Glenn, for many years, has had romantic ideas about spending 6 months living in a sugar cube house on a Greek Island and the remainder of the year living in Australia.
“It will never work! How can we afford it? Won’t we get bored? What about our house, jobs?” was my response.
We are now spending 12 months travelling SE Asia, the UK and Europe; I’ll explain the why’s and how’s we came to this decision.
Firstly, I need to say that Glenn & I have travelled overseas regularly and lived in Edinburgh, Scotland for 8 years – our son was only 3 y.o. at the time. We are no strangers to travelling or living overseas.
About 2½ years ago we subscribed to a US magazine International Living. It changed our thinking about living overseas and gave us ideas and insight into places to visit and live without having to spend large sums of our savings. It gave you ‘boots on the ground’ information about countries and cities all over the world. There was also an article about “house sitting” which got my attention in a big way. So we also purchased a subscription to a house sitting course by a couple who house sit full time all around the world. It would be a way to see other countries, reduce our travel expenses and allow us to spend time with different pets.
Not long after this two good, long-time friends of ours, Jan & Glenn, sold their businesses, bought a mobile home and set-off to travel around Australia for 10 months. They were in their early 50’s and had decided that life was too short to wait until full retirement age. I was impressed and envious of their decision. Their regular posts on facebook showed them relaxed, smiling & enjoying life. I made the decision then to ‘go’ and Glenn didn’t need much convincing at all.
The only decision to make was “when”? We were in no hurry and we decided to leave late 2015. Through our reading of International Living, we had decided that Chiang Mai, Thailand was going to be our first stop and November to February was the best time of the year to visit. So we gave ourselves 12 months to prepare and make the necessary plans. Many people do this in a few months but we have met an ex-pat retired couple who made the decision to move to Chiang Mai and within a week their belongings were packed and they were on a plane!
Travelling for an extended period overseas is a lot different to travelling around Australia or being a tourist simply on a holiday.
You need to consider the following before you get on the plane :
- Budget – how much for accommodation, living expenses, tourist activities
- Visas – do you need one, what type, how long, single or multi entry, how long does it take to apply for one
- Travel restrictions in the country you are visiting – if you can enter without a Visa how long are you allowed to stay
- Passport (expiry date) – make sure you have at a minimum 2 years (in case you decide to extend your travels)
- Foreign Currency – how much can you take as cash and the most cost effective ways of accessing your savings whilst overseas.
- What to pack – the size and weight of your case. Major airlines have 20kg limits, but the smaller, budget airlines generally have 15kgs, so you need to consider this.
- Allocation of funds for incidentals at your destination – you may have to buy additional items – clothing, towels, kitchen items or a fan (like we did). This is going to be inevitable and you may not be able to take these new purchases with you.
- Travel insurance – most important
- Mail – redirecting, going paperless (email). Payment of bills via the internet
- Power of attorney – do you have one? Decide who you trust to act on your behalf if you are unable to
- Wills – do you have one? Is it up to date? Does the executor know where it is?
- Your home – what do you do with it? Rent it out? Leave it empty? Find a house sitter?
- Garage sale / de-clutter your home
- Research your destination – are there any expats or organisations you may want to get involved with? They can be invaluable in offering advice, information and social contacts. (We contacted Chiang Mai Expats Club (CEC) before we left and they have been very helpful before and since we arrived on Chiang Mai)
Finally, saying your goodbyes, not only to your family and friends, but possibly some of your favourite foods.