10 October- 28 November: The seven week sprint

Authors: Mr & Mrs A

What a whirlwind of a seven weeks we have had since arriving back in Australia from the USA! Our goal was to get the house rented again before the Christmas lull, and set ourselves up to be free and funded to travel for the next few years. We decided that meant renting our place longer term and unfurnished, to prevent further deterioration of our contents and allow us to access our things from storage if we needed to either stop travelling and rent, our swap over clothes and gear.

In parallel to finding a new real estate agent (that we would have confidence in to protect our asset), we needed to slim down what we were going to store – restricting ourselves to only the things we felt were high value to us, financially and emotionally. That left a lot of stuff we needed to re-home, either through selling or donating to friends/charity.

We also needed to ensure our health was in optimum shape before hitting the road, and lastly but most importantly we wanted to spend as much time with Sydney based friends as possible, as we plan to be spending a lot less time there in the coming years.

So here’s the summary of how we have spent our time, and what we have accomplished. We make a good team with very different skills, and this scorecard reminds us of that.

Social scorecard

This photo says it all, lots of laughs and drinks, and great food (eventually!). Our friends were so generous with the their time and support. We couldn’t contemplate what we are doing without their help and it is much appreciated.

Catch-ups with friends: 12 awesome breaking bread occasions that created some great memories to take on our travels with us.

Medical

Of course heading home means a chance to see the dentist and get all essential check ups done…and to have a few doses of general anaesthetic drugs too – in Mrs A’s case at least – Mr A is a finely tuned machine…ah-hem….

GP visits: Mr A: 3 / Mrs A: 2

Pathology/tests : Mr A: 1 / Mrs A: 2

Specialist visits: Mr A: 3 / Mrs A: 3

Operations: Mr A: 0 / Mrs A: 2 (with another one booked for February 2019)

Dental visits: Mr A: 1 / Mrs A: 1

Friends visited in hospital: 1 (Eric, you’re a champ!)

Trips to vet: 1 (Princess Tassie in fine form)

So it has been a busy period on the health front – trying to both manage excising conditions, and be proactive about monitoring our general health. Getting health care whilst of no fixed abode is a real challenge.

House Rental

We have learnt a lot from our first two experiences as landlords. We wanted to apply that knowledge now and do things a little differently. So we found a new agent, thanks to a great recommendation from friends, and had a much better experience through the marketing and sales process, culminating in a signed agreement within three weeks. Well done Jacquelynn and Jessica of Ray White Freshwater!

Prep time: We lost count of the number of days we spent cleaning and fixing things in the house and garden. Suffice to say there was much that needed doing to ready it for showing to prospective tenants at the premium end of the price range that we are at.

Open house: 1

Viewings: 2

Cubic metres of contents eventually stored: 40m

Compared to our previous experience it was quite painless. We are were properly briefed on prospective tenants, good advice was given and a new tenancy agreement signed.

Selling/donating

There’s nothing like living in a small space (a caravan) to refocus the mind about what you really need to live comfortably! We (Ok lets be honest here, Mrs A played the lead role in this activity) decided on a long list of things we wanted to sell or give away. When we looked at the cost of storage (a tortuous process in itself to find that out!), we quickly realised it made no sense to store things that weren’t really valuable. So it was time to “let go” of furniture we had had for some time, and sell it while it had at least some residual value. There were also things that we felt we wouldn’t need in this next phase of our travels.

For instance our bike and boat fleets have been reduced. Six bikes down to two, and sold one kayak and two packrafts, although we have replaced the latter with smaller, lighter versions for flat water only. We even sold old cameras, sunglasses, a GPS unit, the list goes on. Every item for sale had to be carefully photographed and presented well, with accurate descriptions, then packed and sent off. Time consuming but the payback was fantastic, both financially and the feeling we got from decluttering our home and garage.

Furniture & items sold/donated to friends/neighbours: 40

Trips to Vinnies/Lifeline: 8

Furniture sold on Gumtree: 4

Items sold on eBay: 19

Items sold on Facebook groups: 2

Original artwork sold: 9

Funds raised from all the above: $12,000!

Financial

We had a few things to sort out. Our first step as always was a review meeting with our financial planner. As usual he provided us with a really high quality assessment of where our investments stand, and what strategies we should use to maximise them going forward. We came away feeling confident that the life plan we have for the next few years (travelling both in Australia and internationally), is affordable now we have set up the house to provide a predicable income supplement to Mr A’s super.

We have mixed feelings about being told how lucky we are to be able to do this. Yes luck has played a part, i.e. some things that were outside of our control have gone well. However, we also feel we have played our part in determining where we find ourselves now, with smart decision making and sacrifices made along the way.

Money saved on insurance: Its amazing what deals can be done if you look hard enough and on a fixed income now we are very motivated to do that. For instance, why should our car be registered in an expensively rated city area when it won’t be there? Or through persisting with our storage insurance research we secured a deal saving 66% off our initial quote, saving thousands off our annual bill.

No home address?: Some companies are still slow to enable their systems to deal with those of us who choose to have no fixed abode for long periods. We found through research that there is often no legal reason companies need a physical address for you, but they will often tell you there is. Old habits die hard, and they do so love somewhere to send their marketing material.

So what’s next?

After 7 weeks, the sprint to achieve our goal of being able to set ourselves up to extend our travelling lifestyle is over. We drove out of Sydney yesterday, turning our back on a lovely home, plumbing connected to a sewerage system, dishwashers and ironing boards. We headed south to Kiama and will spend the next 10 days visiting some friends before storing the caravan and car, eventually retuning to Sydney a few days before our New Zealand trip.Sadly Tassie can’t be with us on every part of our travels, but she is being so very well looked after in feline foster care with all the warm spots and cuddles she needs.

We have certainly picked an interesting time to leave the security of our home, as the biggest storm in 40 years hits us. The caravan is swaying in the wind and we were warned last night we might be marooned in our caravan park by a flooding river. Well, so what? We have everything we need in here (except a blue Burmese cat to snuggle up to!)…the next adventure begins!

9 Replies to “10 October- 28 November: The seven week sprint”

  1. Impressive preparations! I am hoping to retire in about 14 months and really need to start doing some of the same in terms of downsizing and preparation. Good job, Mark and Catherine. Now get out there and have some great adventures!

    1. Thank you! It’s been exhausting but rewarding work…if you have longer than us, take it in slower steps – we’ve worked every single day! Tackle one room at a time, and be harsh – if you wouldn’t want it in a brand new home, then it needs to go…if you haven’t worn it in a year or more, consider donating it….we kept all sorts of things – old instruction manuals, old bills – most things are available online these days. We definitely downsized a lot!

  2. Wishing you both the very best as you begin the next leg of your fabulous lives together. Keep the posts coming. I so enjoy them & you are both so inspiring.

  3. Wow! This is so exciting Catherine! I wish you both the happiest of adventures and look forward to keeping up to date with your travels on FB.

    Keep well, and let’s meet up if you get as far as the UK!
    xxx

  4. Good luck and have fun! I look forward to reading all about your new adventures. Looking forward to (possibly) seeing you when you land in Europe!

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