• 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.

    Wow!

    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.

    Output

    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…

     

  • Living the Dream – 2. Paying the Bills

    Paying the bills

    Like it or lump it, paying the bills is fundamental. If you want to build a new life, it is one of the first things to address.

    In my last post, I promised to give an insight into the decision-making process that led to us choosing to emigrate, at least for a while. The first thing that we looked at was paying the bills.

    Since selling a business in the summer of 2014, I have looked at a number of projects. None of them is lucrative enough on its own to pay the bills. Mags was working part-time at UK retailer Marks and Spencer.

    Projects

    I do some work as an anti money laundering consultant, I write here and at Nero’s Notes and I record a weekly podcast. Most of what I do can be done remotely, or with some travel. My priority is to grow these projects so that individually, or together, they make enough to fund the life that I want.

    On the other hand, Mag’s position was different. She really enjoyed her work, and by its nature, she needed to show up in a specific place. However, her employer provides for a ‘career break’. Essentially, Mags could take up to nine months off to go do something different, and then come back to her job.

    This created a timeframe for us. We could look at a suck it and see approach, moving to Cyprus for up to nine months. Nine months is doable. It’s a decent period of time, without being forever. Emotionally, it was easier to commit to. Additionally, a determined period provides parameters for the finance. I was looking at paying the bills for nine months.

    My first assumption was, no income. If neither Mags or I made any income for nine months, was paying the bills from savings going to be possible? Now, we both hope to be generating revenue, but worst-case, could we survive without any?

    We have some savings, so that was going to work, but to answer the question fully – we needed to do some research. How much did we need?

    It was time to do a budget…

  • Living the Dream – 1. Can we do it?

    Living the Dream

    Three hundred and twenty six days of sunshine per year, a laid-back lifestyle and some decent golf courses. That’s living the dream.

    My wife, Margaret (Mags) and I are going to test that statement. Thirteen weeks from now, we are upping sticks, leaving the UK and moving to the Island of Aphrodite, Cyprus.

    Exciting? You bet.

    The really lucky people might be able to jump on their private jet, check into a five star hotel for a year and start having grapes dropped into their mouth by willing servants. For most of us however, it’s not quite as simple as that. It takes planning.

    Mags and I are designing a life. We are putting together an action plan for living the dream.

    My my. There’s a lot to this emigrating malarkey.

    Some decisions have made themselves. My Mum and Dad retired to Cyprus and built a wonderful home. They enjoyed several happy years there together and after my Dad passed away, my Mum stayed on another fifteen years before returning to England.

    Nevertheless, Cyprus isn’t terribly handy for a weekend bolt-hole. Depending on the wind direction, the flight is between four and a half and five hours from England. Add in the land transfers and the mandatory waiting around of modern air travel, and you are pretty much writing off a full day each way.

    To really live the dream in Cyprus – we need to move there.

    Questions

    Did we want to? Could we? How would we make it work? What are the pros and cons?

    On this blog, I’ll log how we arrived at the decision to move and how we went about turning that decision into a plan.

    I’ll post weekly; covering both the logistical challenges of living the dream and how we intend to craft and finance the lifestyle. Look for the category, ‘Living the Dream’.

    Follow along. 😁

     

  • Distraction

    Don’t get me wrong. I am extremely lucky to have so many distractions.

    I write this post from a beautiful spot in Cyprus, where I have been swimming every day and playing golf, watching my wife get better and better at the game. It’s only a matter of time until she beats me.

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    This photo was taken on a rare dry moment in a practice walk around Howth, near Dublin.

    At stuartlennon.comI have been posting about another distraction. I’m looking forward to a week walking in some gorgeous countryside with friends old and new. We are hoping to raise some money for a hospice. If you can spare a couple of euro, then please donatePlaces like Our Lady’s Hospice are very special. As my friend and co-walker, Stuart Smith (in the featured photo) wrote “he passed away in a loving, caring, pain-free environment.” Read the rest of his post here.

    In order to bring some sort of order to my days, I am experimenting with both the Best Self Journal and Bullet Journal, two systems that I will write posts on soon.

    Writing is getting done around all these brilliant distractions. It’s all about editing at the moment, getting feedback from my writing buddy and tightening the prose. Methodical, detailed work…all the things that do not come naturally to me. So, short concentrated bursts work well.

    My long-suffering Writing Buddy is doing her level-best to keep me on task, but frankly, it’s a bit like herding cats.

    Nevertheless – I’m confident that a book will get published.

     

  • Cyprus – English Fatigue?

    cyprus-map-political

    I spend a fair amount of time in Cyprus.

    My parents retired here and I lived here for a while.

    I have a holiday home not far from Limassol.

    It’s beautiful. It’s hot and sunny.

    Cyprus, island of Aphrodite, sits in the eastern Mediterranean, not far from the coast of Lebanon. As islands go, it has seen more than its fair share of turbulence and invasion.

    For many years it was a part of the Ottoman empire and laterly was a Crown colony of the United Kingdom. In 1960 it became an independent republic.

    Recent history is complicated – Greek Cypriots in the 1950s were fighting for ‘Enosis’ –  union with Greece.

    Instead, they got an independent republic, where ethnic Turkish Cypriots had protected rights.

    The Republic never really worked and in 1974, the Greek Cypriots staged a military coup (egged on by the Junta in control of Greece) with an eye to achieving Enosis.

    Turkey resisted this with an old fashioned, but effective counter.

    Paratroopers.

    The island was partitioned and remains so to this day.

    The above is a gross over-simplification, I am no historian.

    There is a fascinating book called the Cyprus Conspiracy by Brendan O’Malley that does a good job of shedding some light on a dark corner of geo-politics. Well worth a read.

    The United Kingdom, throughout all of this upheaval, has largely managed to maintain a strong relationship with the part of the island that was not occupied by Turkey.

    The Royal Air Force has an airfield here and there are several other UK military installations on the island.

    Cyprus is reliant on tourism and the lion’s share of visitors have always been British.

    Certainly, one would never struggle to find an English Breakfast on the coast.

    While I would not necessarily see the ubiquitous availability of an English breakfast as a positive, there can be no denying that the universal use of English and affinity with the British does make Cyprus ‘easy’ to work for the Brits.

    This affinity, together with the tourist industry and turnover of military personnel means that thousands of UK citizens make Cyprus their home in retirement.

    Greek is a tough language, and the British are notoriously bad at learning languages anyway.

    In Cyprus, this never mattered. Cypriots speak excellent English and many have attended university in the UK or the USA.

    Over the last couple of years though, I have noticed a trend.

    A sort of militant “Greek only” trend.

    In equipping the holiday home, I have visited that famous Swedish furniture giant – Ikea. As Cyprus is a small island, rather than invest directly, multinational firms tend to grant franchises. Ikea is no exception.

    Everything in Ikea – from the labels on the goods, to the leaflets, to the signs on the door is in Greek and only Greek.

    I have never seen that in Cyprus before.

    Adjoining the Ikea store is a shopping mall. The mall has a food court where can be found the usual fast food suspects.

    There is also a fast food version of more traditional Cypriot food.

    Again – all of the signage was in Greek only.

    A reasonable percentage of consumers in Cyprus will speak little or no Greek. Tourists generally don’t, and many expats don’t either.

    Therefore this policy has a cost to the business.

    Perhaps I am reading too much into it – but there seems a sort of militance to it – an intentional statement.

    I am not sure why it should be happening and whether it might have a broader connotation.

     

  • WAKE UP! Appeasement doesn’t work.

    Chamberlain-Peace-in-our-Time-1938

    The picture above is of Neville Chamberlain, a very nice chap, who is perhaps unfairly remembered almost entirely for his utterance “Peace in our time”.

    He had met up with a little chap called Hitler and they had agreed that young Adolf was not going to do anything that might upset the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    So that’s all right then.

    Chamberlain was far from alone in recommending that we avoid war at all costs. The vast majority of the USA was of the same mind, for example. Frankly, the young Nazi chap was clearing Europe up a bit. A little close to the line perhaps, particularly if you were Czech for example – but ultimately, better to let him get on with it, than risk war.

    Appeasement they called it.

    As a policy, it didn’t go terribly well.

    Recently, a key issue in the parliamentary election in the UK has been Immigration.

    Even more recently, we have been gripped in the new soap opera called ‘Grexit’.

    There has been an enormous amount of focus on the harrowing and difficult conflict in Iraq and Syria.

    Meanwhile, there have been some other bits and pieces of news. It is these bits and pieces that I wish to bring to your attention.

    The UK military has been known to refer to the island of Cyprus as ‘our permanent aircraft carrier in the Eastern Mediterranean’.

    More recently, the European Union made an example of Cyprus – forcing it to impose a levy on all bank accounts or drop out of the euro. In plain talk, savers in some Cyprus banks made an involuntary donation to the public purse. That showed them.

    Completely coincidentally, Russian investment in Cyprus increased. While the rest of the world was running for cover, Russia was investing in Cyprus. In March of 2014, they even sent an aircraft carrier to pop in.

    The Cypriot government has granted Russia access to a deepwater port and airfield you see. How very neighbourly.

    Then there was a little fracas in the Crimea. All a bit difficult to follow for us Western folk – but it’s okay, that nice chap in Moscow sorted it out.

    Something about a deep water port down there too. Still you have to admire the consistency.

    I know that it is difficult to believe, but this Vladimir chap has also found the time to help out in Ukraine. Apparently there are a whole load of people in the Ukraine who really want to be best friends with Russia.

    In fact, rather than move to Russia, these people have decided that they must take up arms to defend themselves from their own government. Thankfully Vlad has it all under control.

    Meanwhile – The European Union is taking no prisoners in Greece. Time to make an example of them. Quietly, Vlad has offered to help out his comrades in Athens if they can’t make up with their European buddies. How nice of him.

    What is amazing, is that this caring, community chap used to be a cold war warrior. He spent his life in learning subversion techniques – Hearts and Minds, I think that we call it.

    After Mr Chamberlain waved his bit of paper and declared “Peace in Our Time”, well..

    There wasn’t.

  • Remember the Wombles?

    The_wombles_season_3_4_and_5

     

    The Wombles. If you are British and of a certain vintage, then you will surely remember the ‘Wombles of Wimbledon Common’.

    The Wombles had a glittering career in TV and Pop Music in the 1970s.

    “Making good use of the things that we find
    Things that the everyday folks leave behind”

    Read more: http://artists.letssingit.com/the-wombles-lyrics-the-wombling-song-theme-from-the-wombles-tv-sho-3rql29f#ixzz3cxwTCvBH

    LetsSingIt – Your favorite Music Community

    Halcyon Days.

    This week, I am lucky enough to be back on Aphrodite’s Isle, Cyprus.

    In common with many other British people, my parents chose to retire in the sun. Somewhere to relax, escape the British weather and enjoy their twilight years. The perfect retirement.

    My Dad had a few short years and is indeed buried here.

    My Mum gamely carried on alone for fourteen more years, but has now decided to return to the UK.

    My wife and I have been very busy clearing out things that tend to accumulate over twenty five years.

    I have been assured by my Mum that all I need do is pile things up at the bottom of the drive next to the bins.

    I will admit to being somewhat sceptical of this advice. Surely the local authorities would seek some payment for hauling away old bedding, broken electricals, redundant filing?

    We left a good car-load of things next to the bins and set off to a neighbouring village for dinner.

    Upon our return a few hours later, everything had gone.

    I was blown away by these excellent levels of service.

    Yesterday was an intense clear out day.

    Load after load was deposited at the bottom of the drive.

    I also had to drive to the recycling centre to dispose of packaging in which new furniture had arrived.

    As I passed through the gates, I caught sight of a deeply tanned young man carefully sifting through the loads.

    He smiled and waved. So, I smiled and waved back.

    I have always thought that the Wombles had been victims of budget cuts back in the seventies.

    It turns out that they simply moved to Cyprus. Probably for the weather.

    Brilliant.

  • Z is for Zanadja

    IMG_0311

    Ha!

    I feel reasonably certain that I’m the only one in the A to Z Challenge blogging about Z for Zanadja.

    The picture above is of my Mum and Dad’s house in Zanadja, Cyprus.

    Actually, it is more properly my house in Zanadja. My Dad passed away a good few years ago and my Mum is returning to the UK – making the house mine.

    There are all sorts of economic reasons that property in Cyprus is struggling as an investment class, but at the end of the day Zanadja is a gorgeous village ten minutes from Mediterranean beaches.

    Mum and Dad had this house built in the 1990s. They had decided in the 1960s that they wanted to retire to Cyprus. They were serving there in the Royal Air Force at the time.

    As the house was being built we talked about a name and I suggested Elysium which is a heavenly place of eternal rest in mythology.

    Elysium was set in the idyllic village of Zanadja and my folks enjoyed some wonderful years there.

    Before my Dad fell ill, he walked me around the house in Zanadja and standing almost exactly where the picture above was taken from, he turned to me and said;

    “One day Son, all of this will be yours.”

    I think that his tongue was firmly in his cheek when he said it, but I also believe that he felt enormously proud. The house represented what he and his wife had achieved through hard work and saving.

    The house is now mine. I would much rather that my Dad was still around and the house gone, but that is not how things work.

    So – Z is for Zanadja. My challenge is finished.

    Phew! That was tough.

    Thank you so much for coming by and reading. To the left of this text, there is an opportunity to subscribe to this blog.

    All that this means is that you will receive a monthly update from me. I won’t spam you to death, I promise. If you are able to sign up, please do, I really appreciate it.

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