Each fall about this time, we close up the house while we go sailing (or this year camping and sailing) for an extended time. This year being our 10th year “commuting” is no exception and we’re busy getting ready to leave.
Everyone’s fall checklist will be different, but I’ve attached ours just as a starting point for you to develop your own. For our own peace of mind, the biggest item on this list, just like for our boat, is finding a caretaker. We’re lucky in that our neighbors are all family, and watch our house vigilantly in our absence. Given the 50′ lots, they’re almost right on top of us anyway. 🙂
But we still have caretakers – friends that live just across the cove, that check on the house, turn the thermostat up when we’ll be home, make sure there are no varmints running wild, or gypsies having parties without invitations, collecting the US mail, forwarding stuff we request be forwarded when we’re someplace we can receive mail, plug in the bubbler so the lake doesn’t freeze around the boatlifts destroying them, etc. One year when the power was off for days and the temps were hovering around zero, they coordinated getting a generator so the pipes and everything else wouldn’t freeze. A caretaker you can trust is an important part of peace of mind.
And the fall checklist doesn’t really represent the rest of the story – each spring we return and do things like pressure wash everything outside, redo the thompson’s water seal on the decks & screened in porch, spring lawn maintenance, all the things you do for ongoing home maintenance.
But here’s our fall checklist if you’re busy getting the house ready to leave & don’t want to read farther! 🙂
1. We choose not to turn off the heat, just turn it way back so the house stays around 50-55 all winter. It still burns propane for the furnace, but nothing inside freezes.
2. Secure all outside lawn furniture and secure or make arrangements for all outside stuff – in our case kayaks, the ski boat, the sunfish, the docks, the boat lifts, etc.
2. All water is shut off, but due to the configuration of the house construction, it’s shut off at the house and not at the street.
3. All ongoing bills are figured out in advance – can they be automatically paid monthly or do we need to prepay?
4. Everything that can be put on “vacation” rate is effective the date we leave the house. DirectTV, Verizon and other providers are getting more familiar with “snowbirds” and often offer exceptions – be sure to ask when setting up any new service. For our home wireless internet, I discovered that we could purchase the equipment and turn it on & off anytime we wanted with no extra fees to have it turned on or off. Things like trash service and newspaper are cancelled for the winter.
5. Arrange medications in advance – this can be challenging if you’re outside the USA for six months or more. Spend the time while it’s “easy” and you’re still within easy communications and delivery range.
6. Think through your credit cards – make sure the monthly payment will happen automatically if you don’t happen to be near an internet connection. In our case we choose to make an automatic payment of an amount sure to cover the monthly minimum, just in case we’re out of range and then pay off the VISA monthly when we’re in internet range. For more on financial arrangements see the second half of this post “Financing the Dream”.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but I need to run and help get the ski boat out of the water! Please leave a comment and remind me of what I’ve forgotten!