Ten years on…

“You should write a blog about that,” said Vanessa.

“Ahh, it would just sound like I am blowing my own trumpet… ‘me-me-me!'”

“Just write it to show what someone can achieve in ten years.”

So here goes. Sorry if it does sound like trumpet-blowing. It isn’t intended to be like that. I simply hope it can inspire a little.

The thought I had expressed to Vanessa was prompted by going to visit my previous employers, Jenny and Dennis Jones, yesterday evening here in Perth, Australia. I used to work as an assistant manager at Jenny Jones Rugs, a high-end rugs and home furnishing store in Perth’s western suburbs. I resigned from the job ten years ago, almost to the day.

“I haven’t done much in the last ten years”

“Ten years seems to have flown by. Here I am back in Perth again. I haven’t done much in the last ten years.” I joked to Vanessa this morning.

My big change in direction in 2006 had been prompted by a difficult separation from by wife, and I felt that a new challenge in life would help me move on. I had done some truck driving lessons, and having received my Heavy Goods Vehicle license, I was ready to look for work in Australia’s lucrative mining industry.

So here is a condensed version of what I have done since that day ten years ago.

As I applied for mining jobs I found some part time work chopping firewood at minimum wage. It had slowly become apparent that I wasn’t going to secure a job in Perth, as I had no previous experience. On 4th July 2006 I packed some clothes in my car and drove out to the desert mining town of Kalgoorlie. I had a job within 48 hours, driving an amazing machine called a slag hauler. Five weeks later I started my training to drive a monster truck in a gold mine.

I worked for six months in Kalgoorie, then returned to Perth to work fly-in/fly-out at a different mine. It was easy to get a job then, as I was an exerienced driver. I worked in the hot northern desert mine for another year, saving as much money as I could, and paying down the mortgage on the new house I had bought.

At the end of 2007 I decided I still hadn’t finished the moving on process, as the house I lived in contained many reminders of the marriage which had failed. I decided it was time to get rid of everything.

In 2008 I “sold my entire life on eBay”, and taking the leftover cash after the balance of my mortgage was settled, I set off on a two-year globetrotting adventure, with a bucket list of 100 goals and a timeline of 100 weeks. During the two years from mid-2008 to mid-2010 I travelled to 31 different countries, visited some amazing places and met some wonderful people. Many of the things I experienced were beyond what I had ever imagined doing in my previous life. The video below gives an overview of those adventure-filled years.

At the end of the journey I went to live in an off-grid log cabin in the forests of Canada’s Yukon Territory, where I wrote a book, “A Life Sold”, about my journey and experiences.

2011 took me to New Zealand for a couple of months of travel, then to Central America, where I was considering a small property purchase.

The worldwide interest in my eBay auction and subsequent travels had resulted in an offer from Walt Disney Pictures to buy the “A Life Sold” story. The money they gave me was quickly spent on a small, overgrown and neglected island in the Caribbean. The island itself was very cheap, but to build the off-grid home I created there cost me most of the rest of my resources, and occupied the next two years of my life.

In 2013 I met Vanessa and she moved to the island to join me. Shortly after her arrival we were contacted by a TV production company in the UK who wanted to film a documentary about our remote off-grid lifestyle. The show aired on UK TV in February 2014 (see video below), and was quickly followed by a spot on a Korean TV documentary (further below – our part begins at 33min 25secs).

Immediately after filming the documentary we flew to Europe, where I had been invited to speak at TEDx in Vienna about my life, and the choices I had made. It was an incredibly nerve-wracking experience, but such an honour, and a big thrill too.

In May 2014 we sold the island to travel together. Free of any ties to property or possessions we spent six months wandering the beautiful National Parks of Texas and Southwestern USA in an RV we bought.

When funds ran low we sold the RV and both studied online to become TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teachers. In late 2014 we moved to Shenzhen in China, where we lived for a year, teaching English and topping up the travelling funds. We began to work as online teachers too for our Chinese employers, and this has meant that we are now free to travel anywhere, but can still earn an income by teaching lessons online.

We both have a background as home owners, and have both used house sitters to look after previous properties, so it was an easy transition to become house sitters ourselves. We had already looked after properties for friends in Panama, Texas and Colorado, and in the UK. We decided that combining house sitting with online teaching would offer the perfect lifestyle.

At the end of 2015 we left China to look after two lovely cats at a beautiful property in Australia’s Victorian Alps for a couple of months.

This was followed by six weeks looking after two bulldogs a luxury resort in Fiji. From Fiji we flew to Perth, where we have looked after various pets at three different properties.

Which brings us up to date, ten years after my life changed beyond all recognition. What an amazing ten years it has been.

Once again, I don’t want this to be a “brag-and-boast” blog, but merely offer it to serve as an inspiration for what can be achieved when someone makes some big decisions and takes some bold action.

Vanessa and I are by no means rich, and we have to work each month to pay our living expenses, but by freeing ourselves from the huge burden of a mortgage debt we have managed create a lifestyle of travel and freedom.

Our future plans? We fly later this week to the UK, where we have another couple of lovely house sits lined up. We then head to Central America, where we will be house sitting and travelling in Mexico, Panama and Nicaragua for the rest of the year.

We will still have to do some work online each month to cover our living and travel costs, but we have also taken on a new project. We will be launching a new online magazine about house sitting, which will hopefully inspire and help others to follow in our footsteps. The magazine will be free, and you can find out more about our forthcoming launch here:
House Sitting: The ultimate lifestyle magazine

Hopefully we might inspire you to make some changes in your life. Where do you want to be ten years from now?

Ten years ago I had no idea that my life was about to become filled with travel, adventure and experience. I have no idea where my life will take me over the next ten years. But I do know that Vanessa and I are always making conscious choices that will take us further down the path of the amazing life we are creating for ourselves.

The choices you make today will create the life you get to live in the future.

Leave a Reply 7 comments

Tim - May 15, 2016 Reply

What an amazing achievement over 10 years…. living and experiencing Life to the Max. Get up and Go!

    Ian Usher - May 16, 2016 Reply

    Thanks Tim. I’ve always said that I believe that life is meant to be lived as an adventure. I’m simply just trying to live my adventure the best way I can.

Shelly - May 21, 2016 Reply

Congrats on 10 years! You might think you haven’t done much in those years, but you’re living the life you want and that’s what counts. Can’t wait to read the magazine once it launches.

    Ian Usher - May 22, 2016 Reply

    Thanks Shelly. Yes, we’re certainly living an amazing and rewarding lifestyle now. I don’t think I could ask for much better. We’re very excited about the magazine too. First issue comes out on 15th July. More info here:

Lee Janes - December 1, 2017 Reply

I’m so envious. I’m 54 now & probably too old to become so adventurous but how I’d love to.
Good luck to you & Vanessa, you deserve all the joy you get for being brave enough to bite the bullet & do it.

    Ian Usher - December 1, 2017 Reply

    You’re never too old Lee. I’m 54 now myself, and still enjoy a bit of adventure now and then… maybe not quite as much as ten years ago though! Many thanks for your good wishes.

William Davies - November 5, 2018 Reply

You both have done so much with visiting many exciting countries with visiting them and able to be working online while you travel. Well done i wish i was 20 years younger as i would of done this. Best of luck to you both!

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