Meet the Pearce Family, who began their adventures in 2009, as a family of 4, before welcoming their youngest daughter while living in Costa Rica.

Worldschooling Spotlight

Get to Know the Pearce Family

Watch the Video Above or Read the full interview below!

They’ve been nomadic for nearly eleven years now, visiting and living in over 45 countries around the globe. They’ve set up longer term home bases in Bali, Indonesia; San Miguel de Allende Mexico; and Victoria, Canada and are currently enjoying some time in Greenville, South Carolina.

Inspired to help other families, in 2017, they started the Family Adventure Summit – the most popular Worldschooling Summit in the world, where the community comes together in person for support, encouragement, and a whole lot of fun.

With lots of tips, tricks and in depth information to share, this interview is a must watch from start to finish. We’ll talk about the ins and outs of how their children learn, how they fund their adventures and how they’ve legally paid almost zero tax while traveling full time,

Let’s meet Brandon and Jennifer.

Introduce Yourself

Jennifer Pearce

We’re the Pearce family, and we’ve been traveling as a family for 11 years now.

When Did You Start Worldschooling?

Jennifer Pearce

Well, we moved from Utah, where we were raised and then started out in Panama in an experimental travel experience. We really loved it.

Brandon Pearce 

The kids were five and three at the time.

Jennifer Pearce

We only had two girls at the time.

Why Did You Start Worldschooling?

Jennifer Pearce 

We got back home to Utah, and we were trying to replicate the energy of how it felt to be traveling and the way we felt bonded and connected and how we didn’t have so many things pulling us in so many different directions. But we couldn’t figure out how to do it at the time, and we were really craving more adventure and more travel, so we sold our house and most of our belongings.

Brandon Pearce 

It took us a year to complete the whole process and get everything ready so that we could set out the longterm.

Jennifer Pearce 

When we sold our house, we moved to Costa Rica, where our third daughter was born, and then we’ve just been traveling ever since, trying to find, you could say, a place that felt like home. We realized that there’s no perfect place, but we really enjoy the variety and the contrast of the different places and what they have to offer.

Where Have You Been?

Jennifer Pearce 

We started in Costa Rica, and then on visa runs, we would visit the surrounding countries. Then we set out for Malaysia when our youngest daughter Aysia was five months old. We stayed for two or three months. We thought that might be a longer-term home base, but you never understand how the energy is going to work with you and in a place until you get there and experience it for yourself, and we liked it while we were there, but we were ready to move on. So we continued exploring, Singapore and Bali, and we loved Bali. So that became our new home base. There were some places we’ve discovered, we love to have a home base while in other places, we only like to visit repeatedly, and in some places once is enough. Then we were craving more of the Western world, so we moved over to Victoria, Canada, and then to Mexico, and now we’re back here in the States.

What Was Life Like Before You Started Worldschooling?

Brandon Pearce 

Our life was like a lot of people in the states – just kind of your standard American life. Well actually, I was working from home for a couple years before we started traveling, I quit my job to build a business. But before that, I was working full time in a programming job. We were just busy with life, with family, with kids’ birthday parties and all the little things that go along with that, and it was busy.

Jennifer Pearce 

But we’ve been busy the whole time whether we’re, traveling or not. We keep ourselves busy.

Brandon Pearce 

But I feel like, over the years, it’s become more intentional the things we’re busy with. It’s not just whatever is thrown at us that we feel we have to do, but it’s things that we’ve intentionally chosen, projects we’re passionate about, or places that we’re excited to learn about. I would say back before we started traveling, it was just a normal life, we felt fine, we felt fairly content, but the one thing that I continued to feel was a little bit of a sense of stagnation; is this all there is, this is the same thing every day over and over and over again. I felt like I really wanted a way to expand my mind and give our kids an opportunity to see the world and themselves through a different perspective.

What Questions And Fears Did You Have About Worldschooling Before You Started?

Jennifer Pearce 

For me, the biggest thing was I worried about was that we might be crazy because it was such a totally different thing. Nobody did that, and still, most people don’t do that.

Brandon Pearce 

Although there is a much bigger support community now. When we started, there was no one. No one else was really doing it. There was a handful of families.

How Did You Prepare To Start Worldschooling?

Jennifer Pearce 

When we started we were so excited, it was just curiosity, just pure curiosity, what would this be like? We were so excited to experience what was coming.

Brandon Pearce 

For me, logistically, I had a few concerns. I didn’t know what to do about the mail. I didn’t know what to do with all our stuff. How are we going to get rid of it, what we’re going to store what we’re we going to give away, there were just so many decisions to make. Little decisions and big decisions, it was a little bit overwhelming. But I’m pretty good at organizing, and I pulled out my spreadsheet and figured out solutions, and we made it through. But I remember that being a little bit of a challenging time.

Jennifer Pearce 

Thank goodness for Brandon because I had this idea, and he was like, Oh, yeah, that sounds awesome. But I never would have done it because of all the logistical overwhelm, you know, that’s kind of something he’s really good at.

How Did Friends And Family React When You Started Worldschooling?

Jennifer Pearce 

I guess our family felt a little bit abandoned and not connected enough in this whole process of us deciding to do this, and then we just left.

What Were Your Initial Plans For Educating Your Children?

Brandon Pearce 

So we toyed with the idea of homeschooling, but we hadn’t really given it any serious consideration until we went to Panama and actually met another family who had homeschooled. We realized that it’s probably something we could do, so we gave it a shot when we moved to Costa Rica, and pulled out the books, and studied together, and it was kind of a disaster.

Jennifer Pearce 

Well, even before we went to Costa Rica, we started. What we started doing was, we took Emily, our oldest daughter to the library and just let her pick out all the books at her reading level that she was interested in, and she learned how to read, and she got that practice, and we started the handwriting practice, letters, and numbers and all of that.

How Did Your Schooling Plans Change As You Traveled More?

Jennifer Pearce 

I remember back to those early days in Costa Rica, and we were so on fire with excitement and exploring and just so curious about everything. And so learning just naturally happened and one thing led to another, and our children developed passions and interests, and they studied because they were excited about what they wanted to learn, and those passions and interests have evolved over time and changed. And it’s just been a really fun process to see how that’s gone. And each of our girls is so different,

Brandon Pearce 

Now they’re 16, 14, and eight years old. And so it’s a very different stage from back when they were five and three and newborn. And it is interesting to see how it’s evolved. I mean, I think what you said is right, they’ve just continued to pursue their passions and their interest. And that’s kind of how we’ve, we’ve dealt with it. I mean, we’ve had a few opportunities where they have attended schools like for a month or two here and there. For the most part, they didn’t really enjoy them that much. And so they’re happy to be more self-directed in their education.

Our oldest has an online video editing business, which she’s been running for a couple years and doing really well with she has lots of interests and passions. Our middle daughter is really into 3d modeling and animation, and she plays the harp now. She got back to the states, and she wanted a harp, so we got her harp. Really, for us, it’s been a matter of letting them lead, and if they have an interest or if they need a teacher or a class or a tool, we do what we can to provide that for them., and we just watch them thrive and just be here to support them.

Did You De-School? What Are The Benefits?

Jennifer Pearce 

When we got to Costa Rica, we were just trying to do school at home, and we totally butted heads – it just did not go well. So we just stopped everything, for a while, we were all going to take a break from it – de-schooling is what you would call it. We did that and then just waited for things to happen, and it was kind of opening up space and kind of giving ourselves that opportunity to tune in to what it is that we wanted to be focusing on and how.

Brandon Pearce 

Our kids didn’t really go to school. They had a couple years of preschool, so it’s not de-schooling in the sense that they went to 10 years of elementary school. And now they’ve got to unlearn what they learned.

Jennifer Pearce 

It was mostly de-schooling for us, I think – We didn’t want to get in their way, we didn’t want to crush their love of learning, and I just felt like it was a battle and it was not fun. So I didn’t want it to be like that. So for us, it was a process of figuring out the right energy to be approaching this whole educational process.

How Do Your Kids Learn?

Jennifer Pearce 

In different places we’ve been, we’ve tried to look at what’s available, and the teachers and the classes, and so that’s allowed them to be exposed to different teachers and different topics that they wouldn’t otherwise get to.

Brandon Pearce 

Just a few examples when we were in San Miguel, our middle daughter was taking an aerial silks class and just became very passionate about that, Emily was doing painting.

Jennifer Pearce 

Oil painting with a teacher she absolutely loved. She was so amazing.

Brandon Pearce 

And then our youngest was taking ballet lessons from a teacher there and when we were about to leave, and we’d been there for over a year, the teacher just loved working with our youngest because she was so passionate about ballet. She just loved it. So we suggested the idea of maybe teaching her online, and this wonderful Mexican teacher said, I’m not sure how to do that, but I’d like to figure it out. Let’s do it. And so we started doing it. And a year and a half later, she still takes twice a week online ballet lessons with this teacher. They were so happy to connect the last time when we were down there. And then, the teacher also opened up and is now taking more online ballet students. So it’s been kind of fun to see that.

Jennifer Pearce 

Now that we’re here in Greenville, our daughter Aysia is also taking in-person ballet classes from the ballet Academy here and also her online private lessons with her teacher in Mexico, which it was great to be in person again with her teacher, last week when we were in Mexico because there’s, even more, you can do with an in-person private lesson with the adjustments and all of that. But having the opportunity for her to have that extra help and support is really invaluable.

What Does A Normal Worldschooling Day Look Like For You?

Jennifer Pearce 

Normal day, gosh, everybody is just doing their interests, and we’re all engaged in what we’re passionate about, and I just don’t even know what it’s like to feel bored anymore. I think our girls mostly aren’t bored except for our youngest sometimes gets bored.

Brandon Pearce 

Especially if she hasn’t had a friend to play with for a while.

Jennifer Pearce 

She makes use of Skype to keep in contact with her friends. She’s our most sociable family member. It’s just interesting that process too because trying to work with each other’s emotions and get along in those ways and try and help and support each other. And just being able to be together all the time to understand what each other is going through and feel free to communicate about our thoughts and feelings and emotions and learn how to do that better. I mean, that’s been a huge, huge part of our process.

Brandon Pearce 

So, regarding the structure of the day, the two older daughters, the teenagers, tend to sleep in till almost noon, some days. It just depends. Emily will do some of her work on her business, or she’ll do things like that. I’ll be working, of course, most of the day. If we have classes, we’ll be driving them back and forth to classes regularly.

Jennifer Pearce 

We’ve always got something going on, and we aren’t really close to many of their classes. So it’s like a half-hour there and a half-hour back.

Brandon Pearce

And that’s a lot of driving. Which is totally opposite of San Miguel, where we could just walk everywhere in five minutes. Then in the evenings, we have dinner together, of course, and then we have family time, the last few hours of the night where we’ll read together. Right now, we’re reading histories from my grandpa and great-grandma. They wrote stories and memories about their lives. We’re just kind of learning about that and what it was like to live 100 years ago. Really interesting. But we just finished a novel that was really good. And then sometimes we’ll watch a show, or we’ll just play a game, or we’ll talk and have a treat or something like that. So that’s generally what we do. And then once or twice a week, we’ll go somewhere, do something fun. And we’ll go on weekly dates with each of our daughters as well. And then Jenn and I also go on a date together once a week.

How Has Worldschooling Changed Your Relationship With Each other?

Brandon Pearce 

I think the fact that we are together all the time, not necessarily in the same room, but in the same vicinity, same house, or whatever, we have the same experiences together. So just seeing them from the smallest age up to where they are now, through everything, all the challenges, all of the drama, all of the pains, all of the excitements everything… We’re not sending them off eight hours a day, we’re with them. And so, wow! How can we not just become closer and closer, through that, and learn to love and appreciate each other, more and more through that?

Jennifer Pearce 

That’s a big question, and it’s a difficult one. That’s one of the main things we’ve been working on this whole time. That’s one of the things that made us excited to go traveling is to have that time together and to bond. But when you have all that time together, it’s so much pressure. You think what if we can’t get along? We have all this time together, we should be really close, how come we’re fighting so often? What can we do about this? We have all these opportunities, how do we really bond and connect? And that’s been a challenge for us. And one of the things that’s a lot of little things, that it’s just prioritizing a lot of little things.

And one of the things that’s helped us the most is just really looking at the energy of how we’re each feeling and how the energy together feels and if something’s going off, really communicating about it, and talking through it and looking at emotions, not being afraid of the emotions and also just learning how to have connecting conversations.  Asking each other question and sharing from the heart and becoming good listeners and listening from the heart, and then just taking everybody’s desires into account, and trying to make sure we take turns in meeting those desires that every family member has, and lots and trying to respect each other in those ways. So it’s a process. I’m just acknowledging if we feel we need to apologize for something, or we need to be heard. Learning those skills of self-compassion and compassion for each other, and the patients and the ways that we’re expressing things and so it’s all of that.

What Are The Benefits Of Worldschooling?

Brandon Pearce

There are so many beautiful places in the world, so many amazing people with different varieties of perspectives, incredible food, beautiful natural surroundings, all that’s wonderful. But the thing that I love most about travel is what it teaches me about myself and just being in a different place. It just kind of shakes me out of the mindset of my routine helps me see the world in a different place and see it from a different perspective and helps me see myself in a different way as well and just kind of expands hopefully the ways that I can move about through life.

Jennifer Pearce 

It expands our perspective, and that’s really a huge part of the Worldschooling journey for us is, you don’t know what you don’t know. Right? And so just exploring the world you learn so much about what you never even knew existed, and it just opens you up to learning in so many unexpected ways that really expand you and your family.

What Are The Biggest Challenges You Have Faced?

Brandon Pearce 

One thing that we didn’t expect that I think has posed a little bit of a challenge was early on, when our girls were very young, they were very cute and blonde and similarly dressed, and we’d go to places like Peru or Vietnam or different places where they would get a lot of attention, and sometimes people would reach out and touch them, or they’d ask them to take a picture and then five seconds later, another person wanted to take their picture and over and over and over. We didn’t have such an understanding or a level of respect for boundaries for what our kids wanted. If someone wanted a picture, we thought, let’s be nice, and let them have their picture, rather than thinking, I can see our kids don’t want this picture. No, thank you, they’re not in the mood right now. So we could have done a better job of respecting our kids’ boundaries, and I think some of that caused some anxiety issues around some of that.

Jennifer Pearce 

And through that, our eldest daughter learned how to cope with that as well. One of the breakthroughs for her was when we were in Thailand at the Grand Palace, and there were a lot of Chinese tourists there. They all wanted to take her picture, she had her own camera with her at the time, and she was about ready to break into tears from all the attention, but instead, she put a camera up to her face, and wouldn’t move it. It was like she was taking pictures of them, and so they kind of got the idea. And then everybody was laughing. So it was a good way to help educate other people about what your experience is—just kind of protecting yourself energetically.

How Do You Afford To Worldschool?

Brandon Pearce 

I can share our story on that. We put out a survey as part of the Family Adventure Summit, and it’s interesting to see the percentages of people who do travel. The majority actually just work at a job and do it remotely and still managed to travel that way. Other people have businesses, or they have investments. Personally, I started an online business back in 2004, which is a software that helps music teachers keep track of billing and scheduling. It took me several years to get it to the point where it would actually fund our family’s living expenses. I was able to quit my job, and it just kept growing and growing from there. I kept growing it after we started traveling as well, and limited my hours as much as I could to enjoy time with the family. That business is pretty much running itself. Now for the past several years. I have hired a CEO to run it, so that’s taking care of itself. It’s not doing as well as it was at its peak, because I have not been giving as much attention to it, probably. But I recently bought another software as a service business. I’m finding I’m enjoying putting my energy back into that, because I haven’t really been working in that industry for the past five or six years.

We have a couple Airbnbs now, although now we have less because we just sold one. But I’m finding it’s really fun to get back into this software as a service model because it’s something I’ve experienced in. It reminds me the first business I made 10 years ago and I kind of know what to do. I could see all the little opportunities, and I did enjoy exercising those muscles again, which is a new challenge and a fun experience for me. So I hope that this one will grow well in the next year or two.

We need a lot more money here in this state – like two or three times. It feels like it as expensive to live here as it is anywhere else in the world. For us traveling was cheaper because of taxes and because of insurance and because of just so many things, everything more expensive here. So I’m working a little harder to live here, which is different, but it’s okay for right now.

What Does It Cost To Worldschool?

Brandon Pearce

We’re way better off traveling. First of all, as US citizens, if you’re outside of the states for more than 330 days, a year, you qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion, which is a $100,000 tax deduction for each parent. So right there, we basically didn’t pay taxes past 10 years. There are a couple years we had a little bit, but that’s huge right there. Insurance. We didn’t have insurance for most of the time, and when we did, it was just a couple hundred dollars a month…

Jennifer Pearce 

…for health insurance or car insurance.

Brandon Pearce 

We didn’t own a car, so there’s that—no car expenses.

Jennifer Pearce 

And now we have a teenager that’s learning to drive so that insurance totally goes through the roof. Next year we will have two teenagers learning to drive, so I’m just thinking of all these expenses that we have. The cost of living in the places we chose as a home base while traveling a lot lower.

Brandon Pearce 

We could go and rent a place long, so we rented a house in Bali, for $5,000 a year. It was a three-bedroom house with a pool, beautiful jungle view. It was unfurnished, but rather than just living there, we decided to invest some money into that, and we did a whole remodel and made it amazing. And now it’s renting out as a luxury villa for $300 a night. So that was a good investment. We will have made our money back in the next couple of years, and then we extend our lease to be long term.  So you can find very affordable places. If we’re just going for the short term, we’ll rent an Airbnb or something like that, and, for a three or four bedroom place, often we will pay a little more than maybe even we would in the US, $3,000 a month. That’s if we really want a nice place, but you can find cheaper places, of course.

When we had four in our family, everything was so much cheaper! When you get that third kid things start to add up. The extra seat in the car. The extra place at the restaurant table. The extra room in the house. It added a bit, especially when they got big enough to require them.

The food; you go to eat out, and at restaurants, it’s $2, $3, $4 a plate, for beautiful, amazing, gorgeous, organic, vegan, whatever you want, food from anywhere in the world. Whereas in the United States, it’s like $10, $15 $20 a plate.

Jennifer Pearce 

The food isn’t even that good in some places.

Brandon Pearce 

There’s that. But, we just think about the cost savings, mostly. The biggest savings would be taxes, insurance, transportation, airplanes, of course, cost money when we need to fly somewhere, but we don’t own a car. So there’s no gas, there’s no insurance, no maintenance, all that stuff was gone, and now we have it again, including a car payment even.

Jennifer Pearce 

But we’re not really paying for gas because we have an electric car.

Whats Next In Your Worldschooling Adventures?

Jennifer Pearce 

First of all, it feels really good to be here. It’s just the right time for us to settle down, relax and unwind, and integrate in a deeper way than we’ve been able to as we’ve been traveling. So that part feels really good. But you know, we were here for three months before we went back to Mexico to sell our home and pack up our stuff to move. I noticed that I kind of was almost feeling surprisingly insular and hermetic in comparison. San Miguel shook me up; that energized feeling, and I thought oh my gosh, I’ve got to make sure I keep that balance.

Brandon Pearce 

I think it’s hard. I think we still need to continue to take trips even if they’re just short. To shake that up because it’s so easy to lose sight and forget what other places can be what else is sitting inside there that is dormant or stagnant or we had to be more proactive.

Where Can We Find You Online?

Brandon Pearce

But we have our personal blog at www.pearceonearth.com. There’s 45 countries of resources on that blog. If you go there, we’ve been to a lot of places. You can read about our experiences, watch our videos. One thing we are doing that we’re really grateful to be a part of because of the way that it serves the community is the Family Adventure Summit. If you go to www.familyadventuresummit.com, you can see more about it, but it’s an annual event for worldschoolers or for families interested in living life on their own terms.

We had our first one in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada, in 2017. And we went to Mexico the next year, Bali the next year, and now we’re back in Penticton this September 5th-9th. It’s a family conference, so it’s not like you’re gonna go sit and listen all day long to different talks or whatever. There are talks to listen to, and there are some amazing speakers – Karen (King – Worldschooling Central), I think you’re going to speak! Yeah, awesome!

And so there’s a lot of things like that for the adults. Hangout spots and things like that. Different activities. But for the kids – oh my gosh!

The coolest part of this conference is the kids’ program! There are so many different activities for the kids to choose from. Last year in Bali, we had a musical theater program. So the kids who wanted to put on a whole performance, celebrating Balinese culture and different things and they performed it at the end for the parents, it was awesome. There’s a sports program, a technology program, an arts program, using permissive or whatever, so much there and kids from all over the world, all different ages, including a great team program as well. So much fun. So much fun!

Jennifer Pearce

And the other thing about our journey as we’ve talked about, it’s just been such a journey of personal development. And I personally have really been enjoying doing high-performance coaching as well. So I am taking clients for anybody who’s looking for a coach in that kind of a niche. And of course, with the traveling experience we’ve had, you know, if anybody needs, you know, kind of guidance and help in that area as well. It’s definitely something that I have expertise in, so

Brandon Pearce

She’s a really good coach. I also want to put in a plug for our daughter Emily. Her video editing business Crystal Cut Studios (www.crystalcutstudios.com). If you need any video editing work done. A lot of families travel, and they take amazing videos, and then they just sit on a hard drive, and people don’t know what to do with them. Send it to my daughter, she’ll put together amazing, high-quality videos.

What Would You Say To Someone Considering Worldschooling?

Brandon Pearce

There’s been no greater education and there’s been no greater method for personal growth than getting out there and experiencing the variety in the world. And experiencing it with your kids. To see how they handle it all, what questions they have, and you know, just it gives me a chance to see things through different eyes.

I just say go for it. Yeah, it’s not as hard as you think.

Website Links

To find out more and connect with the Pearce Family, check out the links to their websites below.

Pearce On Earth

Family Adventure Summit

Embrace Being

Crystal Cut Studios

Youtube

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

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