So, I have this opportunity, something that just kind of came to me after the 8th month of my year-long self-imposed sabbatical:
I should rent out my house and travel the world!
It’s one of those things that didn’t come to me in a flash. Rather, it came to me in a series of well-thought out meditations — on life, work, and love. Love for myself, and for the world.
Money is a devastating reality. We beggar ourselves chasing it, for security, for acquisition, and best: to be able to have meaningful experiences.
8 months out of a sort-of-planned-12. But coming to the end of this sabbatical (which I highly recommend to anyone), I’ve come to an impasse: this cannot last forever.
My house has a mortgage of $1,100/month. I have approximately 16 more years to pay it off. It is not an asset: it is a liability. The bank owns it, not I.
But the crazy nature of living in a desirable state, and with the benefit of a previous president who jumpstarted our economy out of dreadful recession, I am faced with something: renting my house would be more profitable than actually living in it. It would cover my mortgage, and more.
A bit more.
This extra income could sustain me, the only necessary thing would be: I would have to leave the country. I am out-priced in my homeland. But if I were to take this sum, this not so kingly sum (Princely, more like — who one day will be king!) I could travel the world’s cheaper corners and live quite well. I might even be able to save!
I just need to uproot everything I am.
Funny, at first I was thinking of only one thing: sell my house and travel. But what if I ever wanted to come back? House prices surging like they are, I would not be able to buy back into the market. I bought my house back in 2002 for $180,000. It is a modest 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath house. On well water, semi-rural, a horse not 2 blocks away. Now, sites like Zillow etc say it is worth over $300k.
How my mind works:
At first, we muse on compromises: what can we do with what we are given. And, at first, I thought: “Sell the house, travel the world. You may not even want to get back!” (Or be able to!)
But then I thought: What is the most advantageous? Can I keep my home, travel the world, and even make some money along the way?
I would have to rent my home.
Not just a room, mind you, that wouldn’t cover it. I would have to evacuate, eject, and go live somewhere else less…costly
Less US of f#%cking A!
I remember talking to someone while in Boquete, Panama. I asked, ‘How much is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home here?” He thought about it, and answered, “Just outside of Boquete, 30 minute drive, you could buy that home for $10,000.” That’s US dollars. That was only a couple years ago, and let’s say that it would be cheap at double the price.
So, I start figuring things out: What if I stored my possessions in 1/2 of the 2 car garage? And parked my 13' RV on the side of the garage? Rent out the house. And then?
Travel the world.
Yes, that’s where I am right now, and I’ve even set a sorta date: March or April of 2017. Gives my a month, even 2 if my back is against the wall, but no more than 2.
But: I am nervous. I’ve travelled a bit, and although I look back fondly, I’ve always had a sort of dread of International travel as well. Dealing with languages and different customs and figuring out currencies and all the little details of travel that are frustrating and maddening leads me to: do I even want to travel? Like, at all?
But, being able to even think in these terms I look at myself from outside myself and know: this is a privileged position to be in. That even to be able to make this a reality is a tad mind-boggling. I know that this idea of traveling the world as being frustrating is a 1st world problem. The teenager inside of me says: do it and be done with it already.
Looking for insight, I asked a free-spirited friend of mine at the climbing gym if I should do it: rent my house and travel the world. She looked at me confused, ‘Yeah,’ she said. ‘Why wouldn’t you?’ The answer was apparently so self-evident to her she thought that the conversation was over, and so she walked away leaving me alone with all my misgivings and worries.
Like: what if the new renter’s trashed my house? What if I came back and things were…different? After all, other people would be living in my house for at least a year. A garden could sprout up where there wasn’t one before. Or, someone steals something of mine while it is all stored in my garage?
All that, I realized, only matters if you care about things. Like the Fight Club quote: the things you own end up owning you.
So I rid myself of possessions. Donate what I do not want to pack away. Shed the layers of stuff I have turned a blind eye towards — hidden in cabinets and trunks, in my garage and closets. I am shedding a coffee table and end table this weekend. I’ve donated garbage bags of old clothing — clothing I haven’t worn in years, but have kept — just-in-case! For that rainy day-wedding-future-event-that-never-happened.
Get thee gone.
And I feel freer for it. With everything I get rid of that no longer serves me I feel the chains of what binds me here loosen. My mind feels opened up to new possibilities, and while part of me is the reluctant traveller I know that with a set-tentative date of March-Aprilish, as I drag myself to this end my thinking will evolve along with it.
Like they say, if you want to do a marathon: sign up.
Just pay the entry, set a hard date. This will force you to do what is necessary in order to complete it.
So I cut brambles and clear the land next to my garage to prepare the resting place for my Conchita la Casita RV.
I prepare to wall off half of the garage — to encapsulate my “stuff”. The remainders of 14 years of the jetsam and flotsam from living in a house. I consult property managers and get workmen to spiffy the place up.
I research how to live out of a pack, and how to volunteer for places around the world. I pack as if I am going to never come back — which is a possibility. I will pick my next home from a spot on a distant shore and set sail.
It feels like what it is: an upheaval. To put a melodramatic point on it: it is similar to a suicide, or the result of surviving an illness, or some other sort of near catastrophic event. But I am going into this willingly. Misgivings and all.
We used to call this, “Pulling a geographic.” Meaning, when your fed up with your job, your so-called friends, your location, then just up and leave for someplace you think might be better. I did this post-college — went from Denver to San Francisco. Then got sick of that and left for Alaska. Returned briefly to San Fran and headed back to Denver, when rental prices for an entire apartment equalled a roomshare in a San Francisco flat with 5 other renters (and sometimes their significant others). I had many interesting experiences, no doubt, but being rootless can take its toll.
But this, this is what is called a “High quality problem.” Meaning: it’s not really a problem at all, but an opportunity. For adventure. For meeting new people. For shaking myself up — learn new things, speak new languages, experience new things. When looked back upon, we forget the missed bus and sleeping in a dirty cold Mexican bus station overnight till the next one showed up (Baja). Or: the train-like snoring of my roommate in Scotland, where I had to fight to have someone else from my group take him on — vowing I would not sleep another night next to this rumbling.
But remember: an all night Thai rave filled with families, and sellers of sweets walking through the crowd. Sampling 5 different types of scotch at the local B-n-B after hiking around the Mull of Kintire, Scotland for 15 miles. Or: waking to the sounds of a gecko chirping as it crawled it’s way across my bedroom wall in Guam. We forget, in our somnolence, our satisfaction, our knowns, what delights the unknown may bring.