Our Next Life series: Part 2 – Selling almost everything we have

Published September 7, 2015   Posted in How to Retire

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.

Wait, what?

Desert-AirstreamYup, 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.

Cleaning out the closets while our dog supervises

Cleaning out the closets while our dog supervises

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!

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45 responses to “Our Next Life series: Part 2 – Selling almost everything we have”

  1. I love the lifestyle of just being able to travel at moments notice and have everything already packed! Mrs. Budgets is a minimalist so if I don’t use it, I will most likely find it posted on Ebay by Mrs. Budges. Look forward to reading about your journey!

    P.s. I do personally like the entourage bus RV types myself but that’s if I was making it big!

    • Steve says:

      Hey Mr. Budgets,

      You and me both, the ability to just pick up and move, but still have all of your life’s possessions with you, definitely appeals to us. My folks were bus RV types. They were hardly roughing it! 🙂

  2. I was always partial to the old Volkswagen Bus. Who needs an RV!? Or you could tow it behind the real RV for trips where you need something small but you still need someplace to sleep.

  3. You asked the question where do we start? We have similar paths to you and Courtney in that we wished to move to Sedona and enjoy a camping/travel lifestyle. We too were perplexed on what kind of rig to buy and if it would suit our needs.

    We went to countless RV shows and looked at a bunch of dealers’ lots in California and Arizona. Last December we decided to jump in and buy a truck since we decided the trailer was the way to go. I was at a Ford dealer test driving a used truck when my wife finds one on Craigslist, along with the exact trailer we were looking to own. We drove to Phoenix that day, checked it out, and bought it the next morning. We ended purchasing from a nice couple a one-owner F150 pickup and a 24-ft Jayco Jayflight trailer completely setup and ready to roll.

    Our “start” involved camping as much as we could this year to make sure this is something we want to do. I believe we have camped about 22 nights in the last 9 months. We have met many interesting people camping and learned a lot about this lifestyle very quickly.

    My recommendation is that you buy the rig that you are considering now and do multiple shake down trips before you retire next year. Worst case, if the Airstream is not the way to go, you sell it and buy something else! :)

    • Steve says:

      Hey Bryan,

      We are quickly approaching the point where if we find a truck that we want (probably a 350/3500HD), we will be tempted to pick it up. Like you, we’re convinced that we want a trailer. One of the things that we like about the Airstream is the resale value. They hold their value better than any trailer that we’ve seen. This means a higher buy-in cost, but of course, it also means we can recoup a lot of what we paid.

      It’s gonna be a wild ride! 🙂

      • When we started this process, an RV dealer gave us a bit of advice: pick the RV before you pick the vehicle to tow it to ensure it’s rated appropriately. Trucks are easy to find, at least in PA, but the right RV to live in…difficult. Garrett wants to continue down the tiny house/truck path for now, but I have a suspicion that there might be a VW van in the back of his mind. 😉

        • Steve says:

          Hey Claudia!

          Yup, we’re definitely taking that advice. We are thinking around 30′, so we can narrow down the vehicle a lot easier now. Also, nothing wrong with a VW van! Keeping costs low with that guy for sure. 🙂

          Thanks for reading.

      • I think the 350/3500 HD is the way to go for a heavier trailer and full timing. I would definitely go the diesel route too.

        We have the biggest V8 for our F150 and it could use some more power and suspension to haul our 7,000 trailer up the mountain passes. I would also recommend you get the towing package with the oil and transmission coolers!

        • Steve says:

          Hey Bryan,

          Yup, we are definitely looking for a diesel truck to tow the Airstream. I’d love to get a 3500HD diesel with a Hensley hitch. I’ve heard repeatedly that THAT setup basically makes an Airstream pull like a dream.

  4. Inspiring Steve! We’re hoping to do something similar, though start overseas first. A domestic airstream or RV would be later.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Adam! We have considered overseas travel too – and will probably do some of that at some point down the road. Talk about living on the cheap!

  5. Mr. SSC says:

    I was just thinking, this sound like any variation of the tiny house shows! I’m just trying to talk Mrs. SSC into a pop up trailer for the family since it can do so much more than a tent. Since we’re tethered to one spot through the school year, when the kids get that old, we don’t have to deal with the travel so often issues. Probably just a lot during the summer and shorter closer trips during school breaks. Even then I’ve wondered if we have a garden and chickens or even just the dogs we’ll be limited in what we can do. Oh, the trade offs of lifestyle choices. Haha!
    Anyway, I’m excited to see what direction you guys go.

    • Steve says:

      It totally is a variation of the Tiny House show – although we are very, very willing and anxious to downsize and won’t be “surprised” like those on the show are about how little space there is to live. We want that, big time.

      It’s gonna be fun! 🙂

  6. Stockbeard says:

    I would totally give the RV idea a bit of thought (and discuss it with my wife) if it wasn’t for the kids.
    in 20 years, maybe…

    • Steve says:

      Hey Stockbeard,

      Yeah, kids definitely add an additional element of unknown to this whole idea. That said, we know plenty of full time RVers who bring their kids with them and home-school them. They get to see so many parts of our country this way and, arguably, enter the working world more well rounded. Depends on the child, though, I’m sure. But, it is possible if you decided that you need a house-on-wheels in the next few years. 🙂

  7. Jason says:

    Why not even look into getting a Tiny House? Then you can park it somewhere and use your truck or whatever to tool around to other places? Whatever you do I admire the adventure.

    • Steve says:

      Hey Jason!

      We’ve looked into Tiny Houses, but honestly, the Airstream is just an easier way to go at this point. They pull very nicely because they are more aerodynamic than a tiny home would be, and some RV parks and areas don’t consider tiny houses to be “trailers”, making it more difficult in some cases to find a campground that accepts these units. We won’t be staying at traditional campgrounds very often, but we would always like the option, if needed.

      So at this point, an Airstream is the better way to go for us. Once we settle down, though, after our travels are done, a tiny home will definitely be something that we’re probably going to look into.

  8. […] part 2, my wife and I have decided to sell or give away nearly all of our possessions, buy an RV, and live […]

  9. Love your plan! And having moved my dad out of his packed house about a year ago, I think you’ll be super glad once you’re older that you’ve already done the hard work of downsizing.

    In our RV search, we’ve decided we don’t want any slideouts (too likely to leak or fail), even if we eventually upsize to a class B (class A is probably too much for us — possibly ever), from our planned tiny travel trailer. But we are also seasoned campers for whom a tiny trailer still represents a big step up from a tent, unlike you guys who will be moving into your RV full-time, and comparing it to a house. That’s an important difference!

    There was a time when we were obsessed with Airstreams, before we realized that you have to have a big truck to pull one, and we discovered that Reno Craigslist is a mecca of old Airstreams for cheap. Use that info how you will. 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Thanks guys! Yup, starting now with the whole downsizing activity will definitely benefit us in the future. That will be one less thing that we’ll need to worry about later. Time well spent!

      I will definitely check out Reno Craigslist – appreciate the heads up on that one. 🙂

  10. As you know, I love your plan. I worked at an RV campground for 5 years during HS and college and learned a lot in the process. I also worked with “retirees” who were worker-campers and worked for a small wage and free site for the season. What I learned was that, a heavy-duty truck and a fifth wheel was definitely the most popular by far for the full-timers. One guy I worked with even bought a Freightliner to tow his massive Teton tri-axle fifth wheel. That thing while completely unnecessary and at the same time, completely bad ass. More common was a HD GMC or a F350 to tow a more modest 5th wheel. People loved that they had the space over the bed of the truck (usually for their bed), while keeping the length of the whole rig shorter. Plus if your RV breaks down and needs to be in the shop, where will you sleep? In the mechanics parking lot? I’d rather be at my campsite drinking mojitos while not caring how long it takes for them to fix my diesel engine in my HD truck.

    • Steve says:

      Well said, Fervent! My folks traveled in a motorhome for the last 6 years of their stint as full time RVers and had the whole maintenance thing happen to them, and yes, they slept in the parking lot where their rig was parked.

      I admit that the 5th wheel is tempting, but unless you’re willing to plop down some series coin, I’ve found that 5th wheels just don’t tend to be made like Airstreams are, and definitely don’t hold their value nearly as well.

      But, you never know what we might buy in the future. We’ll start with the Airstream and as we get to know more people and get more involved in the RV community, we’ll start to develop a perspective for what will work best for us. I’m excited to figure all that out, too. 🙂

  11. Doesn’t sound too bad, certainly gives you plenty of options and freedom!

  12. Even Steven says:

    Been busy so I’m catching up on the adventure but I love the RV style move especially for the amount of travel that you plan to do. I think minimizing your things is something that should be done anyway, so cheers to getting rid of “stuff” I do my best to do the same when I read an article like this:)

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Even Steven. Yup, there is definitely wisdom in downsizing anyway – but when you’re gonna be moving into a 200-ish square foot house on wheels in the near future, it quickly becomes a huge necessity. 🙂

  13. […] plans for full time travel would almost definitely change.  Our yearly expenses would certainly increase. While we could […]

  14. […] Check out Our Next Life, Part 2! […]

  15. Freedom40 says:

    Steve – As a new-ish reader of your blog, I am just coming across this post now. I love the idea and already I’m a bit jealous. I so much want to do the same thing! Maybe someday I will, but it will take a bit more work to convince the wife! 🙂

    At any rate – made me think of this video I came across a while back. Perhaps you’ve seen it already, but if not, I thought you might enjoy. There’s a few characters in it, but an interesting film at any rate.


    Also check out the book “Vagabonding” by Rolff Potts

    • Steve says:

      Hey Freedom! Thanks for the link, I hadn’t seen that one before. I skipped through it a bit and will definitely watch it from start to finish. That’ll be us one day, and I actually do hope to record a similar video along the way as well. 🙂

  16. Wisdom Junkie says:

    Kind of a practical question, where do you get your mail if you’re always moving around? I realize that most things can be done online, but you still need a mailing address for certain things (new debit/credit cards, etc). What about filing taxes? What address do you put on that? Not being difficult, just genuinely curious…

    • Steve says:

      Hi Wisdom Junkie – no worries, good question! There are services out there that take care of this for you (the escapees.com organization is one such service). They will forward your mail whenever you want, where ever you want. You file taxes based on your domicile, which is where ever you are sending your mail. Lots of full time RVers choose Texas (which has an escapees presence). There are other services in South Dakota, Nevada and several other states.

      I hope this helps!

  17. […] stuff and are slowly remedying that through yard sales, Good Will and our eventual crazy sale of almost everything we own so we can move into our Airstream. Most of the time I look at our stuff as a hassle, a time […]

  18. Darcy says:

    Thought you’d find this blog interesting- it’s old but the archives are still online. http://www.livelightlytour.com/2007/06/springfield-or-bust/

  19. […] very low (around $30,000 a year). As I discussed in my Our Next Life article series, we will be selling virtually everything that we have and buying an RV to live in around the country. We will travel, find cheap land and live very, very […]

  20. I’m only up to Part 2 but I’m already inspired to start writing my own ‘Next Life’ plan. Also love the RV idea, such a great way to enforce minimalism and travel without the stress. I wish I lived in the US, then I’d be totally up for that. New Zealand is too small for long term RV life.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Emma – appreciate you giving my Our Next Life series a read. Throw me the link if you do create one for yourself – I’m always interested in learning about what others are planning for their early retirement.

  21. […] months away from our planned escape from our home, I started to analyze our Internet data transfer numbers while still in our house to get a feel […]

  22. […] in 2015, we thought to ourselves: what if we moved the Our Next Life timetable up a bit by selling our house and moving into our Airstream much earlier in 2016? […]

  23. […] have as much money as we had planned on quittin’ day. What now? For the record, I’ve detailed our post-retirement goals in case you missed it. The tl;dr version: We are selling everything, buying an Airstream RV and […]

  24. Wow! Totally impressed that your parents lived in an RV for 13 years! Talk about inspiration for you guys! My fiance and I considered living in an RV when we early retire. Hoping to be out of the game in just a few short years. Good luck selling everything! We recently downsized and I went Craigslist crazy. Felt good to just get rid of all the stuff!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Millennial Boss – yup, very inspiring indeed. They were just here to help us do our first “move” to a different campground for the weekend (a vacation?). Downsizing really is a wonderful feeling. Just knowing that you have less stuff to maintain and pay for really is a great, great feeling to have. 🙂

  25. […] plan to do this by selling the large majority of what we have, including both of our homes, and moving into an RV – perhaps an […]

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