By: Naomi Matlow
“You don’t have to wait until you are 65 and retired to live the life that you want.” – Maurice Philogene
Unsettled alum Maurice Philogene is not your typical digital nomad. Yet he is an avid, and perhaps unconventional, spokesperson and inspiration for channeling your income in order to create the lifestyle that you want.
He’s a Senior Executive at global consulting firm Accenture, a DC Metro area police officer, a Lieutenant Colonel and Federal Agent in the US Air Force, commercial real estate investor and restaurateur. What ties everything Maurice does together is a dual purpose: to serve others and travel the world in meaningful ways. “There is just a different way to live,” Maurice humbly says, and he is on a mission to show others that creating a life beyond the 9-5 grind, is more than possible. It can start today.
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While the many titles and roles he has had over his professional career may lead one try to put him in a box as an ambitious go-getter, there’s no putting Maurice in a box.
A first generation American with Haitian roots, where his love of languages and a global curiosity was born, Maurice has continued to travel and has made it to 96 countries so far (many multiple times!). Each one has been for more than 2 weeks at a time, for he is a strong advocate for meaningful, slow, and mindful travel. What constitutes a successful trip for Maurice? It is not built on tourist destinations but personal connections.
For example, has he connected with the local grocery store owner and his family? Did the local Chief on the remote island feel that Maurice added value to the community? Do people call him out by name when he walks down the street? Do his new friends insist on picking him up at the airport each time he returns because they are now ‘family’? He has built a beautiful international web of connections all around the world that continues to grow as we speak. As Maurice says, “I continue to visit and invest in many of the same people over and over. You create family by investing in those relationships”
Unsettled co-founder Michael Youngblood was the Experience Leader on Maurice’s first Unsettled retreat to Lebanon in November 2019, and he supports this. “Of all the people I’ve met traveling, Maurice seeks out local connections and relationships more than maybe anyone I’ve ever met. And he does it for the genuine purpose to find ways to serve the people he meets, whether it’s the local bus driver or other Unsettled alumni he met there in Lebanon.” So far, Maurice has been back to Lebanon 3 times already.
“You don’t have to wait until you are 65 and retired to live the life that you want,” Maurice explains.
How did he discover this? After he graduated from the University of Virginia, at age 23 Maurice bought his first apartment. Within a year he bought 10 more leveraging the real estate boom of the 2000s. Maurice ‘gave up his 20s’ to focus on building his portfolio (no weekends off) and a passive income stream to support his life was born fully replacing his corporate salary. Maurice took both his corporate and military salaries to invest in more homes, including using the rents from house number one to pay off house number two, and so on. He now buys apartment buildings, mobile home parks, and is an investor owner in numerous restaurants in Washington DC. Maurice was building financial freedom before it became a movement and now he leverages it for lifestyle design.
At the same time, traveling the world was an active passion for Maurice, and something that was cultivated at a very young age. When he was 15, his parents sent him to immerse in the culture of Paris, and get off the summer streets of Boston. As a proficient French speaker as a result of his Haitian upbringing, Maurice dove into Parisian life with both feet. It was there that his eyes were opened to living differently. Upon his arrival, his host family drove him around the entire country of France for 30 days in an old Range Rover. The experience fundamentally changed who he was. His desire to be immersed in other cultures in a meaningful way was born.
After college, Maurice continued to be an avid traveler for many months at a time, including a year in several East African countries, running a field office for his Federal Law Enforcement agency in Izmir, Turkey and traveling to Finland and its Arctic 5 times. He purposefully sought out international projects at the expense of climbing the corporate ladder, and took military assignments in remote locations. His passion for travel disconnected him from the corporate matrix and showed him that more freedom exists out there, and he can be in charge of his own destiny. He frequently looks at a wall map, picks a place he’s never been and leaves the following Thursday. He believes in day to day freedom vs. succumbing to the rat race, and this is what he teaches and advocates for today.
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Maurice was living unsettled before he even found Unsettled. It is through Unsettled that Maurice realized that there were people just like him, people with a totally different mindset and a different drive to create a life of personal growth, meaning, and adventure. He found a community of people that support one another and help facilitate ways of living differently. Now Maurice teaches workshops and mentors others on how to figure out the best way for them to achieve financial freedom in order to actualize the life that they want for themselves, and how to create passive income streams to fuel those dreams and desires.