A Life By Design

I tend to present my projects as faits accomplis, done deals, except to a chosen few who are cursed with hearing all the details about a plan. I’m not sure why I do it that way. Fear of failure, perhaps? Fear that if I bring my project into the light of day, the universe will strike me down for my pride and put stumbling blocks in my path? Who knows.

There’s a lot going on with me right now that I think I need to share because I have chosen to put my life out there with this blog. I know that I sometimes appeared scattered, jumping from one idea to the next, but I actually do have a plan for my life and it is coming together behind the scenes. I think it’s time to draw the curtain. When things come together for me, they tend to do so very, very quickly and I don’t want to feel that I need to explain myself with any future moves.

I’ll start off by saying that I have always known what I wanted to do with my life: see the world. Travel has always been the constant yearning and everything else has been but a balm on an itch. Science has proven that there is such thing as a wanderlust gene. If you look at my family tree on my mother’s father’s side, you will see the names of some of the greatest explorers in Canadian history. I am hardcoded for wanderlust. It truly is a biological imperative.

It took me a very long time to figure out how to see the world. I can’t count the number of hours I’ve spent tallying up how to pay the rent and the bills and maintain a certain lifestyle while saving up to take two or maybe three weeks, if I was lucky, to go exploring. I took a few trips, most notably to Scotland in 1998, and the more I traveled, the worse my urge became. It actually helped somewhat to not travel and focus on the half of me that is a stereotypical 1950s homemaker.

But then, the door to travel opened for me after my dad died and somehow, with a courage I did not know I had, I stepped into the unknown. Followed some of the most amazing years I will ever have as I traveled the continent on a super tight budget, seeing more of it than I could have ever dreamed of doing on four, even five times the annual income. I thought RVing could be It for me, the way to soothe my wanderlust forever, but, like an addict, I needed a bigger and bigger fix. After just about completing my Canadian and U.S. bucket lists, Mexico beckoned, but was just out of reach.

I thought that spending a few more winters in the U.S. while I continued to get my financial footing before going to Mexico would suit me, so the next logical step in my life was to get a home base. Some permanent travelers have friends or family they can always return to and where they are nearly indefinitely welcome, but that wasn’t the case for me. I had to find my own Haven, and I did. I think I knew deep down as I signed the property transfer papers that my RVing life was winding down, but it took those final two cross-continent journeys to prove it to me. I had an amazing final winter on the road, but the journey to a place I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go was fraught with difficulty… and wonderful encounters with generous people.

I was afraid when I landed here in the spring of 2013, afraid that this was going to be It for me because I couldn’t see a way past being here, and that fear mounted as my summer stretched into a winter and then a second summer. I was financially and emotionally at one of the lowest points in my life and so very weary, but this place renewed me. I knew that I finally had a well of infinite energy from which I could draw, that no matter where my life took me, I could return to this place and emerge renewed.

And sure enough, from my time here, where I could focus on monetary matters, the future became a little clearer. I got the contract that gave me the courage to head for Mexico, and we all know how that turned out (for those who haven’t be reading, Mexico was an amazing fit for me!). That contract did not pan out, so I was left in Mexico with just the contracts I’d had before, which I would never have thought would be enough to sustain me in so bold an endeavour, but I did just fine.

I figured out very early in my RVing life that working for myself was going to be the key to my freedom to see the world and there were a lot of false starts as I figured out what I could do from the road and find enough work to support myself. By the time that big contract came in late February of 2014, I was at my limits. If a big break didn’t come, I was ready to give up and get a job. So while the contract didn’t work out, it came at just the right moment, buying me enough time to get to Mexico and realise that I wasn’t ready to give up all my temporal freedom for the sake of a full-time job. I did consider a part-time summer job in Saskatchewan, however, and that’s rather the mindset I had on my way home last spring. But I’d built up enough of a buffer in Mexico that the urge didn’t feel as pressing as it had a few months prior. I knew I wouldn’t have many distractions this summer and that I could focus on getting better paying work.

Things came together for me as they always do when the time and place are right and my dream job fell into my lap. I still don’t want to say too much about it, but I am working for a company whose founder had the same dreams for his life as I do for mine, and fulfilled them, and so I know that I can always fall back on that if an immediate supervisor who doesn’t understand my lifestyle gives me grief when asking for a modicum of flexibility. In fact, much of what I proofread is relevant to the next step in my life journey and is helping me prepare for it. If that is not proof that I am firmly on my Path, I don’t know what is!

Let me backtrack a bit here to reiterate that when I bought my property, I expected it to eventually be a place I could retire to. I envisioned my future with the resources I had then. I don’t play the ‘if I win the lottery’ game, but plan with what I have and remain flexible if things change.

Well, everything has changed for me this summer because of this new client. I’m really pleased that I pushed the internet thing through as far as I did because it not panning it out was just the kick in the seat that I needed to stop clinging to old ideas I had about my future when so many doors have opened up to me. It’s a really surreal. I feel like I won the lottery without having realised that I was playing all along.

It was only seven years and three months ago that my old financial planner told me to go out into the world and play. He warned me that I would have years of misery as I built my new life, but that he was convinced that I would do better for myself financially than I ever could working my 35 years for the government and that I’d have a life to show for it all. He was absolutely right.

Why remain here in a (beautiful and wonderful!) Canadian backwater when I can work from anywhere? I am too young to be here puttering around and working myself to the bone. My second Mexican winter is upon me (in fact, I will be arriving this day in two months!) and it will be glorious, with all that extra free time and money available to me.

But what of next summer?

Even though my internet situation is greatly improved (and due to be blogged about), the severance has been made. I love this place and it will always be here for me, but it has played its role for the time being. I’m going Somewhere Else for most of the next summer. I need good internet, a time zone difference compatible with work, a super cheap cost of living, and a stable enough political situation. The answer is a country so far off my radar that I didn’t even know where it’s located until I pulled out a map! So here is my first big public announcement after all that bla bla bla: I intend to spend 90 days next summer in Bulgaria.

A decision like that always leads to new discoveries as I do research. Bulgaria is part of the Schengen Agreement, which comprises most European countries. Ninety days would be barely enough to see all of Bulgaria; what if I wanted to stay in Europe instead of coming back to North American so I could try another country? This question led me to the jackpot.

The gold standard in passports is to have one from the European Union. It opens up the entire European continent and all its benefits. It is also very difficult to get one unless you work in a specialized field or marry a national. I have tried for 20 years to figure out how to get myself a European passport short of marrying someone and the answer fell into my lap today. Just like that. It was one of those lightning bolt moments that makes me understand some of the trials I’ve been put through as it makes sense of a lot of my pondering.

Some European countries, like Spain, have a permanent residency scheme and path to citizenship for freelancers, folks with independent income from outside Europe… Of course, there’s a lot of red tape and it’s never as simple as it looks on a website, but the short of it is, you move to Spain as a freelancer, get your permanent residency, and then ten years later, sooner if you meet certain criteria, you become a citizen.

I could do that!

But here is where things get a little interesting. If you are a citizen of a Spanish-speaking country, you can get your Spanish citizenship in about two years rather than ten.

It takes about five years to get Mexican citizenship. On paper, it looks like I could get both Mexican and Spanish citizenship in less time than it would take to get just Spanish. Of course, I’m sure I will encounter tripwires with this idea/plan, but it’s one worth exploring. So discovering that I could get a European passport doesn’t derail at all my plan to get Mexican citizenship.

So from where I’m sitting tonight, with the resources currently available to me, I see myself back at Haven for about three months next year, as bookends to my Bulgaria trip, and then off to Mexico for as long as it takes to get my citizenship. It could mean being in Canada well into the winter as a good part of the permanent resident visa process must be done from your home country. But with the nearest consulate being in Calgary, I’d probably just get a short-term rental there while I deal with the paperwork so I wouldn’t be living in an RV in -40 weather again.

Once I have my Mexican citizenship, the next step would be to move to Spain and repeat the process there. And then? Who knows… I’ll be nearing 50 by then and could, in theory, retire at 55, especially if I choose to base myself in a country with a low cost of living, like Mexico. That will be the beauty of having all these citizenships, that I won’t have to base myself somewhere that I’d have to pay usurious taxes, which eliminates Canada and most of the European Union.

But Haven will always be here. I like the idea of finishing up enough work to have a rentable property here, just for a bit of added income, especially if the oil comes, as we suspect it will. I will always have this port of call in between projects. For instance, if I find that I can’t get everything aligned to go to Mexico right away, it won’t cost me much money to wait here, and the same for going to Europe. I am aware that I need to figure out a modicum of property management while I’m gone, however.

Some or none of this may come to pass. But many more possibilities exist where fewer were before. And long-term blog readers will remember that I talked about RVing till I was about 40 and then taking off to see the rest of the world. So rather than shaking your head at me with my grand ideas, take note that I’m four years ahead of where I thought I’d be… and I have a paid for property, not something I had factored into those dreams. When I want something, I make it happen. So don’t be so surprised next year if I do end up blogging from Sofia!

This was post was edited on November 4th, 2016, to add categories and tags. I am just grinning as I reread it, having come from four months in the Balkans, including 90 days in Bulgaria. I do talk big… but I get things done. 🙂

28 thoughts on “A Life By Design

  1. Wow! I can see much thought, research and calculating has gone into the next chapters of your life. A goal is always worth working towards. One of my favorite sayings “it won’t happen over night, but it will happen” – I will look forward to following along…and you are brave for revealing…..

  2. Plan A (or whichever)! I love it. Bulgaria! I am kicking myself because that was my second guess after Croatia. My Hungarian friend loved Bulgarian red wine and we drank a lot of it on the nights on our mountaintop microwave sites.

    I know you well enough to know that what you plan, you do so now we just sit back and watch it unfold! Bulgaria! Sofia? Or on the Black Sea?

    • Croft, it’s so ‘you’ that what you know of Bulgaria is the booze, LOL!!!

      I’m looking at Sofia now, but I’m sure my choices will increase as I do more research.

  3. Rae,
    Click on this link and it then be obvious where I am directing you http://edwardfrey.com/sitemap.html

    Sofia is much like developed Europe with Plovdiv a close second in development. I would not recommend any of the Black Sea towns as a ‘fixed’ location, too many summer tourist and higher prices because of that.

    I still have some off an on contact with 2 people in Sofia, one in Plovdiv and one on Zlatagrad. It has now been 17 years since I left but from what I have read not a lot has changed. If I can help in any way do not hesitate to ask.

    • Ed, thank you! I look forward to reading your journals.

      You left Bulgaria just at the same time I left Scotland. I can’t believe it’s been 17 years since that summer.

  4. Great post my friend. I love that you have thought out your life and how to make it happen. There is no doubt that it will happen. Colin and I are very happy for you. Looking forward to hashing it all out over some meals and vino in Mexico.

    • Thanks! We should both have more time for meals and vino this winter! I’ll provide the meals, you provide the vino. 😀

  5. Another language to add to your repertoire! I think Bulgaria will be very interesting. There is a lot remaining of the old Soviet occupation.

    • Those Slavic languages are apparently some of the hardest in the world to learn, but I can at least crack the first part of them, the Cyrillic alphabet. I’m told that once you do that, the language opens up, at least as far as it comes to reading, because a lot of the words sound English… Bulgarian also apparently borrows a lot from French. It has its own word for thank you, but ‘merci’ is frequently used instead. So that should be easy for me!

      • My Hungarian friend was about 8 when the Soviets occupied Hungary and the schools started teaching Russian. He said it was quit easy for him to learn the basics. Mind you, the Germans were there before the Russians and he was forced to learn German which he found harder than Russian. Anyway, he ended up speaking Hungarian, German, Russian and English. In that order.

  6. “Wanderlust”, the word says it all, and it’s a beautiful word. I have worked on my own for almost all my 30 years in Mexico. Well worth it and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Good on ya!

  7. I once met a retired teacher who had moved to Spain for the reduced cost of living. She was moving back to the states only because she had become ill and felt a need for medical help available to her here. I hope you get to stay abroad until you are don’t enjoy it anymore. Life is for living and you do an excellent job of it!

    • If I could afford it, I’d go to the US for all my medical treatment. It’s so much easier there if you have money than in countries with socialized medicine!

      Now that the world is opening up to me, I wonder where my old bones will rest…

  8. Hi Rae,
    This is exciting!!! You are an adventurous gal.
    I wish you all the luck & I want to follow your adventures… keep blogging!
    Don’t listen to the nay sayers (sp?)… they’re just jealous!

  9. That’s the date I thought you were leaving. Just a week left! I hope your next stop is better. Say hi to Ellen for me when you meet up.

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