The freedom and stress that comes from living temporarily

It’s been almost 7 months since I left my job to live overseas and embark on a great adventure.  Whilst we all know the old adage of ‘best laid plans of mice and men’, it is of course a bit frustrating when things don’t go quite according to plan.

So, the situation;

  • Majority of possessions sold
  • Given up permanent address
  • Remaining possessions (namely, clothes) packed into suitcases
  • globetrotting around living in temporary accommodation until there is some more permanency with work and life

Sounds wonderfully liberating, right?  All that metaphorical baggage turned literal and reduced to a pile of suitcases.  Sure, it’s great to not have the stresses that come with being tied down – it’s surprisingly freeing.  But for a creature of comfort and security – it comes with a bucket load of stresses too.

When temporary becomes semi permanent

You know the drill – you have some great plans to move overseas, get a job quickly, settle into a nice place to live and start building your life.  Wonderful!

Then reality sets in – The job market isn’t that great, the visa process is hugely delayed due to political issues, you need to return home for a bit to shuffle papers and apply for various things – all of a sudden, that temporary arrangement of staying in short term accommodation and living out of suitcases has turned to something that is somewhat semi-permanent.

You can’t remember the last time you were able to cook a full on meal from scratch, it’s been a while since you were able to have a letter delivered by post, you’ve become a superstar at packing suitcases and juggling them in the street to get to the next place – you’re becoming a nomad!

Accommodation – the 3 month curse

Returning to Melbourne, we knew that we’d be here for around 3 or so months.  That’s a decent amount of time and you’d think that finding some sort of furnished, livable accommodation would be easy, yet – no. 3 months is too short for a lease and too long for serviced apartments (well, that’s what my bank account says).

We’ve settled on an airBnB which is super cute, but of course, we’re paying through the nose for it.  Hardly sustainable.  But when you’re not able to commit long term to something, people don’t want to have much to do with you unless it’s about the money.

Work – the 3 month curse

So, when I used to consult, I would find it difficult to find any contract opportunities that were willing to start out for more than 3 months.  Even if they knew that I was better than the rest, the standard was come in for 3 months and we’ll look to extend.  That was when I was able to commit to something long term.

Fast forward to now, when I know that I can’t commit to anything longer than 3 months.  Contract opportunities for 6 months or more seem to magically appear in my inbox, yet when I am honest (I love integrity) and indicate that I’m just looking for something short term, the replies do not come.

It’s strange how things work –  I know something will come along when I least expect it, but I’d love to understand why this happens.

The impact on identity

A lot of your identity consists of what you do and where you live.  So, when you’re in a long term temporary situation – not working and living in many many places, who do you become?

Of course, the answer is the same person that you’ve always been, but also strangely, you’ve having to make first impressions over and over again.  Those first impressions that you give off change as time goes on.  Do you become less serious?  Do you become more anxious?  Do you become more attractive?  Who knows!

Swings and roundabouts

Yes, living temporarily is less than ideal.  It comes with its bag of unique stresses, but as I mentioned initially, it’s also incredibly liberating.  I’m writing my own story as I go along.  Nothing is set in stone and I have the power to change things day to day.

I think it’s key to have something to aim for and something to look forward to, otherwise, a temporary situation like this would be unbearable. I do, of course, have a bigger goal that I’m focusing on.  There’s a general trajectory and whilst there may be twists and turns in the road, all signs still point to where I want to go.

Have you been temporary for a long time?

I’m interested to know if you’ve been in the same situation, living temporarily whilst aiming for something bigger.  Let me know in the comments below.

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