Postponing Return to SE Asia

The lookIt’s been a difficult decision to make but I’m going to postpone my return to SE Asia by six months.

My original plan was to set sail for Nepal or India or Cambodia in April, to do voluntary teaching again for many months, maybe years, if it all worked out. I feel driven to go – it’s what I must do and it’s something that I can do.

When I go off again I’ll need somewhere to store my few possessions, a place I can stay a few weeks each year, and somewhere I can have post sent to. I’ve exhausted all the goodwill of family and friends. I don’t want anyone to feel obliged to put me up or help me out; I’ve already overstepped that line. This is my biggest dilemma – not having a base here in the UK.

The alternatives are expensive, especially when you’ve no money coming in. I’ve been worrying about long-term storage and considering things like living in a caravan, a van, a shed and so on. Coming back to the UK for 6-8 weeks a year would make a huge dent in my savings – the dent is already big enough when just staying with family and friends!

I’ve been reducing all my material possessions and trying to keep costs down by not owning a car and by living in a house-share. Everything I now own (apart from my two bicycles) is the room I’m sitting in! But reducing stuff is not the whole answer – I will still need some storage space, and the problems of where to stay and where to have mail sent to persist and worry me.

My income is not high – I only work three days a week – but I get by. I could probably find work for five days if I made a real effort but my heart isn’t in it. In fact working three days to earn some money and then having four days to recover and please myself is a pretty good balance, so long as I don’t spend any money during those four days! And this way I get to help out at the local Primary school during my time off which I enjoy hugely. Somehow, after two and a half years in Asia, my outlook on life has changed. I find it impossible to be enthusiastic about my old lifestyle and hard to readjust.  And always in my heart is the unsettling desire to return and do more.

Luckily I do have some savings which could be used as a reasonable deposit on a small house. Buying now seems as good a time as any.  There are a number of pros and they might just about outweigh the cons:

Advantages

  • a foot on the property ladder as house prices inexorably rise
  • some income, if I buy to let
  • a place to store ‘things’
  • a fixed address for mail
  • a cheap place to stay on any short returns to the UK
  • somewhere I could have family/friends stay over perhaps

Disadvantages

  • a constant worry/responsibility
  • maintenance costs
  • takes time to find and buy
  • time and expense to do up
  • management costs when renting
  • rental void periods/ variable income

But delaying also has some other advantages:

  • more time with my grown-up son and daughter!
  • more time with my elderly parents
  • can expand projects I’ve been helping with at school
  • more time to help with RSCON4 conference (coming up in May)
  • more time to sort out where I’m going in Asia
  • since Nepal visas limit you to five months per calendar year, I could have a block with several months in 2013 followed by more in 2014
  • can save a bit more cash (thankfully my employer is happy to allow me to stay longer)
  • can finish off some projects at work
  • it’s especially busy at work right now – delaying till we’re past the hump will allow more effective training of a successor
  • chance to consult GP about some minor medical issues
  • I’m sure there are other reasons but… old age, you know…

At the moment it feels the right decision.

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