Long Distance Cyclist
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: I ride where the thylacine roamed!
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When I went to Australia for 3 months, I packed everything up and put it into storage, and gave up my apartment ... so there was no issue about leaving my house empty etc.
However, about the mail, bills, and house:
Bills: If you go to your bank, you can set things up so that your bills are paid automatically at certain times of the month. Actually ... you can set that up yourself if you're doing on-line banking, which I would strongly recommend. It was nice to be able to check on how things were going with my finances now and then.
Mail: Here in Canada, I could just go to my post-office, and fill out a little form to have my mail forwarded somewhere ... and that's good for 6 months, I believe. In my case, I had my mail forwarded to my parent's place, but you could also forward it to a post-office box. Of course, you could let them know that you'll be away a while so that they don't get concerned by the build-up of mail.
House: If you are concerned about leaving your house empty, check through your local yellow pages for house-sitting services (get one were the people are bonded - a reputable place). I've used one who also looks after pets on quite a few occasions. For example, when I went to Europe for the PBP and tour, I was gone 3 weeks ... and I've got 2 cats. I arranged for the house/pet sitter, and she came in checked on the place, and fed and took care of my cats. She would have also watered the plants (if mine weren't all fake), and would have collected the mail, newspapers, etc, if I'd wanted. She also did things like opening and closing curtains, turning lights on and off, and moving things around a bit to give the impression that the place wasn't completely vacant. If you haven't got pets, so it isn't important to have someone come in every day, you might arrange to have them drop by a couple times a week or something.