Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Lure of Long Term Travel and Expat Life -- Intro

I had an opportunity to spend some time with an Expat in Phnom Penh.  A number of interesting discussions have come out of it since.

I find the idea of expat living interesting from a motivation perspective.  But I'm one who often wonders why people do what they do and is it something I could do too?  Depending on if you are there because of job transfer or you just decided to show up makes a huge difference. 

For the longest time, my idea of expat life involved working for a large multi-national company with offices in glamorous cities all around the world.  You would make great money, have housing allowances and with all that extra disposable income, really live large and immerse fully.   Also envisioned jetting to various neighbouring equally exciting cities for the weekend, just for fun. 

Having once thought seriously about going into engineering, you better believe I would have tried real hard to find a job with such a company.  In fact, after I was able to speak again having seen the spectacular scenery of the fjords of Norway for the first time, quickly following was the thought -- Being an engineer would have been a great choice...I could definitely have moved here, built a career, become fluent and eventually marry a strong Norwegian man...

Having been a hard core, fairly high spending city girl for long enough, it was years later before I learned of how many people have chosen lessor expensive places to retire to, not just to vacation in.  And it took even more time after that before I clued into the whole well worn Southeast Asia, South America long term backpacking circuit.  For someone so late to the party, it was an eye opener.

There was never any doubt that the first county I would visit when I was able to afford it would be France, primarily Paris.  I love French Impressionism, French pastries, the independent but passionate way of life there and Gothic cathedrals.  Unfortunately I don't love the entire range of cheeses but I make up for it in my enthusiasm for charcuterie.   Of course all of that was anecdotal but later proven true.  My first views from the balcony of my Marais hotel will forever be burnished in my mind. 

Never did it occur to me to forgo that dream for something that would cost much less just so I could go and spend more time.  Welcome to the long term travel and the "circumventing the system" expat mindset I encountered recently.  I find it interesting from many angles especially when many finance bloggers are in principle, doing similar planning with respect to their "early outs". 

Being that this was my first time in such a country, in an area of the world known to many as a place to go where it would only cost single digit dollars a day to eat and live, it made me contemplate what it would take for me to say 'yes' to such an environment.

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