the Cost of living the good life
So here we are. We're in Portland, and spending our days doing whatever we want. Our return to Portland has now lasted over 5months (and counting). We are still burning through the savings we collected before our trip and it's allowing us the freedom to live life for a while without a job or major commitments. We would like to call it "retirement", but are aware that it eventually will come to an end as the money runs out. Still, "temporary retirement" somehow sounds far better than "unemployed"... We've tried very hard the last five months to not have conversations about money, not think about the future and not worry about the master plan. We focused on living simply, following our passons and being in the moment. We also realize that the moment where we have no choice but to talk about it and make a plan is coming closer all the time.
Every few days we look at each other and check in to find out how were both doing. Not really talking about whats next but checking in- each half expecting the other to suggest running away. These days of not having to wake up and run to a job are strange. It almost feels like we're stealing something... It's not like we don't clearly remember working our tails off to save money and allow ourselves this time. We paid the dues and earned each day, but somehow when we look at our days and the fact that we are spending them doing what we want rather than going to clock in...it just seems like somehow we are breaking the rules. During our trip it somehow seemed easier. That was only a "vacation". That's allowed and expected.
But living here in town it seems almost like we're hiding something. Breaking some unwritten rule. Occasionally i catch my mind trying to force a longterm plan, to jump on some business endeavor or brainstorm a plan for making money. It's hard to tell whether these are simply good ideas, or simply driven by the strange feeling that it's illegal to do what were doing.
We call for a bank account or to source some health insurance, and the conversations are almost laughable. "what do you do for work?" "nothing" "oh. you're unemployed?" "well, not really" "are you retired?" "well..."
It's like we're trying to live in a social gap that doesn't have a category created yet. I understand that society functions better if we all go to school, get a job and work until retirement. I also understand that there's this whole other sector for (or at least intended for) disasters and worse case scenarios like unemployment, welfare etc. But it's the space in between that seems to make everyone really uncomfortable. I guess we should simply start saying that we're "self-employed" but that always seems to be followed by an inquisition about "company name"" and "occupation?". There just isn't a classification or a box to check for "pre-65, intentionally unemployed and enjoying life".
We check in with ourselves constantly about what we really want. It's easy to be in Portland right now (although, it was easier a few weeks ago before summer started wrapping up). All of our friends are close by and everything we need is right here. It is still easy to imagine living in portland for summers and then heading out to travel/explore during the winter months. Sadly, both portions of that year cost money, which is still our big unknown moving forward.
This has us doing some math on both ends of things for perspective:
During our trip our daily expenses (all things included) averaged out at $60/day (1750/month). That includes fuel, living expenses, mechanics, everything. That average also includes places like costa rica, where everything is as expensive as the US. - Without moving into central america or daily expenses in Mexico were closer to $38/day (closer to $1100/mo). - The month we decided to rent an apartment (on the beach) in mexico and stay in one place (granted during low season) our expenses dropped to $28/day ($840/mo).
Granted, we lived cheaply on our trip, cooked most of our own meals and stayed out of expensive campgrounds and certainly didn't book into many hotels...but we also were far from living a meager existence.
Here, in portland (a very reasonably priced city in the states) our monthly rent alone is about the same as all of our expenses on the road. Right now our additional living expenses almost match that. Ouch. When only spending dollars and not bringing any in...that number is easy to focus on. Easy to get lost in.
Much as we used to, i think most people view long-term travel as a vacation or temporary splurging...but in reality- at least the way we traveled it's WAY cheaper than being at home. The answer seems clear right? Move to mexico and save money. But, this doesn't include the X factors. Where do we want to be? Where are our loved ones? What do we want to do with our time? How will we afford travel back home or elsewhere?
I also think most people look at long term travel as a perfect but unobtainable long term existence. It isn't unobtainable. There are many out there who live on the road full time, some living meagerly to stretch it out and others who actually get paid well for a life of travel. Most travelers however do not stop and live in mexico or some other country, and most do not continue to drive around the planet. Some find a new home they would rather stop and settle in. Some choose to go back home after a trip like ours. That's right, we and many others leave to see the other side and then choose to return.
For most of us (im guessing)- the real question are: - If money were no object what would i do, and where would i do it? - How do i find a way to live the life i want wherever i want to be? - How do i create the lifestyle i want in the place i want to live and around the people i care about... without the stress of a job that doesn't fulfill me??
This is the equation jen and i are trying to solve currently. And it seems far more difficult than trying to figure out how to go live in a van and travel... Most people only save for a few months before loading into their vehicle and heading south like we did. Trying to live without retirement at home however...most of us seek a plan for that our entire lives. Living out life without a retirement plan and trying to do so 30 years before retirement age...that's a whole other dilemma.