Living Home-Free and the Puzzled Pooch

Ever since we sold our home and embarked on our home-free roving retirement a year and a half ago, I have sometimes thought about what “home-free” means and how I feel about it. This concept has been even more at the forefront since “Stay at Home” orders and lockdowns have become a way of life because of Covid.

Telling People We Are Home-free

When we tell people that we don’t have a home or that we are home-free, we often get the “puzzled pooch” look. That is the bewildered expression we see when people can’t comprehend that anyone would choose to be without a home. Along with the startled look, we often hear, “that is so exciting, but I couldn’t do it.” As such, it can be hard to explain our lifestyle to others.

Our decision to have a roving retirement for at least a few years started with a process of acknowledging our impending lack of a home. Even though we knew it was coming, when we finally left our home of 16 years for the last time, it was really hard. On one hand, it is incredibly freeing to have just 3 smallish suitcases to keep track of. On the other hand, I miss my bed and sometimes I miss all of my clothes.

Being Home-Free During a Pandemic

Since we are home-free, lockdown and stay at home orders present some unique challenges. How do you stay at home when you don’t have a home? Back in March, we spent a pleasant week in Nice France and had just started our trek towards Spain when, somewhat accidentally, we heard about the impending lockdown. Within two days, all of the hotels and restaurants in France closed, including the place we were staying. It had been our intention to live in hotels for a few months while exploring France, Spain, and Portugal. But we realized we needed a different plan and quick.

We had to find someplace to call “home” where we could stay while on “le confinement“. Our main criteria were to find a place with a kitchen so we could eat and a bed we wouldn’t get kicked out of, especially if one of us got sick. On super short notice, we picked a town in France and an apartment and went straight there. We made our home there for two months.

When we were finally able to return to the Bay Area to look after our relatives, we had to do a two-week quarantine. So again, we needed an apartment for at least four weeks, two weeks for quarantine, and then another two to help our family. But other than quarantine, the US has never had the same strict confinement as countries in Europe. In the US we felt more able to move around and choose where we wanted to be.

Making Ourselves at Home

Our lack of a “home-base” causes us to spend a significant amount of time deciding where we are going to sleep and how we are going to get around. Most people plan vacations periodically, but we do that planning for every day of the year. We both spend plenty of time looking for flights and rental cars. But most of our time is spent figuring out where we are going to sleep each night. If you don’t like making travel arrangements, I wouldn’t recommend this lifestyle.

Out of necessity, we have learned how to make ourselves comfortable very quickly wherever we choose to stay. Generally, when we arrive someplace, we review our checklist to make sure everything works and we know how to turn things on and off. We even have a small bag filled with kitchen necessities that we have found lacking in many apartments.

The Benefits of Being Home-Free

Normally, being home-free allows us to follow the action. We can traipse the world going from a Grand Prix to a Tango Festival to Santa Ski Day. Or dally over Dali or Dolly or Dolly, or wherever else we care to go. We are also able to spend extended periods of time in a place without worrying about our home, pets, or paying for two homes. We can choose where we live based on the weather, for example, if the snow is no good we can just go to Mexico to get warm and stay as long as we like.

Also, we really feel like we are benefiting our mental health and our lives by being home-free. First, we aren’t always comfortable, which is a good exercise for your brain. (It isn’t really too good for my back though.) We frequently have to learn our way around a new place. Sometimes we have to learn a new language and customs.

Discomfort causes self-reflection as I’m doing right now and our problem-solving skills have improved out of necessity. Overall we think this lifestyle is good for our mental health and our physical well-being. At least for the foreseeable future and we look forward to moving around the world more freely sometime soon.

Finally, we get to enjoy all of those puzzled pooch looks as we answer the “where are you from?” question from people we meet in our roving retirement. They are usually curious and it serves as a good ice breaker.

So, home is what you make it.

Would you every consider being home-free?

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  1. Still envious of this lifestyle and love reading every word of your blog! The pandemic is a hassle for you, but it would have been at “home” too! Shark’s won last night – do you still follow them?

  2. Mike, Met you at Grand Lodge on peak seven. Diana good luck. Thank you for all the great information!

  3. I’m glad you’re both well and still enjoying your roving retirement, despite the COVID challenge. For me, I think it would be relatively easy to do this in warm climates. You can pack a lot more summer clothes into a suitcase! But I’m married to a pack rat who would have a really really hard time letting go of all his “stuff”. 🙂

    Stay healthy – and I hope we get to see each other again at some point. Until then bon voyage!

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