JH Sechelt
12-06-2006, 05:02 PM
OK all you Long timers, what do you do with your stick house when you are gone for 6 weeks or 6 months? Like cutting the grass, or watering the indoor plants. Checking to make sure there is no water leaks, etc.... I know here in BC, if you leave a house unoccupied the insurance rates sky rocket. I guess if you're lucky you might have family members that can stay there and watch over it. Any bad experiences out there one should try to avoid? looking forward to your comments.


12-06-2006, 05:07 PM
I'm one of the lucky ones John. My son is staying in our house for us. We have been gone 6 months and only one letter from the homeowners association for weeds in the front yard[V]... not too bad though..[^]

12-06-2006, 05:17 PM
We are lucky in that the homes association takes care of the yard ect. Turn off the water set the thermastat to whatever. We live on a private street and the neighbors keep watch over the house. Have an alarm system which satisifies the insurance people. The only thing I have to do is water the yard. The sprinkler system is connected between the water meter and the shut off inside the house.

12-06-2006, 06:26 PM
We have only been gone for 7 weeks at a time. We have an alarm system, automatic sprinklers and a gardener. We have a great small neighborhood that houses several police people, fire people and a city council member. The house plants that can't make it that long go with us, travel in the shower and sit by the short end of the island when parked. Our neighbors know if the Monty is not here, we aren't. Our only problem is our post office.
Happy trails..............................

12-06-2006, 06:39 PM
Our insurance requires that someone walks through the house once a month so our daughter does that. We also have very vigilant neighbors. I've gotten rid of almost all my plants since we've only been home about two months out of the past two years. One of our big dilemmas involved our kitty but Max has been adopted by the neighborhood and is well cared for while we're on the road. He's an outdoor cat and they appreciate his great hunting skills.

12-07-2006, 12:11 AM
Having children that live close enough to actually see your house helps a great deal. We have our kids check ours every few days while we are away. We also notify the local authorities and let them know that we will be gone and to cruise by occasionally. Once when one of the kids was house checking a sheriffs deputy stopped to see who they were. Pretty nice. Then we got home earlier than expected once and a deputy pulled up to see who we were. Mountaineer was in the garage so he couldn't see it. Nice to know that folks are watching!

Joyce H
12-07-2006, 01:09 AM
Well our summer home is in the mountains of WV. Our children are in CT and OH, so can't have them checking on things. LOL Since most of the winter our place is snowed in...we have over a mile of private dirt road to get to the property...we just prep it for the winter, lock it up, and hit the road in the Monty. Our closest neighbor is about a half mile away and another neighbor three quarters of a mile, they use our 35 acres for recreation...walking, sledding, four wheeling, etc so there is usually someone passing by frequently keeping an eye on things. Our house is definitely off the beaten path and on a dead end road. It would take someone local to even know how to get to it. There are 3 homes on the road before reaching our property and every one knows all the vehicles that come and go...so guess we are lucky. As to the insurance, we have always had the place insured as a vacation home versus a full time residence. Don't think there is a great difference in premium with USAA.

12-07-2006, 02:01 AM
We found the hardest thing was getting our yard work done. This next summer I will contract to have it mowed. The mail has been no problem for a month, but for longer we will have to get a po box, need it anyway. We have great neighbors, they called us in La to ask who's car was in driveway(daughters), two policemen live within 4 houses away. Like said brfore, when our Montana is not here we are not either so the neighbors keep a good eye out. By the way, we got snow over night, wish I was longtiming in the south right now.

12-07-2006, 03:46 AM
This has been one of the stumbling blocks to our trying to be snowbirds. Last winter we developed a leak around the skylight in our bathroom (turned out it had never been sealed to begin with, but that's another story). The leak was above the tub, so no water damage to floor or anything, but I shudder to think what would have happened if we had not been home. Our neighbors are very good about keeping an eye on the exterior of the place for us - I'm hesitant about having someone come in and check the inside periodically. Kids live 3+ hours away. Inside plants in smaller pots are put in sinks/tubs of water, larger pots are watered to saturation before we go. We were gone a month and all survived very well. Our really long trips are taken in spring and fall before and after the short growing season here so yard maintenance is not a problem. But, during our shorter trips during the summer the watering system is on timers. We have some hurdles to overcome, so this long timers thread is a welcome addition to MOC.

12-07-2006, 04:43 AM
For the shorter trips of a month or less we have a really good group of neighbors that look after one another. We pick up one another's mail, have keys to the house, water plants, mow lawns. We live on a short Cul-D- Sac so we all pretty much know who should be on the street and who should not. Our Local police will do a vacation watch and are very diligent. For the winter get a way we have a house sitter, actually the next door neighbor so the house will be lived in. We also have a lawn service.

12-07-2006, 12:57 PM
I share your concerns. We live in NW Wisconsin and the temps can go subzero for weeks on end in the winter when we want to get away. Next year before we retire we are putting in a new furnace the one we have is about 25 years old. I think we are going to have to find a responsible and trustworthy person to check the house at a minimum of once a week for us.

In the summer we then need to pay for grass cutting. But this is worth it to use to come back to the ponderosa.

I am always thinking of how far we can power the House down too.

12-07-2006, 01:24 PM
In San Antonio, we left for 9+ weeks this past fall. I covered our pool, drained the hot tub, set the yard sprinklers to comply with stage 2 water restrictions ( we were in stage 1), had the PO hold the mail (see my other post on that!!), put the cars in the garage, set the alarm, set A/C to 85, hired a yard maintenace company and I set up a separate timed watering system for the potted plants. How did it work?? We came back and the yard looked great, cars started OK, and the potted plants looked the best we had ever seen. Next summer looking to get better handle on PO issue. Also great neighbors watched over things,

12-13-2006, 09:41 AM
Wife and I rarely get home more than once every couple months for an weekend (Friday-Sunday). Our stick hut is located in a manufactured home mini subdivision in rural Alabama. No one per se looks after our place..I'm sure insurance would require that someone be there but no trouble yet. We do have a burglary/fire alarm system in place that will alert us if someone were to enter while we away. It has been hit by lightning twice in the past year and is expensive to replace, but we still have it. The yard looks like a forgotten field in the growing season..I need a bush hog not a riding lawnmower. We are planning to put it on the market in the coming year and rent a storage unit...much cheaper than mortgage/insurance/alarm/phone/water/electric/etc. We hope to purchase another stick home in NE Texas in the future as that is in our retirement plans.

12-13-2006, 11:27 AM
Jeff and Nora, welcome to the forum and greetings from another Alabama Montana owner. We are in Wetumpka! Almost neighbors for those of you who are not current on your rural Alabama geography. Sounds like you've got a great plan. Northeast Texas is a beautiful area, too.

12-13-2006, 12:52 PM
Fortunately, we have a condo so we set the temp. on 60 in winter and 68 in summer, take the perishables out of the frig., ask the kind neighbor to forward the mail and check the condo once in awhile to make sure all is well, and lock the door. So far during the past eight months, we have been in the condo for less than a week. Will be stopping back to check it out for two days in Jan. on the way to a 3 month stay in Gulf Shores, Alabama.


12-13-2006, 12:57 PM
Good topic. I never quite think we qualify as full timers because we are only Longtimers. We leave our doublewide in VA on a rented lot with a neighbor holding the key. We turn off the water, turn the heat down to 55 degrees and head to Fla. This year we left the 1st of Nov. and flew back Nov. 20th for Thanksgiven. We spent the weekend racking and burning leaves. On Monday we drove my Jeep Liberty to Fla. The house plants are few and are with me. We didn't have any trouble last Jan-March and don't expect any this year. During the summer months we make short trips and take care of the lawn ourselves. The house is on a lake and makes for a great summer retreat. During the 5 months in Fla I turn off the telephone.

Dave e Victoria
12-13-2006, 02:23 PM
We are like Parrothead -- we have a gardner, alarm, and automatic sprinkler. Plus our daughter comes by everyother week or so to walk through. Having said that, we are seriously considering a condo instead ofour stick house (actually, it is concrete block). But, it will be hard to give up the 10 citrus trees in our yard, our outdoor cooking and party facility and our good neighbors.

02-24-2007, 05:48 AM
I've been concentrating on other things this Winter and had missed the fact that this Thread was up and running, so read with interest the remarks on leaving a stick home. We were gone last Winter from October to April, Wintering in Arizona. We have a sprinkler system, alarm system, and had house sitters come in to check the house (charge was $50 a month) and they also forwarded our mail. The couple own the lawn care business that took care of our yard, shut down the Sprinkler system for us and restarted it when we returned home first of April. They did a great job except for a few miscommunications, but we kept in touch by email if questions arose, and they also moved their work trucks in and out of our driveway, since they live around the corner on the next (country) block - about 1/4 mile away. We would have used them again this year, but have our home up for sale, looking for a condo/home in a gated community, so we don' have to deal with anything but mail forwarding.... and if we don't find what we are looking for, and our house sells, then we'll put everything in storage for awhile and take off early next Fall anyway and still just have mail tow worry about; if we don't want to take the additional vehicle, have a granddaughter who will drive it to school, etc. We take the 4 houseplants we have with us, but I could just as easily narrow that down to 2 - for sentimental reasons. We plan to travel a bit during our hiatus from a stick house, but also to land some place for a couple of months to get a break from the travel.

Mike & Evy Orlob
2006 3400; 2004 Dodge Ram 3500
Pets n Plants

04-13-2007, 07:42 AM
We go away for approx 5 weeks at a time. Our daughter who lives a couple of minutes away from us calls into the house each day on her way back from work to take the mail in and keep an eye on everything. Our son also comes over every few days. Diana

04-13-2007, 01:34 PM

The biggest mistake we have made is, one year while gone for 6 weeks, we got a call from our neighbor at Home in AZ just as we arrived in Rochester NY. He proceeded to tell us there was water running out from under our front door.

It was a new house

JH Sechelt
04-13-2007, 02:00 PM
Thanks azstar, good post.

Can relate to NOT having "Desert vegetation" here on the wetcoast, oops I mean Westcoast :D.
But we can grow swampy things pretty good. Heck we even have a couple of palm trees in our yard.
I guess the best thing is to have someone who is reliable staying at your home, but if not I can see the value of
turning off the water. That could cause a lot of damage if gone un noticed :(.


04-13-2007, 03:23 PM
We are fortunate because we live in a condo sub and are well watched over. Our home phone is forwarded to my cell phone and our mail is sent to a UPS Store mailbox and forwarded to us whenever we call for it.

04-13-2007, 04:51 PM
A neighbor that kills our fish, birds, Ferrets (by neglect)and leaves our house a mess, and it only cost me $400.00.

We gave away the remaining 2 birds, looking for a home for the rest of the animals.
Not as fortunate as many of you, sorry to say.

04-18-2007, 11:39 AM
We have been part/full timing the last several years so we use a mail service while we are gone and switch the mail back to our stick home when there.

Dave e Victoria
04-18-2007, 01:51 PM
Note to AZSTAR and others. The toilet thing is important in the desert. Even a few weeks will have the water evaporated in toilets and the result is an open hole to the sewer. We float a small amount of cooking oil on the surface and the evaporation stops. This is basic high school physics and it works. The oil floats on the water and does not evaporate so the water can't get out to evaporate. My daughter only stops by every other week and that is enough to dry the toilets without the oil.

04-19-2007, 06:48 AM
Howdy Dave,

Thanks for the info.

Did consider the Cooking Oil. I probably should have done an experiment last year but the thoughts I had were, would the Cooking Oil grow bacteria?, and Would it stain?.

Sounds like you answered these questions.

If all true I would use Cooking Oil as the EverPrime is a little pricey. $18 a qt. I have enough EverPrime to do the job this year, but I think I'll leave a pan out with water and a covering of Cooking Oil and see how it works out. We are gone for 4 mos. June 1 thru Oct.1 and leave the House temp. set for 90deg.

Happy Camping

04-19-2007, 03:38 PM
We have houses in 2 dif states and you can hire house sitters any place ,, they will come in and check as often as you like ,, the fl house we have them inside every 2 weeks for $40.00 month works great as we get a report by e-mail

the north house in northern wis has a lite in the window for the neibor to see daily as if the heat goes down tooooooo far he calls a guy as he can't go in but never worry or you will never leave , if you are maried to the house get a divorce

06-30-2007, 09:32 PM
We are lucky and have good neighbors that check the house each week and send us the important things that come in the mail. WE let them park their trailer in the yard where we used to park ours for the winter months. They get a parking space and we get looked after so it is a good deal for both of us.

07-01-2007, 04:49 AM
We have been leaving for 4 months each winter and are very fortunate to have GREAT nieghbors. They collect mail and forward monthly, water inside plants and check for freezing problems. We are gonna fix the headache Nov 07, by selling it and going full-time. When we feel the need for roots again we will look for a condo somewhere!

07-01-2007, 10:32 AM
We live in our owner/occupied duplex. Have great renters. Bank pays everything directly. All other mail forwarded. Daughter checks in once in a while to see everything running okay. The rent affords us the opportunity to travel during winter. We usually leave in October & return about April 1st. We like to have one place as "home base" & go out from there. Our rent runs about 250. including elec.

07-02-2007, 03:32 PM
Last winter everything worked out great at our stick house.We left Nov. 1st, returned Thanksgiven to be with family by flying one way, and drove the car back to FL. Our neighbor watched the house and checked it everyother month. The only problem was the odor on return. We will have to try the cooking oil this fall. We will be leaving last week of August to go to VT and then across country to SD. The last Thursday of Sept we plan to be in KY at Bill Monroe's bluegras festival and leave from there to go to FL for the winter.

We set our mail up so it's forwarded to a Post Office box in Fla when we leave here. Most mail I have stopped by having it on the internet. All bills except credit cards are paid automaticaly. We don't go too far in the summer. It's nice to have a home place to come back to and we now call it our summer home. We thought of going full time but don't like to travel that much. Being a full time tourist would be too much.