Empty apartment

My Kind of Homeless

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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 now going to be gone for longer, maybe indefinitely, 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?”

For sale

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.

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  1. “Some people choose to invest in their houses. I choose to invest in my passport.”

    I think it’s important, no matter which one you choose to invest in, that you do it because you want to. It’s sad to think that some people choose the conventional, buy a house, get married, etc. lifestyle when they don’t want it. If you’re happy with your choice then that’s all that matters.

    Bon Voyage.

  2. I felt the same way when leaving for my 2nd journey. For the first, I was a mess at the airport, and the days leading up and after were difficult. The 2nd time, I could have been flying to a neighboring city instead of 1/2 way around the world. Just a flight (or 5) to somewhere awesome. No biggie! 🙂

  3. Another great post Dave. We all miss the blonde school girl hahahahah. Have a safe and awesome time in Thailand and all the very best!

    Oh god I hope the female workmate you were talking about wasn’t me….

    Soph xo

  4. We get the ‘are you going to buy a house’ question often and it’s hard to tell people that their number one piece of security scares the living sh*t out of me! That having a mortgage only means that I will have to stay ‘here’ for an indefinite period of time. No thank you. I like what you said…I’m investing in my passport. Good luck Dave!

  5. Glad to see you’re finally on your way here. Making a stop in Bangkok? Would love to meet up. Cheers, Ray

    1. Sorry Ray, my international flight arrives in Phuket and then straight onto Chiang Mai the same day. Any plans to head back to CM yourself?

  6. Dave my absolute favourite line in this is “Some people choose to invest in their houses. I choose to invest in my passport.”

    It honestly confirms that I am doing the right thing with my life.

    Although no bank in their right mind in the UK would give me a mortgage, I remember how stressed I used to be just paying rent let alone a mortgage.

    To me those kind of things aren’t security as some people see them: their weights.

    Great post 🙂

    1. Thanks Beverley! Damn right … for some of us the ‘security’ of a house is nothing so much as an anchor around our necks. 🙂 Keep doing what you’re doing!

  7. Freedom matters more. A lot more. Love that.

    You’re so right. There are no right choices – only what works for you. Congratulations of finding what works for you and heading out there to experience it wholeheartedly!

    I look forward to seeing you along the road.

  8. Great post, Dave, I’m glad you’re able to follow your dream! I can’t wait to see how you make the most of it 🙂

    We’re in the process of getting plans approved to build a house, and I’m already dreading the morgage payments and the thought that I might not be able to afford to travel anymore is keeping me up at nights. I hope I will be able to have my cake and eat it, or I seriously need to revise my priorities…

  9. I understand what you mean about the exceptional value of freedom, but I don’t think you have to choose between Financial or Freedom.

    It doesn’t have to be an and/or equation.

    I’ve invested in a house AND my passport.

    We bought a house in Melbourne in 2006, lived in it for 4 years, then sold it at a profit and bought a (cheaper) rental which pays for itself. In Dec 2010 we left Australia and became location independent, spending 2011 living and travelling in South East Asia.
    In the 4 years we lived in our house we holidayed in New Zealand 4 times, Thailand, Cambodia, Europe, UK, USA, and got married in Mexico.

    It’s doable if you don’t get sucked into the belief that all real estate is half million dollar plus mansions/apartments. Buy something cheap that you can rent out – there’s no rule that says you have to actually LIVE IN your first real estate purchase!

    People need to think outside the box and look different options. A bit of groundwork can mean that you can trott off for global adventures secure in the knowledge that some other sucker is paying off your mortgage 😉

    I refuse to choose.
    I say have your cake AND eat it!

    1. Hey Vickie,

      Yup, I totally agree – it doesn’t have to be an either/or equation. If you find yourself in the right situation to have both, through good luck or good planing, then that’s awesome!

      With housing priced as it is here currently and only my income to pay off the mortgage, there’s sadly no way that I could have had both the freedom and a house I wanted to live in. I could have bought somewhere cheaper in the outer suburbs as an investment to rent out (and in fact have done that, just not in Melbourne), but I’ve chosen instead to put my money into more liquid assets that require less maintenance.

      As you say, thinking outside the box is the way forward and there are plenty of ways to have your cake and eat it too – I just think it’s fantastic that there are people out there doing it no matter what form it takes! 🙂

  10. Awesome Dave, pumped about this journey for you! The thought of packing up everything I own and moving is terrifying, but knowing someone else is doing it makes me want to do it too.

  11. Memories and experience last a life time, that is what you will remember one day when your old and in some retirement home somewhere. Life is short and to be lived. You certainly won’t be daydreaming about how good your mortgage repayments were! Enjoy Thailand 🙂

  12. Ooo, where you off to next?! I guess not feeling any emotional attachment to leaving your old place shows you’re making the right choice 😀 All the best in your future travels!

  13. Love investing in my passport! If only the banks would realize how much money mine is actually worth!!

    Love this post Dave. I think people don’t stop and think of the actual cost to buying property. It can often take away the person’s ability to actually live.

    We travelled for five years owning property, rented it out and all was sweet, so you can find ways to make it work.But, they have to be smart investments, much harder to find these days. We bought at the BEST time.

    We no longer own the properties (thanks to bad choices) and I learned just how much they can take away your freedom and that hurts. Much rather be homeless and travel instead- far more joy in that option, and really what other point to life is there?

  14. Hi Dave,

    I recently found your site and I’m completely amazed about your life.
    The travel dream is my biggest dream – and guess what! I’m about to do it. I’m saving some money for a while and pretend to go to Peru first. Have you ever been to Macchu Picchu? I think it may be amazing!

    I hope you’re happy in your trip!

    P.S.: I’m a brazilian girl and my english is not that good, so please forgive any mistake.

    Good luck!

  15. I am about to get on a boat, sail to the mainland
    and start my very first independant travel.

    I have little to no set plan.
    I probably am not properly prepared.
    I am taking my pup, my guitar, and my backpack.
    I plan to couch surf , and take part in WWOOF
    working as I travel where ever I go.

    the scariest thing is telling my mother.
    and vancouver.
    Im going to try to skip over vancouver.

    I have full faith that I will be okay.
    everything inside of me is screaming LETS GO!

    I am leaving everything behind.
    headed from victoria British Columbia all the way to st, johns Newfoundland… not all in one go.. but thats where im headed.

    I am a little nervous.. because I have a dog..ergo I have dog food. ergo I might smell delicious to bears. hmm :/

    I hear to throw rocks at their nose? is that legit at all?
    any travelers advice for me?

    I am doing this.
    I know I am not doing this the safest way.
    but I am doing it the only way possible right now
    and thats to just trust in myself, have faith in god,
    and get on that boat!
    August is the best month to go across BC this year and
    I am not going to wait!!”!

    I am so excited to meet people and be able to ask more than just “would you like a bag today” and “please swipe” (im a casheir)

    My ramble, rant, maybe I am a bit nervous. but I think thats okay.

    1. Don’t wait. Never wait. The best time to go is when your heart is totally committed … and that time is obviously right now.

      I think you’re nervous, and I think that’s fine.

      I also think you’re going to have one hell of an amazing adventure.

      Enjoy it. Always.

  16. Dave.. You truly are AWESOME !!! I agree 100% with everything you wrote !! You hit the nail soooo many times :):)

    Would love to know how many passports you have gone through ? 😉

  17. “Some people choose to invest in their houses. I choose to invest in my passport.” love this! so true! I never seen the sense in a mortgage, to choose to put myself in that debt and loose the freedom that I had when I didn’t have that debt/ what for?? How will I know in 5 years that I will want to be in that house and that location. well done on your move I bet looking back now your glad you did it

  18. I was pretty lost at 25 years old feeling not much purpose to work. It was only until I got a mortgage at age 26 did my motivation return since I had something to work for instead of just count my savings. This was in 2003 and it turned out to be one of my best investments that is now producing some nice cash flow.

    My properties also give me motivation to work hard online too. I think in just lazy in general and don’t need much to survive. Debt ironically has helped me become financially free.


  19. Great post man! I’m in a similar situation, having recently taken a year off work to travel through Central and South American (with a little stopover in Indonesia) I’m now back in the grind of full time professional work. I’m happy in that each day is one step closer to renewed homelessness but the constraints of the apartment walls are already choking me a bit. Can’t wait to travel again! your post hit home and its really nice to see other people feel the same way – unconcerned with owning property, taking advantage of the short life we have to do what we love! great post.

  20. I feel greater attachments to homes where I created great memories with awesome roommates … the structure itself has nothing to do with anything really…

  21. I agree with Vickie – there is a way of having your cake and eating it too, it just takes some hard work and serious planning. Our goal is to set up passive income streams that in combination, will allow us to travel and live wherever we choose, to the maximum allowable stay our passports let us stay for in a particular country. This goal will take a while to realise, and it will also require a few years of hard slogging at a 9-5 job while building the long term income streams that will give us that ultimate freedom… meanwhile, we sacrifice frivolous expenses for travel. Have cake. Will eat it too. Great post!