How did we arrive at our decision to become full-time RVers?
It has been a metamorphoses. It started with the realization that we didn’t want the debt load that came with our big house in the nice neighborhood. The economy has been tough on us like everybody else, and the idea of downsizing into something more affordable became something we started to discuss.
Once the idea of moving was established, it turned into a “Where?” Where would be the best job market? Where could we experience like-minded people? Where could we satisfy our craving to live near water? There was only one thing for certain. The right “where” was not in the Central Valley of California where we currently reside. So we began looking at options within a days drive. We didn’t want to get too far from our families, whose roots are anchored here.
We checked into Arizona, Nevada, Oregon. I wanted to spend some time experiencing these places. But time is our most precious commodity. We spend most of our time working. So while still thinking about where we might want to end up, the idea of turning any vacation time into traveling began. But it was hard to plan a trip a days drive away when we hardly ever get a two day weekend, and time longer than that is even more rare.
Frustrated after a particularly long week, I whined to Tom, “In a few years, can we at least plan on a long vacation?”
We haven’t had a full week off work since 2008. Unless you count unemployment, which I don’t because it’s a full time job looking for work. Plus there’s no money for a vacation even when one of us had the time.
Years ago when I met Tom, he had a really good full time job. I was still less than full time, so I had a couple of side businesses. He joined me in the home staging business, and my day job changed, my hours increased, sometimes running 60 hours a week with my corporate job plus the business time after hours. Tom put a lot of extra time into the staging business as well. In other words, we were always working. Nights. Weekends. Trying to make money and grow a business.
While we kept busy on the side with Home Staging, it was clear that that business wasn’t going to support us. Not in the dismal housing market. As the economy tanked, we experienced 5 lay-offs between us in a three year span. We decided to take matters into our own hands and open a retail store business. I know. Long story from another blog! It has been steadily growing for the past 3 years now, but still doesn’t support both of us, so I have a full time job, and Tom splits his time between the store and a paid job. As you can guess, we are still working nights and weekends.
And I was getting tired of having no time off. No vacations. No traveling that wasn’t associated with WORK. Hence the whining. I work well on the reward system, so I felt like I could handle the extra hours if there was a carrot dangled. A month long vacation.
That turned into the idea of a 6 month sabbatical. We could sell our house and spend some time on the road looking for our next residence while traveling the country, And what better way to do that than in an RV. We did have a 24’ toy hauler at the time (yes we did manage to take a few 3 or 4 day weekends a year) and really enjoyed our time boon docking in the California City desert. Although at that time I had never heard of the word boon docking. But as the idea of planning a long trip grew, we did a lot of online research. “Did you know there’s BLM land all across the country where you can camp for free?” said Tom excitedly one day. I laughed when I heard him use the word boon docking. I thought it was something he made up until he showed me!
With that discovery, the dream of a long term vacation turned into an affordable possibility. We began research into mobile rigs. We flipped flopped between a larger toy hauler, a fifth wheel, a class A, B OR C. Yes, I had to find out what all those were. There will be another article on how we made our decision.
While planning our trip, the length of the RV gradually increased along with the time on the road We did research. We got into the RV forums. We watched YouTube channels. We discovered Workampers. We began testing the idea of giving up our regular jobs. Maybe taking our store on the road through the vendor fair circuit. We thought of other ways we could support ourselves as full-timers. Each new option brought a different version of RV. Would we want the toy hauler for a permanent office? Would we want the Class C to pull a trailer loaded with stock? How would we get around? Strap motorcycles on the back of something? Take a toad (towed vehicle)? What kind? The combinations were endless, especially since we didn’t have a clue what we’d end up doing.
So this is what we finally came up with: a phase one and a phase two.
Phase One is to take a full 6 months to a year to figure out how we’ll be providing our income. An extended vacation while researching first hand. This seemed especially sensible after reading so many accounts of people who went full time and had trouble slowing down their pace. “We spent the first three months traveling like we were on vacation until we learned how to slow down and stay in one place for a while.” seemed to be a common sentiment. So our plan is to PLAN to treat our transition like a vacation. We’re putting away enough money (hopefully) to cover our expenses for a while so we can take our time to develop something that will be income producing. We have lots of ideas.
Phase B is to live and work on the road. Yep, we’re all in.
We plan on selling everything. Okay, not exactly everything. We plan on keeping a minimalist household of furnishings in storage for a while just in case this doesn’t turn out the way we expect it to. Phase two could end up with us buying a residence in our dream location. It’s good to keep some options open. But the more we’re gearing up for this change, the more I doubt we’ll ever return to a “normal” lifestyle.
Pease, & Love, Joy