Home free?

Simple living, extreme early retirement, being wealthy, ...
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GandK
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Home free?

Post by GandK »

I haven't posted for a looooong time. This is because we've been off doing cool things, and because homeschooling an intellectually precocious 11yo who is significantly dyslexic is hard freaking work.

Our current adventure is 3 months in Greece. We just passed the halfway point on our trip. If interested, you can see the pics on Instagram. @kathryn.rossi

I came back to post because we're now contemplating something that's peculiar even by our standards. After FIREing, and after more than 2 years of living in an RV full time, my family of 3 is now contemplating going completely home free.

My husband G wants to travel full-time, he always has. I'm OK with it as long as we stay long enough in places to really dig in and learn a place... I'm a homesteader, but 2 years on the road has taught me how to build "home" as an intellectual space. And C (the 11yo) is truly happy with anything as long as he maintains a high degree of autonomy over his studies. We've enjoyed our stint in Greece, and are already discussing where to go next. And traveling for this length of time has really reinforced for all of us how few belongings we use or need. So the questions now facing us are:

Do we actually need the RV?
What are the pros and cons of not having a home of our own at all?
Does this potentially cause unforeseen problems?

Mail, voting, taxes, and all other administrative life issues are handled already through our membership in Escapees.

We are right at the beginning of this conversation, in my family. Experience says this is the best time to ask questions and brainstorm. So I thought I'd ask the most thoughtful people in the giant room that is the Internet: what might we not be considering?

(Please assume finances are not an issue... we travel and live frugally, and have adequate savings to continue doing so at home or abroad, with or without an RV in our life.)

IlliniDave
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Re: Home free?

Post by IlliniDave »

Hey K, good to hear from you and glad things are going well. Can't really help with your question (I tend to be a rooting person so never really considered not having a physical spot of my own). But I would say you've been doing it for the most part for a while now with the RV, and I can't think of anything besides what you are already experiencing. Good luck!

theanimal
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Re: Home free?

Post by theanimal »

Nice to see you posting again and glad to hear you are having so much fun! My main thoughts would be logistics (like mail) and finances. With those 2 figured out, it sounds like you'll be ok. The rest will be dependent on where you are planning on staying. Are you guys going to be doing long term rentals? Airbnb? Camping?

sky
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Re: Home free?

Post by sky »

When I returned home from living in a van, what I liked the most about home was that it was a private place where I had a great deal of control about who came there and how it was built, maintained, etc. Van life was good but you are always in a public place where others may walk by. I also liked coming home to a garden. Doing maintenance on a van (or RV) in which you live kind of sucks.

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Ego
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Re: Home free?

Post by Ego »

The first few times we returned from overseas we had a campervan waiting for us in storage. More recently, we had only our car in storage, no camper.

It is certainly easier when the living situation is sorted, but keeping the camper registered and running when it has been stored for a long time can be a hassle. Also, as I mentioned before, having the camper (especially an RV) predetermines a lot of other decisions, which can be good and bad.

For us the serendipity involved in our returns to the US is something we enjoy so not keeping a camper is best. AirBnb has made this transition easier.

It looks like you are all thriving in your new life. Congratulations! And kudos that you had the guts to do it with a kid. I imagine it makes the challenges at least double.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Home free?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I think that most people need at least one life factor that stays consistent* towards psychological construction of semi-consistent narrative, but one is enough. So, if your relationship with your husband is solid, then no home realm, and no career trajectory plus associated colleagues/institutions can work for you, because the two (or three for now) of you can reflect narrative back at each other.

In more practical terms, it has been my experience that bouncing from airbnb to hotel to cottage etc. is actually somewhat easier than dealing with an RV/camper, especially if stays are fairly long-term. And it is very true that you can create sense of "home" with practice of consistent little rituals most anywhere.

It might be also be wise to keep a certain stock level of "homes of others where you are welcome to walk right in and raid the fridge" in case of unknowns that may somehow preclude easy dealings with strangers in strange lands. I think if I were you and I didn't have at least 3 of these, I might want to own some sort of little cabin somewhere as sure availability retreat.

* For instance, I constantly change partners and avocations and addresses and library books and enjoy all sorts of road trips, but pretty much stick to living within the extended region of the waters once traversed by the speakers of Ojibwe, so that is my thread or "map over time" of continuity of consciousness. Unintended at first, conscious decision after my mid-life divorce, and current resolve given my interest in permaculture and climate change and 50 + year investment in sense/knowledge of lay of the land.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Home free?

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

We did this for 15 months and absolutely loved it. The only real motivation to lease an apartment longer term was settling down with jobs where one of us is tied to a specific geographical location. 7WB5 makes a good point about having some fallback plans incase shit hits the fan.....close friends, family, a familiar LCOL area you can *count* on being able to rent/have some social net are comforting during times when things are uncertain or don't go as planned. Our adventure began during the start of the pandemic, and had a few other curve balls related to my spouses health issues and subsequent requirement to return to the USA when travel wasn't exactly easy. Being able to stay with family and friends in between our AirBnB stays was clutch, although not having that option could have been solved with additional monies if necessary.

FWIW we're planning on going back to the home-free nomadic lifestyle in the spring, and cannot wait! The plan is to go back to Europe and ideally SE Asia next fall/winter if things normalize a bit.......short term rentals in the USA ended up being cost prohibitive in our experience, but we had already started some remote work so it was palatable for the 4 months we did it before settling down. An average private 1-2 bedroom AirBnB in a decent location tended to average about $2-2.5k/month with fees, which is not very ERE long term.......in the EU the price was 1/2 of that, in SE Asia it might be a 1/3 of that!

Hope you share your decision and journey with us.

The one thing I really missed in this lifestyle was the inability to bring my bicycle from country to country, but buying a used bike and then reselling it after a few months tended to work pretty well.

GandK
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Re: Home free?

Post by GandK »

Ego wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 3:27 pm
... And kudos that you had the guts to do it with a kid. I imagine it makes the challenges at least double.
He is a wonderful travel companion. Not just saying that as his mother, either... some of our older children would definitely not have been. We've had no problems with him, only with others. The biggest challenge/difference about traveling with a child (apart from the task of homeschooling, which I could farm out to an online school but do not) is the added social challenge of trying to find not only people to connect with as we move around, but people who either have children or are comfortable socializing with us with a child in tow. That narrows an already small group of people... the majority of people in their 20s and recent empty nesters don't really want a child around no matter how well behaved he is; they're all in one way or another trying to put childhood behind them. And unfortunately, those folks constitute a large part of the on-the-road demographic.

The stationary people we've met who have seen enough of us to ask questions about our lifestyle are all confused in some fashion. Non-Christians inevitably see us as some variety of hippies, especially since we have a child in tow, and their judgment of us varies based on their personal view of said hippies. There is nothing to be said to these folks at all... hippies is too charged a concept. And other practicing Christians invariably categorize us as missionaries because we prioritize volunteering. If we correct them, they argue with us, strongly: we are missionaries, and false modesty does not become us. The result of this perplexity is that we end up being welcomed with open arms wherever we go by both the far left and the far right, but are generally looked down upon by those in the middle. Given the current political climate, it's a peculiar situation.

Also, most of my "friends" still don't know we are FI, although it's not a deliberate secret... I just never made an announcement. On some level it is hidden, though, which makes me far more uneasy than anything about our lifestyle does. I might have a bit of imposter syndrome. But it's so hard to explain... you guys know. FIRE is no panacea. I still have a mountain of books to read, still have 20 pounds to lose. I still see a doctor for migraines and depression. The extra time has not improved my profound inability to do 2 things at once. I still love tech. I still hate bananas. Etc.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Home free?

Post by Western Red Cedar »

Congratulations on setting up a successful environment for family travel @GandK. That is no easy feat. Slow travel is part of the FI plan for DW and I. We've done long-term international travel before, but I'd like to slow down and use monthly rentals or other options (like volunteering) for accommodation.
GandK wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 7:35 am
Do we actually need the RV?
What are the pros and cons of not having a home of our own at all?
Does this potentially cause unforeseen problems?
You definitely don't need an RV. Monthly rentals are easier than ever through AirBnB or other online services. I lived and traveled overseas for 4+ years without ever owning or driving a personal vehicle.

I think the pros are that you are a little more free. You don't have a vehicle "weighing" you down in terms of options for activities, concerns about theft/parking/driving, etc. You can also find long-term rentals that allow you to spread out and explore projects or hobbies that might be more difficult in an RV.

The cons are that you might not have the same access to locations that are off the beaten path. Though I've found there are usually good options for using public transit to get to some unique places. You also won't have a familiar place to come back to every day. You can alleviate that by renting a place for multiple months, but some people just really love their own vehicles.

I don't think there are really any unforeseen problems. You can always sell your RV (or store it) and try some monthly rentals as an experiment. If you don't like it, you can go back to your preferred method of travel.

Keep us posted on whatever you decide.

*ETA - one of the other big cons in my experience is a potential lack of community. Some long-term travelers solve this, but I noticed the lack of community or roots affecting me on my last 9 month vagabonding trip. I think traveling with a family unit can mitigate this though. Staying put in one place obviously helps as well.
Last edited by Western Red Cedar on Fri Oct 15, 2021 11:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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jennypenny
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Re: Home free?

Post by jennypenny »

Hey K! I can't believe C is 11 already. Time flies ...

I've worked with several writers who were permanent nomads. You might try diving into that world for more information (since you're familiar with it). Glad you're well, and good luck on your adventures.

jp

jacob
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Re: Home free?

Post by jacob »

In the most fundamental sense, a home is a place to store your stuff and a vehicle is a way to move stuff around. Both of these allow [vastly] more capacity than a suitcase. A suitcase thus limits one's stuff and thus one's activities. You might see a nomad carpenter with a truck since the truck can carry all the required carpenter tools but you will not see a nomad carpenter living out of a carry-on. This is why nomads tend to be digital workers for the most part. This goes for avocational activities too. Similar comments could be made about extreme minimalism. The pro is extreme location-flexibility(*). The con is everything else. Put it another way, w/o a home (or a vehicle), one will be substantially more beholden to accepting the somewhat limited offer of activities from "the economy", that is, "employment", "going out to eat", "watching stuff", and "whatever can be done digitally".

(*) Which is really a marvelous thing to have insofar one takes advantage of it. One can literally change location overnight as there's nothing holding one back. It always comes back to whether frequent location-changes are worth it.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Home free?

Post by Western Red Cedar »

jacob wrote:
Fri Oct 15, 2021 10:37 am
I think your point is spot on. Though digital tools, increased connectivity, and the resulting social networks also represent a creative avenue to transcend some of these traditional constraints.

For example, one of the YouTubers I follow was an amateur carpenter who used Workaway to live and travel in Canada for a year. His purpose was both to explore new environments, and learn about permaculture. His woodworking skills made him more attractive to hosts, but he only needed to carry a backpack.

---

I've been thinking a lot lately about how to redesign my life and consciously embrace technology to maximize opportunities for new hobbies, projects, and skills while on the road.

chenda
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Re: Home free?

Post by chenda »

Perhaps you could just own some land, which would retain the option of a home without the costs ?

Laura Ingalls
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Re: Home free?

Post by Laura Ingalls »

We have thought about it too. Our youngest loves to travel but would be hard to home school. DH would be competent to teach him the rules of tennis, but I he rest of his schedule would be out of our league. We have the rest of the 2021-2022 school year and the 2022-2023 to contend with.

I tend to think of my hometown and DH’s hometown as bases. DH’s parents both still living (and working). I want to roam before they get too old and need more elder care type assistance. I suspect on my side it will be split between me and one of my sibs. DH it will probably be on his shoulders as his one sibling has distance and a full time job to contend with. The other currently “needs” lots of assistance from his parents for his sundry mental health, legal, and financial woes.

GandK
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Re: Home free?

Post by GandK »

jacob wrote:
Fri Oct 15, 2021 10:37 am
In the most fundamental sense, a home is a place to store your stuff and a vehicle is a way to move stuff around. Both of these allow [vastly] more capacity than a suitcase. A suitcase thus limits one's stuff and thus one's activities. You might see a nomad carpenter with a truck since the truck can carry all the required carpenter tools but you will not see a nomad carpenter living out of a carry-on. This is why nomads tend to be digital workers for the most part. This goes for avocational activities too. Similar comments could be made about extreme minimalism. The pro is extreme location-flexibility(*). The con is everything else. Put it another way, w/o a home (or a vehicle), one will be substantially more beholden to accepting the somewhat limited offer of activities from "the economy", that is, "employment", "going out to eat", "watching stuff", and "whatever can be done digitally".
Thank you. This is exactly the sort of "one step back" that we need to progress in our discussion but hadn't accomplished amongst ourselves yet. Deliberate homelessness still seems radical for both of us... I have been wearing some Wheaton glasses that are no longer the right prescription I think. There's also a sunk cost factor for G... we aimed at the RV for so long, what does it mean if we give that up? Etc.

@jp Thank you for the well wishes! Yes, we have been debating digital nomad visas... Portugal is especially tempting. We just have not been able to decide to either have, or not have, a US base. And homeschooling is an added variable, as some potential destinations do not allow it.

@chenda We don't need land, but we do need a legal concept that is similar to the rights and protections of land. Most of that we get through Escapees, which basically provides a virtual home address that is legal in Texas for a driver's license, for voting, for mail delivery, etc.

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Sclass
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Re: Home free?

Post by Sclass »

Here’s to actually doing what you said you were going to do. As Ego said this takes guts. I couldn’t put it into words when I read your post a week ago but that says it pretty well. Though I recalled your plans years ago I’d subconsciously put you on the list of people here who just disappeared.

I met a guy in college who basically grew up this way on a sailboat with his parents. They lived from port to port in the Pacific for ten years. He really stood out among the rest of us cookie cutter suburban kids. Reminded me of this.

It’s interesting to see hints of little problems you need to solve to live this way that the rest of us take for granted. Like taxes and mail. I think I’ll walk downstairs use my municipal water to fill up my coffee machine hooked to the mains and try to imagine what it’s like outside my bubble.

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