Note: This post initially appeared first in December 2017.
My partner and I have, in a way, been anchored in Brisbane for the past year because my final year of university has kept me from travelling or moving anywhere, near or far. To be fair, we have been more than happy to be in Brisbane, close to our families and our friends. I honestly do not even remember how the concept of moving abroad came up as a legitimate prospect for us, but here we are. I officially finish my studies at the end of this summer semester (the end of January-early February), and my graduation is in July 2018. Between February and July, instead of staying home and continuing to work in retail, I wanted something different, something fresh.
Over the last few months, we did research on potential places to move to, the pros and cons of each of these locations, visa qualifications, must-see sights, etc. Both Vietnam and Thailand had three qualities that were massive ticks for us: low cost of living, incredible places and things to experience, and they were both destinations that most people we know do not seem to think of when they think of possible countries to uproot their entire lives for and relocate to. The people are known for being friendly and the cultures (and the landscapes themselves) are rich and different to anything that we have experienced. They also happen to be two places that we saw YouTube vlogs on by a digital nomad couple that spoke highly of their experiences in both countries.
Initially, we were unsure if we wanted to go to Vietnam or Thailand. Considering they are a hop, skip, and a jump away from one another we decided that we could spend six weeks in one and then catch a flight over to the other to spend six weeks in that place before flying home to Australia. Three months seemed like a good time frame. It felt like enough time that we could immerse ourselves in the experience, as well as enough time to save a good amount of money (something that is not easy in Australia, with everyday costs such as rent and groceries being anything but cheap). It is also long enough that if we decided that we did not like the lifestyle, we could go home after a few months with solid savings in our pockets and adventures under our belts. Family is important to both of us too, so the appeal of being somewhere that we can come home easily enough if need be was also a deciding factor for us.
We toyed with the idea of actually going to three countries over the three months, spending four weeks in each of them before coming home. Cambodia was the other country that we considered adding into our trip, but with our planning falling a little too late (and also the realisation that we thought that three places might be too much for our first round) it felt too expensive — considering all flights between, any varying vaccinations that we might need for Cambodia in addition to both Vietnam and Thailand — and too rushed. But if we discover that we love the lifestyle, and want to continue it, we can hit up Cambodia and Laos next round!
We are set to leave on March 1st. Deciding on the date of leave was actually quite hard, for a few reasons. Firstly, my brother’s birthday is on the 15th, and being close to my family I wanted to be here for it. Secondly, if we left after my brother’s birthday, it would give me a few weeks longer to work and save a little more cash . And thirdly, we just procrastinated the hell out of actually planning it properly. For every factor of doubt, there was an answer. We can — and will — organise something for my brother’s birthday before we leave (nothing is more important than family) so that we can still be a part of celebrating his twenty-third year around the sun. While I won’t be saving as much now that we are leaving earlier, I will have saved enough, and plan to have a job when we move or within a few weeks of having moved. And we eventually realised, upon vigorous inspections on Flight Centre, that flights were only getting more expensive and if we did not book them soon, it would end up being an insane cost just to get there and back.
Leaving in general is going to be hard for us both, but it will be brutal for myself. My mum was diagnosed with a rare cancer a few years back, and the idea of going anywhere that I wouldn’t be with her was not even on the radar. My mum just recently got her five year clearance, which is literally the greatest news on the planet. So I no longer have an excuse to hold off. My family are literally the most important and wonderful people on the planet (and I do mean my brother’s puppy, too — dogs are family too), and I love them more than anything, so the notion of moving across oceans from them, no matter how long, is daunting to comprehend. But with their health and well being firmly intact, I feel excited more than ever at the opportunities ahead.
I am seriously excited to finally start working on my career, my projects, and to leave retail. I work at IKEA currently, and while I love the people that I work with, and the company itself is fantastic to work for, I will not miss retail itself. We have ten weeks left until we fly out, and I have nine weeks left until I walk out of the big blue box for the last time as a wardrobes specialist…not that i am counting at all (and trust me, that yellow shirt does nothing for a pale, blonde girl like me).
The plan is to go first to Danang, Vietnam, and then six weeks after we land in Danang International Airport, we will fly into Chiang Mai International Airport where we will live for six weeks until we come home for my best friend’s wedding, my graduation, and then who knows. I am going to get a job writing, as well as work on expanding this project, and my partner works remotely already, so it will be a relatively easy transition for him in some ways. My partner is the greatest man, and I could not be more excited to start this new chapter with him. Australia will always be home, but we can have homes away from homes, too.