One Week Left Till I Leave Indefinitely

I can’t believe how quickly departure day is sneaking up on me!

Here’s an update on my giant to-do list:

Reducing Expenses Back Home While I’m Gone

I can cancel the registration on my truck and have very minimal insurance to cover me for liability. This new policy will be $50 for a year. Savings: $70 per month. I have to do this at the last minute, so it’ll happen on my last trip to town next Tuesday.

I can cancel my SaskTel service since my contract is up. When I come back, I can either get service again with them if I can do so without a contract or look at Bell Mobility. Savings: $80 per month, but I lose my phone number. I have to do this at the last minute, so it’ll happen once I clear security at the airport next Friday. By the way, SaskTel has no customer retention program.

SaskPower will let me disconnect my power for a $170 reconnection fee when I get home. I pay a $30.65 connection fee every month. So assuming I am gone 11 months, I would have paid them $337.15 in maintenance fees. Savings: $15 per month over 11 months. I will get a new account number. I have to make sure I reconnect before a year is up, otherwise my meter has to be recertified by an electrician, negating any savings. I was able to put in a work order for this for next Friday or the following Monday. I didn’t realise that a technician had to physically come here. I really like SaskPower, by the way. I never feel like I’m out in the middle of nowhere when I deal with them.

Finding Healthcare Coverage

I actually didn’t have to do much research on this because the options were so limited and others had done the homework before me. I bought a policy with World Nomads. For just over $400, I am insured up the wahzoo for six months. The caveat is that my SaskHealth coverage needs to be valid for my trip. I put in a notice of extended leave with SaskHealth and haven’t heard back yet, but I’m not concerned as they didn’t have an issue with my doing this for my first winter in Mexico. Ha! I got email confirmation seconds after I posted that my request was approved!

Ensuring That I Have Insurance Coverage for Home and My Personal Effects While Away

As it turned out, my home insurance covers me perfectly even with the addition of my outbuildings, the RV no longer moving, and my traveling for long periods of time. The only thing I changed was increasing the coverage on my buildings, which was an extra $0.50 per month. I cannot discuss my home insurance in any more detail.

I got a nasty surprise that my electronics are not covered by my home insurance while traveling because they are used for business. I have an broker working really hard to find me travel coverage. If he succeeds, the policy will be able what I am paying right now for SGI (truck insurance and registration).

Understanding the Schengen Area Rules

What this boils down to is I’m allowed up to 90 days in the Schengen Area in a 180-day period. The area comprises most of Western and Central Europe, as well as some Eastern European countries like Poland, but excludes the UK. Now that I know I’ll be in Bulgaria, which is not part of the Schengen Area, for my full allotment of 90 days there, I have a better handle on how I’ll handle the Schengen Area to make sure that I can be in Portugal and/or the south of Spain for the bulk of January, February, and March.

Option 1: I leave Bulgaria for a Schengen country for a quick holiday at the start of July to open up a 180-day period that would take me the start of January. This would give me the option of doing Schengen countries like Poland and Greece after Bulgaria. I don’t like this idea because I would have to reenter Bulgaria.

Option 2: I complete avoid the Schengen Area until January. After Bulgaria, I’ll likely go to Serbia and a couple of other countries in the Balkans that are not part of Schengen and then very carefully make my way to Turkey. And by very carefully, I mean that I’ll have to fly because I won’t have the land option of going through Bulgaria and I cannot fly through Athens. Or I may travel straight to Istanbul from Sofia and then fly from Istanbul to Belgrade.

Planning My Packing List and Doing a Lot of Online Shopping

That’s done. I am washing the last of the clothes that I am taking with me for sure and will start packing for real in the next couple of days as I make time to take some photos for my series of posts about my packing list. Now that I know I’ll be in the Bulgarian mountains for three months I’m not so much having to make any significant changes to my packing list as being more certain of what items I can add since I actually still have some room and weight allowance left.

Trying to Learn Even a Smidgen of Bulgarian and At Least Getting Used to the Sound of the Language

My internet is behaving better and I can listen to a few YouTube videos every night. I don’t feel I’m making any real progress, but at least it doesn’t sound like complete gibberish now and I’m starting to recognise some Cyrillic letters…

Making as Much Money Before I Go

Definitely happening. I picked up a new client last night that I am still reeling from shock at adding to my list. I’m not making super good money, but steady easy jobs are the next best thing. I’m not worried about work. My clients are very supportive about my Europe plans.

What I’m hoping for my three rentless months in Bulgaria is to have a comparable cost of living as I do in Mexico as that will enable me really replenish my savings. I expect that any savings I have on rent will be lost with weekend jaunts in the area, but I may be surprised. I do think that I’ll save money over being at Haven in that food will be much cheaper and I won’t have all those at home surprises in the budget that I’m sure other homeowners know about.

What I still need to do:

1. My 2015 taxes. I just can’t be bothered when I have so much work, so this will happen probably on Wednesday next week. Before anyone freaks out, I’m a sole proprietor, so I have till June 30th to file.

2. Make sure I’m satisfied the roof is leak free. I had a drip the other day after a bit storm, just a couple of drops, which was do disheartening when I’d gone through two solid days of rain with no leaks at all. I bought tarps that are just the width of Miranda and instead of strapping them down, they will be weighted down.

3. Close up Haven.

4. Advise the postmaster that I’m leaving again and that Caroline and Charles can handle my mail.

5. Make sure I have both physical and digital copies of all my important paperwork before stashing my printer (and a few other things) in C&C’s basement.

I believe that’s it, in addition to a few work and volunteer projects.

I’m ready to get out there, much as I’m enjoying being home. And I am incredibly grateful that I can do this now, three years ahead of when I planned to, and that the project doesn’t involve selling everything I own or putting things in storage.

All those tough early years of freelancing have paid off. I did have to make sacrifices, but I was right that it would be worth it if I just worked at it. I can’t wait to toast with a pint in London the fifth anniversary of the start of my transcription business!

First Boondockers Welcome Visitors!

I’ve been a member of the Boondockers Welcome community since its inception in 2012. This is a fantastic resource pairing folks looking for a place to park overnight with folks who have a place to park overnight. I listed Haven even before I spent any time here!

A few days ago, I got a message through the site from a lovely lady from western Washington state who is driving across Canada to Nova Scotia with a friend and who was wondering if I could accommodate their 17″ Roadtrek. Through messages, I learned that they were going to visit Grasslands National Park, putting me right on their route east. Finally, someone ignored the ignorant instructions to drive through Saskatchewan as fast as they can and are seeing one of the prettiest and least known parts of this country!

I could have offered power and water, but they are self-contained, so there really wasn’t anything to do but give them a level and quiet place to park. I’m working late and so didn’t have much time to socialise. They appeared tired and content to just stay in for the evening anyway, plus it’s been raining on and off so it’s not like we really had any place to sit and chat anyway.

Even if they are my only Boondockers Welcome visitors ever, at least now I feel that I’ve started to pay forward all that hospitality given to me by so many of you lovely strangers who read my blog and invited me to park Miranda in their yard!

Insurance Matters

I haven’t updated my insurance coverage since I changed my residency to Saskatchewan in 2013. I’ve just been paying for my Aviva Elite full-timer policy that covers the RV with no consideration for my buildings. Now that I’m leaving for a solid ten months (or even longer!) and I had something happen (attempted break-in), I knew it was time to completely revise my insurance coverage.

Here’s what I sent my broker last week (some things redacted):

I switched my policy to your office around August of 2013 after moving from Alberta.

My circumstances have changed dramatically and I need all new coverage.

The motorhome is now parked permanently on my property and is my residence.

My property now has two outbuildings (14”x16” and 18”x16”) for which I also need coverage for them and their contents.

I need to make sure I am insured for fire service (the town suggests $10,000).

I am not going to be onsite for the next ten months or so as I will be traveling. I don’t have any running water, so no risk of damage from frozen pipes, and I have a neighbour who checks in periodically. I want to make sure I have a modicum of coverage during my absence in case of a fire or a tree falling onto my home or my buildings. I am not the kind of person who would make a claim for something small like a window breaking during a hail storm. I’m really looking for catastrophic coverage, if there is such a thing.

The contents to be insured are worth *** (itemized list). There will be nothing of value left in the motorhome during my absence, but I will have a few things stored with a neighbour.

The broker just called and said she spoke to Aviva before calling me and that… nothing changes. I am covered for all that! I just have to let them know when I’ve come home next year.

I knew that I was covered for stuff in outbuildings, but did not realise that I was covered for the outbuildings themselves, a huge surprise!

However, I do not find the coverage for the buildings adequate, so the broker will ask if it can be increased and for how much. She will also see about travel coverage for my electronics and triple check that I’m covered for rural fire service. She thinks I am because I’m in a proper community with a hydrant almost right at my property line but will confirm.

This phone call was quite a surprise. I’m really pleased that my premiums won’t go up, or much if I have to add a little extra coverage. I’m sure you’re all wondering what my policy is costing me. $64 a month. Really.

Next, since my truck will be in “storage” during my absence, I will contact SGI to see if I can suspend my registration/insurance. That will save me $70 a month while I am overseas!

Drop-Ins

Six years and a couple of weeks ago in Prince George, BC, road weary and about to embark on the greatest adventure of my life to that point — my first drive up the Alaska Highway — blog reader Les invited me to recoup at his spread just outside of town. A couple of nights ago, he emailed saying he and his wife Linda were driving back to BC from Ontario and did I have room for their Roadtrek?

IMGP4105

After so many weeks and months of parking in other people’s yards, it is so good to finally be able to reciprocate! And to catch up with old friends, of course. Les was an RV tech, so he  drops me the odd note out of the blue if I’m struggling with something.

The three of us caught up over the course of the afternoon. Much beer was consumed. Les had a look at my door and had some suggestions. Like others who have stayed at Haven, he and Linda commented on how idyllic life is in the little hamlet. They met “Charles” and “Laura” and we made note of the other neighbours driving by, jokingly starting a countdown of how many more neighbours they had to meet (not many; our population shrank over the winter!).

Les and I finally had to call it a night around 9:30 as he’d had a very long driving day. Linda had already retired for the night by that point. When I came out this morning at 7:30, they were just ready to pull out so we said our goodbyes and they headed off on what will probably be their second to last leg of the long journey home. It took four nights just to get out of northern Ontario (which is 90 billion kilometres long), so they’re pretty road weary and ready to be home.

I really like this type of hosting, when people bring their house with them and give you beer! 🙂