Selling up to live on the road

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 13:01
ThreadID: 83928 Views:4933 Replies:14 FollowUps:1
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I'm considering selling my house and most of my possessions and buying an RV or caravan in order to take to the road for the remainder of my life - I'd appreciate comments and ideas from people on the wisdom, or otherwise, of doing this.

I'm mid fifties, single, very few relatives and have travelled and lived around the world during my life so I've no roots or connection to any one place. I have good skills in the IT and other areas and should be able to find short term employment without great difficulty.

There are a few things which appeal to me about the nomadic existence - I become bored if I stay in one place too long. My house is too large for one and I resent the monetary overheads of gas, elec, rates and repairs. I love the bush and currently spend a lot of time remote camping and gold prospecting.

Negatives - what about illness or injury? Will it be more difficult to find bush places to camp with a van/RV than I expect? A vehicle accident or theft may leave me homeless? How to deal with the onset of old age when on the road? Will I tire of the existence? And others I haven't even thought of - but you will :)

I'm very self-sufficient both from a personality and practical perspective - I'm happy on my own and can perform most mechanical and electrical tasks etc.

I'm not interested in comforts or luxuries beyond a decent chair and bed and I don't seek social status or community inclusion. Much of my personal satisfaction comes from the intellectual pursuits, reading, writing (should be a book in this), spoken word audio, meditating etc. I'm fit and healthy although a little overweight and out of condition :(

I am considering buying a few acres of land somewhere, doesn't matter where, providing it's within an hours drive of a medium size town so that in the event things go wrong I'll have somewhere I can park my van/RV whilst I figure out what to do next.

Over to you.
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Reply By: Member - Dunworkin (WA) - Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 13:33

Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 13:33
It sounds like you have thought this thing through pretty well, you have touched on the negatives that first come to my mind but then you say you are thinking of buying a block of land to park on anyway. All I can say from there is follow your dream, it is your life, go for it. We can all come up with fors and againsts but you are young enough to do it, when you get older there are life style villages to go to if the need ever arises.
Don't leave for tomorrow that which can be done today.

Good luck and good travels.



Simba, our much missed baby.

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AnswerID: 443201

Reply By: Member - Min (NSW) - Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 15:37

Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 15:37
Hi Firegazer,

Over the years that I have been a member of this site many people have asked the same question as you have. However, I'm not aware of anyone who was in the same position as you are - alone, happy with your own company, travelled widely, love the bush, etc. or who had thought things through as thoroughly as you seem to have done.

Regarding your skills, you need some way of keeping them right up-to-date. As you must know IT changes so quickly that if you are not regularly employed in the field that can be hard to do. And regarding your health, you will need to take care of yourself, eat well and exercise regularly. All this requires strong self discipline.

The most important thing to do is ensure that you have good communication in the event of illness or accident. I'm thinking VHF if you plan to go off the beaten track, HF, sat phone, perhaps EPERB.

If you are a keen reader invest in an e-reader. They are not suitable for everything and will never replace books but they sure save weight, bulk and paper for certain types of reading matter.

If you decide to buy land, I think it does matter where it is if it is to be used in the event of illness or incapacity. It should be less than an hour to good health services. Many people retired to idyllic places with reasonable populations only to find that when illness struck they had very long distances to travel for crucial medical appointments. Remember that when you buy land anywhere you have a responsibility for weed, vermin and fire control, etc. You will also have some rates to pay.

Hopefully, by the time you tire of travelling you will have found somewhere in Oz that, as you passed through, you thought, "Maybe I could live here when the time comes".

Whatever your decision I wish you well.

AnswerID: 443203

Reply By: Member - DAZA (QLD) - Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 16:13

Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 16:13
Is it possible to down size from your current house and rent that property, in doing that you have some $$ to subsidise your income and if things go Pear Shape you will have some where to come back to, I hate the idea of burning your bridges and just relying on a RV or Caravan when you get older or can't manage to drive ect.

AnswerID: 443209

Follow Up By: Fab72 - Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 16:54

Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 16:54
I'd agree with Daza.

Although the immediate foreseeable future has you travelling the countryside for ever, you may not feel the same way when you hit your mid 70's.

Even if it's just a smallish unit, flat or courtyard home.

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Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 16:33

Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 16:33
Hi Firegazer

Sounds like you will have a ball. Many others are doing similar. Like has been already suggested, in a perfect would, i would say sell you home and buy a rental property in a reliable rental area (rent only through a good agency), thus keeping a stake in real estate should the market zoom upwards. Never rely on rental income to subsidise your travels and have an allowance for renovations should you later wish to sell the property to buy something more suited for settling down in. Council have strict and often very short limits to the time you can stay in a caravan on your own land. Vacant land costs to maintain it and usually can bring in no income.

Travellers are amongst the fittest people we meet. We see even elderly on long walks and rock climbs to see wonderful places all over Australia. Join them.

Ensure your new home has enough solar power and water carrying capacity for self sufficiency, and you can go where your moods take you. You will learn from others you meet along the way where the best places to visit are.


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Reply By: palmy - Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 16:48

Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 16:48
Like others have said, look at buying a rental, but I'd go one step further. Look for a defense housing authority house. That way, you have zero worries with guaranteed rent and no additional maintainances costs. Perfect for someone in your situation.

(I only say this because when the time is right, that's the sort of rental/investment I'll be buying)
AnswerID: 443215

Reply By: Member - Joe n Mel n kids (FNQ - Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 21:07

Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 21:07
Hi "FireGazer",
I will start at the bottom and work up eh .......
I can see the line of thought in selling up and buying some land but i would not kid myself, it will be just as hard to maintain the "few acres" as a house would be, i say that as i have freinds that "did" it and regretted it, it is a lot of work ...
You also say you want it within an hours drive of a "medium" sized town, to me it is hardly "taking to the road" ... no offence :-)
The health issues (ilness or injury) really i would not even concern yourself with, you will know when you are getting tired and time to call it quits and injury can be just as nasty in the city as way out in the bush, we have 3 kids and lived remote for years, i often balance the odds and still come to the conclusion that we probally are better off remote, the key factor, contacts and the best in communications, i get sick/injured in the city and go to hospital i wait for 5 hour to get through EM, i get sick here in Doomadgee, RFDS here in 1/2 and hour, fly to BRIS/Tsvl/Adelaide/Sydney where ever they can get me in and i bypass all the other poor souls with the same conditions and get attened to before them, mostly within 5-6 hours you are through ER and in a hosp bed ....
Even with basic IT skills you will be a very good canidate for "remote" jobs, you will be able to go to some excellent places that others dream of, you will have your own "space" and solitude most only stay for 12-8M and you will be ready to move on anyway ... sell up everything and either just keep it in the bank and live purely on what you earn, investing is wonderful but just yet another worry that you probally really dont want ....
To me you have thought it over really well, to well and scared you off a bit, do like us and bite the bullet, sell up and head off, if you can still see the road and turn the key you are fit and well, there is heaps of work out here, just be willing and not expect the world..
AnswerID: 443243

Reply By: Member - Michael J (SA) - Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 21:30

Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 21:30
G'day FG,

You have obviously given this a lot of thought and are perhaps looking for approval......maybe.

Were my circumstances different I could enjoy that type of life. What you have thought of/planned would be almost utopia to many people.

In your shoes, I would do exactly what you intend....why not?

In fact I would look at buying 10acres (give or take)somewhere on the coast ('cos I like the sea) and I would put a bluddy big shed on it.

Tour for as long as you wish, come back to your 'block' and put the RV and caravan in the BIG shed.

No maintenance, protection from the weather, a base to call your own.......and maybe, just maybe, later on put a house on.

Ideas and dreams.......pick it up and run with it...

What is the alternative??

Michael J
AnswerID: 443250

Reply By: Eric Experience - Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 21:48

Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 21:48
Fire gazer.
You remind me of a friend who sold up and took of. He took out a claim on an opal field, gave him a base to work from, very cheap land at $50 year, He then got cancer and almost died but was saved and dragged to hospital. He now is farm sitting on a sheep property, he just lives in a shed and keeps an eye on the property. The most important thing is to choose a very reliable vehicle and not overload it. A Hino school bus or something sturdy like that. Eric
AnswerID: 443254

Reply By: wendys - Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 21:51

Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 at 21:51
As an alternative to buying that land, why not tuck that money away in a secure, interest-earning account (investigate what you can put into a good super fund without penalty - there are tax benefits to this), and let it appreciate. Then if/when you do need to come in off the road, you will have the money to buy whatever modest set up is appropriate at the time. In the interim, you will not have the hassle of rates, upkeep of land, etc. In the event of something going wrong, you could just as easily park your rig temporarily in a caravan park in a medium town, whilst you got treatment, figured out what to do next etc.
Illness/injury - as Joe has pointed out, the RFDS coverage in remote areas is incredible. In some places, the RFDS flies in and runs regular clinics, occasional dental services and the like. Even though you want to go bush, you will find there is a loose grouping of similar nomads who keep an eye out for each other.
Vehicle accident and theft - insure your rig well, and whilst it would be a real hassle, it could be replaced.
The only way you will know whether you will tire of the nomadic existence is to get out there, so it and see!
Good luck!
AnswerID: 443256

Reply By: geko55 - Friday, Jan 28, 2011 at 01:09

Friday, Jan 28, 2011 at 01:09
Hi Firegazer,I say do it!! We have our home on the market and have bought a pre loved van and as soon as our house sells we are off!We plan to spend the rest of our time on the road.We have children around Australia so we can drop in on them but we plan to spend a lot of time in the bush.Go with what feels right for you and all the best.
This might help you keep your adventues in order,I bought one and I love it!

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AnswerID: 443273

Reply By: John and Lynne - Friday, Jan 28, 2011 at 14:34

Friday, Jan 28, 2011 at 14:34
If you are only in your 50s and have good employment skills that can be used anywhere why wouldn't you do it!? With some sensible lifestyle care you should have at least 20 years before you might have chronic health issues which might make travel more difficult!
Why focus on illness or injury? They can strike anywhere but probably won't if you are sensible.
Buy a sturdy reliable rig and go. You will have a great adventure (and there may be a book in it too!). People who are timid and worry about the future may miss out on having a present!
I agree with those who warn against buying land - a lot of costs and worry for little benefit and you have no idea now where you might want to settle when you are 80! Just make sure you have some money put away in a good investment that can earn a bit and provide you with some choices when you are ready to stop travelling. Good luck!
AnswerID: 443325

Reply By: Baz KOTR - Friday, Jan 28, 2011 at 14:53

Friday, Jan 28, 2011 at 14:53
G/Day FG
all we can say is when you bite the bullet and get on the road you will wish you would have done it sooner. Go 4 it man
AnswerID: 443328

Reply By: Member - warren h (SA) - Friday, Jan 28, 2011 at 17:15

Friday, Jan 28, 2011 at 17:15
Hi Firegazer,

All I can say is get out there and do it, I think too much worrying about what could happen and most of the time it never does, is an exercise that is not practical and will stop you from experiencing a great lifestyle. So many oportunities will open up to you once you are on the road, and with your skills and hobbies you will find so much to interest you and widen your horizons.

I have been on the road for 6yrs, would not want to live any other way. I am 63 and very fit and healthy, and would say that is a criteria worth striving for.

Hope this helps your decision,

All the best Warren
AnswerID: 443339

Reply By: FireGazer - Saturday, Jan 29, 2011 at 14:58

Saturday, Jan 29, 2011 at 14:58
Thanks to everyone who has, so far, responded - your courtesy and time is appreciated. Further replies are most welcome.

Some interesting comments have been made and a few new lines of thought opened up to me; I expected the thrust of the replies to be on the negative side and it's heartening to observe the exact opposite :)

I've been thinking a little more too, of course. It *is* a huge step perhaps not irrevocable but close to it. I'll have to dispense with the accumulated "junk" of over half a life time and all the things one collects as children grow and a family develops. No grandchildren yet so what does one do with the big box of Lego, the wooden sword we made for the school play, the little box of electronics I made for my eldest upon which he could play a tune before the phrase "home computer" was coined? The answer is... they have to go - and it's that walking away from so much of one's past life which makes this such a big step.

Also there is the fact that I'll have no *real* home, no bolt-hole, no security. I did this once before some years ago when moving to a new country and it came as quite a shock to me when I arrived at the airport of the country I was leaving and realised I had no keys! I didn't need them, the house had been sold, the car had been sold - for the first time since I could remember, from having a key to unlock my bicycle, I had no keys - it was an odd feeling :)

Let's run through a few of the points raised:

A few people commented upon buying some land:
My theory was that if something unexpected happens, serious illness, change of heart, whatever (unexpected!?), then I would have somewhere to go for a few months. It would take a council at least that length of time to go through the process of obtaining an injunction to prevent me living there. Additionally, I would have an option of putting a proper house on that land at some stage so I would keep a small foot in the property market. I need to give that more thought.

Daza and Fab's comments: Yep, I agree and it's one of my concerns but then I'm a bit of a picky bastard and would not wish to live somewhere I didn't like. Actually it raises the whole "old age" thing - my current feeling is that there is no point in going on for ever and when life becomes simply a desire to survive then it's probably time to go - whether I'll feel the same way in 20 years... who knows?

Palmy (and others) mentioned buying a rental property:
The last thing I want is a house somewhere far away which I have to rely upon others to organise; *however* the DoD rental sounds very interesting, I'll look into it - thanks Palmy.

Joe n Mel:
A long time since I was in Doomadgee - it reminded me of driving into a village in central Africa - the children were smiling a lot, I hope they still are :) I think you misunderstood my intention with the land - hopefully the above explains. It's not injury which concerns me (I have more comms than NASA :) but more a long term illness - who knows? I have an inkling you may run the store up there? If I make it back there I'll buy you a beer.

Michael J:
Approval? Noooo :) The last time I sought approval was when I played my parents-in-law at the game of who can make the most money - I won :) I also discovered that money is not the road to finding contentment in life. I like your idea of the big shed, all manner of sins could be hidden by such...?

Yep the caravan park alternative for a long term issue is a good one and has the advantage one could change parks if necessary.

Warren h:
Thanks for that - valuable input from someone who has taken this direction.

Thanks again to *all* who responded, if I didn't mention you above it was simply because I felt your comment was complete and didn't need further input - it was not a slight.

The process continues.... :)
AnswerID: 443431

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