Where do you store your possessions for long term travel?

I spend a lot of time in digital nomad and long term travel communities (mostly online … because most of us are moving around regularly).

One of the most common questions (that isn’t tax related) is “Where do you keep your stuff while you’re gone?”

One school of thought is to donate everything you’re not taking with you. I suspect that’s mostly the view shared by 20-somethings who don’t own much that can’t be replaced!

We’ve done it twice. So here was our solution – not the only solution.

The first time we ended up being away a bit over 2 years:

  • Stored what we could with family. They made it clear afterwards that that was a one-time deal!
  • Used a property manager. We moved out (and stayed with friends) a month before we went overseas, so we could handle any issues with the tenant moving in (no issues).
  • Managing the property manager can be a pain. We’re in Australia, paying about 9% of the rent, so like $36/week. I had to educate my beautiful wife that you can’t expect premium service for that amount of money.
  • When we returned home (to start a family, long story), we just kept the tenants in place and bought another property – we still hold that first property, it’s cash flow positive and has doubled in value in the time since we left.

The second time was more of a test run with a kid:

  • So it was designed to be a 6 month run, which if we proved the model would lead to a more permanent shift
  • The model worked … but we returned home just before COVID and weren’t able to hit the road again
  • In that case, it was certainly expensive having an empty home for 6 months (it wasn’t completely empty, we had friends stay for a bit and some other incidental stuff) but WOW was it a godsend when the pandemic arrived and we got stuck in our own home!

So How Would We Store our Possession in the Future?

When we go again, we’re going to have to choose between either stacking our back shed (and making that off limits to tenants) or some combo of downsize / sell and storage.

Since we’re not sure about schooling, this run would possibly only be 2-3 years, in which case we’d rather take the hit on paying for storage than go through the drama of selling stuff and potentially re-buying in a few years; if we can get some long term momentum, we’ll swing back through the motherland one Christmas and downsize then.

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