Saturday, March 31, 2018

Escaping the rat-race, find the perfect hideaway. The Wandering Writer

Good morning to everybody! Finally, is Saturday and with these four days of holiday, I can really find some time to relax, recharge and take some time to write and enjoy my family and friends.
It is just a little treat, that doesnt really fix my need of time for myself and for the things I really like to do, and this week I am going to go into detail about our list and how we reached the top ten possible candidates.
As I said previously there are 190 countries in this world and the choice might be difficult. However, once you go through the list of requirements the destination country must have, then you will find yourself with a list of ten-twenty countries.
Well, that is already and easier task, isnt it?
We put our list on an excel file assigning to each country a rank based on the requirements. Then, we put them into an order from the one which matched our requirements the best to the one which matched them the least.
You might think that at this point you might have just to pick the first and you are ready to go WRONG!
This might lead you to the first mistake, what if I go to live there and I dont like it even if it was on the top of my list?
For this reason, although we were pretty excited to have the possible places, we were far from the final decision. So the next step includes the most pleasant part of all, spending long holidays in all those countries.
We decided not to go and book a hotel, but to rent an apartment. In this way we could have experienced the everyday life, the costs for the groceries, getting information from our neighbors and get a glimpse of the lifestyle.
I suppose you would like to know which our target countries were, and here they are:
1.       Chile
2.       Uruguay
3.       Argentina
4.       South Africa
5.       Vietnam
6.       Italy
7.       Ecuador
8.       Thailand
9.       Spain

However, after another consideration, Chile dropped off the list because of the risk of earthquakes, Vietnam and Thailand were erased from the list because a foreigner cannot buy one plot of land and build a house on it. You can only buy a flat there.
Italy is the country I know best because is the place I was born, and Ive spent the first 28 years of my life there. Although I would have loved to go back and spend my life there, the prices would have been too high for early retirement. Moreover, it seems like the properties in the middle of nowhere, in the countryside are overpriced then respect those in the middle of the city. This is because many foreign pensioners are going to retire in Italy and they are generally those who can afford a higher price for the estate, so the demand makes the price, unfortunately.
So, our list includes now five countries, and only one is located in Europe.
We started to travel
South Africa, we really fell in love with it, (OK we loved Africa since a long time ago, so no wonder about it. You can check the blog about South Africa The land of Nelson Mandela 2.7.17). It had everything we needed and everything we wanted to have except for the cost of living. Too expensive for the budget we have in mind, and we didnt get the idea of a country that can offer the same level of safety we were looking for. Gated properties with electrified fences and surveillance cameras made us think that we should have become a lot more paranoid No, we wanted to live in a neighborhood where people communicate and cooperate, rather than look at each other with a suspicious glance.
So, with a big sad sigh we crossed off South Africa from the list.
Four to go
At that point, destiny started to give us some hints.
We have lived in the same house now for ten years, we kept some of the garden furniture from the previous owner because they were lovely. One of these is an old wooden fruit basket coming from Argentina. 
Interesting, I thought.
A couple of days after, a friend of mine introduced me a girl who just moved to Finland, she was from Argentina.
Very interesting, I thought.
We decided to plan the next trip and suddenly a great offer came simultaneously to our email deal flight to Buenos Aires…”
You gotta be kidding me, I whispered.
Our flight was a bit complicated: Helsinki-Frankfurt, Frankfurt-Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo-Buenos Aires.
On the first flight we were seated close to a lovely lady who was returning home to Germany after a holiday in Helsinki Her mother was from Argentina.
On the flight to Sao Paulo, a lovely girl was seated close to us and after a chat we discovered that also her mother was from Argentina
This is ridiculous!! I yelled within myself.

To read about our experience in Argentina, you might want to check the blog The wandering Writer lost her heart in Argentina of the 7.15.17.
After our holiday, we returned back home with the strong feeling of having finally found our home. From that day on, I can tell you, Argentina has called us in many ways, and with a smile on our faces now we have a destination and we are working hard on that target. However, finding the right place doesnt mean having solved all the problems, more to come together with the solutions.

Wish you a great Weekend!!
Stay Tuned!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

FREEDOM... yeah, but how? The Wandering Writer

For the last two weeks, I have started to tell about my decision to regain my freedom. That kind of freedom that should be entitled to everybody, the one that takes you away from the crazy rat race and makes you the only player in the decision making of your everyday life.
You might reply that this is not possible, that you need money to pay your bills the healthcare, your pension scheme, the car, the holidays and I can make the list as long as I want.
The problem as first is taking away what we do NOT need, those things that smart marketer made us believe we need, but they are totally useless.
If she is still alive, ask your grandmother to tell you about her life, and if she was one who was living in the countryside, then youd be surprised how she could be happy without anything that shapes our everyday life. Sure, she still had to work, and perhaps even harder than we do nowadays with the help of machines. But did our quality of life really improve?
My aim is to reach the same quality of life my grandmother had, that peaceful flowing of life following the routine of the seasonality of her garden.
Yes, but how am I going to do it? I cannot just leave everything and buy a cottage in the countryside I do not have the savings for that!
The way is to look at your financial situation and give yourself a good target, in our case we put ours within ten years. So we had ten years to save money, pay our debts away in a reasonable way, get rid of what we do not need, start already a living in a humbler way (without forgetting enjoying ourselves).
Once we had a target, we needed to find another target, where to go and spend the rest of our lives. This is actually the most challenging part of the deal, the part when you talk to yourself and realize that perhaps one day to reach that golden target you will have to relocate somewhere else. It can be a cheaper country where you can make the best out of your savings, a country with a better climate, where you can enjoy longer summers and milder winters, or perhaps you are looking for a more challenging climate to put yourself and your self-reliance skills to the test.
For us, after ages of living in a winter country, we opted for a summer one.
OK, fine, but where? Looking at the world map, there are 190 countries in the world, I have been traveling only in 45 of them, and I cannot even say that I know anything about how it would be living there.
We made a list separately, called PRIORITIES, In that list we put all the things we need absolutely in our lives, from the climate, the cost of life, the healthcare everything that we were not ready to give up. Those would have been the fundamental criteria for the choice of the country.
 We compared our lists and the following points came out:
             1.       The country we are going to choose should be politically stable and safe
             2.       The local lifestyle/culture should be compatible with our culture
             3.       We should have access to a good healthcare
             4.       We should be able to get the permanent resident permit with a certain ease
             5.       We should be able to own a land
             6.       It should be environmentally safe (no volcanoes, no hurricanes, no earthquakes or other natural calamities)
             7.       Seasonality, but no harsh winters
             8.       The cost of living should be cheaper than ours (and that is rather easy, Finland is a terribly expensive country)
             9.       Good quality of the services like public transportation and infrastructures
             10.   We needed a place where social life is still highly appreciated and cooperation between neighbors is still existing.

The two lists we made individually were longer, but we chose only the points that were common within the two lists, and we discussed that the others were just biased by a false perception of what we need.
You can also do the same as we are doing and not necessarily your priorities have to  match ours. What I am going to tell you is what did we do, then if you aim also to leave the rat race, you might find this post series helpful.

At this point, with this list and the list of the countries of the world, we had to spend some time in researching every one, and believe me, it took longer than we could expect, and to explain you this, I need to give you appointment to the next week, because I think this was the most critical part of the whole deal, finding a place where to spend the rest of our lives.
I really hope you will enjoy this marathon in the search for the lost freedom. I hope I can be inspiring at least to some of you and entertaining to all of you.

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