Amy Scott, a seasoned digital nomad and Host of Nomadtopia Radio, opens up about expat life and shares her advice on traveling the world as a digital nomad.
Amy Scott, a seasoned digital nomad and Host of Nomadtopia Radio, opens up about expat life and shares her advice on traveling the world as a digital nomad.
Starting from the beginning, Amy talks about why she left the United States, why she never went back, and how she met her Argentine husband during her travels. She then shares what life is like now, living in Mexico as an expat family with their twin toddlers.
In this episode, you’ll gain insight into the nomadic expat lifestyle before and after the pandemic, the challenges of cultivating community as a digital nomad, and why she decided to slow down and take a step back from her podcast.
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Welcome to Badass Digital Nomads, where we're pushing the boundaries of remote work and travel, all while staying grounded with a little bit of old school philosophy, self-development, and business advice from our guests.
Hey there, Kristin from Traveling with Kristin here and welcome to episode 185 of Badass Digital Nomads. My guest today is a veteran digital nomad and podcast host who you may know. It's Amy Scott from the podcast Nomadtopia, which has 200 episodes over the last eight years. So Amy started her podcast way back in 2014 and in today's interview, which I have been wanting to talk with her for so long now, she is opening up about her wisdom and advice from so many years as being a nomad and world traveler. We are starting from the beginning of her journey of why she left the United States, why she hasn't come back, and how she met her Argentine husband and what their life is like now in Mexico with their twin toddlers. So we're talking what happened during the pandemic and many of her reflections on a nomadic lifestyle, on the expat lifestyle kind of before and after the pandemic.
And we're also talking a bit about her cost of living lifestyle in Mexico there and also about burnout and why she pulled back on producing the podcast, some of the challenges of working from home and lots more. As I mentioned, I've wanted to connect with Amy for a really long time. So I hope you enjoy our conversation today and make sure to check out her podcast, nomadtopia and also our conversation continues on Amy's podcast in the month of December. So if you want to hear Amy interview me on nomad and expat life, you can also find that episode on her podcast this month.
Welcome Amy to Badass Digital Nomads podcast. You're like the nomad veteran queen from back in the day 2004 host of Nomadtopia Radio. So happy to have you here on the podcast. This is a long time coming, so welcome.
Amy: Thank you. Yeah, it's great to connect with you and I'm excited to be here.
Kristin: Hey, and you are coming to us from Querétaro, Mexico. So I thought you were in Mexico City. Tell me why you moved to Querétaro.
Amy: Yeah, so my husband and I, we came to Mexico to be honest, because of the food. You know, we were looking for Mexican food in Chiang Mai and we were like, what are we doing? <laugh> Like why don't we go to the source? And we just started spending more and more time here starting, I think we came the first time in late 2014 and I think it's not an uncommon story of like the first time we came for like a month and then we left and did some other travel. Then we came back for like four months and then we left. And then we came back for like six months and the building up and up and to the point where we ended up living in Mexico City pretty settled. Like we got an unfurnished apartment. Like we were kinda like we're done with Airbnbs for a while, we just kind of wanna you know, do our own thing from scratch.
And then our kids were born and then the pandemic started and we were just humming along until, you know, we're how many months in and just feeling like how long can we spend in a 19th floor apartment with all of the outdoor spaces closed with two little kids. And so we already knew Querétaro, it's a couple hours north of Mexico City and about an hour south of San Miguel de Allende where we had also lived. That was the first place we landed. So like actually, and I mentioned to you before we started that it's actually kind of a common story here in Mexico. A lot of Mexicans have been doing the same finding themselves in a situation like, well wait a minute, we don't have to be in Mexico City. We could be anywhere right now. Cause a lot of people's work has gone remote. And so Querétaro is, it's still fairly large.
I've lost track, I think it's a million, million and a half. But you know, Mexico City's like 21 <laugh>, so it's a much smaller city. It's very livable. I heard another nomad said that the other day. I'm like, yes, livable. That really describes it. Like it's just really easy, you know, you can get everything you need, but it's not like an absolutely, you know, massive metropolis and there's a good foreign population here but it gets kind of blended in and that's something I really like too in San Miguel de Allende. We liked it there, but after a while the extremely prominent expat population just kind of got to me. And I lived in Buenos Aires for a long time. That was actually why main reason we moved to Mexico City. I wanted to get back to just kind of blend in and like I'm living my life like everyone around me, you know? And I feel that way here in Querétaro too. So we've been here, it'll be two years in January.
Kristin: Oh wow. So how did it initially get on your radar? Had you visited there before or did you know other people living there?
Amy: Yeah, well so living in San Miguel, like it's the closest bigger city. So you just hear people talk about it. And then actually I came here for some medical stuff because not always available in a smaller town to get all of the stuff you need. So I had made some trips here for medical stuff and it seemed cool and one time my husband and I came together and you know, like stayed overnight and walked around downtown and we're just like, oh this place is pretty cool. Like kind of headed on our radar. And that was actually a big part of when we were ready to leave Mexico City. The reason we came here is because we already knew it. It was only a couple hours away. We didn't feel like, you know, we had to like take a scouting trip and it didn't require like getting on an airplane to move here in the middle of the pandemic with nine month old twins. They were nine months when it started, when we moved there about a year and a half. So yeah, it just felt like it would be an easy landing, you know, an easy change and then an easy landing here. So yeah.
Kristin: Yeah. You know, I found out about it through Tangerine Travels.
Amy: Mm-hmm <affirmative>
Kristin: Do you know them or Jordan?
Amy: I hear the name come up in exactly this kind of context, but I always forget to look them up myself.
Kristin: <laugh>. Yeah. So it was a couple that split up and now they have separate YouTube channels. So there was like drama with that online, but I had never heard of Querétaro. I had definitely heard of San Miguel de Allende because of the prominent expat population. And then I'm like, what is this Querétaro place? Because like why is it such a hot thing right now? But I guess as you mentioned, it's like going from New York City to a mid-sized town, like from 20 million to 1 million, that's like New York to Jacksonville or something like that. And so it's a much different environment, but I can definitely see how in such a small town like San Miguel de Allende to be surrounded by so many foreigners, you might sometimes be like, wait, I want the Mexican culture. And not necessarily like the American culture in Mexico with like of course locals as well who have adapted to it I'm sure. And I was going to ask you, have you noticed an influx of American expats and tourists since you've been living there, since the pandemic either in Mexico City or in Querétaro?
Amy: I was definitely aware of it in Mexico City, but only in a few cases like was the people that I knew personally, you know, or that I met. It was more just kind of, I think it was in the New York Times, right? Like yeah, like it was definitely out there that Mexico City was a place that a lot of people were being drawn to. And a big part of that was just that Mexico's rules throughout the pandemic, but especially notable in the early days, like they never locked down the borders. There were some restrictions, I believe, on the land border between the US and Mexico, but even that sounds like it was inconsistently applied.
Amy: And so yeah, it was just like, well we can go there for six months. You know, you could get a six month tourist visa seemed like a reasonable place to land for a while. So yeah, it definitely felt like kind of a welcoming place I think for a lot of people, especially people who didn't really have anywhere to land, right? People who don't already have a base. It obviously kind of threw people for a loop. Like, okay, what am I gonna do now and I haven't seen too much in Querétaro. It's, you know, most of the people I know here moved for other reasons just because they were interested in the city or they thought it would be a good place to have a baby. I just interviewed someone on my podcast about that. And then also I know San Miguel actually has been attracting since the time we first started going there. More and more foreign families, especially homeschoolers and you know, some of those kind of nomadic families have been attracted to San Miguel because it has a lot to offer for that community. But we lived there without kids and I felt like we were in this weird limbo. Like there's the retirees and there's the families and I'm like, well where do we fit? You know? Yeah. It was hard to meet people who weren't in either of those categories like us. And so yeah, that's definitely been a shift for us as well. Now just, you know, we're looking for different things too now that we have kids.
Kristin: Yeah. How has your interpretation of the nomad/expat life changed since you had kids? So maybe, I guess before we get to that we can jump in a little bit to your background for people who don't know, let's get your nomad story in a nutshell and then we'll move into how things have changed in these past two years, three years.
Amy: Yeah, three years, yeah. So I was living kind of your typical lifestyle in the US. I was working for a publishing company in San Francisco and one weekend was away with some family and my cousins were like, don't you wanna travel more? Like, isn't that important to you? You know, like before you quote unquote settle down. And I was like, well yeah, I have no idea where this idea came from. Like I pulled this out of thin air and by the time I got home I'm telling my boyfriend like, here's the plan. We're gonna quit our jobs, we're gonna travel for at least six months. I didn't even know that was really a thing. I was just like, I think we should do this. So we started planning a big trip and we broke up along the way and I was like, well I'm going anyway.
And so in 2004 I left on about a nine month round the world trip by myself and that really kicked things off because I, you know, didn't know what I was gonna do after that. And like a lot of people, I didn't really wanna just go back to normal life after that. And so that's when I started working for myself. I already had that information about like, if you have internet you can work from anywhere. Because I worked for a publishing company that, well not only did we publish travel guides, but we had freelancers all over the country and even a copy editor who lived in Costa Rica. So I was already on my radar like I could do that. So I set myself up, it's a freelance editor and kind of got my ducks in a row and then I moved to Argentina in 2007 and those two jumping off points really just kickstarted the whole thing. I ended up meeting my husband in Argentina, ended up living in Buenos Aires for five years. We went full-time nomad for a while and then as I said, kind of started bouncing in and out of Mexico more and more. And yeah, now we've been here for, I can't even keep track how long we've been here. Like it just kinda happened <laugh>, you know, <laugh>.
Kristin: Yeah, back in 2004 it was the time where really travel blogging or writing for a travel publication that was like one of the main ways to support yourself while traveling. And so it's crazy to see how many more opportunities have popped up since then. And I'm so glad that we have other ways to make money <laugh> than just writing about travel. So where did you live between like that nine month trip and then Buenos Aires? Mm-hmm. What were some of the countries that you went to?
Amy: Well, so yeah, on my round the world trip, so I wasn't working at all during that time. I just, you know, I'd saved up money
Amy: I didn't really see it as a sabbatical. I was just like, I don't know, I quit my job, you know, I've got money saved. Like we'll see what happens next. I had not set anything up with my employer about going back.
Kristin: Oh right.
Amy: Like I didn't burn the bridges but it wasn't like I'm gonna take this time and then come back. So I spent about three months in South America and then went home for Christmas, which just kind of happened because I had to go through the US anyway to get anywhere else really. Then I went to India for about six weeks and then I was in Southeast Asia for again about kind of three months I think. And then I stopped in England on the way home. So that was my nine months. And then I landed back in the States. A whole other crazy story is that I was dating somebody who I met right before I left <laugh>. So that kind of influenced what happened when I got back. So I moved to LA when I got back because that's where he was then that did not end well or didn't go well. So it ended and I was like, why am I in LA? And as someone in my yoga class said, if there's no reason to be in LA, like there's no reason to be in LA <laugh>. Yes.
Kristin: That's why I never moved to California. I was like, there's not really a reason to be here.
Amy: <laugh>. Yeah, exactly. And so then I packed up all my stuff and I had this like little beater car that I had bought for like $500 cuz you know you need a car in LA and I drove across the country with all my stuff planning to land, I don't remember even where I thought it was gonna go at that time. And got in a car accident halfway across the country. Car was totaled. Insurance company got me a rental and sent me like I got the rest of the wait. I landed at my parents' house in Jersey and I was like, you know what? I don't think I wanna settle somewhere else. I think I'm just gonna hang out here until I'm ready to go to Argentina. Is that cool? <laugh>? Uh, they were like, okay. And then after like six months I was like, I can't stay here anymore. So I moved to Philadelphia, which is about an hour away and then moved from there to BA. So that was about two years, wait, is that right? Sounds like a really long time. But yeah, I think it was about two years altogether that I was back in the States and plotting my escape the entire time.
Kristin: We were kind of living parallel lives cuz I was like bouncing back and forth between college and grad school and living with my parents and like convincing them that I was gonna live abroad. And they were like, what? You studied abroad but you're not gonna like go back forever are you? Yeah. They just thought it was like a quarter life crisis that is extended into a midlife crisis. <laugh>. Right. Not a crisis, a utopia, a nomadtopia. Exactly. And they just eventually acknowledged that I wasn't really coming back in full form. And so what was it that drew you to Argentina? Like why did that stick out as the place that you needed to go?
Amy: Yeah, I had been there on my round the world trip. Like I said, I spent time in South America and when I was kind of wrapping up that trip and heading back to the States and kind of figuring out what's next, I thought okay, I was on the move during that trip. I don't think I spent more than like a few nights in most places. There were so many things I wanted to see, so many places to go and I knew I wanted to go back and spend more time in one place. And so then a lot of us do, I was kind of mapping out the criteria and thinking like, okay, I would like to work on my Spanish, I'm still building this freelance business. I wanna be somewhere with a lower cost of living and what were the places that I liked, you know, that I've been or that I've heard good things about.
And I had narrowed it down, shoot, I think there were three places and now I can't remember. Oh yes, I remember it was Arequipa in Peru and Valparaíso in Chile and Buenos Aires, which are obviously very different places. And I kind of weighed pros and cons and I loved them all and I thought right now I think BA is gonna give me what I am looking for, the kind of experience I'm looking for. I didn't wanna go to somewhere, you know, I'm tall and blonde. I didn't wanna like go to Bolivia where I was just gonna stand out very obviously I thought I can kinda blend in in Argentina. Yeah. And so yeah, it was kind of just mapping out those different factors and like what was gonna feel comfortable to me for a little bit of a longer term adventure. But still, I landed there on a tourist visa. I thought I was gonna stay. I remember saying like, I don't know, six months, a year maybe. And I just fell in love with the place. I made some really good friends and I was at about the two year mark and just starting to think about leaving when I met my husband.
Kristin: Roberto. Is he Argentinian?
Kristin: Okay. So then you spent another three years there in Argentina. Yeah. Those are all really different places. I can't imagine like Arequipa so tiny, this little tiny town in Peru. And then Bueno Aires is this sprawling metropolis. I think you probably made the right decision.
Amy: I think so.
Kristin: I think I would get bored living in Arequipa for a long time. And then you were able to travel together and so he worked remotely as well?
Amy: Yeah. So you know, I like to tell this part of the story because I think a lot of people assumed that like on paper one might assume that this kind of person would not be a good match, but like, cause like he had never been out of Argentina before. Like he didn't even have a passport, he had a regular job, he had traveled quite a bit within the country. You know, it's a big country, there's plenty of places to go. But he didn't really know what other options there were. The first night we met he was like, what are you doing here? Like, you know, tell me how this works. I said, well I work for myself and all I need is internet, you know the whole thing. And he's like, okay, that's what I wanna do. <laugh>, I knew there was another way, you know, like he was sold on it immediately.
And so really from that point on it was just a matter of him trying to figure out what skills he had that could transfer into some kind of online work. And right after we got married he quit his job and that was when we started traveling in 2012. Yeah, 10 years ago. At that time he was primarily doing, he called himself like a tech VA, you know, so kind of doing like a little bit more the technical aspects of virtual assistant work and then graphic design kind of dabbling in a little bit of everything. Like he was picking up all those online skills really easily and you know, I knew a ton of people who were working online who needed help with that stuff. And so a lot of his clients were people I knew. And so yeah, that was how we set off and yeah, that's kind of what got the ball rolling and now his background is in IT and so he's now doing some consulting work kind of more similar to what he was doing before.
Kristin: Does he have Argentinian clients or is he mostly earning in foreign currencies?
Amy: It's a mix. His consulting work now is with a Mexican company and then he still has some of those VA clients that are mostly in the states.
Kristin: Ok. Yeah cuz I've worked with a lot of Argentinian relocation clients where I've helped them move outta Argentina in a big motivation for that is just the currency and the inflation and the lack of opportunity there. And so I've had like Argentinian clients move to England and other countries in Europe. Australia. Yeah. So I love it. So why did you decide to start a podcast, that would've been 2014? What motivated that? I don't even think I knew that podcast existed in 2014.
Amy: Yeah. Let's see. So I started Nomadtopia as a blog in 2011 and that same year I did Marie Forleo's B School, which is you know, kind of OG <laugh> online marketing training and met a ton. Like I said, that's like where my husband got all his clients from. Like I met so many people through that community, it was a good size but much smaller than it is now I'm sure. And so I just connected with a ton of people who were working online at that time and one of them was, I don't even know how she got into it, but I knew a woman who had a podcast I guess started sometime between 2011 and 2014 and she had an online course like Podcasting School for Women or something like that. Actually she is the co-founder of She Podcasts.
Kristin: Oh yeah, I've heard of that.
Amy: Which is now kind of a big community for female podcasters. It was in 2013 cause I was in a Malaysia taking, you know, doing the coaching calls and stuff for the program with her. Actually I think she had kind of nudged me a little bit like I think this would be really good for Nomadtopia, you should do this. And so yeah, I learned like all the basics from her and that program and set things up and yeah, did my first interview September, 2014 I think.
Kristin: Amazing and actually I think we were also kind of doing similar things there because I went to Marie Forleo's conference in 2012.
Amy: Oh no way. I think I was there then.
Kristin: We were probably staying next to each other cuz one of my best friends was in B School in 2011 who now owns this massive company called MUJER HOLÍSTICA.
Amy: Oh I know her. Yeah.
Kristin: So we live together in Costa Rica.
Amy: Oh no way.
Kristin: In 2008.
Amy: Oh my gosh.
Kristin: So like old school,
Amy: Small world. Yeah.
Kristin: And uh, yeah she does a lot of work in Mexico, so, and it's, her company is huge. It's like, yeah. For people who don't know it, it's um, Holistic Woman. So it's all Latin America, Spain and she learned through B School and also the School of Integrative Nutrition in New York. So yeah, I didn't do B School ever, but I went to RHH Live. I think that was the last year she did that conference. Maybe.
Amy: Yeah. I'm actually, I'm trying to remember if I went in 11 or 12 because I won a ticket.
Kristin: I was there the year of Hurricane Sandy.
Amy: So was I.
Kristin: Okay. So we were there together. That's so weird
Amy: At the same time. Oh my gosh,
Kristin: God, it is a small world isn't it?
Amy: It's <laugh>.
Kristin: But that's so cool that that's how you got into podcasting and yeah, you've been doing it since then. That's incredible. I've listened to a few of your podcasts in the past and how you've decided to like make changes year after year. I really related to that having published a weekly podcast and kind of also doing it as like, oh well I've met all of these cool nomads while I'm traveling, why don't I interview them and then broadcast it to the world because these are such interesting people. But then I didn't have really any training and, and it's a lot of work to create a podcast. So how were you able to balance having a podcast with your day job, with traveling, with being married, and what were some of the strategies that you came to to make it more sustainable and be able to do it for so many years?
Amy: Yeah, so in the early days, well that's the other thing is that I started it when, I mean we were in full on travel mode for sections of the early years. So I was constantly looking ahead at our travel plans and like constantly updating my booking calendar, you know, to like make sure like, okay, we're gonna be in one place for X amount of time. You know, I can do this many interviews and kinda like try to batch things out. Honestly I did a much better job of batching back then than I do now. <laugh> out of necessity primarily.
Kristin: Well now you have kids
Amy: Right, exactly. And now, you know, spoiler alert, now I only do it once a month, which has obviously made a difference. I actually don't even remember when I changed. But yeah, it started out weekly and then after a few years, yeah, I, it just felt like too much to manage that. And I switched to monthly, I don't remember how long ago. And then actually in 2020 when the pandemic started, I knew all these people who were in that stranded grounded like, oh, what am I doing now? And it all felt really immediate. And so I, I think it was like April or May, 2020, I started interviewing people and I was doing every week and I would like interview and then publish it like within a couple dates because I wanted it to be really timely and I was, you know, talking to people about like what was happening right then.
Like someone who had been on my podcast before, like he was in Bali and suddenly was like, oh no, like I'm gonna get stuck here if I don't get out right now. And like literally just hopped in a taxi, went to the airport like I've gotta get outta here. So that was a fun process but obviously not sustainable either. So I did that for maybe like, I don't know, six or eight months and then kind of slowly started going back to monthly, which is where I'm at now. I remember when I took that podcasting class, my friend Jessica who's running it was very clear about consistency is so important and she, they were like drilling that into us and so I was trying really hard. I was like, okay, I'm really bad at extended consistency with like newsletters and social media and all these other things.
I was like, the podcast is gonna be like the one thing come hell or high water I'm gonna get done. But it got to a point where I was to be able to sustain that I can be consistent but I can be less frequent. And so that's why I started to scale it back. And I think just, you know, giving yourself permission to do that in whatever way it needs to happen for you because yeah, I mean if you just completely burn out, of course there are other ways to do it too. I had never learned, I don't know, maybe no one was doing it back then like about, you know, doing it like in seasons like some people do. So I never got into that kind of rhythm. Although actually I did take a couple breaks. There were times that I was either gonna be traveling a ton or just kind of needed a break and I'd just be like on hiatus for three months or something and then I would pick it up again. So I think yeah, doing whatever you need to do to continue to enjoy it and have fun with it and yeah.
Kristin: Yeah, I, I know that Rolf Potts does his podcast in seasons and that's looked interesting to me. But I think a lot of people are interested in starting podcasts. I did this webinar with Safety Wing on how to start a podcast and I'll link to the replay and the show notes, but consistency is important but it doesn't matter what the frequency is. Right. I think as long as you pick one, like I've struggled with consistency on YouTube, especially while writing my book and I went completely off YouTube for six months to the day and I was like, could I have maybe published like one video per month or something? and I know YouTubers that have 10 million subscribers and they've been publishing one video per month for 10 years. It's like you don't have to do a daily blog like Casey Niestat or a daily podcast like Ryan Holiday, bless his heart.
I don't know how the man does it. He's got like multiple daily newsletters, multiple daily podcasts. He must have a huge team. Ryan, I need to know your secrets but I don't aspire to have a daily podcast ever. <laugh> neither like way too much work or a daily blog channel or something like that. And, and I have seen people who like published a daily blog for a year and then they never published again because they got burnt out. And that's the same with podcasts. Like there's more than 3 million podcasts and I think most of them have less than 14 episodes or something. I don't know what the exact statistic is, but it's probably because people like did a lot of them really quickly in a row and then they were like nevermind. Or even thinking of doing anything. Anything that you wanna do long term. It's like just start slow, start small, be consistent. I started with DJing 15 minutes a day.
Kristin: <affirmative>, I actually took DJ classes in Argentina.
Amy: Oh yeah?
Kristin: My first class was in Amsterdam and then right after that I did the nomad cruise to Brazil and then I flew to Bueno Aires and then I did another class there. So I would love to go back there. I only spent a month there and I really enjoyed it. Yeah. Do you miss the food there at all? I know you were craving Mexican food, but you must miss the wine.
Amy: I do, I do. This is the crazy part is that for a long time I considered that my home base just because I didn't have another one. I mean obviously my husband's family was there, but I was last there in 2015 and then we were supposed to go in 2020. It was supposed to be our first big trip with the kids and our trip was March, 2020 and like we canceled literally two days before.
Kristin: Oh my gosh.
Amy: It was like a week of like, what's happening? Do we go, do we not go? And then we just like, nope, we're not gonna go.
Kristin: You would've been stuck there.
Amy: We totally would've been stuck there. And luckily, you know, we have a place there, we know people there. It could have been worse but it was not what we wanted at that time. And so anyway, we put that trip off. We finally just went in May of 2022 and my husband too, he hadn't been back in like five years. And so we had a list of like restaurants we were gonna go to. And of course also fingers crossed that they were still open, you know, because obviously it's been a rough few years.
Amy: But yeah, most of the places that were on our list were types of food, you know, we were able to get to and it was fun cause like we took the kids to our favorite ice cream place and we had pizza there and I was like, oh this is why I can't find pizza. Like in our area in Mexico, it's like there's something Argentina pizza is just like over the top but so good.
Kristin: <laugh>. Well they have a large uh, European population of descendants. They got the pizza gene from Italy and it's flourished there.
Amy: <laugh> for sure. For sure. Although I think a lot of Italians are mortified by what Argentine's consider pizza
Kristin: <laugh>. I
Amy: So much cheese and so much. It's just, yeah, crazy.
Kristin: I've been watching Chef's Table pizza, the pizza season that came out recently and it's changed how I see pizza cuz they feature a woman in Portland who cooks pizza with no sauce. It's just cheese and flower petals and stuff like that. And then they have a guy in from Japan and it's like all these alternative types of pizzas they do profile an Italian pizza maker as well. At least two of them I think. But it just makes me wanna eat pizza all the time. So that's the side effect of watching it. But I would be happy with any kind of pizza really.
Amy: <laugh>. Yeah, yeah, for sure. <laugh>
Kristin: Kristin here, hope you're enjoying today's episode. If you're a fan of the podcast and you'd like to support, you can join 50 other superstar listeners over on my Patreon page for just $5 per month or a voluntary donation of your choice at patreon.com/traveling with Kristin, that's p a t r e o n.com/traveling with Kristin.
Kristin: When you moved back to Mexico after having traveled there a lot, what were some of the benefits that you experienced from slowing down and like getting an unfurnished apartment and like actually putting roots there?
Amy: Yeah, it's funny cuz even though there's the longevity there for sure, it doesn't feel like roots in a way. I don't know, it's hard to put my finger on it I think because even though we did all of those things on paper and like now thanks to the kids, we have permanent residency and because of the pandemic we bought a car but we don't feel like we're here forever. And so I think we've always got one eye on the next thing, even though it's been like five for six years or something. But yeah, one of the main things, and I imagine a lot of people can relate to this is being in Airbnbs nonstop for a few years, pretty much we felt like they never were set up the way we wanted them to be. Like we might get a two bedroom, but the second bedroom has two twin beds in it, which is completely useless.
Like we want an office so we end up like working at the dining room table if hopefully there is one. You know, we would obviously try to choose places that had a decent setup for that. And I actually think that's starting to shift. We're actually going to Mexico City next month to do some paperwork at the embassy and I was looking at Airbnbs and noticing that compared to back then, like there's a lot more, you know, like people are pointing out like we have a dedicated workspace and you know, like this and that and focusing more on what remote workers and people like us are looking for, which is good. But back then I feel like no one was really paying attention to that. And so yeah, we're like getting by with whatever's available and also full of knickknacks, like full of just stuff we don't need, you know, like we're very minimalist.
I was like imagine like a literal like blank slate, nothing in it and like we can do what we want, which seemed great until we're like, oh my god, we literally have nothing. You know, like we had accumulated a few things in San Miguel that we took with us to Mexico City, like a frying pan or you know, whatever. But it was like, oh my god, we need garbage cans and hangers and like every little thing. It was crazy, you know, going through that process of accumulating those things all over again. I'd done it in Buenos Aires actually when I bought my place there and then we were doing it again and then we decided to move our stuff from Mexico City to Querétaro and never thought about the prospect of moving. All of those little things we're like, well yeah, we've got the couch, we've got our desks, we've got a good bed.
Amy: Like that stuff's totally worth moving. Forgetting what it entails to move the hangers and the garbage cans <laugh> and you know, so we're like, we're deep in it now and all over again. But I think the good thing is the more that you do stuff like that, it's just like we can do it again. Like we can sell it all and start from scratch all over somewhere else and yeah, so it's been nice having that kind of, like you said, kind of settling in and yet at the same time there are choices that we've made about like what we've acquired with the idea that we're not gonna be here forever. So like maybe we don't need, I don't know, I can't think of anything right now, but you know, we literally, in our living room, the only piece of furniture is a couch <laugh>. Well also we wanted space for the kids to run around, you know, so it's like we don't need a coffee table and like some arm chairs. Oh actually we do have an arm chair cause I got that when I was pregnant. But you know, it's like we don't need lots of fancy stuff. We just bought end tables for our bedroom six months ago, <laugh>. I'm like, maybe I don't need a box next to my bed anymore. Maybe I can commit. So yeah, it's interesting constantly balancing those things, you know?
Kristin: Yeah, I can definitely relate and I'm really glad that my apartment has so many cabinets and built-in storage in it. I really didn't have to buy anything when I rented a furnished apartment in Miami. All I had to buy was, I had a desk already in my standing desk. I just bought a couch and a bed and this chair, I didn't need anything else really. I have like a kitchen table with like, I have bar stools and that's it. But yeah. But those things can definitely be a factor when you decide to move on. Cause it's like such a pain to get rid of it or store it or whatever, but it always kind of works out. What do you feel like is the evolution of the nomad? Is it this hybrid thing where sometimes you have an unfurnished apartment and you live somewhere for five or six years, but do you think there's anywhere that you'll ever settle forever? Or do you think that this nomadness will continue for a lifetime?
Amy: It's such a good question and it's something I think about a lot, especially since having kids and thinking about, wait, what does this look like now with two more people, you know, that are gonna have opinions and you know, two more bodies to be responsible for and like take into consideration what everybody needs and wants. And I feel like I have way more questions than answers right now for what we want and what's really gonna work for us and yeah. You know, not knowing yet what the kids are gonna want either. And so trying to not get attached to anyone like vision. It's also interesting because I remember before I got pregnant we would talk about like obviously we would homeschool because you know, we wanna keep being location independent and all of that. And once you actually see the humans that you know, in question of the homeschooling, it's like, is that really it for us?
You know? And like now just trying to figure out what does our day-to-day life look like and what do we want it to look like and what really does work for us? And actually the kids just started going to a Montessori preschool, which is great, everyone's happy for the moment, but it's also like, oh my God, we are like tied to a traditional schedule now. You know, like I just put all the school holidays on my calendar. I'm like, wait what? I mean obviously it's preschool, like we have to take them outta school, we can, you know, it's not a big deal. But it's also just like talk about roots, like that feels like the next level of being more stationary. I mean I really don't think Mexico is our forever place, but we don't know where is, and we don't know if we want a forever place.
It's come up a lot on my podcast and I think about a lot is just, you know, staying open and being intentional and taking time to regularly check in, you know, with yourself, with your travel partner, whoever is involved to figure out like, is this working for us? You know, do we wanna change anything? Like what's kind of our semi longer term vision and you know, we talk about it a lot and just trying to figure out what's next and we're just kind of, for now I'm kind of playing it by ear, me on my own. And also as a couple we've gone through a number of different phases and I think it's natural that those phases happen. You know, as we get older, as you know, relationships come and go, things change, right? Our work can change all kinds of things. Our goals and priorities change and just figuring out how to keep all of those things kind of in alignment, right, as much as possible and figuring out what level of movement versus stability and you know, all of the rest of it is gonna feel like a good fit at any given time.
So yeah, stay tuned. I don't know where we'll be. Anything is possible.
Kristin: It's so interesting. Like it's fascinating to me and I can't get over it, like the time that we're living in the freedom that we have because we're really just reinventing the wheel and just making it up as we go along. It's just the first time in history that we've had so much choice and that we haven't been locked into this paradigm where we had all the restrictions from the past. Freedom of movement, money, technology, you know, my ancestors came from Europe on boats and my, on my dad's side, his first relative came, she was 16 and she left Ireland by herself and landed in Nova Scotia. I mean, wow. Terrifying. Yeah. She just got on a boat by herself with no family members and came to the new world. I mean at that time, which was considered the new world, you know? It's a whole nother story.
But yeah. And then my mom's side, like they came from Italy and Romania and yeah. Had to travel by land, like to get to France to leave on that boat and go to New York and then make their way throughout the United States. And it's just so many of our ancestors who have like created this path for us to be doing what we're doing now. And to also not be beholden to the American dream. Like both of us are from the United States. We left when we were young enough before we got into that. It's almost like the conveyor belt of the American dream that once you get in and you have the house and the mortgage and the dog and the kids and the bills and the car and all the stuff, like, it's very difficult to get out until you're closer to retirement. So yeah, I think it's what you said, I think it's an evolution.
I think it's a matter of being present in where you are and listening to your inner desires. And that's exactly how I knew when it was time to stay in Miami. Like it felt really good to put roots here during the pandemic, but they were like shallow roots, you know, even though I had the house and made new friends and stuff, I always knew it was temporary. I knew I wasn't gonna be here forever. And then all of a sudden it was like one day I woke up and I'm like, I think it's time to leave now. And then it took a few months to put that process into motion. But it is like that voice gets louder and louder and louder. And whether you're living in Minneapolis and you've never been out of the country, but you just know that you're meant to live in the Philippines or something. And it's like the longer you ignore that voice, the louder it gets and then maybe that's what we get to do is just move when we feel like it's time to move.
Amy: Right. Well and you know, it's funny too what you were saying about once you get stuck in with, you know, the house and the kids and all the things and - we're renting, but I am very aware of, like I said, we have a car and the kids are in school and you know, we have a house full of furniture kind of. And even though I'm in Mexico, like I'm kind of quote unquote stuck in and I think given all of those years that were less so I'm like, my antennae are up. You know, like, whoa, this isn't forever. Right? Like this isn't the thing, this isn't my life. Yeah. I mean, honestly sometimes like, like I drop the kids off at school and like driving home and I'm like, what? This is my life. Like this is craziness, you know? And it's all things that unfolded, you know, intentionally and is what we wanted at this time. But there's also part of me that's like, don't get too comfortable, you know, <laugh>, like I said, we always have kind of one eye on the next thing or whatever because you can just kind of be like, well this is pretty good, you know, maybe I'll just stay here for some people. Right. I think some people are just like, no, no, no, I've gotta move <laugh>. You know? But I don't want that to just be like a default. I want all of those decisions to be made really intentionally. So that's important to me.
Kristin: Do you feel like time moves faster when you're in that routine?
Amy: Yes and no. It's kinda, I don't know. Well, and then of course there's the kid thing, you know, like people always say that like time flies with kids. So yeah, I mean the fact that we've already been here almost two years, but also moving during a pandemic, like it was very strange, you know, to just like be somewhere new but not really be able to do anything. And yeah, in some ways it feels faster and in some ways it feels slower. Yeah.
Kristin: Yeah. In some ways the pandemic years feel like a big black hole that just went and lasted forever. But then in another way it's, it's almost like it didn't happen at all. Like it kinda went by fast. It's weird. But what is your perception now on the US? Is that completely off the table? Because you've been out since 2004? Or do you ever consider maybe that being a home base for some time?
Amy: Yeah, it comes up now and then like a few years ago, my brother was very casually talking about maybe they were gonna have to rent out their house. And we were like interesting, you know, like what would that be like if we like rented his house and moved to Portland? And at the end of the day, I mean I, in fact I just, I posted on Instagram about this recently. I'm like, never say never because I've said it so many times and then gone and done exactly that thing. So I definitely can't say like I will absolutely never live in the US again. But it is very not on the table right now. Like we're not interested in that at all. And the kids actually, this is the paperwork we have to go to Mexico City to do. The kids are gonna have their, you know, American passports and their citizenship.
But my husband has an expired tourist visa, you know, he doesn't have a green card or anything. And so a lot of people don't understand how complicated that is. Like I have so many people who are like, why doesn't you just get a green card? I'm like, do you realize how many hoops we have to go through and like how long we would have to stay put? And all of these things. It's really not worth doing unless you really wanna be there. And we don't, so yeah, I definitely don't feel like I can say absolutely never, but definitely not anytime soon. I think I can say that, but who knows, right? Like also there's, you know, obviously parents getting older and all these other things. I mean, who knows what might come up, what choices we might need to make in any given moment. But we have our eye on Europe much more than we do on the states or Argentina for that matter. Argentina's not on the table either, so.
Kristin: Okay. Yeah, I love the quality of life in Europe and that's why I keep coming back. <laugh>, what do you feel is your community, is it nomads, is it expats? Is it local Mexicans? Is it remote? Is it an online in your nomad collective? Like where do you feel like you fit in in the world?
Amy: Yeah, it's a mix of all of those things. And it's interesting watching that kind of shift. In recent years, I've definitely made more local friends through the kids, you know, pandemic aside, you know, like I met some friends in Mexico City through my prenatal yoga class, <laugh> going on, you know, play dates with our babies and all of that. And here too, it's been a mix of like, just this morning I went to breakfast with a couple moms from my son's class, you know, whose kids are in my son's class. And so that's neat to, you know, just connect with people who are kind of at that same place. Like right this moment in our lives, they aren't nomads and you know, as far as I know have never been. But you know, we're in this spot with our kids in the same place right this minute.
And so we connect and they're Mexican, but then there's also some foreigners at the school. And then I have local expat friends who also work online or they're here because of, you know, their partner's work. And yeah, I've always had a robust community online because I move around so much. Actually I had a kind of a precursor to the collective before I started the collective. Actually, it's funny, the tagline of my very first blog was, At Least The Nomad Can Have An Online Home. And like, I think about that a lot now. Like I kind of see the collective that way. You know, it's like no matter where you are, you know, you have that space that you can come back to and the same people show up and you know, you can connect with them and develop relationships that way, even if you're not in the same places. And then of course getting to cross paths with travelers and doing it in multiple places. Like I have friends that I've seen in five different countries over the years and that's really fun too. So it's, yeah, it's a real mix.
Kristin: Do you ever get lonely? It kinda seems like having all of these diverse communities and having a spouse and having kids that that would kinda be like checking off all the boxes or do you still feel like there's that piece missing sometimes?
Amy: Yeah, I do. I do, to be honest, and it’s something I've been trying to figure out, because it's like nice to have online friends, nice to have local friends, but the way that you interact with them is different. And then like you connect with people locally, but if you or they aren't planning to be there forever, that's gonna shift from local to online. And yeah, it's interesting. I have friends from like college and you know, my life back in the States that we can go a really long time without talking to each other and without even really communicating except for social media and then cross paths and pick up like we just saw each other yesterday, which I love, but it's also like you don't have that immediacy of frequent interaction. And so yeah, sometimes I, I would like to have more of that and I'm kind of in that place of navigating that balance between like cultivating local community but then like having community that I can take with me.
Amy: And also looking at people who understand which parts of my life, right? Like there's the nomad people, there's the expat people, like you said, like where do I fit? Because you know, there's those people and then there's like the moms and there's people who are Mexican but have moved here from another part of Mexico so they don't have family around like us. And it's interesting, it's less common to find people who check multiple boxes of those commonalities, right? It happens sometimes, but yeah, it's not all the time. And so, you know, I've taken personality tests and stuff, I'm like just on the extrovert side of the middle. And so I can also go both ways. Like during the pandemic, I mean we were home just the four of us for a really long time and I felt fine with that. And yes, that's different than being like a hundred percent alone obviously. But had like no socializing really at all during that time and it was kind of okay with it. And now I'm like back doing stuff and so it's kind of just balancing all the different pieces of our personalities and figuring out what we need and where we can get it. Right.
Kristin: Yeah, it's so interesting cause there's people who only know like that piece of you, like the people who know you from high school, the people who know you from college, the people who know you from work. And in the past when humans primarily lived in tribes and villages, it was like everyone knew everyone's business <laugh>. And it's still like that in a lot of ways, but technology has changed that of course. But now you can kind of be like an enigma in certain ways.
Amy: Uhhuh, <affirmative>
Kristin: Ever since I started DJing, my DJ friends, they have no idea of my whole entire life to this point. And they just see me as a DJ. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then when they see my Instagram posts about traveling, they're like, oh, have you been to that country? Or like, you have a podcast or you have a YouTube channel. And like they're so shocked. They're like, this is like weird to see this other side of Kristin. Yeah. And then I share like my friends and my followers and like subscribers. They're like, what are you doing playing electronic music at three in the morning? <laugh> Now my friends are like, what's going now? And everyone's very confused. It's when, when you become a nomad or when you become an expat and you move to another country or when you become an immigrant or whatever you do next, it's like you have the opportunity to start over.
You can turn over a new leaf, you can create new habits. You can also kind of reinvent your identity and it's like the part of you that you want to show to people. That's what they get to see. So I guess you never really know cuz there's like who you really are. There's who you think you are, there's who other, how other people see you. I saw a meme about this the other day and it was like, you will never know your true self <laugh>. It's kind of like that, but hey, we're all in this together. So yeah, just doing the best we can and regardless of what happens, I would still take the flexibility and the freedom of the location, independent lifestyle any day over all of the alternatives.
Amy: Yeah. Yeah, me too.
Kristin: It's so great to hear how you've been navigating this and managing this over so many years. And your insights for the future and where can people learn more about you, follow your family's journeys, uh, get info on Nomad Collective?
Amy: Yeah, so my website, nomadtopia.com obviously has information about all of these things. And I'm on Instagram @nomadamy, that's really the primary place that I've been spending my time online recently.
Kristin: I gotta follow you.
Amy: And Kristin, I like to offer your listeners a free month in the collective and I'll give you a link that you can put in the show notes for people to check that out and sign up for a free month.
Kristin: All right, sounds good. Thanks Amy. And for everyone listening, check out Nomadtopia Radio podcast and Amy will also be interviewing me over there, so we'll link to that in the show notes as well.
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Editor and Coach
Originally from the United States and currently based in Santiago de Querétaro, Mexico, Amy Scott has been traveling and living abroad since 2004. She’s passionate about helping entrepreneurs, freelancers, and remote workers harness the power of location independence to create freedom in their life and work. As the founder of Nomadtopia, Amy connects and supports people around the globe who are building their own version of a location-independent lifestyle (aka Nomadtopia). Clients and colleagues call her “the queen of location independence,” “a true travel/work expert,” and “the go-to resource for anyone looking to make their living while traveling the world.” When she’s not sharing resources with her community or interviewing fellow nomads for her podcast, Amy can be found reading books of all genres, tasting local delicacies, and exploring new places or relaxing in the park with her Argentine husband and their Mexico-born twin toddlers.