St Albans homeowner contributes property management tips to the Financial Times

Don't let your mortgage get in the way of your travels

Don't let your mortgage get in the way of your travels - Credit: Archant

Nick Moore, a managing director at a City investment bank, decided to up sticks and take a mid-life gap year. But what did he do with his house?

St Albans local Nick Moore has spoken to the Financial Times about his decision to take a mid-life gap year. And why not? Those that disappear for a year of carefree travelling and site-seeing are ordinarily thought to be flighty youngsters, procrastinating and avoiding university, work and adult life.

In actual fact, it makes total sense to do what Mr Moore has done. At the age of 44, one hopes to be more secure in terms of financial situation, career and life direction. If your path in life is steady enough, breaking away from it securely, knowing what you’re leaving behind and coming back to seems like the ideal plan.

Mr Moore was provoked to think this way when he came across a newspaper advert calling for volunteers for the Clipper Round the World yacht race. In need of a re-charge he went for it, using his hard-earned savings to foot some of the bill.

Speaking to the Financial Times about his decision, Mr Moore said: “I was just looking for something else in my life — something else to do.”

He got the year-out travel bug and did the same again a couple of years later to row across the Atlantic. “I’ve learned to manage stress and to be less materialistic after spending so much time at sea,” he continues, singing the praises of the grown-up gap year.

And these aren’t just year-long holidays laying about on a beach somewhere far far away. The active trips Mr Moore has taken are actually the natural choice for someone used to a busy work life. Rowing across the Atlantic doesn’t really scream “relaxation”.

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But what about the small matter of the house you might very well own back in the UK? A year away is much more daunting than three weeks in the Maldives.

This predicament must crop up for many a keen traveller – and put them off doing it. But why should it? Use the resources at your fingertips to fund it – one of these being your home.

Rent the house out – don’t leave it dormant and cold. Keep it alive and keep an income coming in while you globe trot.

This requires preparation, but surely its simply one more aspect to add to the pre-holiday To Do list, which will allow you to relax and forget the real world while you’re off on your adventure.

Let your mortgage lender know your plans – this is important. Sign up to a deposit protection scheme for tenants and obtain gas safety certificates. These are all the things that “professional” landlords do – so follow suit. If there are taxable earnings on the rent, make sure you do things the right way by keeping HMRC informed. The last thing you want whilst trekking the Andes is the tax man buzzing your mobile phone.

Corporate lets are also a good strategy for this age bracket of long-term travellers. But it may be worth asking a neighbour or member of the family to keep an eye on things while you’re away. The rigmarole of paying estate agents, arranging property insurance and dealing with the tax issues related to becoming a landlord could outweigh the benefits of earning a few hundred pounds a month.

This is often where renters have the upper hand. They can leave when they want, pretty much. But there’s an assumption that a mortgage is a bind and a blocker for travelling long-term. Not true.

“Some mortgage providers allow payment holidays, or you may wish to build up savings before you go abroad so you can continue to pay your mortgage,” says Simon Davis, a wealth management director at investment manager Charles Stanley. “No one looks after your own property as well as you do.”