After three weeks of keeping our secret - and for once in my life, doing so, well - I am so excited to share our news that Sam and I will be leaving Wellington to pursue a more nomadic and inspired life!
Tonight we met with our closest friends to break the news to them. As always the plans didn't quite unfold as we had hoped, but those closest to us were there giving us the chance to celebrate with them.
That was the final thing we wanted to tick off the list before we started talking openly about it all. So I'm fucking glad it's all done and everyone who needs to know, knows, and now I can begin sharing what we've planned and how our journey unfolds over the next few weeks and beyond - eeeeppp!!
So three weeks ago, almost to the date, Sam and I received an email approving his work partnership visa which meant that he no longer had to stay tied to his job in order to stay in New Zealand - waaahoooo (and thanks to all our loved ones who supported that process)!
For the past few months, it's become increasingly apparent that neither Sam or I have been happy in our jobs. With this growing unhappiness, our shared desire to travel & to roam has only gained momentum, and particularly over the few weeks preceding our visa application, our conversations had been dominated by how we could achieve what we wanted to as quickly as possible and what we can do to live the life we desire.
I have a burning commitment not to settle in my life - probably partly because I feel like I wasted the three years I stayed in Leicester in a relationship that essentially gave me nothing, when I could have been out exploring the world... finding my soulmate sooner. But the reasons are neither here nor there, what is important though is that I have a partner who is also not willing to settle either. We both have big hearts and big dreams, and we know what we want. Our life goals have aligned from the moment we met, and I've always known that my dreams would be safe with Sam.
On the morning of his visa getting approved, Sam began looking into various wine courses he could do to give him some inspiration about what he might want to pursue once the visa did come through. We were expecting an approval day of October/November time, putting us in the '50% completed within 2 months' bracket, but getting it sent off definitely sparked our inspiration for the future. His research found that many wine-related courses and jobs were based in Marlborough; a large wine region on the South Island for all you non-Kiwis reading. So I replied saying i'd be so down to move there.
Our conversation quickly progressed & we began seriously talking about moving down South. There were two main options really, for his career at least - Central Otago (Queenstown, Wanaka - two places we fell head over heels in love with when we traveled there) and Nelson Marlborough (a region not toooooo far from Abel Tasman & the North Coast of the South Island, which is another place dear to our hearts). We were talking away, getting excited at the idea of moving to Queenstown and maybe starting to look at jobs once this visa came through. That was the only thing stopping us really.
Then, just a few hours after that conversation, Sam called me at work telling me it had been approved. We couldn't believe it - six days after applying it had been approved.. That's madness! And pure disbelief was the prime reaction from both of us. Disbelief mixed with a little bit of nervousness, a touch of fear that this was really happening, and a huge amount of exhilaration & untethered excitement.
It quickly became apparent that the very dreams we had just been daydreaming about with regards to picking up and leaving Wellington were actually now possible. It was a lot to take in really. We weren't expecting to be faced with that opportunity and ability so soon - we weren't really ready for it. It's so easy to talk about stuff, but then when it comes down to the materialisation of plans, it can feel a bit daunting. Which it does.. but it also feels right.
We've spoken over the last few months about how the rest of the year is going to be rooted in change. We weren't quite sure what change, we just knew that change was coming and that we were both so ready for it.
Wellington has been our first home. It was the place that held our love until we both found ourselves here, ready to receive it. It's been the place of so many beautiful memories and unforgettable moments, but it's also not the place we want to stay forever. When we traveled down South we knew it was something special - we knew that it aligned so much more with who we are as people & our relationship. While we were down there we spoke about buying our first home on the South Island. We spoke about raising our children there. And how much more 'us' it was than the North. As much as we adore the North Island, and particularly Wellington, new places are calling and it feels like the right time to go.
So that evening we decided we would leave Wellington.
And since then our life has been a whirlwind...
That Friday (just 3 days after deciding to leave) we bought a campervan - a 2010 Mazda Bongo with just 170ks on the clock. The only problem we had was it was down in Christchurch and we were up in Wellington. Thankfully one of Sam's good friends lives in Christchurch so we he went and picked it up for us which was a Godsend (still so grateful, Kevin!).
That weekend we gave our formal written notice to our letting agent that we'd like to terminate our tenancy agreement early. We drafted our resignation letters. We booked a flight & ferry for me to go down and pick up the van. Nacho took his first car ride in preparation of becoming a campercat (check out @campercat.nz on Instagram). We hit the op shops in search of some bargains, and then spent Sunday evening drawing up designs for how we'll create our new home!
The following week we bought the stove for the van, handed our resignations in, the flat was listed and we had three groups of viewings in 3 days (which we all had to be out of the house for) so we went for brunch & Nacho took his first steps outside. We researched what wood we wanted for the interior, we became more precise with our designs, we bought a battery to enable us to have power and we borrowed some power tools from family friends!
Then last week, just under two weeks since making the decision, we started packing up the house and looking into storage units. Our excitement levels grew as the van pick-up date drew closer; we became more precise and landed on all of our van design decisions. Nacho started coming in the car with me each evening to collect Sam from work and also took his first steps on the beach! We decided on and bought the fabric for our cushions, and then last Friday (25th September) I headed down to Christchurch to pick up our beautiful Bongo while Sam bought the foam for our seats/bed! The drive up from Christchurch to Picton I also picked up my first hitchiker - a lovely Brazilian girl called Rafaela :)
Which brings us to the weekend that's just passed where we spent all of Saturday morning and all of Sunday building! In just a day and a half we gutted the van, laid the floor, secured the ceiling and built the two benches - impressive, right? ;)
Making the decision to quit our jobs, buy a van, pack our things & hit the road is something that feels so right & so aligned with us that it would have been impossible to fight.
On Monday 26th October we'll be saying goodbye to the wonderful, windy Wellington for good. Our plan is only a sketch; nothing is certain from that point forward. But what we think may come to fruition is a few months of traveling up around Northland, full on nomad vibes, before settling on Waiheke Island for a while. I am craving beach/island vibes and we're both in desperate need of some sun, so what better place to stop for a while than an island overpopulated with wineries?! Sam will get the experience and connection he wants to the wine industry, the starting point of his career transition, and I'll hopefully begin teaching and coaching again, as close to full-time as I can. We'll potentially both get little part time jobs to sustain us so we don't have to dip into our house-deposit savings, and we'll just live freely; flexibly; calmly, and most importantly deeply connected to the natural world and to each other. And it's going to be fucking fantastic... Then, when we feel the pull to leave, we'll start our homeward journey towards the South Island and let the world unfold at our fingertips.
All I feel right now is exhilaration. I have wanted to join the #vanlifemovement for so long because I genuinely believe in the lifestyle shift we're about to make. And the sheer excitement and anticipation I feel is overwhelming because I just know that the next few months of our life are going to come together to allow us to live fully inspired, connected and at peace. You just can't compete with that.
I've been feeling trapped for a while, and I know Sam has, too. We are both so ready for what the future holds, and knowing that it's going to include some adventure, some unknown, literally sets my soul on fire.
In just four weeks we hit the road. I am craving that freedom. We don't want to plan too much - we'll go, and we'll just see what happens. If we like somewhere, we'll stay. If we don't, we'll continue. If the travel itch continues, we may not stop at all. There is so much empowerment & fulfilment to be found in those experiences, and it means the world to me that I'm in a relationship where that kind of behaviour is possible.
Picking up and disappearing is something I would do single - it's what I did do single - and I thrive in it. I live for that feeling. And it's such an important lesson to learn that in the right relationship, your life doesn't stop. You don't 'settle down' and lose the chance of adventure & excitement. That actually, with the right relationship, all of that remains possible just with the added benefit of doing it with the person you adore. It's made THAT much better because you get to share it with the person you want to spend your life with. That's where the true magic lies; that's what we're all searching for at the end of the day.
Traveling is built into the fibers of some of us. And if like me you're one of the wanderers of the world, then you need to find a partner who feels all of that, as well. And that will ensure that your life will never be boring. You will never settle. Every single time you feel the need to honour that urge, you'll find your hand intertwined with someone also ready to take those risks and follow the adventure.. because that's what life is all about. And I'm so grateful as always for this relationship; for this love.
This is the beginning of it all. The next step. The beautiful evolution of our partnership & our life together. The first of many decisions to quit our jobs, buy a van & follow the adventures.
You'll never know until you go... #vanlife, here we come.