Three years ago, Michel and I were living the so-called “good life”. We had this beautiful apartment in the city- center of Rotterdam. We both had great jobs, both had a lease car and enough money in the bank to go for dinner at least twice a week. In other words, we had the real ” dinki” (double income no kids) lifestyle. We never thought this could change so completely so quickly.
But in 2009, the company I worked for decided to merge with another company. A few months after the merger announcement, the new management decided that the factory I was working for would be closed within a year. The year that followed was a very difficult one which really took its toll on me. I had to transfer all customers from one factory to the other (about 3 hours drive from Rotterdam) and whenever I was back at the old factory there always was a goodbye party for one of the colleagues already moving on to their new jobs. Emotionally that was very difficult for me. I had always enjoyed working at that company so much. I was working with the most interesting customers, very nice products and many of the colleagues had become friends over the years. Saying goodbye to those colleagues and that company was the most difficult task I ever had to do in my professional life.
After a year, the company really closed down and I was offered a job within the organization, but at the other side of the country. Fortunately, Michel could also be transferred within his organization, so we moved to the other side of the country. We rented a small furnished holiday home in the forest and put our house for sale. Secretly we never expected we would sell our house in these difficult times. Thirty other apartments were for sale in the same building and nothing had been sold over the past two years. We thought we would just work in our new jobs for 18 months or so, going back to Rotterdam every now and then to enjoy the city life and then, after 18 months, if the house would not be sold, ask our respective employers to move us back to Rotterdam…
But then, only after 5 months, we received an offer on the house. A good offer I must say. We would be crazy not to accept it… We were just enjoying a well deserved holiday in Thailand at that time and actually sold our house while being on holiday. We both had very mixed feelings about that sale. Of course, it was great that the house was sold, against all odds. Of course, we could now really start building a new life in our new area. Of course, it would be a relief not to have to go back to Rotterdam to clean the house and get the mail. But… we really enjoyed going back to the city every now and then. We really enjoyed having hundreds of restaurants all within walking distance. We really enjoyed that shops were open on Sundays… We really enjoyed the space of our apartment and the view over the Rotterdam harbor. Were we really capable of giving that all up??
Well, after a (few) bottle(s) of wine, the idea of sitting on this (small) pile of money started to sink in. What would we do with that money? Of course, everyone around us would expect that we would now buy a new home in our new environment. That new environment actually was our “old” environment, because we moved back to where we were born. Many of our friends lived there, both our parents lived there. We knew where everything was and the surroundings were very familiar. But, if we were really honest, we did not particularly like to be back there. Neither of us was really enjoying our new jobs, nor did we feel comfortable in the culture and with the mentality of that area. Not that there is anything wrong with the people or the culture, it just wasn’t us anymore. The new environment did not fit us like Rotterdam fit us.
Then, slowly but surely, we realized that we were free now. Free to do whatever we wanted. We could buy a new home, sure. We could go on an expensive holiday, sure. But… we could also travel the world for a year or so. At that time, during our holidays in Thailand, we thought traveling the world was just a nice dream. We could never really do that. What would happen to our careers, what to do with our dog, what would our parents and friends say, we could not just give up all our securities… could we?
The idea sank a little bit to the background back in the Netherlands, back in our busy daily life. However, it never really went away. Every now and then it would pop up and we would say ” what if..” .
It took another holiday to the south of Spain before we really spoke about it seriously. Why not go and travel the world for a year or so? Would it really hurt our careers? Could we really not find a solution for our dog? By that time we were already used to not living the luxury life anymore. We did not go for dinner every week. We did not have any of our own stuff around us anymore, still living in this small rental holiday home. We did not miss our ” stuff” either and realized that as long as we are together, we are fine. We decided to do some research and talk about it some more when we would be back home. So we did and after a few months we took the decision to travel. We have told our parents and are now looking into traveling the world in a 4×4 so that our dog can come with us. More about that in a next post…