How I gave up everything to become a housesitter.

Lawrie walking in the Cotswalds, UK.
Lawrie Masterson

Lawrie Masterson

Lawrie Masterson is an award-winning journalist from Melbourne Australia. In August 2018 he and his partner Kirsty Carter sold everything they couldn't fit into two suitcases, told their families not to wait up and embarked on an open-ended tour of the world.

“OH, no. I couldn’t do that …”


That is the most common response I get from friends and acquaintances when I tell them that, before starting our housesitting journey in August, 2018, Kirsty and I gave away or sold everything we couldn’t fit into two suitcases.




And, to be honest, I didn’t think I could do it either. Sometimes I still wonder how I actually did.


I had moved countries before, so I couldn’t afford to be a genuine hoarder. But I love cricket, which is written about endlessly and sometimes beautifully, and I did have a collection of books about the great game. Some were quite old; others signed by the authors.


And when I returned to Australia in 2009 after 14 years in the US, I brought with me quite a collection of signed Hollywood memorabilia — movie posters, books, letters and cards.


So, where is it all now?


While I was in the US I had left some of the cricket books in cardboard cartons under a friend’s house in Melbourne, and most of them had been eaten by various insects by the time I went to reclaim them. The survivors took pride of place in my bookshelf, but no one else really wanted them. The genuine collectors weren’t interested, family and friends cherrypicked one or two, but the rest finished up at St Vincent de Paul.


Same with the Hollywood memorabilia. While my huge Before Night Falls poster, signed by the director (and prominent New York painter) Julian Schnabel, meant the world to me and held a prominent position on the wall in our apartment, seems it did not mean a toss to anyone else. 


I took it, and a whole car load of other bits and pieces, to a collector in Melbourne only to be told in the nicest way possible way: “I have three containers full of this stuff. Even if you offered to give it to me, I’d have to say no.”


Off to Vinnie’s again.


Clothing? Turns out the moths liked my Armani jacket — probably the most expensive single item of clothing I’ve ever owned — even more than I did. I couldn’t even give that away. Vinnie’s and the Salvation Army store became the beneficiaries of my penchant to buy T-shirts on a whim. I had an entire chest of drawers full of them.


Suits, shirts and ties, shoes … in the end, it was either keep everything and go nowhere, or just let go. It all came down to: Will it fit in the suitcase? Usual answer: No.


Oh, and did I mention the apartment? This was the first home Kirsty and I bought together. Then we spent north of $130,000 renovating it just so, exactly the way we wanted it.


Not all that long before August, 2018, I had actually gone on the record as saying I would never move house again. Why would I?


I had done enough of that and I was approaching retirement. We had a beautiful sanctuary in the middle of a city we both love, with a pool and gym upstairs and the world within walking distance. Why would you even bother going anywhere else?


But on the market it went, defying circumstances and bringing us a great price, and a nest egg that pretty much finances our travelling so we do not have to carve into other investments meant to see us through our retirement.


I didn’t even blink when we flogged the car.

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