Didi Taihuttu is loading a kids’ bike and a playpen into his car when he answers the phone. He has sold the stuff on Marktplaats, the Dutch eBay, for 40 euros. “Now we have some money to buy sandwiches,” he says.
The 39-year-old father of three was all over the news in recent months. He sold his spacious house in Venlo in the Netherlands, invested everything in bitcoin, and now lives with his family in a holiday chalet on a campsite.
So far, he has doubled his money in just a few months. A single bitcoin is worth more than $11,000. But Taihuttu isn’t thinking about selling. He is in it for the long haul.
In 2020, he estimates that the price of a bitcoin will have jumped to at least $100,000. “And there are even analysts who think the bitcoin is going to a million,” he says. So Taihuttu continues to buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
In the meantime, his family is living off the sale of the remaining household effects. Tables, cupboards, lamps, an electric quad, Buddha statues, a gas fireplace, and a shuffleboard are just some of the items listed on Taihuttu’s Marktplaats page. “That is being sold little by little.”
Living with less is a conscious decision the Dutch family made. Early last year, Taihuttu’s father, John, died from cancer aged 61. A year before, it became clear that the former professional football player was incurably ill.
“It was a difficult period,” says Taihuttu, who ran his own company offering computer courses in Venlo for 11 years.
He started to think: working eighty hours a week, not spending enough time with his wife and children … is that what I want? He decided to sell his business and travel the world for nine months with his family.
During that journey Taihuttu kept bumping into people who were into crypto trading. Taihuttu himself has been “in the coins,” as he says it, since 2010, when the currency was worth less than one euro.
In the spring of 2017, bitcoin’s value rose to $3,000, and other cryptocurrencies climbed along with it. It was a sign for Taihuttu that the crypto-revolution is coming. He decided to go all in.
Back home, Taihuttu put his house up for sale. It took some effort to convince his wife of the radical plan, but a minimalistic lifestyle was the reason why she ultimately said yes. “If you raise your kids to be too materialistic, it is not good,” says Taihuttu. “And that was what we were doing, to be honest.”
The family has been living in a chalet for a few months now. “It was the best decision we ever made,” according to Taihuttu. The cottage is on the small side, especially for the eldest daughter, who is 12. “At that age, you occasionally need some privacy. But on the whole we’re very happy.”
The family has become much closer. “We talk a lot more than before. When you’re at most twenty feet away from each other at all times, you can have conversations while doing other things.”
The original plan was to settle down in the cottage and have a quiet existence, but the family’s life is turned upside down by all the media attention. The remarkable story of the family who sold everything for bitcoin has gone global, from the United States to Australia.
Taihuttu receives daily requests for interviews. In November, a Ukrainian TV crew visited the chalet for a news item. Last week reporters from the French magazine Society stayed with the family for two nights, and this week an American documentary filmmaker will follow the Taihuttu’s around.
He receives so many requests, that Taihuttu is thinking about hiring a manager. “I’m someone who likes to talk to everyone and help out, but that’s simply not possible at the moment.” Still, he doesn’t want to charge for interviews. “We are not a product. I just like sharing our message.”
That is exactly what the family was able to do in October, when they were guests at De Wereld Draait Door, one of the most popular talk shows on Dutch television.
“That was amazing. It is something we only ever dreamed of,” says Taihuttu, who was also approached by other Dutch television shows. He chose De Wereld Draait Door, because it was the only show that wanted the whole family to come. “We appreciated that. We really see this as a family adventure.”
The appearance on national television cemented the celebrity status the family now enjoys. They even receive fan mail. The other day, a couple of guys in a bar sent a photo to Taihuttu through Facebook Messenger. They wore caps that spelled out ‘I love Taihuttu’.
“We sent a message back: ‘Guys, have a great evening, and enjoy yourselves’,” says Taihuttu. “Then they sent a video: ‘Cheers to you and your family. You’re such an inspiration.’”
The latter is something Taihuttu hears often. He has received dozens of letters and voicemails from people all over the world, who praise the Dutch family for their bold act. “Even though we’re a very average and down-to-earth family,” says Taihuttu. “You start to wonder: Is our plan really this crazy?”
The story has struck a chord with people internationally. Why? “I think many people get stuck in life and struggle to move forward,” Taihuttu postulates. “Perhaps our story serves as an inspiration.”
Taihuttu’s agenda is fully booked, until December 18, when he plans to go on a short vacation with his family to a sunny destination.
Where exactly he doesn’t know yet. He has received invitations from people in Thailand, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, and so on. “They all say: Come stay with us for two weeks during Christmas. We’ll leave you alone, but if we can chat with you for one or two days, it will be worth our while.”