I met Brad for a coffee after exchanging emails a few times. He was living just two hours south of myself and had been reading this blog when it was called A World of Inspiration. Brad is a web designer who became a minimalist and now travels all over the place with his laptop, his wife and his newborn baby.
There are a lot of people who think a baby (and marriage for that matter) are a hindrance to the nomadic lifestyle but Brad is proving them wrong. While the challenges are certainly greater, Brad is a great example of what’s possible when you make your dreams a priority. In this case, Brad and his wife want to see the world and not be chained down to one location. They became minimalists and got rid of most of their stuff, took their jobs on the road and are now living in Newfoundland for the next year.
Brad, you recently had a baby girl. How’s the adventure going?
It’s been a totally transforming experience. I never knew, nor expected, what it would be like to have a child. In my experience so far, I’ve realized how much having a child puts your entire existence on this earth into perspective. You have less time to worry about stupid things, because there is somebody, here and now, who needs your immediate attention. I like saying that having a child makes every day an unpredictable adventure — and there’s something exciting about that to me.
I read that you adopted minimalism as a lifestyle, getting rid of many things. What got you into minimalism and what impact has that had on your life?
A part of me has always looked for some deeper meaning to life, and one day while at work, I stumbled across The Minimalists and began reading, and reading, and reading; I was completely taken. Their essays had deeply resonated with me. From there, I researched minimalism extensively, and realized that this is something I’ve always wanted. Something simpler. Less stuff, more meaning.
My journey with minimalism has evolved greatly since discovering it almost two years ago. I started by simply clearing off my desk at work and working my way from there. Since then, my wife and I have entirely embraced what minimalism means to us — we’ve sold our furniture, our flat screen TV, donated much of our clothing, shoes, gidgets, gadgets & gizmos and almost every non-essential item in every nook-and-cranny. It was exhausting, but worth it. We feel much lighter now; like there’s less stuff between us.
If I understood correctly from our conversation, you are leaving your current home in Lethbridge, Alberta and moving to Newfoundland for a few months after just spending a month in Hawaii. Are you going to be a digital nomad with a wife and a baby?
Yes, when the time came around to re-sign our lease for another year, we decided to forego the renewal and take a month-long vacation & work sabbatical. We spent 20 days in Hawaii on the Island of O’ahu, discovering and adventuring all across the island. Our favourite part was, by far, the North Shore town of Hale’iwa. We then flew to San Francisco and spent a few days there, being total tourists and eating the local fare. One of the coolest parts of San Francisco was visiting the Farmer’s Market & having easy access to such fantastic food. We then flew back to Alberta to hang out for a couple weeks with my wife’s family before we left for the other side of the country.
We’re currently in a small town of just over 2,000 people in Newfoundland. We’re only an hour away from St. John’s, so we have easy access to a big city when we need it. My entire family hails from “The Rock”, and have been here for centuries, so it’s nice being able to be around my entire extended family. The scenery, the vibe, and the people are absolutely amazing here. It’s unlike any other place. We plan on staying out this way for a year. Then we’ll see where life takes us after that.
Many people fear kids for the fact that they won’t be able to travel anymore and live such a “free” lifestyle, but you’re about to prove everyone wrong right?
Yes! What you choose to do with your life depends on your priorities. If your priorities aren’t travelling, and living simply & freely — then you just won’t focus on travelling, and living simply & freely. Travelling is very important to us. So is minimalism. We choose to prioritize those things, and now our daughter gets to share the experience with us. I would be lying if I said our child doesn’t affect how we go about planning things; we just have to take another person into account when making those plans. If it’s a priority, we make it happen.
To support a nomadic lifestyle, can you tell us how you and/or your wife make an income without going into an office?
My primary source of income is Brightside Studios, a Web Design & Development business. In simple terms, I build websites for small and large businesses across Canada. I also teach others how to code with my online courses on Udemy & YouTube. My course sales are a significant source of passive income for me, and I continue to build my passive income sources through online courses, affiliate marketing, blogging about my lifestyle and just sending good vibes out in the world:) All of theses things do not require me to be in a specific location, which allows me and my family to travel and live wherever we want. My wife, Laura, is a photographer at Ash & Vine Photography. She runs this business from home as well, so it’s easy for her to work anywhere.
Did you have any plan to make this happen and if so, what steps did you take to make sure you were financially “stable” enough to support yourselves, a baby and a travelling/nomadic lifestyle?
I always knew that I wanted to work for myself, I just never knew exactly how to go about doing it. When I took the Interactive Design Program at Capilano University in 2009, I learned to design & build websites. That was my golden ticket.
I began freelancing right away, and in order to build my portfolio I worked on very small websites for very small budgets. Between 2009 and 2010, I worked as an Intern at a large Market Research Company and a small startup in Vancouver, then from 2011 to 2012 I worked as a Front-End Developer at a Digital Agency in Calgary. Around mid-2012, I realized I was ready for something bigger.
I loved my job in Calgary, but my dreams & aspirations were calling me, and I needed to move on. Since 2009, I’d built up a small network of clients as a freelancer, and I thought if I took the leap and began working for myself, I could leverage my current clients and try and build a larger group in order to sustain myself and my wife (and soon-to-be child) financially. I was very scared about leaving a predictable source of income, but I was ten-times more excited about the possibilities of working for myself from anywhere!
So, when I “burned the boat” and set sail as a self-employed individual in September of 2012, I had a plan in place, but I was also taking a gigantic leap of faith, and I just knew that what I was doing was the right thing to do. I told myself, even if I only made 75% of what I made at my full-time job, the freedom of working from home was worth the extra 25% and more! Now, being a location-independent, self-employed individual for over a year has been a wild success. In my first year, I’ve surpassed my previous full-time salary, and on top of that, my family and I get to travel whenever works best for us, and live wherever we feel.
What blogs, books or video clips are currently rocking your world? Or have rocked your world in the past?
How do you get things done with so many responsibilities, not to mention travel? Do you have a routine or any productivity tools that you use?
Sometimes it’s hard to keep my head on straight, but I like keeping things simple. I use Mint for tracking finances, Trello for To-Do Lists, Ballpark for Invoicing & Time Tracking, RescueTime for time management, Boomerang for Gmail management, and Messages & Skype for IM Communication. As for routine, I like starting my work day by making a latte, or espresso. It’s therapeutic; pulling a nice espresso shot, steaming the milk (or soy milk, in my case), smelling the aroma, and doing my best to create some fancy latte art in the crema of the espresso. Then I get my email out of the way, and then I choose a project to work on, and then hammer away!
You’re boldly living a limitless life. You’re thinking creatively and completely going against the common grain. What sparked such a radical mindset and a non-traditional lifestyle?
Realizing that life is finite. You get only one. It isn’t an audition, or a practise run—it’s the real thing! True happiness and fulfilment for me is rooted in being with my family and having very few distractions between us. Working for somebody else, commuting each day, partaking in the “rat race” and spending the majority of my time away from my wife & child just doesn’t work for me.
To all the readers out there, whether they have kids or not, what advice would you give someone who is looking at this right now and feeling the hairs stand up on the back of their necks? What would you tell someone who wants to live a similar lifestyle or a lifestyle more true to them?
Define what freedom means to you. Try and understand what is most important to you. Really try and come to terms with what that means to you. Write it down on paper. Really give it some thought. Once you’ve defined what is most important to you and what freedom means to you, understand that this is your life — your time is now. Every single day is a gift, and the fact that you woke up today is amazing — don’t ever take that for granted! Start taking steps toward living the life that will bring you tremendous happiness and fulfillment. Start right now. Wait no longer.
What does “Live Limitless” mean to you?
It means removing the boundaries in life that limit you from achieving complete happiness and utter contentment.
What’s your favourite part about travel?
There are the obvious things, such as, experiencing a new culture, seeing a new place, and having wonderful memories! But probably one of the best things about travelling is, each time I visit a new place I discover something new about myself that I may not known before. Every time you visit someplace, or live somewhere, you’re exposed to new people, new lifestyles, and new ideas of what “normal” is. Being in that new environment, even if only for a short while, reveals a new piece of the puzzle that allows me to see the bigger picture even more clearly. Sometimes it’s surprising, sometimes it’s obvious, but each time, I gain something valuable from the experience.
“We’re here for a good time, not a long time.” — Trooper
What did you think of this interview? Do you have any questions for Brad? Please post in the comments below!
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