At the time of writing this post, as baby boomers, we are about 1.5 years away from retirement. Beginning several years before we started talking about living abroad. Because of that almost all of our travel plans in the past 3 years have been focused on potential places to retire. Our travel journey has taken us all over the world and as I write this we have finally found a place where we can really imagine our lives as expats. So, I have decided that I would start documenting our expat journey, keeping a journal here, sharing it with you.
Why Live Abroad
Probably the most important factor in helping us to make the decision to become expats, is the cost of living and the quality of life. We have lived most of our lives together raising our family along the California coast. If city life is what is right for you, then the west coast is a beautiful place to do it. But there is a high price to pay for living here & with retirment fast approaching, we’ve decided that we don’t really want to pay that price anymore nor can we.
There are so many beautiful places around the world where we can comfortably live for the cost of the roof over our head right now. That thought is staggering.
Making Preparations Early
Early in our conversations about living abroad as expats, we began preparations, starting with downsizing. We sold our home which was much larger than we needed anymore. We moved about 30 minutes north to be closer to our grandchildren who are growing up. The first just got her drivers license back in November and others are right behind, talking of getting their drivers licenses soon.
We moved into a rental, no string attached. Still having pets at the time, 2 very elderly dogs, we needed something that had at least a little bit of a yard & moved into a much smaller townhome. We lost our little girls exactly one 1 week apart and while we miss them terribly, we have decided at this junction in our life, pets would no longer be a part of our lives. We love on everyone else’s pets every chance we get.
After our girls were gone we moved again into an even smaller home. A tiny little apartment with the best view we have ever had. It’s tiny & we love it! Downsizing has significantly reduced our cost of living.
With each move came a lot of purging. It’s hard to let go, so doing it gradually was the key. Life had attached a whole lot of memories attached to our possesions. As strange as this might sound, I actually got teary at selling our coffee table. A) it was purchaced in a place we adore and B) our 2nd grandchild born at 26.5 weeks cut her teeth on that coffee table about a week after we got it. Those scratches were precious memories of what a blessing she has been.
The purging needs to be done in phases. It reduces the trauma. Each time we moved, our new smaller home could not hold all the stuff we were still packing around. We were forced to make choices. The big pieces obviously had to go first, working our way down to much smaller memory pieces.
There had to be good reason to keep everything. If I hadn’t worn it in a year, it went to charity. We have had numerous garage sales over the years and what we couldn’t sell, we repurposed as much as we good by giving it to charities.
Today, everthing has a purpose. If it’s a memory piece that I can’t let go of and it doesn’t fit into our home, it has been boxed up and is in storage. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t have a storage unit full of memories. What’s left is a couple of small boxes that would easily fit into an attic.
We live in a place that doesn’t even have a garage. There is a small storage closet and a couple of smaller closets. That’s it! With so little storage space, so we don’t have room for things that are never used anymore.
It takes time. There have been several purgings over a few years. In fact I did another purge a couple of months ago. Trust me when I tell you it feels so liberating and it’s exciting as we move forward in our expat journey. Someday our children will be so relieved when it comes time to go through all of our stuff. We are having a lot of fun planning for the next phase of our lives, retiring.
We are self employeed for 30+ years. The last thing we have to let go of, will be our business which we have plans to sell. We are looking at our options now and will keep you updated on the progress of that.
Having shed our home, our pets and a lifetime of possesions we now have the freedom to pick up & go anywhere. Through our expat journey we have looked at Costa Rica, Spain, Thailand, Cambodia, Italy & Portugal. Timo holds a dual citizenship in the EU, so Europe makes a lot of sense. We could really settle down easily there. But boy do we love Thailand and Cambodia.
Portugal is a small country, yet size doesn’t mean that it doesn’t offer a wide variety of landscapes. On the road between Lisbon & the Algarve which is stunning.
Fun way to explore Tuscany was our stay in this authentic Tuscan farmhouse, complete with healthy free roaming pigs. You will find this kind of history all over the Tuscan region.
Walking the bustling streets in Cambodia. Tuk Tuks are the greatest way to get around.
In the next chapter of Our Expat Journey we will share with you where we have decided we could realistically live as expats abroad. We are baby boomers planning on making a very big move. Cheer us on, share your suggestions. We would love to hear from you.