Selling the family home to travel indefinitely is a terrifying proposition for many grey nomads who baulk at the idea of being out of the property market and of simply not have a home base to come back to.
However, there are still plenty of happy campers ready to take the ultimate leap of Big Lap faith and gamble on the endless open road.
Five years after selling their property in Canberra, self-funded retirees John and Jenny Rodwell say they have absolutely no regrets … but they say proper planning is essential.
“Despite a good circle of friends and neighbours we were more than happy to sell the family home of some 20 plus years and go on the wallaby,” said John. “Our kids were well established and there was no reason to live in a large home in a location that experienced severe winters with a high cost of living.”
The couple did their sums very carefully and – as much as they love travelling in their LandCruiser and Jayco Outback – they also developed a strategy for life after the open road. They set up their finances in such a way as to ensure they will be in a position to enter the property market again at some stage, probably at Hervey Bay in south-east Queensland where Jenny’s elderly mother lives.
“We are in no hurry and will bide our time and wait for the right opportunity,” said John. “We love what we are doing and, as long as the health factor is good, we will continue to travel.”
An important part of the Rodwells’ budget planning is based on the fact they have a self-contained rig and therefore rarely stay in caravan parks, and that they also do a lot of housesitting as they go.
“We are sought-after house sitters and spend 50% of our time looking after homeowners’ properties utilising their utilities and caring for their much loved pets,” said John. “We truly believe there is no other means of experiencing such a variety of living and meeting such wonderful people … some of the locations, and the properties we care for, can be totally amazing.”
Despite the careful planning, John admits he still keeps a wary eye on property prices rising ‘too high’.
“In that instance we would reign in our expectations and go with what we ‘need’ as opposed to what we ‘want’,” he said. “Selling your home and living in a caravan can just about send some people into total shock, so anyone toying with the idea should make sure their planning includes some type of retirement accommodation so they’re not left with only a vehicle and a caravan that depreciate over the years.”
While the Rodwells love their nomadic lives and have absolutely no regrets about selling up, they understand travel without a property safety net is not for everybody.
“What a lot of people cannot come to terms with is not having their ‘security blanket’, said John. “Everybody’s circumstances are different and so I would certainly not be prepared to advise people what to do.”