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What happens to the home when you’re away on an extended trip? Tony Allsop ponders the question.


What happens to your home when you’re travelling? Many RVers are on the road for extended periods, requiring them to make important decisions about the security and maintenance of their home while they’re away. After all, the last thing you want when you come home is to find it burgled or damaged by water. More to the point, many insurance companies will cover your property for a limited time only, such as three months if the house is empty.

As I see it you have several choices when you’re away. Renting your home is one way to have money come in while you spend it on fuel. However, you have to do your homework. Tenants and absent landlords can be a problematic mix and I’ve heard some horror stories! If a major problem arises and you have to head home suddenly, it can be a problem getting your tenants to leave, particularly if they have a lease. Alternatively, some RVers get a good friend to move in while they’re away.

Another choice is a house sitter. We have a friend who does this. She and her husband had a new Swagman motorhome, but after her husband passed away, our friend found the swaggie too much to take on herself. She now house-sits for those who also like to travel.

Obviously, references are important, and a recommendation from a previous house owner is always worthwhile. A clear agreement regarding the use of personal items and visiting family or friends is one way to avoid possible conflict. That’s because "accelerated" wear and tear is likely if the sitter’s family moves in for a holiday!

Depending on how long you intend to be away, you can just pack up and leave the house empty, with family or neighbours collecting the mail, mowing lawns and generally looking after the place. Be sure to check your insurance policy if this is your plan.

Another option is to sell up, put your money into an investment or superannuation fund, and just travel for a few years. Keep in mind that lower investment earnings can make it difficult to re-enter the housing market later. If your health deteriorates on the road, a home with all the comforts is generally better than a caravan.

When Denyse and I knew we’d be travelling for extended periods over the years writing travel stories, we investigated retirement villages. These villages are also called lifestyle estates, retirement resorts and other names, but basically they all offer the same thing: a group of homes or units, with a pool and other amenities and an age limit for entry (commonly over 50 or 60, though some are over 70). Some are leased while others are freehold. Oh the decisions! They do offer more security for like-minded people though, and maintenance and mail forwarding are done for you. In some ways, good retirement villages are similar to good caravan parks: they have facilities and friendly, like-minded neighbours who will happily help each other when needed.

YOUR SAY: What you do with your home when you’re travelling on the road?