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Nomadic Life: wishin’ and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin', plannin' and dreamin'

Making the call

Around mid-2018, the cold and dreary winter Melbourne weather made the prospect of living nomadically all the more appealing. We had discussed going nomadic before but had made no plans, hadn’t told any of our friends and family, or figured out what we were going to do with our jobs, or how we would make money… 😳 you get the point… That daunting list of logistics didn’t stand a chance against simple daydreaming about leaving the 9-5 behind. Never having to pull on your coat and whip out the umbrella ☔️ to brace the chilling wind and rain, board the overpacked train and spend almost all your day’s energy working with other people in the exact same situation.

Instead, Ruddy dreamed of waking up on his own time to the Italian sunshine ☀️, pulling on some comfortable clothes and heading out on the cobblestone streets in search of Italian coffee (or as he would say in his best sing-songy accent “Espressi” ☕️). I dreamed of having breakfast on our patio overlooking La Positano (or some equally beautiful, mountainous seaside town) and not thinking that I would soon have to go back to the cold in Melbourne.

Ruddy and I tend to enable each other a lot. We’re both probably too idealistic and naïve 😇 and buy into one another’s fantasies, usually escalating them to the point we believe they could become a reality. In most cases that’s likely dangerous. Who knows, this whole nomadic lifestyle could prove to be a big mistake. Only time will tell how this story unfolds and you now have a front seat to witness the potential crash and burn 🔥. But at this point I’m so grateful to have had my imaginative and enabling 🐻 to encourage the belief that living comfortably doesn’t necessarily require working full time (not all the time anyway), that we ourselves define what success looks like to us and that there is always hope for happiness. 😍

So on a cold Melbourne day we made the call: “we’re quitting our jobs and going nomadic”.

The women in My Best Friend’s Wedding clearly crazed while singing Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Dusty Springfield. I feel you ladies. Obscure reference?

Planning

We knew what the next big step in our lives would be. We had told our family and friends. Now we needed to come up with a plan to turn the dream into a reality. I was in the middle of research and writing a thesis while also trying to manage a full time job so whatever plans we made had to fit around that.

Okay, to be perfectly honest my workplace and bosses were incredibly supportive, allowing me to take as much unpaid leave as I wanted during my postgraduate research. You might say “and you wanted so badly to leave that job - you must be crazy”. And you’d probably be right to do so.

Another complicating factor keeping us in Australia for the time-being was that Ruddy was awaiting his Australian citizenship approval. So we devised a multi-step plan that would see us achieving the goals we had already set for ourselves while still setting off for nomadic life before the close of 2019. ✨

Step 1: We need money (duh?)

We resolved to stop spending money on the trivial things we had valued since we had started our ‘grown up jobs’ and put that money instead into a shared savings account. Want to buy those new shoes? Feel like you need a holiday to unwind from work? Too bad… You’re about to go on the biggest holiday of your life!

It’s amazing how trivial things we buy in an attempt to bring us happiness seem when you can look forward to a life that truly excites and inspires you.

We resolved to sell everything we could and to tackle our biggest money drain: rent. Which leads me into my next step.

An incredible scene from Rick and Morty. Also probably an accurate depiction of what would happen if money suddenly ceased to hold value (spoiler - death and carnage).

Step 2: Setting up home base (i.e. moving back into my mum’s)

Logistically this step made an incredible amount of sense. My mum has been living in London since April 2018, leaving my 25-year old brother in a big house on his own. We wouldn’t be paying the fortune in rent we had been living in a posh apartment in a posh suburb in Melbourne, we’d be able to split bills while we were living here and we could leave some stuff in her shed. The other side of this of course is that we’d have to share a house with other people (we’ve lived alone ever since we got together - nothing good comes without sacrifice?). We’d have to move to Adelaide (my home town) and we’d have to somehow still make money while there. After I finished my research, I asked my incredibly supportive boss if I could work mostly remotely out of Adelaide to transition out of my job in preparation for moving to Europe 😣 (yes, I really said all of this). And that was that. Shortly after, Ruddy told his bosses we’d be moving to Adelaide over the Christmas break and the rush to simplify (and the associated hard labour) began.

Step 3: Only keep what you can carry

So this title is a little overstated. The rule was more ‘Only take what you can carry in the car’ - and it was a big car. The sentiment remains though. We had to simplify all the belongings we’d accumulated in a two-bedroom apartment (with a spacious storage cage downstairs) down to what would fit in our car so we could drive to Adelaide with everything we own.

You don’t realise how much stuff you’ve accumulated until you have to move it yourself because (hooray for you) you’re also on a strict budget.

The proceeds from every item we sold went directly to our nomad savings account and slowly but surely over a period of months we had boiled our belongings down to what would fit in our car. We kept our camping equipment and whipped it out when we no longer had a couch or table - there was a quiet irony in living on camping gear in the middle of a 17th-floor floor-to-ceiling glass apartment.

Step 4: Set a date

This was a more difficult step that we’ve actually just achieved in the past few weeks (hooray!) The Australian citizenship process is efficient in that almost everything can be done online, but my does it take a long time! And there’s no such thing as checking-in on your application. One day you have no idea when the next step will happen and the next you’re being invited to sit your citizenship test in a matter of days. 😨 Of course Dr Ruddy passed his citizenship test with flying colours. We then calculated the maximum time it will take for him to receive his citizenship and passport and we had our date - late August 2019! 😄

To be continued…

The planning component isn’t over yet. We still have many exciting logistical problems to solve, including booking flights (and finding an airline that will allow us to take additional baggage for a realistic fee), figuring out how we’re going to get a car, making a more concrete (although flexible) plan for where we’re going to go and when, and doing the next round of simplification with our belongings.

Something tells me we won’t be able to take everything we took to Adelaide over to Europe (nor would we want to lug all of that around - see pic below).

However, each of these steps will likely be applicable to anyone going nomadic and I think each deserve a post of their own. Stay tuned for an overview of my research and conclusions on the final planning steps before we go which you’ll find under the ‘nomadic’ series of blog posts.