Friday, November 26, 2010

35 Days Til the Big Move

Our goal: to have our house sold/in the process of being sold, to have my portable business set up and generating income, to get rid of basically everything we own except what we can fit in our suitcases, and be on a plane to Japan by December 31, 2010 (the end of next month!).

Some back story: we have been toying with the idea of selling everything and traveling for more than a year. We have been inching towards such a goal since the idea first came to me, but now things are in motion and it looks like our "drop dead" date for the goal will be the end of next month (yikes). It's interesting how when you set your mind to something the universe starts arranging things to help you reach your goal. And it's scary. In theory, the goal seems wonderful but the closer we come to making it a reality, the crazier the idea seems. What if what I am doing is a big mistake? What if this isn't what we should be doing after all? What if we (namely I) fail miserably? The hubby thinks the idea is insane but he would literally follow me to the ends of the earth so he is willing to go along with whatever I want to do (and I think he is secretly excited about the whole idea too). It's so easy to stay in the rut of everyday life--it is so comfortable there! So I re-read this article and this article and while I am still wondering what the heck I have got us into, I also realize that change, and the fear that comes with it, is normal.

So here's the overall plan:
  1. Sell the house and everything in it.
  2. Rent a room from a cousin who lives near us to store a few boxes of personal possessions that we will pick up and bring with us when we get back from Asia. We will also be storing our car at his place too.
  3. Go to Japan for a week or so then head to the Philippines. Stay in the Philippines until March.
  4. At the end of March come back to our Seattle-area town and stay in our rented room at the cousin's house for the month of April while I prep for a bike ride.
  5. Bike from Canada to Mexico during the month of May (hubby will follow along in the van which will also carry our few personal possessions to our new home base in Atlanta).
  6. Arrive at the US-Mexico border on April 30th, drive to Las Vegas for a few days, then on to Colorado to visit our sons and their families.
  7. Take a leisurely drive from Colorado to Atlanta where we will be renting the guest suite at my sister in law's home. We figure we will be arriving around June 1st and we will be making this our "home base". Drop off our stuff.
  8. Head to Connecticut where we will visit family for the summer (June, July, and August) since it is hot as Hell in Atlanta in the summer.
  9. Head back to Atlanta in the fall. We plan to go on a couple of cruises out of Florida and possibly go to Europe during the early and late fall.

What we've done so far:

  • Listed the house for sale.
  • Set up a private mail box that will hold our mail then forward it to where ever we are (we want to maintain our residency in our current state).
  • Updated some of my tech stuff (I bought a new camera, some memory cards and USB drives) and decided not to upgrade other stuff (my laptop and netbook still work well and although I would like the latest computers with all the bells and whistles, I think it is more important to save my money for other travel expenses).

What we need to do:

  • CraigsList the bigger furniture items.
  • EBay some smaller electronics items.
  • Have an "estate" sale to sell everything else in the house.
  • Sell the house, of course.
  • Decide what stuff we will keep (likely pictures, important files, and some small stuff but everything else has to go including some antiques that I will miss).
  • Give my "final, final" notice to the place that I work for (I gave notice a month ago, they asked me to stay, I agreed, and it has been dismal since then so I really think it is time to go. I will, however, try to work out some contracting with them that I can do long distance).
  • Resign from a couple of community Boards that I am on. I volunteer just about everywhere but I am particularly active with a couple of non-profits so I will be giving them my notice as well.
  • Pay off hubby's last remaining credit card with the proceeds from the sale of our stuff.
  • Put all other money we generate into our emergency and travel funds.
  • Forward all of our mail to our new mailing address
  • Get some business cards made with our new info on it (I like Moo cards).
  • Make a few repairs on the house (like fixing the fence, part of which blew down during last week's storm).
  • Sign up for the military "Space A" flight which will take us to Japan for the sum total of $10 (it's a perk of the hubby being retired from the military and will save us an armload of cash on our overseas flights).

Once the house sells we will:

  • Bank all of the proceeds from the sale.
  • Pay off the final utility bills (we will leave money with the cousin to do this as we will likely be out of the country when it sells and sending mail from the Philippines is pretty unreliable).

And after the first of the year we will need to:

  • Do our 2010 taxes as well as B & O taxes.

And our expenses will roughly be:

  • $500 to send one grandkid to school in the Philippines (a lump sum for all of next year)
  • Cell phones ($80 a month since we are still under contract for another year)
  • Tithe (I do this monthly based on my income. I am guessing this will go down since I won't have a regular, steady income)
  • Taxes (another lump sum to be submitted with my 2010 tax return).
  • Car insurance ($45 a month which we will pay in lump sums twice a year. We had considered dropping car insurance for the months we are gone but then we won't be insured if we drive anyone else's car so decided to keep it).
  • Health insurance ($35 a month. A bargain, which gets withheld from the hubby's retirement pay each month)
  • Basic living expenses (rent, food, clothing, toiletries, entertainment, etc). In the Philippines these costs will be much less than what we have been paying for our household in the US and, when we get back, renting a room will also be much less than what we have been paying to maintain our own house (I figure it will be a savings of about $2,000 a month over the cost of a mortgage, utilities, home repair, house insurance, property tax, et al).

So that's it so far.

And the most important lesson from this....without living the cash-only life style and being debt free, none of this would have happened. We would still be stuck on the hamster wheel of charge up the credit cards, work more to pay debt, get depressed about our debt and being forced to work to bring in an income to pay the debts, charge more stuff to make us feel happier temporarily, ad nauseum. Being debt free, having money in savings, and cutting expenses to the bare minimum really does allow us to do basically anything we want to do.


  1. Sounds absolutely terrifying and exciting! If I didn't have 4 kids i'd do something like this in a heartbeat!!! I hope you'll post more about it!

  2. Actually I was most inspired to do this by a family that is traveling WITH their kids ( Now that our kids are grown, we have absoltuly no excuse not to do the things that we always said we would do "when the kids were grown". Thanks for the good wishes!