Early Retirement Month Two: Goodbye Amsterdam, Hello Bali!

By the second month of early retirement, things started to get real! It was time to say doei to Holland, and prepare to go on an adventure through Southeast Asia.

All of this kicked off with quitting my job and now I have some serious life-change inertia. Each step since then feels like a domino falling in place, all stacked in order: deregister from Amsterdam, book a ticket to Bali, and then try to soak in as much of Holland as possible before moving. This month, I was a tour guide for a friend in Amsterdam, saw my parents in Italy for a week, then sold all my stuff and moved out of my apartment.

Tour Guide for A Friend In Amsterdam

To start October, a friend visited me from the States. This gave me more opportunities to check every tourist bucket list item off.

First, I took him on a boat tour with my favorite company: Dam Boat Guys– who let you bring your own food and drink on the boat and keep the tours small (around 8 people per boat). I loved this experience, because I went on the same tour the first time I moved to Amsterdam, but now I could see the sites with a different perspective.

A view of the red-light district from the boat

My favorite part about hosting my friend was his constant reveling in the ‘superior urban planning’ of Amsterdam. He said that phrase so many times we made a joke of it by the end of the trip. Hailing from New York City, he gaped at the public transport system every time we stepped on a tram. So organized! So clean!

Of course, no visit to the city would be complete without a visit to the Rijksmuseum. I really enjoyed going again– this was my third time– because of how much more you see each time you go. I also enjoyed cracking jokes with my friend as we went along.

Finally, we just walked around the city. My friend recently got into photography, so he carried his polaroid camera, Nikon, and phone like a proper tourist. He got plenty of artsy shots, exclaiming about the architecture almost as much as the public transport system. I snapped a couple too:

Italy With My Folks

After a whirlwind(mill) tour, my friend left for the next phase of his adventure in Prague and I headed to Italy.

My parents have been Airbnb hosts for years. My mom even wrote a guest post about her experience renting after I flew the nest. Recently, they decided to go international, buying a property in Italy to use as a base for their European travels and also as a rental investment. I took a week to see them and help with the set-up of the new Airbnb. Mostly, this meant trips into the larger towns for furnishings, as well as daily hikes to see more of the area.

Colico, Lake Como, Italy

It was great to see my parents before moving! We got lucky in the shoulder season that there were few tourists yet the weather was still amazing. Plus, we could still get the new flavor of gelato that blew our minds: pistachio and almond creme. Yes please!

What I’m Reading These Days

While in Italy, I started reading Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD. It came highly recommended and I had to wait around 6 MONTHS for it to become available at my library. I like that there is lots of applicable advice as to how to improve sleep.

Wielding convincing studies, Walker wallops the reader with examples of how lack-of-sleep debilitates us. Though I knew in some ways that sleep was important, Walker helped me reinforce the idea over-and-over with study after study. I look forward to sleeping even more in retirement, now completely guilt-free!

Based on epidemiological studies of average sleep time, millions of individuals unwittingly spend years of their life in a sub-optimal state of psychological and physiological functioning, never maximizing their potential of mind or body due to their blind persistence in sleeping too little.

Why We Sleep

One moment in the book I loved is when he mentions we nearly all operate on alarms to wake us up, but rarely do we have alarms to tell us when to go to bed. I do appreciate the “wind down” function on my iPhone that lets me know 45 minutes prior that it’s time to go to bed. And now I plan to heed it for once!

The Final Days in Amsterdam

Tired out after a long walk

After hiking the hills in Italy, I returned to pannenkoek-flat Amsterdam to another pet-sitting gig!

While I love pet-sitting as a hobby, I was a bit sad that all of these cat and dog-sitting gigs appeared right before I moved (I had two cat-sitting gigs last month too).

In between dog-sitting, I said goodbye to the friends I made while living in the Netherlands. I started to realize it took about 1.5 years to truly feel at home there, yet just as I am starting to feel settled, I’m moving again.

The last three years, I’ve lived in three different places, just long enough to start to feel at home but not quite. Though my next plan of action is to slow travel the world, I do think it would be nice one day to spend more than two years in one place.

Anyway, speaking of packing up to move… The next thing I had to do in October was sell all of my stuff! Anything big and bulky or electronic had to go. I started posting things about a month before move-out. In each post, I included the English and Dutch descriptions from the retail site and included the professional marketing photos alongside the photos I took of the item. I think this method helped move items quickly.

Move Out Sale – It All Must Go!

I conducted my move-out sale on Facebook Marketplace, where I did most of my deals in Amsterdam. All told, I was able to recoup a lot of the costs of things bought throughout the year. It helped that my apartment in Amsterdam was completely furnished, so everything I bought was a quality of life upgrade. Here’s the table of everything I sold, what I paid, and what I received for each item.

Item Bought (€) Sold
Money Tree€20 €40
Sun Chair€20 €30 
Desk #1€35 €49 
Desk #2€70*

*was reimbursed by work
Heater€42  €35  
Aroma diffuser€35  Free 
Ergonomic Footrest €27 €17 
Coffee Grinder€47  €25  
Milk frother€53  €10  
Yoga mat€28 €15 
Monsterra PlantFree €10  
Bialetti Mokapot€28 €19 
Salt lamp~€10 €12 
Blanket ladder€24 €20 
Bike€185 €170 
Total €624€497 

A few items I didn’t bother to sell and passed on to the next expat who is going to live in my apartment, including my broom, Christmas ornaments, a watering can, an umbrella, and some more plants. Some things I sold to friends, so I gave a steeper discount.

If I calculate how much I paid vs. what I sold, I’m pretty happy. Because work reimbursed me for my desk, I’m only out ~€57 for a year and a half living in this new apartment. Not bad!

Saying Goodbye To Amsterdam

My luggage for 3-6 months in SE Asia

At the end of the month, it was time to say goodbye to the city. This was extremely hard to do— I would have love to have stayed— but the next opportunity beckoned: reaching FIRE and beginning my slow travel journey. It is something I had always planned to do, but I didn’t expect it to happen so soon! Saying goodbye was a teeny bit easier with adventure on the horizon.

I booked my ticket to Bali, Indonesia, and packed everything else in suitcases. All of my stuff managed to fit in 2 checked bags, 2 carry-on, and 2 personal items. I had a friend joining me which made bag logistics much easier.

From Amsterdam, I went home to Santa Barbara for a couple days to drop off my stuff, repack, then headed off to Bali.

I am not much of a short-term planner, so I’m not sure how long I will travel for. I might be gone 3-6 months. My only plans are vague– go to Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines… stay in hostels, meet cool people. I managed to pack everything in a 28L travel bag and my small Kanken (I think it’s 16L) with room to spare for things I buy.

End of October: Hello Bali

After that, we set out on a 33-hour journey to Bali. We had a 10 hour layover in Seoul, but rules have changed with COVID-19 and we didn’t have the right visa to leave the airport. That was quite unfortunate since the long layover was intentional in order to get time to see Seoul. Another strike against lack-of-planning, but at least the airport was nice!

A taxi took us to our villa, where we’ve stayed for the last week and a half. I’ve been spending my days drinking smoothies, going swimming in the private pool, and going surfing at the beach in Canggu.

In a few days we’ll head to Ubud. Life is good.

How about you?

What was the biggest move you’ve made?

Do you have any advice for travel in SE Asia?

How was your month?

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  1. Why wait for the book in the library, and then have it on the Kindle?
    Anyway, good luck moving to SE-Asia.
    Tip from my side: Penang (Malaysia) is a great place to be, with fantastic food. There is a great Indian restaurant in Georgetown. There are some nice (but expensive) hotels in Penang, but I assume also a lot of hostels.
    On the west-side of the island, there is a restaurant on top of a mountain, with ocean view whilst eating. Great experience.
    On the way there, you will also pass a big aquapark, with the longest (and most boring, have to admit) slide on the world (1100m).

    Ow, and try Duryan/durian. You either love it or hate, but it is certainly an experience!

  2. I recently spent 14 hours in the Seoul airport and became intimately familiar with the nap lounge, plus lots of other napping locations, in between walking laps! If you have to be stuck in airport it is a nice one. I was happy to finally leave though!

    I highly recommend spending a few days in Hanoi and also visiting central Vietnam. Hoi An is touristy but really lovely (there was just a flood in late September post typhoon, not sure how they are doing now). Email me if you would like a recommendation for an excellent tour guide! I also really liked using Dong Ha, which is not touristy, as a jumping off point for visiting villages and NGOs like Peace Trees and Project Renew. Hue is a beautiful city with a lot of culture and history.

    What an amazing adventure you are having. I’m really enjoying reading your more frequent posts.

  3. Wow is that all you packed for 3-6 months?! I hope you will do a post on frugal packing. I could learn a thing or two!!
    Enjoying h your posts and living vicariously for now.

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