Thursday, March 31, 2016

As long as we support each other

 This is Mike...
We are now two weeks away from our move date to Nicaragua and the emotions are starting to set in on each of us. Our kids are crying at unexpected times and we as parents are bracing for our own emotional moments yet to come. Guilt plays its part on us as we wonder if we are doing the right thing. Sadness plays its part on us as well, seeing some of our places for the last time. Loss is something that we all experience but it never seems to get any easier. If we had not done our exploratory trip last year we would have gotten cold feet by now. So for anyone considering moving abroad with children visit the place first as a family.
   We are getting wonderful feedback and questions from many of the blog followers. Most of the questions we are receiving are of a practical nature regarding expenses, schools, transportation, and infrastructure. We will be breaking things down as we experience them and will be providing pictures with descriptions.
   As for our expectations going forward:
We are targeting about $2,000+/- a month for total living expenses which includes private school and local transport. If we stay in Granada we are hoping not to buy a car and walk, take taxis, or ride bikes everywhere. We may buy a scooter though, because I think they are cool and would allow us to go greater distances. We have checked into purchasing a car though it is not our first choice. If you are  considering getting a nationalized vehicle, there is a man whom I cannot name out of San Juan del Sur, who can be found on Expats of Nicaragua Face Book group who can get it done for you.
   Our primary focus will be finding friends for our kids. So, whether we decide on one city over the other, playmates will come first in our decision making process. It is difficult hearing our children cry but through it all I can still hear the echos of their giggles and laughter from our last trip. As my wife says, "Though we sometimes have doubts, as long as we support each other, we can do this."
Four chairs without a table. Somehow, this describes our feelings right now to a tee.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Choosing storage and movers

This is Mike...
As we draw closer to the moving deadline we have to make arrangements for either selling or storing the furniture. After estimating the few peanuts we could get by selling the furniture we opted to store it instead. As we found out, there are a ton of options for storage. In the end, we chose to climate control our stuff because mildew is an issue for long term storage here in Texas. I know, air conditioning our junk sounds extreme but all of our furniture is nearly brand new and they had a special we could not refuse. So, for $146 a month, we can keep our goods safe in case we move back sooner than we realize.
   We were going to initially hire movers to relocate our stuff to storage, but have since, decided against it after the $1300 to $1900 quote. We are going to do the move "Old School" and move the stuff on our own, with a neighbor or two (still undecided on who I should ask a favor from). Renting the truck and buying packing supplies should come in around $400 or so.  Much nicer to the wallet than the hefty fees the movers were charging. I guess that is the high priced reality of using professionals in a booming area like Austin. We'll use the money saved by doing it ourselves and buy tickets to Nicaragua instead :) For the record, my wife did not like the idea of us moving furniture but saw the light after seeing how much money we could save.

The storage facility.

The temporary home for our belongings.

Looks like a prison for innocent furniture to me.

I spoke with the facility owner, and the Austin area storage occupancy rate is 98%. It is no wonder why they are building so many more units here.


Monday, March 14, 2016

One month away and counting

This is Mike...
We are one month away till we close on the sale of our house, and move to Nicaragua shortly thereafter. Part of our dilemma on scheduling anything, is there's always a possibility the home will fall out of escrow for lack of financing, etc. There is also a possibility signing of the documents gets delayed for some inexplicable reason as well. Hence the bizarre world we are in right now, it's all good until it isn't. Lack of absolute timetables we can count on is making us unnerved, which makes us irritable. Once again, we are having crazy dreams just like last year prior to us leaving on our "Big Trip". We have dreams of losing hair, teeth, or each other. Sometimes our dreams effect us after we are awake too, like Elise getting upset with me for something I did wrong in her dream?! And the vise versa is also true, with me getting upset with her. Still, we need to push on and find storage for our furniture, sell our car, transfer the mail and so on. Prioritizing has become a big pastime since that is about all we can do right now. We cannot pack the furniture yet, too early. We cannot sell the car yet, too early. We know the busy days will come and dread the thought.

Nothing beats selling a hot tub to a total stranger on-line

Ah the joys of selling an air hockey table for pennies on the dollar.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Moving abroad - and the decision

Shortly after we got back to the U.S. from our road trip, we knew something was unsettling us here. For starters, the first world expectations for faster, bigger, and better run counter to the slower, easier lifestyle which we want to pursue. Prior to our trip last year, we questioned ourselves first rather than the issues effecting us. We usually started with, "We have so much and it is so easy, why not be happy here?" Predictably, we followed that logic by convincing ourselves, "Wherever you go, there you are." Fear had gripped us in far deeper ways than we realized or wanted to admit. Fear of financial loss, fear of losing friends, fear of our children falling behind in school, fear, fear, and more fear.
   There was a dis-ease within us regarding how we wanted to live versus how we were actually living. Our restlessness was a symptom of a much bigger problem. Early on, in our trip last year, we experienced tremendous guilt about our new found ease. In hindsight, though, we realized that finding ease is what made us happiest. Finding harmony and ease is among the most natural of desires, and yet, in our modern hectic lives we found so many trivial things to fill those voids of inactivity. Instead of working through and enjoying our quiet times, we were enabling our dis-ease by not allowing ourselves any quiet time to recharge. It was an eye opener, last year, when we admitted that much of our dissatisfaction in life was our fault and that our constant denial of ease would have to be reconciled in order for us to live happier, more fulfilling lives. We did not want our inability to relax to become a way of life and that was when we decided we needed something and some place different, and hence our decision to sell.
   Regarding our move, we are feeling all the emotions anyone would have with selling our home after almost 8 years of great friends and community. This time though, we have a better understanding of our own limits and possibilities. More encouragingly, we now question the things that give us disease first, rather than question our reactions to them. As we continue through the transition of selling and moving we realize the only thing more difficult than an ending is a new beginning.
   This entry marks the beginning of the second phase of this blog which will now focus on how a family goes about moving from suburbia to a foreign country and all the trials and tribulations that it entails.          

Our kitchen of many parties

Our living room

Our backyard

Our dining area

Our foyer

Stairs looking down

Living area

View to front door

Entertainment area

Our home