Getting Ready to Leave on Your Nomadic Lifestyle

You’ve made the decision to become nomadic and to live a house-less lifestyle. Congrats! Now you need to develop your timeline to go from your stationary lifestyle to your nomadic one.

For us, we had to develop a timeline where we would sell our things, sell our house, sell our car, and then depart our address.

No matter whether you’re in an apartment that you rent or you have a family home you’ve lived in for years, you must start with the end in mind.

For us, the end in mind is that we leave the country via an airplane, and the only possessions we have are the things we can carry in our one carry-on a piece and one backpack a piece.

This is how we put together our nomadic timeline.

Should We Keep the House?

Steve and I began the conversation with whether or not we wanted to keep our house. It’s the house we raised our youngest daughter in and where finished out our careers. We knew that even if we wanted to keep a house, we knew that we didn’t want to keep this house.

Then we considered if we didn’t keep this house, would we want to continue to live in Denver? We returned to our criteria of where we want to live in the future, and we quickly decided that Denver didn’t fit our criteria.

So we knew that we 1) didn’t want our existing house and 2) didn’t want to live in Denver.

Should We Keep the House and Rent It Out to Generate Revenue?

We reasoned out the decision about when we should sell the house. Now or later? Should we sell the house at our departure, or keep it to rent for a while as an investment property? Should we rent it out through a management company, and bank the rental income to supplement our nomadic finances?

After much debate, we decided to not keep and rent. We don’t want the hassle of owning a home and the feeling of an albatross, even if it were well managed, around our neck. We want freedom and flexibility. Owning a home limits our ability to roam.

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We also decided to work with our financial planner to put the money we’d pocket from the sale of the house to work for us so that we could generate some revenue from the capital. In the future, if and when we buy our next residence, we’ll have a bucket of money to spend on the next place we put down roots.

Disposing of your Household Items, Or, Will You Get a Storage Unit?

With the question of your house resolved, you’ll need to consider how you’ll dispose of all the things within the house. Getting rid of your stuff is very difficult. Here’s how we’re tackling this issue.

We have decided we don’t want a storage unit. We don’t want to be geographically bound to our stuff, and we don’t like the idea of paying to store stuff. We have taken on the point of view that we have died, and all of our stuff needs to find new homes. We’d rather take on this task than have our kids do it later when our stuff becomes an “estate.”

Knowing that we won’t have a storage unit gives me a bit of anxiety, but I know it’s the right thing to do. We asked our kids to come through the house to take anything they wanted. All the pretty things went first. A few heirloom type items went next. A couple of pieces of jewelry went last.

The Photos. The Photo Albums. The Framed Pictures.

Figuring out what to do with all the family photos might be the hardest part of disposing of the items.

We have digitized all of our photos and put them into Google Photo. I own a Google Pixel, so I get unlimited storage of photos. I’ve created the account in my daughter’s name so that she has infinite access to family photos and memories. I then asked my daughter to go through over 20 photos albums, all which have been digitized, to pick out any hard-copy photos she wants to keep. We narrowed about 100 square feet down to less than one square foot. She’ll keep these special photos in her keepsake box the size of a shoe box.

After clearing out the pretty and favorite things, what’s left in the house is furniture, kitchen items, some art and collectibles, books, appliances, office supplies, garage stuff, and clothing.

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We have hired an estate sales company who will run an estate sale two weeks before we put the house on the market. They will sell everything that is left in the house including the half bottle of Windex under the sink. Any remaining items will be trashed or given to charity.

We have decided to get a safe deposit box for my wedding ring, which I don’t like to travel with, a few other pieces of jewelry that I don’t want to give my daughter yet (she’ll be living in a dorm when we take off), some original paperwork such as marriage certificates, tax docs, divorce papers, and birth records. These items can be retrieved digitally from their counties of record, but this process can be complicated and expensive. We will find a safe deposit box near one of our children’s homes where we are sure to visit in the future.

The Dog

If you’re like us, our dog is a family member, and deciding what to do with him has been difficult.

What will you do about your pets? If you have a small pet, it may be able to come with you.

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We, on the other hand, have a Giant Schnauzer named Zeus. We have researched every option we can think of to have him travel with us. The problem is that he is too tall for the tallest kennel that will fit in cargo on the plane. We even looked into training him as a companion dog and getting a companion certification! Finally, we checked into taking the QE2 to Europe rather than flying. The QE2 takes dogs, but Zeus is also too big for their kennels. Thus, my step-mom is taking him and couldn’t be happier. We can’t wait to visit him.

Selling the House

If you’ve decided to sell your house, you’ll have to decide if you want to sell it with all of your furniture in some sort of “staged” way for open houses or if you’ll sell it empty.

We will sell the house empty.

After we’ve had the estate sale, we’ll paint the interior of the house and spruce up the flooring. If the housing market is soft at the time we sell the house and buyers are becoming picky, we might pay to stage the house.

While the house is empty and for sale, but before we leave on our nomadic life, which we think could be about a month, we’ll camp out in the basement. We have a Murphy bed where we can sleep and hide away when we have house showings. We’ll eat in our kitchen and sell our appliances with the house so that we can still do laundry and use a refrigerator while we’re in house-selling mode.

Where Will You Establish Residency?

Our youngest daughter will head off to college when we head out nomadically. At the time of the writing, we have no idea where she will end up. COVID makes the decision even more complicated. She has four themes to her choice; attend a school abroad, attend a private school in the US, attend a public school in the US, and attend a public school in Colorado. Depending on where she ends up will drive our decision for residency.

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If she ends up abroad or at a private college, we’ll establish residency in Texas. It’s the best place for us from a tax-based decision (we’ll discuss this more, later.) If she picks a state school in another state, we’ll establish residency in that state to help her get in-state tuition. If she picks a state school in Colorado, we’ll keep our residency in Colorado so she can keep her in-state tuition status.

Selling the Car

Our nomadic start date is September 2021. Our daughter will head to college in August 2021. Our car registration expires in Colorado on August 31, 2021. Somehow we’ll get her to school, pack up our carry-ons, and sell the car all at the same time. We will most likely sell the car through Carvana, which we have had great success with in the past. At that point, we’ll hail a Lyft to the airport, put our carry-ons in its trunk, and officially be nomadic.

Getting on the road requires successful completion of many moving parts. So far we’ve had the kids take things, painted the exterior of the house, and refinished the hardwood floors. Next up is the working through of the college decision, which will drive residency solutions. Follow along!

How about you?

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See you on the trail,

Chris