Wait, what did you say?
Yup, home is relative; it's where we lay our head. While we've been gone from Michigan for only 6 months we've moved a ton during that time (20 different houses/apartments at last count). And so we haven't yet established a "home" outside of Michigan.
News of Portugal
Portugal is a wonderful country, the people here are so very kind and helpful. We've had a fun week of exploring the city and exploring the countryside attempting to find a house for us to rent.
However, in the end there were major problems with any house we could find for us. Issues like:
- No Internet access, or the Internet was so poor I couldn't work from there.
- No room for the kids, having beds is one thing, but having room to roam is another, and these kids need and we want them to have some space to be outdoors
- No access to public transportation. We'd love to walk to stores and only rent a car if need be for long excursions.
The houses are expensive here in Portugal because it's a cheap destination for a lot of Western Europeans. We can see why people would love to vacation here. But it does bring the prices up higher than we were informed.
Food prices are higher than we expected. We spent $100 on groceries that only lasted us 3 days. Pretty significant when $100 of groceries in South Africa lasted 6 days.
Transportation is great if you live in Lisbon (there are no stand alone houses in most european cities, Lisbon is no exception), or if you live near a train station outside of Lisbon. However most people own a car. It's just a requirement. Like in the States, you really can live without a car only if you live in the city (in the US it's possible to have a house with a yard within the city, unlike in Europe) but you cannot do regional transportation (like visiting friends or family outside of the city).
(Even in an urban environment our kids found mud :)
Yesterday we visited the last two houses on our list. The list whittled down to one house, 2 hours outside of Lisbon which was an awesome house but had some negatives, no walking access to groceries, price (mostly due to having to rent a car for the duration of our stay) and noise. Perhaps not the noise you are thinking of, perhaps we should say it was quiet, too quiet. The town is in a river valley with 20-30 houses. It's a quiet, sleeper town. Perhaps they might all be senior citizens. Let's just say our brood starts on all 8 cylinders at 7am and are not quiet. We literally would have woken the whole town up each morning!
The reality of losing clients over the last 6 months without replacing any has finally caught up to us. The numbers are in and from May 1 to October 1, 5 months, we dropped our income by 90%.
We had contingency plans for doing this trip in SE asia on 50% of our income. However Portugal prices are not SE Asia prices, and 10% of income is a far cry from 50% of income.
So yesterday Becky and I made the tough decision to spend our reserves (kept just for this purpose) to buy plane tickets to "return home"
We arrive in Grand Rapids, Michigan tomorrow.
Yup, it was the same price to buy tickets for Oct 1 as it would have been for Oct 31.
Are we done traveling? Does Paul get a job? Where are we going to live? Do we need a minivan to rent/buy?
Some of these we know the answer to, but like most things we know where we're being lead for today. Tomorrow may be different.
Ah the life of vagabonds.
Becky spent time yesterday one-on-one with each of "the three bigs." Sorry Zander, at age 2 you're still along for the ride, you'll get voting power soon!
The results of the one-on-one times were heartwarming to Becky and I. Essentially we answered one of the big questions of this journey: "Does Travel as a lifestyle work for our crew?" The answer is a resounding YES, as each of the three expressed sadness at ending the trip and returning to Michigan. They each said they'd like to return to Michigan for a short period of time but they want to go out on a trip again. Some of the things they loved were getting a new house often. (20 houses in 26 weeks, that's a new house every 9 days on average!) Exploring, riding different forms of transportation, and "playing with new toys." Thys the 4 year old contributed the last one. It may have nothing to do with the toybox of new (old) toys that came in the apartment we're living in currently. So, since the kids are excited to "stop over" in Michigan, we are treating it like the next stop in our journey.
So there's really two goals for our time back in Michigan,
- Build up our revenue, and make it even more resilient to travel/location-independance (new clients came via word of mouth, or physical networking in Michigan)
- Emotional health growth, I need some significant time with my counselor in GR
When those are adequately dealt with we'll be back on the road again. We're looking to Mexico, Central and South America for the next jaunt. Hopefully that will happen sometime in 2015.
We have probably one of the best flight schedules we've ever had on this journey for our return home. We leave Lisbon at 11am (6am Eastern) have a 2 hour layover in Philadelphia and arrive into GRR at 6pm Eastern. You're welcome to visit/see us at the airport. Flight US3741. Wednesday October 1 (Tomorrow). We'd love to see you!
How you can help
We're looking for a house to rent in Grand Rapids. Ideally cheap, with a yard, access to public transportation (I hear the Silverline is open!) and furnished, although we can acquire furnishings. Do you know of a place or someone who could help us find one? We'll be living with family in Newaygo and Holland until we find a place to rent.
We're looking for a mini-van to rent (or maybe purchase since monthly rentals are outrageous and it might be cheaper to purchase one for 3-6 months).
Any business contacts or connections you can make for Connex. We do digital marketing, specifically for B2B, Education and nonprofits.
The ironic part of how all this timing is working out? Our kids love ArtPrize. They were bummed to be reminded a week ago that ArtPrize was going on back at home. Now, we're arriving home right during ArtPrize. Yay!
Please contact us ASAP if you know of any connections that could help us out with these last items. We really appreciate your help!
Here's to the next leg of the trip!