any longer than a couple years, or you won’t do it. But don’t write off waiting a year or two, either, and paying off the rentals in full. It would be a shame to be so close to “set for life” and let it slip, in exchange for what could be one year. If you are serious about this adventure, the cuts you make this year should be “easy.” My guess is, with paid off rentals and traveling full time, your money will start accumulating quickly in your accounts, especially if Emily is still working. I’m sure you’d have a down payment built up by the time you got home so you could buy something wherever and whenever you decide you are ready. You can be really frugal while traveling, especially with RV living. It can go the other way, too, where you’re spending way more. However, I picture you all as nature lovers and campers, and can easily see your costs shrinking away.
If your goal is to add another rental to the mix, I liked the suggestion above of selling your current house and buying another rental to live in short term for the next year before you start traveling. That way, you can get yourself out of the current house, and won’t have to time selling it with when the travel can start. Since the new rental would be your primary house for the next year, you can probably get interest rates in the sub-2.5% which will make pay off even faster. I just refinanced my house at 2.25% for a 15 year mortgage. So put exactly 20% down for the new loan, and shove the rest of the proceeds at the rentals with the 4% loan. It looks like you have cash for a down payment in your bank accounts, so $170k (your low end) minus $115k left is $55k, an entire quarter of your outstanding balance on the rentals in your commercial loan. Do the math to figure out exactly how long it would take to pay off, and you might be stunned. 🙂
In our town (north Alabama) home owners are not listing as much as before Covid-19, what is listed tend to sell within a week or two. I’d suggest that you consult real estate professionals about your local market, which units and when to sell, and options for finding a reliable management firm for the rentals while traveling. Ideally you can find someone who shares your interest in FIRE.
Traveling with kids old enough to be out of diapers and young enough to be interested in Everything sounds like an adventure!
Sorry no advise to give, however I am curious to know what lotion/soap you use for the eczema?
It is called Renew and our whole family likes it.
So, I’ve been facing similar questions of late and here’s where I’m at: I wanted to leave where I am, but now I’m not going to for a few years.
– house: I’m buying a house. While it’s a challenging process and there aren’t many available on the market, I’d been looking for a suitable rental or purchase for 6 months to no avail, so I adjusted my sights and found something that will work with my crazy dog. Inspection is scheduled this week, closing early June.
– job: I’m staying. I really hate being on a 24/7 call schedule most of the time (those 3 am calls with complicated questions are killer for me), but I have a stable job that pays well. Cost of living is high, but I’m frugal and if I can stick it out a few years it’s a really good financial decision for me.
If you do want to still pursue the travel nurse gig, I suggest Alaska. Our COVID-19 rates are really low, the gigs pay well, and is there any better adventure than Alaska? Plus, because there’s no tourism now there are fewer seasonal workers, so more housing available.
I was trying to buy a multi-family with rentals to pay mortgage, but I own a multi-family elsewhere and I’m needing to cover part of the mortgage now because tenants are high-risk and need protection, and I am kind of over managing tenants (I’ve always had wonderful ones, but it’s still a stress). My job is super stressful and I just want a quiet little oasis for peace.
The risks of the pandemic and the effects on the economy are both global and local. I think Ms. Frugalwoods is offering great advice, and I would still consider it if risks can be mitigated. Also, y’all are young and even if this isn’t the best financial decision you have time to recover. I believe in enjoying life fully while young – which is why now that I’m in my 50s I’m still working, but I have zero regrets about any of the amazing adventures I’ve been so fortunate to have lived through.
Also agree about RV life – I’ve had friends do it with their kids and they said it was an amazing experience.
There is a job available in Alaska to start now……..
But in all seriousness thank you for sharing what you are doing while in a similar position of wanting to leave.
I spent 12 years in Alaska, and miss it dearly after moving to CA. My husband had an excellent job opportunity here in SoCal, otherwise we never would have left! There are exceptional positions in the medical field in Alaska with good pay. I have doctor and nurse friends, among other professions. The outdoor experiences are endless! We hope to return after seeing our career growth through here.
We took a “family sabbatical” a few years ago to travel domestically and homeschool. Parts of it were in an RV and parts of it we stayed in longer term Air BnBs in cities where my husband had stints of work (New York, LA and San Francisco). If you are considering an RV, would look at something you can tow. Would give you flexibility to set up camp and then go to the grocery store, do day trips etc, and would allow you to do a hybrid of short term rentals and camping. If you use your basement rental as storage/home base, can swing back through regularly and park the RV if needed.
I agree that timing is everything. I am a er physician in the Denver area and have seen the salary cuts, volume drops, and facility closings due to the current pandemic. Add in limited ppe by the facilities and it becomes a nightmare. Due to the multiple angles to view your position just try to remember the following: those facilities that need travel nurses likely have issues ie people quit for a reason or something is wrong with the current system, ppe is crucial and knowing what you have available to protect yourself is crucial…..I would not feel comfortable working a covid floor with a droplet mask….and just assume everyone has covid…including you and the whole l and d floor, knowing donning and doffing is crucial so you don’t bring this home to your family (this is hard in an airbnb….where do dirty scrubs/shoes/glasses etc go), kids are having a tough time with this and consistency is key…a familiar face/back yard/bedroom/schedule might make or break their day, travel will be tough for a while…surges will happen and things that reopen may close down again just fyi, and you will value your family more than ever after we are on the other side of this. Keep you family safe and stay sane. I have done locums with and without my family. It was fun, tough, and lucrative. I would not do it in the current pandemic for the above reasons unless I had problems feeding my children and putting a roof over their head. Everything I go into work I balance paying for things with keeping my family safe. Now might be a better time to tighten the belt loops a bit so you can make that leap when you can.
Thank you for the real world insight and thoughts.
One of the largest concerns is that the majority of the family is using a cost share ministry for heath care coverage. This is NOT health insurance. Many cover roughly $100,000-150,000 per incident with no guarantee that extra donations will be made. I have seen several families go bankrupt with things like aggressive cancer or organ failure.
I was healthy with no risk factors until l was 35 and ended up with an organ transplant and ongoing medical expenses at well over one million dollars but had insurance and some savings and we ended up being financially stable.
I made a similar comment that didn’t post for some reason. There has been a lot of reporting regarding the limitations these plans face, and folks have gone bankrupt when they faced sudden, unexpected health emergencies. As a pastor, i get the desire to pursue a Christian model, and to hold things together and in common, but these companies have proven to have serious vulnerabilities and have not been able to provide care that is equivalent to regular insurance. They frankly make me very uneasy, because they often direct their appeal to those who can least afford a medical emergency. They simply have not held up well under scrutiny.
I 100% agree with this comment. Many cost-share ministries fail to cover true medical emergencies and there is no recourse because they aren’t regulated insurance companies.
Looking at your property numbers, would you consider selling off rental house #1? Since it is making such a small margin ($60) and has a higher mortgage payment, it doesn’t seem like a great risk/reward in uncertain times. You could use the money to pay off the mortgage on one or more of your other properties, to reduce your mortgage expenses.
Right! Cora & Stephanie I’m shocked Mrs. Frugalwoods didn’t mention this as a HUGE financial risk for this family. They could lose everything if the ministry’s refused to pay for care or if the ministry financially collapses under the weight of too many covid related claims- ambulances, special testing, long term hospitalization, rehabilitation, etc. Failure to cover costs is always an issue with this form of “insurance” in normal times, but with a global pandemic aka health crisis happening, now’s really not the time to be under-insured.
This is awful not to point out and there should be encouragement to explore other options.
Good point. If Chase has insurance through his job he should add the rest of the family to his plan.
What a great plan! You have worked hard to be able to do this. I would wait a year. To many unanswered questions with this pandemic. If you watch some of the medical professionals on the front lines right now, they are living in the basement, backyard, garage or not even coming home to see their family. If the pandemic continues for a longer period, would you be able to stay away from your family if your nursing contract gives you daily exposure? A year won’t make a difference and can help increase your savings. Home schooling for more years and a great adventure for your family is worth the wait.
Have you considered an emergency plan if your tenants refuse to continue to pay rent? What is your back up plan? Consider the fact your tenants have protected rights and you can not sue or evict during this timeframe. You might consider doing a gesture of temporary rent reduction if they have lost their jobs. Emily, If you are willing to consider a travel nurse position as a medical-surgical speciality, you can land a contract in NYC for $10K a week with housing. It is brutal assignment, however you can consider the benefits of moving to your FIRE goals and Chase can consider quitting his job as planned. Another aspect to consider is that you can apply for independent insurance coverage that might be reduced monthly rate for your family since Chase has the insurance benefits. Best of luck!!
Ten years ago, I moved abroad for a year. I got rid of a ton of stuff, and put my favorite things into storage. I took only three small suitcases with me, and one of them was filled with bedding, and another was filled with books for my classroom library. That year, while living with very few personal possessions, I often thought of my possessions in storage that I would be so happy to have and use again once I returned to the US. When I moved back and got my things out of storage, I was shocked at the things I had deemed special enough to pay to store, and ended up getting rid of the vast majority of it! There was NOTHING that I regretted getting rid of before moving. So I’d say, whenever you do end up traveling, you can probably keep less than you think you might want.
Thank you so much for the personal insight. We had thought something similar so it is great to hear that is what would actually happen.
I’ve gone through this decision-making process a few times in the last ten years (exchange year, Peace Corps, a couple of cross-country moves) and I very much agree. Every time that I’ve come back to the stuff I stored, I was pretty surprised that many of those “special and important items” were things that I didn’t want to bring back into my home. Tastes change, so a lot of the items felt dated or no longer worked with my aesthetic. I also had grown up a bit, so some of the things that felt fancy during my college days, no longer felt so special (I’m looking at you $100 Ikea armchair).
One thing that has helped me sort through stuff is to compare the replacement cost for that item to the cost to move/store the item. I would also think about how things might deteriorate/depreciate in storage (esp. important if you’re thinking about storing vehicles). Digitize as much of the sentimental stuff as you can, even if it is just to keep as a duplicate copy in case your storage unit floods or gets hit by a tornado. Personally, I’d say that unless the thing has a significant emotional value and is irreplaceable (things like priceless family heirlooms, your grandmas silverware that you cherish, your yearbooks that you love to thumb through every so often, your wedding shoes that you wear every anniversary etc.), I would ditch it.
You might not be able to hit the go button just yet, but I know that you’ll be able to do it soon. In the meantime, you have a good opportunity to start thinking about what you’d keep and maybe even paring down your stuff in preparation. Good luck, and wishing you all the best in your future adventures!
I understand plans being on hold- we had grand plans of this being the year we finally took the leap to get my husband out of a job he’s not enjoying anymore, and moving off to the mountains… and now, here we sit inside our house for the foreseeable future, as we have at-risk family members. That said, I do have a couple comments on homeschooling/ traveling with kids in an RV. When we only had one boy, and he was young, we did an Alaska trip where we rented an RV and traveled around for 2 weeks. Now, kids don’t always like a lot of change, but the RV gave a “homebase” that was always the same wherever we parked it, and his toys were always in the same drawer, and he ended up having a ball. Since then, we’ve done many camping trips where we traveled with two kids, and our original thought was that they’d like a different place every night, with less driving in between. That didn’t work for my kids. They’d rather drive 12 hours and be at one place for 3 nights than move every night. If I was doing some years off (which we’ve considered) we’d definitely do an RV, both because of the homebase appeal, and because it’s a virus-free hotel room in today’s world! That said, I’d also do a fifth wheel or popup sort, where you pull it behind something, so you have a car/ truck available to run off to the store, etc. without taking the whole RV. We’ve talked about this a lot, actually. Additionally, having two small boys of my own, with a similar age spread, don’t let the Kindergarten deadline thing hem you in. We’re “homeschooling/ crisis schooling” now and it’s not til 3rd or 4th grade that they even get grades, much less would seriously miss out on anything. Especially when you compare that to what they’d be gaining by traveling and seeing new things…. when things are open again. Because I agree heartily (having been the parent that mostly dealt with the kids while the other parent was in a conference, etc.), you want to be traveling across the US when you can utilize playgrounds and museums and parks and everything wonderful there is to offer- not when everything is shut down. I wish you the best of luck in the future. And I also think you should allow yourselves to grieve for what is lost or delayed…. this is a time of serious grief for those of us who had these big plans that got smashed by all this. I know I’m having some serious grief myself….
Thanks for the RV encouragement, it is something we definitely need to research more.
Also, thanks for realizing there is real grief as you know, even though things could be much worse, it is still sad/disappointing when big plans are put on hold or cancelled.
Sorry, but Liz is absolutely correct. Now is the time to prepare for this future, not to live it. Among other things I envision days and days full of tantrums and whining as your children are too young to understand the situation. This year (or maybe more) should allow Chase to develop one or more internet income streams. This came up not too long ago with another post, and I suggested (among other things) that the gentleman in that post could either teach English, or do customer service on line. He was understandably concerned that the pay was not as good as he wanted, but that’s the price you pay. Another thought is writing an e-book. Do it once, dump it on Amazon (or whatever other places) and once it is done it will keep bringing in some cash over time Chase makes a good income now, so there may be some facet of that work experience that can translate into a part time internet job or business or an e-book or all of the above.
Things for your to consider Emily: How many states are you able to work in due to the requirement to be licensed in that state? Have you checked with your CPA with regards to having income go to one state? Have you considered to have your “drop state” in a state with no income tax. Makes a huge difference at the end of the year. What are you going to do about health insurance? At the present time if you contact the virus you will have known folks and legal rights that you would not have on the road. Have you ordered medical supplies shipped to your home (on your nickel) to make sure you can protect yourself if the hospital runs out of proper gear? My nurse daughter immediately started ordering cases of this stuff when it became obvious that we were heading into a major problem. She received her initial orders but everything else is still on back order. It’s too late to start this now, but for future reference, be a girl scout and be prepared before you hit the road.
An earlier post noted that the hospitals are laying off. That is happening all over because people are afraid to go the hospital (even for potential heart attacks and strokes) due to the possibility of infection. I suspect that the opportunities for travel nurses is slim at the moment. Also, you only mentioned one agency. In order to make this work in normal times (whatever that is) is that you have to be connected to several agencies. One of my kids worked as a travel nurse while picking up an advanced degree on line, and she eventually decided that it wasn’t the right future for her and took a nursing job at the best hospital around here, maintains her license in only two states now (for just in case), and makes a good income.
You both are still young and there is plenty of time to travel around, but I feel it would be wise if you get your ducks in a row and postpone the dream for as long as is necessary to do it safely and with some assurance of jobs being available. Your kids may very well appreciate the travel when they are a bit older and not so upset at being confined. Whatever you decide, I wish you luck.
I agree that it makes sense to put the plan on hold for a year to see how everything shakes out.
However, I’m curious… since your long range goal is to move to a smaller town in Kansas, why not just do that now and travel later?
Have a lot of mini-adventures in the future? Remember Dorothy, there’s no place like home.
Hi Mrs. Gardener,
That is something we are definitely considering. Why not just follow the yellow brick road now lol.
The couple sounds delightful! Kudos for all your hard work! Mrs frugalwoods , I think you rock! Your advice is bang on!
My siblings and I were homeschooled for most of our K-12 education. First, I want to there’s no one right way to do homeschooling. You’ll develop what works for you and your kids. One way to think about homeschooling is that some years it’ll may a good fit for the kids (and you!), but other years when school may be a better option. Good if it can be an organic process that’s responsive to the needs of kids and parents. For example, a friend of mine sent all of her kids to school, but homeschooled her daughter during one year when the daughter was struggling with health and self-esteem issues. My siblings and I were completely homeschooled except for the two final years of high school because (back then) most colleges and scholarship agencies required official transcripts with grades. My siblings and I had no problem at school. Academically, we were leaps and bounds ahead of our peers. Socially, we were on par for peer-to-peer and had significantly better relationship skills with people from other age groups). While we didn’t love school, it was needed for acquiring college funding. (Happily, schools & funders have evolved so this is no longer the case.) Attending school showed us how incredibly lucky we were to have been homeschooled – me a strong-willed academically-driven young lesbian, my brother a gentle late bloomer who then took off and soared, and my sister a brilliant non-conforming philosopher & artist. The best way to describe our homeschooling is that our parents taught and fostered the mindset and concrete skills needed for: 1) assessing what we wanted/needed to learn and then 2) proactively and creatively making that learning happen. This awareness and skill set are applicable and easily transferable to every aspect of further education and life. Being homeschooled is the one of the most beneficial things that happened to me and my two siblings. (We thank our parents for it on a regular basis.) We acquired the needed funding, attended strong colleges, and engaged with unique and exciting non-school travel and learning (e.g., Fulbright Fellowships, travel awards, internships, art shows, speaking multiple languages, leadership training, writer retreats, and more). We’ve developed engaging and rewarding careers in healthcare, academia, and fine art, as well as rich and meaningful personal lives. Final note: homeschooling resulted in us being very bonded as siblings and family (a frequent homeschooler experience). I’m happy to answer any homeschooling questions you may have. Best wishes!
Even in a pre-pandemic world I would have some concerns before embarking on the journey with how the numbers look now. By no means are you in a bad position at all but I’d echo some others concerns that the thin margins on the rental properties would make me really nervous to float on one salary if even one of those goes vacant or otherwise rent cannot be collected while you are away. It would be a lot for Emily to have the responsibility to pay for 100% cost of living expenses while on the road and have to float one of the properties for however long if it comes down to it plus the cost of remote property management already eating into the margins. I would also take a look at the charitable donations line, would that amount continue per month while traveling on one income? Right now it is accounting for a good portion of Emily’s part time salary but if Chase does quit and she has to make up his whole salary difference with extra shifts it might be tough even if you stay put and don’t add the mystery element of cost of living varying from place to place and needing to still put money into savings to account for it. I would reallocate some of the expense lines such as that (or whatever you’d feel more comfortable finding wiggle room in) and save like crazy over the next year to better your cash position before taking a leap like this to cover for example 6 months emergency fund for your family in case it takes some time between new contracts plus another 6 months in mortgage expense on the rental properties in cash savings. I know you have some good savings and investments now just wondering if it is enough to float everything if the world/economy continues on the trajectory its on and all that could possibly go wrong actually does (if no one pays their rent on any of the rentals, getting new contracts for the nursing gig takes a long time between gigs and doesnt cover all the unknown travel life expenses, if someone get sick and the ministry health insurance doesn’t cover it all, etc) If signing up for another year of contract work sounds miserable to Chase maybe start looking for a new remote job now that you can get instead so when the timing is right you can just up and go plus will give him a chance to adjust to life full time at home while having the physical space to do so. Or as someone else has suggested take a remote job and then move to a small town near your family now instead, get a house and some footing there you can return to when done traveling and set yourself up to have somewhere you can go in case of an emergency too. Sorry this is all happening right before you’re set to go but atleast you have some time now to decide rather than it happening after already pulling the trigger. Maybe it will be a chance to pivot to a new plan that also gets your some of the freedom and lifestyle changes you are looking for but still maintaining some stability in light of everything going on right now.
Hi Chase and Emily,
I’m sure it’s so disappointing to see Mrs. Frugalwoods’ advice, but honestly, she’s spot on. You have a great dream and you’ve worked really hard to prepare for it, but this year is not the year for it. Even beyond all the financial uncertainty and the risks Emily would be running as a nurse, I cannot imagine how challenging it would be for Chase to be the full-time caregiver of two young children in a new place where NOTHING was open: no museums, no playgrounds, no cafes, etc. I know everyone wants to think that this is going to go away and things will be better by the summer but the hard truth is we just don’t know and it is entirely possible (and indeed likely) that there will be multiple waves of infection and multiple waves of disruptions/distancing/closures.
I often tell my big kid that we’re living through something that will be in the history books later. It’s a reminder that these are unprecedented times and it’s ok for him to have all the big feelings about the disruptions to his life. One day we will get through this. But until then we need to hunker down and stay safe, stay smart, and insulate ourselves as much as possible from all dangers (including financial ones).
I honestly don’t think delaying a year would make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things and you could even go later. Chase might find it a whole lot more enjoyable to be parenting slightly older kids who don’t need naps and don’t wear diapers and can really enjoy and remember the experiences. I know two families who took sabbatical years with school-age children and travelled (one had to cut their year short by four months and come racing home last month because of COVID-19). So starting school is not necessarily a death knell for your plans. A lot of parents are discovering how quickly you can cover material at home when a child can get one-on-one attention!
Take some time to be really angry and sad that the pandemic has happened and all of your plans have been derailed. But then tell yourselves that “later doesn’t mean never”. One day you’ll know it’s going to safe to get the plans in motion again, and you’ll be in even better financial shape as a result of waiting!
That is a great idea telling your older kid that this will be in the history books. Our four year old will ask, “When will the corona virus be over?” and we never have a great response.
The potential to home school is something that I think we could lean into and learn more about and then be confident if we did end up doing it longer than planned.
Thank you for the acknowledgement that this does feel like it needs to be grieved over, but you are right, later doesn’t mean never. Thanks for the encouragement.
Turia, so well said in every aspect! Such encouraging and practical advice. I have a passion for travel, and my husband and I are doing the dreaming and planning now. I even found comfort in you sharing, “later doesn’t mean never.” A good reminder for all of us right now going through struggles or contemplating a transition.
I wouldn’t put it on hold. Nursing is super super resilient as an income source. Worst case, travel nurses become less utilized, so you don’t get a contract you can live with. Now you’re in transition. Find a new nursing job (or return to the one you have), and are in a transition period getting new housing (and city?) and new jobs. Or Chase finds a new job. His jobs are probably also super resilient – only one super :).
I just wanted to say that although the advice to wait seems prudent, this whole topic seems rather tone-deaf given the state of the economy and people who are unemployed, lining up at food banks, etc. It seems like the FIRE stuff is out of touch with the reality, and it feels a little entitled/privileged to ask these questions at this time. Not trying to shame anyone, it’s good to have dreams and goals, but it doesn’t feel like a very relevant topic for our current situation.
Yes, it is a privilege to be able to ask the questions that Chase and Emily are asking. They have worked very hard, but are also very fortunate to have these opportunities. That doesn’t make it any less relevant, as so many of us are all impacted in different ways.
Mrs. Frugalwoods has been working on a fabulous series “the Uber Frugal Week” with 9 parts about how to manage money in a time of crisis. You can read it here:
I really appreciate the thoughts having been shared as of late that “we are not in the same boat.” We may be in different boats, in different times of our lives. Change and challenges will happen for all of us at one point of another. The Uber Frugal Week is a definite must-read!
Yes, maybe now isn’t the best time for them, but FI is a long term project, and these guys are well on their way. It isn’t a race to get there – there is no shame in having it take a few more years. My wife and I were always savers but we didn’t pursue early retirement seriously until we were around 40, and it then took another 6 years for me to leave my corporate job while we boosted real estate investments, and lined up the kinds of nice 30 year low interest loans you can only get when you have full time income.
Yes, this pandemic is a different kind of animal, but it will pass, and as a real estate investor, I’d like to point out that having a portfolio of properties is a great way to mitigate the risk of investing in properties. If you have 1 or 2 properties, when a tenant stops paying, it is a huge problem. But when you have a few properties, the other properties can help absorb those kinds of problems.
I may have misread, but I think you should consider the full rent from rentals as income, and all of the expenses including mortgage as an expense. That would give you a better picture of what your monthly expenses truly are. With everything rented you more than cover that expense, but if you go awhile between tenants or worse, have one that stops paying rent, you still need to cover those expenses. Just more food for thought in the “should I quit my job” discussion. I do agree with others now is not the time for this change. It’s disappointing COVID-19 has changed so many people’s plans, but there is nothing we can do about it except try to stay safe.
Yes, exactly. Also consider paying off the mortgages as eliminating expenses. Overall, there are still expenses even if mortgages are paid off, but they are significantly reduced and cash flow is overall smoother because the required outflow is much less.
I agree with Mrs Frugalwoods. It sucks to hear such advice when you’ve poured your heart into a plan, but now is the time for staying in a holding pattern and riding out the uncertainty. I say this from a place of understanding in that we (husband and I) have taken big risks and travelled and lived in various parts of the world, so I’m not a ‘sky is falling’ type of person, but I’m cautious and consider worst case scenarios carefully.
Our first big trip / move was set for October 2011. Mere weeks after 911. It was scary, should we / shouldn’t we? Family thinking we were mad to even consider it. We thought WWIII may have been about to start. We went anyway. But it was different to this. And even having carried on with our plan then, if we were about to start the journey now instead, we’d make the opposite choice.
We recently (September) bought our first home (A small apartment) and have so many plans, but they too are all on hold (especially as I have lost all income – self employed – and we were living off that as our sole income). So we’re in a holding pattern / survival mode too right now.
1 year feels like a long delay, but it’s the smartest option, and when that year is through you’ll have been able to prepare for your adventure even more so, and enjoy it all the more without the uncertainty.
My niece is a pediatric nurse here in Seattle at a large hospital. Almost a month ago they moved all her peds patients to another hospital in their system and had her and her co-workers retrain to do general nursing. She said she comes to work each day not knowing where she will be sent. She is a new mother to my great nephew born August 2019 and is really scared she will be assigned to some are where she will be more vulnerable to COVID infection. As it is, she has been assigned to stand outside ICU rooms where COVID patients are housed to help with changing clothes and fetching medicines. It may not be the best time to travel as a peds nurse, although this is just one example out of the whole country. I am in awe of your accomplishments and wish you every good thing. I love your idea and think it will be great for your family, but join others in suggesting you wait, even though it is not what you really want. Good luck!
Gosh this pandemic is awful, I feel for you and your well-laid plans. I’m in New Zealand, and even though we went into lockdown early and we are looking to lift restrictions soon, the boffins who are advising the government say it will be at LEAST a year before we can get back to anything like normal life, due to the recession which will hit soon.
Is there anything Chase can do to make his job more enjoyable? Or anything else on the side he can pick up, even if it’s just a hobby? I once worked in London at a rather dull job, but because my life-outside-of-work was so busy and fulfilling the dull job didn’t matter. I know that’s easier said than done with two small children to care for, but there might be something that Chase can pursue that is life-giving outside of work.
All the best, you have extra time to prepare for your adventure!
I know it’s hard to hear but I agree about delaying the quitting. Health insurance and a stable income are not worth giving up right now, especially since your tenants could stop paying rent and you’d be hard pressed to pay your other mortgages.
Also another thing to keep in mind is a lot of hospital systems rely on scheduled surgeries to make money, and no one is doing that now with COVID. as a result, many health systems across the country are now forcing staff to take pay cuts. My SIL is low enough on totem pole as a hospital admin in a Cleveland area hospital so she didn’t have to take a pay cut but she had to take forced PTO and things might be different next fiscal year (starts July). I have seen nurses having to take 10-20% pay cuts in spite of working in a super dangerous field right now, so I just would be careful about thinking nursing is going to be ok in the future.
First of all, great work on where you’re at, Emily and Chase. My thoughts on your first three questions are as follows:
1) Given the current pandemic which is causing a black swan globally, I’d probably hold off on these plans until there is a bit more certainty. If you’re set on this being your course of action, three to six more months shouldn’t derail or deter you. Chase will also have additional opportunities for gig economy as lockdowns loosen up.
2) I’d be looking for a real release in the lockdown, particularly in whichever areas you wind up looking to travel. Not sure how much control you have over where the travel leads you, but this is a serious concern at the moment.
3) I’d be looking to let go of anything you don’t need. The last thing you want to be doing is worrying about your stuff in storage (and paying to store it) while you’re on the move.
Other than that, you’re definitely on the right track with everything and it’s obvious the two of you have been working well together to build up your finances!
Sorry if I missed it but I couldnt see how much you are each contributing to your 401k and 403b per month. For your age the savings in those seem rather modest suggesting that you might not be contributing the max. While you are waiting for better times I would recommend contributing more so that you will reach FI more quickly With the market being now is a great time to buy in. I am not a financial expert but I have witnessed my 401k grow nicely and am really glad I have made sure to contribute the max by reducing my spending.
I agree with comments already made and FW recommendations. Why not wait this thing out for a year, and in the meantime, use it to test drive living in an RV? Perhaps you could rent one for a period over the summer, or a couple periods over the next year, even doing long weekend trips, to see what it would be like. It seems RV living would be a great way to continue to live frugally; would provide a home base for you and your kids (including a permanent place for their toys and home school area!); can go anywhere you go (people might even rent RV spots on their city lots – we’ve seen it done); and might make for a more worry free place to house small children (it might get stressful having to worry about your kids not doing anything to an Airbnb – I know my 3 year old is not the lightest treading person ever.)
Lastly, if you’re into the idea of RV living, you could take this next year to refurbish one to exactly fit your needs. There’s all kinds of cool DIY and Pinterest info on updating RV for living with kids. It seems like you’re a family into DIY projects, so why not create your future mobile home together? Might make the transition easier for the kids when the time comes by having a physical reminder of the upcoming changes and participation in it. They could help create a special home for your very exciting upcoming adventures!
Best of luck in whatever you decide!
P.S. furnished finder is a great housing resource for traveling professionals.
P.P.S. If you do decide to move forward with the plan, now might not be as bad of a time to sell your house as it may seem. Our friends just put their house on the market this weekend and had 7 offers in 1 day and just accepted an offer 35k over asking. They are in Portland, OR, which isn’t a particularly hot market right now (like everywhere else these days…)
This may be a fluke, but might be worth talking to local agents to get their read on the market in your area now. There is less stock everywhere and potentially more people looking than houses on the market – especially with the low rates available. Just a thought.
Thank you for the RV encouragement. We agree this would probably be the best option but are still nervous thinking about them. If we spent some real time with research and even tried one our for a while I think the nervous would go away.
There have been a lot of comments already about delaying, so I don’t feel there is anything I can add to that, other than encouraging you to look at the next year as a time for more preparation, in finding online work, and hopefully training in a specialty with more demand for travel Nurses, and testing out RV living and home schooling. Having goals may help make the waiting easier.
Regarding the Airbnb, there are a lot of people looking to leave hotspots (NYC, etc) but concerned they don’t have anywhere to self isolate before going to stay with Aging parents or other vulnerable friends and family members. Would you consider renting your Airbnb for 2-week stints for people to self-isolate? It might work out well since there is a separate entrance and they could be completely isolated from you while having someone upstairs who could pick up groceries and leave them at the door. It might not be as lucrative as summer Airbnb stays, but could get some revenue and provide a needed service.
Add me to the list of people who is shocked that Liz didn’t bring up the fact that most of the family doesn’t have real health insurance! Please make that a priority!!! Not sure how that would work with travel nursing but that could be another reason it’s a non-starter! And have you considered what the property management costs will be for the rentals once you start traveling? Once you’re not able to do maintenance or repairs yourself, the profitability of many rentals starts to evaporate.
Also add me to the list of people who worry about little kids handling moving around so much. The kiddos in my life are much happier when they’re in their routine. Yes, they like exploring and trying new things, but it takes a toll if they’re doing it too much.
All that can be said on timing has been said.
a wanted to clarify a few other points from my limited but relevant experience. I also live in Kansas City and have about 20’ish rental properties half of which I rent on Airbnb. I also have a wife and 2 kids and we have been planning to move to Spain in 2 years for a 3 year sabbatical so I know how much effort goes into hatching such a complex plan. when pandemic took over our lives I thought about how it might effect our financials two years out. I feel the disappointment of delaying a plan you have worked hard for.
our airbnb’s have been robust during pandemic. we rent minimum of 30 days and get lots of contract workers, self employed, others who have sold houses and new house is not ready, those in middle of remodel who don’t want to live in it. etc, etc. those life situations continue in pandemic. specific to pandemic I have had multiple requests for in town people who could not spend so much time with spouses and needed a break to avoid divorce (no joke). I also had parents who suddenly have college kids home and don’t have room after a downsize. I have had nurses who want to be closer to hospital. (As Anne above said) Point being you don’t need to think of Airbnb as only for folks in town for wedding or concert. it is a template that rewards innovation.
secondly the real estate market has been inexplicably strong for sellers. we buy and remodel 6-10 houses a year and sell some so I pay close attention. we had 3 to sell this spring the traditionally best time to sell. when pandemic hit we feared it would be impossible so we postponed listing and watched. to my surprise so few other people were listing (compared to seasonal history) and buyers were gobbling them up in spite of pandemic. I saw 100+ list and go under contract in the 6 zip codes we do business in. we actually listed one last Friday and had 14 showings in two days and we were under contract above what I expected to get by Monday morning. obviously real estate is complex and nuanced from market to market and situation to situation. I would never paint with broad brush strokes.
I am not saying they should there fore pull up stakes. their portfolio is not ready to support them and finding solid reliable management is something I would have in place for 6-12 months while STILL in town. we travel with our family a lot and you find the weak links in your business in the most stressful ways once you leave town. things I would fix no problem when around become a major pain in ass when away relaxing with family.
you guys are smart and disciplined and many traveling adventures will come your way. I hope for your sake it is not in 2020.
Thank you for all the personal insight.
Since most people discussed timing, I’ll talk about some logistics.
As someone who has moved frequently and lived overseas while renting my home furnished, I’ll speak to storage: storage fees are expensive! We moved cities (two hours apart) one time and put everything in storage as we were just waiting for our new house to close (so two months of storage). Guess what- my amazing furniture was too big for the new house! We recently rented our home furnished and only put into storage what we felt was truly irreplaceable: a hope chest that’s been passed down for generations, tools that were hubby’s grandfather’s and things that held great sentimental value. Now, we’re fortunate to live near a big city where any day of the week (pre-pandemic) we can get amazing dining sets, dressers and whatnot for free or cheap off Craigslist, Nextdoor, etc. We also decided that we liked the low cost of a 5′ x 8′ storage unit- had our renters stayed for years and we loved living abroad so much, we wouldn’t be paying to store things we didn’t love.
If you have friends/family that were willing to let you live with them for a bit while you made the transition, I have no doubt they’d be willing to store a box of mementos for a year.
Also, when it’s time for your adventure, check out Furnished Finder and the Traveling Nurses group on Facebook. Both offer furnished rentals or info, often geared toward traveling nurses and their families. Many places will have a spot to host an RV, if that’s what you’re looking for.
Thanks for the personal insight. We were also thinking things that are great and important now might not hold the same value after living without them for a while.
I agree not to do this now. Hospitals are so in flux. In some hospitals in the city, nurses are being furloughed (MA). Our hospital isn’t doing this, but is floating nurses from closed areas (elective surgeries, ortho, etc) to COVID units and other areas of need.
I also would increase your cash savings – If I’m reading right the LLC Bank Account is money for the rentals, I would definitely increase that. If you think of it as $1500ish per door, that’s not a lot of money to cover vacancies or other repairs.
Your kids are precious. I laughed at photos of them in the grocery store… like a photo from another time given the abundance of paper towels!
This is not advise, but I just wanted to let you know that I am so happy that in fact timing has worked out “right” for you. Imagine if you had made this transition and the pandemic hit right away (had you made the transition in January, say). You really lucked out. Now you can take a step back (with the choices you have), reevaluate, and always make this transition at a future date. So happy you guys “had the right timing”.
You are 100% right. We could have ended up in a much worst situation.
My comment regards homeschooling. I sent my daughters to school as young children. Then I actually pulled them out in middle school for several reasons. This was meant to be temporary; I planned to enroll them in our local high school. Homeschooling was working out so well, however, we continued it through twelfth grade. Both children were accepted to the colleges of their choice.
My point is that you can homeschool your children when they are older, if you are so inclined, for as long or as short a time that works for you and your family. So even if traveling doesn’t work for you in the next two years it is still very doable.
I think it is wonderful that you have built such a strong financial foundation for yourselves at a young age!
Thanks for the encouragement.
I agree with you Tonya. It’s too bad there cannot be more comments and discussions similar to yours.
I feel like when they are kindly brought up, people get immediately defensive and claim you are attacking them or the blogger.
At first I was surprised by how out of touch folks have been during this pandemic both in real life and online, but then I remind myself of how truly out of touch, blind and spoiled our society has always been……and I should not really be so shocked….
I have given up really in feeling like there is hope in educating people to the realities that they should see, and should have been aware of all along.
Tonya and K, I heartily disagree with your comments that people engaging in discussions such as these are “out of touch” or “tone deaf”. In fact, I think this blog and case study demonstrate the exact opposite. When people take responsibility for their financial lives and find ways to adapt in uncertain times and to support each other in doing so, I think this epitomizes “being in touch” and those who do certainly are not “spoiled”. Finding a community to openly discuss ideas and problem solve is empowering and productive.
Right, and your response reinforces the motivation for my initial comment. You’ve only added “words” to the same old story of “I am surrounded by people just like me, I am ok”
And ignoring the reality that exists differently for so many…..no matter their level of responsibility and support.
When the knee jerk reaction is to immediately become defensive when one might be faced with some accountability…..that’s a problem.
But don’t worry I don’t visit this blog often, you’ll all be fine.
Why do you assume people you don’t even know “ignore the reality that exists differently for so many”? This thread is in no way a complete snapshot of other peoples awareness nor does participating in this discussion mean we aren’t engaged in our communities in other ways. It seems judgmental to say that “if you discuss this specific issue (which by the way is the subject of this blog), you cannot care about others who may be in more precarious situations”. I have lost my income and we are in a vastly different boat economically due to the pandemic. But, I am still trying to put the pieces together the best I can. And, I do find ways to support and help others in my community. I am in no way “unaware” of the suffering and uncertainty that exists.
1. As commenters above mentioned, Christian Healthcare Ministries are NOT health insurance. I would strongly recommend adding Emily & the kids to Chase’s plan during open enrollment or sooner if possible.
2. If Chase is on a HDHP, make sure to max the HSA for the triple-tax benefit: https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/091615/how-use-your-hsa-retirement.asp
3. With the current low interest rates, have you investigated refinancing your mortgage(s)? I’d expect you’d be able to find lower than your current 4% rates, at least on the primary residence
4. It’s unclear to me if / how much you’re contributing to Roth IRAs. If you haven’t, you should do so for the both of you for 2019; with the tax extension, you now have until July. I would preference this over Brokerage account thanks to tax advantages.
RN here for 26 years. I have done everything in my field that I have wanted to. I am currently in long term care which is secure. My kids are 12&16. The only thing I have not done is travel. When my kids are gone I will have plenty of time to do that. My goal is to be mortgage free at 50 in 18 mos. I then can help my kids go to college and come out debt free. There is a lot to be said about my frugal lifestyle. You have plenty of time to travel. Best of luck.
Sounds like a great plan, bad timing. I believe you’ll get there when things calm down, and I wish you the best of luck!
I 100% agree with Mrs. Frugalwoods’ recommendations. I have also been looking at greatly changing my life situation (hi, I was last month’s case study) and I have the long-term goal of being nomadic and living the FIRE life. (Admittedly my FIRE number is MUCH smaller than yours, but I’m only one person.) I am putting those things on hold for now because of the pandemic and the downturn. There are a lot of financial experts saying that we should expect this to be far worse than 2008, potentially a bad as the 1920s. I would recommend holding tight, bringing in as much additional income as you (safely) can right now, and preparing for the worst. If the best happens and this all washes over in a few months then, awesome, you are now just in a much better financial position to go on your adventures! But if the worst happens, you won’t be in as bad of a situation as many people are. I’m an engineer, not an epidemiologist, but from talking to my friends in virology/healthcare and from just looking at the numbers, I am preparing for this to be happening for a while. I cancelled my trips for this summer and am looking forward to having a nice long adventure (hopefully) next summer where I can keep myself and others safe. In terms of the when, I am basically looking for when public health officials give the all clear which will probably be when either a) There is a vaccine, b) There is a steady, reliable treatment option for the virus, c) The virus has been driven to extinction, or d) The virus mutates again to become less dangerous. But who knows with how quickly everything is changing right now.
The travel specific stuff I feel like I can give more precise advice on:
In terms of selling/storing items: This is a super personal choice and it really depends on y’all and the costs in your area, as well as how valuable your time is to you. Selling things involves and investment of time and energy to sort through things, list them for sale, have people stand you up on sales, actually sell them… storing them just involves packing them away and transporting them. Some people choose to sell almost everything and start over anew when they get back from a big trip, some people store EVERYTHING. It all depends on the people involved in terms of which one is right. Donation involves some of the same headaches as selling, but not all of them, just with the trade off of getting a 0% ROI.
Vehicles: I would recommend looking into RV life. It would be very doable with small kids and if you’re looking at doing this for three years, it could be VERY worth it. For example, you can easily get a previously owned RV in good condition for about 40K. Split that up over three years, and that’s only $1111/month. About what you pay right now in your mortgage. Now, you will have to pay for a rental spot to park it, but it takes away a lot of the headaches of finding short term rental houses, allows you to still have your own, stable place (good for kids), and depending on where you are planning on going, it may be way cheaper than actual rent for a house. Plus, you can definitely find one for cheaper than 40K if you are willing to put in some work.
In terms of socializing, it really depends on what all you and your family are wanting to do and where you are, but there are lots of easy ways to get involved. Go to the local library for storytimes, book clubs, and playtimes! Check the schedule for the local rec center for classes (for all ages) or join recreation clubs like pick up sports games and local hiking clubs. Facebook is a great way to start making connections with people in advance so that you can have social activities already lined up when you get there. Couchsurfing (the website) is also a great option. It is primarily for… well… finding places to crash, but there is also a social aspect and activities aimed at meeting new people, specifically for people who may not be in an area for very long, are constantly posted for most cities of decent size.
On a happier end note, congrats on being in the situation you are in! You have clearly been working really hard for this and I very much appreciate the work you have put in. Good job, y’all. 🙂
Thank you for all the insight and recommendations on so many topics.
I agree this all needs to be postponed. But for the future, have you that of working overseas in the ME? Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi could be an option, they recruit western trained nurses. Also other private hospitals in Dubai. Typically companies in ME pay kids school/nursery fees too and tax free salary + free housing. Could be a lucrative option for international travel.
I wonder why Chase & Emily never respond to any of the concerns regarding their health insurance situation . I would be scared, especially during this time, many people ill, high costs and Emily working in an area with a high risk catching covid.
Another point (although it is very honorable) they spend a very very high amount every month for charity.
Maybe they consider to reduce this amount and use some of this money to pay off one of the mortgages.
I was wondering the same thing, especially since multiple people have stated the same concerns.
Yes – I wondered the same thing. While the overall financial picture is pretty solid, there’s actually a lot of potential risk in these numbers associated with the lack of health insurance and very slim rental margins. While the charitable giving is laudable, it seems as though at least some of that monthly expense should be diverted to paying down mortgage debt and changing to a less risky healthcare plan for the family. Also 4% mortgage interest is pretty high for right now, so refinancing for lower rates (and maybe shorter terms) while both partners have stable employment would probably be a good idea.
Hi. I’m a NICU nurse, also in the KC area. Just made the transistion from being PRN (working 1 day/week) to weekend option (working 2 weekend shifts, but getting paid for 3) in November, when my husband quit his job to be a stay at home dad/homemaker. (We also homeschool our 4 kids.) The change has been remarkable in lowering our stress levels. My husband is so much happier and I actually have some free time now. My position is benefits eligible, so we have insurance for the family and retirement contributions. Basically, going from working one night per week to two covers what he was earning at his previous job. Are you (Emily) able to switch into full time or weekend option at your job and then Chase can quit his? Maybe put the travel nursing on hold, but I wouldn’t have Chase keep working a job that makes him miserable. I really didn’t expect how much happier we would be after my husband quit his job. We would have done it lots earlier if we had known.
Also, have you considered a skoolie instead of an RV? Costs might be considerably less if you can DIY your own conversion.
Just wanted to say I agree with person above who said it’s definitely doable in elementary years — and in my opinion, more fun. We took our two out of school to homeschool in their 2nd and 3rd (and for younger one, 1st and 2nd) grade years, simply as a lifestyle choice. Never intended it to be forever, but we both had flexible work at the time and we taught them ourselves … which for us meant tons of regional travel for history and environmental science experiences (we would study and read about something and then go see it. We met a lot of people and the kids had lots of conversations with folks to bolster what we got from books). It was SO much fun! To me going places and seeing things firsthand was the very best part of homeschooling and I’m so happy we did it. If you wait and they’re a little older you can do a lot out there that they will remember.