Yes, you read that right. After 10+ years of marriage, 18 moves, and traveling full time for the past year—we have finally done the one thing we swore we wouldn’t do anytime soon…
We bought a house!
I know a lot of you are asking…”So what does this mean? Are you done traveling? Are you finally ready to settle down and be normal?”
Geesh, people. I wouldn’t go that far!
We will never be normal. We’ve proved that! I’ve never been completely normal and neither has my husband. Whew! So, ease your minds.
We lived a seasonal life in Alaska for 7 years, then lived as expats in Mexico for two years, and then have spent the past year living abroad in places like Germany, Spain, Thailand, Bali, etc. Those experiences have been wonderful and we haven’t regretted them for a second! But those experiences have also helped us finally come to realize that there are certain aspects of a “home” life that we strongly desire, and we have realized we can’t fulfill those desires while living or traveling abroad. Earlier this year I wrote about how I mourned the loss of my children’s American Childhood, and while I focused on the positives of the different lifestyle my children were enjoying, another part of me really did continue to wish they could have some of the things that I still valued.
In many ways, it’s the living abroad and traveling that sent us on a fast track to search for the “perfect” home base that could meet all of our newly-formed requirements. Sure, we considered whether we could meet all of these requirements as expats in a foreign country, but finally realized that no other place fit the bill. Our list, in no particular order, had requirements such as:
- Access to outdoor recreation (bicycling, hiking, swimming, rafting, camping, etc).
- The ability to enjoy some good ole’ American sports, so we can continue to be active (top priority for Jared—basketball—although I much prefer soccer)!
- We want perfect weather! Come on…why set your standards too low? We were looking for no humidity, little or no snow, comfortable winters, and summers that aren’t too hot and encourage us to be outside.
- Nice roads to drive on, with plenty of nearby places to explore and enjoy (remember, Jared’s a die-hard overland explorer!).
- The opportunity to compost, and have our own garden to grow produce to our heart’s content (fruit trees, tomatoes, greens, etc)!
- The resources and space to have a food storage and emergency plan (we want a way to support ourselves if we loose all electricity, internet, and food resources become scarce).
- We want a safe and secure space for our children to be outdoors so they can explore nature, use more creative play, and learn an appreciation for the world around them. This was a big part of our childhood, and is a very high priority for us.
- We want to be surrounded by beauty. We’ve learned we are not desert people. We like lush green forests, rivers and lakes, and rolling mountains!
- We want to be in a functional church congregation where we can be involved not just in weekly meetings, but we can also contribute our talents and truly enjoy taking part in activities and worship services. Having a strong Primary program for our children is a must!
- We want access to a variety of food ingredients. I love to cook and want to be able to purchase any healthy ingredients, spices and grains that I want (this was nearly impossible while traveling)!
- On that same line of thought, we also now value diversity of food options. It can get old to live in a place with only one food type. For example, we want to be able to have access to Italian, Thai, Chinese, and MEXICAN food (believe me—access to Tex-Mex was seriously one of Jared’s top priorities).
- We want to speak English as a first language. It’s awesome to learn a second language, and we sincerely want to to keep up our Spanish—however—there is something special about living in a place where you can communicate all of your needs and make friends with people who understand you culturally, as well!
- We want to live in a community with like-minded (i.e. crunchy/granola) people who support homeschooling, appreciate natural approaches to healthcare, love gardening, and have eco-friendly attitudes. In short, we like quirky people!
- Affordable housing is a must. We want to purchase a home with property, without breaking the bank (our goal is to OWN it free and clear in 5 years).
With these above things in mind (and surely many more that I’ve missed) Jared dove into his research mode and pinpointed a single region in the entire US that might possibly fit the bill—Southern Oregon. Every other place had something that wouldn’t work (too hot, too cold, too humid, too expensive, etc). We set our sights on Southern Oregon, and started house hunting online. We’d never been there before, and of course worries crossed our mind, “What if we don’t like it? There are no choices left!”
The good news is, when we visited Southern Oregon in early June we discovered it is exactly the right fit for us (quirky people and all)! Not only that, we found the perfect home that fits our requirements. It has over 3 1/2 acres of land (including a large beautifully manicured lawn and immense wooded area with a playhouse for the kids), and is just the right size for our family. We are ecstatic to move there in a few months (we are currently enjoying the hospitality of family in Utah as we wait for the arrival of baby #4…and we didn’t want to give up our great midwife)!
Meanwhile, the house has closed—and is officially ours! We have renters there for the next few months, and we are already making lists of all of the things we’ll need to purchase to fill it. After all, a year ago we sold almost all of our belongs—with the exception of quilts, photo albums, and some kitchen items!
With that in mind, we hope that we can always keep the perspective that we have gained from the road so that we don’t get overcome with the commercialism of the US. We’ve long been a fan of “Less is More,” and we wholeheartedly agree with our friend’s article about the importance of collecting experiences instead of stuff!
The thing is, having this “home” will help us build and collect some experiences that we haven’t yet been able to enjoy in life! And it certainly doesn’t mean we’ll give up our gypsy lifestyle in its entirety. The goal is that starting in a year or so we’ll travel in the winters for 2-5 months at a time (much more sustainable than the full-time travel that we found physically and emotionally tiring). We think having the balance between a home and traveling will help us better appreciate both worlds. We still value giving our children a multicultural education, and we don’t intend to give that up! We want our children to continue to learn about people and places all over the globe—and have unique experiences that will help them define important values and goals in life! We don’t want “normal” kids, or a “normal” life, for that matter.
As I was telling my father the other day…
“We’re not going for normal. If we achieve normal, then we have failed!”
So…have no fear! The home is purchased, and it is just another tool to help us achieve our American Dream—the freedom to choose!