Originally posted January 2020
Friends laughed when I told them we were moving abroad and said I am like Dora the Explorer. She has a backpack and is ready to explore whatever adventures present themselves. I think this is a good description of our adventurous spirits. Kevin and I were excited to travel more of the world while living in Europe. This post kicks off our Oh The Places blog series.
In 2015, my (Kara’s) job moved us from Atlanta, Georgia, USA to London, England, UK for a three-year assignment. It was an amazing career opportunity to manage the finances of a billion-dollar division.
Kevin and his gypsy soul agreed to sell most of our stuff, move overseas and take the opportunity to explore Europe.
Gentleman of Leisure
As part of moving abroad, Kevin traded a covered outdoor kitchen with multiple grills for a single Weber kettle grill and a patio umbrella shoved into a too-small patio. During this transition, Kevin cut back his work hours to part-time and negotiated with his employer to work remotely. If you ask him, he retired and became a Gentleman of Leisure. I think most would agree his description is fairly accurate the majority of the time.
We sold our American sized house, most of our belongings and moved into a London sized two-bedroom flat. Our flat was actually huge by London standards so we kept a queen-sized bed, a dresser, two sofas, two chairs, two desks, and a TV stand. As you may imagine we gave away and sold a lot more than we kept.
The preparation for selling our house was overwhelming and emotionally difficult. Garage sales are not great fun. Negotiating prices and having strangers find flaws in your stuff is no fun. I love finding a deal at a garage sale as much as the next gal but hate having someone ask if I will take less than a dollar for a $20 item.
Additionally, we spent the past eight years remodeling our house room-by-room on weekends and holidays. We were leaving a lot of memories with the house.
Our biggest project was a showcase worthy patio and outdoor kitchen in our backyard. Kevin still misses that outdoor kitchen and we both miss the amazing gatherings we hosted with our friends in that space.
To fit into a London sized life, we had to sacrifice some of our favorite things. Downsizing initially hurt. Kevin mourned his kegerator and game room. However, once we downsized, I could never imagine going back.
What is Minimalism?
We are undiagnosed minimalists. Minimalists live intentionally with less stuff. They limit possessions to items that support their purpose in life.
There is a great feeling of freedom and peace in having less stuff. Most people would be amazed at our personal belongings or lack thereof.
I had two full floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in our house and loved my books. I currently own four books and am in the process of reading them and will donate to the local library before moving on from Dallas. Kindle for the win.
I had a closet overflowing with clothes because ‘I got this on sale’ or ‘that was a great deal’ but I always found myself wearing the same things and feeling like I didn’t have anything to wear.
It’s Just Stuff
I have since found my life is easier and my bank account is healthier when I have less stuff. This has been re-quoted many different ways but I think the original is from the movie Fight Club “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.” Amen.
Big Move, Big Changes
Back to moving abroad, in late July 2015, we packed our bags and moved to London with our two senior dogs, Buddy and Killian.
We no longer owned a car or had a yard and we loved it. We could walk to Kensington Gardens when we needed some time with nature, we ordered grocery delivery when we needed items too big to carry home from the market, and we took the weekends previously spent on home improvement projects and explored London and much of Europe.
How Can I Travel the World for Cheap?
Flights could easily be found for under $100/roundtrip and time in the air was usually less than 2 hours. On most city breaks we left on Friday afternoon and flew back on Monday. I saved my vacation days for trips back to the US to see family and friends or destinations that demanded a little more time.
We used our base in London to explore on a budget. Kevin and I became experts at packing everything we needed in a regular size backpack (I used the same bag that carried my laptop to the office during the week). Seriously, I had a backpack and was ready to explore.
While in London, we visited numerous countries and got a good sampling of the areas we visited. See Google map screenshots of our non-US destinations (2015 top left, 2016 top right, 2017 bottom left, 2018 bottom right). We realize we have only scratched the surface and still have several locations we would like to visit.
Travel the World on a Budget
The subject of the next few blog posts will cover our top 10 trips after moving abroad (in no specific order):
2. Austria & Hungary (single trip)
4. Ireland & Scotland (separate but similar trips)
6. Portugal & Spain (separate but similar trips)
10. Switzerland & France (single trip)
Please join as I reminisce on our world travel throughout Europe and Africa.