Nomad Family Reboot 2020

Nomad Family Moving to Mazatlan

It’s hard to believe that we haven’t posted to our blog in over two years, but then again time flies when you’re making babies. Ha. Ha. Hahahahasob. Let’s get you up to speed on our next nomad family adventure.

Our last post was in August of 2017 while we were living in Guanajuato, Mexico, just after our second son Cormoran was born. We ended up staying in Guanajuato for another year, with a short visa run to Costa Rica in March of 2018. This was around the time that we found out we were pregnant with our third child. While we were used to navigating a birth abroad after our first two, we were ready for a change and the easy button option was to return to Spokane to stay with family for a bit. We wouldn’t have to speak French or Spanish at check-ups or the birth, the paperwork for registering our new chunky monkey would be in English and completed mostly by hospital staff, and we’d have family around to help manage the chaos that comes with two babies and a 5-year-old. Guanajuato, its people and our two lovely babysitters will always have a place in our hearts. It’s a city full of spirit and we hope to visit again in the near future.

We returned to the U.S. in the summer of 2018. David accepted an offer from Blackbird (Uber for private jets), and focused on scaling their customer service team and systems. Sarah continued her work with The Spun Yarn and was promoted to Chief Operating Officer. Both of our companies were based in San Francisco, so we made a few trips out to the Bay area to connect with teams and also to explore the city. San Francisco is beautiful, but a bit too career and material-focused for our liking. There was a time in our lives when 60-hour weeks, late night website releases and even a little office politicking was enjoyable. Without kids, that life (and of course all the travel) is exciting, but we’ve reached a stage where we can focus more on the bigger picture. In our marriage, we’ve learned what each partner needs to be happy, the value of our time, and where best to invest our energy to achieve our goals. Delivering our “Best” in our careers is no longer tied to long hours or clever tactical solutions, but to leveraging our experience to guide solutions that impact the company as a whole. It’s a fun stage to be in. We have much to learn, but our successes and failures allow us to look to the future with fewer distractions.

nomad family's new addition
Summer time with Piper and Spencer

In December, our daughter Piper was born (finally, a girl!). It was a natural birth, no epidural, and Sarah’s mom got to join us! Sarah gave birth with an epidural for our first two boys, so this was new territory for us. Watching Sarah adjust her body, describe what she’s feeling to the staff, and manage her breathing with each push was just incredible. One of the midwives actually said, “Wow, I can tell you’ve done this a few times. You make it look so easy!” Piper’s birth experience was a gift we weren’t expecting. Sarah had read Ina May Gaskin‘s books about natural birth beforehand, and wished she’d known about them with the first two babies.

In March, Blackbird wasn’t working out, and David decided to leave the company in search of a better fit. We have a follow up post where we discuss delaying employment in favor of company fit and the details of David’s search!

David ultimately found the perfect fit with Willow, and joined their team as an Operations Analyst in June. Willow is a femtech leader located in Mountain View, California. They produce a silent cordless breast pump that fits in a bra and is perfect for return-to-work moms, long commutes or moms who just want a little more freedom. It was great timing, since Sarah was breastfeeding Piper when David joined Willow! David’s focus is on developing the Customer Care team’s reporting suite while optimizing their systems for contact reduction. The team and challenge is everything David had hoped for and more.

Around the time that David left Blackbird we purchased one way tickets to Tirana, Albania. Another nomad family we met in Guanajuato had moved there and had great things to say about the school their two boys were attending. It also had great weather and lax immigration requirements, but we ultimately decided to forego the move as Piper was still very small, and searching for a remote position from abroad might present additional challenges.

Still wanting to live abroad, we began researching new locations and set a new timeframe for the move based on Spencer’s schooling. We’ve covered our destination decision rubric in past posts and podcasts, but here’s a brief overview of our process.

  1. Build a matrix listing potential cities against our deciding factors
  2. Deciding factors:
    • Culture (for instance, we’d like to continue our journey to Spanish fluency)
    • Schooling options
    • Internet speeds & co-working options
    • Timezone (David works for a company based on the West Coast, and with the small kids we’re not open to doing swing shift)
    • Cost and journey time to visit family
    • Convenience (with two huge babies, a city like Guanajuato would be hard to pull off this time)
    • Climate
    • Cost of living
    • Immigration requirements
    • Parks and other nearby activities
  3. Forget everything and buy tickets to Cape Town. 😉 (just kidding! Still our favorite city in the world, but the timing isn’t right to go back)
  4. Reach out to expat groups, other nomads and schools in each area.
  5. Discuss our findings and choose a destination.

We’ve yet to go as far as visiting a location for a “test run,” which some nomad families seem to prefer. We do take a lot of long virtual Google walks around the city though!

Our search for a home base led us to Mazatlan, Mexico: the pearl of the pacific.

What David loves about Mazatlan: A big factor in our decision was David having an old friend who’s lived there for 9 years. He married a Mexican woman and has kids attending a school that they highly recommend. The city hosts the world’s third largest carnival festival, and is flush with international cuisine due to it being a major stop for cruise ships. The temperature in the 80s (F) year-round, and they have only 2-3 months a year of rain. There are three co-working spaces that we’re aware of with internet speeds of 100 mbps.

What Sarah loves about Mazatlan: I’m not going to lie, I’m not as geeked about moving as I have been in the past. Having one kid is one thing. Having three under the age of six is … just plain hard to survive. I’ve loved being close to my family, without whose support I would have gone insane. When David and I talked about moving abroad again, we knew that our family was different now, and we had different needs. I preferred to stay in Mexico because it was closer to family, and because we love Spanish and the Mexican family culture. We knew that we needed an English-speaking primary school for Spencer, who has some auditory processing difficulties that make it difficult for him to learn. After Guanajuato, I was worn out from carrying children, groceries, and huge water jugs up steep hillsides. With two toddlers, I wanted a stroller-friendly city, with enough creature comforts and parks to make life a little easier on us during these early years with the kids. Mazatlan ticks all of these boxes without being as touristy as other destinations. So, Mazatlan here we come!

Thank you so much for following our journey. We’re excited to share more with you as our next chapter begins.

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