Q&A With a Nomadic Family

We did a podcast interview, http://www.nomadtopia.com/kalliandjacob/  with Amy from Nomadtopia; however, some questions we didn’t have time for so I’ll type them up here.

What does your Nomadtopia look like?

My ideal lifestyle is one in which I could have a base but easily travel to other countries when I felt like dropping everything and taking a trip.

It includes a way for me to feel like I’m making a difference in the local community.

I have trustworthy household help.

The local cuisine is unendingly tasty and full of restaurants and grocery stores.

There is an extensive public transportation network.

The cost of living is reasonable.

There is a good school for my son to attend.

There are local festivals and plenty of things to see and do in the surrounding area.

It doesn’t get too cold.

The locals are kind and friendly. There are English speaking people to befriend.

It’s accessible to go back home and see family.

The closest place that matches all of these requirements is Mexico.

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     The Zocalo, Mexico City

Your son was born in Mexico—what was it like to have a baby in another country? What tips would you have for others considering a similar path?

I had a positive experience in Mexico City. There are several types of hospitals there. I chose the natural birth-friendly hospital where they offer waterbirths. I was lucky because when it was time to go to the hospital, it was the middle of the night, so there was no traffic. There was a language barrier for me, my Spanish is basic, but Jacob was able to do any translating necessary. My son now has dual citizenship. I would use the same doctor again if I had the opportunity.  My appointments with him always started late, but then he took as much time to answer any questions I had as I wanted. This was my experience in Mexico. Time was less important than the quality of the relationship.

I would suggest looking up the countries that do provide second citizenship. There are also some countries who do not provide citizenship, but do provide residency. This is a gift you can give your child. Should my son want to one day, he can own land, or live in Mexico. You will have to decide what you value. Mexico City has a lot of pollution, that’s a downside when you’re pregnant. But it also has the best doctors in the country as the capital city. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons and what makes you most comfortable, because being pregnant abroad can be emotionally stressful. It was important for me to connect with other English speakers, which I was able to do in such a cosmopolitan area. I knew I needed an in person support network, not just online.

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7 months pregnant in Mexico City

You’re now settled in Cape Town, South Africa, for several years. How did that come about?

We’ll be here for two years. It sort of just fell into place, the way it so often seems to do for us nomadic folk. I met my best friend from high school who is now our real estate agent on a holiday in the US. She encouraged me to get back into my music and I remembered my dream of studying music therapy. We happened to be going to Cape Town after that and I asked to shadow a music therapist there. She told me about the program they have here. I decided to apply, especially since Jacob and I had both fallen in love with South Africa. We were granted the visa literally three hours before our flight left. It just felt meant to be.

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Ryder’s ‘sister’

What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve dealt with since deciding to settle down for a while, and how did you handle it?

For me it’s been a very natural step. I am continuing to travel almost every month to other cities within South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, and Swaziland. We have some surprise countries planned in January that I haven’t told Jacob where they are yet. As a bonus we now have a pet guinea pig. We are part of a church community and are regulars at the gym. The challenge is to slowly build closer friendships. I have a meetup group on meetup.com; and I’ve met some people through the gym and Ryder’s school. There is also some culture shock when it comes to the people. I find myself missing the down to earth, openness, and honest rawness of Texans. There is a lot of mistrust here for historical and political reasons, and it requires keeping one’s guard up to an extent for safety reasons. That can be disappointing when you come with lofty ideals about human nature and the goodness of people, but there are difficult problems here in this country to which there are no easy answers. Safety is the biggest concern in this country. We chose to live somewhere with 24 hour security guards and cameras. As part of my music therapy course, I travel to the gang-afflicted areas of town—and you just have to accept it is part of the lifestyle here that one must stay alert at all times. But we knew that going into staying here. I think it was easier for me to decide on this place because we’ve been to all seven continents and have traveled now for almost 10 years. By this time I can recognize something special.

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Skyping from Pretoria

Any advice for others considering settling down in one place for a while?

If you have something meaningful that you’re contributing to in the local community, the time will fly by. Volunteering, building a business, teaching English, supporting causes and groups. It also helps to settle in a place that you truly love and feel like you can’t get bored of it. It’s of top priority for me that my son feels connected with friends. When he has achieved that, I also feel more grounded and comfortable.

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Having a pet is grounding too

I saw a post on your blog about how you were enjoying hosting Couchsurfers while living in Vienna, and I also hosted lots of Couchsurfers while I lived in Buenos Aires. How long ago was that, and what did you like about the experience?

We have hosted in a few places where we felt like our landlords wouldn’t mind. Most recently, it was in Peru. That was  a couple of years ago. Now our au pair and her daughter live with us in our two bedroom apartment, so it’s quite a full house. But I’ve surfed myself in Pretoria. I chose to do it since I had to go out there several times a year anyway. It’s the best way to make instant friends and see the different ways people live. I’ve continued to stay in touch with several of our hosts and surfers over the years.

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Couchsurfers from Malaysia in Vienna

Can you share a few packing tips or strategies have helped you over the years?

I enjoy reversible clothing to save space. –Jacob can answer this better than me because if I have an extra bag, I’ll fill it to the brim. I love heavy things, like real books and liquid makeup, and I’ll carry it with me rather than leave it behind.

I also saw your recent blog post about Dressing Your Truth and It’s Just My Nature, which caught my eye because I just recently learned about all this and took Carol’s course! I didn’t know she also talked about countries having Types; it’s an interesting concept.

I ran into her organically since she’s based out of Utah and that’s where Jacob and I met. I’m a type one, and I do love type 1 countries. They’re my favorite ones, including India and Mexico. The Philippines is another type 1 country. My secondary is type 3. I think Latin American countries are type 3. The type 4 countries can come across so serious and black and white to me it feels a little stifling, but I still am drawn to them, Germany and Japan come to mind.

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Type 1’s are supposed to wear light materials-even winter jackets-because the energy is up, up, up as Carol told me. This jacket I’m wearing from my freshman year of college suits the description.

Kalli Hiller

Article by Kalli Hiller

Kalli Hiller is a voluntary vagabond who, with her husband Jacob, has traveled full time for the last eight years.

Kalli has written 369 awesome articles for us.

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