First Destination Decided

Good news! We’ve both been accepted at our first choice of location and employer.  For our first foray into seasonal work and gypsy living, we’ll be in Grand County, Colorado.  Elevation 9,600 feet above sea level.

grand-county-map

In case you’re wondering, we picked this destination as our first seasonal employment choice for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s somewhat familiar to us.  It’s only an hour or so away from an area that we know well.  We have experience from when we were much younger with one of their sister properties, so we have a general idea of what this particular adventure will be like.  With as much change as we’re putting into our lives right now, we’re thinking that something somewhat familiar will make the transition a bit less shocking.
  2. It’s a big organization that employs a lot of seasonal staff.  Hubby has a hearing disability, so we wanted something that would have the best chance of employment options to  accommodate it.
  3. We know the employer is stable.  They’ve been around for a long, long time.
  4. They provide housing and 3 squares a day for seasonal staff, plus a weekly stipend.
    Note:  our accommodations will be a room in an old hotel building they’ve dedicated to staff 40 years old and up. (Seems like we must not be the only ones with this idea!)  We’ll have our own private furnished room & bath.  An in-room dedicated phone line, wifi and linens are provided too.   (They also have separate housing buildings for the 18-20ish group, and the 20ish-30ish age group.)
  5. It’s a fun family oriented place!  Lots to do year round, and we get to enjoy the same activities that the guests do for free.  Additionally, the resort is in ski-country.  Not that we’re ski-addicts, but part of our new plan is to make sure we’re fitting some fun into our lives.  We wanted something that would have a large offering of entertainment “goings on.”

So, now we know where we’ll be beginning our gypsy journey this winter.  Next steps?  Time for the real preparations to begin!

 

Applying for Seasonal Work

Do you remember the days when it used to be fun to apply for work?

I’m hoping this new path will bring back the excitement that used to come with looking for a new job!  But, in all honesty, we’re not quite there yet.

Plus, we’re still sort of stuck in the rut, where we’re used to filling out job applications for career jobs.  In today’s economic climate, that’s not only stressful, but dehumanizing and demoralizing (at least for folks in our middle-aged bracket).  It’s funny to us that we remember younger days where it was exciting to fill out job applications.  With this new approach to life, I’m hoping that we can get back to that mindset before long!

When we first started the seasonal job search, it was fun looking at possibilities and dreaming.  But once we started seriously considering them, it became a bit stressful. Stressful, because we didn’t want to over commit and end up burning bridges with potential future employers. Stressful, because we’re taking on so much change at one time.  Stressful,  because we’re trying to time everything carefully with our move…  giving notice at the current job, notice for exiting our lease, having enough time to liquidate our belongings, and raise enough moula for the trip to our new home.

Too many decisions to make at once.  We decided that it would make this more manageable and less stressful for us if we decided to only consider a couple of places at a time. So that meant we had to narrow down our list and apply to only our top picks. (With so many places we want to go, this was not an easy thing to do!)

While there are others who only apply to only one place of seasonal employment at a time.  We decided this wasn’t wise though, as you’re putting your eggs all in one basket. Many times, the potential employers don’t give you details about housing or pay until further into the process. If you’re only considering one place, you have no other options.  It makes you feel like you have to take what they’re offering.  Not to mention that if you’re not accepted for employment there, you have no backup.  And as we mentioned in an earlier post, timing is important.  You may have missed out on some great opportunities while you were waiting for the “one” that you applied for to come through.

Moral of the story:  Apply to your top few seasonal job picks, but not so many that you feel overwhelmed, or that you’re burning bridges if a couple of them do get back to you with job offers.  And a timeline for when you’ll move on to other seasonal applications, for if you don’t hear back.

 

Selecting Our First Adventure

or How to Find Seasonal Employment

We’ve never been in a financial position where we’ve been able to take vacations. But this business of researching options for seasonal employment feels like what I think it must be like for others who plan vacations.

It’s opened the door for dreaming. Where have we been that we’d like to go back? Where would we like to go?  What’s out there?  Searching through the available seasonal job opportunities and dreaming of adventures has been like a breath of fresh air.  It’s opened the window, giving us a glimpse of the world outside and letting in a fresh breeze of hope and excitement!

I was amazed to find that there are so many options out there for seasonal work.  Of course, summer provides far more opportunities than the other seasons.  As you might imagine, many of the seasonal jobs are in remote locations.  Nearly all of them are in resort areas.  And they seem to be in every state across the country, as well as internationally.

My search started with simply looking for “seasonal employment with housing” in my favorite search engine.  Then I had a lot of fun just letting my imagination run with the possibilities!

Although, I’ll admit that after the initial burst of excitement wore off, trying to sort through all the options became a bit overwhelming.  We quickly realized that we needed a way to sort them.  Not everything was going to be a great match for us.  So, we made a list of things to help us decide which seasonal jobs we wanted to seriously consider:

Our Considerations for Finding Seasonal Employment:

  • Places (or states) we want to see (in other words, a wish list).
  • Do we want a small resort or a large one?
  • Do they provide married housing (a requirement for us).
  • What is the housing cost?
  • What is the living environment (ex. private bathroom? kitchen? etc.)
  • What are the recreational opportunities?
  • What is the length of season there?
  • What is the peak season there?
  • What types of jobs do they have available?
  • What is the pay?

You get the general idea.  Think about what’s truly important to you.  This type of living will be different than what you’re used to, and you will have to make some sacrifices for it.  What are the things you’re willing to put up with?  On the other hand, what must you absolutely have to be content?  What are the situations or environments that make you unhappy?  A bit of honest self-reflection before you make your final decisions can help you make good choices for your new adventures.

Other Considerations For Finding Seasonal Employment

Of course, we wanted to have the best pick of places, jobs and accommodations.  To achieve this, we found that timing was important.  Many seasonal employers are short on staff when the college students go back to school.  So, finding employment in the fall when they’re short staffed can give you a foot in the door.  Many seasonal employers also favor employees that will stay the full length of their season.  With this mind, when we’re looking for seasonal work, we try to make ourselves more marketable by solving this problem for the potential employer.

You’ll find your own strategies for and favorite way of finding seasonal employment, once you start this journey.  (Please feel free to share any suggestions or sites that can help others in this journey here!)  While there are quite a few resources out there for searching finding seasonal employment, here are a few popular ones to help you get started.

Websites with postings for Seasonal Employment:

Gypsy Hearts and True Confessions

Life is complex, and so are people.  All the factors mentioned in prior posts are true, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t also admit that we’ve always had gypsy hearts.  It only takes one glance at our many, many crossed-out entries in any address book to see just that.  Anyone who knows and loves us, knows this about us.

Just for fun, we counted up the number of times we’ve moved in our married life.  Hm. A startling 25 times in 23 years (although not always to new areas).  Often the moves were simply across town.  Still, that’s crazy!  At the very least, it certainly shows our constant need for change in our lives.  All things considered, it is actually pretty funny that we’ve never really admitted it to ourselves until now!

Our typical pattern (up to now) has been to try our best at conforming: get the career job, rent the house, try to keep up with the way everyone else is living, fail, get disheartened (or bored), move to a new place, try again.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.

No more hamster in the wheel!  With our new simple gypsy living plan, we’re no longer going to be focusing on career, obtaining things, or proving anything to anyone.  At least, that’s the plan.  (I can’t help but wonder how long it will take us (and how hard it will be) to break free from these deeply embedded tendencies?)

Granted, we’ll still be changing jobs (and locations) frequently.  But this time it’ll be because that’s the nature of seasonal work and the lifestyle that comes with it.  And obviously, being the crazy people we are, we crave the stimulation that comes with that change.  We live for having a new adventure on the horizon.  We love making new friends, experiencing new places, learning new skills and seeing new sights.  (Hubby would add: fishing new waters!)

The other part of that equation is that we’re both pretty independent people.  While we’re hard working and care about the quality of our work, neither one of us is particularly good about being “owned” by a job.  We’re also hoping that this path will give us some freedom from feeling trapped in that mindset.

Like a chef toiling at a recipe, we’re trying to build the formula for our lives that will give us (and allow us to share) peace and happiness as well allow us to focus on celebrating life!  It may take a few tries to get it right, but seems worthwhile!

Deciding to Check Out

I promise this blog will be fun, but I do feel I owe you a little background on circumstances leading up to our decision to become modern day gypsies.  To learn more about us, you may want to start with reading about us.

These last few years have not been easy ones for us (as is probably true for a lot of people).  To say the very least, this last year presented yet another set of our grand plans that didn’t pan out.  In so doing, it has also  presented the opportunity to do some serious thinking, reflection and assessment.

The reality is that we’re working for what were entry level wages when we got out of college 20+ years ago.  The cost of living is (at least, if not more than) double what it was then.  The only way to “get by” seems to be to work yourself to death, provided you can get enough time away from the salaried day-job (and have the energy), to pick up a 2nd job.  And even when we’re not engulfed in work, there’s no fun to be had as it’s not in the budget.

Add to that the truth that “career” jobs these days are heavily laden with stress.  Stress that makes us grouchy, short-tempered, and takes years off our lives!  The trade-off used to be that you could earn enough to live comfortably, and perhaps prepare for retirement even.  But these days, like hamsters in the wheel, we never seem to get anywhere for our efforts.

I know we’re not alone in feeling this way.  Like so many others, we’ve realized that by living this way, all we’re doing is passing time in life.

I suppose you could say that we’ve reached a threshold where we needed to either accept it, or do something about it.

Q: So, what’s to be done about it?

A: We’re going to live like middle aged gypsies.

For us that means that we’re going to check out of the career job path, get rid of nearly everything we have and do seasonal work from place to place.  Later we hope to pick up a piece of land in the country somewhere, but not for now.  Granted, if you’re in your 20’s, this plan doesn’t sound too radical.  However, for a middle aged  married couple, living like gypsies is more than a bit unorthodox.

It’s quite a big change and not one to be taken lightly.  A change in attitude, in environment, in focus, in habits, and much more.  Still, after much thought and reflection this seems that this is what God’s directing us to do.

We’re hopeful that by living simply and focusing on what’s important to us, we can get a bit of happier living back in our lives!

It’s time to take the leap.