Getting ready to test drive our early retirement lifestyle

Published March 9, 2016   Posted in Having some fun

Things are getting seriously real around here. Like you read about on Monday, we found our Airstream and paid 100% cash. It’s a 30′ 2005 Airstream Classic, and we’ve already given the trailer a name.

Our Airstream’s name is Charlie.

That name holds special meaning in my life. In the summertime, a yellow jacket likes to hang out with me while I’m cooling off in our backyard pool. He doesn’t bother me and I don’t bother him. He briefly lands in the pool to collect some water and then returns to the nest somewhere around the neighborhood. We’ve practically been nose-to-nose. It was a little creepy.

We’ve become like bros. Thus, all bros need a name, and I came up with Charlie. Apparently there was a book series by John Steinbeck back in the day called Travels With Charley (different spelling), so there’s that, too. Also, our dogs can be Charlie’s Angels! Yeah…

Last week we also found the perfect vehicle to pull Charlie – a 2008 Dodge Ram 2500HD 4WD. It’s a diesel and it’s a fucking beast. It’s also a 6-speed manual transmission. Torque is insane. Though I haven’t hooked her up to the Airstream yet (because we haven’t taken delivery of it), I have no doubt the truck will pull the trailer with ease. There’s something about bright red trucks.

Truck’s name is “Clifford” – yeah, like the big red dog.

2008 Dodge Ram 2500HD

Clifford sitting outside the gym on a warm and sunny March day in southern Arizona

We paid cash for this sucker as well. No debt going into our new lifestyle.

We have our foundation in place. We are rapidly approaching the time when we can put our retirement lifestyle to the test and have a little fun. It is getting real close.

Test driving our retirement lifestyle

Like I mentioned in my Airstream post, we aren’t taking delivery of Charlie until the end of March. This gives us a little more time to rid our current home of stuff that we no longer want (or simply cannot store after we move). Through a combination of Craigslist and garage sales, we are de-stuffing our place. House goes on the market in early April.

Around the same time, we officially start living in the Airstream (aka: “living in Charlie”, which sounds kinda weird). Charlie will be our home. Our permanent home. By this time next month, I could be writing blog posts from the comfy couch that needs re-upholstering in our 30-foot silver bullet.

Wow. That seems quick. Like, damn quick.

But now, we get to put our money where our mouth is. We get to live in a 200 square foot area with four living creatures (us two “humans” along with our two rescued dogs). We cook using a stove half the size of the unit in our current home. Charlie’s sink is probably a quarter of the size…maybe a third. The refrigerator, freezer, cupboards, counter space…you name it, all this stuff is much, much smaller.

No more Kitchen Aid food processor. No more big wok that we love to cook in. No more cabinets chalk-full of Tupperware to put leftovers in.

Airstream: Looking back towards the bedroom

In the Airstream looking back towards the bedroom passed the kitchen and nook area.

None of these things are sacrifices, however. Instead, it’s just different. We adjust and get used to everything that’s new (to us), like the smaller shower and bedroom (and bed), living room area and overall living space in general. Actually, that’s the good part. We have way too much damn living space as it is. After our move into Charlie, we will spend 10 minutes a week cleaning rather than the hour it requires today.

Laundry will be another new routine for us. Instead of grabbing piles of our clothes and simply throwing them into the washing machine with some detergent, we will need to more carefully plan ourΒ clothes-washing by visiting a laundromat. Some campgrounds have laundry facilities available, but not all. Certainly when we are out in the middle of nowhere, we will need to adjust accordingly to make sure we aren’t wearing dirty clothes! Again, just one of those changes that we will figure out and get used to.

In other words, we sink our teeth into the downsized lifestyle and start to get used to checking our water tanks every day, monitoring Charlie’s batteries, keeping an eye on tire pressure – basic shit that anyone who has ever traveled with any sort of towable living unit is well aware of.

Work? What work? Oh…damnit!

Yup, both the wife and I will still be working when we move into Charlie next month, so we can’t plan full-time travel until both of us officially quit. In many ways, that’s good. We will still have two solid streams of income as we begin to integrate ourselves into the trailer and get a feel for what it will take to “make ours”. Lots of organization elements will be installed. Fixtures will be replaced or painted. Wallpaper removed. Fabric cleaned or replaced.

All this stuff will require money, and it will be super-duper nice to have substantial income when we begin our Airstream journey.

I found a grandfathered unlimited data plan through Verizon, so I have all the data transfer that I need to continue working from home as I have been since last year. The nook might serve as my deskΒ though the sofa has flip-up wooden tables on either side if I want to spread out a bit or relax on something a little more soft. I am only bringing one of my two external monitors for the laptop, however. SinceΒ we stream instead of watch traditional television, that external monitor will also function as our “TV”.

Weekend travel before quitting work

Map of all federal public lands (click for expanded view)

Map of all federal public lands (click to expand)

We plan to find a campground in town and rent a site for a month (most campgrounds give discounts if a site is reserved for the month). However, that does not mean we’ll be parked for months at a time until we finish work, either. We anticipate taking one or two trips a month with the Airstream out to “boondock” territory on BLM land, which means we’re living entirely off of our batteries (including a generator / solar) and whatever fresh water we bring with us in Charlie’s water tanks. No hook ups. We are completely off the grid.

This not only provides us with a change of scenery every once in a while, it also helps us to practice going through the process of getting Charlie ready for travel (unhook power cords, roll up water hoses, raise stabilizing jacks, safety-check the unit, hook up the truck – and those are only the outside duties). It gives me practice driving the truck while pulling the trailer. It also helps us become more familiar with the camping options around our area for when we do eventually quit our jobs and travel full-time. We will certainly be back through this area from time to time and knowing where to stay will be nice.

My wife works at a company that gives all employees every other Friday off, so we plan to schedule our outings for three-day weekends. We will probably leave on that Thursday evening before her Friday off-day. We will return to our reserved campsite after lunch on Sunday.

The only exception to this rule will be the dead of summer, where temperatures routinely get into the low 100s. Since we probably won’t be able to run our A/C when we aren’t connected to electricity (in camper speak, “shore power”), we’ll probably stay put during the warmest parts of summer – which may not be all that long after we move into the campsite.

We are almost at the point of testing out our early retirement lifestyle, guys. This is going to be some serious fun because we are going to make it fun!

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44 responses to “Getting ready to test drive our early retirement lifestyle”

  1. Let the adventure begin! Good luck guys. Looking forward to hear more about your transition into this lifestyle.

  2. Good luck, I can sense your excitement in your post. It will be a big change for all 4 of you. The Airstream pictures look great, they are awesome travel trailers.

    • Steve says:

      Yup, we are excited to try this new lifestyle for sure. Different scenery. Different routine. It’s all good, variety is the spice of life! πŸ™‚

  3. Reading this, it sounds like planning for your own version of a ‘moon mission.’ It will be a terrific adventure to figure out the best way to live, drive & survive in the Airstream. The fun will be in the incredible freedom & independence you will have to explore & enjoy the country. I am just 13 workdays from my FIRE escape from the MegaCorp world and feeling nervous about the lifestyle change. What you are doing is SO much more!

    • Steve says:

      Ha! Thanks MrFireStation. Yup, learning process for sure, no doubt about that. There will be lots and lots of figuring stuff out. Just like anything new, it’ll take some time, but it will quickly become second nature, too, once we have our new lifestyle down.

      13 days, woohoo! I’ll be following your journey as well. I bet you’ll wish that you pulled the plug sooner, too. We all seem to!

  4. Steve,
    $hit IS getting real! Exciting lifestyle change. That’s a nice looking interior. Definitely add an exterior pic when you get it.

    Sounds like you and your wife are all in. The new blog will be intriguing. Do you have any travel goals… all the states, or national parks or anything like that, once you hit the road full time?

    • Steve says:

      Shit is definitely getting real, and I like it. We’ve spent a long time talking about all this happening and now it finally is. I will most certainly add exterior pictures once we take delivery of the unit.

      No specific travel plans yet. For the remainder of our full-time working life, we’ll be right here in town because my wife commutes. Once that’s over, we will probably stay in the Four Corners region of the U.S. for the first year so we’re still close to family and friends, and so we aren’t traveling too much and spending money on fuel. No specific campsites our BLM land decisions yet, though. That’ll come later.

      One thing I want to do is photograph the Half Dome at Yosemite. That might not be the first year we full-time, but probably soon thereafter!

  5. Stockbeard says:

    This is exciting! Good luck!

  6. Awesome and exciting! Do you have a plan of where you’ll be travelling or are you going to just play it day-by-day?

    Keep us posted on the journey!!

    — Jim

  7. Ernie says:

    Charlie is a great name as it also holds special meaning in my life. And there’s a lot of spin-offs that you can use – Charles, Sir Charles, and Chuck to name a few. Have fun testing your early retirement lifestyle!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Ernie. Yup, I like Sir Charles too. I think that was the nickname for Charles Barkley back in the day (the former NBA basketball player) if I’m not mistaken.

  8. Mr. SSC says:

    Sounds like a lot of interesting posts coming up. Can’t wait to see some pics of the views from those areas too!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Mr. SSC – we can’t wait to get to some of those areas. Still have several more months of work yet, but we’ll get out and about every once in a while too, especially in the spring and fall. πŸ™‚

  9. Paul Jackson says:

    Good luck – you’ll love it! Our campervan is about a quarter the size of your Airstream, so space is even tighter. So we have a rule that things we put in it should have at least two uses, such as the kitchen mixing bowl doubling up as a pot washing-up bowl too.

    We also have some fun ‘campervan laws’, but one is: “Always keep stuff in the same place if you want to find it again” – you’ll be surprised how things can ‘disappear’ in such a small space!

    Have fun,


    • Steve says:

      Thanks Paul! Sounds like you guys are more hardcore than us! But, you probably also get to park in more places than we can, which could definitely be an advantage. Yeah, we have much of the same rules in place, too. Another good one: “The acquisition of a ‘thing’ necessarily requires the removal of another ‘thing'”. πŸ™‚

  10. John says:

    Exciting times! Congratulations on having a plan and living it out. Enjoy!


  11. Tawcan says:

    Sounds like a great plan, very excited for you both. Great that you found a grandfathered Verizon plan, was just going to ask you how you plan to get internet access while you’re traveling.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Tawcan! Yeah, the grandfathered Verizon plan was a gold mine. It wasn’t cheap, though – but in the end, it will be well worth the initial cost to “buy into” the plan.

  12. Can’t wait to live vicariously through you πŸ™‚ Love that you opted for the manual transmission. Clifford is a beast.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Fervent! Yeah, I love driving manual transmission vehicles. More fun. Better gas mileage. And the torque in that sucker is pretty damn amazing. πŸ™‚

  13. Chuck says:

    All this talk of camping is starting to give me the itch to get the heck out of town. Things are really coming together for you guys and I’m really enjoying the updates. I, too, am living vicariously.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Chuck! It’ll definitely be a fun ride for us. Adventurous, sometimes frustrating, but all in all, this’ll be something that we will always remember.

  14. Clifford and Charlie – nice! We named our truck Jack and of course…wait for it….. Jill is the 24 foot trailer. Kind of catchy – huh? πŸ™‚

    We hereby volunteer to help you move Charlie down to Tucson if you want any assistance. We would bring Jill with us and camp for a couple days. It would give me a nice break from staring at the 4 walls of my home office.

    Hats off to you and Courtney for accomplishing your goals. You are an inspiration!

    • Steve says:

      Hah! Jack and Jill – perfect! πŸ™‚

      Appreciate the offer to help us move. Actually, my folks will be coming out for the trip down to Tucson (the ones who full-time RVed for 12 years), but once we are in our campsite (which should only be a couple days after that), we’ll be lookin’ for some company! πŸ˜‰

  15. Matt Spillar says:


    Wow can’t believe all these changes are happening and testing out the new lifestyle is right around the corner, exciting stuff!

    Loved how you described some of the new challenges of smaller living, but called them “different” instead of “sacrifices.” Congrats on all the exciting news and looking forward to reading more in the upcoming months!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Matt, appreciate the comment. Yup, we firmly believe that downsizing our lifestyle isn’t a sacrifice at all. In fact, it’s THAT that is enabling this entire adventure to begin with. Woohoo! πŸ™‚

  16. This is so exciting! I can’t wait to hear all about your adventures. One question though. Why stay in Arizona during the summer months? You’re not tied down at all, so travel to a cooler climate.

    Mr. Smith and I are always daydreaming about our own trip (six years from now). We plan to rely on a crockpot for lots of cooking. It won’t take up that much room, but is really versatile. Just a thought πŸ™‚

    • Steve says:

      Hey Harmony! Good question about staying in Arizona. My wife still works at a job that requires a commute, so that is what’s keeping us in Arizona through the summer. Otherwise, you’re right, we’d be out of here. πŸ™‚

      We love crockpot cooking, and good call. We probably will do quite a bit of that when the time comes. It’s easy.

  17. Wow, very impressive! Things are really coming together for you guys. I guess it’ll be a busy remainder of 2016 to gear up for full on early retirement and unlimited mobility! πŸ™‚ Have fun!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Justin. Yup, things are slowly fitting into place, finally. It’s gonna be a busy and interesting remainder of 2016, for sure. Huge amounts of learning. Should be fun. I really, really like the sound of “unlimited mobility”. πŸ™‚

  18. Miss Jaime says:

    Can you continue your investment portfolio in retirement ?

    • Steve says:

      Hi Jaime,

      Continue? As in, still maintain an investment portfolio, or something different? While we certainly won’t be *contributing* anywhere near what we are now, the idea with early retirement hinges on the continuation of investments by living frugally, controlling your spending and capital gains in the stock market (along with any other side income that you’ve managed to generate). So while we won’t be putting money in at quite the same rate that we are, we absolutely will continue our investment portfolio. πŸ™‚

      • Miss Jaime says:

        Thank you Steve! I was curious what people did with their investment portfolios once they reached FIRE. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. =)

  19. Jack says:

    Kudos for making the plan, and executing on it!

    Can’t imagine doing it myself at this stage in my life, but love the idea of being able to pull up stakes and hit the road when the urge strikes.

    Looking forward to hearing the updates.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Jack! This should definitely be a fun thing for us to experience. Change is the spice of life for us, and we definitely like to spice things up! πŸ™‚

  20. Patrick says:

    I’ve been curious about the Verizon Unlimited data plan. Were you able to do an assumption of liability transfer and make the account yours permanently or are you “leasing” a unit like they sell on ebay? I thought it wasn’t possible to do the first one now but if so I’d love to hear how you did it?

    • Steve says:

      Hey Patrick – yup, we did an assumption of liability, so no renting for us. We plan to keep this plan for as long as Verizon honors the grandfathered unlimited plans, so it was worth the risk of paying the higher initial fee to assume the plan. So far so good. πŸ™‚

  21. It’s so exciting to meet Charlie and Clifford! It’s all happening! Now you just have to get your house sold, and then it will all be super duper real. I hope the house sale goes smoothly, along with the move into your Airstream. We have all those practice tasks in our future one day when we get a trailer — I am not excited to learn to back up with a trailer, but I know I’ll have to do it.

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