Our neighbors in Florida joke that we are never in our S&B home. Actually, we are…sometimes. But we have already planned to be away from home more than 6 months next year, and I’m certain that that number will increase. So today we answer the proverbial questions….how do you manage the mundane aspects of life (mail, banking, home security) when you are on the road.
Modern Technology is Your Friend
I’m certain it was far more difficult to manage your home, banking, mail, etc. in the “old days”. But today, technology makes it a snap.
- How do You Pay Bills?: Our banking and all of our investments are managed on-line. We use Vanguard for our investments and a small regional bank for our daily banking. Both offer apps that run on our iPads or iPhones. The fact is that banking on such devices can be safer than banking on a desktop unit.
- First, you are certain you are actually interacting with your financial institution’s website, not a scam site made to look like your bank.
- Apps also go through additional quality control (Apple or Google). This additional testing is like wearing a belt and suspenders.
- Many financial institutions will allow for additional verification when you use their app. After my Google account was hacked about one year ago, I set up cellphone verification before logging on. After entering my user ID and password, a code is sent to my cell phone which must be entered before I can access the site.
- Still concerned…utilize a VPN (virtual private network) app like BetterNet. We first downloaded their free app because Facebook and many Google apps are blocked in China. We downloaded the free version and found it works very well. (Not only could we document our travels on Facebook, we could also watch movies on NetFlix even though we were out of the country.) But more importantly, VPN’s allow users to securely access a private network and share data remotely through public networks (i.e. Starbucks or a campground). This technology has been used by corporations for many years, and now is available free or at a nominal cost through a variety of providers.
- What about mail?: All of our bills are handled online as well. Our bank has the ability to get many of the bills directly. A few require us to sign up for e-billing on their website. However, today, not a single bill comes to our mailbox. (Even our county tax collector provides e-billing for our annual property taxes.) So what is in our inbox…. junk mail! Though I have tried to curtail junk mail, some still gets through. Of course, occasionally a doctor or the VA will send something via the mail…but in most cases, they also send a text or even call. So to date, we haven’t missed anything. We just put a hold on our mail, updating it monthly when required. (Did you know you can set up your hold mail notices with the post office online too?) If you feel the need to review your mail on a regular basis, you can enlist the help of a mail forwarding service. One of the most popular among RVers is that offered by Escapees. These services will box up your mail and send it to wherever you want on a schedule you prefer, or scan the mail and make it available to view online.
How do you Manage Your Home
We are fortunate to live in a community with great neighbors, that is desirable to renters…especially snow birds. In the winter, we rent our home. Was it scary at first? A bit. Perhaps it was easier for us because we had owned rental property before and had good experiences.
But we understand that renting one’s home is different. It does take a bit of work to prepare for the renters. We move all our personal items and clothes to a room and installed an exterior lock on that door. Keep in mind, we are also minimalists…we don’t have family heirlooms or art treasures on display. So prepping takes me about 2 hours…a bit more for Denise as she has a few more clothes.
We also spent time developing a lease that is fair but offers us the protections we wanted. (We looked at a number of leases online and gathered copies from folks we knew in the community that did seasonal rentals. If you want a sample lease, contact us.) Again, we are fortunate to live in a very desirable location. We rented our home in less than 1 hour after posting it on a free website. The couple took phenomenal care of our home and asked to come back the next year. We don’t have a professional property manager, but let our handyman and neighbors know when we are traveling. If something needs to be addressed, our handyman is just a phone call away.
Of course, there are some folks that just won’t feel comfortable renting their home. And, of course, there are times we leave for just a week or two and don’t want the hassle. In those cases, we are glad we have a security system. We choose SimplySafe because it is inexpensive, self-installable, and works just as well as more expensive systems.
We Love to Travel
We absolutely love to travel…both in the US and abroad. We are fortunate to be healthy enough to explore the world and experience life outside of our cocoon. Learning how to manage life’s mundane details was easy. It simply took asking some folks, “how do you…” and taking advantage of modern conveniences. If you have a question, don’t hesitate to contact us.