Our Story
Since this site is mostly for friends and family, I imagine most of you will already know some or all of The Story of Joe and Ali. But maybe you don’t know much about how we actually got to where we are today. Or maybe you just stumbled on this blog and are wondering who these people are and what their deal is. Maybe a strange woman you hardly know (probably one of our moms) sent you a link to this site and told you to read it.

So here you are, wary and wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into. Well, this page is for you. And sorry our moms dragged you into this.

We are Joe and Ali. More accurately, I’m Ali, and Joe’s here too. He didn’t happen to write this particular post, but he is the one creating the website, posting this, adding pictures, and whatever else happens between me typing into a Word document and you seeing it, as well as writing other posts for the site. Definitely a joint effort.

I’m 30 and Joe’s 31 [as of this writing], and since August 2015, we’ve been traveling, enjoying a very early retirement, and starting a family. Annabelle was born in January 2016. Since we’d already started our adventures, she gets to claim Istanbul, Turkey as her birthplace. Pretty cool stuff, right there.

This is how we got to where we are:

We met during the Winter/Spring of my first year in college (2004-2005) and started dating just before my 19th birthday. We realized pretty immediately that this was the kind relationship people dream of finding. By that summer, we were living together, and we got married during winter break when I was 20 and he was 21 (which always sounds a little insane to other people, but it was the right choice for us). We both graduated the June after our wedding. Joe was a philosophy major, and I majored in English.

As we approached graduation and the need to decide our next move began to loom large, we learned about Teach for America and decided to apply. For two people whose degrees aren’t exactly on the “highly marketable” side, it seemed like a great option. I didn’t get in at first, but Joe was given a teaching job at an elementary school in Las Vegas. And just like that, we knew where we were heading, and one of us had a job lined up that paid. It didn’t pay well, mind you (it might be surprising to learn, but teachers don’t actually make all that much), but it would certainly be enough to live on, especially for two college kids who had gotten very good at living off almost nothing.

So we packed up a few possessions from our teeny tiny house in San Luis Obispo and moved into a slightly-larger, 400 sq. ft. condo in Las Vegas. Joe started his first year teaching, and I became a substitute, bouncing around from school to school—including a few harrowing weeks as a kindergarten teacher that I would rather not remember—until I could apply to Teach for America again.

I applied and was accepted the second time around, and was given a spot the following year teaching English at a local high school. So that’s it, Joe and I were now both employed as teachers. I had a rough year here and there (seriously, I don’t know how you could teach freshmen and not have a rough year), but for our eight years of teaching, we had a pretty great time overall. We both enjoyed our jobs quite a bit.

You might then be wondering, “If you liked your jobs, why aren’t you still teaching? Why did you guys put so much effort into becoming financially independent and retiring?”

We loved teaching. But we taught for nearly a decade, and a decade is enough time to do almost anything. There’s other things we wanted to do as well, and plenty of not doing things, and having the freedom to wake up whenever we want, do whatever we like, and travel whenever the mood strikes us. We also wanted to have children and both be around to raise them.  Teaching was great, but it was time to start new adventures.

With that in mind, we started buying real estate during the housing crash (perhaps a bit too early–got burned a little!) and took steps to save up the money necessary to retire.

Our plan was to retire somewhere around 2017 or 2018, after 10 or 11 years of working.

But by the 2014-2015 school year, I was feeling burnt out, and ready to go. Teaching wears you down. So we talked about it and looked at the numbers and talked some more. We decided we really didn’t have quite enough saved to quit our jobs in 2015 and should really work another year or two if we wanted to be sure we would never have to work again.

And then we decided to go ahead and quit anyway. After all, if we stay, we have to work for another year or two, and if we quit but have to go back to work, we’d need to work for another year or two, so why not give it a shot and see what happens?

Our last day of full-time employment was June 4, 2015, when we were both just 29.

In August, 2015, we finished up our last stints of teaching summer school, got rid of everything in our tiny condo, packed up two backpacks to take with us and one plastic tub of keepsakes to leave in my mom’s garage, and left Las Vegas. It had been a great home for those eight years, but we had one-way tickets to Europe and drove off smiling, ready to start our adventure.

So now, we’re just Adventuring Along.  We’ll be posting about travel, raising children, real estate and other financial topics, and much more.  Come and follow along with our adventures!

We hope you stick around: bookmark the site, sign up for the RSS feed, or sign up for the newsletter to be informed when these posts go live.  We don’t think you’ll regret it. Also, feel free to contact us.  🙂