The Freedom Life: March 2018

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After five years of living in China, and two years of This Beijing Life, things have changed. I left my job as a college counselor in China, and now I’m living a life on my terms. I’m my own boss, I travel when I want, and live where I want. I’m FINALLY living my dream of location independence.

I hope you’ll all follow me along on my new journey: The Freedom Life.

What it's like to be a location independent digital nomad! #digitalnomad #locationindependence #adventuresaroundasia

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What I Was Up to This March

If I could summarize March in one word, it would be “stressful”. With two weeks in Palm Desert with my parents and another two weeks in the Seattle area, I had limited time to get EVERYTHING done before I left the US for another year.

However, there were some big upsides to March as well. Last month I was able to spend a lot of time with family and friends I haven’t seen in FOREVER.

Where I Went in March

  • Palm Desert, California
  • Palm Springs, California
  • Edmonds, Washington
  • Kingston, Washington
Mutianyu Great Wall

My parents and I hiking the Great Wall

Highlights

Here are a few of the absolute best moments of March!

1. Spending Time With Family

Having a full month in the US was something I’ve been dying to have for a while. It was so great to spend about a month with my parents in Palm Desert (through February and March), and two weeks back home in the Seattle area.

I also got to meet up with my grandpa and aunt twice while I was home, which was really great. I feel like I never actually get to see my family with the limited time I spend at home, so it was really important for me to make the time.

napa wedding

Caitlin and Joe came to visit Seattle!

2. Meeting Up With Friends I Haven’t Seen in Forever

Typically when I head home to Seattle, I can maybe meet up with my friends once before they leave town. Last year, I couldn’t get Christmas off from my college counseling job, so I ended up going home for New Years and almost all of my friends had already left town.

It was really great to finally be able to see my friends from home, and I was almost overwhelmed by the amount of effort many of my (and Chris’) friends went through to see us. From driving multiple hours, to literally flying to Seattle for the weekend.

Freedom Life

Chris riding the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston

3. Showing Chris Around My Hometown

Chris has actually been to Edmonds, Washington TWICE since he had two friends from my town while he taught in South Korea (seriously, NO ONE is from Edmonds). But it was still really great to be able to show Chris the house where I grew up, and the town where I’m from.

We went to my local mall and saw a movie, wandered around downtown Edmonds, took the ferry to Kingston (twice), and went on runs through my neighborhood.

Who would’ve thought I’d be engaged to a guy before I finally got to take him to see my hometown!

Freedom Life

Yum Korean food!

4. Getting US Health Insurance

As stressful as all of the appointments were, actually being able to get health insurance in the US was incredible. While I technically applied and was accepted in February, I didn’t actually get to use my health insurance until I was home in Washington state.

Because I travel full time, I wasn’t sure if I’d be accepted to the Washington State Medicaid Program, Apple Health. But now that I’m no longer a Chinese resident, I can claim residency in Washington even though I’m barely ever home. I just needed to prove that my taxable income was lower than $1,700 per month (which includes all business expenses). Hey, if I pay taxes I should be able to reap the benefits!

Because I was accepted to Apple Health, I was able to do so many things I haven’t been able to do in years. I went to the dentist and got a cleaning and a cavity filled for free. I had an annual checkup and lady exam at the doctor. I got a birth control implant in my arm, and I didn’t have to pay for travel health insurance while I was home!

While US health insurance is a mess, I was pleasantly surprised by how great my coverage was. Let’s hope that someday we develop a single-payer healthcare system that’s just like my Medicaid, but available for everyone.

The Freedom Life

At least we got In and Out

Challenges

Overall, this month was pretty stressful. Here’s what went down!

1. Doctor’s, Dentists, and Shots, Oh My!

I feel like I spent half my time in Palm Desert arranging appointments and 90% of my time in Washington attending them. I had just over two weeks in Seattle and spent literally every single day either going to an appointment or meeting up with a friend. Literally every single day.

I had to go to the dentist THREE times (because apparently x-rays and cleanings need to be done on separate days at my center), plus a doctor’s appointment, an appointment for my implant, a haircut, travel vaccines, and more.

I also met up with friends and family TEN times! By the time I left Seattle, I literally wanted to hide in my room and not talk to anyone or go anywhere for a month.

We also had to go to the mall 3 times because people in Chris’ Africa office kept thinking of new things they wanted us to bring them, but of course, by the time they told us it was too late to order anything on Amazon.

freedom life

Packing for Africa

2. SO Stressed For Time

With only two weeks at home, I felt like there weren’t enough hours in the day for everything I needed to do. Seriously, take one look at all of my appointments and friend meetups and tell me that doesn’t give you a panic attack.

There were so many things I wanted to do while I was home, and there just wasn’t enough time! I wanted to take Chris around downtown Seattle, get tons of work done, and visit all of my favorite restaurants. We never actually made it to Seattle, and pretty much didn’t leave the house unless we were heading to an appointment or meeting up with a friend.

Freedom Life

I ate Mexican to make myself feel better

3. Getting The Implant

While I’m super happy I was able to get the birth control implant for free, it wasn’t exactly a pleasant process. The implant involves a minor surgery, and my arm HURT for multiple days afterward. It was difficult to sleep, type, drive, exercise, or lift anything. It took about four days for it to stop hurting like crazy, and another week for it to stop hurting completely.

While I didn’t have any of the major side effects associated with the implant, my emotions were (and still kind of are) all over the place. I found myself crying over stupid stuff and getting way more upset about things than I should be. Hopefully, it calms down after a month or two…

Freedom Life

I stole this scarf

4. Cold Weather and No Winter Clothes

Seattle was crazy-cold while I was home! Seriously, it even snowed twice! Seattle is not a very cold place, especially not at the end of March, so I didn’t bother packing a heavy coat or boots. This meant stealing boots, a sweater, and pajama pants from my mom’s closet so I wouldn’t die.

I basically wore the same 4 outfits every day while I was home. BRRRRR!

Freedom Life

Getting my healthy food fix on

Monthly Finances

Here’s My Monthly February Income Breakdown!

  • Blogging Partnerships – $238
  • Freelance Writing – $220
  • Affiliate Sales – $117.40
  • Teaching Referrals – $50

Total Revenue – $625.40

Total Profit (Minus Blog Expenses) – net loss of $299.24

Well… this month was horrible profit-wise. While my income wasn’t terrible, I had a TON of yearly blog expenses like my Siteground hosting, Thrive Themes, Tailwind, Canva for Business, and more. I also purchased the Pinterest Avalanche Course, which was another big expense.

I hate spending more money than I make in a month, but at least I still have a solid $600 owed to me that will hopefully come in next month. Cash accounting can be brutal.

Total Savings – $11,219

To be honest, losing $5,000 in savings in ONE MONTH gave me a panic attack. How is that even possible?? I went through my spending and expenses, and my only explanation is that not only did I have a ton of blog expenses this month, I also had a ton of life expenses too.

I had to get $300 in travel vaccines, I purchased multiple flights, I bought a new suitcase and got 6-months of travel insurance. I bought a new lens for my camera (it’s AMAZING by the way) and gear for my GoPro. I also purchased clothes and toiletries I’d need for the next year. Oh… and a wedding venue deposit.

This, on top of all my blog expenses, made a brutal month. Let’s hope that staying put in Tanzania for the next three months will mean I’ll be ADDING to my savings, not draining them.

The Freedom Life

Mmm Korean

March Blog Posts

This month I actually re-wrote two very important blog posts that were out of date. I’m super glad I did this because I link to these posts a lot, and I want to make sure everyone has the best information out there!

Since I’m also a staff writer for Go Overseas, I thought it might be fun to share what I write with all of you!

I’m sensing a theme here…

Best Instagram

Everyone loves Nara deer!

The only thing I like more about Nara than the deer is these moss covered lanterns.

A post shared by Richelle (@adventuresaroundasia) on

Seriously, if you want some great photos go to Fushimi Inari at sunrise.

Fushimi Inari just after sunrise ❤

A post shared by Richelle (@adventuresaroundasia) on

Book of the Month

This month I read Young China: How the Restless Generation Will Change Their Country and the World by Zak Dychtwald. I’m not 100% done with this book yet because I got distracted by reading Mindy Weiss’ The Wedding Book now that I’m actually planning a wedding.

That said, I’ve really enjoyed Young China so far. I was actually approached by Dychtwald who knew I lived in China for a few years. He asked me to read the book and let him know my thoughts. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to learn much about Chinese culture and young Chinese people, but I was SO pleasantly surprised!

Seriously, if you’re moving to China or are at all interested in learning about where the world is heading, be sure to read this book. Dychtwald really goes in-depth and uses his fluency in Mandarin to learn things that 5 years in China didn’t teach me.

Edmonds Ferry

Hello from Edmonds, Washington!

Best Reads of March

A list of my favorite blog posts from the month of March!

You Are Enough – This Battered Suitcase

I can’t tell you how often I felt like this living in China. Before I met Chris, my self-esteem really took a giant beating from being an expat girl in China (the dating scene is NOT good).

10 Reasons Why House Sitting is the Ultimate Job – Goats on the Road

I’ve wanted to house sit for years now and still haven’t gotten into it yet. For some reason, my calendar just seems to fill up a year in advance! This is something I definitely want to do in the future though.

19 Things I Learned From 10 Years of Blogging – Nomadic Matt

Some solid blogging tips for all the travel bloggers (or aspiring travel bloggers) out there.

I Get Paid to Travel the World. Here Are the 7 Biggest Lessons I’ve Learned – The Blog Abroad

Humor and great advice from Glo. Like I’d expect anything different.

Palm Desert

Reading my kindle by the pool… not bad!

What’s Next For April 2018?

This April I’ll be moving to Tanzania! I’ll be heading to Africa at the very beginning of April for a stint that should probably last 3 months.

First, it’ll take me a solid 4 days to get from Seattle to Nairobi with the time difference and all my crazy layovers. Then, I’ll spend 2 days in Nairobi where I’ll go on my first safari! After that, I’ll take a 5-hour bus to Arusha, Tanzania.

Chris works for a safari company based out of Tanzania, so he’ll be working at the office while I work online. Chris’ boss will be putting us up in her newly finished lodge, while we both come into the office every day. I should also be doing a little bit of social media and photography work for the company so I’m not a huge mooch.

Wish me luck!

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About Richelle

Expat, traveler, and spicy food lover, I've spent the last few years living in China and traveling around Asia. In my spare time I enjoy salsa dancing, exploring night markets and stuffing my face with street food.

6 comments on “The Freedom Life: March 2018

  1. Every people wants to enjoy there life but their busy schedule doesn’t appreciate to do this. You take a right decision, I like It. Everything is important for life but for life most important to follow your heart. I always follow my heart. Your post has informative information.

  2. Thank you so much for including me in the best reads section! It sound like you had a very stressful month but I bet all those worries will melt away in Tanzania. What an amazing adventure :)

    • Thanks so much Brenna! Tanzania hasn’t been much calmer than Seattle but lets hope things get a bit better when I actually have a place to stay with functioning internet… hahaha

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