Home is Wherever I’m With You

Home is Wherever I'm With You

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here on the blog, and there are two big reasons why. First, we’ve been super busy. Wedding planning, product fulfillment, and our trip to the UK all contributed to our crazy schedules the first half of this year, and the craziness has only just begun letting up now. Second, we made a big decision a few months back (which is what this post is all about) and we’ve been slowly soaking in the changes it’s brought about. 

This post has a soundtrack! Go ahead and get that started in the background while you read.

So What’s the Big News?

Cutting right to the chase, we decided it was time for us to find a place of our own. Not because we intend to stop traveling or even travel less, but because our businesses have been running steadily lately and we liked the idea of having a place of our very own to regroup at and return to in between our travels.

We started searching for condos — low maintenance was key — around Thanksgiving last year, and on March 27, 2017 we closed on our 800-square-foot one-bedroom high-rise city condo. And we love it!

Sunrise over Lake Michigan

Sunrise view from our condo

From Then Til Now

When we quit our jobs and started traveling 3+ years ago, our budget was tight and a large portion of our money went to travel. At the time, not having a “home” where we were paying rent or a mortgage was essential for us to afford our new traveling lifestyle. We were new to self-employment, and the fewer monetary commitments we had, the better we were set up to succeed.

Fast forward three years, and business growth means we’ve gained more flexibility in our budget. We reached a point of stability and growth in our income that allowed us to continue traveling the same way we always do, while also paying for a mortgage.

And so our home hunt began.

A Place to Call ‘Home’ or Just a Place of Our Own?

If you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve probably noticed we’ve been making a lot of trips to Chicago in the last six months. During our 50-state U.S. road trip adventure two years ago, we’d identified The Windy City as a potential place for a future home, because it checked a lot of boxes:

  • international airport nearby
  • affordable
  • startup business culture
  • loads to do
  • good public transportation
  • decent weather (at least part of the year)
  • My twin brother living in Chicago was certainly a bonus, too.
condo interior

Our living room

The world is our home, and Chicago, our pied-a-terre.

Our new condo is in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. But we’ll still be traveling more than we’ll be spending time here, so calling Chicago “home” doesn’t feel quite right. When people ask, we actually still call California home, because that’s where we met and where we return to frequently. (But that’s not really quite right either; it just makes conversations with strangers easier.)

We really do feel at home most of the time when we travel, staying at Airbnbs and the like, and we’re honestly not particularly attached to just one specific place right now. To us, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros got it just right. “Home is wherever I’m with you.” We jokingly refer to our Chicago condo as our pied-a-terre.

A pied-à-terre (French pronunciation: ​[pjetaˈtɛʁ]; French for “foot on the ground”) is a small living unit usually located in a large city some distance away from an individual’s primary residence. It may be an apartment, flat, or condominium. (from Wikipedia.com)

Lincoln Park, Lake Michigan and Chicago skyline view

Next door to the park and just a hop, skip and a jump to downtown Chicago (view from our building’s party room)

We’re Still Full Time Travelers

So what does all this change for us? Honestly, not much at all.

I’m hopelessly addicted to Prime Now (by Amazon), we now have some clothes and things at three different places, and I probably spend a little too much time playing Dr. Mario on our projector screen. (We snagged one of the Nintendo NES Minis when their discontinuation was announced.) But big picture, it’s business as usual.

We approached this whole endeavor knowing that we still wanted travel to be our life, so all decisions we made in this process centered around that priority.

  • We set a conservative budget for ourselves (much lower than our pre-approval amount) so we could feel confident our new mortgage wasn’t going to put any stress on our travel budget.
  • We didn’t want or need a big space. We’ve got plenty of room for our minimal stuff, and our place is easy to keep clean. We even invested in a Roomba so we don’t have to vacuum!
  • We chose a condo instead of a house so we’d have no yard, garden, or exterior to keep track of and actively maintain ourselves. Yes, we have to pay condo association fees, but (aside from the required cable service) it’s totally worth it.
  • Being excited to return was key; we wanted it to feel like we were still on an adventure whenever we came into town. Floor-to-ceiling windows, a view, and close proximity to Lincoln Park (the park) were all essentials in our search. A top-floor party room, indoor pool, and fitness room were all icing on the cake!
  • With no plans to bring our car out (Little Red lives in California now), our condo had to be well connected to various modes of transportation. We’ve got bus stops and a bike share station less than a block away, plus Zipcars parked all around. Trader Joe’s and Target are a short walk away, and there are plenty of places for brunch, coffee, drinks, and dinner all around.

I think we found ourselves the perfect, low-maintenance “getaway” for whenever we need a break from our full-time traveling life. Plus, we find it fun to do “homey” things sometimes. I love hands-on projects and interior decorating, so we’ve been having loads of fun painting and picking out furniture that fits our personality and space perfectly.

Chicago city view

I’m not a Cubs fan yet, but Wrigley Field is out to the left!

So What’s Next For Us?

All this condo stuff and traveling resulted in us neglecting our wedding plans a bit, so we’re heading back to California next week to switch into full wedding planning mode! We’ll also be doing some more blogging and posting on social media. We’ve got one trip to Hawaii coming up this July, but other than that, our posts are likely to be wedding themed.) And of course after the wedding we’ll set off on our honeymoon! (Destination TBD.)

Want to see more from us about our new condo and upcoming adventures? Follow us on Instagram and keep an eye out for our stories!

About the Author

Diana Southern
In March 2014, Diana called it quits on her traditional American working life and set out to explore the world with her partner in crime (and love of her life) Ian Norman. They now live a sustainable life of full time travel, working for themselves and seeking adventure at the same time. Here on North to South, Diana documents their journey in achieving and maintaining this "road less traveled" way of life.

3 Responses

  1. Amy Hartle June 22, 2017 / 8:00 am

    This view is killer, guys!! Perhaps we Two Drifters need to make a visit to Chicago? Hehe! Congrats on the exciting news 🙂

    • Diana Southern June 22, 2017 / 11:27 am

      Thanks Amy! Yeah, you guys should definitely come to Chicago!

      The weather has been super nice here, except I think we’re hitting the 90’s today with high humidity. 🙂

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