The plan: Moving things along by moving out early?

Published January 25, 2016   Posted in Having some fun Middle Feature

Late 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? Originally, we weren’t planning to move until the end of the year.

But, moving into our Airstream early would save us money by living small and also get us practice operating in a living space a fraction of the size of our current dwelling.

And with the stock market taking weekly nose-dives, saving a little cash by living small is starting to make more and more sense.

Okay, that sounds interesting, but how early do we move into the Airstream? How about super early – say, April or May? After all, we then have the flexibility to sell our house this year whenever the market is hottest.

Ah, this is sounding a little more interesting! The wheels began to turn in our heads – imagine getting a little more for our home by selling at the right time of the year rather than waiting for summer or early fall, traditionally where home values are weaker in our area.

If we were to sell the house early, we’d also need our Airstream early – lest we pay for temporary housing or bum a room from one of our friends. Fortunately, a couple Airstream models that we like have been sitting on a dealer’s lot for a while, putting my wife and I in a prime bargaining position to pick up our next home for super cheap. And the earlier that we move in, the more experience we get living small before we begin our lives of full time travel.

And the more time that we have to fix it up and make it completely our own while stationary and around Home Depot. Okay then, things are beginning to make sense. From an unorganized idea late last year to something much more concrete and aggressive, we’re on our way. Let’s do this!

First thing’s first…how much can we get for our home, and when?

Figuring out the right time to sell

Sunday afternoon solitude

The backyard on a warm, relaxing Spring afternoon

Selling real estate for maximum value is an art as much as it is a science. So many variables are in play when it comes to selling a house, from its condition to how well it is staged, time of year, stock market conditions, weather, school districts and – in the case of warm and sunny Arizona – even the ebbs and flows of tourism and the snowbird population.

A couple weeks ago we meet with a realtor to take a look at the house. Our view out the back is what’s going to sell this house. We have a gorgeous view of the Santa Catalina mountains in southern Arizona and easily the nicest lot in our neighborhood. The in-ground pool and fire pit add another dimension of desirability to the outdoor living space that our home offers prospective buyers. We were hoping to sell the home for around $200k, but it looks like we might be able to get 10 or 15% more than that with a few minor touch ups. Score one for us – maybe.

In southern Arizona, summer is the worst time to sell – and that makes sense. Snowbirds aren’t looking to buy winter properties when its hot and sweltering. Though people do move throughout the year, the winter and spring time are “hotter” buying seasons in our area, and that’s our target.

The house still needs to show well for us to get maximum dollar. Let the touch ups begin!

Fixing the house up to sell

Our goal is to put the house on the market in early April, which gives us a few months to chip away at some of the things that need to be replaced in the home. All in all, the home doesn’t look bad, but there are several things that will make the place look even better. First, the brass fixtures.

My wife and I hate brass but we never got around to replacing all of our brass door knobs, shower heads and light fixtures before we decided to sell (funny how that tends to happen). We decided to replace everything with brushed nickel. Over a few weekends, all door knobs and hinges have been replaced, lighting fixtures switched out and showers changed over to utilize brushed nickel. Instantly, the house looks better.

New brushed nickel lighting in guest bathroom

New brushed nickel lighting in guest bathroom

Next, the master bathroom shower needs a new sliding glass door – check. Also, we need to fill in some small holes in our tile’s grout caused by air pockets carelessly left by our on-the-cheap tile guy.

In most houses, the wet areas are the most important features of the house that will increase the home’s value – in other words, the kitchen and bathrooms. Our kitchen still has the original cheap cabinets, but a fresh coat of paint or stain can vastly improve them. Earlier in 2015 we got all new stainless steal appliances, along with a gas-powered double oven, that bring the kitchen up to snuff.

In our bathrooms, we bought cheap but good looking vanities from Costco, complete with a marble counter top and dark wood that looks nice next to brushed nickel fixtures (pictured below).

Master bathroom with Costco vanity and brushed nickel fixtures.

Also, our backyard needs to be de-weeded and the surrounding iron gate requires sanding and repainting. The pool is in pretty good shape and the glass-sharded fire pit is nearly immaculate.

I was never one to do a lot of my own home repairs (due to a general lack of know-how and unwillingness to learn!), but this process has taught me an important lesson of how getting off your ass and learning to do your own damn maintenance can not only save you cash, but can also be downright zenful.

What is next?

We will need to juggle the sale of our current home with the purchasing of our RV carefully. Though it is possible to temporarily stay with some friends if we don’t get the timing exactly right, we naturally want to avoid that at virtually all costs. Ideally, we will have the Airstream ready to go when the house sells, or even a little before it. Then, we can easily move out of our stationary home early and leave the place 100% available for showings and ready for nearly instant turn-over after a good offer.

To that end, we’ve officially decided on a date to buy the Airstream and truck: the first weekend of March (4th through the 6th), a month before we put the house on the market. This should give us enough time to find a camp site in the area that we like and get situated before we officially put the house up for sale.

What about work? We are not moving our retirement dates, so we will continue working our full time jobs. My wife will commute to her current job and I will carry on with mine from the Airstream. We managed to get our hands on a grandfathered Verizon wireless unlimited data plan, so we should not be limited in how much data that we can blow through each month.

Stick with us – it’s gonna be a fun ride!

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58 responses to “The plan: Moving things along by moving out early?”

  1. Wow! That is great you are guys are moving up the RV portion of your plan! Just more time to get used to the setting and figure out all the bugs in how to live in it full time before retirement goes official. Luckily, it doesn’t sound like your house needs that much touch up which will be nice. Good luck selling it!

  2. Congratulations on the revised plan! I absolutely love airstreams. They’re pieces of art. I think moving your plans up a bit is a great idea. We’ve been contemplating the idea of possibly selling our home and purchasing a multi-unit property. The idea of drastically cutting our living expenses to almost nothing is quite attractive. The trick, in our case, would be finding something suitable for us and our daughter. Your plan sure is motivating! I think I’ll make a date with Google today 🙂

    Mrs. Mad Money Monster

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Mrs. MMM – Airstreams are definitely one of those iconic vehicles, that’s true. They are one of those recognizable trailers from a glance…of course, that could also just be the glare of the sun reflecting off of their aluminum exterior, too! 🙂

  3. What an intriguing read. While we’re not planning on retiring early, I do really love the notion of challenging status quo. It’s amazing what we accept out of habit. I can’t wait to hear about the Airstream adventure. And those vanities in your bathrooms look amazing!

  4. Sounds like you’ve found a great plan for transitioning to smaller living quarters, timing the home listing, and reducing housing costs all at once. And your new fixtures look great. It is funny how there are certain things around the home that we don’t get around to until it’s time to sell. Maybe that comes in part from not inflating your lifestyle to require a picture-perfect home, though.

  5. Cool update! Can’t wait to see how the transition is for you. And it’s amazing how small changes can make a big difference in the house. The first thing we did when we moved in was change all the lighswitch plates from faux wood to white and it instantly cleaned up the look 1000%!

  6. Every time I have moved (I’ve always been a renter) and I am doing the deep cleaning to get my deposit back, I always think about how it’s too bad I won’t be able to enjoy how clean the place is. Your article made me think of that…all those improvements that you won’t get to enjoy, lol. But what you’re moving on to is much more exciting anyway!

    • Steve says:

      Yup, thanks MissGF – it’s interesting what we tend to let ourselves live with, only to fix them when we are about to move out. Strange phenomenon! 🙂

  7. Fantastic idea, Steve! Doing a trial run in the Airstream sounds like a great opportunity to make sure you’re prepared, and it’s especially nice if you’ll end up getting more for the house that way, too. I dreamed about having an Airstream for years. I always imagined buying a lot in a nice urban neighborhood and parking and living in one in the middle of it, ideally surrounded by a huge garden, and ideally in a nice temperate city like San Francisco. Fat chance I’ll be able to afford that! Anyway, I can’t wait to see what trailer you find!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for the comment, Matt! Having a lot in an urban area would make for the perfect place for the Airstream! It would look pretty darn modern even though it has a very classic look. I love San Francisco. 🙂

  8. No messing around for you guys! I think it’s a neat idea and seems like a good time to sell the residence. Can’t wait to hear more.

  9. Jaime says:

    What if you get tired of living in the Airstream? Anyway, you’re living the dream! I’m excited for you and your wife. I’m a little jealous (in a good way), I’d love to travel in an RV and see the continental U.S. =)

    • Steve says:

      If we get tired of living in an Airstream, we’ll sell it and move somewhere else. We aren’t worried about that in the least. We could buy a larger RV that isn’t an Airstream, or by then we might be ready for a condo or something on the beach. Not sure yet, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. 🙂

  10. This seems like a smart decision! And who knows — if the bear market continues, housing price declines could be not far behind, so selling sooner rather than later could make a ton of sense. I’d love to hear how working from the Airstream goes — I’m always curious to know what it’s *actually* like to work as a digital nomad, but the good thing is you’ll at least have a space that’s completely yours, even if it’s smaller than what you have working from home now. I hope those Airstreams stick around on the lot for you until March so you can get a killer deal! Good luck!

    • Steve says:

      That’s an excellent point about the stock market and something that we’ve considered as well. Real estate might follow closely behind this soon-to-be recession and we’d much rather get as much as we can, now.

      We keep checking the web site every week to stay up on their inventory. So far, still there. 🙂

  11. Stockbeard says:

    The pictures of your place look awesome. $200k definitely looks like the low end of the price range to me, based on these pictures alone 🙂
    Good luck with the plan!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Stockbeard. We made a mistake buying the best lot in the neighborhood, but hopefully we will be able to get back most of what my wife originally paid for the place back in 2011. 🙂

  12. amber tree says:

    That is a great action plan. A bold one as well. It shows how dedicated you are to reach FI and live an adjusted ONL lifestyle. kudos for that.
    Our stare of mind still needs to evolve a lot before we can reach that point.

    • Steve says:

      Appreciate the comment, Amber. It’s true, this is all one big mind game. Once our state of mind becomes narrowed in on the goal, it becomes easier to focus and see things through to the end.

  13. Interesting journey, i think its smart that you guys are moving into airstream earlier. The savings are always welcome! You’ll get the see almost the entire western hemisphere from the eyes of your home, wish I could!

    • Steve says:

      The savings certainly are always welcome, FF! We are definitely looking forward to getting out and traveling. Should be a very interesting journey indeed.

  14. Charity says:

    We bought our RV at the end of February 2012 in Yuma, AZ. Got a great deal because the busy season was winding down for the RV lots with the snowbirds starting to leave the area. The funniest thing was that everyone we dealt with from the salesman to the manager to the finance lady all said the same thing – that we were the youngest customers they’d had all season. Good luck to you on purchasing the Airstream and on selling the house! I bet they are some of the best decisions you’ll ever make.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Charity, appreciate your comment. I am sure that we will be one of this dealer’s youngest as well. Buying March, looks like we might be timing this fairly well. 🙂

  15. Congratulations on all the work you did around your house – those are a lot of projects to complete. It will be very exciting to start putting your plans in action early and it sounds like you will be able to get the best of all seasons or selling your house and getting your new Airstream.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for the comment, MrFireStation. Yup, we are hoping that getting things ready a bit early for us will help to save some cash and get us mentally prepared for the lifestyle switch…before it actually happens.

  16. Sounds like a good plan. Sell while the market is hot and get a good taste of the Airstream living before you pull the plug on the 9-5s. Where will you park the Airstream?

    • Steve says:

      Hey Brian – there are several camp grounds in town that we will probably camp at while still working so we have full hookups. Monthly rentals are discounted, so rent should only be $400 to $500 a month in the summer, and that includes utilities aside from electric. The summer will be interesting, though – 110 degrees in the Airstream. We’ll definitely have that A/C crankin’!

  17. Fun stuff! That’s a great idea to move out early if you’d be able to sell the house at a higher price at a better time of year and also give you practice at the same time.

    Was it tough at first to start getting rid of everything and downsizing all your belongings and is there anything you plan on storing while you’re traveling?

    • Steve says:

      Thanks SS – actually, it was tougher physically than it was emotionally to start pairing down all the crap from around the house. We want to get rid of stuff. We want our home to be as empty as possible to make the final process of moving that much easier.

      We have a single box that we’re bringing with us that will hold memory-type items, but that’s it. Everything else will be functional, like kitchenware, my photography equipment, clothes, linens…those kinds of things.

  18. Mr. SSC says:

    Congrats on the new plan! It seems pretty reasonable and why not dip your toes in the water on aspects of your FIRE plan if you can? Mrs. SSC occasionally jokes about “tiny house living” especially when we watch a tiny home hunters and they feature a family of 4 or better, a family of 5, lol. We’ve both agreed we could do something like that or an Airstream once the kids are gone, but until then, no thanks.

    When we listed our house in LA, we were expecting the company would have to buy it, due to the market conditions around us. Like you, I put in a little work, I repainted all the floorboard trim, touched up all the nicks in the wood cabinets, we removed 80% of our personal pictures and left mostly landscape stuff up, we had already decluttered, but we moved all the bedroom closet stuff into the attic, and other minor things like that. We got competing offers 3 days after it was on the market! It’s amazing what a little staging and minor touchups can do! We still lost money on the place though. 🙁

    • Steve says:

      It’s true, a little staging and cleaning up of the details can make a world of difference. I know that if we are looking to buy a house that doesn’t show well, I’m going to use that to try and get the price down. I don’t want that to happen this time now that I’m the one selling! 🙂

  19. Exciting. Airstreams are so freaking cool, I love your plan. We’ve just downsized our family home (although 860 sq/ft doesn’t seem so small compared with an Airstream) and I can tell you it takes a bit of emotional adjustment. I almost had a sense of mourning in losing the space we had, and panic at the lack of storage etc with 2 kids. But now we’ve been in our smaller home for over 4 months and hands down it is the best thing we ever did for our finances. I no longer miss the old, big house and we’ve had fun making this space work for us. All the best with your move.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Emma! I can definitely see how that kind of downsize will take an adjustment. I know it will for us, too. It won’t be all fun and games, but we’ll try our best to make it as close to that as humanly possible! 🙂

      It’s amazing how we humans can adjust to our surroundings, though, isn’t it? After four months, you’re already settled into your new home and feeling good about it. Love to hear that!

      Thanks for reading.

  20. Claudia says:

    Woohoo! I am so excited for guys! The updates look great–hoping for a quick sale for you. 😁

  21. Katie says:

    How does one manage to get a grandfathered Verizon unlimited data plan? That is going to save you tons!

    • Steve says:

      I bought one on eBay – it wasn’t cheap, but it will definitely save us lots and lots of money in the long term, and will let us operate without the constraints of data limits looming over our heads.

  22. […] foremost, big congratulations to J$ from Budgets Are Sexy for selling his house. As someone who is undergoing the initial steps to sell our property, I understand how important it is to get that mortgage […]

  23. Steven says:

    You guys are full steam ahead, I like it. I don’t see any reason not to get the ball rolling, I mean is the worst case scenario you guys don’t sell the house? What position does that put you guys in then? Are you paying cash for the airstream? If not the initial payments could be a hit on the budget a couple months earlier than realized. I still like full steam ahead.

    • Steve says:

      Yup, we plan on paying cash for the Airstream as well as the truck, so we won’t have to worry about that in the future. We’d like no more mortgage payments for, well, ever… 🙂

  24. Jason says:

    Sounds like fun. Good luck. I just don’t think I could ever convince my wife to do the RV, but we have a small house anyway.

  25. Laurie says:

    My husband was grandfathered into an unlimited data plan with Verizon, it saves us so much money. It sounds like you have a good plan coming together. The best thing you can do is think things through and try to plan for everything to the best of your ability. But, it sounds like you are doing a great job of it – best of luck!

  26. Brian Taylor says:

    This is a great read. Takes time to sell a house that you are about to move out from. But we managed to get it sold just after a few days of moving. Thanks for sharing these tips by the way.

  27. I really hate moving. and hopefully I won’t be needing one… again. but I’m taking note on this, since this is a really good advice. and in case that I have to move again.

  28. […] and Daniel at The Resume Gap quit their jobs and started an epic road trip.  Steve and Courtney at Think Save Retire are now A Streamin’ Life since they’ve moved into their Airstream full time!  The […]

  29. Wow, brilliant moving article, I am not planning for moving, I’m just love reading article.

  30. Olga Cosby says:

    Excellent tips. I have to move in the next few weeks and was looking for some advice on how to prepare and save much money. This info will help me tremendously in getting organized before hand.

    Thank you for giving tip to us.<3 😀

  31. Amy Morales says:

    Hello there, Steve..! I really enjoy reading your article so much; your story is such an inspiration for the person who cannot decide well. Like me! Thank you so much.

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