Friday, July 31, 2015

The Planning

There are thousands of websites touting the benefits of being a expat.  However, buying a property in a foreign country to us sounds like getting back on that hamster wheel we're trying to escape.  Staying in one place for a while, until something else beacons is much more appealing...and a lot less expensive.

Planning has always been part of our relationship.  It's our hallmark for success. For us everything starts with a dream, an idea, and then becomes a reality as we carefully take it apart into bite size components.  One step at a time we have created our current life...slowly moving from one phase and into another, and always forward and upward.  This time we are doing something huge and it will take some time.

Once we decided on a nomadic lifestyle, the rest has come pretty easy.  Our first setup was to itemize our current monthly living costs.  The list got pretty large pretty fast.  That in itself was an eyeopener.  Here's the short list of our current monthly expenses.  There's plenty more but these are the ones that we consistently make a payment each month:

RE Taxes
RE Insurance
Utilities - Gas, Electric, Water, Waste
Upkeep and Repairs
Snow removal
Gardening and Yard Maintenance
Health Insurance and Co-pays
Insurance on 3 Vehicles, a boat, a camper, two motorcycles and two snowmobiles
Vehicle Maintenance
Vehicle Fuel
Cable TV
Newspaper Delivery
Food.  We eat well and entertain a lot!
Income Tax
Charitable Contributions

The total was eye-opening.  Although we are virtually debt free, it still costs a lot to maintain a basic lifestyle.  This is a good exercise for anyone wanting to get a hold on their spending.  For us it made the next step even easier-establishing a nomad budget.  All this and we will be spending a lot less each month-no material ties.  If we are careful, we can live comfortably on simply our retirement income.  We shouldn't have to draw on our retirement funds or cash assets until it's time to return the USA and setup housekeeping again...a long time down the road we hope!

Storage Unit - someplace in the lower 48 where we can store the few things we will keep when we are completely downsized.
Email and Website - we've decided to maintain a website with private email instead of using Gmail or Yahoo, etc.  We'll have complete control of the content and it'll be a great way to keep our friends and family close.
US Mailbox - someplace in the lower 46, that can be checked once a month or so by a trusted friend or family member.  While we hope to completely avoid snail mail once we set sail, there will be that odd piece that comes in that needs attention.
Travel Cost - we've got to get from point A to point B every three months or so.
Health Insurance - our military coverage doesn't work overseas so we do need to purchase an international package.  They are amazing less expensive than we thought.
Cell Phones - local ones where we are living, primarily to keep in touch with each other.  We'll use a Vonage internet number with voice mail for our family and friends.
Rent - this is the fun one.  We get to pick a different house or apartment when we get bored and wand to move on.  Setting a $1500 per month rental limit gives us some pretty awesome choices, even in places like Paris, London, Beijing, New Delhi, and even New York City.
Food - we'll be shopping and eating local.  We're so looking forward to making our meal preparation a daily event, shopping in local markets and preparing a grand meal each night.  And the wine!
Daily Transportation - buses, trains, subways, motor scooters.
Entertainment and Touring

With a workable budget planned out the next steps are a bit daunting.  We've got to sell the house, the cars, all of the toys, and downsize everything left into a manageable amount.  We're using a 10' X 12" storage unit as our goal.  Art, a few favorite antiques, furniture we know we can't replace, memorabilia, and some housekeeping basics like my Kitchen Aide mixer.  Anything that is worn out and no longer has value, intrinsic or otherwise, will be destined for that huge estate sale next year.

With that out of the way, what's left is to settle our affairs and get ready for the adventure.  It all starts when we get back from our next travel club adventure to New Zealand and Australia.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Decision

We're Tom and Bobbie Lucido and we're planners...always have been.  Sixteen years ago we left Texas and headed to Alaska.  This has been our home for a long time and we love the beauty and privacy of living high up on the mountainside overlooking water, mountains, and the city of Anchorage below. 

Moving here meant retiring from our once busy lives in both medicine and aviation.  Not wanting to get back into the rat race, we used our large home and our talents to create a quieter and peaceful way of life.  We created a 20-year plan.  

For eleven years our place was a 4 Star B&B. It was fun…and a lot of work.  Along with the B&B came the tour company, the travel agency, the transportation company, the nutrition company, and the consulting and design firm.  We are a overachievers and this made sense--use what we have and what we are willing to learn to make things better. These businesses have all been small, home-based.  They have been businesses that helped to create the life we have been living. Now we are ready to fully retire and we love to travel!

There's a nine year age difference between us.  A few years ago this became a deciding factor in our plans to retire.  As our plan evolved, we took a serious look at what it would mean to travel and live aboard for a long time.  "When you're 60, I'll be 70.  When you're 70, I'll be 80.  Being in excellent health, it became more and more apparent that there was no reason to wait.

I've been "playing" the retirement life mostly alone for a few years now.  I went on a four month world trip alone.  That was fun and invigorating.  I volunteer at a few local charities, and I got involved in local community theater.  All the while Bobbie kept her part time job, more as a means of filling time, and the extra money has been going into our retirement fund.  Earlier this year a series of everyday events happened, one right after the other that convinced us we were simply treading water.  

We have a large sport boat that gave us a few mechanical surprises, some home repairs came out of nowhere and cost more than we imagined, Our B&B morphed into an traveling professional accommodation business and the thoughts on turning over another group of temporary tenants was daunting.  On top of that a couple of minor health issues popped up and were quickly resolved.  

All of this in such a short amount of time shook the trunk of our "reality tree." How much longer do we want to be ruled by the material and seemingly "important" everyday stuff?  How much longer will our good health and energy last?  Good questions.  After some serious conversation, we decided that instead of waiting to start traveling in 2020, we're going to do it now.  And so this story begins.  .
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