I have never thought of myself as grizzled, but when asked to write a short piece with the above title, I sat back and had a chuckle. Yes, I am grizzled. Weary beyond my years of the inane complaints of the modern suburban dweller.
Having always been something of an action man and having got to that point where “enough is enough”, I promptly decided to pack my bags and leave. Leave the complaints, lack of ethics, pressure, government interference, taxes… Hell, now I'm starting to sound like them. (Lesson #1 – Make the decision.)
Having made the decision to go it was just a matter of convincing the wife, packing up and leaving. Easier said than done. (Lesson #2 – Take Action.)
A lifetime of collecting things which are absolutely not essential to a PT lifestyle (three 27-tonne trucks and an excavator among other things) means a cleanout and garage sale of epic proportions. (Lesson #3 – Start downsizing sooner rather than later.)
While all of this was underway, my ever-patient wife and I made a loose plan of where we wanted to start. We contacted some specialists who could help “grease the immigration wheels” as well as research property markets so that we had some idea of rental costs and conditions. (Lesson #4 – Plan ahead.)
Having done all that we thought we could on Terra Homeland, we left. The plan was to visit the top 3 countries on our wish list for a couple of weeks each, and at the end of that time, choose where we would stay. (Lesson #5 – Jump!)
After arriving in our new country of abode, we encountered many problems and difficulties, but by simple logic and perseverance we overcame all and had a wonderful 12 months of exotic food, friendly people and great experiences. (Lesson #6 – Enjoy.)
After twelve months we decided that, love it as we may, our first choice of country was not where we wanted to stay. So, without nearly so much fuss we were on the move again. (Lesson #7 – Remain flexible.)
Our second move was much easier and smoother than the first. We did not worry so much about some things and put more effort into others, so the end result cost less and produced more value. (Lesson #8 – Learn from your mistakes.)
Another twelve months passed and we found ourselves preparing for another jump. We now felt closer to what we were seeking and the experience gained in the previous two moves was invaluable when evaluating countries and their potential fit for who we are. (Lesson #9 – Persevere.)
We now have a completely different set of requirements for our happiness than when we first became PT's. We have grown as people, learned about others and ourselves and experienced our precious planet with a perspective that 7-day tourists will never have. (Lesson #10 – Grow with your experiences!)
Becoming a long-term expatriate has proven to be one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. Our whole family is wiser, stronger and closer than we would have been had we remained in suburbia. If we had to return tomorrow and start again with nothing, I would still be happy with what we have done. Yes, it is difficult, confusing and frustrating, but worth it. So very worth it.
If you are considering becoming a PT, it's great to examine the issues and make a loose plan, but don't sit around pondering the possibilities for too long – The world is waiting for you to join in the fun!