How one retired couple sold the house, traveled the world instead and made it workNews added by Benefits Pro on April 21, 2014
By Paula Aven Gladych
In baseball, the term “home free” means you made it home safe. But in retirement, it means something else entirely.
There is a movement afoot by retirees to skip retirement in the traditional sense by selling their homes and worldly possessions to go out and see the world.
Lynne and Tim Martin, who have been married for 10 years, spearheaded the home free movement about three years ago.
“We were on a trip to Mexico, watching the sun go down, and I was thinking about this idea. I’m going to be 70 years old soon and there are so many places I would like to go and spend time,” said Lynne.
She told Tim she didn’t know how they could possibly do it but she would like to figure it out.
“Within four months we were gone. I never thought in my wildest dream I would want to leave my house, my garden and my grandchildren,” she said. “We decided we didn’t have to do the predictable thing. We are the healthiest older generation in the history of the world. People our age have energy and health so there is no reason not to do the things we want to do while we can still get things done. I feel that way strongly.”
Lynne has documented their decision to uproot in retirement in a book that will be released this week called, “Home Sweet Anywhere: How We Sold Our House, Created a New Life and Saw the World.”
Since they took the plunge, the Martins have lived in Mexico, Argentina, France, England, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Morocco, Turkey and New York, which she admits is not really a foreign country but a fun destination nonetheless.
The first thing the Martins did when they decided to move forward with the travel plan was to see if they could afford it. They also had to decide what to do with their house while they were gone for six months or more.
“We couldn’t just walk away and close the door and we weren’t crazy about renting it out,” she said.
They figured out how much it was costing them to live in their home.
“It was staggering how much it was costing us to open our eyes in the morning,” she said.
Then they figured out how much it would cost to live in the places they wanted to spend some time.
“It is not that hard to do. We looked into rent and food costs — that is all accessible information — what we would have to do to get there and what to do about transportation when we got there,” she said. “The number we got for a year’s budget was much less than the cost to live in our house in California.”
That’s when they decided to sell their house. They gave the money they received for their home to an investment manager “and we have not been back to the well for one dime. Not a penny,” she said.
The couple is living off a small pension, Social Security and income from their investments.
“We don’t live lavishly. We live like we do at home. We go to the market. We cook. We watch TV in the evening. We are not on permanent vacation. We’d be dead if we were. We just can’t do that,” she said.
Because of their travels, they have met many interesting people. Martin got her first foot in the door as a writer with the Wall Street Journal. She saw that a writer she admired was going to be in Paris at the same time she and her husband were going to be there. She asked if he would like to meet.
When he heard about the Martins’ home free lifestyle, he thought his editor at the paper would find their story interesting, and the rest is history. The editor loved the idea and commissioned Lynne to write an article about their lifestyle.
After the article was published, her blog — Home Free Adventures — went from 28 to 3,500 followers overnight.
Many people nearing retirement or already retired visit her site to ask questions and find out ways they too can follow the dream.
She also was approached by agents and book publishers who were interested in what she had to say about home free living, which is how her book came about.
One of the biggest things people ask about is health care. The Martins have Medicare and a supplement for health insurance. When they come home for a visit, which is about once a year, they visit their doctors and dentists for checkups. When they are abroad, they purchase international insurance so they are covered in case something catastrophic happens, she said.
So far, they haven’t needed the insurance, but it brings peace of mind anyway.
When looking at a new destination, they visit a website called homeaway.com to find international rental properties. And though language has been a challenge at times, they make a point to learn a handful of simple phrases, like please, thank you, I’m sorry and I don’t speak your language.
Most people are happy to help when the message is delivered with a smile and a little bow, she said.
When they first decided to make what many perceived as a drastic change in their lives, the couple’s children were speechless, Martin said.
“They’ve gotten used to it. They are our greatest supporters. We have seven grandchildren and they are fascinated with what we are doing. We are much more interesting to those kids than we were,” she said.
Skype and FaceTime have made it easy for the Martins to keep in touch with their families. If they didn’t have this ability to communicate with them, Martin said she would have been miserable.
Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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