AT the age of 61, CAROLYN NIMMO decided “I don’t have to do this any more” and put her house on the market just days after arriving back from holiday.
Nothing too unusual in that.
However, it was what she decided to do next that was so surprising.
She takes up the story...
I wanted to interact with people more than a computer, spend more time outdoors and see more of my family, which is scattered across three countries.
I had been single for a few years, my daughter was about to get married and I knew they wanted children.
Over the next nine months I sold the house, obtained leave without pay, moved to Melbourne, worked a three-month contract, looked unsuccessfully for a new home and became a grandmother.
Nothing “normal” fell into place but I wanted to stay close to my new granddaughter so I resigned from my job.
Now I was homeless and unemployed but happy, and decided to “create” my life.
I would have no more “corporate slavery”, only “voluntary slavery”, as my son calls it.
Years earlier, my daughter had done a couple of stints where she volunteered for 25 hours a week in exchange for accommodation and meals – so I decided to do the same thing in and around Melbourne.
It was fabulous fun – meeting new people, sharing their lives (not one was “normal” like you see on TV and in magazines) and spending very little (which is fortunate, as my only income is my invested house money and bits of paid work I pick up).
It was fabulous fun – meeting new people, sharing their lives ... and spending very little
Then I took a leap of faith and did help exchanges for three months in France and the US (near my son).
And in 2018 I did six weeks in Japan plus three months in Slovenia, Croatia and Italy.
In the past two years I’ve “worked” on farms, painted houses, chipped tiles and stacked firewood.
In Melbourne I’ve mostly done gardening, housework, childcare and elder care.
I’ve made wonderful friends and been treated as an equal by other helpers, who are mostly young as you’d expect with this lifestyle.
All speak English (more or less).
Of course, you need to be adaptable and naturally it’s not all fun.
Some rural living conditions are rather primitive and farmers can be grumpy!
It can also be lonely and the travel can prove frustrating.
I’d love to have my own home and garden again one day, where I can do things my way.
2019: I’m still healthy and enthusiastic.
I’ve got hosts lined up in New Zealand (near my mum), Belgium and France, and wonder if I can fit in the US and Japan again (both time wise and financially!).
I know I won’t be able to do this forever but am making the most of this beautiful world while I can.
There are more than 2100 hosts in Australia alone.
So why don’t you try it for your next “holiday”?
IF YOU GO…
If you are interested in this line of “work”, here are a couple of websites to get you started:
READ MORE: Grey not gloomy at Cobar’s Mardi Gras