This post is firmly in the category of “important if not very sexy”. It’s about some of the less romantic details of how one goes about Pressing Pause on one’s life, and how there isn’t an answer about what to do with insurance.
We own a small portion of our house, maybe a door handle or two and probably that piece of guttering out the front that sags a bit because no-one else really wants that. The bank owns the rest.
“Oooh! Why don’t you house-swap in France?!”
Because we need to keep paying a mortgage. So back in February we got three Rental Agencies to pitch to us. OK, not really pitch, we just asked three. Two seemed fairly disinterested, but it was Ray White in Kingsland who were not only interested but (so far), helpful, and came up with a good number on the topic of “how much rent”. They walked around the property and told us the bits we needed to fix and the bits we didn’t. When we said we were going away in July, they said the best time to put a house on the market in winter was “Easter”.
We set out fixing all the bits we needed to and sure enough, got it all done the weekend before Easter. Ray White listed our house, had one viewing day Easter Saturday, and the first group through applied to take the property. They checked out OK, and they moved in two weeks ago. To earn their 7 to 8 % (depends on the rent) Ray White has helped us with landlords’ insurance and various practicalities.
So far this bit has gone very smoothly. And it was only after all the work on the house was done that I realised I had spent so much mental energy on that project. Once it was completed, I found myself finally getting excited about the bit where we go to France for a year, so that was nice! It was also just a good motivator to get those unfinished household projects, well, finished.
We got lucky here. It’s hard to rent a property furnished because most people have their own stuff. However, our tenants are recently arrived from Australia. We invited them to come back around and see whether they wanted any furniture, and they took lots of heavy stuff: bookcases, drawers, beside tables.
Everything else has gone downstairs where we have a separate storage basement. The Rental Agent suggested a potential tenant might want to use this space, but we hung onto it, otherwise you’re looking at around $3,000 for a year’s worth of offsite storage.
We found a friend to look after him for a year, but I was pretty relaxed about the Ultimate Plan B if you can’t find someone: the SPCA will let you surrender your cat for $20. According to them, they will not destroy healthy animals but rehouse them. However, surrendering means just that – you’ll never see the animal again.
If we had had to go that path, I’m not sure how I would have explained to the children that they had to say goodbye to Edgar. But in my experience, it’s better to be upfront about that rather than drag on some lie that “oh friends are looking after him” – as if the kids would land in France and then after a while forget we ever had a cat…
And so, onto the hardest one: insurance. You can’t press pause on most life/health/income protection policies. OK, maybe forget income protection! But seriously, with life insurance it’s either keep paying or cancel. And then if you cancel, you take your chances when you come back and start a brand new policy.
With no fixed income while we are away, we can’t really afford to keep paying life insurance. So it looks like we’re going to cancel it all, and instead we will just:
- take up some dime-store insurance if/when we get work in France;
- take our chances when we come back home;
…and in the meantime…
- really hope we don’t die.
Stay tuned for my next post which concerns an essential part of every Kiwi’s preparation for their OE: Staying at the Olds’!