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:
- 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
- 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.