Using Points & Miles While Homeless In This Phase Of Life – Chapter 1

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Using Points & Miles While Homeless In This Phase Of Life – Chapter 1

Using Points & Miles While Homeless In This Phase Of Life – Chapter 1

A new chapter of life means my wife and I are using points & miles while homeless right now. I say “homeless” because don’t technically live anywhere right now. If we didn’t have points & miles to use at present, I would definitely be stressed.

This is chapter 1 in what likely will be numerous posts in the future as we figure out the next part of life, where it takes us, and what happens along the way.

What’s Happening With Us?

To recap: I grew up in the US and met my wife while she was living in the US. After getting married, we agreed to move back to Brazil, where she grew up. Her lifelong dream had been to become a veterinarian. Vet school in the US is insanely expensive. We moved back to Brazil, lived with her mom for 5 years, and my wife just graduated last month.

The awesome part is that we are debt free, no student loans. My wife’s degree also meets the educational requirements for working / getting a veterinary license in the US, Canada, EU, and more. The problem is that she can’t work in the US or elsewhere until she passes the licensing test for foreign vets, which is not at all easy. All things considered, the paperwork, written exam, and practical exam will cost about $20,000! That’s US Dollars.

Obviously, she doesn’t want to take the exam until she’s really ready. How does she get ready? She needs some experience working with vets in English. She learned all the medicines and tools etc. in Portuguese. She knows how to be a veterinarian; she just needs to learn some lingo to get ready for the exam.

That brings us to the present: my wife got called for her dream internship. Starting September 1, she will be an intern at a wildlife rehabilitation center that helps injured animals and then releases them back into the wild when they’re ready. They even have student housing. It’s unpaid, but it will be the best step forward for her career.

When you hear “student housing” you probably assume I can’t stay there. That’s correct.

In fact, I won’t even be in the US while she’s there.

Because I’ve been working and living outside the US for the last 5 years, I have been exempt from the bulk of US taxes. My plan is to remain outside the US for the rest of the year, in order to remain exempt for 2021. That means I won’t owe thousands of dollars of personal income taxes for this year. Since I work online, I can continue working from wherever, my wife can do her internship, and then we will meet up around Christmas or the end of the year…somewhere. It’s not financially smart for me to remain in the US, thus owing thousands of dollars in taxes, when I can’t even sleep where my wife is staying anyway. So I’ll bounce around outside the country.

That’s why I say we are using points & miles while homeless, since we technically don’t have a home right now.

Using Points & Miles While Homeless In This Phase Of Life – Chapter 1

Where Are We Now?

We passed through the US for 5 days recently. We flew up to the US with as much stuff as we could bring on our LATAM flight (read my review here) and put it in storage near my parents’ house. We went to Denver for the meet-up for the Miles To Memories Diamond Patreon group, and now we are in Mexico.

Since my wife needs to be back in the US for her internship on September 1, we have 2+ weeks together to travel for a bit. We really have no idea what’s coming next and are just making it up as we go during this trip. Beaches, scuba diving, and enjoying time together are the only real plans before splitting up for a few months.

And After We Split Up For A Few Months?

What happens after my wife goes to her internship is still to be determined. I need to make those plans, which will obviously include visiting countries I haven’t visited yet. A good friend of mine messaged me saying his wife told him to meet up with me in “one of those countries people can’t pronounce”.

I’ll be able to use points & miles for free flights to get my wife where she needs to be plus get myself to the places I will visit solo. Luckily, a lot of the places I want to visit have a low cost of living, such as Western Africa and Central Asia. My money will go far on meals and daily spend for transportation, etc. And I can work, supporting both of us while my wife is making her dreams a reality.

The Positives

Obviously, there are a lot of positives. My wife will strengthen her career aspects toward a career that earns good money. She will be happy with the work she is doing. The future will be better for us.

I will get to see some new places, save a bunch of money by not owing a year’s worth of income taxes, and visit some places solo that my wife isn’t interested in visiting on joint trips.

We are also lucky that we don’t have kids, which would make this impossible. We don’t have any pets, since our dog died last year. And our stuff is in storage near supportive parents who will pass by to check on it every so often.

The fact I earn dollars for my work is also a huge plus.

The Negatives

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that there are negatives to this. We’ll spend several months apart during a time that my wife will likely be stressed and exhausted. Support via FaceTime isn’t quite the same.

Travel uncertainties make my trip more complex than it would’ve been 2 years ago. What if I get COVID and have to quarantine in a foreign country? Getting malaria in Tanzania sucked, and I have no desire to spend more time in a foreign hospital. Plus there are the ever-changing rules of what documents you need for visiting various countries. That makes planning more than 2 weeks in advance almost useless, so planning can’t be done in bulk.

Vision For The Next 2.5 Weeks

My wife and I have about 2.5 more weeks together. During this time, we are currently in Cabo San Lucas in Baja California, Mexico. We are debating whether to go to another part of Mexico that we’ve never been to or go to Belize next. Now that Canada is open, do we want to go there to see some National Parks and some friends that we haven’t seen in 5 years? Everything is happening on the fly, planned only a few days in advance. But we don’t plan to leave North America during these 2.5 weeks together.

Final Thoughts

My wife and I are fortunate to be able to put together something like this. People outside this hobby can’t comprehend that we aren’t stressed by what’s happening right now. Those who don’t use points and miles don’t understand how we could be OK with the uncertainty and booking things on the fly. Probably even some people within this hobby see this as being outside their comfort zone. For us, we’ve accepted it, and it works for our current situation. We are lucky in many ways, and being able to use points & miles while homeless in this season of our lives will save us incredible sums of money. In fact, we wouldn’t even consider trying to do this if we had to pay cash for anything.

I will provide updates along the way. I’m sure everything won’t be perfect, but it will definitely be interesting.

Ryan Smith
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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26 COMMENTS

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26 COMMENTS

  1. Would like to hear more about C Asia and W Africa as travel options. I am examining both. Current Info lacking except for Hobo travel guy and Drew but both have their flaws as travel bloggers.

    • Are you talking about border restrictions or what’s open or…? Let me know what you’re trying to find out, and if I don’t know I can likely tell you someone who does.

      • Hello and thanks for reply.
        Yes what’s open now, and if it’s possible now to travel from one country in the region to another.
        Also what is there to see, costs etc…
        Thanks!

        • As far as what to see, I recommend Nomad Mania and clicking on all of the micro regions you’re interested in to see what’s there, the culture, some regions have guide contact info, etc. Overland border info is spotty right now, just to be honest. Not a lot of people are trying it, simply because of a lack of info, and that creates a lack of data points. Finding out air border info is simple, since it’s online. You could always try the Facebook groups for “West Africa Travelers” and “Every Passport Stamp” to ask if anyone has recent experience in a region you’re looking at going to.

  2. Ryan, I am following this story since I will be in a similar “homeless” position starting mid-April when my apt lease ends, but my school housing doesn’t start until June or July. Yes, I will be homeless since I won’t have a home. I am hoping the pandemic eases up by then.

    • Steve – we dove with East Cape Explorers. Local dives in the area weren’t very interesting. I recommend the “bigger” trips such as the shark dives and trips outside the area, which are supposed to be better. It was “meh” diving in the local area.

        • Now that I’m actually on a computer, not my phone, Gordo Banks is the shark dive and the other, pretty well-known dive is Cabo Pulmo. FYI – if you dive Gordo Banks, several of the dive shops that run that dive won’t let you dive there unless you dive with them earlier in the week to check out equipment, prove your skills. It’s a no-reference dive in the middle of the ocean, so your stuff has to work right (proper weights, know how to manage buoyancy without something to hold onto, etc.).

  3. You should be more thoughtful in your use of the word “homeless.” For you it’s an option to live nomadically. Please reconsider the conflation of your fun, leisurely, money-saving adventure with the desperation of the actually unhoused.

      • It’s not really up to you to decide Ryan. Your belief in whether or not this is the right word is irrelevant to whether or not it causes, or could cause, harm.

  4. Can’t you even make short term visits back to the U.S. so you can see your wife? If you don’t establish residency anywhere in the U.S., don’t pay utilities, etc. does the IRS monitor that you stayed out of the country through your passport?

    • Hardly. It is such a mess, one agency does not talk to other. They would have to have some suspicion and especially ask the other other agency

  5. Choosing to be apart from your spouse for 4 months to save on taxes- would not fly in my house. I know there will be a cost to living abroad on your own, is it orders of magnitude greater than the cost of living with your wife? I get that lots of people behave differently due to tax code implications, but the next time there is a national debate about universal health care, climate change costs, livable minimum wage, etc. you have lost the moral high ground and your words are without impact. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do that matters most.

    • Ron – as stated in the article, I can’t even stay where my wife is staying, so that’s not an option. Also, I completely disagree that talking about climate change or universal health care is remotely relevant here.

  6. Great that you’ve got the tax strategy worked out. I worked as an expat, living abroad from a hotel room for over a year. Once adjusted to the space I found it very easy – and the tax savings were an unwritten benefit to the job.

  7. Good for you guys. Your story is interesting to be sure and it’s great that things are moving in a positive direction. If it’s not prying too much, I’d be interested in hearing about the taxation implications of living abroad.

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