Sunday, January 8, 2017

A New Year and a chance to slow down

It's been a month since I arrived home from my many trips in 2016. It's given me time to reflect on my last 18 months since I retired. To evaluate my budget to see whether I can continue to support my self funded retirement for another 7 and a bit years. And to simply relax in my own little sanctuary beach house.

What I learnt from 2016 is that although I did a huge amount of different trips which I enjoyed immensely, I always had concerns about my home in the back of my mind. No matter how good or bad your house sitter is, there's a lot of emotional attachment to your little piece of paradise. It means that your time back home between trips is all about fixing things, sorting things or having a little talk with the house sitters about boundaries.

I'd like to be able to let go of that attachment. Not permanently by selling up, but by creating a professional arrangement through leasing my house. That way I not only get an income, but can spend some of that income on ensuring the maintenance gets done. But that first means spending some money getting the house in shape.

When you live in your own home there are a myriad issues that you put up with, that you work around, that you commit to doing in your own individual way because it suits you to do so, and the results work for you. But a tenant doesn't quite see it that way, so you need to make allowances for that. I'm not ready to let a tenant ruin all my hard work of 15 years in my garden, or to flood the house because they are too lazy to mop up after a shower. So I need to fix things.

I love living here, and I've got quite a few possessions that I'm not willing to give up, so my solution is to renovate my disused double garage into a self contained flat, move in to it, and rent out the rest of the house. There's ample parking already, and the garage hasn't been accessible to cars for years since I walled up the vege patch, so it's not much of a stretch to create this scenario. But I can't do it by myself, I need to employ tradies.

Last year I spent a good portion of my yearly budget on a ski trip to Japan. I had planned to return there again this February, this time skiing independently with my friend Kathy. I've now decided to spend that money instead on the renovations required to get the house ready for leasing. Plus I'm somewhat exhausted after my last year of travel, and I'm really enjoying being home for a while.....

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not giving up the travel game any time soon. I'm just staying put a while whilst I regroup and survey the situation. And sort out an income stream.

I'm currently planning my next walk. A 100km one week stroll through the tail end of the Snowy Mountains to Canberra with my brother and a few other walkers we've each met in our travels. It's the final section of the arduous Australian Alps Walking Trail, which has been on my bucket list even longer than the Bibbulmun Track. (Thanks mum for pointing out that I have been spelling The Bib wrong all this time). I'm absolutely thrilled to have my brother joining me. We've never spent this sort of time together as he was a mere 10 years old when I left home. He walked a few sections of the Larapinta Trail in July, and has caught the walking bug as well!!

In April I'll return to New Zealand. Early because my friend Sonja has asked me to house sit their pad in Christchurch whilst her and Chris go trekking in Nepal. This is a little contingent on whether their house is or isn't undergoing renovation for the damage caused from the earthquake 5 years ago. Yes, bureaucracy moves very slowly...  I'm yet to purchase a plane ticket, but a few weeks doing some tiki touring and tramping instead seems an attractive alternative.

Then it will be down to Wanaka for the whole ski season. I'm going to apply for a part time job doing some ski instructing during school holidays and weekends, and resit my Level 2 exam. I guess I need to rejig my CV. I'm thinking they won't need to know quite so much detail about my former career....

So right now I'm doing a lot of clearing up. Sorting unwanted possessions into saleable items for a big garage sale or throwing them away, and employing tradies to do the work needed on the house. I'm doing a little windsurfing, but I'm picking my days rather than spending all my time at the beach. The hard truth is that if it's windy it's usually cool enough to do the garden jobs I need done, and if it's troughed out and hot I can stay inside doing the sorting and other myriad chores. Like scanning all my old film negatives, or importing my old videos ready for editing. Meanwhile listening to a good couple of years' worth of "Conversations with Richard Fidler" podcasts.

But if there's good wind and big waves, I'll go.

I'm really enjoying this time. I was feeling quite overwhelmed when I returned home, but I still have almost 4 months to sort all this stuff out, and it's not like I have to go to work all week as well. The garage is almost emptied out ready for a garage sale and for the builder to remove the ceiling. Once I find a builder....

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