How we downsized to live a life travelling on the road

How We Downsized To Live A Life Travelling On The Road

There is a time in your life when your children leave the nest, just before they settle down, that you can call your own.  

Our three-storey six-bedroom home on the Northern Beaches, Sydney, felt empty as our youngest son headed off to live with his partner and our oldest son headed off for a belated gap year of travel.  

It was overwhelming being in the empty house that had been the hub for the boy’s social life and our extended network. It was overwhelming managing the mortgage, using net dollars to fund it, utilities and cars, etc. In fact our monthly income was funding our monthly living expenses. Could we downsize?

We needed detailed information on where our money was going! The mortgage, insurances, utilities, rates etc. contributed to more than 80 per cent of the expenses. So the decision was to sell, remove the mortgage and insurances, reduce the cars, negotiate costs on mobile phones, internet and utilities. Our new living budget including rental on a two-bedroom apartment came to AUD165 a day.

Let the downsizing begin! Can you imagine 30-plus years of family memories and collections. It was a huge overwhelming, sickening, guilt-ridden experience and it’s easy to become paralysed in these emotions.

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So, how do you start?

  • Approach one room at a time
  • Create piles one for charity shops, one for rubbish, one for the garage sale, consignment shop and one to keep
  • There was also another pile of ‘not sure what to do’ stuff (which eventually ended up on the rubbish pile).
  • It was and continues to be an iterative process

Each of you has to be strong, it is emotional and it takes time, but we achieved what we set out to achieve. We let go of treasured items to Gumtree; we saw memories go to needy homes and charity shops.

During this stage it is important to realise the value of your possessions. It is easy to have an over-inflated value and also one where you are prepared to be frivolous and give all away. We solved this by going through the iterative process. We placed many items in a consignment store that took a 40 per cent fee, however the overall value received was significantly more than fire selling.

#Downsize one achieved two-bedroom rental property

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Then we caught up with our eldest son on his travels around the world in Santorini, Greece! This threw a spanner in the works. Question: What if we gave up corporate life and hit the road for our own senior gap year? Answer: Yes we could.

#Downsize two achieved from the two-bedroom rental apartment to a lock up garage. It is amazing how much ‘stuff’ we still had.

We hit the road for a 12-month round the world trip. We travelled to Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, USA, UK, Croatia, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Jordan, Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. That finished and we headed back to Sydney to a garage full of stuff.  No home to call our own and two adult sons who were not keen to have Mum and Dad couch surfing with them.  Enter our new way of life – house sitting!  We house sat around the Northern Beaches for the next 13 months and downsized our garage to six containers.

#Downsize three was the hardest.  Everything went except our tax files, photos and a few special family items. Then we hit the road again, house sitting internationally for the next 12 months in Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama.

#Downsize four. On our return to Sydney again for a few months we downsized again, this time our photos (this is a blog worthy of reading on it’s own, stay tuned!) and a few more poignant personal items to be sold or gifted.   

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So, what now?

We are on the road for an indefinite period travelling with a carry on only and a daypack that holds the technology. Our daily budget is equivalent to the current Australian Aged Pension (although we haven’t reached that age as yet) house sitting plays an important role in keeping us within our international travel budget.  Since we left Australia in June 2016 we have travelled to Thailand, Spain, Sweden, France, Montenegro, Croatia, Portugal, St Maarten and Panama.  2017 you will find us in Mexico, Cuba, USA, Barbados, Ireland and India for starters. 

Was it worth the emotional process of downsizing? Yes!  Is it for everyone? Probably not!  We feel lighter, we are chasing time not money (our mantra), and we are having experiences that we never thought we would be able to.

Will we settle back in Australia? Yes, there will be a time, but that time is not quite yet.

Have you downsized your home to hit the road? Let Jane and Duncan know about your own experiences with downsizing in the comments section below. 

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