The Beginning:an epiphany

For years we read of others whom had left jobs, retired early and started travelling the world, leaving no forwarding address.

We read their articles, their blogs, looked at all the pictures and starting dreaming.

In November 2014 James had an epiphany! What if we sell a few properties, which will pay down our loans and make it happen.

The reality was that it wouldn’t happen over night, but it would happen.

It wasn’t quite that simple. There  was a list of an order for things to happen and it meant quite a bit of renovating to do on several properties while we were still earning a wage. BUT!!! It was doable. Our goal….to both be retired in time for a world cruise starting May 2017.

Fast forward to January 2017..

Since that conversation in November 2014 we have been putting into reality all the necessities we had listed to make our dream of retiring early happen.

We sold our big family home and paid down the mortgages we held on 3 investment properties not in our Superannuation fund and downsized to living in one of those properties. This turned out to be a win/win situation for us, not only did we pay off a large chunk of debt, but we moved to an easy flat walk to our fabulous local beach and shopping district.

We embraced the new lifestyle by buying push bikes that we ride frequently and will be able to take with us in our caravan when we use that for accomodation when we are here in Australia.

Yes a caravan! This was another idea that became a reality as we discussed in what and where would we live when we wanted to spend time in Australia.

After considering all the alternatives, including Airbnb or keeping a smaller investment property empty for our use, we decided that a better idea would be to purchase a caravan that was comfortable enough to live in for extended periods of time and also have the ability to travel around Australia in it when we wanted to.

We looked for a long time at sites and caravan shows before purchasing a second hand caravan in August 2015.

We have used the time since then to make a few adjustments and get used to all the ins and outs  of setting up and packing for van living. We’ve also enjoyed a few nice trips away as well.

We are both feeling quite comfortable with that decision and look forward to seeing a lot more of this fabulous country Australia.

I, Jacqueline decided to retire earlier than James as I had been a Marriage celebrant for a dozen years and hadn’t had many weekends off regularly in that time.

I had a wonderful career as a celebrant and am thankful to have enjoyed a meaningful and positive experience in my working career. I have many treasured memories of my time as a celebrant and met the widest range of people possible and made some incredible friendships along the way.

My last Wedding was May 5th 2016 in the gorgeous Hunter Valley, NSW.

Having retired gave me the opportunity to travel long weekends in the caravan with James as we learned the ropes of caravan life so to speak.

Remember at the start I said it would mean some serious renovations to be done before we could leave to travel full time, well that is what else we have been doing in that time.

Several of the investment properties we had purchased were in need of major work and we have nearly accomplished the last of the list that we had set ourselves as most necessary. I can tell you it has been hard work but extremely rewarding as we look at the finished product and hand the keys to new tenants.

Downsizing your worldly goods is both daunting and cathartic. I truly believe we need less than we think and I have a saying ” we spend half our lives accumulating stuff!!, and the other half getting rid of it”.

Timing is important too, and we now have just over four months till we take off on that world cruise in May.

The cleanout has begun in earnest!!!! we are fortunate that we have our own private storage area that we can keep anything we really feel we can’t let go of without paying to have it stored. Saying that we intend to rid ourselves of all our furniture, white goods and electrical, plus most linen etc.

 

We have also continued to have a few lovely holidays in Australia and overseas as well.

In December 2014 we had a holiday in Bali for Christmas and New year and in 2015 we had a wonderful tour of Spain, Portugal and Morocco and a nice break in Thailand on the Way home.

I have had a trip to New Zealand to catch up with family and friends and we spent three weeks away in February 2016 in our caravan stopping at Port Stephens, Forster and South West Rocks all on the NSW North Coast. June 2016 we spent a wonderful time visiting my son and his wife and their son in Korea, and we enjoyed another break in Bali on the way home.

My eldest brother turned 60 in November 2016 and we celebrated with him on a three day cruise from Brisbane to no where and back. We found it so relaxing and enjoyed being off-line that when we came home we searched and found a fabulous deal for an eight night cruise down the NSW coast and around to Kangaroo Island off the Victoria Coast. This will be a great break from the preparations that seem to be constantly on our mind as that leave date gets ever closer.

We had also flown to Brisbane in the September to catch up with friends over from New Zealand whom will be joining us on our world cruise in May.

We booked a hire car and travelled to Mooloolaba for a few days staying in a lovely Airbnb duplex on the canals.

We have used Airbnb several times and intend to use them a lot more when we travel full time from after our world cruise.

This year we also tried using Airbnb having a private room not just having the whole property to ourselves. We want to get used to doing things out of our normal comfort zone as thats what travel is all about. If things were all the same as at home you wouldn’t bother going.

We were pleasantly surprised to find we enjoyed the experience and see it as a way to save money in some of the more expensive cities like New York were we could stay for 5-7 days in different boroughs for a longer period of time than if we we rented a whole apartment.

By the time we board The Sea Princess on May 20th 2017 we will have accomplished a lot more than what is stated here, and we will go with a sense of great relief that we have worked together to make the start of our dream “nomadic, vagabonding life” a reality. The cruise will be a reward for all the hard work and a slice of luxury we probably may not be able to afford again, as our long term travel will be on a strict budget. Hopefully we will find some great repositioning cruises or last minute bargains to act as a relaxing respite from doing all our own cooking and cleaning from time to time.

 

 

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