Well, I guess I’ll start towards the end of the last chapter of my life. I was working for a nonprofit development / humanitarian organization (NGO), Global Communities, that had operations in +/- 20 countries. I had moved from the development side, where I’d been for the past 12 years, to the humanitarian side of things (the dark side… according to the development folks). After a year and a half of cleaning up messes in both Syria and Yemen humanitarian programs, I was a bit burnt, actually rather crispy on both sides. I had just come back from my third trip to Aden, Yemen and couldn’t think, concentrate or really function in any fashion. I just sat behind my desk, and could do nothing! I was burnt to the core.
My wife and I had been talking about selling the house and moving back to Asia, once our youngest graduated from high school. Well, she graduated the previous month.
Shortly, very shortly after my return from Yemen, my wife presented me with two realtor packets, full of information, pricing, percentages, etc. I took a quick look and put them back on the table. The next day, she came to me again and said that we should meet these guys and see what they have to offer. I wasn’t in any big hurry, but she obviously was. While I was away, she had announced to everyone that she would be moving back to Indonesia and when we spoke, she mentioned the same, more of a solo mission than a couples thing! When I heard that, I thought that would be perfect. She could go back to Indo and I could travel around the world…. again (started backpacking some 30+ years ago).
Anyway, enough with the relationship issues… I finally decided to meet with the realtors. First was an indonesian woman who worked for Remax. All I remember about her was her saying “would you rather go shopping in Kmart or Neiman Marcus” (her being NM) and her 7% fee!! The other guy was great! He was an agent for Redfin. What an amazing concept. Everything was totally automated and the step by step process worked like a well oiled machine. He was not on a commission, so wasn’t pushy and laid out the entire process clearly. On top of all that, they only charge 1% commission and 2.5% for the buying agent… seriously… no big surprises at signing.
After a couple of days, we decided to give it a shot. We called him up and gave him the “Go.” Immediately the team kicked into high gear. The Photographer came and shortly after, the 3D guy. They took beautiful photos of the house and 3D for the walk through. After a week of prep, they blasted the net with the listing. By the second day, we had almost 1,000 views. By the third day, we had 4 offers, a couple of which were over asking price. Needless to say, I was shocked!! We had listed on Thursday, selecting the best offer over the weekend and had made a decision by Monday.
Since we would only have 30 days to close…. and move out, I had to give my 30 day notice at work. So, that monday, I did just that. After 13 years and no notice whatsoever, it was a bit of a shock to all, but it was such a burden off of my shoulders, as I had been feeling pretty bad about the non-productive state (coma) I had been in for the past month or so, and was ready to move on to the next chapter of my life.
Well, now we had a month to get rid of all of the crap we had accumulated over the years, sell off the vehicles and whatever else we had. Luckily, there was an annual neighborhood yard/garage sale and we were able to unload quite a bit then. I had negotiated a deal with our contractor, where he would finish some of the work around the house that needed to be completed before the sale, in exchange for my Ducati Monster 696. He was quite happy and I was glad I didn’t have to go through the whole Craigslist thing.
About 2 weeks in, we had gotten rid of almost everything, cleaned up the house and garage/shed, and were packed and ready. I had bought a backpack from REI and that was all I would be leaving with….. Well, other than the DJI Drone I had purchased the week before. (This would actually turn out to be one of the best purchases I have ever made!!)
The month was up and we were ready. We signed the contract and handed over the keys, but now I was homeless!!
During the month of chaos and challenges, I was able to do a little forward planning. I had been discussing an option with my brother…. without telling anyone else. He has a house down in Costa Rica (he lives in Tucson) that has been sitting empty for some time and offered to let me stay there for “Free,” as long as I paid a few bills. I thought this would be a great way to start my journey. So, we didn’t let anyone, whatsoever, know about this plan, until after I had boarded the plane.
Now, being homeless, I had to find a place to stay. About 2 weeks prior to closing on the house, we had helped my youngest, Angel, move into a new apartment. By the time the contract was signed, she was settled and was ready to start college. Luckily, she was nice enough 🙂 to let her papa sleep on the couch. So I stayed with her for the remainder of my time there.
All anyone knew to date, was that I would be going to Tucson to visit my brother before heading out on my travels. I boarded the plane and stayed with him for a week to plan… and learn how to fly my drone.
It was a wonderful week. We went to see Mt. Lemon the day after I arrived and then camped at the Grand Canyon, a couple of days later. It was just Amazing!!
We worked out all of the details of the Costa Rica venture and connected with his mother in law, who also lives on the property (he’s married to a Costa Rican, if you haven’t gathered). I had enough United Miles to get me to Tucson and San Jose, both for “FREEEE,” which is nice. So, I booked my ticket for the following week.
The flight was very early on a Sunday morning, but my bro and the family took me to the airport. At the counter, they hit me with a bit of a surprise. They would not let me board the plane without an onward ticket. Since I had plenty of miles, I went ahead and booked a ticket, which, I was told on the United site, could be canceled at any time. (Little did I know that I would be assessed a $125 “Cancelation Fee”) I got my boarding pass, hugged the fam and headed for the gate.
A couple of hours and I was off, with zero plans and all of the time in the world!!