For the last few years, as I looked at the empty nest and realized my freedom from those wonderful years of raising a family, I thought long and hard about how I wanted to live. Definitely a simpler life with less stuff! I have never been one for housekeeping or gardening, and living solo gave me the opportunity to make my own choices, independent of anyone else’s opinions.
I love the Tiny homes that are springing up all over the US and around the world. Looking at all the Pinterest and Facebook pictures really grabbed my attention. I could easily see myself living in a small space, and those houses were so darn cute!!
The pro side of tiny homes was:
- Living minimally, even off the grid completely
- No rent or mortgage
- Could be set up on someone’s “back forty” if permitted
- Low cost to build
- Could still work at my regular job and save $$$
- Permanent resident
- Available child care for grandkids
- Not much change to lifestyle
- Renovate a camper van for when I retired and then travel
The con side of tiny homes was:
- Living in one place for _#_ years
- Whose “back forty”could I use? What if they want to move?
- Continue working the 9-5 job until retirement (5-7 years away)
- Lots of towns zone against tiny homes
- Living through more Northeastern winters — ugh!!!
The more I thought about staying in one place for a few more years and working, the less I wanted to invest in that option.
One of my responsibilities at work each day was to run the obituaries to match up anyone in the database who may have died. (Sorry if the term bothers you, but I hate the “passed away” euphemism.) So many people die before or when they reach retirement age. What if I were to travel first, while I am younger and healthier, and then move into a tiny home when I was tired of traveling, or not so healthy, or whatever…if ever that were the case?
I started looking more into van camping as a full time RV-er.
The pros of RV camper van life were:
- Freedom to move where I want when I want
- Taking my own bed and “stuff” everywhere I go
- Camping, which has always been a favorite activity
- Visiting family and friends I haven’t been able to spend much time with
- Seeing all the beauty and enjoying all the subcultures in America
- Stealth boondocking (staying for free in someone’s driveway or residential area, BLM land, 24-hour store parking lot, rest area, truck stop, etc.)
- No packing/unpacking when traveling
- Stay as little or as long as desired in any one place, and ability to change my mind at the drop of a hat
- Campgrounds can be found much cheaper than hotels or rent, even to stay for several months
- Work can be done remotely, or work at a campground, etc.
- Can still live off the grid, with the exception of gas to travel
The cons of the RV camper lifestyle were:
- No longer an actual resident of my state
- Finding remote work to support the lifestyle
- Not seeing the local grandkids as often as I do now, and being available for child care/a break for mom & dad
- Increased fossil fuel consumption, with gas prices a variable
Since this thought process was several years in the making, I used the time to head in the right direction – simplifying my life, getting rid of “stuff”, paying off debts, living on a cash basis, and taking some online classes to brush up skills to work remotely – writing copy, social media consulting, blog writing and affiliate marketing, virtual assistant, etc.
I also joined many Facebook groups having to do with RV living, and started following some blogs. These were so helpful and I learned so much! I spent time visiting RV stores and considering what I liked/disliked about each style and size of RV. I found so many single ladies of a similar (and older!) age were living the solo RV lifestyle and loving it! The camaraderie of the RV-ers, as well as their honesty about the good and bad of their chosen lifestyle, was of great benefit and echoed so many of my own thoughts.
In February when my apartment lease ended, I was still unsure of my final decision. I had decided to take the first step anyway, and move into my car until I found a good old van to renovate and then live in that during the renovation period. When I found a suitable van for less than $1000, I was overjoyed. This six-month transition saved me close to $7000, which I was then investing in the van and in a savings account to support whichever decision I made. It would either be the funding for a tiny home or an emergency fund for traveling in an old van. Either way, a win-win!
I found I did not miss the TV and cable at all, surprise, surprise! I felt such freedom in living with less possessions. I loved hearing the rain on the van roof and the wind in the trees. I could look out the windows and see the moon and stars, and felt like I was already camping, even in the suburbs of Albany, New York! (I boondocked at my son’s house, parking the van in the shady trees in the side yard.)
I purchased a membership at Planet Fitness which allows me to use any of their facilities wherever I travel in the US. I would wake up feeling like I had spent the night in a campground, drive to Planet Fitness to work out and shower and dress for the workday, drive to work…and then each night park back under the shady trees in my little camper van. This system worked for me during the final six months of work. No one at work knew I was living out of my car, then the van. I charged my laptop, Kindle and I-phone at work, and was happily self-sufficient otherwise.
By the middle of summer, I decided that what I really wanted to do was work remotely with flexible hours as I traveled. I had some minor health issues that forced me to work remotely for the last few months (thanks to a wonderful understanding manager), which was a good experience and confirmed that this was my best plan. I packed all my tiny home plans and supply lists into my storage and there they will stay until I decide I am done traveling.
I will be traveling on a shoestring in my little camper van. We will see how it goes, but so far I really love this lifestyle! I know it isn’t for everyone, but it is amazing to me how many people of every age are living the full time RV lifestyle already! I can’t wait to meet some of them on the road or in a campground.
So this is my journey, and you’re welcome to follow along. I will be honest and as transparent as possible in sharing my story. I hope you enjoy the blog posts, and maybe some of you will step out of your comfort zone and embrace this lifestyle also! Or at least live vicariously through this and other folks who share their stories!
Scout — out!
What book are you reading now?
From the bookshelf…
“I looked to the trees. They always calmed me. The redwood grove stood like our own appointed guards; their trunks rose straight and solid from the land, their branches so large, we had seen wild turkeys perched in them….Our oaks were more like wise, arthritic grandparents. If you pulled up a chair and sat awhile and listened, you usually heard something useful. The fruit trees were like our cherished aunties, wearing frilly dresses and an overabundance of perfume in the spring, then by summer, indulging us with their generosity, dropping apples and pears and apricots by the bucketfuls, more than we could ever eat, as if they were saying, Mangia! Mangia!”
—The Underside of Joy, by Sere`Prince Halverson, 2012
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