To sell or not to sell…..
Once we decided to move to Costa Rica, one of the first choices we made was to sell our house. I had a difficult time with this decision, because this house was my dream home. It represented all my hard work over the years and was a symbol of my success as a physician. I loved the floor plan, backyard, location within San Antonio, and the Rogers Ranch neighborhood. We had mature trees and lots of space. We had wonderful neighbors. We lived in that house for 7 years, which is the longest place either Chris or I had lived as adults and as a married couple. I had made the house a home. I brought Tristan home from the hospital to that house. Even though Kara had lived in 3 other houses before our Rogers Ranch home, she had no memory of the other places.
The reasons sold our dream home…..
We considered renting out the house while we were in Costa Rica, but quickly decided against it. We decided to sell for many reasons. First, we wanted peace of mind. We did not have to worry about a rental property while we were trying to start a new life halfway across the hemisphere. Even though we knew we could hire a property manager, ultimately the house would be our responsibility, and I did not want to worry about leaking toilets in the middle of the night. Also, one of the reasons we decided to move was to simplify our life. If we came back to the same house, we would not be simplifying very much, especially with regards to our carbon footprint. The more I thought about it, the more I realized the house was much bigger than what we needed. While it was great having a big house when my family visited (no need for hotel rooms with 5 bedrooms and a huge closed-off playroom!), the house was expensive. In addition to the mortgage, the associated bills, maintenance, and property taxes were pretty hefty. So we decided that once we returned to the USA (if we return!), we would purchase a much smaller house. We also decided to sell to be able to have more freedom. If we want to stay longer than one year or come back to a different city other than San Antonio, we have that option as we are not tied down with a house. Chris and I have even considered moving to Monteverde permanently, and the money we made from selling our house will allow us to buy some property. If we had kept our old home, we would not have those choices.
For you it may be a different story…..
Whether you decide to rent or sell your house if you decide to move to another country will depend on many factors, such as the duration of your move, location, equity, mortgage payment, “rentability”, and business knowledge. For example if your home is paid off (or close to it), the rental income from your property can be used towards your cost of living in your home country. One of the expat families we know that are on their second year here initially rented our their home. But on their last visit home, they realized their lives had changed so much from their experience in Monteverde that they actually decided to sell it, which they did successfully in a short period of time. Another of our expat friends are renting out their house in British Columbia, because they are only here for 6 months. If you are only planning on moving abroad for a few months, or even just one year, it may not be worth to sell your house.
Everyone has different needs, expectations, and financial circumstances that will determine whether it is best to sell or rent your home once you decide to embark on a move abroad. I am very happy with my decision to sell our house despite the pain of losing my “dream” home. My gains, however, have been totally worth it: a simpler life, smaller carbon footprint, cozier home, and more time with my children.