Walking Away From It All

Posted by M ws On Friday, November 2, 2012 0 comments

Thanks to SKT who sent me the following post which is about how one couple walked away from all they owned and are putting down new roots— one country at a time.

The Let's-Sell-Our-House-And-See-the-World Retirement by Lynne Martin, Wall Street Journal

I'm 70 years old. My husband, Tim, is 66. For most of our lives, each of us lived and worked in California. Today, our home is wherever we and our 30-inch suitcases are.

In short, we're senior gypsies. In early 2011 we sold our house in California and moved the few objects we wanted to keep into a 10-by-15-foot storage unit. Since then, we have lived in furnished apartments and houses in Mexico, Argentina, Florida, Turkey, France, Italy and England. In the next couple of months, we will live in Ireland and Morocco before returning briefly to the U.S. for the holidays.

As I write this, we have settled into a darling one-bedroom apartment a hundred yards from the River Thames, a 25-minute train ride from the heart of London. We have a knack for moving in. Within a few minutes of plunking down our belongings in new digs, we have made it our own: The alarm clock is beside the bed; my favorite vegetable peeler and instant-read thermometer are in the kitchen; and our laptop computers are hooked up and humming. Together we begin learning how to make the appliances cooperate.

Given all that, I suppose a better way to describe us is gypsies who like to put down roots. At least for a month or two.

Why we're doing this is simple: My husband and I—in a heart-to-heart conversation during a trip to Mexico—realized that both of us are happier when we're on the road. We enjoy excellent health and share a desire to see the world in bigger bites than a three-week vacation allows. The notion of living like the locals in other countries thrilled us, and after almost 18 months of living "home free," we are still delighted with our choice. Even a "cocooning" day is more interesting in Paris or Istanbul.

How we're doing this is more complicated. But we think our plan would work for many retirees with a reasonably healthy nest egg. A budget on the road—as in a stationary life—depends on how a person prioritizes expenditures and what kind of lifestyle he or she wishes to pursue. Someone who needs a large wardrobe or thrives on giving lavish dinner parties wouldn't find our life appealing. (Rented places seldom offer much in the way of attractive dinnerware.)

We certainly have moments when we question our sanity. Being up to our knees in water, completely lost in the middle of a torrential rainstorm in Istanbul, or discovering that we have locked ourselves out on a third-floor Paris balcony does give us pause.

But we've learned three things. First, coping with new situations and making complicated travel plans even as we're on the road keep us sharp.

Second, we aren't alone. We meet fellow retirees on a regular basis, some who are taking extended vacations, others who are leading a life similar to ours, and some who have settled permanently overseas. A man I met early on in our travels said to me, "There are a lot of us out there who have figured it out."

Third and most important, the rewards far outweigh the risks. The moments when we glance out "our" living-room window at Florence's skyline or turn a corner in "our" neighborhood and see the tip of the Eiffel Tower winking at us make the scary times worthwhile.

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