For years, I worked at BookPeople, the huge independent bookstore here in Austin. One day while waiting for the elevator, I spotted Kathleen Peddicord’s book, How to Retire Overseas. I’m not sure why I picked it up since I’m not exactly retirement age, but I did and I even bought the copy and took it home. It has always been a dream of mine to travel around Europe, South America, and parts of Asia. The life of a long-term guest in certain areas has always appealed to me. At the time though I had a nine month old, and I had no desire to lug him around the planet.
“When he’s three,” my husband and I said. “We’ll start traveling then.”
But then came the delayed speech.
The failed speech therapy.
The withdrawn behaviors.
And the Diagnosis.
We started effective speech therapy, and at three he entered a special school. Except for brief vacations, it didn’t look like we were ever leaving Austin again, much less traveling the world. In May of 2012, I officially pronounced my dream dead. I mentally issued the appropriate death certificate. RIP.
But, here’s the thing about dreams. It turns out they’re a lot more resilient than that. Just declaring a dream dead doesn’t actually kill it. It still seems to lurk around in the back of your mind.
And that’s why six months ago, I found myself clicking on a link to a website that discussed relocating abroad on a budget. I subscribed to their newsletter. Three days later, one of the articles mentioned the author’s experience of relocating her children first to Ireland, then to Paris, and then to Panama. This seemed awfully familiar, so I dug out that book I had bought all those years ago. Sure enough, I had stumbled upon the same author again three years later. It felt like a sign.
My husband and I sat down again. This time we talked about how unhappy our son was and how he wasn’t returning back to school. How he hated structured group situations but attempted to make friends with every child he met in the playground. How he was a grade and a half ahead academically and a grade behind behaviorally. How we had already decided we were probably going to have to homeschool until at least second grade anyway.
“We’ll have all of Europe as our schooling backdrop instead of just home,” we said. The dream was reborn.
Last week we took our first concrete step to making the dream real. That author of the book and the newsletter, Kathleen, and her husband hosted a three day conference on Living and Investing Overseas. We were there for nearly every session, notebook or iPad in hand. We were probably the youngest couple there, but we didn’t care. We soaked in the information and asked questions about schools (in case we decide to expatriate instead of perpetually travel). We narrowed our favorite countries to four and then widened it back up to five. We made notes on the tax ramifications, the banking options, and real estate opportunities.
Don’t get me wrong, we still have a long way to go. Our dream of continuously traveling the world starting with Europe is still months away. We just know that within a year from now, we plan on being there.