Living the Dream – 6. Clearing Out

Clearing Out

I love working out how much golf I will be able to play, (a lot), how often I will be able to swim in my own pool, (whenever I want). I muse on how nice it will be to go to the beach with a notebook and plan a novel. These are the fun, exciting things to think about.

I am less keen on the more prosaic. The clearing out, packing up and getting things ready for the move. These are the essential things, that need to be done to make the dream a reality.

It’s only when you actually start thinking packing things up that you realise how much ‘stuff’ there is. It was immediately clear that before packing up, there needed to be a whole lot of clearing out. I stood in the garage the other day, entirely overwhelmed. Quite literally, I could not decide where to start, where to put the ‘to go’ pile and where to put the ‘to stay’ pile.

Actually, we could simply stand back and watch. I have done some international moves in the past – and removal specialists in full-flow are a sight to behold. In what seems like minutes, they speed through a property, wrapping up and packing as they go. Anything not prominently marked ‘LEAVE’ is gone.

There’s plenty of room in the container, but I’m determined that we should take this opportunity to work through our possessions and make deliberate decisions as to the future of those things. Should they be gifted? Taken away? Thrown away?

Consequently, we have a mini-skip outside of our garage, which is getting alarmingly full, surprisingly quickly.

Essential for clearing out
A mini-skip


There is a catharsis in the process. I start with an inclination to perceive things in terms of their monetary value or their past value. Then my inner-declutterer shouts: “It has sat unloved in the garage for five years! How much do you really need it?” Eventually, I settle into a comfortable middle-ground, rediscovering things that I wish to involve more in my life and being honest about things that need to move on.

Far from being a chore, clearing out has got me more excited, anticipating a new life in the sun.

Living the Dream – 5. Making a living

In posts 2 & 3, I wrote how we were lucky enough to be able to assume zero revenue for the beginning of our adventure. Short-term, making a living is not a priority.

Of course, in the longer term, that’s not sustainable.

Where the time goes

Since 2003, I have been offering training and business consultancy through Lime Training and Consultancy. Latterly, this has involved increasing work in anti money laundering (AML) compliance. The UK and Cyprus are ostensibly at least, governed by the same European regulation, so my knowledge should travel well. Cyprus is an offshore financial centre, and has recently attracted increasing volumes of both Russian citizens and Russian cash. One doesn’t like to cast aspersions, but I suspect there might be some demand for AML expertise.

The Dog's Head
Neros Notes Logo

I invest a lot of time working for Nero, our miniature schnauzer, at Nero’s Notes. All work that can be done from a computer anywhere.

I write, here, and elsewhere. There remains my novel, which languishes in draft form on my hard drive and beside my desk. I plan to get that finished and published. I also intend to write and publish more.

My newest project is 1857, a podcast, that I co-host with the awesome TJ Cosgrove.

Making a living

Ultimately , I hope to be making a living from some or all of these activities.

Mags has recently launched a new venture, pursuing a long-held desire to help others. I will tell you more about that in another post.

All of our projects translate to the new home. Much of my work can be completed remotely, and Mags feels confident that she will find market locally.

Will making a living in a new country be easy? No, of course, it won’t. Just like anywhere else, making money is hard work and the challenge is not diminished by being in a foreign country and culture.

Still. It wouldn’t be any fun without a challenge, would it?

Living the Dream – 4. Ship or Store?

Ship or Store?

The house in Cyprus is sparsely furnished; mostly by a well-known Swedish furniture retailer. We felt this was perfectly adequate for a holiday home, and why not for our full-time home? We resolved to store our UK furniture, rather than ship it, and obtained several quotes.


Once revived, I resolved to consider alternatives. I had no idea that storage space was so expensive.

Having decided that the car was coming with us, the alternative was clear. We could combine space for the furniture and ship it with the car. We obtained quotes to ship some, or all of our furniture. Not cheap, but as we had discovered, storing furniture was not cheap either.

There began a process of frantic measuring. Would our bed fit? What about our giant American fridge-freezer? Where would that live?

Reality Check

Accidentally, we had arrived at a new place emotionally. Initially, coming to Cyprus was ‘an experiment‘. An extended sabbatical, if you will. Mags had agreed a nine month career break from her employer. This gave us a nice escape clause. We could go, and then, as a nine month deadline approached, make a decision as to whether we came home to resume “normal” life, or continue to build a new normal for ourselves in the sun.

Then, Mags’ employer announced that they were closing the store where she worked. Subtly, this changed the dynamic. Of course, if we are not enjoying life in Cyprus, we can come home. However – with the nine month clause gone, we could look at expenses a bit differently. Shipping our furniture out and back within a year would be very expensive. If we stayed longer however, well, it became progressively better value, the longer that we stayed.

Both in terms of the spreadsheet and on the emotional ledger, shipping our furniture changed the calculation.

Living the Dream – 3. Making a Budget

Making a budget

Regrettably, life in the sun still has pretty much the same bills as life in the rain.

In ‘Living the Dream – 2. Paying the Bills‘, I explained that we were assuming zero revenue to start. Hopefully, we will both be generating something, but budgets are all about worse-case scenarios.

How much will life cost us?

There are no shortcuts here. It was time to break out a spreadsheet, cold towels and start entering in numbers.

What are the major costs? Accommodation, transport, subsistence etc. Much the same as living anywhere. As we have holidayed here regularly over the last couple of years, we already have some experience of local prices. Unsurprisingly, we are unlikely to spend as much on heating as we do in England, but anyone who owns an air-conditioner knows how easy it is to run up a massive electricity bill.

Major Expenditure

One of our key decisions was around transport. With an absence of ferries, the only way to bring a car onto the island is as freight. On top of that not inconsiderable cost, there is a compulsory re-registration fee to pay too. Initially, we planned to mothball our car in the UK and buy a run-around in Cyprus. However, a little research goes a long way. Cars do not depreciate as quickly in Cyprus, so a run-around was going to be a significant investment, particularly if there were certain features that we wanted to ensure were included. Even paying registration and transport costs, it’s better to bring our car over from the UK, so that’s what we will do.


I have never known a budget that turns out to be perfect in every detail. There will be overshoots and undershoots, but at least we have a starting point. The budget allows us to plan cash flow and expenditure, and also focuses the mind on targets for revenue. Just because we are assuming zero revenue, that doesn’t mean we’re not aiming to generate some.

Putting a spreadsheet together is a great way to focus the mind…