Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Living Differently ~ A Matter of Time and Lifestyle


We’ve got all the time in the world.
                   -- The Scout

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Gerolimenas - Greece
That concept of ‘all the time in the world’ is how we’ve approached travel - and life - in these commitment-free days of ‘boomer-hood’.  Not tethered to a job. No children thus, no grandkids. No other family commitments. No pets.  No ties.

We realized some time ago that we aren’t ‘empty-nesters’ - we seem almost to be ‘no nesters'. And with that realization, our travels became more frequent and the destinations further away. We stayed in distant places longer wanting to experience more of ‘that life’.

But even die-hard travelers like us enjoy the comforts of a home so we purchased a few weeks at timeshare homes in Arizona and Hawaii and then added our Stone House on the Hill in the Greek Peloponnese. Such a variety locations has us living a part of each year in a high rise condominium tower overlooking the Pacific Ocean and a low-rise southwestern adobe-style condominium with a desert view; a home in an olive grove outside a rural Greek village and a single family home metropolitan suburban Seattle.

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From top left clockwise: Greece, Arizona, Kirkland, Hawaii

Seize the day, then let it go.
              -- Marty Rubin

Permission to live life differently

This new lifestyle really began when we gave ourselves permission to live in more than one place in the world on a rotating basis. One of my fellow bloggers calls their similar lifestyle one of 'location independence'. While we sing the praises of it, many of our long-time friends and family (who are deeply rooted in the Pacific Northwest) still wonder what could possibly be so wonderful about being someplace else all the time.

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At home in Scottsdale, Arizona
The timeshare life didn’t strike many as too unusual, as we were still traveling in America, with the exception of a few ‘time’ trades to foreign destinations. Many who knew us during our 40’s cheered on our home ownership, in a village north of Puerto Vallarta,  Mexico. They saw it as a great adventure – and a relatively ‘safe’ one as we were still employed full-time in the Northwest and spent only a few weeks – our allotted vacation time - south of the border.

But when in our retirement years we bought a home in Greece, eyebrows went up, and the questions began. Many, I think, suspected signs of possible early senility in each of us. After all, we are old now, it is time to be fretting over Medicare and Social Security benefits and various ailments; not to take leave of our senses and start growing olives in Greece.  What were we thinking?

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The Stone House on the Hill - Greek Peloponnese

We are only but guests at Time's tea party.
~Terri Guillemets 

We aren’t alone in being 'different'

Living differently is what draws armchair travelers and daydream believers, like us, to books written by famous ex pats - Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Julia Child, Frances Mayes and Peter Mayle, among them. Each has entertained, amused and inspired us (and like-minded readers) with their tales of living abroad.

What I’ve found interesting in researching this post is the vast number of unknown (unpublished) Americans who’ve chosen to live on foreign soil. We are but two among millions,. . . yes, millions!

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The Greek sea near our home
The State Department's most recent figure (January 2013) of U.S. citizens living overseas (which is the source of other organizations' estimates such as the Association of Americans Resident Overseas [AARO]) stands at 6.8 million, up from 6.3 million in July 2012.

-- Source, 2013 article for the Migration Policy Institute titled, “Counting the Uncountable: Overseas Americans”

And those figures reflect only those Americans who’ve registered with their Embassy in the country in which they are living. The report speculates that real numbers are likely much higher.

In our tiny slice of Greece there are some two dozen Americans who’ve chosen to live full- or at least half-time there.

Recognize life is (too) short

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 Overlooking Stoupa, Greece
Back to that, “All the time in the world” quote.  In reality we know that at our ‘boomer’ ages we don’t have all the time in the world. The day will come when our ability to live in different parts of the world will be limited by physical or mental constraints: in other words, we really will be too old!   So we’ve decided not to put off until tomorrow what we can experience today.

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But, don’t you miss. . .?

‘But don’t you miss. . .when you aren’t here?’( Fill in the blank with a favorite food, place, or event.) And the answer is ‘Of course!’  I miss my Pacific Northwest peanut butter and Starbucks coffee when in Greece ( Imported peanut butter is expensive and the closest Starbucks is in Athens). I miss frozen Mai Tai’s when we leave our timeshare in Hawaii.  I miss the stately Saguaro cactus in Arizona. And it goes without saying that I miss ‘my’ cats when we exit Greece.

Note: I didn’t mention friends and family in the above paragraph because we don’t really – thanks to modern-day technology – leave any of them behind.  We could literally see each other and visit daily thanks to the advent of Facebook Messenger, Skype, and Face Time

A Place Called Home

DSCF0420For the next few months we are in our Pacific Northwest home, our anchor residence for the last 30 years.  We’ve been back less than a week and already have fallen  into the routines of every day life in this Seattle suburb. It’s as if we’ve never been gone. But then we say that about settling into each of our lifestyles these days.

One distinction this home has over our others is that it holds the lifetime of ‘stuff’ we’ve collected (or inherited) over the decades. Many items with only sentimental value . . . that collect dust in our absence.

With a goal of freeing ourselves from these material ties that bind, our summer travels will likely be to local charities and dump sites. 


I'm certain those of you of 'boomer age' see the irony in how we all worked to acquire so many things that fill drawers, cupboards, closets and the garage during the first half of our lives and now we are tasked with getting rid of it.

The nice thing about our Stone House on the Hill is that it lacks storage space – few drawers and shelves,  armoires instead of closets and no garage. And you know what? We love the lack of ‘stuff’ there! 

While we are doing those rather mundane tasks of sorting and hauling, I plan to escape every week with a look back at Greece, Geneva, and France. One thing we are already missing about Greece, is the food. I'll be focused on that next week!

Hope your summer travels – or projects – are good ones. Stay safe and healthy! And as always, thanks so very much for being with us ~

Linking this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
– 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration


35 comments:

  1. We are living similarly... timeshares in Mexico and Hawaii. But iur base is in Phoenix and I have kids in SFO, Calgary and Melbourne!

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    1. Carol, I love that 'network' of kids all over the world - that in itself provides you some great travel experiences. And yes, the timeshare life is a good one, isn't it?

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  2. Ah everything is so close in the Northern Hemisphere! My partner has just retired and I have a portable business. In New Zealand we have to live here for 6 months a year to get the pension - but I hate winters so we plan on being elsewhere for quite a lot of the year. We've always travelled so others haven't cottoned on yet that our next big 3 month trip is not our last! We do have a home base - a house next to the sea - in a town we like living in - but otherwise like you we have no kids and are resisting getting pets because we need to be free. Are timeshares cost-effective compared to options like Air BnB?

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    1. How interesting to learn of your pension residency requirements. I don't know if you can compare or contrast timeshare ownership with renting on Air BnB. In our case, being affiliated with Marriott and members of their rewards programs our timeshare stays have kept us at the platinum level with provides many perks when staying at their hotels. So Air BnB might be cheaper initially but doesn't provide the benefits we get from ownership.

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  3. Jackie and Joel, I do so enjoy reading about your travels and I admire you for making your dreams come true. And big dreams they are! You're right - do it now, don't put it off - a time may come when your health doesn't allow it. I think of that as I plan our travels. Best wishes. Beth

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    1. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Beth. Enjoy your travels and I look forward to seeing more comments from you here.

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  4. This is a perfectly wonderful lifestyle. Enjoy it while you can.

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    1. Isn't it amazing to have reached an age, where I sound like 'an old person' in referring to my life's activities as taking place 'while I can'. (In other words, How Old Am I!?!?!?)

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  5. For all of your friends who wonder what could be the attraction about being someplace else - I know you have many more who totally *get* it! As for the stuff ... there's such a freedom in minimizing and simplifying. Your summer "travels" to charity shops may not be quite as exotic as your overseas destinations but (speaking from my own experience) I think you'll find a great deal of satisfaction in sorting through and shedding many of the things you've acquired over the years. The "getting rid of it" is just another step in adding a zig and zag to wherever your path is leading!

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    1. That is the best part - meeting those who do 'get' it and then cultivating those friendships. It is so much more fun to be with those who don't look at you or question you as an oddity but as a comrade in adventures! (like you ;-) )

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  6. Mr. Excitement still has a day job; our sons are launched, but my mother is 92; and we still have a dog, but as you know, whenever we can, we travel. On every trip, at some point, we say, "We better do this while we still can". We think the life you have evolved for yourselves is perfect. As for things, we've downsized twice and I instituted the "only refrigerator magnets" rule. We used to like to bring home a piece of art from our wanderings, but now it's only refrigerator magnets, photos and memories (like frozen Mai Tais ;-).

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    1. I love that refrigerator magnets rule. . .and as we are packing up unwanted, unused things I am wishing I had instituted it several decades ago! We really must get you two over to Greece and we can sip Aperol Spritzes. . .not quite as good as a frozen Mai Tai but certainly quenches the thirst!

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  7. I like the idea of a "lack of stuff".

    Enjoy your wonderful lifestyle. I'd love to do the same, but Steve is a homebody and I can only get him on one big vacation a year.

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    1. Well this summer project has become a train racing down the track feeling like derailment is close. How in the world did we (me???) manage to save so many things over the years?? I started with a careful consideration of each item and now The Scout is telling me not to dump everything! Thanks for the visit ~

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  8. You are my inspiration. How many times have I thought, "I'd love to live in France". The only thing keeping me here in Canada is my cat.....I love following your journey and how you deal with opportunities and problems. Perhaps one day, I will do the same and live in France at least for 3 months. Then, maybe buy a place???? One question: does your Seattle home stay empty when you are away? Are you going to hang onto it so that when you are, say, 100, you'll return home and live permanently back in the US? Anyways, those are my questions. Perhaps you can answer them in upcoming posts! (Sorry if you already have and I missed it).

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    1. Oh Janice you should do it! And take your kitty with you. We have two sets of friends in our area of Greece who brought their fur babies from the US. One couple brought a dog and two cats and the other brought two dogs and three cats - it can be done and the animals have settled in quite well! And yes, your questions are part of a part 2 post that is in the development stages as I write this. Don't lose the daydream!

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  9. I very much enjoyed this post and reading about your various residences and how you view your life amongst these. I also like the idea of living more simply without so much stuff! I wonder why we collect so much! I guess our children and grandchildren tie us here, whereas as no nesters you are free to do and enjoy - so you might as well jolly well go and do it! I love that Paulo Coelho quote - a message for all of us I think. Enjoy life wherever you are!

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    1. Oh and the same to you Jill - enjoy life! And yes, one week into the de-clutter project and I am certainly questioning what the appeal was to all that stuff!

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  10. What a great post that really hit home as I took a break from "decluttering/downsizing."

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    1. Irene, I remember you wrote about a similar topic not too long ago. It does seem we've reached 'that age' whether traveling or not, when it does become necessary to declutter. Our neighbor who lost both parents within months of each other told us yesterday we were wise. He and his wife are still trying to declutter the parents' house a year later!

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  11. I can see how you love your stone house on the hill in Greece. It is such a captivating country! Enjoy your life. It sounds amazing.

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    1. Yes, we do love that portion of our life best at this point in our lives. Thanks for stopping by~

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  12. This is very inspiring. I hope I can have residences in at least two places in the world. I am working towards staying in Europe for an extended period of time. #TPThursday

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    1. Oh Ruth that is such an exciting plan. I look forward to reading about it on your blog!! Good luck. Daydreams can be caught!

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  13. I'm a little younger than a 'boomer' but I can so relate to this post. We have recently paid a deposit on a caravan and next year we will sell our house to travel indefinitely around Australia. We are looking forward to a simpler life.

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    1. Oh Melissa what an exciting plan! We do enjoy our 'fewer things' life in Greece which is such a contrast to our life's accumulations here. We can't help but wonder why we were so attracted to stuff!

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  14. Jackie, you and Joel are such an inspiration, I'm sure, to so many people, both younger and older than you. I admire the fact that you consider each of your places, home, since for me, 'home' is a matter of the heart, and as you love each and every one of your residences, why can't they all be 'home'? Why do we need to limit 'home' to one place? As you know, I own a house here on the island and it is my little piece of paradise, but I consider Canada to be home too, since I was born there, grew up there, and my extended family is there.

    Good luck with sorting through all your stuff! I toss/donate/pass down my things every year; it is quite cathartic!

    Happy weekend,
    Hugs,
    Poppy

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    1. I am seeing the wisdom of your ways. . .I should have been discarding on an annual basis but didn't and now am paying the price! Oh well, it is good to fill garbage and donation bags. (And you know I hope that my favorite place is right on that Greek hill I love. . .) Happy weekend to you, Hugs, Jackie

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  15. Such a positive and upbeat article about finding our own way in this world. Your lifestyle certainly sounds inviting. I guess anyone who travels a lot is really nomadic at heart and relates to your lifestyle! I know I do!!

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    1. I think the traveler does understand and either rejoices in this type of lifestyle or has lived in their own way a similar one. And as one comment advised on FB if someone continuously finds a way to disapprove it is time to leave that friend behind.

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  16. My husband and I are working toward a similar lifestyle, though it'll probably be only two homes. We've taken the first step: bought a very small home here in the north of the Netherlands in the center of town. It's rented out for the moment while we slowly get rid of most of the stuff that has accumulated in our bigger home on the edge of town over the last 20 years. (Got rid of 10 garbage bags full of clothing last week! And have 6 boxes of books ready to go out the door this week!) Then once hubby retires, we'll start looking into where our other home will be: somewhere warmer and less rainy, for sure!

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    1. Oh Rachel, can't tell you how nice it is to know that you are across the pond going through the same routines we are. It is pretty amazing how clothes and things seem to grow in the closet isn't it? Good luck with your efforts - I'll be thinking of you!

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  17. I know so well what you mean about collecting things for years and then being faced with disposing of it. It is a little heart-breaking, but the sense of freedom and relief I feel from having it gone is immense. Occasionally I miss something and wish I'd kept it (always something sentimental) but what's done is done. I love living with less goods and chattels. Look forward to your Greek Food post.

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  18. It wasn't until we moved to Malaysia that I realized how many expats have chosen the international life "just because", not because of a job. It's also when I realized how many nomads there still are out there. Once my husband retires and we have more free time, we have some vague idea of spending much more time traveling. Good luck with the decluttering. For me, the sentimental pieces are the hardest to release.

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  19. This post should be required reading for all of a certain age.
    Thank you!

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