christopher reichert-estes

Hey there, I'm Christopher and I'm all about exploring the world around me. I love quality time with my amazing husband and snuggling our two adorable, albeit stubborn French Bulldogs Tofu & Zinfandel. We've recently shaken things up a bit in our lives and moved to Spain. 🇪🇸 We're still finding our feet and adjusting to different ways of doing things around here, but we’re incredibly excited to explore the sights, history, and culture our new home offers. Feel free to follow along (blog and Instagram links below).I’m a professional cartographer (total map nerd 🤓). I have a bachelors of science in political science and hold graduate certificates in geographic information systems (GIS) and in sustainability. I owned my own small business — MapHazardly — for ten years focusing on custom and artistic maps.Chances are, you'll catch me leisurely savoring a delicious glass of wine or whipping up some tasty vegan dishes in the kitchen. I’ve been vegan for 15 years and am always happy to share tips on plant-based recipes. I enjoy making candles and soap — it's a creative outlet that brings me a lot of joy. It’s also not uncommon to catch me stargazing in awe at the vastness of our universe, tending to my currently nonexistent garden, or capturing photos with my phone. From mapping terra incognita to crafting artisanal scents, I like to think I'm living proof of the modern day Renaissance man. 😂Oh, and for those who are into Myers-Briggs, I'm an INTJ. I can sometimes come across as reserved, but don't be fooled — I'm always down for a good laugh, deep conversation, and lifelong learning. Life is short, so enjoy it by following your passions and living with intentionality. That's exactly what I strive to do and what I encourage others to do too! I'm all about connecting with awesome people, so don't hesitate to say hello!

June 15, 2023An expat is never late, nor early. They arrive exactly when the bureaucracy intends them to.It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since my last update. It seems simultaneously so much longer and shorter. I shared in the last update that we had our sights on the Valencian Community in Spain and we were one week from closing on the sale of our cabin in Landers, California just outside of Joshua Tree National Park. We continued having discussions over whether Spain or Portugal would be the right choice for us. Eventually, our hearts pulled us to Spain. It felt right. We knew what we wanted to do, now we just had to make it happen.The real estate market in California had begun slowing shortly before we put the cabin up for sale. The Landers zip code had been the hottest real estate market in California for months and it was suddenly starting to slow down. We had finished most of the projects around the cabin. It was in turnkey condition and fully furnished. We were expecting another short term rental investor would snatch it up quickly, but the days started to pass and it was clear that the market was dramatically different from when we bought. Just before closing was to take place, San Bernardino County, California — where Landers is located — enacted a moratorium on new short term rental permits. The buyers got nervous. They really liked the property and while it seemed it was more for their enjoyment than a business opportunity, the moratorium was scary. They wanted to postpone the closing until the moratorium was lifted, 45 days. We pushed back and luckily they agreed. We closed a few days after that, a day earlier than originally expected. With the cabin off our plate we could turn our attentions to our home in Hillsboro, Oregon.Selling the Hillsboro house would end up being a much harder challenge than we ever expected. For some context, we built the house two years prior in a brand new planned community. The largest planned community in Oregon, focusing on walkability and new urbanism. Schools, parks, shops, all on the plan within an easy walk. The builders had wait lists for the new homes, the few resales that had happened hit the market and were snatched up quickly. We didn’t anticipate how rapidly the real estate market would deteriorate in Oregon. We listed the house for sale in June 2022 and it ended up being on the market for nearly four months before getting an offer. Talk about stressful. The uncertainty of whether we were going to have the money from the sale of the house to help with our move and buy a new home in Spain was really tough. We were keeping the house in pristine condition, it looked like a model home, so that we would be ready for any showings and open houses. Notification of a showing would come through, turn the lights on, light a candle, put on some relaxing Bossa nova, load the pups up, drive around, and hope this was the buyer for us! Rinse and repeat. We finally received an offer in mid October, after several price decreases they made a lower offer than what the house was then listed at. The proceeds from the sale would still give us the money we needed to pursue our dream and our “must” decision. We accepted the offer and went under contract.A few days later, the buyer’s inspector revealed a leak in the crawlspace under the house. If I had an electric sound machine, here’s where you would hear screeching car brakes. The plumber identified a faulty PEX pipe t-valve. He said he had never seen one of those fail and we were just lucky. Water had been spraying up onto insulation and had soaked a large swath of the subfloor. We had a remediation company out and they removed the hard wood flooring between the kitchen and dining room, the soaked insulation, and setup industrial air dryers. The leak caused damage, but luckily was discovered soon enough that there were no mold issues. We thought we’d get it taken care of and we’d be all set, but the buyer had other ideas.The buyer used the opportunity to try and negotiate a further reduction in the price of the house. We decided it wasn’t worth it to us to lower the price anymore and the buyer pulled out. After four months we were left with no buyer, and a huge hole in the floor of the main living space. We were left with a lot of questions. We had already pushed out or pack date once, from mid October to mid November. Should we push our pack date out again? A bunch of the hardwood flooring was missing and the replacement wouldn’t be installed for a month. Would this scare away potential buyers? It seemed that selling the house just wasn’t going to happen. We decided to hold on to it and rent it.Keeping and renting the house had been our backup plan. It was a particularly hard decision for me. I was hoping for a clean break. I didn’t want the mental weight of dealing with renters, maintenance, and HOA issues from half a world away. The tax break on capital gains from the sale of a primary residence was also important. If we sell in the future we won’t get those. We chose a property management company and that has helped alleviate some of those hands on concerns. With the packers/movers set to arrive in a few weeks it was time to pivot away from trying to sell the house and focus on household goods. We’d made arrangements with a moving company. They would pack everything we were taking, store it for three months and then load it on a boat to Valencia. We sold, donated, and gave away what wasn’t coming with us. The packers arrived on November 14th. It took them three days to get the house packed. On Thursday, November 17, 2022 we loaded the pups up and got on the road.While the house sales were happening, we had other things to focus on too. We had to figure out how Tofu and Zinfandel were going to get to Spain. Flying in the cargo hold of a plane was out of the question. They were well above the weight limit for flying in the cabin on international flights. We began looking into alternatives ranging from sailing on the Queen Mary 2 — they have onboard kennels — to joining a private charter flight. We ended up discovering a boutique all business class French airline called La Compagnie with flights between Newark, New Jersey and Paris, France. Tickets were booked and the whole family would have super comfy accommodations across the Atlantic.We listed the house in Hillsboro for sale in June 2022. Ryan started his new job around the same time. Ryan was eligible for a highly qualified visa sponsorship through his new company. That definitely helped streamline the process for us although it was still a lot of work. Each consulate has slightly different rules, and seemingly the rules can change depending on time of day and who happens to be doing what at the consulate. We received conflicting information on whether we would need appointments in person at the Spanish Consulate in San Francisco or not.Slowly, a plan began to fall into place. We knew we’d be leaving the country to fly to Europe from New Jersey. We discussed plans for a roadtrip. We wanted to go down to Joshua Tree one more time. That would leave us a relatively short drive to San Francisco if we needed to go to the consulate in person to submit our applications or to pick the visas up once approved.We left Hillsboro on November 17th and drove down to Joshua Tree, California arriving on November 20. We took a leisurely journey down the West Coast, with excursions to see the redwoods and Big Sur. One day into our drive, we got an email from our move coordinator saying that our household goods had been loaded on a ship in Seattle, Washington and was on the way to Valencia, Spain. This had come as a bit of a shock as we had arranged for our goods to be stored in the US for three months to give us time to get over to Spain and buy a house. We’re not entirely sure where the communication breakdown occurred, but our move coordinator acknowledged that was supposed to be the plan and promised that we wouldn’t pay anymore for storage in Spain than we would have in the US. The moving company explained how expensive storage was in Spain compared to the US and that it would be much better to store our stuff in the US saving us tons of money. It ended up being the opposite. Storage in Spain ended up being much cheaper, so while this caused a lot of stress on our part — what happens when our stuff gets to Spain and we’re not there — it ended up going fairly smoothly and saving us a little money.We rented a house outside Joshua Tree for just over a month. We were still dealing with initial setup of our property management company, but had good news in that they had found tenants for us and we were able to sign a lease. We had been assembling all the necessary documents for our visa applications. FBI background clearances, birth certificates, passports, marriage certificate, as well as all the other random documents and required Spanish translations were collected, photocopied, and assembled. Our consulate in San Francisco instructed us to send everything in via overnight mail. We think that this might have been due to the highly qualified visa sponsorship Ryan was able to get through work. Either way, it was all in the hands of the post office. The documents were supposed to arrive the next morning, but ended up taking nearly a week due to USPS, Thanksgiving, and Spanish holidays. Our FBI background checks expired during this time, so we weren’t sure if they would accept them or not. The FBI background check itself is incredibly easy and fast to get, but Spain requires that it be apostilled by the US Secretary of State and that is a slow process. It took several months for that to get completed. We still didn’t have clarity over whether we would need to pick our documents, passports, and visas up in person or not. We included an overnight envelop to our friend, Nicole in Portland, Oregon. She kindly volunteered to send documents to us if necessary no matter where we were.We decided to risk continuing our journey east knowing there was a possibility we would have to reverse course and go to the consulate in San Francisco. Initially, we had considered staying in Santa Fe, or somewhere similar, but price, available homes with amenities we wanted, and snow kept pushing us east. We decided on El Paso, Texas for our next stop. We said our goodbyes to California on December 22, 2022 and drove to El Paso arriving on the 23rd. We spent Christmas and New Year’s Day there. We received an email from the Spanish consulate that our visa applications were approved and that they would be mailed to us. There wouldn’t be any need to go to San Francisco in person. We would have our visas in hand soon and would be able to make the final plans to move to Spain. We left El Paso on January 6, 2023 for Cincinnati, Ohio to stay with Ryan’s mother, Laurie, for the rest of our time in the US stopping overnight in Amarillo, Texas, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and St. Louis, Missouri.We arrived at Laurie’s house on January 9, 2023. Once Nicole received our documents from the consulate she overnighted them to us. We received them on January 18, 2023. It was surreal and finally felt real to me. We were actually going to be moving to Spain. For years, I’ve heard people say “if such and such happens I’m moving to insert country here.” I’d like to share that it’s not that easy. It’s hard. It’s stressful. In a lot of cases you can’t just pick up and move. You have to qualify for a visa and sometimes it’s really hard to do. Despite it all, perhaps the most challenging part of the move was yet to come. Tofu and Zinfandel needed special paperwork that was challenging and time sensitive. Honestly, the their paperwork was the most stressful part of the relocation.The pups had to go through special medical clearance to enter the European Union. We had to find a specially certified veterinarian in the Cincinnati area to sign off on their health and fill out their travel paperwork. The paperwork was then overnighted to a regional USDA office — Madison, Wisconsin in our case — the USDA verified everything and stamped the pups’ documents before overnighting them back to us. Somewhere in this process a countdown timer had started, so from the time their paperwork started we only had a few days to get them into the European Union before the authorization expires. It was nerve-racking.After spending a month in Ohio it was time for us to leave. Our original plan was to drive from Cincinnati to Newark. We had sold our car a few weeks prior, so we would have gotten a rental. I’m not entirely sure how the plan came into being, but we opted to fly instead. The pup’s travel bags/kennels were just under the maximum dimensions for United. The flight was less than two hours and the drive would have likely taken two days. Besides, Tofu and Zinfandel have never flown so we thought a little test flight would be in order. We left Cincinnati on the evening of February 12, 2023. We arrived in Newark and stayed overnight. Our flight to Paris wasn’t leaving until the evening of February 13, 2023 so we had a hotel for the night. The check in process for La Compagnie was pretty quick and before we knew it we were sipping champagne and on our way to Paris. We would be arriving in The City of Light on Valentine’s Day! How romantic…Christopher

June 20, 2022There and not quite back again... A Joshua Tree tale.Ryan and I headed to Landers, California in early December 2021 and returned to Hillsboro, Oregon in early March 2022. The contractor we’d hired six months earlier initially agreed to a completion date by Thanksgiving. When the end of November arrived he asked for another month, though the pace of his work left us feeling skeptical. We told him we’d be coming down the first week of December and while we were renting an Airbnb for the first three weeks, we needed to get moved into the house as soon as possible. Seeing the lack of progress in person was really disheartening. A few days later we let our general contractor go and took over the role ourselves. The greater Joshua Tree area is pretty fascinating in terms of the real estate and construction market. Joshua Tree National Park has become a getaway destination with a lack of hotels. That’s one reason the short term rental market has exploded down there and why we chose to buy there.To say construction and remodeling trades were booming in the Mojave Desert would be an understatement. It was incredibly competitive and tough to get people to even return your calls. A little persistence soon began to pay off and we slowly began crossing some big items off the to-do list. Power? Check. Running Water? Check. Get drywall installed (three days before Christmas)? Check. Our goal was to get the inside painted before we moved in. Luckily we were able to get the big jobs knocked out giving us an opportunity to paint the interior ourselves. Thinking a 400 square foot cabin couldn’t be too challenging, we tackled that project… it took a few days longer than we had hoped, but we were able to move in on January 1, 2022. Due to a scheduling issue, the electrician couldn’t finish the last little bit of work for another week, so the first week in the cabin was “camping style.” No electricity. And running (cold) water in the bathroom. The kitchen still hadn’t been installed.Slowly, we began getting projects big and small crossed off. Hot water was a treat! Electricity was a game changer! We fell into a rhythm. Ryan working his day job, while I tackled projects and project management around the property. As sunset approached, we’d get the fire pit going, relax in the Adirondacks with some wine and watch the incredible sunsets. The views never seemed to end. As the sun slid below the horizon the second show of the night would begin as the stars gradually emerged.It didn’t take much for us to fall in love with the desert. It’s as beautiful and alien as it is calming and rejuvenating. Nature, space, and the scale of being able to see for dozens of miles began to pull us in. We started talking about what it might look like to live there. The discussions became serious and we began our plan to rent our home in Hillsboro and move down to Landers for at least a year to give it a go. Despite our excitement however, something just wasn’t feeling quite right to me. We planned our return drive to Oregon, with the goal of packing up our house to rent and prep whatever would be going to California with us. A few days after we returned we had a conversation about whether or not we were thinking big enough. Almost immediately we realized that we weren’t. We love the Joshua Tree area and it will always hold special meaning to us, but we realized that it was going to be a short term stop on our journey. Not our destination.During the summer of 2020 as we contemplated the outcome of the presidential election and the general state of the country, we realized that our future would likely take us to Europe. Spain and Portugal were our two top picks. We began to talk, dream, and plan on what that would look like during retirement. As we continued or preparations to move to California, the retirement planning we had done in 2020 began to morph into something different. Author Ella Luna says, “There are two paths in life: Should and Must. We arrive at this crossroads over and over again. And each time, we get to choose.” The expectation is always to choose what you should do, not what you must do. For Ryan and I, choosing an intentional life has become core to who we are.Living intentionally doesn’t come easy. There’s an enormous amount of societal pressure to conform to the mold and choose what others say we should, but for us, the “must” was clear. With our new plan in place, I traveled back down to Landers to pack up the personal stuff we had left, finish up a few projects around the land, and meet with our realtor to fill him in on our plan. A short while later the listing was live and we were selling the cabin. Since then, the stock market has spiraled downwards, the real estate market in Joshua Tree has screeched to a halt, and economic uncertainty has grown, but current events have only reinforced that we’re making the best decision for our family. As of today (June 20, 2022) we are one week out from closing on the cabin in Landers. Our house in Hillsboro should go on the market on Friday. Ryan is starting his new job tomorrow. His new company encourages remote work and will help sponsor our move.Where are we going? We have our sights on the Valencian Community in Spain. Portugal is a close second place and if the universe leads us there instead of Spain, we’ll be just as happy and excited. Either way, both countries were our top destinations based on all the research we did in 2020 prior to the election. Cost of living, quality of life, path to citizenship, valuing human rights, truth vs lies, safety from gun violence, and political stability are all issues that are important to us. We’re very fortunate and grateful that we can make this choice. We’ve been through a lot in the past few months to get to this point and we still have a long way to go before we settle into our new home in Europe.Feel free to follow along here or Instagram. In the meantime I’ve got a lot of packing, planning, and learning Spanish ahead of me! Maybe Tofu and Zinfandel will listen better in Spanish than English? Probably not.Christopher

December 31, 2021All good things come to an end — as of December 31, 2021 MapHazardly will be shutting down.Don’t be sad, though. Let me share a story.A little over nine years ago I began an unexpected journey. I just graduated university and was unsure of my next steps. I was creating maps for myself to keep my skills fresh and I received a lot of encouragement to sell them. Initially, I laughed that idea off because running a business was something I never aspired to do. But eventually I took a leap beyond my comfort zone: I launched a Kickstarter campaign, raised $13k, bought a giant printer and MapHazardly was born!This has been a journey I’m so grateful for. I’ve learned many valuable lessons about running a small business. It’s tough. There are highs and lows. There are no jobs too big or small. Small business owners — especially those micro businesses like mine — wear many hats, but in the end it’s incredibly fulfilling. MapHazardly allowed me to offer great customer service, design products I’m proud of, and experience the excitement when people looked at their map for the first time, reliving their life’s adventures. These things filled me up, and felt core to who I am as a person.As it has for many folks, the Covid-19 pandemic impacted my business and prompted a lot of self reflection on what I want most. I wondered if shutting down MapHazardly would make me a failure. However, a recent discussion with my husband, Ryan, helped me realize something — the sense of adventure, passion for learning, and creating something that sparks joy in others are qualities I infused into MapHazardly. Not the other way around. For the past nine years building my business has given me an outlet for expressing the things I value most, doing so by creating new maps and exploring new places virtually.Now it’s time for a new chapter, though.To start, Ryan and I are launching our first short term vacation rental! This time last year we started dreaming about what that might look like. Could we do it? It’s seemed a huge, scary risk. A lot of work. A whole new business venture neither of us are familiar with. But from the start I felt excited. That conversation when I realized how my values showed up through MapHazardly made it easy to understand why. This next chapter is about adventure, travel, exploring new places and creating unforgettable experiences for others.So, you might be asking where are we headed? We recently purchased a home near Joshua Tree, California. Neither of us had ever been to the Mojave Desert, but had heard great stories. We didn’t see the house in person, getting everything through video tours from our incredible realtor. It was certainly a gamble, but in the end it just felt right, settling on a 400 square-foot cabin in Landers (where the locals are affectionately referred to as Landroids).Ryan visited soon after just to make sure it wasn’t the biggest mistake we’ve ever made. He loved the area and his excitement was palpable. Since then, we’ve been managing renovations remotely and I’ve immersed myself in the business of vacation rentals. Now, we are headed to Joshua Tree for the last couple months of work. I’m excited for the adventure of transforming the house from plans that have only existed on paper into a place where we can help others get away and reconnect.To close, I want you to know how truly appreciative I am for the encouragement and support I’ve received from family, friends, and even complete strangers. It has been an honor and incredibly humbling to have created tangible reminders for each of you to relive your life’s adventures. Maps will always be essential in how I bring my purpose to life.Thank you so much for sharing this journey with me. I hope you’ll join us as we take our next steps — it’s going to be fun, I can guarantee that. For more information, visit Landroid Landing, our desert escape coming to Landers, California in 2022.Christopher