It all seemed so easy when we first decided, about five years ago, that we wanted to live around the world when we retired. We knew it would be prohibitive to maintain our home and pay property taxes and travel extensively, so part of our decision was based on practicality. But now that it’s upon us, I never dreamed there would be so much to do, so many decisions to be made. As soon as we manage one thing, it seems dozens more jump up to take its place.
For instance, we first sorted out the issue of insurance after learning Medicare would not cover us abroad, but in the end we found one of our supplemental insurance options will cover us when we are out of the country. We still need to figure out evacuation insurance, and we also feel it’s important to update our wills. But what about residency in order to vote, and maintain drivers licenses? We are fortunate that our oldest son and his family live in town so we will use his home as our primary residence and he and his wife have graciously agreed to let us have our mail forwarded to them (though there shouldn’t be much).
How much is this going to cost? We have worked hard to become debt free and our plan is to live on our combined social security and pensions. We have established a tentative monthly budget estimating costs for rent, insurance, transportation, food and entertainment but are a bit anxious as we don’t know if it is realistic or not. Guess we’ll find out!
The first question people always ask is, “Where are you going?” Our initial response is, “Everywhere!” We hope to find reasonable places to rent through sites such as VRBO and Homeaway with the intent of staying about two to six weeks in each place and hoping to travel to many places in off seasons, both because it’s cheaper and in order to avoid the crowds. Because of the Schengen agreement we know we can only live within most countries of the EU for 90 days and then we’ll have to be out of the EU for 90 days. We finally sat down with a map this past weekend and created sort of a “wet cement” plan for our first year.
We hope to take off in the middle of January 2015. Cascais Portugal (40 minutes west of Lisbon on the sea) will be our first stop staying until the first of March. While most of the time we will rely on public transportation, there are locations where we’ll need to rent a car. When we leave Portugal we’re going to head to Bearn Province in southwest France and because of its remote location it’s one of those times we’ll want a car.(This brought up another question. I’d like to learn to drive a standard transmission. Where does one do that in 2014?) We plan to stay in the south of France for about 4 weeks then drive up to Paris for a couple of weeks (where we’ll drop the car off). Luckily the UK is not part of the Schengen Agreement so we’ll live in parts of England, Scotland or Ireland for the next 90 days, and we will definitely rely on public transportation there! We’ll spend July through October in Scandinavia. Then in the middle of October through January we’ll be back in the US. While in the US we will have our yearly physicals, dental checkups and other maintenance projects! And more fun…catch up with the kids and grandkids!
So now back to the nitty gritty. Bob retires from teaching at the end of this week and then we’re into sorting and pitching our collection of stuff from the past 20 years we’ve lived in this house. Kids can have whatever they want; I have to find a few homes for special items: the clock that Bob’s grandfather gave his grandmother for a wedding gift, the chair my grandparents brought from Denmark in the 1880s, my piano I began to play at age 5, but luckily for the kids there are only a handful of these items. Our toughest conundrum is finding a home for our elderly Old English Sheepdog. He is a gem and while he loves other dogs, he is terribly neurotic about traveling in cars (i.e. barks continuously) and now he’s having difficulty getting up and down on our tile and wood floors. We absolutely must find a good home for him before we leave. With the exception of a few items, primarily artwork that we’ll store, the rest of our belongings will be sold or donated. We plan on traveling with one 24 inch suitcase each along with a carry-on tote. We will rotate between a spring/summer wardrobe and a fall/winter wardrobe (Each season must fit in the 24 inch). Our daughter, who conveniently lives in Europe, has agreed to store our off-season wardrobes for us. Our electronics will take up a sizeable chunk of our totes/purse: camera, phone, computer for me, tablet for Bob, and our ereaders. Of course we’ll wear neck pouches for documents, bankcards and cash.
So until next time, I’m off to start the sorting and pitching game and getting our house market ready!