One of the things to think about when you are planning to travel long-term is what you want to do with your home. Whether you rented or bought something, you call it home for a reason. But you can’t take it with you and to leave it empty for an extended period is a risk in itself.
There is no easy answer and all options have pros and cons. Before our first big trip, we decided to sell everything, including our home. It was part of our world trip preparations. Although it saved us a lot of money and headaches it also made us homeless once we decided to return home.
Fortunately, in this day and age, there are more and more possibilities to keep your home and maybe even make some money while traveling the world. It all depends on what you are looking for.
Are you able to sublet or rent your home?
First of all, you have to do some research if you want to keep your home. Whether you’re renting or you’re a homeowner, you need to know if you’re able to sublet or rent your home. Check with your mortgage company or your rental company if you are allowed to sublet/rent your home.
A lot of companies will not allow this because it’s a big risk. What happens if someone destroys your home while living there? Don’t forget to check your home insurance because they sometimes won’t cover damages caused by renters.
If this is a possibility, make sure to draw up good contracts for your renters or subletter that allow them to stay for a limited time only. You can always renew the contract if this is needed. But you don’t want your renters or subletter to end up with more rights to your place than you!
If you are looking to make some cash while traveling the world, check if you are legible to turn your home into a vacation rental. This means you list your home on a website like Airbnb, Booking.com, or VRBO.
The rules for a vacation rental are different than renting your home long-term. Check with your mortgage and insurance to see what’s possible. And check in with your local municipality. You might only be able to rent it out for x nights per year. Think about it and decide if the effort you need to put in equals the amount of money you will get.
You have to find someone who will clean your home after each customer left your home or space. And you might want to hire someone to take care of all the practical questions guests might have.
If you want to rent your home for a longer period you need to check with your mortgage company to check if they allow this. A lot of companies don’t want you to rent out your home because it is a bigger risk. If you don’t have the proper agreement and you still rent out your home, you might lose the right to live there.
But if you can do this it’s less hassle than a vacation rental. You just have to find the right person, write up agreements and that’s that. You move out and they move in. When you get back they move out and you move back in.
You have to go through your personal belongings and find storage for them. Maybe find someone who can take care of any defects while you are traveling.
Help a friend or family member
Instead of renting your home to a complete stranger, you could help out a friend or family member, or someone close to you. Ask around and see if anybody is looking for a temporary home. This way you have to worry less about who is staying in your home.
Just make sure to write up a contract so all parties know what to expect and you are on the same level. You don’t want this to ruin any future relationship you have with this person. As long as you both know what you are getting into, this solves a lot of issues.
Think about what your and their responsibilities are. What happens when something breaks or needs maintenance? What do they need to do before moving out? What personal belongings do you need to store?
If you are looking for a way to experience living abroad or merely staying in one spot for a longer period, home swapping might be what you are looking for. This way you trade your home for one somewhere across the world.
There are several websites to find a match. A couple of examples are Home Exchange, Love Home Swap, and Home Link.
Just make sure to leave your home clean and inviting to other people and put away anything personal. The great thing is you don’t need to think about a cleaning crew or maintenance. And you get to experience living in different countries without having to spend any money. That’s a win-win in our book!
Forward your mail
If you are renting your home in any way something to think about is the mail you still receive while traveling. Do you want the people staying at your home to take care of that or do you need to arrange something else? It’s not just about collecting the mail, but maybe you need someone to open it and digitalize it so you can read it.
Some mail services will be able to forward mail for you but remember that this usually goes by address. This means that the people living there while you are away are not able to receive mail either. It might be better to request a change of address at the source and forward it to family or friends.
Sell your home or terminate your lease
Not interested in all the additional stress of keeping your home? There’s always the option of selling your home or terminating your lease. This means you have to find a place for all your furniture and personal belongings.
You could find storage space or try to sell as much as possible. This is extra cash for your trip. Just remember that you have to start from scratch if you’re done traveling. So be mindful about what to sell and what to keep. We sold too much and were looking for the most stupid things upon return.
Get in touch with your landlord or rental company and find out what’s the first possible option to terminate your lease. If you are selling your home, remember this might take longer than anticipated. You might need to stop by a notary’s office to give someone power of attorney to sell your home for you.
Find Storage for your personal belongings
Whether you are renting out your home or selling it, you might need to find storage for your personal belongings. Maybe you have a family member with a big attic or shed that will be able to accommodate you. But there are official storage facilities everywhere.
Be mindful when going through your stuff and only pack what you want to keep. Otherwise, it is going to be very costly. Usually, you pay per square meter and the more you keep, the more square meters you need.
We sold most of our furniture because there was a small change we didn’t come back at all, so why bother storing it? But if you don’t want to spend a lot of money when you get back you might need to keep it. Or go to the second-hand store until you’ve saved up enough money again.
Make a decision as to what to do with your home while traveling long-term:
There is no easy answer and it really depends on what you are looking for. Renting out your home will cover the cost of your monthly rent or mortgage. But at the same time, you need to arrange some things that might not be easy or work out while traveling.
The most important thing is that you look into your options and make the best decision for you. We have sold our home and kept it without renting it and both had pros and cons. Next time it would be nice not to have a double financial burden, so we are looking into the options mentioned above.
Please share your experiences in the comments. And use these questions to help you make up your mind:
- Do you love your current home and would you struggle to find a similar place?
- Are you looking for some extra cash while traveling the world?
- Could you handle the financial burden if your house got trashed?
- Would you be happy to start over and stay with family or friends for a while?
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