Decisions, Decisions – What’s Next For Wagoners Abroad?

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?

What's next for Wagoners Abroad?  Good Question.

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!

fat stacks yo! money saving tips

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!

In order to do this, we need to slow down from this fast travel, as it is too unpredictable for steady work.  I spend so much time planning and we spend too much time moving from one destination to the other.  We need to pick a place with good internet to focus and use as a home base!
Yeah, another decision is clear!

Where to live?

Living abroad

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.

Decisions Decisions

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).

Education

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!

Wagoners Abroad Chiang Mai Zoo and Aquarium

This entry was posted in Career Break, Education, Expat Planning, FAQ's by Heidi. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heidi

Heidi has a passion for travel and has been exploring the world with her husband and 2 kids, since August 2012. She's visited more than 50 countries and loves to write about their family adventures, mishaps and costs. She has been an inspiration to others wanting to live their dreams. Her travel tips, planning posts, cost breakdowns, accommodation, and product reviews are also very popular. Her current home base is in Spain. Any post on this site may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, there is no extra cost for you and we may receive a commission.

22 thoughts on “Decisions, Decisions – What’s Next For Wagoners Abroad?

  1. I was reading this on my phone and also had to open the laptop so I could properly absorb all of the details and comment.
    This post really spoke to me. It’s exactly the kinds of things that swirl around in my head on an almost daily basis, so I GET it! You are not crazy!!

    If making money and keeping the resident status are the higher reaching goals, then I can see where returning to Spain is the #1 choice. Plus, if your kids haven’t been practicing their Spanish for a year in SEA, going back to Spain would be great for their Spanish fluency.

    On the other hand, I love South East Asia. I have taken 10 trips in the region for over 12 years and that’s a 24 hour flight each time, so yes, I LOVE South East Asia.
    It would be really hard for me to make that decision if I knew the whole wide world was open to me.

    I envy your situation, a million opportunities are out there just waiting for you.
    You and your husband will figure it out. But you know what? You can always change your mind!

    • I love it Darcy! We just said that today, “we can always change our minds”! You see the most difficult part of it all was initially leaving the US in the first place. Now the world is ours and it doesn’t really matter where we live, as we can always just move. 🙂 By the way, thanks for validating that I’m not crazy! LOL Alan may have a debate with you on that one.

  2. It’s really interesting hearing your thoughts. Thanks for sharing. I’ve been following several RTW famliies and lots of them return to the US. I’d love to do a RTW trip myself but need to convince the husband that it’ll work. Also interesting point about blogging and homeschooling on the run. I do wonder how people who are on the move constantly fit it all in. I had such a hard time doing both when we did our short 3 week vacations. I agree with you that it’s easier if you are located in a home base to focus on blogging and homeschooling.

    • Thanks for stopping by Shobha. Yes, it is tough when one of the decision makers needs a little nudge to think outside of the box a bit. It was that way for us too! I was the crazy dreamer and Alan was a little slow to warm up to the idea. He eventually did and is now one of the biggest advocates to keep on going! You just never know. When we had a home base, we could take short trips away and didn’t have to take everything we own as well. So we could pack lightly, just for that location. We love moving around and I think we would do best with at least 1 month in each location, rather than the 1 month per country (multi locations). Let us know if we can help you in any way.

  3. Two quotes came to me as I read your post and comments above…
    “What you seek is seeking you.” (Rumi)
    and
    “The fear is gone and we know we can make it work.” (Heidi)
    Your homeschool assignment is to relax, breathe in and out, recharge your batteries by the sea, and just let the magic happen.
    And it WILL happen for you. I feel it with the same certainty that I felt it for us when we were facing all the “what if and how” thoughts.

    • Oh Lori! I am so lucky that you magically drifted into our lives. I feel like I have a soul sister Forever! You are so right. We have been calm and letting the signals present themselves. Things are getting pretty clear now, without much effort. Sometimes it is best to not force it and let it come. Yes oh yes, the fear is gone and we will figure it out! 🙂 You are such a sweetie!

  4. I LOVE this post. I read it on my iPod and felt compelled to fire up my laptop and comment here to tell you that! 🙂

    I feel the same way as you – there is so much to see, how to fit it all in – I feel greedy for exploring all over the place, so many countries, so little time! And it’s only “so little time” because there is so much I want to see!

    My husband and I just had another chat last night about money and we decided that we are going to focus more on making money over the next few months too. We want to have an added level of reassurance that we can afford to continue traveling for as long as we please. I am hell-bent on never going back to our old life ever again. Man, I make it sound as if our old life was so bad, and it wasn’t. But THIS life is so much better, I just can’t bear the thought of having to give it up someday. Time to make 100% sure that will never happen.

    • Thanks Sheralyn. It is a tangled web that we weave for sure. I know excatly what you mean. Our old life was “just fine” too, but we needed more. THIS is a wonderful life for us and we are all happy. We love our quality family time and way of life. We have no choice really, we just need to do it!

  5. Wow! Thanks Heidi for sharing your families swirling thoughts so candidly in this post. We were able to relate to so many of the points that you raised for consideration, and it is encouraging to us to read that after 2.5 years of traveling these are still the ideas that you’re tossing about for possibilities for your future. You see, we’ve just began our adventure, and have only been on the road for 6 months. We’re currently in in Ireland, also trying to get a 5 year resident visa so that our options are open for Europe, but at the same time the heart strings are pulling us in lots of different directions. Europe, Asia, South America, and always the question of income?? We actually feel a lot better knowing that YOU don’t have all the answers with all your experience, and that perhaps we just need to chill out a little and roll with it. Yes, there are lots of options swirling in our minds and decisions to be made, but one thing is for sure, it’s wonderful to have these options and decisions to make isn’t it? 🙂

    • Hi Gina! Okay, now you made me feel better too! It is a crazy mess we get ourselves into isn’t it? I love it at the same time. The same choices are always there, no matter how long you are away. Congrats for your time in Ireland, maybe if we are back in Europe we can visit. I am not sure what the 5 yr resident card will buy us, but my gut is saying “don’t give up the opportunity”. To bad there are all of these visa rules and regulations anyway.

      I think after 2.5 years the only difference is we have no fear! The fear is gone and we know we can make it work. We don’t now how, but we are confident we will figure it out. We weren’t feling that way when planning our initial move or in the first 6 months.

      Yes, just go with it and it will be amazing. Once we get through this decision the stress will go and back to enjoying travel! I am sure we will have it all figured out in a couple of days, with some amazing plan.

  6. Wow, Heidi, I love the way you think out loud thru this entire blog post. You certainly do have some decisions to make, don’t you! I vote for your return to Spain since I’m there now and enjoying it immensely 🙂 Well, can’t wait to know what you guys decide.

    • Unfortunately the ramble and me thinking outloud (typing) happen all of the time. I just decided to share it with you this time. writing things out helps me loads.

      Oh that’s right your are there now. Where did you end up in Spain? How exciting. Seems like so long ago you were planning. Thanks for your support.

  7. Hi!! So excited for you and your upcoming travels and decisions. Just to add a thought…. as I know education is a big choice with those of us who have children. I have raised my Canadian daughter here in southern Spain (as you know we make natural skincare here near Mojacar, Almeria). My thoughts on the education system here if you are considering returning for another school year here is that it is not bad until and including grade 6. I am not sure exactly what ages they are, but once they go to highschool at grade 7, it just started going downhill. In general they are not taught to think here or innovate or create. They are taught to memorize and the only reason they go to school (besides socializing of course) is to get grades. The Canadian education system was so much better in that regard. But the balance is that the social system for young people here is pretty awesome where in Canada it is more troubled. Growing up in small town coastal southern Spain has been great socially for her. They go out in huge groups of friends. We don’t see much bullying. There is an innocence here that I love and a lot of community. If that helps at all in your decision to possibly return to Spain, I will be glad. Hopefully one day you can come visit the soap studio!! xo Jen

    • Hey Jen, you bet we would come visit you. We would also love to feature you in our “where’s it made?” series. Yes Lars is currently grade 7 and Anya grade 5. We are well aware of the grades and momorizing, as it was like that at our primary school in Almunecar. That is part of the condideration for sure. Ug! Thanks for the thoughts!

  8. Hi Heidi, your struggle sounds very familiar! We had a few different considerations in the mix, but the “can’t do it all” and “what are the implications if I do X” are universal to all traveling families.

    If staying abroad for years is the #1 priority, then it certainly sounds like getting a block of 6+ months to build the business has to be the top objective, even if it means curbing your wanderlust for a time. Hard to judge where those 6 months should be from my seat, though as you describe it, Spain is most likely to provide the stability. It’s hard to do that when there’s a big, fun, world out there, though!

  9. Well, if it helps at all, I’m very, very glad we took an 8 month breather in London. I’ve got the blog moving in a new direction, it’s grown dramatically and I now know what I’m doing ( I think). We made enough to live off this month and I’m pretty sure I can hit that target more regularly from now on. But it took the whole 8 months to change the gameplan, it’s just coming together now as we’re leaving.
    The kids are on target education wise and there are so many educational benefits in London it’s insane, these museums and free resources, it’s just immense.
    We can move around for 6 months or so now, we’re good, everything is in place. I couldn’t have kept going with the nomadic travel without this break, as you say, it just gets too much to organise. We may stop somewhere in Asia for a while after that, we really love getting to know a place properly, can’t stand flying visits ( don’t know where, but won’t be Malaysia) or maybe come back to London, or even stay in our Australia house for a bit. This is good , we have options and so do you. Hope to run into you somewhere this year!

    • Thanks Alyson and congrats to you. Yes, I haven’t had anytime to focus on growing or making money. It’s looking like we need to find a single place for at least 6 months or more to really focus. Got a little fire under us now, so we will make it work! I just thought I knew what I was doing and then sometimes I don’t. I need to do this in a smart way and I need to figure out what that is.

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