Towards no fixed address
When I decided, after so much deliberation, that I was going to leave my career, I had no idea what would happen next. I mean, I knew I would not be going to an office everyday. Instead, I could spend my time as I pleased with no outside pressure or deadlines.
I had falsely assumed that once this huge life change took effect, this newfound freedom would easily help me decide all the next steps. That was not the case. The hard work of planning and living the next chapter of my life had just begun.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. If this was a ‘problem’ as such, it is a good one to have! I welcomed the opportunity to put my attention towards new challenges and use my accumulated life skills to support different and interesting pursuits, of my choosing.
But I could not have imagined, only 18 months ago that today, I would be planning to be homeless, or of no fixed address! That was not my initial idea and not the reason for leaving my career. My life has just evolved on to this path. One small decision after the next has lead to this point.
It has been an interesting journey, so far and one that will accelerate pretty quickly as we are getting down to the final days. Soon, we will walk away from our home, all of our stuff and all the daily comforts we take for granted. We will propel ourselves, our life journey and our well-being with only what we can carry.
Backing up, here is a glimpse into the thought process and decisions which lead us down this path. I am getting a few questions in regards to the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of it all.
- For my whole adult life, I’ve wanted to travel extensively in Europe for pleasure. Over the years, I’ve taken short trips to certain places, usually tacked onto a work trip which afforded me the cost of the flight. But, that was never enough. Then, as time went on I became too old for the youthful, hostel, back packing mode of travel. And then my husband had a colleague who picked up his family and moved to Barcelona. We began to think, OK maybe it is possible….
- My employer wouldn’t really consider relocating me to Barcelona. If I had pressed the issue, maybe I could have done something, but not the kind of work I was doing and loved. So the idea died back a bit.
- My husband’s company expressed interest in having him located in the central European timezone. They would have preferred he locate to one of their offices, but they didn’t insist. So we all agreed that Barcelona would be a workable location. Our kids would enrol in one of the International schools.
- I decided to leave my job and the industry. 25 years was a good run. I needed a change!
- So began the intense research and planning for our year away. As it turns out, the red tape around getting a work visa and the competition to land a spot in the Barcelona International schools lead us to change our plan a bit.
- We decided to live in Europe on a tourist visa according to the rules of the 26 Schengen countries. Basically that means you can stay in the zone for 90 days of every 180 days on a rolling basis. (There are excellent online calculators for this. I like this one.)
- The time spent out of the zone is called the reset. We decided to reset in South East Asia, North Africa and European countries outside the zone. At most we would be 7 hours ahead of my husband’s work, instead of 9 hours behind. Additionally my husband’s company has operations and an office in China, very near the major hub of Hong Kong. We got the green light for this new plan!
- The key to the whole operation, as with anything in life, was to live within our means. We were down to one income and the money I managed to save in my last year of work. This gave us cash flow to buy some supplies we needed and pay for the initial 4 months of expenses which had to be front loaded.
- Logistics, research, planning and doing are ongoing. Just when I think I have it figured out, something new pops up and I breathe a sigh of relief that I have the time to sort it out. I think this is ever more complicated with 4 people. But, each time I check something off my list, it is with a great sense of satisfaction, for it is all new to me!
- Where to go? By far, this is the most fun part of these days as we count down to wheels up. The resources to learn about where we want to go are endless. The only hard part here is to pick. The list is long, time and money are short. So we have made our choices.
In the last 2 weeks, I was in Europe on a short vacation to Barcelona and Amsterdam. This was booked before we knew what our plans were. As luck would have it, Barcelona is still a big part of our year away and our first stop. Will likely also be our longest stay at 61 days. I fell in love with the city and the area where we will be living.
While we may not make it back, as a family, as far North as Amsterdam, it was a really great experience. My husband was working and I got to tag along as his plus one. This table has turned, as we played opposite roles during most of my career!
So far we are booked for 8 weeks in Barcelona, 1 week Bangkok, 1 month Cambodia and rounding out 2017 with a month in Bali. Then, I think 2018 will see us making more stops for shorter periods of time. I hope that once we are travelling and the experience is more real for my kids, they can assist in some of the planning.
Stay tuned for more posts, pictures and video’s about our thoughts, feelings and the fun of our travels!