Over Christmas break, I told my friends and family about some recent lifestyle changes that I’ve made. Once they got over their shock, they said I should share my new rootless retirement lifestyle experience because other writers might be interested in hearing the details of what I’ve set up and in doing something similar.
So, here we go.
Vagabond: (n) A person who wanders from place to place without a permanent home. (adj) Having no settled home.
First off, I’ve already started living this way, so some of this narrative may be catch-up and backstory. I’ll keep that brief, but if you do have specific questions, leave them in the Comments section and I’ll do my best to answer them. I promise to share the things I uncover living this way, the good with the bad, and all in their unvarnished truth. With humor, of course. I must have my humor. It keeps me sane.
What am I doing?
On December 8, 2021, I sold my Crescent Heights, St. Petersburg FL home. On December 9th, I started living in short-term (7-14 day) VRBO and Airbnb rentals on a bi-monthly basis, living my life online, and digitally.
Why am I doing this?
When I retired in July 2020 after forty years in corporate world, I had promised myself that I would write full-time, which I am doing. That said, continuing to own a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house after retiring made zero financial sense. When I considered downsizing to a smaller condo unit, I followed that logic out until not owning anything at all seemed to be the brightest idea, so I’m giving it a try. Plus, I love travelling and exploring new locations. Living a vagabond retirement life gives me the freedom to do it.
How am I doing this?
It took some organizational effort, but it wasn’t impossible. After purging my “stuff” for my recent multiple moves, I’ve stored the little that’s left (e.g., mostly books) in a climate-controlled secure storage unit. I’ve organized the storage unit so that any writerly materials that I may need like my book inventory for hand sales at festivals and conventions are located near the front of the unit, easily accessed. The storage unit offers gated 24/7 access.
Any remaining personal accounts can be checked via apps on my phone. Any documents or statements that I might need (and there are few) are e-delivered to my Gmail account. USPS snail mail is forwarded to my new UPS mailbox which offers a street address to allow for Amazon package deliveries. Even with that, when a package arrives, I get a text message about it on my iPhone.
It’s been two months, and so far, it’s working. As a modern-day writer, I’ve realized that all I really need is my laptop, my iPhone, a WIFI connection, and my creativity. Because I’m a first-born Taurus, to be double-safe I’ve added a mobile WIFI hotspot to my phone service, just in case. I was a senior project manager. I can’t turn it off.
How does this tie into my writing life?
I’m thrilled that this digital lifestyle is letting me focus on my writing including improving my social media efforts and presence. It did take some time to wrap my head around the fact that I’m now free to write whatever I like whenever I like instead of whenever I could. I used to carve out sacred writing time every morning and on weekends and fit my projects around my corporate work schedule. With retirement, I’m clear of those constraints. I have even more time now without the household maintenance chores. It’s liberating.
With great freedom comes great responsibility. I’ve heard other writers talk about putting themselves in ‘book jail’ to finish a writing project when up against a deadline. Living my vagabond life is like being in book jail 24/7 where I’m not only the prisoner; I’m the warden, too. (Go figure. It’s a left brain/right brain thing.) But because my days are free to be filled now as I see fit, I need to discipline myself to keep doing the writing and not fritter away my free time. Fortunately, I love working with words so having more time to do that is an extra bonus.
Post your questions and comments. I’ll do my best to answer them.