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Practical questions about long trips
Old 08-09-2016, 12:12 AM   #1
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Practical questions about long trips

DH and I are planning a trip in 2017 for approx 3 months, likely on a tropical island. We don't have any family at home to check mail, plants, etc.

For others in similar situations, how do you get mail checked with important items forwarded to you? Most bills are electronic and we will have Internet access to take care of them; however there are some that aren't set up. Also what about starting up your cars and taking them out occasionally? Any other arrangements we should make before we leave? We live in Southern CA. We have lots of local friends but don't want to impose on their goodwill.

Thank you for any advice!


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Old 08-09-2016, 05:09 AM   #2
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A mail service can take care of some of this although I've never called Escapees to ask about what is in our accumulated mail. We've never gone more than a month without having it sent to us by our mail service.

Our neighbors are pretty casual about it and just have their weekly cleaning lady pick it up and let it pile up in their house even if they are gone 3 months. And they get a huge amount of mail, magazines, etc.
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Old 08-09-2016, 10:03 AM   #3
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Have you considered paying a responsible high school or college student nearby to go by your house every few days to take care of these things? We did that when we took a 3-week trip a few years ago - paid him $100. A retired neighbor who could use some extra cash would be another option.
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Old 08-09-2016, 10:15 AM   #4
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We are into our 7th year of doing this and we are fortunate that our son lives close by and he goes in once a month (if we're lucky) to collect mail, flush toilets, run garbage disposal, and switch cars for a few days.

About 3 years ago he left the car far too long and the battery went dead so he had to charge it up before he could start and use the car. (It was a Prius parked front first in our garage so not possible to even put it in neutral and push it out to be able to jump start it).

Although we've made every effort to get everything done electronically, every year there is at least one piece of snail mail that needs attention.

I like the suggestion above for using a mail service, I think you can even get a service that opens the mail, scans it and forwards it on via email.

I also have a web accessible security camera I use.

Also the possibility of a trusted friend, cleaning service or High Schooler to go in each week to flush toilets etc.
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Old 08-09-2016, 10:19 AM   #5
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A retired neighbor who could use some extra cash would be another option.
This is what I do with my retired next-door neighbor. We do this for each other a few times each year, so there is no need for cash payments. I'm sure my neighbor would be willing to crank up my car during my longer trips, but I've never asked and it's never really been an issue. Just need to recharge the battery using an electric charger when I get home. The key to all of this is developing a good relationship with a neighbor, where there is mutual trust. Knowing that a trusted friend is keeping a close eye on my house and taking care of my mail and other stuff while I'm away is invaluable and helps me relax and enjoy my long trips more than I would otherwise.
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Old 08-09-2016, 10:26 AM   #6
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I like the neighbor idea, don't know if you have any neighboring teenagers. The problem is the word responsible, it only takes one slip up on a Friday night to have the party from H#$l in your house. In my mind this is another problem with owning 2 homes. one of them is always empty and needs minding.
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Old 08-09-2016, 10:31 AM   #7
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We are into our 7th year of doing this and we are fortunate that our son lives close by and he goes in once a month (if we're lucky)

Also the possibility of a trusted friend, cleaning service or High Schooler to go in each week to flush toilets etc.
Our builder told us to turn the water off at the main valve when leaving for a long time. Those pesky little hoses at the back of the toilet tank have a way of letting go when you least expect it. At least shut those values off. Dishwasher connections can go and are hard to notice until its too late. I've know of two folks who have had flooded homes as result of water lines letting go when they were gone.
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Old 08-09-2016, 10:50 AM   #8
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We always disconnect the negative battery terminal. NO drain at all. Reconnect and start upon return. We have been told that starting the car and not driving it for 10 minutes is worse than leaving it alone. Been doing this for many years.

Check your insurer to see what is necessary for your empty house. Main item to pay attention to is your thermostats. Will they operate successfully at a lower/different temperatures?
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Old 08-09-2016, 11:17 AM   #9
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Our builder told us to turn the water off at the main valve when leaving for a long time. Those pesky little hoses at the back of the toilet tank have a way of letting go when you least expect it. At least shut those values off. Dishwasher connections can go and are hard to notice until its too late. I've know of two folks who have had flooded homes as result of water lines letting go when they were gone.
Who doesn't turn off the main water supply, we turn off ours for any type of overnight, it takes 30 seconds
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Old 08-09-2016, 11:28 AM   #10
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Good advice above, and I think this was discussed on another thread before (I can't seem to find it thought).

One thing I might add that if you're going to be gone for 3 months, and don't have a trusted friend or family member that can check in on your home periodically, realtors often offer a "home-sitting" or monitoring service for homeowners that may be gone for more than a few weeks or so (snowbirds,etc). They can keep the place looking occupied and take care of little "emergencies" and such. Maybe you can call around or google home-sitting in your area.

Just a suggestion.

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Old 08-09-2016, 11:29 AM   #11
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Our builder told us to turn the water off at the main valve when leaving for a long time. Those pesky little hoses at the back of the toilet tank have a way of letting go when you least expect it. At least shut those values off. Dishwasher connections can go and are hard to notice until its too late. I've know of two folks who have had flooded homes as result of water lines letting go when they were gone.
+1
Our insurance agent also emphasized turning water off. She shared that she sees lots of claims for water damage at absent owners. She really became a believer when it happened to her!
In addition, to turning off at the main, you should consider draining the line by opening a faucet at the lowest point in the house. We also turn off the power to the hotwater tank at the switch box. Since water is turned off, we also disconnect the insta-hot in the kitchen and our water softner.
Of course, we change the thermostat to reflex the season--we have an internet friendly unit so can modify that way if we forget.
The US Post Office does have a way to forward you mail at a special price--I believe you can limit to first class material.
"For a weekly fee, we’ll hold your mail, package it, and ship it to you each week by Priority Mail® service. Premium Forwarding Service Residential® (PFS-Residential®) is a temporary service that can be used from 2 weeks up to 1 year" Details here: https://www.usps.com/manage/forward.htm
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Old 08-09-2016, 11:36 AM   #12
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Most places you can hire professional property management, but it will cost you. I do this for my vacation rental property and it is great as they take care of everything. A lot of real estate agents are willing to set this up for you if don't know of one directly.

The hire a teenager or retired person route is a lot less expensive though. Do ask your friends if they will do some of these tasks for you - offer a gift card or some nice little treat if they don't want to take money from you.

As far as the car, you can just disconnect the battery if it is not going to be used for a long time.
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Old 08-09-2016, 02:18 PM   #13
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Our builder told us to turn the water off at the main valve when leaving for a long time. Those pesky little hoses at the back of the toilet tank have a way of letting go when you least expect it.
Last year we went for ~2 weeks. We are on well and septic. We turned off the electricity to the pump and the water valve at the pressure tank. When we returned, a day after turning everything back on, the pressure tank fitting burst. 50+ gallons left the tank immediately and the pump just kept on running spraying water everywhere. Fortunately, we were home when it went. It took only seconds to realized what was happening and get everything under control. If it had gone while we were gone and the systems were live, thousands of gallons of water would have filled the lower level until the water broke the windows and flowed outside.

We now turn off the electricity to the well pump, the water valve at the pressure tank and the water heater (don't want the heater to work with no water in it) when we go away even for a couple of days.

City water could have the same issue without shutting off the mains.
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Old 08-09-2016, 02:44 PM   #14
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Our builder told us to turn the water off at the main valve when leaving for a long time. Those pesky little hoses at the back of the toilet tank have a way of letting go when you least expect it. At least shut those values off. Dishwasher connections can go and are hard to notice until its too late. I've know of two folks who have had flooded homes as result of water lines letting go when they were gone.
+1

FIL/MIL went to Iceland for a couple of weeks and the freezer which was full of fish died. When they came home it smelled pretty special.
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Old 08-09-2016, 03:27 PM   #15
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+1

FIL/MIL went to Iceland for a couple of weeks and the freezer which was full of fish died. When they came home it smelled pretty special.
Now there is a smell you may never get out of the house.
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Old 08-09-2016, 03:28 PM   #16
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Try prepaying the bills before you go. You can probably estimate what the bills will be and you can overpay a little.
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Old 08-09-2016, 03:40 PM   #17
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Don't forget that the USPS will hold mail and forward accumulated mail every week, for a fee of $18 a week. You can also set up temporary mail forwarding. Although I am not sure either of these will work being sent out of the country.
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Old 08-09-2016, 03:43 PM   #18
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We had a leak with one of the toilets. Not the hose, the water control. There was no external leak but the water ran continuously and ran up a $1K water bill before our daughter discovered it. We can't turn off the main because it feeds the irrigation system, so we shut off the valves in each bathroom and the kitchen sink.
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Old 08-09-2016, 05:47 PM   #19
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I have a service that checks our Az condo once a month from May through Oct. We shut the water off when gone, but our service lady turns it on, flushes toilets, and then turns it off. She sends the following report:
Attached Images
File Type: png Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 5.43.12 PM.png (52.2 KB, 30 views)
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Old 08-09-2016, 06:28 PM   #20
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+1 on disconnecting the negative terminal on the car battery. It might be worth cancelling your car insurance and buying cheaper coverage to cover for theft and/or specific perils instead of having coverage for third party and collision.

There's also personal assistant type organizations that will do basic tasks for a relatively low fee.
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