Thursday, 28 March 2013

Preparing for an Adventure: Moving to Vietnam

I thought I'd try something different this week and let you hear from an amazing world traveler, Colleen*. She's has just recently returned from living in Vietnam for the past 5 years, and here she's telling us about what it was like to prepare for this kind of experience.
Take it away, Colleen!                                  

I guess it depends on the size of your adventure that leads you to the level of preparedness that is right for you. My husband and I decided to see what it was like to live in an Asian country. We were thinking at first just to try it for 6 months, but knew the adventure could continue for the next 2 years. But first we had to get things sorted at home; starting with clearing out our house of 25 years of furnishings and goods. 

This is where you either say ‘forget it, it’s just a dream' or ‘let’s do it, what a dream!’. Believe me it’s so easy to say ‘forget it’ but then do you really want to blow off a wonderful opportunity? Often my husband or I would hyperventilate about the prospect of what we were doing, not just the downsizing aspect but the living someplace where you don’t speak the language, understand the customs, or even having a place to live.
View from our balcony in Ho Chi Minh City

Once we stopped over thinking, we downsized. We had garage sales, recycled goods and freely used garbage exemptions nights (it's restricted in Ontario). We considered renting a storage unit for what is left but we were lucky and able to find spaces to store all the furniture we couldn't part with. We moved some furniture to our basement apartment, which would serve as our base for the next few years, a backyard shed held less important pieces and the tenant who rented the upper portion of the house could use the few remaining pieces. 

Other things to check off our To Do list.

  1. Put utilities in tenant’s name
  2. Compile a trade’s contact list: lawn care, handyman, plumber, repairs
  3. Get a property manager
  4. Cancel all the bills you can (or transfer names) and convert the rest into paperless correspondence
  5. Have contact info and acct numbers to your: insurance, doctor, bank, accountant, credit cards
  6. Sell cars
Nha Trang

A little tip: let your credit card company know where you will be traveling otherwise they may block your credit cards not realizing it is you using it.

With technology today there is no reason for us not to stay in contact with family and friends back home. We wrote long journal entries about our experiences and emailed them out to everyone, we added photo to Facebook and sent those links to our friends (not all of them are on FB). Before you leave don't forget to have some good old fashioned goodbye parties.

Back home may not understand what we were doing or why but they will always love to hear from us. 

A local market
On your adventure we met new like-minded friends but it was important to keep contact with our old friends too. Sometimes it’s needed by both sides.
Was all this work and lifestyle change worth it? Not for the original 6 months plan, but definitely it was for 2 years. Living and working locally, learning a new language, learning to understand and appreciate a new culture and then making new friends in the process. Amazingly our Vietnam adventure lasted 5 years and we loved and experienced all of it.


(she's my mom y'all!)   

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