We have never owned so little nor felt so rich. An interesting concept for many, and impossible to believe for some, yet in our case it’s true. For you to truly understand why – and how we came to be The Junior Nomads – we have to take you back quite a few years to where our journey to freedom really began.
It was 2011, and we were in the middle of what we considered at the time to be our biggest adventure together – building our own home. Adventure probably isn’t even quite the right word for it, because in all honesty if anything was ever going to go wrong while building a house it was going to go wrong with ours. Our dream home – 320sqm on just over 3/4 of an acre on the best block of land in the estate – had everything we had ever wanted. Large swimming pool, separate master wing, surround sound wiring in nearly every room, purpose-built rooms for our own home-based office and private gym (which at one stage included a sauna), surrounded by manicured gardens, fruit trees, room for the furry kids to run and every man’s dream – a huge shed with room for the car, boat, caravan and granny flat. For over five years we poured our heart and soul (and in Wayne’s case a lot of blood and sweat) into the property, getting deeper in debt, suffering from stress, juggling full-time jobs with never-ending maintenance and improvements, until it nearly broke us.
Our dream had become our biggest nightmare. Our repayments took over half of our combined income each week, which at the time was no small amount, and our pride and joy became our house of hell. The building, the timeframe, the problems we had along the way and the cost had taken its toll, and our joy at coming home to our private oasis turned to depression and frustration and an intense desire to escape. There had to be more to life than this, and we both knew we couldn’t go on that way forever.
Our thoughts turned to our only other joy at the time – getting away in our caravan. By this time, and after 8 years of marriage, we were on our fourth van, having slowly upgraded from tents to wind-up vans to a pop-top and finally our current van – a 2007 Imperial Leisureline. This van provided us with a means of escaping the whole we had dug ourselves into, as well as fuelling the fire to travel longer. Ultimately, our discussions turned to the great Australian dream – travel around the country in our van.
We dreamed about our great escape, right down to what clothes we would take and how we would record our travels. We even started a blog to start documenting places we visited or ate at on short getaways. But there was just one problem – we had to get rid of our house.
The downturn in the real estate market hit us hard, and it took over 12 months to finally sell. By then, we had well and truly mentally moved on. After deciding to rent a house for a few months to get our breath back and start re-learning how to live again, things started to eat away at us once more. Hours of travel each day to and from jobs that were no longer fulfilling, time spent missing each other and wanting more for each other and our future together. One day it all became too much, and without any house to tie us down, we made the decision to leave.
The beautiful beachside house we were renting – and in one week had made into more of a home than our previous one – was advertised For Rent once again, and we began sorting through our possessions, dispassionately deciding what to take and what had to be sold at our planned upcoming garage sale.
By the time we were done, the only things left were our clothes, basic tools, our laptop and iPads and other necessary electronics, and our real prized possessions: our photos, two memorials for our beautiful golden angels Amber and Shampaz, and our furry baby Bree, our 6yo Golden Retriever. Our memorials were simply too big to bring, and so they found a new home with our family. Bree was the hardest goodbye of all, but we were thankful that she found a new home with our pet sitter, who had looked after all our girls over the past few years and we knew would be somewhere Bree would be happy.
As the morning of the garage sale dawned, we were anxious – not that what we were doing was the wrong thing for us, but that items wouldn’t sell and we would be stuck with them. We needn’t have worried. There’s a market for everything nowadays, and by the end of the day we had nothing left.
At the time, and so many times since, people ask how do we feel not owning anything and what was it like to sell all our possessions. Our answer is brief but truthful: we feel free.
In someone’s eyes we have nothing; in our eyes we have everything. We know that the things we accumulate in life that are of true value are memories and experiences. The rest is just stuff. Stuff that costs money, and stuff that we don’t need to be truly and deeply happy. We have each other, the open road, a lifetime of discoveries to make and experiences to marvel at – that’s our wealth.