Living the Life, Bariloche Style

We made it into San Carlos de Bariloche late last night after a long day of travel. Our non-stop flights were booked months ago with Pluna but we learned two weeks ago that the Pluna permit was pulled by the Argentine government and Pluna was no longer allowed to fly into Bariloche. Luckily, the airline re-accommodated us on other airlines and we ended up flying Pluna to Buenos Aires and LAN from BA to Bariloche - after a 5 hour layover in Buenos Aires. It was late when we finally arrived in Bariloche and even later after we claimed all of our bags and the dogs, but we made it. Many thanks to our new landlord Jamie, who picked us up from the airport in his truck. We all just barely fit.

The house we are renting is exceeding our expectations and we even had a bottle of wine, a box of handmade Bariloche chocolates and a budín to greet us upon arrival. Fabulous! We are exploring every inch of the space and getting unpacked. The dogs already love having a fenced-in yard for the first time in their lives and the many plants and birds have been a huge source of entertainment already for our daughter.

The most spectacular aspect of the house is not the inside, but the view to the outside. We'd seen photos of this view before we got here, but it is even more breathtaking in person. It looks like a painted set in a play and it's hard to believe it is real and we can gaze onto this very landscape every day we are here.

I think we're going to enjoy being in San Carlos de Bariloche. We have a lot to do to set up our (temporary) lives here but we can't wait to get out and explore.

Why Are We Here Anyway?

A conversation over lunch on Friday continued over dinner Saturday and got me thinking: We have never really explained why we are here and what we are hoping to accomplish.

So here goes without writing a novel:

Who we are/our love of travel: Brad and I had talked about moving abroad for the 12 years we've been together.  Brad did several study abroad trips through college and I had traveled to Europe a few times before we met. My mom was born in the Netherlands, so there has always been a strong tie to family abroad. Our love of travel brought Brad and I to Spain together for Spring Break 1997 after dating for only two months. We've traveled pretty extensively ever since.

As technology improved and our careers morphed from being employed by someone else to starting our own companies, a few pieces started falling into place. We started researching different locations and we felt that Buenos Aires, Argentina was the place for us. One book in particular that validated the decision we already made to live abroad was "The 4-Hour Workweek".  This also gave us some new ideas how to conduct business remotely.

Brad and I sold our house in Minneapolis that we had been in for nearly 7 years. We were expecting Baby G at the time and moved into a condo for a year while we got our business and personal lives in order. We sold most of our larger possessions and sub-leased our office space. All the while, we were still researching possible locations and talking to people. Our focus turned from Argentina to Uruguay as a very family friendly, safe and stable country.

We joke that we spent our 20's acquiring stuff and our 30's getting rid of it all. We did leave many sentimental items and valuables in MN for the time being. We'll figure out if they are coming here or staying there soon.

In March 2008, we took an exploratory trip to Uruguay with G, who was three months old at the time. We loved Uruguay and knew this was the right place for us. We told our families of our plans to move a few months later.

Why we are here: It's a huge contradiction. We want to lead a simpler life. We don't want the big house with lots of fancy things. I don't like to shop and I am turning into more of a hippie all the time.

Only because of technology, though, can we be here and do what we do. We need our computers, our VoIP phones and high speed internet in order to work.

We avoided getting a mobile phone here for the first several months and just broke down and got one last week.  We have a nice TV that came with the furnished house, but no cable or antenna, so we can only watch DVD's. We check news and weather online when needed. We have no car and no immediate plans to buy any material possessions. We do not necessarily want the same standard of life here that we had in the USA because there were so many distractions attached.

What we want to accomplish: We want to have a life rich in experiences without being encumbered by lots of  physical 'stuff'. Our desire is to travel through South America and see both the cities and the countryside. Sure, I want to have some luxuries along the way, but I'd rather have a good wine, a meal with friends or a massage than a new table for the kitchen or a purse I saw in a shop window. Let's lead the simple life in regards to "stuff", but  rich in services and experiences. Services are inexpensive here, so we are living well on a much smaller amount of money than we lived off of in the USA.

I want Geneva to learn Spanish and the Uruguayan culture. I want her to learn to appreciate travel and be comfortable around people and situations that are different to her. I never really liked the 9-5 business world where I may only get to see my child for a few hours every day. Thanks to self employment and a culture that sees kids as a welcome part of the family instead of something you have to leave at home when the sun goes down, we can do that.

I'm not saying a move like this is right for everyone or it's easy step to take, but there are options and this option of living in Montevideo, Uruguay is right for us right now.

Expat Travel Technology: An Introduction

Get Your own Toll Free Number

There are many challenges in moving abroad.  One is technology.  What do I bring? How will it work?  Will it work at all?  Do they sell that in Timbuktu? If yes, do I have to give up my first born to get it?  The answer to that last one is...maybe.  Technology abroad--for the most part--is expensive.  

expat-technology-helpTech--as it's always been--is a blessing and a curse.  There are an incredible number of options, but at least we have options.  I give Lisa's mom a hard time for coming over on "the boat" in the '50s from the Netherlands.  They actually flew with several stops, including one in Greenland. Either way, it was no picnic.  So even if my computer crashes or my VOIP goes down...I did not have to come over on "the boat".  Again, options. We can communicate locally and internationally even if that means I have to walk down to the nearest restaurant or McDonalds with WiFi (wireless internet) if my Internet crashes.  WiFi is even available in the parks here in UY and some buses  I'll have to try that albeit discreetly --if that's possible-- as I don't want my computer to be relieved from my possession.  You can even sit down at the McCafe and have a "meeting" across the table via webcam.  So you can continue those Starbucks-style meetings if you like.

One challenge involves staying in contact with your "home" country.  For some this may not be an issue if they are severing ties to the homeland.  In our case, we need to work with clients in the United States to allow us to maintain our expat lifestlye and keep up with family.  Thankfully it has never been easier to maintain this connection as an expat.   Even three or four years ago this transition was far harder than it is today.

There are many issues to consider: receiving postal /snail mail, personal and business phone, computer hardware, backing up your computer, power supplies, what technology to bring, watching your favorite TV shows from home, hiring developers or independant contractors. Fortunately there is a tool, a download, a website, or a physically piece of equipment that can address all of these issues. Even if you're a baby boomer retiring abroad and technology is not your best friend, there are still many tools that are worth the small investment.  I will provide information on several of the travel technology tools that I use everyday in Montevideo... many of these we were using well before the move because they're just great services. The technology we use untethers us from a physical location and thereby is perfect for a traveler on the go or an expat...well...that's flat out gone. 

I'm sensitive to you Mac folks...I have not yet joined your ranks, but most of these tools play nice with Mac...probably better.  

I will also talk about some of the challenges of limiting the interuption to my business while navigating the set up process in a foreign country.  There have been pleasant surprises and of course headaches.  I will share it all here.  I may not be able to wait until Monday...there's so much good stuff!!!

What's with the name? An Introduction

As we were planning our move abroad, we encountered the question almost daily,  "You're moving where?!?!?!?"  We thought this would be the perfect name to use when chronicling our life abroad.  If you're reading this, you may just be curious, you may be family or friends keeping up on our adventures, of you may be planning you own life abroad and fielding the question yourself, "You're moving where?!?!?"