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3 Lessons from My 33rd Year and Moving Abroad

3 lessons from moving abroad

From selling our first home to buying a house in El Salvador to prepping another house for rental to driving to El Salvador with our three dogs and a trailer to countless issues-turned-adventures upon arrival, emotional growth, discomfort, and transformation… salsa dancing, sunsets, and motorcycle rides, this year has been FULL of experience and growth.

I just had a birthday and Cory and I spent some time going through old photos from when we first started dating. It’s crazy to look back on that time of life. How we looked, what we did, the growth we hadn’t experienced yet, the future that lay before us…

It made me feel hopeful for the girl that I was in those photos, and it made me even more excited for the future that lay ahead of me now.

But my birthday also provided a great opportunity to pause and reflect on this past year specifically… and it’s been a wild one.

So, today, I’d like to share with you my top 3 lessons from my 33rd year and moving abroad to El Salvador.


I stopped watching the news about 10 years ago and, sometimes, when I tell people they express genuine shock. “How do you know what’s going on in the world?” they ask. And the truth is - if it’s important enough, someone will tell me. But beyond that, I find that usually whatever the news is saying and my experience in the world do not align; therefore I do not trust it. I’d rather save mental space for the things that I know to be true based on my own experience, as well as the things that are within my control.

On that note, a few years ago I stumbled upon a meditation from Michael Beckwith that put it well. He says something along the lines of “The news shows you the lowest common denominator. If you just watch the news, you think everyone in the world is out to rob, hurt, and kidnap you; but that’s not true. Most people in the world want the same thing - they want a peaceful life, to make sure their kids are okay, and to go to sleep feeling safe.”

I deeply felt this this past year with our move to El Salvador, starting with the drive down from Texas through Mexico and Guatemala. If you do an online search or hear almost anything on the news about Mexico, Guatemala, or El Salvador, horrifying things pop up, and, based on that, Cory and I had many friends and family express genuine concern for us when we told them we planned to drive to El Salvador with our 3 dogs and a trailer full of stuff. There were moments when I really reconsidered and almost decided not to do it.

But then I remembered the Michael Beckwith meditation. And I remembered that I truly believe in my heart that that is the real way of the world - that most people are not out to harm one another. Of course, there are some - and it’s the same in the United States. But, in my own experience, whether in the US or anywhere else in the world I’ve visited, 95% of the people I’ve come into contact with are just normal people… most of them are even kind. But none of that 95% have tried to hurt me.

It was based on that belief that I ultimately decided to go through with the road trip to El Salvador. And I’m so glad I did. It was such a fun adventure that Cory and I now get to remember as a precious memory that we will treasure forever.

I’m a natural introvert anyway, but when you don’t speak the language it puts you in a position of observation, and simply sitting and watching people during the drive down here, and since we’ve started living here, has been incredible. The laughter, the hugging, the playing, the excitement. It’s incredible how much you can understand without even comprehending the words being spoken.

There are so many, but let me tell you about one of my favorite memories since moving here. One day, our friends invited us to a little beach BBQ party on the night of a meteor shower. After serving us delicious food and rum with fresh-cut strawberries floating among the ice, we hung out for a while. We made broken conversation with the sweet elders with the little Spanish we knew and they smiled shyly at us when it got awkward because we’d run out of words. It’s amazing what nervous laughter can communicate and the empathy it can bring with it - sometimes you don’t need words at all.

Suddenly one of the kids saw a meteor streak across the sky and they squealed with laughter. They lay on their back in the sand with their parents. Slowly more and more people wandered over and laid down in the sand and, before long, the entire party was sprawled out in a giant pile, howling with laughter every time another star went shooting across the sky.

It warms my heart to think back on that - the simple joy of being around others, enjoying their company, and experiencing nature. Go anywhere in the world and I bet you’ll find something similar: people wanting to be around one another, laugh, and experience something special together.


“Be kind to your body and it will be kind to you.” This quote comes from a beautiful, kind soul we crossed paths with here in El Salvador. Her name is Liza and, originally from Portugal, she’s spent the last 8 years traveling the world, teaching yoga and giving the best massages you could imagine. She spent her career in banking and she’s a lovely example that it’s never too late to change your life if you want to.

If you’ve traveled, you know that when you visit new places, there are all kinds of local goodies to try. The different foods and flavors and methods of cooking are one of the great gifts of travel!

Well, MOVING to a new country in many ways feels like being on a long vacation; there are all KINDS of treats we’ve been trying, more regularly than I’d care to admit. And, in many cases, we’ve paid for it.

Also, finding a new healthy routine has been somewhat difficult. Coming from a place where we went to a fancy fitness club multiple times a week with whatever equipment we wanted, classes, a sauna, and a pool, it’s been interesting to find our way here.

But I’ve learned to pay attention to my body and what it needs. I know when I eat bread, I get headaches. I know when I eat sugar, I get tired. I know when I’m on the computer too much, my eyes hurt. And I know when I don’t sleep enough, I’m more likely to eat crap.

And, more than anything, I’ve learned about burnout. Sure, there are events to attend here, but one of the beautiful things about this area is that there’s not always a whole lot going on. In Austin, it seemed like there was some event we could go to every single night, whether it was live music or a crypto meet-up or whatever. But here, it’s not that often… which is a good thing because it frees up time. But, for me, it can be dangerous because, with more free time, I tend to over-rotate into my work.

In May, I worked myself into a bad case of burnout where I ended up sick and had no motivation whatsoever for 2 months as a result.

After that experience in particular, I remembered Liza’s words and used them as a mantra: “Be kind to your body and it will be kind to you.” With those words echoing in my mind more regularly these days, it’s been easier to prioritize a balanced lifestyle, with a heavy focus on healthy eating, rest & relaxation, and movement. And yes, some work - but not too much.


This was the hardest lesson for me because you know I’m Type A and I love a good plan.

But from the moment we pulled out of our driveway in Austin to begin our road trip from Texas to El Salvador, almost nothing went according to plan. If you haven’t heard the full story of our road trip through Central America, it’s a good one.

But even on that very first day, we left before dawn to get to the Mexico border at sunrise only to be told that we could not enter for reasons I still cannot fully understand. We spent 4 hours going back and forth with the Mexican border agents and ultimately had to drive 5 hours East to another border crossing. So the entire first day of our trip was spent just driving around Texas; we never made it to Mexico.

Another big thing that didn’t work out the way we’d planned was our rental house in Austin. We spent 6 months and thousands of dollars getting it ready for Airbnb while we are here in El Salvador. The company we hired to manage it for us said, based on typical occupancy of the area where our house is, the size of the home, and relative rates, that we’d be making a sizable profit… somewhere in the ballpark of $100,000 annually.

This would have been plenty to cover all the expenses of the home, pay their management fee, and have money left over to live on here in El Salvador.

However, after 6 months, the home was performing at 25% of their projections. They said the market was too saturated. And, at 25% performance, we were bleeding money. That certainly wasn’t enough to cover costs and, because our cash flow from our businesses is low, there were many months where we had to use our emergency fund and ultimately sell some investments we weren’t planning to sell to cover the costs of that house.

As an aside, this is one example of the importance of having an emergency fund, and also of investing in a variety of different assets. Without the emergency fund and the investments, we would have had to take out a loan with interest to pay for these unexpected expenses. If we couldn’t get a loan for whatever reason, then we’d be at risk of losing the house.

I cannot overstate the importance of an emergency fund and diversified investments. This is only one lesson among many throughout our lives.

In any case, financially we could not sustain running our home in Austin as an Airbnb; we needed more reliable income. So we pivoted and ended up leasing it to long-term tenants who will be there for at least 12 months.

This also means we’ll be living in El Salvador longer than we originally planned… our initial plan was to be here for 6 months. And, when writing this, we will be staying here in El Salvador for at least a year and a half.

Other than that, every day here there are unexpected “surprises” as I’ve come to think of them.

A few highlights include the electricity going off a lot more regularly than back home. If it happens at night, we’ve learned how to cook with flashlights, candles, and headlamps on our gas stove. If it happens during the day, I’ve learned how to keep making progress on my work without the internet… or how to take that as a signal I need to take the day off.

When our fridge broke, it took 2 months to fix, and something’s wrong with one of our septic tanks right now so we can’t use our master bathroom, which means we have to use the outdoor shower and toilet.

From roof leaks to vehicle importation issues to the night Cory accidentally snapped off a wall pipe at midnight and nearly flooded the house - unexpected things happen almost every day, especially here.

I used to let stuff like this get under my skin and stress me out, and truthfully, sometimes I still do; I’m not perfect. But I found if I can shift my mindset to think of these things as an adventure and something I’ll look back on one day and laugh at, it helps change my perspective and overall experience.

More than anything, I’ve learned that adaptability is key… those who go with the flow will not only have an easier time, but much more fun. And I’m working to be one of them.


This year has been one for the books. People from all over the world have gone out of their way to be kind to us. And I hope we’ve returned the favor.

All in all, the big takeaway from this year for me is this: be willing to help others and be willing to help yourself. Whether it’s giving someone else the benefit of the doubt, choosing health for yourself, or deciding to go with the flow and be adaptable - every moment is a chance to make the next best choice.


In the spirit of helping others and helping yourself, I have a gift for you to celebrate this special year of my life: I’m linking to every free resource I’ve ever created up until now below.

These range from the usual budget calculator that I swear by, savings cheat sheet, and get-a-raise guide to the less-well-known Travel-on-a-Budget checklist, Grocery & Meal list for healthy eating and saving money, a quiz to see if you’re ready to invest, and, my current favorite, our new Monthly Financial Report where you can see the different assets we invest in and how much money each has generated for us.

I hope that one or more of these free resources can help you make the next best choice right now and, ultimately, live a richer life - financially, yes, but more importantly, a life full of health, deep fulfillment, and the freedom to do whatever it is that sets your soul on fire.

Grab yours below!




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