When I was 21 years old I bought a house on the Gold Coast. I worked ridiculous overtime hours at my finance job and scraped every single penny I earned to put down for the deposit. I was pretty damn impressed with myself because to be honest I’m generally hopeless with money so the fact that I’d managed to do this as a single person at my age was a really big thing. Even though my finances were tight and I didn’t have much left over at the end of each week, I was happy in the knowledge that I was making a long-term investment in my future.
Things changed. When I thought I had a great new job opportunity I jumped at the chance and left my job I’d be working at for five years. After only two weeks I was made redundant. From someone who had come from winning numerous industry awards in my last workplace, it was heartbreaking - my confidence was completely shattered. If you’ve lived on the Gold Coast you’ll understand how hard it is to find long-term stable work that pays fairly well and I really did struggle for a while. I took on jobs like bartending and waitressing between finding stable work back in my industry. It wasn’t all bad I guess. It was kind of fun having a break from my serious job and even though it was really tough money wise selling my house just never occurred to me. I guess I was too proud.
I had always dreamed of travelling the world. As soon as I left my small country town I knew I was destined for other things and travelling was definitely on top of the list. The problem was I could barely afford to manage my bills let alone plan an overseas adventure. After watching numerous friends take off for a week, a month or sometimes a year I became increasingly jealous of their lives. The Gold Coast property market was going pretty well and friends would encourage me to sell and take off myself, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. My house wasn’t much, but it was my pride and joy and I loved it too much to just let it go.
I relocated to Sydney for a job opportunity but I was young and stupid. I allowed “friends” to rent my house who basically didn’t pay the rent that was promised and even worse, I was disgusted to find they had trashed it. By the time I kicked them out I was to discover holes in the walls, ripped up carpet and windows broken. With no insurance and it needing desperate repairs, this was nearly the end of me and my finances. Somehow I managed to save the money and I renovated the house till it was almost brand new then rented it properly through a real estate agent and insured my investment.
Not long after this, the property market crashed on the Gold Coast. I was going through a relationship breakdown, I had debts piling up and I was struggling to afford the gap between the rent I was receiving and my mortgage payments. The body corp I was paying was absolutely ridiculous and I was struggling to afford the council rates as well. Throw in Sydney rent prices and I knew I just couldn’t do it anymore. I had no option, I had to sell my house.
Yeah sure, I should have sold it earlier. Having an emotional attachment to a material object just isn’t beneficial, and neither is being too proud to know when it’s time to cut your losses. However, when it finally sold even though I didn’t make as much money as I could have, it was like the burden of the world was lifted off my shoulders. No more struggling to make ends meet, no more debt, no more mortgage and I finally had some money in my pocket to be able to fulfil my yearning to travel the world.
The first thing I did was organise my passport, travel insurance and a plane ticket to U.S.A and took off straight away with my then boyfriend, now fiancé. We travelled around parts of America and Mexico and I knew right then how much I’d been missing by allowing my mortgage payments to control my life. I promised myself never again.
From someone who hadn’t left Australia till they were 26 I don’t think I’ve done too bad by travelling around USA, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, China, Spain, Netherlands, France, England, Switzerland, Scotland and the Philippines all before my 30th birthday. I’m catching up with friends on a sailing trip shortly in Vanuatu and soon after that meeting friends in Japan. Next year I’ll be honeymooning on the Cook Islands.
I am already planning and organising what’s next for the coming years which involve all the South’s- South Africa, South America and more of South Asia and after this who knows what’s next. I do know I’ll be continuing my travel journey for as long as I’m physically able to.
I also know that when I’m ready to buy another house I’ll never let it control my life again. I’ll do it when I’m in a position of not scraping by each week to make payments, and I’ll do it when I know I can afford to still have a life and travel at the same time because travelling is a great love that I could not sacrifice missing out on again. I don’t regret my decision, it took a lot of self-control and discipline at the time and I’m proud of that. But I’m prouder of the travel and the amazing experiences I have had since then.