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Would this question make you feel uncomfortable?

vahine island

Does this have to come to an end?


‘How long will you keep doing this for?’ is the weird question I have been asked three times in the last month.

And each time, I’m stumped. I can waffle my way through a vague semblance of a response to most questions. But not this one.

Is it an awkward question, or is it just me?

Why is it that this question makes me feel a bit exposed, like I’ve been caught out wearing no knickers under my sarong? Why do I find it mildly intrusive, like I’ve been asked why I’m not wearing any knickers under my sarong? I’m usually pretty open and willing to answer most things, falling foul of the TMI rule on many an occasion. But this question just makes me feel uncomfortable and despite my advanced psychological training (hehe) I can’t put my finger on why.


Living on the periphery of your comfort zone

When I woke up this morning I didn’t know where I was. I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often- since leaving home in June we are staying in our ninth home. When we arrived in Auckland late Monday night we weaved through the dark and windy airport car park to find the elusive row E and our hire car. Slamming the doors to the creeping chill we huddled over the GPS to input an unfamiliar address in an unknown town. At 1AM we pulled up outside a drive we thought probably belonged to our next home exchange.

vahine island

Our new home in New Zealand


As we approached the front door we still weren’t 100% sure we’d find a key under the mat and the rain had started in earnest. We wrestled our bags up the steep drive in our arms in case the wheels woke the neighbours. An hour later we were tucked up in someone else’s bed, marvelling at the wonders of an electric blanket. This stuff is more normal for us than wearing a groove in the same route to do the same things and living within the same 5 mile radius for 90% of our lives. That’s what seems strange to us.


Is Saturday night in front of the X factor inevitable?

I don’t know how long we will keep doing this for. The question implies an assumption that it must come to an end. I imagine if I asked a friend who has a lovely 3 bedroom home, a new car and a shiny career how long they would be doing that for I would get some funny looks. Does my chosen lifestyle have an expiration date? Will there be a time when I will grow up and settle down to one place? Can this only happen in conjunction with a commitment to shopping in the same supermarket week after week, seeing the same friends, spending weekends in the DIY store followed by X factor and a take-away?

vahine island

Chris don’t wanna settle down!


That’s not to say I don’t enjoy those things from time to time. I like a trip to Ikea as much as the next person. I too have a candle cupboard which could give a cathedral at Christmas a run for its money. We home exchange- so we CAN go home. That’s why we are ‘flex-pats’ and not permanent travellers. But for me the old adage of ‘everything in moderation’ works for staying put just as much as it does for travelling. No need to spoil a good thing by overdoing it. When I am in my home in the UK I want to LOVE it. I don’t want to be there because it’s safe and easy and familiar. And when it starts to become those things then it’s time to move. So in answer to the question, I don’t know. I don’t understand why I would know that. It works for now; when it doesn’t we will do something else. I’m all for having a plan- but I don’t have a crystal ball.


Do you know how long you will keep doing this (whatever you life currently is) for? Do you want to know?


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17 Responses to “Would this question make you feel uncomfortable?”

  1. Great post and I get asked the same thing. To the non flex-pat (great term btw) or suitcase entrepreneur our life can just look either exotic or plain demanding. And it’s not for everyone either. So I usually answer with `this is my ideal lifestyle right now and I love it’ .

    In the future I may consider another way of life but I will certainly never be nesting and wasting hours in front of the TV when I could be traveling and building businesses for myself and others.
    Natalie Sisson recently posted..Get Busy Living An Epic Life And Make Money Developing Mobile Apps With Benny Hsu [Podcast]

    • Completely agree Natalie. This way of life does not have to come to an end, it may change in different ways but as long as you love it then keep doing it. C

      • Hannah and Chris
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  2. Hey guys,

    I think it is an awesome way to celebrate your online success and while traveling like this may not be for everyone (some would say kids get in their way, worry about their belongings at their own place, not having all of their material stuff with them, etc) I still believe that if you can do it, you should!

    As for me goes, I’m still in awe watching all the pictures and places you share and I wouldn’t blink twice to live at least 2 or 3 years like that along with my soon to be wife.

    Now, I do think I did wonder if this could be sustainable forever (and there’s no reason why it couldn’t) but I like the reasoning behind having a place you actually call “home” and know that whenever you get tired (if that’s even possible) you have a resource to crash and settle down for a while.

    So for now, keep on keeping on guys! ;-)


    • Hi Sergio, I don’t think we could travel like this if we did not have a home in the UK to go back to. Not only is it nice to return home for a while but we also use it to exchange for other homes, it would seem a very expensive option to have a home empty in one country while renting another one somewhere else!

      • Hannah and Chris
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  3. Flex pat is an awesome term… did you coin that?

    If you’re making enough money to sustain the lifestyle indefinitely, then its definitely a weird question. But you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable, the asker should!
    Tony recently posted..Big Flavors In Little China – Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown

  4. I think that’s definitely a weird question! I mean, why does anyone make the choices they make in life?

    There really is no right or wrong way to live your life, it’s all in what you make of it. And you’re right, who says that your current lifestyle has to ever come to an end?

    If it works for you and makes you happy, then that’s all that matters. I know that for myself, I holding a 9-5 job for the rest of my life and strolling into an office everyday sounds miserable to me.

    I think that when people ask you this question, it’s not to be rude – but more so because your lifestyle makes them uncomfortable. They don’t understand that home doesn’t have to confined to a static place, that it can be wherever you are.
    Hermine recently posted..7 Kick Ass Ways to Find Your Writing Voice

    • Exactly Hermine, you make any choice to make your life (and the people you care about) happy. So if you are not happy, then start to make that change in what you do.

      • Hannah and Chris
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  5. I think the only possible answer that really makes sense is “I will keep doing this until it stops being the best thing I can think of doing. When it’s no longer my best option, I will move into the option that is best”

    It’s that simple. Just do what seems like the best plan of action, and always keep your eyes open for better ones.

    What do you think?
    Eddy Azar recently posted..What I Learned This Week

    • Completely agree, as Hermine said above ‘Why does anyone make the choices they make in life?’ You do them to make you happy

      • Hannah and Chris
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  6. Hi guys,

    I was watching a film recently and when one of the character’s was asked what time the party he was throwing would end, his response was “it’s over when it’s over” which I loved and think could be an appropriate response for you. Most people ask the same question of self employed people as though running your own business is a hobby. The reason being most people can’t imagine living outside of the “norm” and view doing so as an “experience” rather than a way of life.

    As you know I totally love the way you have designed your life and I am so happy and grateful that you have chosen to share your life journey with us.

    • I love this Leanne, it is an appropriate comparison! I hadn’t thought about it directly but you are right, self employment can seem like something you play at to an outsider’s point of view, so imagine what it looks like when you throw travel in there too! Your words are lovely, thank you

      • Hannah and Chris
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  7. Oh my, COURSE it makes you feel uncomfortable! Imagine going up to someone in a relationship and saying “so how long do you think you’ll keep with that one then?”. It certainly isn’t something you’d say to someone you met casually and definitely carries an assumption of impermanence. As Leanne said so well it has something to do with the person who says it seeing this as something of an extended gap year rather than the norm, and I suspect has to do with the general discomfort with uncertainty – and now having a fixed location is by definition impermanent. Some people like to be able to put you into a box and it’s hard to put a roving free-ranger/flex-pat/suitcase entrepreneur into a box (we move too fast, heh heh :)).

    Anyway, the answer I give is much like Natalie’s: “this is what I love right now and I don’t see any reason to stop, but who knows how you or I will feel about what we want 5 years’ from now?”. Usually this gets a good response and is honest :)

    • Great to hear from your Marianne. Your answer is exactly what we started using on our last trip, it worked a treat! C

      • Hannah and Chris
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  8. This is a great post on such a common situation! I think it stems from other people’s insecurities – they don’t want to know that this is a viable and sustainable lifestyle in for the long run.

    But the only answer for me really is “until I get bored”. For now however, the alternative of settling into the 9-5 is and will remain much more boring to me.

    • Glad you liked the post Mike. Sounds like you have the right attitude to keep going and achieving the sort of lifestyle that you want. I think some people may be uncomfortable with the concept because as much as they might be intrigued, they know they probably don’t want it enough to face the challenges of making it happen. Which is fine, each to their own!

      • Hannah and Chris
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