Announcing the Six Monthers

Mike and Florence at Estancia Cristina in Southern Argentina at the base of the Andes.

Mike and Florence at Estancia Cristina in Southern Argentina at the base of the Andes.

We are a new breed of expat travelers. We are the Six Monthers, thus named because we seek to live in a new country every six months. We live like the locals live, eat like the locals eat, and experience life in a different culture with each move we make.

Some of the world's most sought after coffees are grown in Panama.

Some of the world’s most sought after coffees are cultivated and grown in Panama.

We lived for six months in Boquete, Panama, up until January, and we are now living in Cuernavaca, Mexico. We are already planning our move to Scotland this July (Inverness perhaps?), and if things work out as planned, we will move to Spain at the beginning of 2014. We currently favor Costa Brava, but then deciding where to land is part of the fun. There are other countries we wish to experience as well, but they will have to wait their turn.

There are advantages to staying in a country for six months. Most obvious is that we take our time seeing the sights worth seeing and seeking out-of-the-way places that are known to mostly locals. We do not need a special resident visa which may be expensive or simply not available in some countries. No thanks, we won’t be staying that long. And in countries with a 90 day tourist visa limit, we just take a long weekend to a neighboring country.

The natural hot springs near Caldera, Panama reward the more adventurous sightseer.

The natural hot springs near Caldera, Panama reward the more adventurous sightseer.

We sold everything we own, i.e. – house, cars, furniture, appliances, electronic equipment, and artwork. What we could not sell or give to a relative we donated – clothing, books, lamps, sporting equipment. Some of that process was painful, although it was also quite liberating. And we find we do not miss those things. Now everything we own fits into two suitcases and a carry-on bag. We are free to go where we want when we want.

The open air markets like this one in Cuernavaca are common throughout Mexico.

Open air markets include many booths like this one in Cuernavaca and are common throughout Mexico.

We opened a bank account at an international bank so we can make withdrawals anywhere we go without having to open a new account. ATM’s give the best exchange rates, and we typically withdraw the maximum amount allowed because the transaction fee is the same regardless of the amount withdrawn.

We meet interesting people wherever we go, both expats and locals. Just like back home, not everyone is a likely friend simply because we were born in the same country or state. Even though we have hit it off with lots of interesting people, staying in touch is difficult beyond being friends on Facebook. The friends we had back home are still our best friends.

The pristine town square of Iquique, Chile is one of the places to which we would like to return.

The pristine town square of Iquique, Chile is one of the places to which we would like to return.

Making the transition to a lifestyle of moving every six months is not for everyone. Your house full of memories and a lifetime of purchases are not going with you. Nor are your closest friends and family members going with you. That is why you will always need a reliable internet connection. Thanks to Skype, we maintain regular contact with family and we stay connected with friends who are curious about our adventures and want to keep up with our latest stories from abroad.

The most important factor for us is our health. Thankfully, we are strong and healthy enough to satisfy our wanderlust. We know we only have so long before we can no longer travel. Therefore, we are living a life many people only dream of while we have the opportunity, and we are sharing our experiences as we go.

living in Mexico


47 comments on “Announcing the Six Monthers

  1. annewoodman says:

    Wonderful! Scotland, huh? That weather will certainly be different! I’m enjoying your travels.

    • Scotland only until the end of the year. Then Spain so we don’t have to buy more layers of clothes. I’ve decided we should be in countries that have good spirits, in the full meaning of the word. 🙂
      Thank you for following, Anne.

  2. I love this new breed of expat travelers. You are so inspirational. I would love to live somewhere new every 3-6 months (with good surf would be nice). I’m getting great ideas from reading your blog!

    • I am sure you will discover so many cool places that you will someday seek to return to. Perhaps I will be a good role model to help you decide where and how you wish to live. You two on well on your way. Good for you for traveling while you are young. I am enjoying following your adventures. Buen viajes!

  3. taciturnhiccup says:

    Inverness is beautiful, especially if you like being near nature and small villages. But you’ll still need to wear layers, at least for the rain! Many happy travels to you!

    • Fortunately, I love wool. And I have layers of fleece (currently stored at my daughter’s house). I’m just wondering if I will have to upgrade from Gore-Tex to rubberized rain gear? Either way, I am eager to see the countryside about which so many visitors have raved.
      Thank you for your comments.

  4. Mike, this is just fantastic!! I am so envious, and yet, it is such a scary endeavor… I’m glad I can live vicariously, through you for a while! My husband thought it was amazing. I like the new title as well… I think you should change the blog name to the Six Monthers! It is very intriguing! Just my 2 pesos. 😉 Congratulations on embracing this exciting, adventurous life! And lucky us, that you are sharing it!

    • Interestingly, we bought the domain name, so my posts may appear on that site someday when it goes live. I am reluctant to give up on Applecore because of its personal significance, even if it may not be quite as catchy as the Six Monthers, which I initially thought sounded like the name of a sitcom a la The Honeymooners.
      Thank you for your great comments and for following along.

  5. Emilia says:

    What an absolutely intriguing idea about being a six month expat! While I doubt the life style would be a good fit for me — I get too attached to my home and surroundings — I can see the appeal. It must be amazing to experience so many different cultures intimately while feeling so free at the same time. Good luck with your move to Scotland! 🙂

  6. Madame Rashid says:

    Good Luck, Mike and Florence! What a great opportunity. I will have to wait until my kids are grown and off on their own before I can have such an adventure. In the meantime, I’ll have to keep up with your posts. Make sure to post any bumps in the road so I can avoid them when it’s my turn to explore the world sans children. Take care!

  7. Michele R says:

    Well that certainly gives you the opportunity to see many, many places. You are right in the fact that it is not feasible for everyone for many reasons. I will continue to see the world through your eyes and highlight the places that I might someday like to see with my own! Love to you both.

  8. What an intriguing idea to move every six months. I know that it can be rewarding but it can also be very hard. You leave a lot behind and you don’t always feel comfortable in every place. Not every place is home even if you’re with the person you love. I moved around a lot in my twenties, both around the U.S. and internationally, and now I’m feeling the call to settle down. Maybe once I retire I’ll be ready to be a wanderer again.

    • It definitely takes a certain attitude and mindset to move someplace new every six months. Before my wife and I met in 2005 I didn’t even have a passport. I envied the fact she had traveled a lot while I was raising a family. I guess we were well-matched to continue our journeys together.
      Thanks for commenting. BTW – Your blog is informative and tempting! I love your recipes, especially the SPICY ones!

  9. Angeline M says:

    How wonderful that two people would come together that would love this kind of lifestyle. It’s unique and it is fantastic!

  10. Lele says:

    It is great! Only one question: Do you work in the different places you are going to live every six months? Otherwise where do you find the money?

  11. I am retired, although this summer I am coming out of retirement to work as a tour director for Grand Circle Travel for three 14-day motorcoach tours through the Pacific Northwest and the Canadian Rockies. That is a job I went for out of love for travel and people, not out of necessity. My wife is self-employed. Her work is strictly web-based, so she can work from anywhere as long as we have reliable internet service. Mainly, we live on my retirement income, and the countries we have chosen allow us to live well on that income alone with enough savings to pay for sightseeing trips.

    The questions you raise are important, and ones I probably should have included in my story. First, we could not afford to live in the U. S. on just my Social Security check, and I want my wife to have the option to not work if that is what she chooses. (She has another 10 years before she can retire.) For our initial Latin America vacation (Vacation of a Lifetime – 3 part series) and last year’s cruises to the Caribbean and Mediterranean, and the trip to Sicily we dipped into savings. Other than that we live within our means.
    Thank you for your excellent questions. – Mike

  12. What an amazing lifestyle, this really gives me inspiration to save some money and start planning an adventure!

    • It’s not for everybody, that’s for sure. The good news is you can live on less income than in the U. S. The bad news is you should not expect to find a job abroad, a job you would most likely be taking from a local. Which is why it is beneficial to have an online business you can perform from anywhere with internet access. Then you can work from the town square in San Pedro de Atacama or overlooking the beach on Lipari. 🙂
      Good luck! Thanks for commenting.

  13. Beachbums1 says:

    Your “six month” lifestyle sounds so interesting! You’re heading to two places I’ve only recently discovered so I’m definitely going to follow your travels.

  14. kathdedon says:

    I love the Six Monthers concept! I think I’d be OK selling all of our stuff, but I don’t know about not being able to see our kids as often as we do.

    • You make a great point. In fact, we found that as many as half of the expats who moved to Panama and subsequently decided to return to the States did so for exactly that reason. They thought their children would come visit, but after one visit their children didn’t care to spend their vacation time in Panama.
      For me Skype has been a godsend. I get to spend time video chatting with my daughter and grandson and to see the new baby. It keeps the connection strong until I can return once or twice per year for a visit in person. That is why I consider a reliable broadband internet service to be critical to being comfortable living outside the country. And I am the first to admit this lifestyle is not for everybody.
      Thank you for the great comment. – Mike

  15. Inspirational post. Thanks for sharing! As a former Peace Corps volunteer, I know what it’s like to live in new and exciting environments. It takes an adventurous spirit and an amazing amount of adaptability. However, the idea of changing scenery every six months is downright impressive. I’ve always felt it’s important to keep moving in life, to never stay settled, whether that be physically or mentally. It’s really the only way to keep growing as a person. You and your wife take that to a new level. Hopefully I will be able to do something similar later on in my life.

    Also, thanks for commenting on my first post:

    Glad to see we both have a strong appreciation for using math to work out practical issues!

  16. I plan on living vicariously through you two! What an amazing plan. I wish you all the best. Thanks for blogging this adventure (is it wrong to say I’m envious??).

  17. expatlingo says:

    Sounds very fun and at the same time strangely difficult. With each of our moves (and we’ve been in each place 3ish years) it’s usually taken me around 4 months to adjust, feel comfortable and start making some friends. Moving on again at the 6 month mark could be hard, but with no little kids at home and more of a “traveler” mind-set, it could be very fun.

    • Your ‘traveler mind-set’ term is a great way to capture the spirit of our adventure. For one thing we don’t put off excursions, meetings or dinners with friends. We go because we know we may not get another chance. We find out what places and activities people do or don’t recommend. Being Six Monthers is not a hectic pace of living. However, we keep moving in acknowledgement that our time to visit and explore other countries is limited, and the more we see the more we want to see.
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights.

  18. abbey kaye says:

    I’m so pleased that you found my newest blog and “liked” it — that led me here and man, am I glad! Your adventures sound fabulous and I very much appreciate your attitude toward the material aspect of our modern day lives. Happy exploring! I look forward to reading about it. xx AK

  19. An interesting life style! Having lived in Scotland while stationed in the Navy, I highly recommend Inverness–or try Perth. Best of luck!

  20. Know-All says:

    Love your matter-of-fact style of writing…and i totally agree that being healthy and having proper means of communication to connect with loved ones back home(broadband connectivity) are important factors for such a lifestyle.

  21. melissa says:

    Wow! What an adventure this lifestyle is. I can only dream at this point that someday I will be able to travel and experience the world in such a way. I look forward to reading more about your travels and living life as six monthers. Happy travels!

  22. reocochran says:

    I am admiring the new location! I have equal parts Scottish and English on my father’s side. I have been thinking it would be more expensive than your other locations. Do you ever think about going to homes where the family is also traveling? Thanks for allowing us in on your next move, meanwhile enjoying your current location!

    • We have looked at several housing options including house sharing and house sitting. The major issue with the latter is the people who want house sitters do not typically leave for six months, so we would be moving a lot. Lots of times people want their pets taken care of, too, which limits our time to explore. So we are basically apartment hunters. There seems to be no shortage in our price range (under $750/month), and a six month commitment is usually a basis for negotiating a somewhat better deal.
      Thank you, as always, for your comments.

      • Scott Lyman says:

        Mike, I’m ‘mainlining’ your blog, since I discovered it this afternoon. Great writing and wonderful pictures. I makes me really believe I could ‘travel’ for less than it costs to live here in Sacramento. Would you be willing to share what your monthly budget amounts to? I realize that may be more information than you feel comfortable sharing, and I won’t get my knickers in a twist if you tell me to MYOB. If you could suggest another resource to make a stab at those numbers, I would be equally happy..
        Thanks, regardless!

      • Scott, there is no secret about my budget, and I am not at all uncomfortable sharing details. You need look no further than my post from Feb. 19, Expat Living, Financing the Dream. If you would like more details after looking over that blog post, please let me know. I would be happy to share any further details that might help you, and I would be happy to open an exchange via email if you so desire. And I thank you for the kind words. – Mike

      • Scott Lyman says:

        Thanks so much, just haven’t gotten there yet (Ha! The journey is the destination!); I’ll be there soon at this rate.

  23. […] we are less than eager to leave Croatia because of the bonds of friendship we have forged here, as The 6 Monthers we must answer the call to make another country our home for the next six months.  The excitement […]

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