4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

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kamo
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4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by kamo » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:41 pm

Hi Everyone,

We are going abroad for 4 months this year, from February to May. I would like advice from anyone who has done something similar in terms of what we should do with our home, cars, taxes, etc. before we leave?

Home. We live in the south so no real concerns about long periods of time below zero. My plan is to set the thermometer to 50 min and 85 max degrees. No one will live in the house and my sisters live very close and can check on it and pick up our mail.

Cars. We will have to leave one car outside in the driveway the whole time as the garage only fits one car. We have a 2008 Prius and a 2016 Corolla. Will disconnect and remove the battery from the Corolla, but not sure what, if anything, to do to the Prius. Do I leave both cars with minimum amount of gasoline in their tanks?

Taxes. I don't expect to receive tax statements before we leave so am planning to file for a suspension until June when we return.

Thanks for any advice you have. KAMO
He who knows he has enough is rich. Lao-Tzu

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JDCarpenter
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by JDCarpenter » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:51 pm

Is your house/driveway visible from the street? May want to have one of your sisters drive the car in the driveway once or twice a week and park it slightly differently each time. Maybe have them go in the house and flip different lights on/off if you aren't doing that remotely.

Do you have the exterior maintenance (grass cutting, if any, etc.) taken care of while you are gone?

If you leave gas in the tanks, won't hurt to put some gasoline stabilizer, like Sta-Bil, in the mix. (from Car Talk blog...)
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cadreamer2015
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by cadreamer2015 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:58 pm

Unless the cars will be driven more than just around the block when you are gone you should disconnect the batteries from both the Corolla and the Prius. If your Prius is like mine (different model year) the 12V battery you need to disconnect is in the back, not in the front with the engine. Fill the gas tanks full. Sta-bil is not necessary for 4 months, but I do put it in when we are not driving the car for 8 months or more. You might overinflate the tires by a few pounds of pressure. If you are obsessive as I can be, you might also put the cars up on blocks to save the tires from getting flat spots. You don't have to have the car completely off the ground, just enough to put most of the weight on the blocks and very little on the tires. I would only do this on the car stored in the garage. Perhaps get a car cover for the car parked in the driveway. You might also want to contact your auto insurance to see if you can say that your cars are garaged and not driven for those 4 months, which might save you some $.

We spend 8 months of the year in So Cal and 4 months in Maine, so we do this routine twice a year ourselves.
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Pajamas
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by Pajamas » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:16 pm

Empty and clean the refrigerator and freezer. Unplug and prop the doors open slightly.

Unplug items like televisions and audio equipment that draw current when powered off.

Ask the person checking the house to flush the toilets when they stop by.

Put any small valuables and important papers in a safe deposit box.

Make sure that you have health coverage while out of the country.

Turn down the temperature on the water heater if you don't deactivate it.

neilpilot
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by neilpilot » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:18 pm

Consider:

setting your water heater(s) to the lowest setting or completely off

Forwarding your mail to your sister's

Turing off the home's water service entirely. If you don't, shut off the supply valves to the cloths & dish washers

Advise your local police that you will be away, and give them a contact number (yours or your sister's)

Realize that if you have not advised your home insurance carrier, and a large loss does occur, you may have a subsequent discussion about coverage (most policies have a clause about extended vacancy period).

Carefreeap
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by Carefreeap » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:29 pm

In another post you stated that you live in N. Texas.

Are pack rats or other rodents in your area? The reason I ask is I have had problems with pack rats doing significant damage to my cars parked outside in AZ and So. CA. My car actually caught fire from a pack rat nest which was built on my car's exhaust manifold just as my husband was picking me up at the airport just as I was returning from two weeks in Ireland. Car had to be totaled.

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Artful Dodger
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by Artful Dodger » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:38 pm

I second disconnecting the water from the washing machine and dishwasher. We had a flood one time due to a connection in the dishwasher failing. We now shut off the water at the point it enters the house, and turn the hot water heater down to vacation.

Regarding taxes, make sure to ballpark your potential liability, and make an additional payment if you will be short. You can extend the filing, but not the payment. You usually have to be within 10% of the amount owed, or at least have paid more than last year's.

kamo
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by kamo » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:44 pm

cadreamer2015 wrote:Unless the cars will be driven more than just around the block when you are gone you should disconnect the batteries from both the Corolla and the Prius. If your Prius is like mine (different model year) the 12V battery you need to disconnect is in the back, not in the front with the engine. Fill the gas tanks full. Sta-bil is not necessary for 4 months, but I do put it in when we are not driving the car for 8 months or more. You might overinflate the tires by a few pounds of pressure. If you are obsessive as I can be, you might also put the cars up on blocks to save the tires from getting flat spots. You don't have to have the car completely off the ground, just enough to put most of the weight on the blocks and very little on the tires. I would only do this on the car stored in the garage. Perhaps get a car cover for the car parked in the driveway. You might also want to contact your auto insurance to see if you can say that your cars are garaged and not driven for those 4 months, which might save you some $.

We spend 8 months of the year in So Cal and 4 months in Maine, so we do this routine twice a year ourselves.
Thanks for your response. So a full tank is better than an almost empty tank? Hadn't thought about the insurance, thanks.
He who knows he has enough is rich. Lao-Tzu

kamo
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by kamo » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:47 pm

Artful Dodger wrote:I second disconnecting the water from the washing machine and dishwasher. We had a flood one time due to a connection in the dishwasher failing. We now shut off the water at the point it enters the house, and turn the hot water heater down to vacation.

Regarding taxes, make sure to ballpark your potential liability, and make an additional payment if you will be short. You can extend the filing, but not the payment. You usually have to be within 10% of the amount owed, or at least have paid more than last year's.
Thanks for this. I can legally turn off the water at the street meter? On the tax liability estimate I suppose I could do a dry run with tax software - thanks for reminding me that I am delaying the filing not the payment.
He who knows he has enough is rich. Lao-Tzu

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Artful Dodger
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by Artful Dodger » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:02 pm

I can legally turn off the water at the street meter?
We have a shut off valve where the water main comes into the house. Maybe you do not. If not, check with your city water dept - they will likely not want you turning off at the meter, but they can. Alternately, at least shut the supply going to the washing machine and dishwasher. Those are the weakest links.

Have a good time abroad. Sounds like a great experience!

artgerst
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by artgerst » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:29 pm

Just curious, where are you going for 4 months? Work or leisure? I was under the impression that (assuming several places like Europe) you could only go 3 months on a vacation visa before you had to leave the country.

123
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by 123 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:01 pm

Have the sisters who check your mail also run water in the sinks/tubs/showers for a minute every week or two (maybe also flush the toilets). Water in the pipe traps tends to evaporate over time if not replenished. If the water in the traps isn't sufficient it will let noxious sewer gases into the dwelling and contribute to that "stale house" smell (at least).
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

kamo
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by kamo » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:01 pm

Carefreeap wrote:In another post you stated that you live in N. Texas.

Are pack rats or other rodents in your area? The reason I ask is I have had problems with pack rats doing significant damage to my cars parked outside in AZ and So. CA. My car actually caught fire from a pack rat nest which was built on my car's exhaust manifold just as my husband was picking me up at the airport just as I was returning from two weeks in Ireland. Car had to be totaled.
We don't have pack rat problems but we recently had norwegian rats in the attic for the first time. I plugged all real and potential holes around the house and set up snap traps and a bait trap in the attic. The recent thread on this was timely.
He who knows he has enough is rich. Lao-Tzu

kamo
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by kamo » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:12 pm

123 wrote:Have the sisters who check your mail also run water in the sinks/tubs/showers for a minute every week or two (maybe also flush the toilets). Water in the pipe traps tends to evaporate over time if not replenished. If the water in the traps isn't sufficient it will let noxious sewer gases into the dwelling and contribute to that "stale house" smell (at least).
I was thinking of turning off the water at the street, then draining all pipes before we leave. But it sounds like this won't work if the water in these pipe traps evaporates right?
He who knows he has enough is rich. Lao-Tzu

cherijoh
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by cherijoh » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:50 pm

kamo wrote:
Artful Dodger wrote:I second disconnecting the water from the washing machine and dishwasher. We had a flood one time due to a connection in the dishwasher failing. We now shut off the water at the point it enters the house, and turn the hot water heater down to vacation.

Regarding taxes, make sure to ballpark your potential liability, and make an additional payment if you will be short. You can extend the filing, but not the payment. You usually have to be within 10% of the amount owed, or at least have paid more than last year's.
Thanks for this. I can legally turn off the water at the street meter? On the tax liability estimate I suppose I could do a dry run with tax software - thanks for reminding me that I am delaying the filing not the payment.
Don't you have a shut off valve coming into the house? Mine is in my linen closet.

123
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by 123 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:41 pm

kamo wrote:
123 wrote:Have the sisters who check your mail also run water in the sinks/tubs/showers for a minute every week or two (maybe also flush the toilets). Water in the pipe traps tends to evaporate over time if not replenished. If the water in the traps isn't sufficient it will let noxious sewer gases into the dwelling and contribute to that "stale house" smell (at least).
I was thinking of turning off the water at the street, then draining all pipes before we leave. But it sounds like this won't work if the water in these pipe traps evaporates right?
Yeah those sink/toilet traps need water to keep working. If you turn the water off the sisters could add 1 pint of water a week from a bucket to each drain/toilet a week. Maybe leave some filled water jugs in the garage for them to use.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

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Watty
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by Watty » Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:19 pm

Check with your home insurance company, there may be a 30 day limit on how long you can leave the house vacant and still have full coverage. There have been treads on this that you may be able to find. Some companies will let you buy an additional rider for a vacant house others will not.

You may be able to do things like suspend gym memberships or temporarily downgrade your cable and internet and cell phone to save money.

Check the expiration date on your drivers license. Even if you don't plan on driving you will need it when you get back. Also check the expiration dates on credit and ATM cards and car license plates.

Check the expiration date on your passports. Some countries require there be six months left on your passport after your expected departure date from the country or they will not let you enter the country.

avalpert
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by avalpert » Tue Jan 10, 2017 12:02 am

kamo wrote:Hi Everyone,

We are going abroad for 4 months this year, from February to May. I would like advice from anyone who has done something similar in terms of what we should do with our home, cars, taxes, etc. before we leave?

Home. We live in the south so no real concerns about long periods of time below zero. My plan is to set the thermometer to 50 min and 85 max degrees. No one will live in the house and my sisters live very close and can check on it and pick up our mail.

Cars. We will have to leave one car outside in the driveway the whole time as the garage only fits one car. We have a 2008 Prius and a 2016 Corolla. Will disconnect and remove the battery from the Corolla, but not sure what, if anything, to do to the Prius. Do I leave both cars with minimum amount of gasoline in their tanks?

Taxes. I don't expect to receive tax statements before we leave so am planning to file for a suspension until June when we return.

Thanks for any advice you have. KAMO
We left two priuses for a similar amount of time, they were outside, we changed the oil before leaving, filled the gas tank and added fuel stabilizer and they were both fine when we returned. If you can raise all corners on jacks to keep the tires up that would prevent flat spots - but our worked out quickly with driving when we got home.

For the house, you should turn the water off to the house (don't want to come back to a flood and even a small four month leak will be costly and moldy), unplug all appliances, put some bleach in the toilet bowls and cover them with plastic wrap (if the water were to evaporate it could let gas from the sewer into the house).

avalpert
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by avalpert » Tue Jan 10, 2017 12:04 am

kamo wrote:
cadreamer2015 wrote:Unless the cars will be driven more than just around the block when you are gone you should disconnect the batteries from both the Corolla and the Prius. If your Prius is like mine (different model year) the 12V battery you need to disconnect is in the back, not in the front with the engine. Fill the gas tanks full. Sta-bil is not necessary for 4 months, but I do put it in when we are not driving the car for 8 months or more. You might overinflate the tires by a few pounds of pressure. If you are obsessive as I can be, you might also put the cars up on blocks to save the tires from getting flat spots. You don't have to have the car completely off the ground, just enough to put most of the weight on the blocks and very little on the tires. I would only do this on the car stored in the garage. Perhaps get a car cover for the car parked in the driveway. You might also want to contact your auto insurance to see if you can say that your cars are garaged and not driven for those 4 months, which might save you some $.

We spend 8 months of the year in So Cal and 4 months in Maine, so we do this routine twice a year ourselves.
Thanks for your response. So a full tank is better than an almost empty tank? Hadn't thought about the insurance, thanks.
Yes, very much so - it prevents moisture buildup in the tank and keeps the seals from drying out.

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WiscoTrout
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by WiscoTrout » Tue Jan 10, 2017 2:24 am

A couple of thoughts from someone currently spending several months abroad:

1.) Consider putting a freeze on your credit with the key credit agencies. Although 4 months may not seem like a long time to take such a step, dealing with a credit fraud incident from abroad can be a real pain (been there, done that :oops: ).

2.) Consider porting your current cell phone plan to Google Voice, and then using an unlocked cell phone to use rechargeable SIM cards from wherever you are staying. You still get notifications through Google Voice when people contact your US number, and you won't be paying an arm and a leg for international roaming with your current US plan.

3.) Make sure you have a relatively inexpensive way to access cash from US accounts. You don't want to be paying high fees/transaction costs overtime you use an ATM abroad. There are several threads on Bogleheads about best practices.

4.) +1 on advice around insurance, both homeowners and auto. If you are upfront about your plans, they will hopefully be able to make sure you are still covered and maybe even save you some money if you aren't driving the cars during that time.

5.) Consider travel insurance. It was required for us to get a long term visa, since we are staying more than 3 months. We got ours through World Nomads for both health and if we had to cancel travel plans. Luckily haven't had to use them yet, so can't talk to how good they are.

Finally, enjoy yourselves and Safe Travels!

WiscoTrout

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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by Cruise » Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:59 am

Programmable lights.
Extra medications.
Copies of prescriptions.
Check whether prescriptions can legally be brought to destination.
Email copies of passports to yourself. Bring hard copies with you.
Roach/rat traps in house.
Luggage legal for airlines you will use.
FYI mail forwarding and hold service of USPS is time-limited.

kamo
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by kamo » Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:39 pm

Artful Dodger wrote:
I can legally turn off the water at the street meter?
We have a shut off valve where the water main comes into the house. Maybe you do not. If not, check with your city water dept - they will likely not want you turning off at the meter, but they can. Alternately, at least shut the supply going to the washing machine and dishwasher. Those are the weakest links.

Have a good time abroad. Sounds like a great experience!

Thanks, we're looking forward to it.
I called the city and they said I could turn it off at the meter so I will do that then drain all pipes. Don't know if it will make any difference but will set the water heater to "vacation" mode.
He who knows he has enough is rich. Lao-Tzu

kamo
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by kamo » Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:44 pm

neilpilot wrote:Consider:

setting your water heater(s) to the lowest setting or completely off

Forwarding your mail to your sister's

Turing off the home's water service entirely. If you don't, shut off the supply valves to the cloths & dish washers

Advise your local police that you will be away, and give them a contact number (yours or your sister's)

Realize that if you have not advised your home insurance carrier, and a large loss does occur, you may have a subsequent discussion about coverage (most policies have a clause about extended vacancy period).
Good idea forwarding our mail to one of my sisters. Looked online and it appears easy to do, and will save her a lot of hassle.
Another good idea notifying the police.
Have notified insurance company.
Thanks!
He who knows he has enough is rich. Lao-Tzu

kamo
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by kamo » Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:59 pm

artgerst wrote:Just curious, where are you going for 4 months? Work or leisure? I was under the impression that (assuming several places like Europe) you could only go 3 months on a vacation visa before you had to leave the country.
We're heading to Chile where DW is from. Yes, you're right, it is a 90-day visa but we've already planned our trip across the border to Tacna, Peru to renew it.
It's a leisure trip. I'm not working now and we have free accommodation near a beach the whole time so taking advantage of that and so that the boys get to know the other side of their family and learn Spanish.
He who knows he has enough is rich. Lao-Tzu

kamo
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by kamo » Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:05 pm

avalpert wrote:
kamo wrote:Hi Everyone,

We are going abroad for 4 months this year, from February to May. I would like advice from anyone who has done something similar in terms of what we should do with our home, cars, taxes, etc. before we leave?

Home. We live in the south so no real concerns about long periods of time below zero. My plan is to set the thermometer to 50 min and 85 max degrees. No one will live in the house and my sisters live very close and can check on it and pick up our mail.

Cars. We will have to leave one car outside in the driveway the whole time as the garage only fits one car. We have a 2008 Prius and a 2016 Corolla. Will disconnect and remove the battery from the Corolla, but not sure what, if anything, to do to the Prius. Do I leave both cars with minimum amount of gasoline in their tanks?

Taxes. I don't expect to receive tax statements before we leave so am planning to file for a suspension until June when we return.

Thanks for any advice you have. KAMO
We left two priuses for a similar amount of time, they were outside, we changed the oil before leaving, filled the gas tank and added fuel stabilizer and they were both fine when we returned. If you can raise all corners on jacks to keep the tires up that would prevent flat spots - but our worked out quickly with driving when we got home.

For the house, you should turn the water off to the house (don't want to come back to a flood and even a small four month leak will be costly and moldy), unplug all appliances, put some bleach in the toilet bowls and cover them with plastic wrap (if the water were to evaporate it could let gas from the sewer into the house).
Thanks for the bleach and plastic wrap idea. I hadn't heard of that one before.
He who knows he has enough is rich. Lao-Tzu

artgerst
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by artgerst » Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:11 pm

kamo wrote:
artgerst wrote:Just curious, where are you going for 4 months? Work or leisure? I was under the impression that (assuming several places like Europe) you could only go 3 months on a vacation visa before you had to leave the country.
We're heading to Chile where DW is from. Yes, you're right, it is a 90-day visa but we've already planned our trip across the border to Tacna, Peru to renew it.
It's a leisure trip. I'm not working now and we have free accommodation near a beach the whole time so taking advantage of that and so that the boys get to know the other side of their family and learn Spanish.
Sounds like a great trip. Fully jealous like many reading this post.

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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by Elena » Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:46 pm

I leave for abroad every single year for 3 months, for the last 20 years. I have left for as long as fifteen uninterrupted months. Regular car: do nothing. Water: shut off general valve, outside, AND PUT A SMALL PADLOCK IN THE SMALL HOLE PROVIDED. You do not want it turned on while gone. Shut off inside valve, by the water meter. Drain ALL pipes, and empty all toilet tanks and water heater. That takes care of all risk, including washer, freeze, etc., since all pipes will be empty. Turn off water heater. As you leave, take a picture of water meter; your bill should reflect zero usage for four billing cycles. Water is your only enemy while abroad, since you can control everything else. Leave the fridge open. Shut entire electrical off. No meed for ac to be running. To avoid sewer gas: pour pool antifreeze inside the toilet hole (not the tank). That prevents sewer gas from rising.
Feel free to ask me anything. I am a pro!, and have made many mistakes.

Elena
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by Elena » Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:52 pm

kamo wrote:
avalpert wrote:
kamo wrote:Hi Everyone,

We are going abroad for 4 months this year, from February to May. I would like advice from anyone who has done something similar in terms of what we should do with our home, cars, taxes, etc. before we leave?

Home. We live in the south so no real concerns about long periods of time below zero. My plan is to set the thermometer to 50 min and 85 max degrees. No one will live in the house and my sisters live very close and can check on it and pick up our mail.

Cars. We will have to leave one car outside in the driveway the whole time as the garage only fits one car. We have a 2008 Prius and a 2016 Corolla. Will disconnect and remove the battery from the Corolla, but not sure what, if anything, to do to the Prius. Do I leave both cars with minimum amount of gasoline in their tanks?

Taxes. I don't expect to receive tax statements before we leave so am planning to file for a suspension until June when we return.

Thanks for any advice you have. KAMO
We left two priuses for a similar amount of time, they were outside, we changed the oil before leaving, filled the gas tank and added fuel stabilizer and they were both fine when we returned. If you can raise all corners on jacks to keep the tires up that would prevent flat spots - but our worked out quickly with driving when we got home.

For the house, you should turn the water off to the house (don't want to come back to a flood and even a small four month leak will be costly and moldy), unplug all appliances, put some bleach in the toilet bowls and cover them with plastic wrap (if the water were to evaporate it could let gas from the sewer into the house).
Thanks for the bleach and plastic wrap idea. I hadn't heard of that one before.
Pool antifreeze (it is a pink liquid) is what my awesome plumber recommended. She said no bleach. Be advised that you will return to a very filthy house. I used to clean before I left so that I would return to a clean home. Never happened :mrgreen:

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sperry8
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by sperry8 » Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:14 pm

Some other things to consider:

1- I've had issues in certain countries with certain ATM cards. Thus, I always recommend carrying no less than two. For example, HSBC did/does not work in Ukraine or Belarus. There are others... just showing you the point.

2- Depending on the countries you are going to - some websites (including Vanguard) will not allow access from them. For example, you cannot access Vanguard's website from Thailand. So I recommend getting a VPN service so you can make transactions as/if needed.

3- Move your credit card accounts to online statement e-delivery or place them on auto-pay.

4- Open a paypal account - some smaller tourist companies only accept paypal and/or cash (no cc's). A nice backup to have Paypal (although I found it more helpful years ago and less so recently. Still no cost to open so I'd say do it.

5- Email yourself all the emergency phone #'s for all your credit and debit cards. If they are lost/stolen this will be a big time saver when calling to cancel/replace.

6- Call all credit/card travel companies (or go online as some allow you to place travel notifications there) to let them know your travel plans. Some don't require it but I do it just the same.

7- If you have a chip & signature card it will be a slight help to you. Most countries don't use signature only cards and while they will work - in countries where english is less spoken and they don't generally use them - it will make for slower transactions. Even worse, in some places without a person it's required (train station kiosks, gas station kiosks, etc.)

Have a great trip!
Humbling BH contest results: 2017: #516 of 647 | 2016: #121 of 610 | 2015: #18 of 552 | 2014: #225 of 503 | 2013: #383 of 433 | 2012: #366 of 410 | 2011: #113 of 369 | 2010: #53 of 282

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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by neilpilot » Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:52 pm

Elena wrote: Shut entire electrical off. No meed for ac to be running.
Consider leaving your heat and/or AC set to wide limits (i.e. 50F-85F) as the OP originally states. This is particularly important if flooring is hardwood, since temperature extremes can lead to warping.

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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by LadyGeek » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:51 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (living abroad).
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btenny
Posts: 4554
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 6:47 pm

Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by btenny » Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:19 pm

We snowbird. We have a written checklist with about 20 items on the list. We check stuff off as we do it the last few days. We put closing and locking the garage as the last item on the list.

1. Set the thermostat at 60 to 88 degrees. Cooler kills the house plants. Hotter is bad on furniture and stuff.
2. Fill up water bottles for the freezer and fill it up. Use up fresh and frozen meat and all vegetables. Leave condiments and like stuff in the fridge. It is cheaper to cool stuff that keeps long term than replace them. Put candles and fragile stuff in fridge. Leave the fridge on normal settings.
3. Put house plants in 5 gallon buckets partly filled with water. Set the buckets near windows for light. Then ask your SIL to check the buckets and plants every 2-3 weeks. Set out a pitcher for her to go outside and get water for this task.
4. Unplug most electronics and appliances.
5. Turn off the cable TV and take the box back. Maybe turnoff the internet if you do not need it for email. You will get a new customer discount when you return.
6. Turn your water heater completely off.
7. Turn off your water at the house. Leave on the water at the meter for the outside lawn and plants. Turn on faucets for a while to remove water pressure inside the house. You do not need to drain pipes completely.
8. Prepay your bill for the yard person and tell him you are leaving and what needs to be done while you are gone. Make sure plants are trimmed and neat so city or neighbors have no issues while you are gone. Make sure yard guy knows to pull weeds they occur. Write a list of yard chores and give it to your yard guy and your SIL so she can check on yard status.
9. Prepay the electricity and water and gas for the amount you expect to use while traveling. Prepay HOA dues for period.
10. Prepay the property taxes as needed.
11. Prepay the car registration as needed.
12. Copy credit cards and passport and put in travel briefcase.
13. Put cellophane over toilets. I don't do the anti freeze thing but it may work fine. Cover and close all sink drains tightly.
14. Turn on bug stopper ultra sonic sound gadget.
15. Put laptop or tablet for bill paying in travel briefcase. Figure out how you will connect to secure internet from overseas. We pay bills via auto pay and some checks as needed every month. If this is your first time I expect you will miss something that needs paying. So either you do this remotely or figure out how to get SIL to do missed bill.
16. Put car in garage and turn off. Disconnect battery. Do not remove it. The battery will keep fine in the car. Remove any valuables from car. Put spare car key on bulletin board in house for cars. ?? Not sure how to handle outside car.
17. Put bars in slider doors and lock all windows and back doors as needed and possible.
18. Tell both near to you neighbors you are traveling but not a lot of other people. Put emergency contact note on kitchen counter for SIL numbers and your numbers at your vacation area. Make sure your SIL has keys to house.
19. Tell your SIL thanks in advance and make sure she checks mail when she comes by house. We forward all mail to our other house and still get some stuff at mail box so you need to have the box checked.
20. Leave house and close and lock garage.

Buy your SIL a nice gift for all her work while you are gone. Have fun
Good Luck.

LarryAllen
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Location: State of Confusion

Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by LarryAllen » Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:50 pm

I would just get a trusted person to stay at the house and skip 99% of the above hassles.

kamo
Posts: 91
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2007 2:16 am

Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by kamo » Mon Jan 23, 2017 9:00 am

Elena wrote:I leave for abroad every single year for 3 months, for the last 20 years. I have left for as long as fifteen uninterrupted months. Regular car: do nothing. Water: shut off general valve, outside, AND PUT A SMALL PADLOCK IN THE SMALL HOLE PROVIDED. You do not want it turned on while gone. Shut off inside valve, by the water meter. Drain ALL pipes, and empty all toilet tanks and water heater. That takes care of all risk, including washer, freeze, etc., since all pipes will be empty. Turn off water heater. As you leave, take a picture of water meter; your bill should reflect zero usage for four billing cycles. Water is your only enemy while abroad, since you can control everything else. Leave the fridge open. Shut entire electrical off. No meed for ac to be running. To avoid sewer gas: pour pool antifreeze inside the toilet hole (not the tank). That prevents sewer gas from rising.
Feel free to ask me anything. I am a pro!, and have made many mistakes.
Thank you for your wisdom!
When you say "shut entire electrical off" do you mean at the circuit breaker box? Just shut off for the whole house for the whole time we're gone?
You said that the house is dirty whenever you return even if you cleaned it before you left. Do you mean that it is dusty?
Thanks!
He who knows he has enough is rich. Lao-Tzu

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rob
Posts: 2985
Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2007 6:49 pm
Location: Here

Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by rob » Mon Jan 23, 2017 9:22 am

We have done this a few time....

- Disconnect plugs from garage doors.
- Organize lawn maintenance (sprinkler system).
- Obviously auto pay financial stuff and pre pay taxes and things you cannot auto.
- Keep a clean credit card that you don't use until the others have been stopped due to "fraud" nonsense.
- Some timers with some randomness on lights.
- I picked up a cheap led thing that looks like a TV from outside (amazon has them) and threw that on a timer to match normal tv pattern.
- Instead of disabling both cars in driveway... I suggest asking the person to move at least one a little in the driveway (reverse it in sometimes)... keeps the car active, avoids the obvious marks under a non moved vehicle plus adds to the appearance of lived in.
| Rob | Its a dangerous business going out your front door. - J.R.R.Tolkien

kamo
Posts: 91
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2007 2:16 am

Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by kamo » Mon Jan 23, 2017 9:44 am

btenny wrote:We snowbird. We have a written checklist with about 20 items on the list. We check stuff off as we do it the last few days. We put closing and locking the garage as the last item on the list.

1. Set the thermostat at 60 to 88 degrees. Cooler kills the house plants. Hotter is bad on furniture and stuff.
2. Fill up water bottles for the freezer and fill it up. Use up fresh and frozen meat and all vegetables. Leave condiments and like stuff in the fridge. It is cheaper to cool stuff that keeps long term than replace them. Put candles and fragile stuff in fridge. Leave the fridge on normal settings.
3. Put house plants in 5 gallon buckets partly filled with water. Set the buckets near windows for light. Then ask your SIL to check the buckets and plants every 2-3 weeks. Set out a pitcher for her to go outside and get water for this task.
4. Unplug most electronics and appliances.
5. Turn off the cable TV and take the box back. Maybe turnoff the internet if you do not need it for email. You will get a new customer discount when you return.
6. Turn your water heater completely off.
7. Turn off your water at the house. Leave on the water at the meter for the outside lawn and plants. Turn on faucets for a while to remove water pressure inside the house. You do not need to drain pipes completely.
8. Prepay your bill for the yard person and tell him you are leaving and what needs to be done while you are gone. Make sure plants are trimmed and neat so city or neighbors have no issues while you are gone. Make sure yard guy knows to pull weeds they occur. Write a list of yard chores and give it to your yard guy and your SIL so she can check on yard status.
9. Prepay the electricity and water and gas for the amount you expect to use while traveling. Prepay HOA dues for period.
10. Prepay the property taxes as needed.
11. Prepay the car registration as needed.
12. Copy credit cards and passport and put in travel briefcase.
13. Put cellophane over toilets. I don't do the anti freeze thing but it may work fine. Cover and close all sink drains tightly.
14. Turn on bug stopper ultra sonic sound gadget.
15. Put laptop or tablet for bill paying in travel briefcase. Figure out how you will connect to secure internet from overseas. We pay bills via auto pay and some checks as needed every month. If this is your first time I expect you will miss something that needs paying. So either you do this remotely or figure out how to get SIL to do missed bill.
16. Put car in garage and turn off. Disconnect battery. Do not remove it. The battery will keep fine in the car. Remove any valuables from car. Put spare car key on bulletin board in house for cars. ?? Not sure how to handle outside car.
17. Put bars in slider doors and lock all windows and back doors as needed and possible.
18. Tell both near to you neighbors you are traveling but not a lot of other people. Put emergency contact note on kitchen counter for SIL numbers and your numbers at your vacation area. Make sure your SIL has keys to house.
19. Tell your SIL thanks in advance and make sure she checks mail when she comes by house. We forward all mail to our other house and still get some stuff at mail box so you need to have the box checked.
20. Leave house and close and lock garage.

Buy your SIL a nice gift for all her work while you are gone. Have fun
Good Luck.

Lots of very helpful tips and advice in your email. Thank you.
He who knows he has enough is rich. Lao-Tzu

Elena
Posts: 112
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 5:42 pm

Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by Elena » Sat Feb 04, 2017 4:58 pm

kamo wrote:
Elena wrote:I leave for abroad every single year for 3 months, for the last 20 years. I have left for as long as fifteen uninterrupted months. Regular car: do nothing. Water: shut off general valve, outside, AND PUT A SMALL PADLOCK IN THE SMALL HOLE PROVIDED. You do not want it turned on while gone. Shut off inside valve, by the water meter. Drain ALL pipes, and empty all toilet tanks and water heater. That takes care of all risk, including washer, freeze, etc., since all pipes will be empty. Turn off water heater. As you leave, take a picture of water meter; your bill should reflect zero usage for four billing cycles. Water is your only enemy while abroad, since you can control everything else. Leave the fridge open. Shut entire electrical off. No meed for ac to be running. To avoid sewer gas: pour pool antifreeze inside the toilet hole (not the tank). That prevents sewer gas from rising.
Feel free to ask me anything. I am a pro!, and have made many mistakes.
Thank you for your wisdom!
When you say "shut entire electrical off" do you mean at the circuit breaker box? Just shut off for the whole house for the whole time we're gone?
You said that the house is dirty whenever you return even if you cleaned it before you left. Do you mean that it is dusty?
Thanks!
Yes, all circuit breakers off except for the battery tender plug to my scooter in the garage.
Do not bother cleaning before you leave. You will return to dust, cobwebs, dead roaches and other insects, dust, etc.

ShortInSeattle
Posts: 45
Joined: Sat May 05, 2012 8:18 pm

Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by ShortInSeattle » Sat Feb 11, 2017 1:55 pm

Great lists! Also check your credit cards for foreign transaction fees - they can add up.

mostlycloudy
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 11:40 pm

Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by mostlycloudy » Sat Feb 11, 2017 3:35 pm

I am regularly away from my home in the U.S. about 3 months at a time. NOW (Jan-Mar) I am living In Istanbul, Turkey. My ideas are:

1. If the house water is not shut-off, then make sure that all plumbing drains located at exterior house walls inside cabinets have doors left open to allow some heat to circulate and reduce the possibility of freezing.

2. I leave some cash in my home/ office security container to make it easier to resolve any issues I can buy my way out of such as emergency services.

3. Computer use security document are replaced with fake references.

4. Decoy distractions are noticeably positioned just inside home entrances such as: wallet+keys+cell phone+a small amount of cash.

5. From garage sales I have purchased 6 cash boxes which are also positioned appropriately throughout the house interior. The box + contents weigh in at about 8 pounds each (48 lbs total).

6. Thanks to the thinking of a Canadian security expert I met on the plane, I also have a pair of size 14 work boots left outside the front entry of my home while abroad.

7. On a timers, there are several radios and lights in operation.

8. I just recently purchased a voip telephone system (Obihai) which allows me to make free calls over the internet to/from overseas locations to the U.S. In fact, I am speaking internationally with my friends and neighbors daily.

quantAndHold
Posts: 1884
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by quantAndHold » Sat Feb 11, 2017 3:58 pm

Some great advice in this thread. One more thing to consider. If you trust your SIL, you can give her limited power of attorney to take care of business things that come up when you're out of the country. For example when a friend of mine joined the army he gave me POA for his checking account, real estate, and car. He also put me on his car insurance, since his car was parked in front of my house, and I was driving it occasionally. I ended up having to pay a couple of bills he had forgotten about, get a minor car repair done, and sign a lease for a rental property that turned over tenants while he was gone.

Young Fellow
Posts: 97
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2016 8:48 pm

Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by Young Fellow » Sun Feb 12, 2017 2:29 am

btenny wrote:We snowbird. We have a written checklist with about 20 items on the list. We check stuff off as we do it the last few days. We put closing and locking the garage as the last item on the list.

1. Set the thermostat at 60 to 88 degrees. Cooler kills the house plants. Hotter is bad on furniture and stuff.
2. Fill up water bottles for the freezer and fill it up. Use up fresh and frozen meat and all vegetables. Leave condiments and like stuff in the fridge. It is cheaper to cool stuff that keeps long term than replace them. Put candles and fragile stuff in fridge. Leave the fridge on normal settings.
3. Put house plants in 5 gallon buckets partly filled with water. Set the buckets near windows for light. Then ask your SIL to check the buckets and plants every 2-3 weeks. Set out a pitcher for her to go outside and get water for this task.
4. Unplug most electronics and appliances.
5. Turn off the cable TV and take the box back. Maybe turnoff the internet if you do not need it for email. You will get a new customer discount when you return.
6. Turn your water heater completely off.
7. Turn off your water at the house. Leave on the water at the meter for the outside lawn and plants. Turn on faucets for a while to remove water pressure inside the house. You do not need to drain pipes completely.
8. Prepay your bill for the yard person and tell him you are leaving and what needs to be done while you are gone. Make sure plants are trimmed and neat so city or neighbors have no issues while you are gone. Make sure yard guy knows to pull weeds they occur. Write a list of yard chores and give it to your yard guy and your SIL so she can check on yard status.
9. Prepay the electricity and water and gas for the amount you expect to use while traveling. Prepay HOA dues for period.
10. Prepay the property taxes as needed.
11. Prepay the car registration as needed.
12. Copy credit cards and passport and put in travel briefcase.
13. Put cellophane over toilets. I don't do the anti freeze thing but it may work fine. Cover and close all sink drains tightly.
14. Turn on bug stopper ultra sonic sound gadget.
15. Put laptop or tablet for bill paying in travel briefcase. Figure out how you will connect to secure internet from overseas. We pay bills via auto pay and some checks as needed every month. If this is your first time I expect you will miss something that needs paying. So either you do this remotely or figure out how to get SIL to do missed bill.
16. Put car in garage and turn off. Disconnect battery. Do not remove it. The battery will keep fine in the car. Remove any valuables from car. Put spare car key on bulletin board in house for cars. ?? Not sure how to handle outside car.
17. Put bars in slider doors and lock all windows and back doors as needed and possible.
18. Tell both near to you neighbors you are traveling but not a lot of other people. Put emergency contact note on kitchen counter for SIL numbers and your numbers at your vacation area. Make sure your SIL has keys to house.
19. Tell your SIL thanks in advance and make sure she checks mail when she comes by house. We forward all mail to our other house and still get some stuff at mail box so you need to have the box checked.
20. Leave house and close and lock garage.

Buy your SIL a nice gift for all her work while you are gone. Have fun
Good Luck.
You can ask comcast, in our case provider of Internet and TV to freeze the account and set a date that can restart. If you already paid auto insurance, you can ask the agent to freeze that account also, these will save your some money. For utilities, even though you wont use when you are gone, I would prepay all months because you will be billed for example transmission costs and other fees.

Also I will give you idea for your house plants that can be watered automatically. This is much easier and requires nobody help to change water. Fill empty containers with water. Used 1 gallon milk jugs are best. Take long cotton threads and put one end in jugs filled with water and another end couple of inches inside soil of the containers. By wicking action water from jug moves to plant container continously. You have to make sure you use real cotton because most threads are synthetic. I used lengthwise cut pieces of old cotton clothes like pyjama worked great. I setup plants a day before and really see water moving on the thread before leaving.

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just frank
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Location: Philly Metro

Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by just frank » Sun Feb 12, 2017 6:27 am

I went away for 5 mos, but only 100 miles, so I came back myself a few times.
I left an EV that was fine for 5 months freestanding, and took my gaswagon with me.

In your case, you should fill the gas tanks and add 'stabil', that you can get at any hardware store. It'd be good for a year plus. Consider getting a 12V trickle charger for the car in the garage...two clips on the battery and it will be aok forever. Even if you disconnect the battery, it might drain itself to dead in 4 months, especially in the warmer weather. I assume the other car will get driven a little.

Consider getting a cheap smart thermostat like the Ecobee3 lite or Ecobee Si, if you are keeping your wifi active. I could monitor temps AND humidity. If there is a flood, the humidity will spike. Even if not, will your humidity get high enough to molder stuff and get smelly with the temp at 85 for that long? With the smart stat, you could check on it remotely, and fire up the AC if the humidity creeps above something like 65 or 70% RH.

For security I got the FakeTV. https://www.amazon.com/Hydreon-Corporat ... B003S5SOLG
I'd leave a radio going too.

Other posters covered the water stuff...

Enjoy :beer

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oldcomputerguy
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Location: In the middle of five acres of woods

Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by oldcomputerguy » Sun Feb 12, 2017 8:23 am

Don't know specifically when you're leaving, but if you haven't yet, you might get online and check out the Smart Traveller program run by the U.S. Dept of State.

https://step.state.gov/STEP/Index.aspx

You can sign up for alerts covering issues that might impact your destination(s).
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

neilpilot
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Location: Memphis area

Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by neilpilot » Sun Feb 12, 2017 8:49 am

minor addition - if you have SiriusXM radio in you car(s), they allow you to suspend service and then reinstate on return. This is similar to items already mentioned, such as internet, cable TV, cell phone, etc.

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lthenderson
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by lthenderson » Sun Feb 12, 2017 8:52 am

I have to shake my head at some of the advice at the top of this post.

Cars are fine for 4 months. My neighbor has dozens of cars that maybe get driven twice a year and no issues. Tens of thousands of snowbirds leave vehicles for that long every year doing absolutely nothing. I wouldn't worry about them unless it was longer than 6 months. The only thing I would recommend is to not use an ethanol blended gas in your tank that you leave sitting. Non-ethanol gas is much more stable and doesn't gum up like ethanol does.

For the house, shut off the water supply where it enters the house. DO NOT do it at the valve in your lawn. In many cases it requires a special tool and even if you can shut it off, they are much more likely to have something catastrophic happen to that valve that requires expensive repairs to fix. They are underground and suffer the effects of electrolysis and moisture. Case in point, I had the water shut off on a house that I was selling and the city promptly twisted off the handle requiring $600 to dig it up and replace it. I've seen it happen elsewhere as well. Treat the outside valve as an emergency shut off only and shut off your water inside the house!

Also, if you shut off your water DON'T turn your water heater on low. TURN IT OFF! If for some reason a slow leak causes your water heater water supply to diminish, you won't have a working water heater when you get back. It's also terribly wasteful of money. Just turn it on when you get back and plan on waiting a good hour for that first shower. It takes that long to unpack and get everything else running anyway.

If you have a smart thermostat capable of running the fan on your heating/cooling unit, I would set it to run for an hour a day regardless if the heater or A/C is running. It really helps eliminate those stale odors that vacant houses get.

Unplug everything you can. It just reduces chances of something shorting out and causing an electrical fire while you aren't there.

RoadHouseFan
Posts: 279
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Re: 4 Months Abroad - what to do before we leave?

Post by RoadHouseFan » Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:13 pm

Turn off the water to prevent leaking sinks, toilets, etc.

Set up your DVRs to record your shows. You'll miss a lot of good shows.

Hide your trash cans so that roaming dogs won't knock them over.

Forward your mail.

If applicable, fortify your sliding doors. A broom handle lodged inside the door tracks can accomplish this.

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