When we gave up everything in 2014 to begin our freedom lifestyle we never really had any doubt that we’d have a great experience.
Both Ian and I love change and we love a bit of a challenge. So working out how and where to live, and how to make enough money to live that dream was something we looked forward to exploring and implementing together.
We have both sold our properties now so we are not penniless. However these savings are not nearly enough to pay for our existing travel based lifestyle. Nor are they enough to fund our future years of full retirement. It’s certainly a cushion should we need unexpected health care or to pay for medical expenses. But we still need to earn money to support our ongoing lifestyle for the rest of our lives.
We are both very much of the mindset that we should enjoy life to the full while we still can. How often do you read about someone who’s experienced some form of crisis before they make significant changes in their lives?
As a reward for breaking free we started our new lifestyle with a road trip in a big old RV that we drove around the southern States of America.
After a couple of months house sitting in Austin, we bought a 1998 32ft Pace Arrow complete with bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living space. We made this home for six months as we traveled from one local or national park to the next, across four states.
Our trip culminated in a challenging hike down into and across the Grand Canyon. We enjoyed it so much that we decided against the return trip by bus.
Instead we waited a couple of days for the last minute permits that allowed us to camp and hike our way back to the north rim where our RV was waiting.
That’s what is so great about our new lifestyle. No fixed long term commitments means we can change our plans at short notice.
Finally when we arrived back in Houston, Texas we sold our RV for the same amount we had paid which was extremely pleasing! But now it was time to make our way back to the UK to catch up with family and friends.
We’d deliberated long and hard about ways to make money, but nothing solid had materialized. Our intermediate plan was to house sit whilst we studied for our TEFL qualifications.
Through a friend, we’d been offered the opportunity to live and work in Shenzhen, China as English teachers. This gave us the opportunity to top up our funds whilst working part time. It also meant we could enjoy the new challenge of living in a completely different culture.
What an experience that was. China was so different to anything we’d expected. We were a little spoiled living in a first tier city with many western comforts, but we did our best to integrate into the Chinese way of life, shunning the massive expat community in favour a simpler, less expensive but more culturally rewarding way of life.
We worked for a year teaching in a Chinese run private language school where we gained invaluable experience teaching in a variety of different environments and across a wide age group. As prized native English speakers we were even sent to teach business English in huge Chinese corporations such as TenCent (creators of Wechat). We were paid a good hourly rate for our skills and it wasn’t long before we saw our travel fund regenerating!
At the end of a very fulfilling year we had saved enough for our next year of living expenses. As a bonus we also managed to fund a month of travel to experience some of the other mountain areas and less developed cities in and around China!
Six months into our year in China we began to consider “life after China”. It would prove difficult to secure another visa to work part time and we also wanted to spend some time working on our long term income plan. We were also keen to do more long term house sitting.
Ian has dual nationality, English and Australian. It seemed that Australia would be a good choice. We started looking for house sits on the Housecarers website. After a week or two of rejections, we made contact with the couple renting the property where we are currently house sitting.
It’s a beautiful luxury home in the Victoria Alps with five acres of land and a stunning outdoor pool. Bella and Bear are our latest charges and they are two adorable cats.
The property is rented although a sale has been agreed. The renters and the current owners both wanted to ensure that the property was looked after and maintained during the two months it would have laid vacant, had they not taken on house sitters.
People renting homes often think that it’s not possible to use house sitters. But the reality is that most home owners (and insurance companies) would prefer that you have someone in a property that would otherwise be left vacant.
In this situation there was also the possibility that the prospective buyers would want to come and measure up in preparation for their move in May. We are hoping the new owners may also need house sitters somewhere down the line as this is an incredibly interesting and beautiful part of Australia!
It was an easy process to secure the house sit. We sent a couple of emails back and forth and then arranged a Skype call whilst we were in China. After talking we all quickly agreed that we were happy to proceed. We booked our flights and sent copies of the flight details to the home occupants to confirm our commitment.
This is about as perfect as any house sit can be. A beautiful property. A car, a motorbike, two bicycles and two canoes all of which have been put at our disposal. A smooth handover with well documented instructions for the house and pool maintenance. We both have off-grid and pool experience which helps when applying for properties with these facilities.
Bella took to us instantly, but Bear took a week or so to adjust to his new temporary owners. We hardly saw him other than for feeding during the first seven days. Then unexpectedly one morning he simply rolled over on the floor and presented himself to be brushed! It’s always a such relief when the pets show that they are comfortable and happy in the company of their temporary carers!
Through friends that we’ve met along the way, we’ve secured a house sit looking after a small luxury beachside resort in Fiji for a month. Then we’ll be back to Australia where we are hoping for a further three month house sit in the Perth area. This is where Ian lived when he was in Australia so it’s like a visit home for him.
Our email alerts are all set up and we’re already receiving notifications of prospective house sits via the Housecarers website.
And for work?
We are continuing to teach online part-time to our Chinese students which easily covers our monthly expenses and flights. Now that we have “proper” access to WIFI we are also working on an online digital course to help other semi retired people like ourselves adapt to their new or prospective freedom lifestyle.
There’s no doubt for us that house sitting will continue to be a major part of that long term solution!
Happy New Year everyone!