Someone asked me recently how expensive it is to be location independent, so I decided to break it down a bit. When you consider the cost of owning a home and all the expense that a home entails or the cost of renting in an expensive city like Vancouver, it is actually very reasonable to do.
Friends and Family
I must start by saying that I am very fortunate to have a place to stay in Winnipeg and a very close group of friends who welcome me into their homes at all times. I also can stay at their home(s) when they are not there and ‘stash’ a few personal things in a closet when traveling so I don’t have to check three bags instead of two! For this I am very grateful, and hope to return the favour one day.
About 8 to 10 weeks of the year is spent in timeshare accommodation. Way back in 2006 Jeff and I purchased timeshare points at Club Intrawest in Whistler. Club Intrawest has been sold and renamed several times since then, but is now under the Hilton Grand Vacations umbrella and provides excellent places to stay like an upcoming five weeks in Las Vegas. Whistler for two weeks in June and/or two to three weeks in October is also always on the annual calendar.
I have been keeping a spreadsheet of the value of the timeshare for years and while the cost of the annual fees has continued to rise the cost per night each year still works out to approx. $80 CAN per night. This does not take into account the initial investment, which was significant, but the points owned are willable, or can be sold back to Hilton right now without losing the initial purchase price.
Without the timeshare and the homes of family and friends, being location independent for 8 years and counting would not have been possible.
Being loyalty to the same hotel brand for 10 years was also a must. Every 7-8 nights has earned a free night. Recently I also got myself a Marriott Bonvoy credit card which earns extra points when staying at a Marriott hotel. This has made the number of nights needed to earn a free night drop to closer to five. All of the extra perks that go along with a high level of hotel status, such as faster internet, lounge access, early check in and guaranteed late check out have also made all the traveling so much easier!
For stays of a week or more, when timeshare is not an option or the year’s points are already accounted for, AirBnB (and sometimes VRBO) has also been a good option. During COVID it was one of the only options and being location independent still worked out. I already have a week booked in an AirBnB in Malaga, Spain in January 2025, and another epic adventure to plan around it!
Overall the paid nights work out to about the same amount I would pay for monthly rent (in Vancouver) plus all the expenses that go with it. I do not pay for internet or cable TV. I do not pay for cleaning supplies, lightbulbs, towels or linen or any other household expenses you can think of. I also rarely have to clean a place, and that has got to be worth something 😉.
You don’t have to be location independent to see the world. It just helps. Sometimes it is complicated and sometimes it’s not…but it is ALWAYS worth it!