What to do with our housing?
This is the MOST difficult part of planning our trip. I have no deep fears of travel itself, or doubts about being able to save enough money, nor am I afraid to take on the challenges of road schooling. By far, the most stressful and daunting of all of the planning we have dived head first into, has been the careful consideration we have had to make about our house. Since we are owners, our only options were either to sell, to rent, or to vacate and pay a mortgage on an empty house.
We are not prepared to sell, and both agree that we want to return to our home… some day. Although the housing market in Portland, OR. is currently robust and strongly in favor of the seller, this was not the case when we first began to consider our options. Even though we figured that we could have broken even, it would have been a bitter pill, to sell in a weak market, with little if any financial gain. There is also comfort in the knowledge that we can always come back, and return to a familiar neighborhood, a good school for our kids, and many dear friends.
There was and is zero possibility that we could pay our mortgage and simultaneously have money to spend money on our travels. This left us with only one possible option – to rent.
Who can we rent to? Where can we best advertise and locate potential tenants, and what will the market allow us to charge?
Our minds raced with hopes for an ideal situation. What if we had friends or family that would be interested in renting our home? Thinking that our house and Portland in general, might appeal to someone who is contemplating a major move to our Rose City, I first broadcast our plans to every group connection we have from here to New York to San Francisco to Los Angeles. We hoped that with lots of networking, perhaps we could at least find someone through our extended friends, if only to give us a better sense of security with leasing our home to “strangers”. Local friends suggested that we also reach out to professionals on a sabbatical or a temporary job assignment, i.e. doctors coming to Portland on a 1 year contract, or new professors at Reed college. We even considered AirBNB’ing our house for a nanosecond. In the end, we fell back on Craigslist and Trulia.
When thinking of price, we would ideally be renting for enough to cover our mortgage and insurance, but had hopes that we could charge enough to also cover any extra fix-up expenses, and/or allow us to pay a friend to manage our home while we are away. Thankfully, we do have supportive friends who are willing to be a contact person for our renters while we are gone, in the event of any emergencies. We know that we would want to compensate them financially for any extra service. We also initially hoped that if we were able to collect any excess payment above our mortgage, that this could go toward hiring a gardener to maintain our yard during the heat of the summer. Although the above was the ideal plan, we had to be prepared to charge a rent equal to our mortgage, and perhaps even a couple hundred less for the ideal renters (or any renters!).
What do we do with all of our stuff?
From the start, we really wanted to rent our home partially furnished, depending on our renters preferences. This would allow us to pack up all of personal belongings, and store then in our guest room attic space, which we could then lock off. This would prevent us from having to pay any additional storage fees while away (and make our move back home much easier!).
Within 3-4 months of our departure, we began to actively search and network for the best tenants possible. Within an hour of posting, we were receiving multiple emails of interest, and spent several weeks showing our house, and privately screaming at the kids to “not make messes!” With difficult decisions to make, we finally squared away an official signed lease, a month and a half before our departure!