Ultimate Freedom: Enjoying a Nomadic Retirement

The Martin’s former house in Paso Robles, California was a huge burden, both financially and energy-wise, keeping them from their retirement dreams.

Have you ever thought that your stuff is holding you back from the life you really want to live? Have you ever considered escaping from your stuff and your house itself so that you can freely fly away on adventures?

Lynne and Tim Martin did just that.

The Martins aren’t your typical retirees. At 70 and 65, the pair realized that time was running out, and that life was too short not to follow their dream of travel. Both in excellent health, they decided now was their time to see the world.

But they couldn’t do it with their Paso Robles, California home hanging over their heads, with all its financial and physical expenses and responsibilities.

“We knew that worrying about the air conditioning or the sprinkling system in California would be a real drag if we were trying to have fun in Marrakech!” Lynne laughs.

Lynne in Santa Margherita, France

So they decided to become nomads. They call their concept living “home-free.”

Since 2006, Tim has been retired as co-owner of an electronics business, while Lynne had owned a public relations firm and a gourmet food manufacturing company during her entrepreneurial career.

Both were used to making life happen for themselves. Neither was a stranger to thinking outside of the box at each phase of their lives. So why would their retirement be any exception?

The Martins didn’t want an ordinary life. They wanted to be “citizens of the world,” before “the prospect of old age closing in.”

Selling your house and most of the contents therein is no simple proposition. It involves a physical and mental divestment of all your worldly trappings…and discovering that stuff simply doesn’t matter.

“We stored our art, some personal things, and kitchen equipment, but the rest we parted with,” remembers Lynne. “Closing the door on the storage unit was one of the most liberating acts of our lives. We realized that our identity is no longer defined by our house, our things, our collections, our toys. That was a huge AHA moment.”

Lynne and Tim are an inspiration to people who wonder about the possibilities of being able to live home-free, stuff-free, and well, simply free.

Freedom comes when you are able to part with your house and stuff. Lynne and Tim learned that lesson immediately after selling. That’s when they jumped a cruise ship across the Atlantic and started their journey.

It all began in May 2012, when they cruised to Europe. They visited Turkey and then spent a lovely June in Paris. They lived in Florence in July and part of August, and then moved to London in September. After that, they lived just outside of Dublin and then visited Marrakech and Barcelona before boarding a westbound cruise ship back to the States to visit family for the holidays. In February they’ll travel back across the Atlantic, again on a cruise ship, and head to Venice, the city of love – just in time for Valentine’s Day.

The countryside surrounding Vezeley, France, a walled French town on a gorgeous river. The couple plans on returning to France this next year.

The couple reports that it costs them about the same to live the travel lifestyle as it did when they owned a home in the States. In fact, since they have no maintenance, repairs, redecorating expenses, or entertaining costs, they actually save money.

In a culture of progress, where so often people are judged by the stuff they own, the car they drive, or the house they live in, Lynne and Tim’s story appealed to many when they published a piece in the Wall Street Journal in October. The article resulted in the readership on their blog (http://homefreeadventures.com) to leap from thirty to well over 2,000 subscribers.

And the blog is not the only way the Martins are sharing their inspirational tale of taking their retirement on the road. Lynne is currently working on a book about their experience and has already signed with a literary agent.

“Experiencing the world in more than a two- or three-week vacation is a great luxury and I think people were thrilled with the idea that they could do it, too!” Lynne comments, when asked why they think their story appealed to so many people on a gut level. “The emails we have received have been universally enthusiastic and many people have told us that we opened their eyes to possibilities they never dreamed of.”

March is Portugal. April is Ireland. May, June, and July will be lovely Paris once again, since it’s such a great central location. The month of August will find them in Berlin and September in Barcelona. In October, the Martins will once again sail home from Barcelona for the holidays.

Dinner party in Florence, Italy, hosted by the owners of the Martin's rented villa.

“Not only have we coped with this new lifestyle, we have thrived,” Lynne reports, enthusiasm dripping from her every word. “We are healthier than ever, our minds are sharper because we are taking on new challenges every day. We adore seeing new places and meeting people whose viewpoints are different from our own. And our relationship, which has always been extraordinary, has become even more solid. We trust each other completely and know that we can do anything as long as we are together.”

The author of this article, Domini Hedderman, writes for and maintains the blog www.renaissancehousewife.com.

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  1. Bob Weisenberg December 3, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Great article. This is us in 2-3 years. These stories give us a path.

    Bob & Jane

  2. Ana December 15, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    I’d love to see more stories about single people, retirees or near-retirees, who’ve done it. It certainly takes away part of the challenge to do it as a couple. It is possible as a single or couple, even before retirement. You just have to be creative about generating income.

  3. David December 20, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    My wife and I had a similar conversation a few months back that we both viewed home-ownership as a hindrance and as something that is stopping us from our life’s goal of traveling. We both can’t ever see owning a home again and am happy to read people are living this type of nomadic life.

  4. TI December 25, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    “March is Portugal. April is Ireland. May, June, and July will be lovely Paris once again, since it’s such a great central location. The month of August will find them in Berlin and September in Barcelona. In October,”

    How are they getting around the 90 days out of 180 allowed in the Schengen countries?

  5. J.J.Reyes January 28, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    The idea of a nomadic lifestyle after retirement is appealing. My wife and I actually traveled around the world for an entire year with our two sons when they were still young. The problem, according to the US Department of Health & Human Services, is that 70% of independent seniors will eventually need assisted living and skilled nursing services. It would be totally irresponsible for us not to include contingency plans for this eventuality. Our solution is to make arrangements for low-cost care services. In the process, we realized other Americans might also be making similar contingency plans. This is important because Medicare does not pay for custodial care and US prices for private pay healthcare services are unaffordable.

  6. MVP March 3, 2013 at 11:09 am

    VERY intriguing; I would like to see some actual cost associated with doing this, beyond saying it is about the same cost as maintaining a home in one of the most expensive states in the USA. I can imagine the liberation of leaving behind and/or getting rid of a bunch of stuff that you can’t take with you anyway.

    Also how you deal with health insurance and potential health issues (and the “c-word”; cost) as one ages would be a nice addition.

    • Dani August 14, 2013 at 8:58 am

      I think, depending on where you choose to travel, most countries outside of the US provide better, easier, and cheaper medical care! I was recently in France and got sick and ended up having to see a doctor. Well, it cost me 23 Euros. It always cost 23 Euros, that’s the price to see a doctor. Walking into a doctor’s office costs me more in copayment in there US even though I have health insurance!
      Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re simply taken care off if one really gets sick… however, I think there are plenty of cheaper travel insurance options out there (outside of the US) than you may think. Worth looking into!

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