Step 1: Quit your job and sell everything you own.

Sorcha and Matt at the Prague Castle  in Czech Republic overlooking the old town. Sorcha is wearing an orange patterned top, tortoise cat eye glasses. Matt is wearing a teal and mulberry LL Bean hoodie and has a full beard and shaved head. Both are smiling broadly.
Prague, Czech Republic

Like many great endeavors our starts with some sacrifice, and a series of unfortunate events. 

In August of 2018 we listed our house for sale. We had decided earlier in the summer that we wanted to buy a duplex. 

We were both working 50ish hours per week at jobs we weren’t passionate about. Matt was especially burnt out. He had been working full time while going to school full time for 3 years. The stress was taking an emotional and physical toll. He developed hypertension, the lack of time and energy to diet and exercise had lead to massive weight gain for both of us. I had developed severe panic and anxiety disorder due to the stresses of my job to the point where I had to be put on medication. 

We both regularly didn’t want to get out of bed.

There were mornings where Matt would wake up and sob because he desperately didn’t want to keep going and then he’d pick up his shoes and socks and head out the door…. I would often do the same. Honestly, if it was not for our dog Zumie who constantly lifted our spirits and forced us to go outside I don’t know how we would have coped. We were both so depressed. 

We both would have loved to just run away together and never look back. But we had a dog who needed a home and routine and responsibilities, bills, loans, things that we knew would make that decision risky and irresponsible.  

So we devised a very sensible plan. 

In August of 2018, we listed our house for sale. We had decided earlier in the summer that we wanted to buy a duplex. The idea was that our duplex would pay for itself and our reduced housing costs would allow Matthew to quit his job and finish school with less overall stress.  He could then take a coding boot camp and get a software engineering job that would free up time and capital for us to travel more. We would eventually buy more and more properties and start a rental empire. 




Financially responsible. 

For one reason or another, our house didn’t sell. We had it listed for about 3 weeks and got very little interest. So we pulled it off the market. 

We continued the daily grind. 

In November our stress came to a head, and we thought we’d try listing the house again, even though typically the market was slower at that time of year. By some miracle, the house went into escrow 5 days after listing for $2000 shy of asking price. We almost immediately found a duplex in a nicer neighborhood that was within our price range and had loads of potential! We were elated. 

We went into escrow on our Duplex and began packing up the house. By this time we were about 2 weeks from Christmas 2018. We would start the new year in a new place and it would be a new adventure. 

I look back at that season and smile because I had literally no idea just how MASSIVE of an adventure it would be. 

Well two days before Christmas we got the call from our realtor that the inspections came back and the house had some issues. 

Mold in the attic…

Fire damage…

Active leaks…. And to top it off, double the safe levels of Radon in the basement. 

We were crushed. The house was a cosmetic fixer to begin with… but to find this out was insurmountable. We ultimately had to pull out of escrow. Meanwhile, the inspection on our home went well and we were moving forward with the sale. We searched but couldn’t find a duplex and we were running out of time before we needed to be out of our current home. We were looking at two crummy options; find another house in a rushed period of time and likely not get what we wanted. OR find a cheap place to rent, and eat the cost of a rental, and storage for all our belongings that wouldn’t fit in a 1 bedroom. There was also the complication of our dog, and finding an affordable rental in Portland that would allow large dogs and have a yard. We would have easily spent 7-10K$ in moving and storage costs alone. 

It felt hopeless. 

As if that wasn’t enough my job was quickly becoming unbearable and my anxiety and depression were compounding. I hated going to work.

After thinking about it for a couple of days we decided then that we were done. We reached out to my husband’s grandparents and asked if we could stay with them for a few months. The plan would be that Matthew would finish his degree in March instead of June, and he would take a software engineering Bootcamp course to hone his development skills.  We would get remote jobs that would allow us to travel, buy an RV and travel the country. We really wanted to see Europe and Asia but thought this initial journey would be a sensible step towards the Digital Nomad lifestyle. We would use the house money as savings/ buffer and eventually reinvest it in another property after exploring the US and finding where we wanted to settle down.

We started making moves to do this, using up our health benefits, selling most of our furniture and personal items in yard sales. 

Then on January 1st Zumie became lethargic and began vomiting constantly.  We’d just taken her in a few days prior for her annual shots and check-up. They ran a blood panel and found she had some numbers that were slightly off but the vet said they were not very concerned. 

Sorcha and Matt's dog Zumie is sitting on a stump in the midst of a foggy Sellwood park in Portland. The ground is surrounded by leaves and green grass and there is a rustic fence running behind her.  Zumie is a smooth coated blue merle collie. She has a white chest, and white legs. Her nose is long and pointed as are her ears, they stick upright. She has tan and black markings on her face and her body is a muddled grey and black. She was watching a squirrel scurry behind a tree when the picture was taken.
Zumie in Sellwood Park Portland October 2018

We brought her in to the emergency clinic where they found she had internal bleeding. She’d developed a rare and fast-growing cancer that caused tumors throughout her organs. One ripped her liver apart. There was nothing we could do. We were crushed. I remember vividly screaming in the front seat of our 1999 Toyota Camry, clutching her pink leash and sobbing uncontrollably. It felt as though life was falling apart around us.

But losing Zumie did something for us that we didn’t expect. It made us look at our plans from a different angle.

All of a sudden every practical plan we’d had in place seemed unimportant. 

The death of our dog made us acutely aware of how short life is, and how tomorrow is not guaranteed. 

We had planned a trip around the country, we had planned to work for other people remotely, we had planned to reinvest money and play it safe. 

But what we REALLY wanted to do was put all the chips in. We wanted to go for it. 

So we did….

Sorcha and Matt standing in front of their sold home the day they left Portland. They both look tired, but excited and happy. Both are wearing black jackets and Matt has a green and white plaid scarf and a grey beanie. Sorcha has on black and white round glasses and her red curly hair is in a bun.
Sorcha and Matt in front of 8425 Schiller St.