Name: Kyle Sandstrom
Occupation: UI Designer/Developer
Where we found him: Zoom meeting
Rumor has it you used to work for the Post Bulletin, Rochester Magazine’s sister publication. Yeah, I was a web designer there from ‘97 to 2004. I loved the PB, but I needed more opportunities. So I started at Mayo and worked there ‘til 2015.
Don’t you still work for Mayo? I’m an independent contractor now. I worked there ‘til 2015 and then started working for a company called Invision. I came back to Mayo a year later.
There’s a story there. The reason I left Mayo in 2015 is because I bought a house in Mexico ... and then found out that I couldn’t work from Mexico.
You were a remote worker? Yeah, I was already working from home. And we just loved Mexico. My wife and kids and I started going down for family vacations. First we’d go a week. Then the next year, two weeks. And we’d see ads for houses and thought: “Oh, that would be so cool. When we retire at 65, we should get a house here.” And then the next year on vacation, it was “Let’s do it at 60.” Then every year, it was closer and closer and houses were cheap. We ended up building a house there. And then I asked my manager if it was OK to work from Mexico [part of the year] and he said, “Ah, no.” So I had to find another job.
Oh. My. Goodness. Yeah, I probably should’ve asked first! We had no idea what was going to happen. But we went ahead with it. The funny thing is that I didn’t live in Mexico once the whole time I worked at Invision. The house wasn’t done being built. And then my old boss at Mayo got a hold of me and said, “I think we have a way to work this out. You can be a contract worker.” So I went back in 2017.
How much time do you spend in Mexico? We’re there a few months each year. My son’s in college now, but my daughter, who’s 14, goes to a hybrid Mexican/English program there, and has her own U.S. studies, too, so she doesn’t fall behind.
How did you meet your wife? On the internet. She’s Ukrainian. When I was in college, I had lived in Sweden and traveled to Russia and really liked it. When I came back home, I learned Russian for a year or two, and then when I got done with college, I wanted to travel. I met her on a website and went to meet her. I was over there for two weeks and I asked her to marry me toward the end of that trip.
Whoa. I had to call my parents to make sure they were picking me up from the airport when I flew home. I called at 4 a.m their time.: “Are you picking me up?” They were sleeping and were saying, “Why didn’t you call earlier?!” And then I say, “By the way, I’m getting married. Do you want to talk to her?” And I hand my wife the phone. She’s on the phone with them and she spoke no English. It was awesome.
How did that go down? My parents didn’t believe me at first. But when I got in to Minneapolis, they greeted me. This is when you could still go to the gate. And my dad says: “Are you really getting married?”
How long have you been married? Since 1998. 23 years.
How old are your kids? My son, Nikita, is 20. He goes to Gustavus. We said that it’s nice that it’s close, but we’re actually 3,000 miles away most of the time he’s at school. My daughter, Nicole, is 14 years old.
Would you recommend dual-country living? Yeah. Do it. Mexico’s awesome, for one. And it’s good to switch your life around. You get too comfortable and in a routine in one spot. Go to Mexico. You have to read everything in Spanish. Have to learn to get around. The first year, we didn’t have a car. The kids’ school is a mile away, and we’d walk every day, across an 8-lane highway on foot. It was like playing Frogger. The stupidest idea ever.
What does your wife do while you’re there? Olya is a food blogger. She’s an amazing photographer/food blogger.
What’s a meal you especially like of hers? She makes really good risotto. And she makes the best Russian potato salad. Everything my wife makes is better than what anyone else can make.
Biggest adventure? There’s so many. When I lived in Sweden, we took a trip to Russia and it was totally unplanned. I had no idea what we were doing. We were gone for two weeks or something. When I got back to the city where I lived, I had 50 cents on me, and someone gave me the wrong ticket so I almost got kicked off the train. I had to walk five miles back to my house with my backpack on. When I got back, I called my mom. I thought she’d be happy to hear from me. But she said, “Where were you at?!” “I was in Russia.” “Why were you in Russia?!” She had been trying to call me while I was gone, and the family I was staying with in Sweden didn’t speak English, so they just said, “We don’t know where he’s at.”
What would I be surprised to learn about you? I played guitar in a band. And I was a music promoter for a Swedish record company in college. A really bad one.
Favorite musician? It changes all the time. My dream concert would be Sex Pistols and Abba playing together. But now I listen to all this Mexican rock music.
Advice you follow? It’s better to be a spectacular failure than a benign success.