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The Road to No Fixed Address

How I went from being a loft-owning, senior manager to sleeping in 40 places in 40 months

Empty Road
Photography by Thomas van der Vennet

I won’t pretend I was emotionally evolved enough to embark on a social experiment to rid myself of my material worth and find my real value. Yes, I had started questioning why I wasn’t deeply satisfied with my life. I was a 50-year-old corporate woman, busy propping up my identity for decades with my notion of success. I had the flashy cars, clothes, and champagne.

I possessed everything I thought I needed, but I felt trapped and stressed. I craved a life of creativity spent with good people. A life where I was in the driver’s seat with my work, not a passenger.

My husband and I decided to act on a shared dream of owning and operating a small restaurant. We sold our home to simplify our finances, then sold or donated most of everything that was in it. This step, along with the new business, felt like an exhilarating leap into the right place for me.

We moved into a tiny rental, a fifth of the size of our previous home. It was small but it delivered unprecedented amounts of calm, happiness, and time. It was my idea of a perfect minimalist life.

That was, until about two years later, and with turns we couldn’t anticipate. Our dream business had drained all of our savings and with rent due in a few weeks, we had no means to pay it. We learnt of someone going on holidays and moved in for two months to housesit. For the next two years, we moved every month or so; to the next housesit, or to stay with friends.

The difficult things at first were not having our own bed, art, and all the comforting things. My possessions; the ones I had spent decades cultivating my taste for, and years acquiring; the things that ‘made our home’ were now absent.

When we still carried too much early on, afraid to let go; packing and unpacking was deeply tiring. I used this exhaustion to excuse myself out of things. My exercising and studying suffered. I found it awkward to answer the banter about ‘where do you live?’. I got flushed filling in forms with no fixed address. Some days I felt homeless, other days like an evolved nomad.

We had choices two years into this experience and decided to continue with our simple, lean, and moving life. It’s now four years later and we have now house-sitted in over 40 homes.

For those interested in personal development, this has been THE accelerated learning institute. I’ve learnt a lot:

I’m no longer tethered to my possessions. The houses we sit have all kinds of material luxury. A homeowner can leave me the keys to his Porsche and I don’t have a twinge of ‘what if’. I’m less selfish, more compassionate, and more understanding. I have a new list of what’s important to be happy. I give time and money more freely to make things better for others.

I’ve become more flexible and easy. I no longer try to control everything. With literal change of perspective and scenery every few weeks, I have become OK with change and I now know what freedom feels like. Some comment that our life seems complex, but without money binding us, possessions distracting us, and work draining us, life feels simple. I work full-time, from any home location I’m in. But I no longer have to cling to a job I don’t like just to pay the bills. Our money is for adventures with friends, help for the homeless, trips with family, and support for community.

Our lifestyle may be different in the future, but for now, it’s a transient one, on the move every month or so. We have a couple of cases in our car containing only our favorite things. That’s it.

Home is wherever WE are.

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