My wife and I sold our home in Texas and started traveling the world with our 4-year-old to find a new place to live. We’ve been to 29 countries so far.

Jimmy, Brooke, and Isla Sweeney are traveling the world together to find their dream home.

Jimmy and Brooke Sweeney decided to leave Fort Worth, Texas, with their 4-year-old daughter, Isla.They’ve been traveling the world to find a home that fits their lifestyle since June 2023.They have visited 29 countries so far and spend an average of less than $200 a day.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Jimmy Sweeney, a 31-year-old dad who has been traveling the world with his wife, Brooke, and 4-year-old daughter, Isla, to find a new home since June 2023. The conversation was edited for length and clarity.

Brooke and I have always loved traveling, and having a kid, we knew we didn’t want to change that. We went to Australia and New Zealand a week after we found out Brooke was pregnant.

We lived in Fort Worth, Texas, and there was a lot we loved about it. It’s a larger city but still has a small-town feel. We loved our neighborhood. We had some great friends. But ultimately, we realized that long-term, it wasn’t where we felt we fit.

I’ve been to over 40 states, and while there are places we love, they all fall under this cultural umbrella that we feel like we are battling against often. Because of that and knowing that we didn’t want to send our kid to school in Texas, given the state of education and the attacks that have been happening on public schooling in the state, we started to look around.

Given our stage of life, we were like, “Why not take the time and go see the world and try to see if there’s somewhere that we just fall in love with?”

We sold our house and started our journey in Europe

We put our house on the market in April of last year. It took seven months to sell.

We should have closed a week before we left, but as housing contracts do, it fell through. We had to carry that along with us as we traveled, but it worked out.

The Sweeneys at the Great Wall of China.

A big thing was getting a storage unit and selling our stuff. We did a month straight of garage sales.

When we left Texas, we went to my parents’ house in Florida for about a month. While we were there, we decided we would start in Europe.

We’ve been to 29 countries so far.

We’re looking for a place that invests in public spaces, that creates a communal culture around people feeling like they can be out and about. Having public transit, being walkable, and having schools that align with the schooling we want our child to have are also important.

We want to settle somewhere by the time our kid needs to start school. Long-term, we want our kid to feel stable and have a place where they can make friends.

We have tried to match what we spent in the US

I’m a stay-at-home dad. Brooke still works for the same company she did in the US.

When we were in the States, she worked hybrid remote, and when she told them she was going to leave, they asked her to move into a role that was more like project management. She has adapted to that, allowing her to work remotely full-time.

We were just going to travel and have the money from selling our house, but it’s been nice for her to be working, obviously financially, because then we get to save more. But at the same time, it also gives a little more structure to our days.

We have tried to match what we spent in the US, but in different ways because we don’t have a mortgage, energy bills, or a car payment.

Jimmy, Isla, and Brooke Sweeney at the Jiufen Teahouse in Taiwan.

I’ve tried to stay under $100 a night for lodging. In 29 countries so far and 60-ish cities, there have maybe been five or six where I’ve had to do a lot of digging to get to that. As a family, we don’t have the option to stay in the hostels like many other long-term travelers.

For the most part, we pay between $50 and $75 a night for lodging, which typically gets us a space with a washer, dryer, and a small kitchen. For food and experiences, we also try to stay under $100 a day.

Jimmy and Isla Sweeney at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.

It’s different traveling long-term than being on vacation. We’re not doing excursions every day, drinking alcohol with every meal, or going out to a bar every night. We are looking for parks, libraries, and free museums.

We don’t spend as much on experiences as you would if you were just coming to a place for a week or two. It depends on how long we stay in one place, which can be days or weeks. We spent multiple weeks in New Zealand, Australia, and Japan.

Grocery shopping is a great way to learn about the seasonality of ingredients in a place and to see and learn about the rhythms of many people. Are you running out to the grocery to grab stuff every day just for dinner that night, or is it more like an American-style thing where you’re bulk shopping for a week at a time? And you get to know the prices that way as well.

We also love to go to bookstores and libraries. Seeing the stories kids in a place are growing up with is a great way to learn about a culture. That’s engaging for our kid, and she loves that, but it’s also great for us to see what parents do with their kids throughout the week.

We’ve loved a lot of places so far

It doesn’t take long to understand whether you relate to or feel a part of somewhere. There are places that you can easily cross off a list.

We love Kuala Lumpur, but you walk outside for five minutes and your entire body is dripping sweat. We have done that for enough of our lives that we’re like, “Rainy season in Southeast Asia is not what we’re going to insert ourselves into.”

A lot of it comes with figuring out if moving there is a possibility.

Several places have opened up digital nomad visas. We enjoyed Spain a lot, and they have a digital nomad visa. But you’re conflicted about the impact of moving somewhere and seeing a place that has felt the impact of the number of people immigrating there and protecting the local population.

In places like Denmark, Australia, and New Zealand, the entry point is getting a job, and that’s not necessarily easy or hard. It’s just a thing.

Language is also a big consideration. Even if many places conduct business in English, if we’re moving to a non-English-speaking country, there’s a gap in making friends in the workplace or elsewhere. Some languages are harder to learn than others.

We love that we get to bring our kid alongside us

One thing that we especially try to show with sharing our travels is that it is much more approachable with kids than you might think, especially with food.

Every kid in the world enjoys chicken tenders and french fries. You’ll be able to find that somewhere or some derivative of it that looks similar. Whether the rice looks slightly different or it’s a different seasoning on the chicken, those things become a gateway to her trying new foods.

When you’re traveling in general, you see how much more similar we are in our day-to-day routines than you might have the perception of.

Isla and Brooke Sweeney in Goreme, Türkiye.

Kids are growing up everywhere. People have to learn and adapt to what to do with their kids, and it’s not that different from what we do in the US.

We love that we get to bring our kid alongside us in this and experience it with her.

Travel should change us

Next year, we’ll look toward continuing to travel some and being in the job application phase.

Or if digital nomad is what we need to do for a little while, doing that.


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♬ original sound – jimmy&brooke&isla

Ultimately, it’s about embracing a culture, learning its history, and becoming part of it. That’s my biggest hope for us at the end of this.

Traveling and experiencing new cultures should change us. It should have a lasting effect on how we conduct ourselves and live our lives.

The Sweeney family at Amber Palace in Jaipur, India.

In many ways, that’s what led us on this journey. And maybe that journey for you isn’t moving out of the city, out of state, or out of the country. Maybe it just means small things you incorporate into your day-to-day that help you live a more fulfilling routine.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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