Apr 1, 2024 6 min read

Reinventing Yourself as a Nomad—at Age 64

There’s an opening line to a song (Love Story) that asks, “Where do I begin?” and when I am asked to tell OUR story, I sometimes don’t know where to start.

Kat and Norm the nomad travelers

But truthfully, it’s easy to share our tale, since it started on February 17, 2019, when my girlfriend (now wife), Kathleen, and I boarded a one-way flight from Los Angeles, CA to Valencia, Spain.

We had no intentions of returning to the US to live, had two suitcases, and a few backpacks with us, and except for a few times, we have held true to that.

But where did the seed of this new life begin?

For me it was the summer of 2016 when I was invited to Europe to attend three different business events in Amsterdam, Prague, and Warsaw. Considering I was 62 at the time and had never traveled to Europe but once—and the fact that the company was paying my way—I viewed it as a chance to change my life.

Just three years prior I came out of a 27 year marriage and home, and after losing my wife and family, I was trying to Figure Me Out. Those 19 days, and visits to six new countries, proved that there WAS a different—and better—life for me outside the US. I was location independent as a consultant/ writer, and with no family attachments, I started dreaming of the “What Ifs.”

What I got out of my three weeks there was an appreciation of the “European lifestyle,” where people enjoy coffee on the street for three hours mid-afternoon, and when offered six weeks holiday—they take it. Add in the substantially LOWER cost of living than pricey Orange County, CA, it seemed like a logical as well as an emotionally healthy fantasy.

Fast forward 15 months later when I had a trip planned to Barcelona and Nice, France, and I met a new woman while online dating. There was a spark between us, so I asked her to join me on my trip, but it was a failure, as we ran into problems and almost split.

Fast forward again about eight months, and I was invited to attend a three day event in Madrid, so Kathleen and I extended that to six weeks and explored much of Spain and Portugal, all the while asking, “Could we do THIS?” Could we abandon our homes of six decades and become road warriors on another continent?

And we did, six months later, leaving Los Angeles airport on February 17, 2019, after eliminating everything in our lives that we didn’t need and couldn’t carry. Five years, 43 countries, and hundreds of cities later, we continue to travel and write about our journeys.

Like many, we were focused on Europe, and got a fast education in Schengen rules, and the limitations they impose. After we used our 90 days in Spain and Italy, Croatia, which was then not part of Schengen in 2019, captured our hearts, and we have returned there four times.

A six week Eurail pass through half a dozen countries caused us to rest in Romania, which also caught our fancy. Between the affordability, scenery, and great food and people, we started looking at “long term” pictures, since we recognized that at SOME point we would want to settle for longer.

Greece and Italy were back on the table after we recovered our Schengen days, but on January 1, 2020 we landed in Singapore for a two month stay in Asia. Bangkok was our inexpensive base for those two months, and allowed us to bop over to Ankor Wat, Cambodia, and Vietnam, along with several other Thai cities that were less busy and easier for me to manage.

Then—the Pandemic.

We were already scheduled for a trip to the US for the marriage of Kat’s son, but as we entered the US in March, 2020, it looked like our world was about to change. Initially we had a two week break in Mexico on our itinerary, followed by a return trip overseas, but it took a year and a half to make that happen.

And truly, we felt very lucky that we got “stuck” in a small fishing village, Puerto Moreles, 30 minutes south of Cancun, which was affordable, a 15 minute bike ride from the magnificent turquoise waters of the Caribbean, and fairly unimpacted by COVID. And those 15 months in Mexico allowed us to write, and to relax from our hectic agenda, and to reevaluate our Grand Scheme.

During the height of COVID we were unable to visit other Central or South American countries, but as the summer of 2021 restrictions eased, we were able to hit Ecuador and Machu Picchu, Peru, before returning to Europe.

Since the end of 2021, our travels have been a combination of long term and short term stays. During the summers of 2022 and 2023, we were on a BMW touring motorcycle for just under 90 days each time, and visited Turkey and Greece one year, and half a dozen Balkan and eastern European countries the next.

Turkey was an unexpected treat, and our first Muslim country, but we lived in the small southern town of Antalya, which seemed quite western in many ways. The food; the cost of living, and the scenery and history kept us there for eight months, and, after being fortunate enough to gain a two-year residency, Turkey was a big part of our future plans.

The Russia-Ukraine war took its toll on Turkey, flooding it with immigrants both rich and poor, and Turkey has become an unstable place to live. With the government and leadership in turmoil, they stopped offering residency to almost everyone—even homeowners—and no one knows when things will improve.

Six months after we left, and after spending an amazing 31 days touring northern Greece, we settled into the winter of 2022 in Saranda, Albania, which I loved.

The former Soviet Bloc countries are an interesting mix of very forward thinking and capitalistic, to, still living in the past. Albania is more of the latter, but we enjoyed nine months in a beautiful ocean view condo looking at the harbor and the Greek island of Corfu, and embraced the tight-knit expat community and beautiful scenery.

Our plans when we left included Albania being a big part of our future agenda, especially because American passport holders are permitted a 365 day stay, which allows a great “pit stop” to reset that nefarious Schengen limitation.

In 2024 we are exploring Asia, looking for options, looking for alternatives to Europe. Between the very affordable cost of living, and much warmer winter temps, Asia is tempting us, especially the Indonesian island of Bali, and the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur.

Behind us already are the Philippines, which we ruled out as a return visit, and Vietnam, which we are still exploring. Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, and Sri Lanka are on our agenda through the balance of 2024, and since 90 day visas are available in several countries, we can easily see ourselves doing three months stays in several places.

So many choices, so many options!

Is being a full time nomad “easy?”

The response is, “Compared to what?”

Not having a “home” can be a blessing, with no upkeep, no taxes, no neighbors (!), but not having a home removes our home base or any degree of “security.” We don’t miss owning a car, TV, fridge, or the entire inventory required to LIVE in most first world countries.

With one 40l backpack on me, a 20l on my wife, and two 20 liter bags in my hand, we are free and unencumbered. Because of our past long-term stays, we have a bag in Turkey with “cold weather clothes,” and a “kitchen bag” in Albania with our former dentist who was nice enough to keep them.  

Since we’ve rented motorcycles for several years, we also have a bag of bike gear with our rental company in Bucharest.

We avoid the cold, expensive cities, and embrace sometimes doing NOTHING, since we are not on vacation, but just living life as a traveler.

As my wife and I are hitting age 70, we also face the reality of “what if,” and both agree we will face life—and death—on our own terms. Fortunately we have good health, and the times we have had to face medical expenses on the road, they have been a fraction of US prices.

There are few advantages to aging in America, but one benefit is Social Security. We are lucky enough to live on those payments and what I earn in writing and royalty income. Living in the US would put us at poverty level, but on the road we want for nothing.

Let us know YOUR thoughts if any of this resonates with you, or are thinking about it. We love meeting up with other travelers and sharing stories!


If you would like to follow Norm directly or want more information visit his website at:

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