Selling up

Financing the ‘Big One’ can be a real conundrum for many would-be grey nomads planning to turn their travelling dream into a reality.

An obvious solution for homeowners planning to be away for an indefinite period is to sell up the house and enjoy the fruits of years of hard work. That is fine as long as everybody is happy with the decision and the lack of a ‘base’ to come home to doesn’t become a worry.

It is a fact that most grey nomads – even those travelling long term – choose to stay in the property market. They simply want to have a place to call home once their travelling days are over.

For others though this is simply not financially viable. They want to have the spending power to travel as they like, how they like, for as long as they like … and liquidating their primary asset helps them achieve that.

Other grey nomads simply want to set out into the wide blue yonder on a brand new adventure that they want, and expect, to last forever. They may have one daughter in London, one daughter in Darwin, a son in Perth and the other son seeking his fortune in Coober Pedy. They want to leave the suburbs of Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide behind in order to find a new place to call home. After travelling for  a year or two, a surprising number of grey nomads pull up the van in a new community one day and say: ”This will do us” before heading off to find the local real estate agent.

What works for one grey nomad won’t work for another, however. It is a cliché but it really is horses for courses.

Planning for all eventualities is absolutely critical. Even if you intend to travel for a decade or more, things can and do change on the road. Grey nomads can eventually suffer ill health, have an accident, or simply fall out of love with the lifestyle.  If the house is sold, what is Plan B when the travelling stops?

Everybody’s family situation and financial position is different so there is no single answer to the problem. There are, however, a number of factors to bear in mind when considering whether to sell up?


How does your partner really feel about selling up? What is his or her threshold for worry? While you may be comfortable in taking the plunge, your enthusiasm and ‘she’ll be right’ attitude may not be shared.

Where will you live when your travels are over … whether it be in three months, three years or three decades?

If house prices go up while you are travelling, will you still be in a position to buy a new home when you want to? Will you still be able to afford to buy in the area you think you will wish to live in?

How does your family feel about your plans? If you have got it in the back of your mind that you might want to move in with your daughter and son-in-law in five or six years time when your wanderlust has been satisfied, it is probably worth discussing with them before you put up the ‘For Sale’ sign!


Those who choose not to sell will normally consider renting out their house as this will bring in extra funds to cover the ever-increasing costs of fuel.

Many others prefer to let family members, friends or housesitters move into their property – even for a bargain price – rather than leave the matter in the hands of a real estate agent.

Most baby boomers have a reasonable amount of equity in their home. If finances are an  issue some nomads choose to hit the road borrowing against the extra equity rather than selling up.

Are there compromises you could make about the way you travel that would mean you wouldn’t have to/want to sell your home? Could you, for example, travel in a second-hand rig, stay longer at free camps, travel slower?


At the end of the day, it is not easy striking out to become a grey nomad. Sometimes decisions just have to be made. Do your homework, plan ahead, fully acquaint yourself with all of the possible consequences of your choice and – once you have made a decision about your house – try not to look back with regrets. Move ahead in your new lifestyle with confidence and in a relaxed frame of mind. Worry isn’t conducive to a good trip.

Happily, most people find that once they hitch up the rig they quickly leave their anxieties behind. Grey nomads tend to get caught up in the here and now of where they will be sleeping that night and what they will be eating … and that’s what makes it all so liberating.


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