As I sit here writing in Cambodia, a million thoughts are swirling through my mind. Notice I didn’t say “flowing”. Nope they aren’t even running through my head. They are actually swishing back and forth, churning and swirling around like a washing machine. Of course it isn’t just with me, it’s the same for Alan as well. So what is going on in our minds? We are trying to figure out what is next for Wagoners Abroad?
Our original plan was to live in Spain 18-24 months, we did that for 22 months. We had about 1 year left in our budget, to either remain in Spain or explore another area. As you know, we opted to explore Southeast Asia. We have been living the past 6 months “inland” in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia), and we really miss the sea.
Not to worry, as we will be spending the month of February island hopping in Southern Thailand. Oh I can’t wait! That will give us our long-awaited beach time and sea fix. It’s amazing, how motivated I am around water! Our plan following our time in Thailand, sometime in March, is to find a place in Malaysia for a few months and focus on work and school.
Yes, we are making our choice to continue this international location independent lifestyle. We are in the midst of making even more decisions as I type. There are so many unknowns for us on a daily basis. The biggies:
- Where will we go next?
- How will we fund it?
- What about education for the kids?
While we don’t have firm answers for those questions, we do know a few things.
What do we know?
- We know we want to continue this location independent lifestyle;
- We know we aren’t ready to return to the US;
So that is clear! Phew at least we know something. Of course this life isn’t that simple, as it takes a bit more than wanting it, to make it happen. There are plenty of other things come into play with these decisions. Of course one of the biggest factors is money.
Let’s Talk Money!
Yes, we of course need to have the funds to keep living this lifestyle and living wherever we like. I am not going to get into too much of the finances here, as we will save that for a post all on its own. The fact is, the money we have set aside for this adventure has been stretched, supplemented and well-planned. We have been pretty creative with making a little money here and there, but the time has come when we need to cover our expenses in full. We need a steady income as the savings set aside for this adventure is dwindling down.
We do know that our finances will soon be coming to an end for this journey, so that is clear. As I mentioned before, we know we aren’t ready to return to the USA. Of course we aren’t rock bottom, there is no way in the world we would let that happen. But we are just about through the initial amount we set aside for our 18 month journey. Not bad, as it has lasted over 2 1/2 years!
We have been making “some” money online, but it just isn’t a steady flow we can rely on. Again, I think a post is looming on sharing what we have been doing to earn money. We are being contacted with questions in this area more and more. I have it all recorded and keep track, but at some point we will share what we are doing. It is just difficult to be fully exposed and believe me I know.
We have always shared all of our expenses and it is amazing how supportive people have been. It just that we do get the odd one that feels the need to grill us and question our every move. The one or two people who feel the need to tell us that we are spending way too much, or they don’t believe we are getting by on just $3000 a month. Yes, they aren’t afraid to contact us and let us know their thoughts.
We do know we now have new skills, which we should be able to use to make a steady income. We will be actively seeking out work, which will maintain our location independent lifestyle. Work that we can do on our own time schedule, which won’t have us punching a clock or dictate where we live! Sounds crazy, but it is so possible! We know many people who have been successful and we just need to focus our time an energy in that direction. So, that is what we are going to do over the next few months.
Yeah, one decision is clear!
Where to live?
Of course, we are considering returning Spain. The plan all along was to travel Southeast Asia about a year and then return to Spain. If we fell in love with Asia we would stay, it would take something great to give up our access to Europe. That said, we are water people and have spent the majority of our time inland!
So we think we need to focus more on the Island or sea locations, perhaps that will sway our decisions? Not to mention, there are many more countries and cultures to see. We really would like to experience the Philippines, Indonesia and more, but there just isn’t time. Oh so much to think about and time is ticking. We don’t have much time to figure this all out.
Time is ticking!
I know you may be thinking “What time constraints do you have? You have all of the time in the world.”
This is true, but there is something looming over our heads. The time constraint we have is our Spanish resident visa. We left Spain June 30, 2014 for our year of exploration in Southeast Asia. Our Spanish resident card is up for renewal in August 2015. That renewal would allow us to live in Spain for an additional 2 years. Ultimately giving us another 2 years of visa-free access to the Schengen Zone in Europe. Do we remain in Asia and “give up” this access?
There are many expats in Malaysia, so perhaps that is the place to settle and work. There are Western conveniences and a distance learning school program for the kids. This could be good for us to network with new people and build a steady life. The downside is that we would need to do that border run to renew our visa every 90 days. What if they say “No!” to our re-entry? How good is the internet? Would we like it there? We do love the sea and tropical climate!
So the time has come for us to make our plans. We need to decide where we are going to go to make all of that money we see in our future. After all, we know we need to keep our dream lifestyle going! Ha! That was a bit of a joke, but we are determined to make it happen. We need a location and need to work around those dates. If we decide not to return to Spain, then the pressure of dates is lifted, but visa run dates re-inserted.
We just need to decide if we want to stay in Asia and “give up” our visa free access to Europe by not renewing our card. We could always select another location in Europe, outside of the Schengen Zone. We could just remain long-term in Asia. We could also relocate to Central or South America. We don’t know what we want to do, and at the same time, we want to do it all.
What kind of crazy people have we turned into? I remember when we thought just moving to Spain was radical enough. Now we want the entire world at our fingertips. Served up, when we want it and where we want it!
If the decision is to return to Spain, more churn comes into play. The timing of that return would need to be part of the decision. We are also have a concern, what if they won’t allow us to renew after being gone so long?
From our research, prior to leaving, as long as we were not in another country for more than 6 consecutive months, we would be okay. If you are in a single country for 6 months or more, Spain would consider you to be a resident of that country.
We have been good with moving around and not being in one country for 6 consecutive months. That said, we did spend a full 6 months out of Spain in the 2014 calendar year. Maybe it wouldn’t appear so bad if we weren’t gone for a full year? What if we were to return, would it look better if it was only 11 months?
As I stated before, our renewal is up at the end of August. If we returned with that timing it would not only be over a year, but we would be returning smack in the middle of high season. Prices would be extremely high for accommodation and we would likely have to get a holiday rental until the high season was over in September.
So if this is our path, we would now we start playing with a return date. What if we start thinking of returning to Spain a bit earlier? If we want to avoid the high season, we would need to return no later than May. That may also help when we apply for renewal, so it doesn’t appear we have been gone as long (less than a year).
Oh and while I’m making things up and rationalizing, why don’t we push it a bit earlier and return around Spring Break. This way we could have the kids go to school the final trimester of the year. They could reconnect with their friends before summer.
Fessing up, we haven’t mastered a good routine and rhythm with homeschool! Don’t get me wrong, the kids are learning, no doubt about it. We did have a good routine when we spent nearly 4 months in Chiang Mai. I am certain we would again, if we have a home base anywhere. It just doesn’t work well when we are moving each week.
Well, it has all gone out the window the past few months, as we have been moving fast. Also having Gma Bev along has been wonderful, but I am sure you could guess it’s more fun to hang out with her than to do school work! Oh yes, we can’t forget the spotty internet in each country. Not to mention that Alan and I just aren’t patient teachers. We are trying to spend time making an income and it is tough to find time to do it all. Needless to say, it has been an interesting path. 🙂
Oh, if you only knew all of the ideas spinning around our heads. I am just sharing the madness that is clear enough to write down.
As you can see, there is plenty for us to think about, consider, and decide in the next couple of months. We do know we will be spending the month of February in Thailand island hopping! That will be great! We will be back near the water and be recharged! We have loads going on in our minds and we aren’t sure which direction will work best, but we will keep you posted.
I am not intentionally leaving you with a cliff hanger, but writing all of this out helps organize it in my mind. So I figured we may as well share all of this with you too. After all, you have been following along with us the past 2 1/2 years and you are part of the family too. So that means you can contribute to the family fund as well. Ha! Just kidding. As soon as we figure things out, we will share it with you.
The blog is usually a few weeks behind from our current location/activity etc., but for this topic it is different. This kind of info, we try to publish hot off our minds and into your screen.
Go ahead and give us your thoughts, don’t be shy!