So over the past year and a half we have learned a lot about ourselves and what it takes to be a nomad or otherwise known as not living in a “traditional house” made out of sticks and bricks (S&B). We have also learned a lot about the lifestyle and what it takes to pack up your home and cut a better portion of clutter out of our lives. Things like don’t leave the tank valves when you’re flushing out the black tanks and always check your site twice before you leave because you will probably leave something behind.
We’ve gotten really good at keeping our lives de-cluttered and try to weed out un-needed things on a regular basis. This is not only out of a new want in our lives but mainly out of necessity. That and we either don’t want to pack it each time we move or we just do not have room for multiple bins of toys and gadgets that we do not use on a regular basis. This is a really good motto to live by even if you are in a house but even more so in an RV.
A big thing we learned during this first year are the sayings “life happens” and “all roads are paved with good intentions”. I say these in response to our first year financially. There have been quite a few items we have purchased to make this lifestyle a little more pleasurable like an outdoor carpet, a new grill, a heated hose for winter, a dehumidifier for the Pacific NW’s wet winters, an upgrade in our camping membership, a washer and several other miscellaneous items now used to help us along in our moving & living process. Then there have been the unexpected items that Mr. Murphy brought with him: new brakes on one car, then a very sick lab, an awning gone in the wind, new brakes/calipers and a rotor on our towing vehicle followed by a dirty EGR valve that stranded our truck and trailer. But the kicker that Murphy brought was the bulletproofing of our F-350″s 6.0 diesel engine along with 2 injectors. Needless to say, the first year had a learning curve and some curve balls thrown at us but to put it bluntly, God provided all we needed and saw us through each issue to completion. What didn’t kill us, only makes us stronger for the next adventure with Him.
Before we started out we weighed all of the pros and cons for our change and we started seeing how much we could save on our rent/mortgage payments and what we would be able to do with a lot of extra time that we would not have to put into yard or house maintenance issues. It seemed like a no brainer to us, so we jumped on in… feet first though. Some of the biggest similarities and differences from house living to RV living that we have noticed are probably what you would think they are.
- You may still have a payment of some kind unless you’ve gone all H.D. Thoreau and boondock full time: I’ll explain more below
- You still have to do maintenance from time to time: such as roof/gutter cleaning and changing light bulbs
- You still have to clean on a regular basis: keeping 4 kids out of their home is not allowed. BUT it’s 430 SF and not 1,400 or more and only takes 45 minutes instead of a full day.
- Laundry does not do itself: I’ll explain more below
- Everyone has their own bed of some kind
- We still have a full kitchen complete with residential fridge and a kitchen aid: darn Costco gets to keep our business for a while longer. Heck we even have an outdoor kitchen that has a sink, stove, mini-fridge and microwave.
- We still have 2 gaming consoles and 2 TVs
- You will usually have good phone service but there are times when you’ll get disconnected.Differences:
- The size of the monthy payments you make per month are a lot smaller
- Your toilet does not have a direct connection so you’ll at least have to watch your stuff go down a 4″ pipe that you connect and disconnect every time you move. You may also have to drag your stuff to the dump station if you’re in one place for a long time just so you do not have to move your RV.
- No yard maintenance: we stay where others do that work for us
- If you want, you can use the shower house to bath 6 people within 1/2 an hour.
- Unless you live in a gated community you probably don’t have a pool, tennis, horseshoes, club houses, wi-fi and monthly activities without a hefty “association” price tag. We get those with our membership.
- We usually switch neighbors and the view out our front door every 2-3 weeks
- The four kids (1 boy 3 girls) share one room and have not killed each other yet. Evidently having your own room is not a necessity.
- Your commuter car could be a 1-ton dually truck
One of the biggest differences I (Jonathan) have noticed is how a lot of people who live in an RV or Tiny Home full time, tend to blog about it more than a person that lives in a house. Now I don’t intend to put a survey out to see why this may be, but I have noticed in the RV lifestyle that people tend to share more of their learning experiences. This may be because a lot of people have not experienced living like this. They may be very curious as to what it is actually like to have 6 people living in a home smaller than 500 SF.
The Laundry situation has been one of our more interesting parts of our lifestyle change. (See last part of this post: Captain’s Log, Days 75-85) When we first started we used the laundromats on site and found them to be ok and in some cases relaxful, when you get time away from those adorable kids. But we started running into issues and time constraints that were out of our control. So instead of keeping rolls and rolls of quarters on hand or getting to the L-mat before having coffee on your day off we opted to purchase a small washing machine. There’s more on that written here ( http://wp.me/p5eSsG-6U ), but just know that this change has been a bigger one then I expected. It takes time to wash for 6 people and then drying can take even longer, especially when you do it by hanging the clothes up in the shower and using your dehumidifier as the main means of drying. Oh, and if you’re trailer is not connected to the sewer, plan on having a great workout program that week by either taking multiple loads to the L-mat or by dragging your blue-boy to dump the drain water.
I will be the first to give a lot of credit to my wife as she does the bulk of this work. I will also be the first to thank her when we choose to have full hookups (water/power/sewer) instead of internet on our phones for a week or two. Phone service can be spotty in certain parks we go to.
Now about the “Payments” I referred to in the lists above. Remember, we live in the Seattle Metro area which has a very high cost-of-living rate compared to other areas in these great states. These payments were the main reasons why we chose to make our change. We took our monthly rent (avg. of $1,700) and utility payments (avg. $500, $800 when we were on heating oil) that had a tendency for increasing every year or two and turned them into a camping membership ($155/mo.) that includes all utilities except for maybe, some propane ($45/mo.), a camper payment ($585/mo) and a truck payment ($340). The cost difference has been at least $1,075 and when you think about it, most families have at least one vehicle payment so we could probably bump that up to $1,400 if not higher. This savings alone will get us out of the debt of our “American Dream” and let us get to financial FREEDOM. A place where the mom and dad can both stay home with their kids and be led by the Spirit to teach those kids in the way that they shall go. Thank you Lord for the road-less-traveled…
The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. Henry David Thoreau
Our plan has been to place more of our treasures in Heaven then here on earth. Matthew 6:20
And a not so deep thought to summarize our first year…