September 7, 2014 — We are happy to read that more and more baby boomers are taking a pro-active role in downsizing. They are doing it intentionally, tackling clutter room by room and not adding on new stuff either. But how about the ultimate – getting rid of just about everything – including your house – and hitting the road? More than a few boomers are choosing this path.
In 2013 there were over 360,000 Americans who receive their Social Security at non-U.S. addresses, which was a 48% increase over 10 years before. Of course that doesn’t include hundreds of thousands more who travel either for long periods – abroad or in the U.S. – but still retain some kind of base in this country.
A consistent comment we hear from folks who have done it is that downsizing is “liberating”. One of the obvious benefits is that once you don’t have a house and “stuff” to manage you have a lot more money to spend. Plus, you have the time to do what you want – like travel or volunteer (or both!). The NY Times recently profiled Lynne Martin, author of “Home Sweet Anywhere: How We Sold Our House, Created a New World, And Saw the World” in “Retirees Dump Their Possessions and Travel the World”. Ms.Martin and her husband unloaded their California home, found a new owner for their dog, ditched most of their possessions, and now travel the world using short term rentals (using HomeAway.com). Their experience has been that the money they saved from not owning a home has opened up a new world, without having to tap their savings.
The article profiles other retirees like Stacy Monday, who has different tactics for enjoying the unencumbered retirement lifestyle. Ms. Monday claims that she sometimes spends less than $150 a month by volunteering at non-profits in exchange for room and board, or taking on odds and ends jobs. She writes a blog, Barefoot Lovey, which will give you an idea of her experiences and approach. It also has a tip jar!
Many of the folks who choose to live the nomadic life take extensive stays that involve volunteer work with some type of non-profit. Some of those visits are in this country, while others are in foreign destinations. Nonprofits that facilitate these jobs include Nomads on a Mission in Divine Service, RV Care-A-Vanners, and Global International (see end of article). In some you might get room and board or other benefits for your service, while with others you might get a gig like teaching English in an interesting country abroad. Topretirements has profiled several retired boomers who now volunteer as a traveling way of life. Those include Mary Anne Johnston (below), who found her work on literacy in Guatemala particularly rewarding. That job was set up through through Rotary International.
Barbara Traynor is profiled”How to Live for Free as a Second Career Volunteer“. Barbara has enjoyed numerous jobs both in the U.S. and abroad including organizations like Heifer and Russell Cave National Monument. Some have gone on for months and have covered her living expenses. Her blog, Second Career Volunteer, has some great accounts of her various adventures.
We wrote about Tom and Harriet Linskey in “Seafaring Couple Starts International Literacy Program“. Although they started off by retiring on their boat and cruising the world, they morphed that into a more purposeful retirement that focuses on bringing books and reading to poor children in the Caribbean.
We’ve also done multiple articles on people like Betty Fitterman, who spent the early years of her retirement on the road with the RV Lifestyle.
How long can you do it?
We think there has to be some kind of shelf life to living on the road. When we get really old we will probably need a home base. But in the meantime, it sure beats cleaning out the garage for the 5th time!
Do you think you could downsize the point where you have no home, not even a storage unit, and hit the road? Where would you go, and what would you do? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
For further reading:
Global Volunteers website
Global Volunteer Network
Adventurous Retirements Blog (Topretirements) – profiles many types of retirement gigs
Work and Volunteering Blog at Topretirements