Phew. As we learned from part 1, the ol’ job that I never particularly enjoyed will be done by the end of 2016, along with my wife’s. Now, the rest of our lives can begin…lives of travelers and explorers, lives out in nature after trading out our 1600 sqft house with a pool for a 200 sqft house on wheels.
Yup, that’s the plan. We’ve come quite a distance from our original idea of retiring early and living in Sedona, AZ – a beautiful city with stunning red rocks in all directions, but also not cheap. For months, we were prepared to foot the bill and buy a place in the area in order to settle down in red rock country.
But there was a problem.
We still want to travel. A lot. Sometimes for weeks or months at a time. We want to tour the entire country. Drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. Take a cross-country trip. See all the national parks. We still want to do so much.
But do the math. We eventually realized that this plan has us living in an expensive city with the likely potential of being gone for months at a time traveling and seeing the country.
A part of our rationalization process was the assumption that we would rent out the house while we were on travel, but even then, we’d still be on the hook to foot the bill for the home any time that it was dormant. And with renters, things break. Stuff gets damaged. Walls get dirty. And we’d be coming back after every trip to a house that may need significant cleaning or, worse yet, detoxing. We would have other people living in our home as much as we did.
The more we thought about this plan, the more hesitation we felt. Is paying the price to live in Sedona worth it? We love the city. We love the people. We love the scenery. But do we need to actually live there? Maybe we don’t. Maybe we just visit – whenever the hell we want.
My parents lived in an RV for 13 straight years and loved every minute of it. We had never considered that lifestyle before, but it suddenly hit us like a Floyd Mayweather punch in the face. This is perfect!
Living in an RV might be the perfect match for us and our lifestyle.
We started checking off our lifestyle must-haves. We want to travel – check. We love to hike and photograph the environment – check. We both hate having to maintain a big house – check. We hate spending money heating and cooling rooms that we don’t use – check. We both dislike weather that’s either too hot or too cold, and we’d like to “follow the weather” – check. And quite frankly, we hate storing a bunch of crap that we won’t ever freaking use – a big check!
As we began researching this option, we quickly learned that our living expenses would drop like a rock. With a 31′ RV and without anything that resembles separate rooms, there isn’t much to heat and cool. Everything is self contained. And if we install solar, we can spend extended periods of time literally out in the middle of Sticksville, Nowhere, enjoying nature – rent free, with our two dogs.
No backyard to maintain. No garage to store useless stuff in. No big rooms to clean.
Holy shit, we might be onto something.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. This is a big change. Will we be cramped in the RV? Will we want our own space? How much storage will we have? Do we want to get rid of…everything?
Let’s sleep on it.
We not only slept on it, we dreamed about it. As more time past, the more we wanted to explore this option further. Finally, about a month ago, we admitted to ourselves that this is what we both want to do.
The downsizing has already began. As I write this article nearly a year ahead of our 2016 epic escape date, we are shedding crap left and right that we no longer use, like extra dishes that I can’t believe we still have, old clothes covered in dust, little motorcycle figurines that I bought years ago. I mean, come on, WTF did I buy those? Jeez, Steve.
We’re Craigslisting some stuff. Others, Goodwill. Our priority is getting rid of it rather than making some change off of it. But as always, a buck here or there never hurts.
And over the next several months, more downsizing. More crap. More stuff that we don’t use. And furniture, too. Dangerously old bookshelves, dressers, couches. And then, the stuff ON that furniture, like books. DVDs. CDs. It’s all going. All of it.
We are downsizing into a space about a 10th of what we’re used to living in. I feel like we’re on an episode of Tiny House where the host is chalking out a 200 sqft rectangle and forcing us to put all the crap that we want to keep in that space. Pick and choose – we can’t keep it all.
But truthfully, we don’t want to keep it all. Most of it we just don’t need. Even the stuff that we may not consider to be “junk” we still don’t need. We don’t want to keep stuff. When the time comes to pack up our life’s possessions and move into whatever RV we select, we want that move to be easy. Like, super easy.
Speaking of that RV – how do we know what we want? With the sheer number of options available, how do we pick our next home?
There are trailers, 5th wheels and motorhomes. Some have expandable slide outs to provide more room when parked, while others don’t. Some have queen sized beds, others don’t. Some have ovens, microwaves, full sized refrigerators, full-length couches, rocking chairs, dinner tables. The options are nearly limitless.
Then, we have price. I’ve seen some trailers for as cheap as a few hundred bucks that need major renovations. Others command a couple million and come complete with absurd luxuries that I wouldn’t even know what to do with. How do we choose?
Where do we start?
Read on to Our Next Life, Part 3!
Steve is a 37-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.