Enough ruminating - how about some resources?
The dozens of ex-patting books on my shelf will no doubt make an appearance here at some point, but let's start with a current infatuation: Grown-up's Guide to Running Away From Home: Making a New Life Abroad by Rosanne Knorr.
This second edition was published in March, 2008, so the information is pretty fresh - an important consideration when the digital world makes available in nanoseconds what used to take years to percolate out.
Knorr includes lots of technical solutions to things I've been too lazy to look up, such as how to stay in touch by phone without going broke (including things like Skype, which I know about, and Callback Services, which I don't). A section on cell phone service is a good primer, though she notes "phones and phone plans are in a constant state of flux." Amen to that.
The book is an interesting mix of personal considerations (leaving or moving with elderly parents, traveling with pets), practical tools (such as sample budgets and a packing list -"Two Bags for Six Months"), along with "duh" statements that seem more filler than anything else ("Use old dishrags to clean with, not expensive paper towels," in a section about cutting costs).
I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry when I look over the sample budgets. They range from $18K to $40K a year (to be funded by whatever means available, such as investment income - not including retirement savings, which are hands-off - social security income, wages from any local work, etc).
But I'm really discouraged when I see that none of the budgets allow more than $200 a month for dining out. Two hundred dollars?? I probably spend half that on Starbucks in a month. And the last time I lived on $40K a year, Gorbachev was president of the Soviet Union.
Granted, I lived well on that paycheck, when rent was only $450 a month and California wines were still cheap. But this time, $40K is supposed to cover the bills for two.
But...that's kind of the point, isn't it?, I ask myself. That's what getting away is about.
Streamlining. Off-loading. Shedding is how I've been referring to it, to my lovely esthetician Betty when I run into her in an elevator and feel the need to explain why my eyebrows are so shaggy.
I don't want a schedule that includes eyebrow waxes anymore.