The next six months are about to get very interesting for Adam and Kathy Vandermey as they prepare to step off the Capitalistic path and blaze their own trail.
The Blenheim business professionals are abandoning the traditional quest chasing material goods to pursue their own dreams; exchanging suits for sandals. On Nov. 24, the two 39 year olds will fly to Nicaragua to live for the next six months to see if they want to make a permanent change of address.
“We’re just simplifying life in general,” Kathy said.
The couple, which has been a part of Blenheim for the past dozen years, will go from Canadian business professionals with a house on Lake Erie and nice cars to visitors in a foreign country who will rely on bicycles and a motorcycle to get around.
Kathy, a marketing consultant, said she would retain her clients and continue to service them remotely, something she’s been doing for years.
“I can do it from anywhere. I already work remotely with most of my clients,” she said.
Adam sold his stake in the Blenheim SunLife office back to SunLife, which in turn sold the bulk of it to Adam’s former business partner Matt Foulis. As of Oct. 3, Vandermey was done working. SunLife will pay him out over the next decade.
Adam said he hasn’t picked what he’ll do during the next stage of his life, but is kicking around a number of ideas.
“I can’t say ‘retired’ because I will have to work. I certainly don’t have to do 60 hours a week anymore. I’m going to do some writing. I’ve kicked around the idea of becoming a public speaker. Consulting is probably in my future,” he said. “Right now, the world is kind of my oyster. I might throw bottles around on the beach – bartending.”
The idea for such an about face started gelling in the couple’s minds earlier this year.
“This past February, we were in New Orleans for the first week of Mardi Gras and we walked out of a little house we rented and thought, ‘Why don’t we live somewhere where we don’t hate the weather?’” Adam said.
While the concept sat in the back of their minds for months, it started taking shape in early July.
“We went through the litany of why we couldn’t do it,” Adam said. “We had properties, had my business – which needs to be face to face. We then figured out how to overcome all those obstacles.”
Apart from Adam’s business, other anchors to their Chatham-Kent lives included their ownership of the SunLife building in Blenheim, their home in Erie Beach, and a rental property in Blenheim. They’ve sold the office building, and still have the other two on the market.
As for their material things, they’re liquidating as fast as they can. In fact, they are now without a vehicle, as they recently sold Kathy’s Mercedes Benz.
As they downsize, they realize how the material items aren’t necessities.
“Over the summer, we had a couple of yard sales and probably sold a third of our belongings,” he said. “We’ve lived the past few months without them and haven’t missed them. It throws consumerism back on us.”
Preparing to make the move hasn’t been easy, however.
“The logistics are massive. How do you shut down a Canadian life for six months – we’ve had to worry about everything from how to get our taxes done, who is taking our cats, where are we putting the furniture we still own, to what to do with a cellphone plan,” Adam said.
As they continue to lighten their materialistic load, they inch closer to stepping onto that plane Nov. 24.
And the two think they are ready to live in Central America, live cheaper, and just enjoy life’s simplicities.
“It’s a six-month adventure. We’re kicking the tires at the idea of becoming ex-pats,” Adam said. “If we come back and decide it’s not what we want, we can buy another house and remain here. Or we can come back and look at the finances and decide what the next destination is.”
Still, they say they will miss Chatham-Kent.
“The best decision I ever made was moving the business to Blenheim,” Adam said, who started out in London, moved to Windsor and then set up shop in the South Kent community 12 years ago. “I love Blenheim.”
The couple admits making such a large life change is not for everyone.
“We’re in a unique life position. We married young (17 years ago), we don’t have children, and we both built very successful careers,” Adam said. “The culmination of all that is what made it possible.”
The Vandermeys chose Nicaragua as a starting point for the next stage of their lives due to “comfort level and cost of living,” Kathy said. They’ve been there several times and love it.
“We have a network down there and the cost of living is incredibly low,” Adam said. “Where we’re going is a large ex-pat community. We’ve already connected with some Canadians down there.”
They also plan connecting with local citizens. To do that, they’ll need to learn Spanish, and said they’d hire a tutor to help speed the process.
“I do speak ‘resort Spanish.’ I can ask where the bathroom is and order a beer,” Adam laughed.
The Vandermeys will be staying in touch with Chatham Voice readers. Each month, The Voice will publish an excerpt from their blog on our website. Here’s a link to their latest posting.