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!