I became a homeless person again yesterday.
It felt good.
The removalists had taken everything from my apartment, and the cleaners had spent a couple of hours removing any sign that I had ever lived there at all.
I guess they did a pretty good job – by the time they were finished it wasn’t just the physical evidence of my time there that was gone. As I wandered around the empty space that had contained my life the day before, I realised that my attachment to the place had been scrubbed away as well.
Expecting to feel something more, I chatted to the property manager for a while before handing back the keys – but there was nothing. Even closing the door for the final time behind me barely registered a flicker.
I struggled a lot more with my departure last time around. Even though I’m going to be gone for longer – maybe indefinitely – now, the preparation and accompanying emotional rollercoaster have been a lot less tumultuous. Maybe I’m just in denial … but I don’t think so.
I think I just know that I’m doing the right thing.
Having a space to call their own is vital for many people. The sense of security given by those four walls matters – even if those walls actually still really belong to a landlord or the bank. For some reason though, I just don’t seem to be wired that way.
I remember an incredulous workmate bemoaning the cost of housing in Melbourne earlier this year, and then with the same breath berating me for not being interested in entering that same market myself. She turned to me and said “but you must be on decent money. Surely you could afford to buy?”
Could I have made the monthly repayments? Yeah, probably.
Could I actually afford them though? To me that’s a very different question.
All of a sudden close to half of my paycheque would have gone to keeping myself inside those four walls. Overseas holidays would have been out of the question, along with most of the little things that make life just that bit better. A nice meal now and again, or the morning coffee at a favourite cafe.
It’s more than that though.
For me the deal breaker is that signing up for a mortgage would have meant forcing myself to continue to have jobs that paid at least as well as the one I was in for the next 20 or 30 years. The flexibility to try something new, to hit the road, to live just a little differently would have been sacrificed in the name of ensuring the next mortgage payment was made.
On balance, that freedom matters to me more. A lot more.
I tried to explain that to my colleague but the look on her face told me that I may as well have been speaking Martian. That’s ok though – this mindset isn’t for everyone.
Some people choose to invest in their houses. I choose to invest in my passport.
Is this the sensible option? For many people probably not, especially if physical stability matters to them. Probably a good thing really, or else I would never have been able to get those seats on a plane bound for Thailand – everyone else would have been doing the same thing.
It works for me though.
My flight departs at 10.45am tomorrow. If you’re in Melbourne, look up and give me a wave.