As many of you know, I retired from full-time work seven months ago at the age of 53. I don’t have a lot of money, but I have enough to live my frugal minimalist lifestyle. I lived in my van and traveled through parts of Canada – hiking in the Yukon, climbing in the Rockies, hiking Ontario’s Bruce Trail, meeting up with family and old friends I haven’t seen in many many years, as far east as Quebec. I did a Western road trip through Alberta and British Columbia with my mom and sister and ended up on Vancouver Island.
When the trip was over, I decided to stay on the Island and do some climbing. But the constant rain was getting to me.
Also, there was something else.
Years ago, I took a year off mid-career to travel. That freedom, during one of the most stressful times of my working life, was a blessing. I thought I would love full-time travel. I expected to experience the same feeling of freedom. And so I planned to retire as early as I thought I could, and to travel full-time indefinitely. To support this, I got rid of most of my stuff, and lived a frugal, minimalist lifestyle, at the end saving upwards of 85 percent of my salary.
When the time came to finally give up full-time work, I embraced full-time travel enthusiastically.
But after seven months, I felt things weren’t quite right. Something was missing.
I realized that, for me, full-time travel has one drawback, and that is my having a sense of community. A place where I was happy to read about the goings on in the local newspaper. A place I could call my home, from which I could continue to explore the world. A place I could commit to with my energy and emotion. A place that I could build some roots.
Not having a permanent home wasn’t depressing me, but I was feeling hollow.
Meanwhile, back on the Island, it was becoming increasingly more difficult to keep my spirits up, what with the constant rain and my inability to get all my hiking gear dry while living in my van.
So I bought the least expensive ticket into Mexico that I could find, which was to Cancun. I was to leave a month later.
But what would I do for that month? I thought that perhaps I would spend the month in the part of Canada I loved the most. The Okanagan.
I always thought that if I were to settle down anywhere in Canada, it would have to be in the Okanagan.
So I drove to the Okanagan and volunteered in a seniors home until my flight date.
While sitting in my van in the Penticton library parking lot, I looked across the street and noticed a couple of condos for sale. One of them had my minimalist name written all over it. 382 square feet. After some research, I discovered it was probably the least expensive property in the Okanagan that wasn’t a mobile home.
So I bought it, paid cash from my small savings, and closed in ten days.
I now have my permanent home in Canada, a living space that matches my minimalist, frugal personality. A place that matches my outdoor lifestyle of hiking and exploring. A place I now tell my fellow travellers is home.
At the moment, I’m in Mexico. And although I am not currently at home, the hollow feeling has disappeared. I feel fabulous about my traveler and adventurer identity, but I also have an artisan cafe in Penticton I can call my own. I have a place I can brag about to others.
I feel whole again.
I don’t have a return ticket back to Canada yet. But when I do finally buy one, it will be to come back to my home.