The Five Month Check-in

February 1, 2017

A little over a year ago, we were just beginning the paring down process in preparation for leaving Canada. I spent much of last year’s Christmas holiday picking up items and asking “Does this spark joy?” to help decide what should stay and what should go. The titanic “to do before we go” list was written. It simultaneously feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago. An unbelievable amount of work, planning and sleepless nights went into those first eight months of 2016… so we could experience what we have experienced these last five months. We sold/donated/got rid of 90% of our belongings. We sold our beautiful house. We left everyone and everything that was familiar to us. Which leads us to the question…

Was all the work worth it?IMG_20170127_161828162

My son can read now, and asks almost as soon as he gets up in the morning to do his school work. When I smile at him, his beautiful blues eyes sparkle once again and his face lights up in a smile back. My daughter has a gentle, beautiful confidence about her. We no longer have conversations about how cruel the girls in her class. My son loves learning again – and my daughter gets that she is a pretty amazing human being. If these were the only two things we had gotten out of this trip – absolutely – all of the work would have been worth it. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Has it been what we thought it would be?IMG_20161125_145917362

There is a learning curve with this whole “pick up and leave your country and travel the world with your kids” thing. And while I know there are people out there with the ability to just go wherever the wind blows them… I’m not those people. If I don’t know where my family is going to sleep on a given night – my mind is occupied with figuring that out until their heads are safely down on a pillow resting. I barely gave a second thought to “Where is my family going to sleep?” when I lived in Canada. There are 207 days remaining in this first year of our trip, and I have booked our accommodations for 205 of those nights. The fact that there are two nights that I still don’t have booked (August 19th – 21st – London, UK – needs to be near Kings Cross Station…) and one remaining flight (Belfast to Cardiff…) is something that I think about at least once a day. So the work and planning continues for me once we are on the road… it is just different things are on the “to do list” and it is a bit less titanic than it was before we left.

How is our budget doing?

IMG_20161118_161306298_HDRWe’ve been able to afford a really high standard of living for the last four months here in Penang, for about $1,500 – $2000 less a month than it would cost us to live in Canada. We aren’t going out of our way to be ultra-frugal here either. We are subletting a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom condo with amazing on-site recreation facilities (pools, gym, sauna etc.). We go out to eat several times a week, go to movies, play laser tag and go on lots of learning adventures. We’ve benefited greatly from the lower cost of living in Penang. Our six months here, will help us balance out some more pricey months that we have ahead of us.

What have been our favourite moments?

I asked everyone what their favourite moments have been on this trip so far. One thing we all agreed on, was that we loved scooter riding on Koh Lanta. 14303888_10154411334050450_596666299_o

We’ve also enjoyed wandering around Georgetown. You never know what you will find around the next corner.IMG_20161118_155854341_HDR

Morgan’s favorite memories so far are from Koh Lanta, and of learning Muay Thai with Mr. Kitty. 14192584_275596116166959_3079674424295128465_n

I think that Artie has been getting in touch with the side of himself that enjoys “opulence” on this trip. His two favourite memories are from here in Penang – and include the visit to the mansion and eating at the “really expensive restaurant”.IMG_20161019_143801073_HDR

Marcus said it is the views that he has enjoyed – and there have been a few of them. Penang Hill, the panorama of Medan from our hotel and one of the restaurants that we visited on Koh Lanta.14291751_10154410733095450_550132878815952769_n

My favourite moment was the day I saw the dolphins out in the Straights of Malacca. It actually took me a bit to realize what I was seeing. There was a pod of at least 6 of them – and it just gave me thrills. And – apparently, I witnessed something that is a pretty rare occurrence too (which makes it that much more special). I’m afraid that my photos of the sighting are not that much better than those taken of the Loch Ness monster…IMG_20161124_093007853

I also had a moment up on top of Penang Hill that I hope I never forget. There is a playground in between a Mosque and a Hindu temple. Artie was playing on the equipment there, when a little Chinese boy (he couldn’t have been more than 4) started following Artie around – trying to copy his every move. At one point, the little boy was struggling to get up the slide, and Artie turned around, and reached his hand down to help him up. I couldn’t help but be struck by the volume of diversity in the surroundings at that moment… and how beautiful it was… and how simple it was for my son to turn around and help another. For one brief moment in time – it felt like all was well in the world.


So what is still to come?

We have another couple of months here in Penang, and and a couple of short trips planned between now and the end of March. Then, we have 5 months of more intense travel ahead of us. We’ll be visiting three more continents (Australia, Africa and Europe) before we head back to Canada for a bit at the end of August. We are pretty excited about the adventures that are ahead of us, and grateful that we have been able to have this adventure as a family.

Kay Green

About the Author

Kay Green

Professionally, I am an e-learning instructional designer who breaks down the barriers of space and time in learning. Personally, I'm the Mom in the Little-Green Family, and co-planner in our adventures.

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Melanie Gilligan

It’s been great so far following your family on this adventure. I can’t imagine what Africa will be like….travel safe and keep on blogging.
From a small office in Fort Erie!

    Kay Green

    Good to hear from you Melanie – and hope you are staying warm. Just a short stop in Africa (Egypt) this year – but we are looking forward to it 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!


What was the rent of the 4bedoom condo? Could you do a breakdown of your monthly expenses? thanks.

    Kay Green

    Here is a breakdown of our monthly living expenses in Penang (in CDN):
    Housing: $1,450 (includes rent, electricity, water, weekly cleaning and household goods)
    Transport: $100 (almost daily use of Uber)
    Entertainment: $550 (movies, attractions, massages, laser tag…)
    Food: $1,100 (groceries and eating out… and we ate out a lot… this category could have been much, much less if we wanted to)
    Cell: $30 (pay as you go including data for three cell phones)
    You can live in Penang for much less than this if you want to. As I said in the post, we enjoyed a much higher standard of living than we allowed ourselves in Canada while we were in Penang (and I’d do it again in a heartbeat).


      Thank you so much for the detailed break-down. I am thinking of making the move to Malaysia with my family of 4 for a trial stay, sometime in Feb 2018, for upto 2 months to test the waters….and the food, of course:)

      Would you happen to have the link to the condo you stayed in? I will probably pick your brains closer to the date again:) Thank you

        Kay Green

        Hi Ferdous – we sublet the condo from another travelling family – so our rental experience was a bit “outside of normal”. From what I understand though, all condo rentals in Penang are done through “agents” (who if you tell them your budget and location – will help you find a place). The condo we were in was in Summerton (and I was never able to find a link for the building itself) While we enjoyed our time in Penang – if I were to do it again – I might look for a place closer to Batu Ferrenghi (northern part of the island). Excited to see that visiting Penang may soon be a reality for you and your family 🙂

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