All great stories start with a great plan. And ours is no different. We’re sitting here in the middle of January 2016 looking ahead just a couple of months towards what will be the trip of a lifetime (so far at least) for both of us, and for our family as a whole.
With the prospect of a 6+ month trip to Europe, selling all of our stuff, quitting a “stable” job, and leaving everything (including how to communicate) behind, there are a lot of ducks to get in a row before you just head out one day. I wanted to take a few minutes to share some of the things that we’ve done to get ready for these times, and what some of our initial plans are going forward as well.
In order to ditch the rat race, 9-5, private school, keeping up with the Jones’ lifestyle we had to take a few steps to mentally prepare ourselves before we did anything financial or physical. The biggest step was coming to terms with the fact that what we were about to do was going to be incredible, life changing (especially for our kids who are quite young for this type of thing), and really quite difficult.
Living in another country, even for a week long vacation is wrought with challenges, and just perturbing your “usual” life. Now that’s not all a bad thing, though, right? Along with that mixup in your day-to-day life comes an enormous opportunity for growth, and that’s really what we’re talking about here, isn’t it? We had to assure ourselves, and each other at times, that what we were getting ready to do would far outweigh the challenges, financial tradeoff, and disruption that a move like this would bring about.
Getting Rid of “Our Stuff”
After we mentally prepared ourselves for what was about to come, we spent the next few months very slowly, and very methodically getting rid of things. At first it was old stuff for the kids that we didn’t need anymore. Swings, old cribs we weren’t ever going to use, toys they had outgrown, and the like. That was pretty easy.
Then it came down to the more difficult decisions like artwork, some furniture, and all of our other “stuff” that we think longer term we’ll want to keep. We’ve made the decision to get rid of all of our furniture, mostly because it’s a mess after our 3 and 5 year olds have been climbing all over it for the last few years. Not to mention it’s the worst “bang for your buck” moving size, hassle, and is relatively easy to replace on Craigslist wherever we land.
The rest of our things will be in storage, and we’ll see how they do over a 6+ month period. We’re expecting a good deal of things to be more or less ruined as a result of being stored for so long, but that’s just how it goes. Getting rid of most things is minimizing that, and we’ll definitely not keep anything that can contaminate the rest of the things in our storage. This includes a lot of kitchen items.
Diving off the Deep End
The decision to actually give notice at work and commit ourselves finally to this was a really difficult decision. Amanda and I have planned on doing this for over a year, and now that the time is here to make the rubber meet the road we are honestly pretty anxious about it.
We’ve played a lot of the worst case scenarios out, and when we do that it really isn’t that much downside. Some lost time of income from the day job, reduced earning potential when (and hopefully if) I have to come back to the conventional workforce are about the only things that I can see as actual downsides. So while it is a nerve wracking experience, in reality it isn’t that risky. Here are a few things I’m absolutely not worried about:
- Money for the next year – we’ve been deliberate about making sure that’s ok. Simple advice here: Spend Less than you Make, and repeat.
- Leaving what we know – that’s the whole point of this, so it’d be bad if I was really worried about that
- Living in another culture – not worried about this, but it will be more challenging than I’m giving it credit for now I’m sure
- Staying home more often with Amanda and the kids – I have to be honest with myself about this one. It absolutely will be an adjustment for us all. I know it will be a great decision and experience long term, but I know we’ll all have some growing pains about me being around more
- Working in a foreign country – this one we’ll see. I think some places will be very easy to work in, but some will be sort of difficult. The time zones don’t concern me because I’ve been doing so many early mornings and late nights along the way that I’ve not been “available” 9-5 like a lot of people are.
Right now we’re shooting for the first of May to take off. I can’t be more excited. I do have some healthy respect for the decision we’re making, but I am much more excited than nervous. That’s a great sign, I think.