Lizz Quain is one of those who left the United States of America after President Donald Trump won the presidential election. She left the country with her 9-year-old twins almost a year and a half ago to travel the world.
Ms. Quain, who is in her 40s, owned a children’s play cafe and preschool near Seattle before she renounced her American middle-class existence in August 2016, fed up with what she described as a stifling, consumerist culture.
Once Donald J. Trump was elected president, she made a common liberal refrain — “If Trump wins, I’m leaving the country” — reality, deciding not to return home with her daughters, Aubrey and Gabriella. After traveling through Asia and Europe, she is now figuring out how to start a business selling products through Amazon to finance the life of an itinerant-by-choice single mother.
“If the G.O.P. gets out of office, if our education system improves, if we get universal health care, I’ll move back to the States because we’ll get tired of traveling,” Ms. Quain said. But until that utopian day arrives, “We’re unplugging from the Matrix.”
The Quains are not the only family that has of late dispensed with the trappings of the American dream (house, school, career) and gone nomad. Hopping from one vacation rental to the next or piling into R.V.s, they have sold or rented out their homes and unloaded most of their possessions, financing their travels with savings or work done remotely.
They chronicle their adventures on YouTube channels, Instagram and blogs including NomadTogether, Unsettle Down and Terra Trekkers. They gather at annual conventions like the Project World School Family Summit in Guanajuato, Mexico, with sessions like “No, I’m not on vacation” and “Worldschoolers, your child can go to university!”
Just like late-1960s hippies, right? But living an untethered life has gotten easier now that many people need only a laptop and a fast internet connection to earn a living. Websites like Nomadlist help people decide where on Earth to go. The rise of Airbnb makes it easy to rent space in most corners of the globe with a swipe of your iPhone. Roving parents can find global play dates and moral support on Facebook groups like Worldschoolers, which has about 40,000 members.
Lainie Liberti, an administrator of the group, said it’s not just the tense political climate in the United States motivating people to leave. “People are not seeing a future,” she said. “People are starting to focus on living now and focusing on their children. They are re-evaluating what is important to them.”
Ms. Quain, who worked as much as 100 hours a week running her own company, worried about the values she was imparting to her daughters. “I don’t want them to grow up to be worker bees,” she said. “I want them to grow up to be freethinking entrepreneurs.”
Like many of the new expats, she is home-schooling (“worldschooling” is the more popular term.) Her daughters are learning Spanish at a Medellin day camp and spend their spare time playing Minecraft and Roblox, video games they sometimes play online with other traveling children. She hopes eventually they’ll start their own YouTube channel, if someone will teach them. “Once I get my business up and running,” she said. “I’ll hire people to teach them how to do things.”
What It Costs
Ms. Quain expects to spend about $1,700 a month on housing, day camp, activities and a nanny in Medellin. Paul Kortman, who, with his wife, Becky Kortman, wrote “Family Freedom: A Guide to Becoming a Location Independent Family,” estimates that a family could travel indefinitely on $60,000 a year, a salary he says could be earned with a little ingenuity.
“All you need to do is have a laptop and be an intelligent person,” Mr. Kortman said. “You don’t need a specific skill set.”