Hi! We’re Mark and Linda Habros from Ontario, Canada and we’re The Vagabond Retirees. Welcome to our website. We hope you find it both intriguing and helpful.
You see, our goal with this website is to assist you, our readers, to dream. This is not about us. This is about YOU. We’re just the vehicle to get you to where you would like to be. Whether your goal is to travel full-time like us, or whether it’s to dabble in it a bit at a time while still maintaining a home base, we want to awaken that travel bug within you; to help you to realize that traveling the world is a possibility…and it’s cheaper than you think.
We had the travel dream for many years. But we didn’t want to do it like typical tourists. Our dream was to travel and absorb the culture of the places we visit, to shop where the locals shop, to eat where they eat, to hang with them. But, like many retirees, we’re not millionaires. Jet-setting around from place to place just wasn’t in the cards for us. Our life savings would be eaten up right before our eyes if we traveled like that. So, we just always put it on the backburner, continuing to work and save, knowing that someday we’d figure it all out.
Navigating Our Website
Our hope is that our site is user friendly, and that you will find everything that you are looking for. Our blog posts are dispersed throughout, with various topics found on our array of pages…”About Us”, “House Sitting”, “What We’ve Learned”, and “Our Travels”. Mark has a fun topic called “Beer From Around the World”, in which he gives his review of the local beer of the area we’re visiting. We also walk daily, so we’ve decided to share our treks in “Walk With Us”. You’ll see photos of many of the different trails and terrain from places like Ontario, British Columbia, California, Australia, and the UK. Finally, you’ll meet “Mel”, our 32’ motorhome that we use when we’re in Ontario (and he’s made his way to the west coast of Canada and the USA with us as well) throughout some of our blog posts. The “hows” and the “whys” of our lifestyle will be explained throughout many of our posts. So please explore the site, leave comments, and be sure to contact us with any questions or queries that you might have. We’re upbeat people, so our only request is that you keep things on a positive note.
Meet the Martin’s
Sometime around 2011, Mark came across a Wall Street Journal article about 2 Californians, Lynne and Tim Martin, who sold everything they owned, put a few things in storage, threw caution to the wind and started to travel full-time. That article changed our lives. After reading it, I contacted Lynne via email asking her a few questions (my biggest question was that I wanted a ballpark monthly figure) about how it was done. She responded quickly and was helpful with answers. She gave me a rough figure for what it was costing them per month. It was still a little too high for our budget, but now we had hope. We had something to work toward. I still keep in touch with Lynne through Facebook and we look at them as mentors of sorts. They’re definitely the pioneers for showing retirees that we can indeed travel the world full-time. Be sure to visit their website: www.homefreeadventures.com. We’re forever grateful for stumbling upon their story.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Our initial intent was to retire in March of 2017 after reading about Lynne and Tim, giving us a full five years of additional saving before taking the leap. Fast forward to end of December, 2013. New Years’ Eve that year had me working the nightshift, so Mark and I decided to celebrate with dinner and a movie on December 30. Our choice? “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. Without going into too much detail, Walter spends a great deal of his time dreaming about how he’d like to live his life, but he always ends up just sitting on the sidelines, letting it pass him by instead.
In early January, 2014, after my New Years’ stint of working, Mark shocked me one evening. We were both sitting at our laptops, him reading, me surfing, when he blurted out “I don’t want you to think too much about this, but I’ve been crunching the numbers these past couple of days, and if I’m right, I think we can retire now”. My initial response to him was “so, that Walter Mitty movie got to you, didn’t it?” The next few days were spent with more number crunching, and then passing it all by our financial guy, who thought everything looked feasible.
We decided to take a year though to sell everything and to give both of our employers plenty of notice so that replacements could be found, enabling us to go out out on a high note.
Our Careers Pre-Retirement
I (Linda), was a Registered Nurse and I worked in Labour & Delivery bringing life into the world. Although I loved my work, it meant nightshifts, weekends, and holidays, and it was definitely a high stress position. One of the biggest adrenaline boosters had to be my cross-border commute 3 nights per week from Canada to the USA.
Mark worked for a steel company in Windsor where he was the HR Guy, the Environmental Guy, and the Health and Safety Guy. He loved his job and enjoyed going to work everyday. He was totally happy. His work environment was a very positive one, where appreciation of employees was evident on a continuous basis.
Our Year of Selling, Donating, and Chucking
We were homeowners for 28 years, raised four daughters in that home, and you can bet your bottom dollar that it was full to the brim with “stuff”. Were we on overwhelm? You betcha! At least initially. When we looked at the enormity of it, of course we were hyperventilating a bit. Time to get a grip. There were basically 365 days to chip away at this monstrosity. Our mantra? “A journey of 1000 miles begins with one step.”
Slowly, we started to throw out the things that we knew we were never using or wearing anymore. That was the easy part. Then it was getting rid of the things that we hadn’t used in the year previous. A little harder because we were still in “attachment” mode (you know, where you try to rationalize and justify just why you might need it at some point in time…even though you haven’t used it for the past 10 years!). Basically, there were 3 piles…Sell, Donate, Toss. We had multiple garage sales, with our final one advertising that nothing was over $1. Worked like a charm. Goodwill knew us by name, I think, but we wanted to upcycle as much as possible. Very little actually went into the trash. So, here’s what our house looked like the night before we closed the deal on our home:
I retired after my New Years’ Eve shift the morning of January 1, 2015. Pretty much right at the one year mark from when we decided to take the huge leap to become the Vagabond Retirees. Mark retired 6 weeks later, on February 12, 2015 (he refused to have his retirement day be on a Friday the 13th!). I was almost 55, and Mark was almost 56. Young enough to enjoy full-time travel while we still have our health and mobility.
Do We Regret Our Decision?
NOT FOR ONE MINUTE!! At the time of this writing, we’re 2.5 years into this gig, and we’re having a blast. House/pet sitting has become a passion for us, so much so that we have confirmed house sits throughout 2017 for 43 weeks total! We’re certainly not adventure travelers, but we’ve had a hell of a ride so far. When we think of all of the places we’ve visited, the people we’ve met, the pets we’ve cared for, and the things we’ve seen and done, all we can say is “we’re blessed!”