(I’m kidding: yoga, better eating and a little meditation have gone a long way. I’m allowed to make awkward jokes about myself though.)
I guess it helps that our Thai trip is behind us now (pity the debt incurred during the trip is still very much in front though) and I am no longer overwhelmed by all the planning and wondering. For now we kind of have a vague-ish idea of where we stand and it feels like a good place to be.
I have a bunch of new friends on Facebook who I met in Koh Samui while we were doing our TEFL course, and they are all continuing their adventures while I catch up on missed Doctor Who episodes (seriously: no spoilers! I haven’t gotten there yet) and while a small bit of me feels a little envious, I feel safe in the acknowledgement that they are all at completely different places in their lives and that even if we never get around to living in a strange place properly experiencing strange things, it will be ok.
Our visit to Thailand was fun, yes, but we did a bit of research into what it would take for a family of five to live comfortably there. Thankfully we decided not to take the enthusiastic-and-trying-to-sell-me-on-an-expensive-course guy’s word for it when he assured us that cost of living in Thailand is very low (it’s not that low – it’s pretty average) and how perfect a place it is to raise a family blah blah blah. We decided to check things out for ourselves.
While I already knew this, it became even more apparent that English teaching is not really a good way to “make money”. You can “get by” on those salaries, but there’s not much left for anything more than that. Especially not when you are a family of five, and even less so when you need to make sure that three of you get to fly home for regular visits to other parents. If we could 100% count on regular maintenance payments, that would be one thing, but unfortunately this is not the case in our home. It’s too risky. At least here when we get let down on the payment front, it feels significantly less terrifying than when counted on income gets throttled in a strange place.
Another thing I realised is that I would have to stay home with the kids while living there. Now this is something I kind of considered before we left anyway (I can obviously bring in a small income doing freelance work from there just as easily as I do it from here) but it quickly became apparent to me that it might have to be that way for definite (which turned out to be convenient when I realised that I loathe classrooms and teaching English in them). We had considered the possibility of leaving Tom in charge of the two younger ones while we worked mornings, and then doing school with them in the afternoons but it would never work. I would never be comfortable leaving them alone.
Now it seems insane to leave a stable job (which is again stable as retrenchment which was on the table before is now off the table – thank God!) for a significantly less stable job (TEFL course folk love to sing and dance about how easy it is to land a TEFL job but it’s not quite as rosy as they paint it to be) which may very well include months of no income. If you get a “term” contract instead of a “year” contract you could very well find yourself unpaid during the school holidays. Too scary!
I still so badly want something different for us. Something less run-of-the-mill. I want my kids to see and properly experience more than just here and I want them to be brave enough to expand on more-than-just-here when they get older. My bravery in that department certainly fails me at time.
Well it seems at this point that we have two options.
1.) Save up 6 months to a year’s worth of living expenses before we go.
Ty thinks 4 months should be enough. I feel we need at least 6 months. Either way it is going to take a while to save up that kind of money. We would also have to get ourselves debt-free. But I think that something that I have started to learn is this: there’s no “too old”. We all so easily make the mistake of thinking we have to do everything now because later is too late. I know it’s the opposite of what we all get told “live now before it’s too late” but I need to relax about that. I met two gorgeous ladies from Tsitsikamma and Jeffrey’s Bay while we were in Koh Samui. They must be in their 40s. And they are on an adventure. I can go and have my adventure in ten years time if the time is not right now. And no: I don’t mean that in a “ducks in a row” kind of way. I know ducks don’t do rows. I just mean that it might be ok to wait for a while and pay our dues (ie: save up proper money) until it’s less likely for things to blow up in our faces.
2.) Skip living in other places and just visit them
Now this seems impossible. We’re not the type of people who “travel” because we are not they type of people who make the kind of money that you need to make to be the type of people who travel. But I have found that when you make the decision (I want to go to XYZ) then saving for it kind of falls into place way better than just “I should save some money” does. So we could do it. In chatting to my husband the other day I asked him “If we decide we can’t make this work and you have to stay in your job, would travelling every couple of years be enough to satiate that edginess we have?” And I think maybe it could be enough. Maybe we could just go somewhere every two years. Most likely it would just be the two of us, but if finances allowed we could take the kids to cheaper-to-visit places like Thailand or possibly Indonesia.
I suppose only time will tell what we can and cannot do. But for now, I’m just enjoying sleeping in my own bed and enjoying coffee that doesn’t make me re-think my entire existence.