Sell my house, quit work, travel?
September 25, 2006 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Sell my house, quit work, travel? Is this something I should seriously consider? Who has done this, how did it go? Do you know others who have and it turned into a huge mistake?

I'll try to keep this as simple as possible. I'm 25, never graduated from college, have been working in educational IT for over six years. I have, in my opinion, one of the best jobs I could imagine, however I want to throw it all away for a chance to travel around the country and eventually the world. I've traveled much more than my friends, but not nearly as much as I'd like, and when I come back from a trip, I'm always left with a feeling of, "Why did I return?". The idea I have is to sell my house, continue working here for six months, saving every dime while living with friends or parents(no house payment, electric bill, etc). I'd then like to drive out west, staying in the national parks or by using couchsurfing(which I've been a member of for many years and have made lots of friends). When I find a city/town I enjoy, I plan to find a place to stay and work if needed for a few weeks/months. Then move on to wherever I like next.

I'll soon be a licensed rigger so I may be able to get part time work at drop zones across the country. I'm a certified dive master with SSI and PADI, so I think I'd be able to find work at dive shops or other diving(and tourist) related fields. I've been in IT for most my life, linux and nt admin, hardware and software, mac and pc. I'm very confident in my abilities to use and fix any computer problem that may come at me. I'm learning French, and have taught myself ASL. I say this not to toot my horn, but to paint a picture of where I'm coming from and skills I could utilize

I wouldn't be able to, nor want to take time off. I've taken months off work for travel and I wouldn't be able to for longer periods of time. I'm not with anyone serious, I have two dogs. which would be hard for me to part with, but their mother has expressed interest in taking them. I've also considered taking one with me, but worried about the added expense as well his life enjoyment. I'm an only child whos parents would be understandably upset by my departure, though hopefully they'd understand. I estimate I'd be leaving with about 60,000 in cash if I sell my house. The other option I though of was to rent out my house, but I don't want to deal with renters or agencies and I don't think I'd be able to get enough in rent to make it worth it, though I'm open to discussion.

I really want to do this and think I'd be able to survive and be happy, but I'm also not completely insane and don't want to jump into something that could potentially ruin my life...however I'm pretty confident in my abilities to take care of myself. I need advice which sadly I can't get from friends. Please hope
posted by killyb to Travel & Transportation (30 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Your title doesn't appear on the main page. FYI.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:20 AM on September 25, 2006


Do it. DO IT. This is not an insane idea, you're young, you've thought things out, you have plan, DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT .


Send MetaTalk a postcard though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:21 AM on September 25, 2006


Yea I noticed..not much I can do now
posted by killyb at 9:21 AM on September 25, 2006


You must have really tolerant friends, if they're willing and able to put you up for months at a time. I'm not quite sure, parents aside, if that's entirely realistic.

Do you have a plan for where you want to go, and what you want to see? How long are you planning on doing this for? If you could set a definite timeline, you could at least tell your employer that you'd be back in X time, and hope you could reapply for a job.

Be aware that without a college degree, you may be at a disadvantage in the hiring process. I'm sure the six years experience would mitigate that, but it's something to be aware of.
posted by canine epigram at 9:25 AM on September 25, 2006


As I've gotten a little wiser (at 38) I think it's definitely an asset to be able to brush off the 2-car suburban house lifestyleand go Bohemian. Done properly it's an awesome way to save money and be flexible with job markets. The big trap I see, of course, is later on being forced into rental houses or motels and depleting your savings.

One idea... get a comfy used RV and find places to anchor down as you go from city to city. When you get sick of one place, pull up and move. This won't go far in travelling the world, but it's one option. For more info on that lifestyle there's the Usenet group rec.outdoors.rv-travel.
posted by hodyoaten at 9:32 AM on September 25, 2006


Do it.

If you want to do educational IT again, you will most certainly have a resume boost if you say YES to this idea and then later apply to a private school, especially in New England. They love eclectic, wanderlust-suffering individuals who have believed in the power of their dreams.
posted by orangemiles at 9:37 AM on September 25, 2006


Look at the risk. As a young, presumably single person, your risk is low. If it doesn't work out and you blow your savings or run out of money - you return home to mom, get a job, and start over. Certainly not the end of the world.

Now imagine trying to do it with a spouse and kid to worry about.

Do it now, so that you don't end up 35, married with 2 kids, and bitter about the trip you never took.
posted by COD at 9:42 AM on September 25, 2006


When I was your age I hadn't really traveled much on my own. I'd only left the country four times, twice to visit Canada and all times with my parents. I decided exactly what you are thinking of. I saved my money for two years (I'm in web development and this was during the dot com boom, so I ended saving quite a bit).

When I was ready I sold or put into my parents' basement all my stuff, and spent a few months driving across country. When I got to the west coast I sold my car flew to the South Pacific. In total, I spent 18 months away from home.

The whole experience set my career back a bit and cost a hefty chunk of change, but I consider it the single best investment I ever made.
posted by justkevin at 9:50 AM on September 25, 2006


Some thoughts - first, the housing market kinda sucks right now. I have no idea about YOUR area or YOUR house, I just point that out as something to consider.

I'll suggest a slightly revised version - if you travel somewhere cheaper, your money will last longer. Investigate South America or Eastern Europe or even Africa, paying attention to exchange rates and local costs. There are places you can travel where a few thousand dollars will permit you to live like a king (five-star hotels) for months - no couch-surfing required.
posted by jellicle at 9:51 AM on September 25, 2006


This book has a lot of usefull information for someone in your situation--but in short, what Brandon Blatcher said.
posted by nitsuj at 9:52 AM on September 25, 2006


I really appreciate the advice. My biggest fear is the lack of a degree, though I have never had that an issue in the past. As far as living with my friends. Some of my friends have borrowed many thousands of dollars and lived in my house for years at a time. If they would have a problem with me living with them for a few months they would have to get over it :)
posted by killyb at 9:52 AM on September 25, 2006


I'd say do it.

Please note that IMO you have overestimated your employability in diving--you'll need to be at least at the instructor level, and preferably have some technical diving specialty, in order to be attractive to a dive shop.

Talk to unbiased instructors/shop owners, ask them what they need, and get on the road to building those skills. Nitrox mixer? Specialty skills instructor? Someone who can lead trips?


Do it anyway, but the dive guide route is well-worn and not as easy as you seem to think. Also, please note that it is an unbeleivably grueling, long work week, that even at the Equator your core body temp will drop from consecutive days of multiple dives--you'll be wearing a wool hat in hot weather just to stay even--and you won't get paid much.

On the other hand, you're outside, and it's a cool job, and you're around fun people having fun, and you'll never ever forget it. Plus you'll become a really solid diver, which a lot of DMs and DiveCons aren't.
posted by Phred182 at 9:54 AM on September 25, 2006


JELLICLE

I know....that's been a feer. I've been planning this out for years, and just last year would had been great to dump my house....now I'm not so sure. I plan to leave the country after seeing the west. I'd like to spend some time in china and vietnam. I went to Lima a few years ago and was amazed how far a dollar could go.
posted by killyb at 9:59 AM on September 25, 2006


Do it.
And try to go to the farther-flung places, too, because they may be harder to get to later once you have a partner and fixed expenses. Go to places that will be really, really different from what you're used to.

Probably you were not being literal, but don't take $60,000 actually in cash. Put it in the bank so you can withdraw as needed. Or put part of it in the bank, and part of it into an investment that will mature in a year, part into an investment that will mature in 2 years.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:01 AM on September 25, 2006


Phred182

No, I don't seem to think it would be easy to get a job at a dive shop, it's just something to throw out there as a skill. Just like a rigger, the shops/dropzones already have 10s of people wanting to do it...and I assume they'd much rather have someone they trained/worked with work there than some kid off the street.
posted by killyb at 10:02 AM on September 25, 2006


LobsterMitten

No, I wouldn't take cash, but I will have approx that much after liquidation. I plan to invest more than half. Then have an account to withdrawl from
posted by killyb at 10:04 AM on September 25, 2006


justkevin

not sure if your still lurking, Is there anything you would have changed about your trip....or anything you regret doing?
posted by killyb at 10:10 AM on September 25, 2006


About 15 years ago, after I finished working overseas, I took the close to $2000 I had saved up and traveled for four months with that money through Kenya and Europe. For myself, traveling like that was one of the best things I ever did. I purchased a train pass and spent a few days in different towns in Europe each day.

With 60000 you should EASILY be able to travel not just in the states, but overseas if so desired .You may want to save some of your money (40 K?) so that upon your return you can purchase a house and resettle.

Could there be a way that you could secure a job overseas and then begin your travels? Then you could live in another country/city for a few months or a few years, and when you finish, continue traveling from place to place. You would also have a bit more money to continue your travels, but then you may not really need that.

I don’t see why you shouldn’t take this trip. Go for it!
posted by Wolfster at 10:15 AM on September 25, 2006


go for it ... when i was around your age, i did and i had a lot less money and skills, which proved to be rather difficult for me ... but i survived and at least i know i had some adventure in my life

with your money and skill set, i can't imagine why you shouldn't
posted by pyramid termite at 10:21 AM on September 25, 2006


If you want to stretch your dollar, stay away from most of Western Europe and the USA. $60,000 should be enough to last you for years in many Asian, South American, and African countries. You are definitely in a ideal position for a trip like this. You could squirrel away half of that and still travel for a couple of years if you go to the right places.
posted by Succa at 10:27 AM on September 25, 2006


No question, do it.
posted by dead_ at 10:28 AM on September 25, 2006


My wife and I have been working on just about this exact plan for a few months. We researched diliglently the housing market, did pertinent upgrades, remodeling, painted the entire house, etc and the market fell flat on us. We had the house listed for about 70 days and didn't get a single offer (it wasn't that we were asking too much compared to houses around us -- our price was average -- just that there are so damn many houses being sold right now). Consequently we have been resigned to take it off the market, plan on doing some extensive remodeling and will be trying again in the spring.
So my biggest suggestion would be to make sure you either sold your house first, or didn't burn any bridges until it sells. In this market it is not a sure thing by any means.
My answer: Do it!
posted by iurodivii at 11:10 AM on September 25, 2006


Go for it while you can. I hate you. But wish you well and much fun.
posted by JamesMessick at 11:28 AM on September 25, 2006


I also say why not, but here's one bit of advice: try and get some kind of degree before setting out. Regardless of the profession, I think the ability to say "I am college educated" will at least get you in the door at some places that wouldn't look at you otherwise. Many schools will happily grant you many of the credit you may need as "life experience" credits, provided you have experience in the area you are getting a degree in.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:31 AM on September 25, 2006


not sure if your still lurking, Is there anything you would have changed about your trip....or anything you regret doing?

A few things that I think would have improved my experience (and I would recommend for anyone else):

1.) At the beginning of my trip I spent a lot of time hopping around from place to place "checklisting," trying to do as many "must do" tourist things as possible. If I had to do it again, I'd skip 90% of the museums, churches, monuments etc. I'd also have visited fewer places but spent more time at each.

2.) Meet more people. Almost all of my memorable experiences involved other people, not places or sights. This is my #1 piece of advice.

3.) Keep a list of goals. I found that when I was working toward a goal, adventures seemed more likely to present themselves, as opposed to when I was just going from place to place.

4.) Even things which were disasters at the time turned into valuable experiences and memories. Seize all opportunities, even if it involves a little risk.
posted by justkevin at 11:44 AM on September 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


A couple of thoughts, take them for what they're worth:
1) You will likely never again be in such a good position to do this. Most people get more tied down rather than less as they get older. You might be an exception, but I agree with those who have said that if you're going to do it, there's no time like the present.
2) Be prepared for your friends and family not to be as enthusiastic about this as you or strangers on the internet are. This is particularly important as you are counting on them to some degree to provide housing at least for the short term.
3) Be prepared to have a tougher time getting a job, even with excellent skills, given the paripatetic lifestyle.
4) Think about how you want this to end. Do you plan to do this forever, or will you eventually come back to a more conventional lifestyle?

Best of luck, whatever you decide.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 12:52 PM on September 25, 2006


Definately do it!

The 4 years I spent traveling, moulded me as a human being and set me on the right path.

However. I would suggest not selling your house. But rather renting it out, via a rental agency.

Then you have an income that (in some parts of the world) you can live on!
posted by gergtreble at 2:06 PM on September 25, 2006


Of course you should do it. My longest trip abroad was close to 6 months, and I had a great time, but to be honest, I think I traveled for too long. My wife and I agreed that we had the most fun for the first 6 weeks, and then it got to be more work.

I also found that I really got tired of being a tourist, never able to really connect with a community. You might want to consider something like Geek Corps, or attend language school in another country, like Argentina or Vietnam (to really stretch your dollar).

Our biggest regret traveling was when we turned down an offer in southern Turkey to help run a wonderful little hostel with a Turkish couple for a few months. We still kick ourselves for the lost opportunity to put down some roots and get to know people there.
posted by fcain at 10:23 PM on September 25, 2006


I've been floating happily for years (I'm late-20s). I'm based in one city but I travel as much as I can possibly afford, and when I'm in my city (nyc) I just rent temporary rooms. Being happy this way requires a certain personality type (which you're likely have if you naturally have these instincts) and a commitment to really minimizing the physical objects in your life.

A PO Box is very useful (I've filed my income taxes and had my billing address at the same PO Box for five years, while I've lived in more than a dozen places). Craigslist is your best friend, for "et cetera" job listings, nice temporary rooms, and free/cheap objects. I think you can see how doing this with a dog would be very tough, particularly when it comes to finding temporary living spaces.

You have several valuable & transferrable skills. You have a house that could provide you with a far bigger chunk of money than you'd need to start out. Go for it!!
posted by allterrainbrain at 1:06 AM on September 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


I forgot: seconding the GeekCorps recommendation above with all my heart! They are a wonderful, beautifully run org that really does good in the world and would look outstanding on your resume.
posted by allterrainbrain at 1:08 AM on September 27, 2006


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