How We Found the Freedom To Travel

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Posted by The Savvy Retiree on September 13, 2016 in Uncategorised

Bryan Danger writing on geographical independence

We live in our garage.

It’s a legal accessory dwelling unit (ADU) that my wife, Jen, and I designed and built to serve as home base for our new, minimal, nomadic, mortgage-free lifestyle. It sits alongside our house in Portland, Oregon, which is rented out to tenants.

With no worries about mortgage repayments, we’re free to travel as we choose…and return to our garage when we want. We not only get to live, work, and travel on our terms, but we also get to say “yes” to every holiday, event, and trip our friends suggest.

We tour around in our Sprintervan (home away from home) and have a few epic trips lined up for the remainder of the year. Thanks to our newfound freedom, we’ve spent more than 30% of the last two years traveling (ten states, 9 countries, and counting), exploring, camping, backpacking, surfing, kayaking, and generally making up for lost time…a far cry from the two weeks a year we saved for in our previous lives.

Nine years ago, we worked 60 to 80 hours a week in tedious jobs and were living in a five-bedroom house with a garage, attic, and basement…all packed with stuff. Despite our hard work and investments, we never had a dime of savings at the end of a year. We toiled away like everyone else for our two weeks of freedom, but somewhere along the line our ideals started shifting.

We moved a few times for our jobs and rented out our home to keep up on the mortgage while we were away. We lived in smaller and smaller apartments and purged more and more stuff. We realized that with less bulk and less overhead, there seemed to be increased freedom and happiness. Without our mortgage, we also started saving and paying off debt rather than living to our means each month — or sometimes beyond.

We began searching for a way to have our cake and eat it too…to be free enough to travel and jump on adventures as they arose, but to also have a home base to jump off from.

It finally occurred to us that the two-car garage had been sitting almost completely unused. If the two of us and our dog could live comfortably in a van, then a 480-square-foot garage would most certainly feel spacious.

We set to work designing our perfect living space, using a “sailboat mentality,” ensuring everything had more than one use and everything had its space to tuck away, keeping our space clean and tidy.

The tenants in the house pay our mortgage, and now, when we travel, we rent out the garage short-term to offset travel expenses. In fact, during the peak seasons, we’ve begun to realize that we actually lose money when at home…which prompts us to move into our van (the home-on-wheels) and go explore.

Our garage home may seem tediously small to some, but it’s designed perfectly around our lifestyle and dreams. To us it borders on luxurious, and when we’re at home, we wake up each morning feeling like we are in a resort. We only wish that we conceived this years ago.

Image: © Ammentorp Lund