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Logistics of long term travel - how do you take care of your house back home, pay bills, etc.

Logistics of long term travel - how do you take care of your house back home, pay bills, etc.

Aug 31st, 2007, 11:31 AM
  #1  
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Logistics of long term travel - how do you take care of your house back home, pay bills, etc.

We are retiring in a few years and have thought about how great it would be to be able to spend a few months at a time in Europe. I am wondering how people who have done this have dealt with taking care of their house, paying bills, etc. Do you hire a house-sitter? Arrange for lawncare? How do you pay your monthly bills? Have mail forwarded? Pay on-line? I am sure there are great ideas out there for dealing with these kinds of issues.
BoulderCO is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 12:08 PM
  #2  
 
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When I had a home in the States I had a niece who paid my bills & had a lawn service to cut the grass. Then I rented my place out & had a manager collecting rent & overseeing repairs but the niece stayed on top of the bill paying. That was pre-internet, though.

Of course, nowadays you can pay a lot of bills online but you might want to have someone picking up your mail, etc. Are your utilities on a budget plan so that it's the same amount every month? If so, and if you're traveling just a few months just pay those bills ahead yourself.
Carrybean is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 12:38 PM
  #3  
 
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I have my daughter and son-in-law on my checking accounts Boulder. So when I am away from home they pick up my mail and pay my bills.

I now live in an apartment complex so there is a gardner. A neighbor and/or my daughter will water the potted plants which are only outside (no inside plants). When I lived in houses we had a gardner. I have never used a housesitter although many people do.

Before my daughter was an adult we had a very good friend who would check our house about every three days. He had a key and the security alarm code. Our bookkeeper at our office paid our bills as we had our personal mail delivered to our office.

I know a lot of people pay their bills on-line but I never have.

I do not leave a message on my answering machine that I am on a trip as my daughter or son-in-law checks any messages and returns any necessary ones.

I try to keep it as simple as possible and it has always worked out (well except for the time I left a cantaloupe on the kitchen counter that rotted and smelled up the whole place that is!). BTW, I more than once have been gone for over two months and if you can do that I think you will really enjoy yourself! Best regards.
LoveItaly is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 01:31 PM
  #4  
 
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If you have a laptop or computer at your destination, you can pay bills online. Just set it up in advance so your accounts are connected to a bank account and you can log in and pay while away (that's what I'm doing).

My post office allowed me to hold mail for 6 weeks... I just had to come in and turn in the request in person. But my sister offered to have the mail forwarded to her so she could deal with it, and my neighbors offered to pick it up.

I think it's definitely a good idea to have a housesitter or a neighbor who can look in on your place. Just make sure they have keys before you leave.
slangevar is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 01:41 PM
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My longest trip so far was for 10 months. I have all my regular bills except my lawn care service and my credit card on automatic bank draft.

I forward my mail to a good friend, and also leave her signed checks for the lawn service and credit card companies so that she can pay those bills (I also leave stamps). For the long trip I had her added to one of my bank accounts in case of an emergency, but I don't bother for shorter trips.

Another friend checks my house on a regular basis, and also drives my car every couple of weeks.

Long term travel wouldn't be possible without my friends. I have considered renting my house, and generating some income, but it would be a big hassle moving stuff out.
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 01:42 PM
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I also pay my bills online, even when I'm at home. You can set up automtatic payments (estimate the amount) to come monthly, weekly, whatever you need.

One word of caution, I would not use a public computer to access my back account. It's worth the hassle to either take along a small laptop or use a computer owned by someone you trust.

I used a hotel computer in Paris to access my email a few months ago. The very next day, my email account was hacked into by someone who had the password. They set up 7 additional email accounts and used them to send about a million spam emails. The UK lottery scam and the like.

As a result, my mailbox was flooded with bounced emails that came from (supposedly) my account to invalid addresses. When I returned home, I was getting hundreds of these bounced messages each day. I couldn't figure out what the heck was going on until Bellsouth shut down my DSL account. It took a week to get them to believe I was not the spammer and to lift my "suspension".

The security people at Bellsouth told me that the spammers use a software program to send thousands of messages at a time to random email addresses that the software makes up. I was getting the invalid address messages boucned back to me.

They said that some public computers can be rigged to copy passwords, so that's what must have happened to me. Thank God I didn't use it to access my back account.

Linda431 is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 02:27 PM
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Was this at a hotel where you had to purchase a card to use the internet? Would you mind sharing the name of the hotel so others can be wary?

I took a year off to travel in Asia and Europe before there was e-mail...I lived in an apartment so things were easier than they would have been had I lived in a private home. I wrote checks for amounts that stayed the same from month to month and gave a relative blank checks for other bills, which I had forwarded along with other mail, to his address....had no problems but it was a long time ago...
ekscrunchy is online now  
Aug 31st, 2007, 02:39 PM
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Most of my bills are automatically billed to American Express. The others are automatically debited from my checking account.

As for the house and pets...I leave my husband at home to take care of those.

I'm not being mean -he just refuses to fly.
scatcat is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 02:52 PM
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I failed to say except with one exception all of my utility bills are put on my Visa credit card so there are just a couple of bills a month that require that a check be written.

A family member who works with high security computer issues has always said do NOT use public computers for any financial transactions etc. Even when you properly log off there are sometimes "something"..sorry don't remember the description, that will pick up every keystroke that you make and consequently your financial information can be violated.
LoveItaly is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 03:00 PM
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Non-techy question here. If you use something like yahoo e-mail rather than your usual e-mail address, are you still likely to end up with these hacker problems?

I guess what I mean is: at home I use my e-mail address set up through my server. However, I also have a yahoo address which I never use. If I were to use the yahoo one at a hotel, would it still mess up my computer when I came home?
hopingtotravel is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 03:14 PM
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Our home is in Texas but we currently are living in a state nearly 3,000 miles from home. Tho we are still in the US, we will be away for 1-2 years as my husband is a consultant and has accepted this job. We are lucky to have a wonderful neighbor who is retired and watches our home, starts our auto, makes sure all is well, we have an automatic lawn irrigation system, home alarm and lawn service, we pay all bills via the internet or they are auto pay directly from our bank account at home. There is a service by the US Post Office where they collect our mail and every Wednesday they do a priority shipment of that weeks accumulated mail to our home in Washington state where we are now, it isn't cheap, about $13 per week, paid in advance but it works very well. So far we have been gone nearly 3 months but will go home at the end of Sept. for a week, several weeks at Christmas then I'll return to Texas every 2-3 months to keep an eye on everything. Like I said, so far so good.
Suspaul is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 06:02 PM
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My neighbors--bless their hearts--come over twice day, open my drapes in the morning, and close them at night. I have one of those timer things that turns a light on and off at appropriate times.

My neighbor's son mows my lawn, and I leave the money with her to dole out to him as he mows it. I have a sprinkler system to water the lawn. I have the post office hold my mail, and I stop the paper.

It's so easy to pay bills now with online banking that I usually arrange that before I leave, and there are some bills that are paid automatically. If I have a bill whose full amount I don't know, I just take a stab at it.

I invite my neighbors to come over and watch cable any time they want. (They don't have cable.)

I check my bank account at internet cafes--though I know I shouldn't do that. Ditto my visa. My sister will have her laptop on our next trip, so I can do it on her laptop safely...I think.
Pegontheroad is online now  
Aug 31st, 2007, 06:14 PM
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We've been doing summer trips to Europe varying from 2 to 5 months for the past 12 years now. It's really pretty easy. What isn't set up for automatic pay, I do online -- including the credit cards. Nearly everything can be accessed by computers these days. As to not using internet cafes -- I have no reason to believe that my information is any more likely to be "hacked" there than here at home. I have a few things that are paid automatically by the bank, but most things automatically bill to a credit card. That way I can bring my credit card account up at any time and see what amounts have been billed to it -- and I collect FF miles as I do that. Then when the statement date is done, I click online for an automatic payment from my checking account two or three days before the due date so I don't have to worry about it.

We did move from a house to a condo, so maintenance issues are very minimal. And we have a friend who comes over once a week to sort through mail and let us know if there is anything that needs to be done -- rarely there is.

We even put up a property for sale which contracted and sold while we were in Europe and did everything by email and/or fax.
NeoPatrick is online now  
Aug 31st, 2007, 06:54 PM
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There are other "retirees" who will come and stay in your house. Sometimes a house swap can be arranged. Or sometimes (depending on location) they will pay your utilities while they are there.
robjame is offline  
Sep 1st, 2007, 01:45 AM
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"used a hotel computer in Paris to access my email a few months ago. The very next day, my email account was hacked into by someone who had the password. They set up 7 additional email accounts and used them to send about a million spam emails. The UK lottery scam and the like.

As a result, my mailbox was flooded with bounced emails that came from (supposedly) my account to invalid addresses. When I returned home, I was getting hundreds of these bounced messages each day. I couldn't figure out what the heck was going on until Bellsouth shut down my DSL account. It took a week to get them to believe I was not the spammer and to lift my "suspension".

The security people at Bellsouth told me that the spammers use a software program to send thousands of messages at a time to random email addresses that the software makes up. I was getting the invalid address messages boucned back to me.

They said that some public computers can be rigged to copy passwords, so that's what must have happened to me. Thank God I didn't use it to access my back account."


And the real story...

BellSouth, Comcast and the other's are VERY eaxy to do this with. They don't NEED your password etc. It has happened to me several times and I use a VPN secured access......

BellSouth has ALL kinds of "stories" on how this happens, but the truth is they do nothing to prevent it LOL!

So your "email" can (and probably) will be hijacked if you ever send an email to anyone or post it on a place like this etc.....
CarolA is offline  
Sep 1st, 2007, 04:37 AM
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Like many of the others here I rely on neighbors or family members to look after things and forward mail. On one extended trip I hired a mail forwarding service to clean out my PO box weekly and send everything over.

I use automatic billing to my Amex account for my phone bill, internet charges, utilities, etc. I pay Amex and my CC company electronically through their web sites. I did this while traveling in Europe from internet cafes in train stations and hostels. After signing off on my account I would try to log in again without using the user name or password to see if a cookie was stored that would allow someone else to get in. Negative all the time. I don't know if this is a guaranteed hacker proof procedure but I have not had any bad experiences since I did this over a year ago.

Our city has an ordinance prohibiting distribution of junk flyers and "newspapers" but it is not enforced. I now get two of these a week so I'll have to ask the neighbors to pick them up next time I am away. Depending on the season, I have a neighbor boy rake, mow, or shovel for $15.

Unplug appliances. Clean out refrigerator. Turn off the water and drain the system. Set the heater at 50 and turn off AC. Give the house plants a good soaking or put them outside if going in non-freezing weather. Service the car.



hopscotch is offline  
Sep 1st, 2007, 04:55 AM
  #17  
Pinchme_iam_dreaming
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(well except for the time I left a cantaloupe on the kitchen counter that rotted and smelled up the whole place that is!). LOL When we went to Germany last year for 2 weeks.. we forgot about the fruit bowl on the bar (Oranges.Grapes,Bananas and Pears) yea it was very gross when we returned.
 
Sep 1st, 2007, 05:22 AM
  #18  
 
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Excellent question. I'm not getting locked up in an aeroplane hold for ten hours, and I'm not prepared to stay in some horrible kennels while the Boss and Mrs Boss go swanning around America or Australia.

So long holidays on the other side of an ocean are out of the question for Mr and Mrs B. It's driving round Europe for us all now.

But that's easy.

Practically their bills are paid by standing order or direct debit. Credit cards automatically get a minimum amount paid by direct debit: they top up whatever else on line.

Royal Mail would hold their letters if they wanted them to. But why bother? The postman just puts the letters through the letterbox. If they want their post, Royal Mail airmails it regularly to any foreign address.

The gardener and the cleaning lady take care of everything else, and Mrs Boss transfers their money to them over the internet.

As I keep telling them: the logistics are easy. It's me they've got to worry about.
TheFlannerpooch is offline  
Sep 1st, 2007, 05:29 AM
  #19  
ira
 
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Hi hop,

It would fill up your yahoo mailbox, unless the spam filters caught it.


ira is offline  
Sep 1st, 2007, 05:39 AM
  #20  
ira
 
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Hi B,

A. Arrange with a neighbor to bring in your mail, sort it and forward important letters.

B. Get automatic timers for your lawn sprinklers.

C. Arrange for a neighbor or a lawn service to cut the grass and do minor yard maintenance.

D. Leave the AC or heat on at a temp just sufficient to prevent mold from growing (less than 65% RH).

E. Arrange with all of your CC's for electronic bank transfers. You needn't do this online.

You can have your bills sent to a relative, neighbor, etc and call them weekly to find the amounts. You can then make payments over the phone.

If you will be in one place for a few months, you can have your billing address changed.

OR

Sell the house, move into an apartment and forget about home maintenance.




ira is offline  

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