Written by Nicole
Here we are, six weeks out and I am finally getting some time to catch up on our BLOG!
The last four weeks have been all about getting projects done. Our to do list is up to 6 pages long and I won't bore you with all of the details, but it certainly has been an overwhelming few months. Here is a little of what we have been up to.
We have downsized our home and moved into an apartment of a property that we have purchased. We have had a screen room built, we have treated some rotting wood and painted the buildings, we started a Catio so our cats will have a safe place to play outside, as well as several other smaller projects on the property. We still have a bunch of projects to finish over the next two weeks, but we are making some great progress!
We have put our Window Cleaning business up for sale and though we haven't had any serious offers, we did manage to sell two of our Counties as Franchises. An employee signed the deal and is currently training with me to take over those locations. This will make it a little easier to sell our other two locations, either as Franchises or as a whole. Though this won't happen before we leave, we hope to find a buyer in the next year or so. We also decided to move into the smaller office since we won't be needing the extra space for our other business or storage. This will also allow us to rent out the larger office which will increase our investment income. The downside is that we also had to downsize the business which meant sorting through and getting rid of things that we don't need, and more moving, though considerably easier that our personal move!
We have been taking care of all of our medical and dental appointments and making sure we have everything that we need medically for our trip. Since we will be back in Florida before we leave the country, we don't have to worry about any shots or anything yet. Getting prescriptions for 18 months is the hardest part and we are still working on that process. The VA will mail mine and then Daniela (our Assistant), can forward them to our current location, but we are still working on Toni's. Doctors tend to be reluctant to write prescriptions in advance so we will see how all of that works out.
The majority of my time has spent hiring and training new staff that we needed, and working with Daniela and our current staff to them all on the same page, working together to ensure that everything runs smoothly when we leave. I will still be running the overall operations of the business, but Daniela and two of our Supervisors will be overseeing the daily operations on the ground. I am able to access our security systems on my phone and can even talk to the staff through it so, though I hope that I am only working about an hour a day at most, I am able to literally keep an eye on things and yell at them if needed! I joke of course. I have some excellent employees and I rarely yell...the business will be in good hands. In two weeks I will pull back from the business and let them start to run it, with me being close by. This will allow us an adjustment period to work out any details that we may have missed. Of course there is always a chance that some of these Supervisors will leave us within the three years. This is why we have multiple people splitting the workload, but learning all of it. This means that the others can pick up the other tasks until we promote someone else and get them trained on those tasks. I felt this was better than hiring one manager for everything.
As our concession business is winding down we are starting to say goodbye to customers that we have built relationships with over the last 12 years. It has been bitter sweet. People all are sad to see us go, but commend us on taking this journey and seem sincerely happy for us. Three years will go by fast...they will be back to eating Philly Cheese Steaks and Kalua Pork in no time! Many of our customers are snow birds and will be leaving before our final May events. It's truly the end of an era, but hopefully we will be back here in a few years to pick up where we left off!
Everywhere we go we have been talking to people about our trip and we have been getting some excellent suggestions. We've added on some additional stops as well as a couple of Countries that we hadn't considered before. We will be posting an updated travel route soon!
Lastly, we have been working on getting our Social Media, Website, and other online business tasks done. We have some new things in the works that we are getting excited about. We are shopping for new cameras, drones, and getting ready to take some classes in May that will help us with alternative photography, social media platforms that I'm not yet trained in, and finding additional ways to make money with our travels!
Really, there is so much going on that its' hard to explain the enormity of it all. We are making some excellent progress and I am confident that it will all get done in time. In the meantime, we would love to hear opinions on the best point and shoot cameras with good low-light photos and the best drones out there for photography.
We really appreciate everyone that has been helping us and those of you that are currently following us. You will start to see more posts about our planning now that we are getting closer to the big date! Stay tuned.....
I apologize that it has been a while since we have blogged about our trip planning and preparations. The truth is...it has been A LOT OF WORK! Let me get you all up to speed and then I will continue our BLOG weekly after this.
February was all about downsizing! From what we've read, this is the most challenging part for most people. Even though we don't buy a lot of "stuff", we just naturally accumulate things as you go. We've been in Florida for 12 years now, which is as long as I've ever been in one place so I definitely own much more than I did when I up and joined the military, up and moved to Hawaii, up and moved to NY, or up and moved to Tampa. For me, leaving behind non-sentimental items comes fairly easy, but over these last 12 years we definitely have increased the amount of sentimental items that we need to keep as well.
It took about 2 weeks to sort through and create piles of "stuff". Over here is a pile for donations, over there is a pile for items we are keeping that can go into storage immediately, over there is a pile of items that can go into storage, but not until we leave, and finally there is the pile for items that we are taking with us....the smallest pile yet, of course! Sorting and packing and sorting and packing. That is what we did through February. It wasn't very exciting and left us very little time for trip planning or fun stuff, so there wasn't much to write.
March came and we finally closed on the property that we had been wanting to purchase for years. We have been renting this property for about 7 years. It is the home of our business and a great investment property. The property has 4 units in it, 2 commercial, 1 apartment, and 1 house. Fortunately, the apartment was currently empty so we decided to stay there and save some money while we prepare for our trip. Around the same time we had a friend that was moving back to Tampa, and we were able to hire her as our Personal Assistant. She agreed to live in the other bedroom while she trains, and when we leave she has agreed to rent the apartment and take care of our cats while we are gone! SCORE!!!! Things were finally starting to come together!
Now, it was time to move. We loved our beautiful rental home with the pond in back. We would feed the birds each morning and the cats loved to watch them. We called it Dove TV. Now, it was time to say goodbye to the home, and our life as we have known it down here for the last 12 years. We would be downsizing from a 3000 Sq foot home into a 1200 Sq foot apartment that we would be sharing with our friend. We held a few garage sales and we were able to sell almost all of the furniture and large items that we were not planning on putting into storage. The rest was transferred to a room in our office for future sales. Moving took an entire week. We usually hire movers, but we were only moving 5 minutes away, and with all of the downsizing we didn't think it would take all that long. We were wrong! It was a grueling week that didn't seem like it was ever going to end. Finally, that last box was loaded and it was time to say goodbye to our wonderful neighbors. We were very fortunate to have an entire block of great people that took the time to get to know each other and looked out for each other.
The new investment property is from the 1950s so there is definitely some work to be done. It will be nice to know that our business has a set location while we are gone though. Can you imagine getting the call while in Japan that the landlords have sold and we have a month to be out? That would have been a headache. Now, we have a secured office space, and three rental properties...two that are already rented! The location is excellent for a business, and with the way our area is growing, we expect the property value to skyrocket soon. The lot is fairly large and zoned for Mixed Use. This area is exploding, changing from tomato farms and cow pastures to spas, beaches, and retail...lots of retail. We are not going to invest a lot into fixing the property up because we are hoping that some large corporation is going to offer us enough for it so we can truly retire in the next 5-10 years, but we do have some projects that need to be done so we will see how handy we are next month! Keep your fingers crossed for us!
All settled in, and we finally had some time to head back to NY and our new Grand-Godson :) A road trip back home to see family allowed us to try out the van and see what we like and what we need to change. Overall, we were very comfortable, the gas mileage was pretty good, and the ride was fairly smooth for a cargo van. We had some things to deliver back home so we weren't able to use the platform in the back, but even taking a nap in the front was fairly comfortable. The biggest drawback we found was the cup holders. We definitely need to find some alternatives to the ones they have installed. Other than that, with a few minor tweaks, our ride is ready to go!
So, here are a few things that we learned in Feb & March
1. If downsizing or planning a world trip, start packing a few months ahead to give you time to sort through everything.
2. Stop buying stuff NOW and use your money for experiences. It will save you lots of headaches later.
3. ALWAYS use a Title Company to close on a property! This saved us $18K on a bad loan from a previous owner!
4. ALWAYS hire a mover. We used a mover last time and it was a breeze. I honestly don't know what I was thinking!
5. To do lists are never done.