Is RV Living All It’s Cracked Up To Be?

RV Living

Trial Run #2 – Peace vs. Anxiety

For the beginning of our RV living journal, go here to read previous articles.

RV Living

The journey to RV living continues as we contemplate selling our sticks and “Austin stone” house and living full time in a 36′ fifth wheel. I’ve read tons of articles by people who live full-time in their RV and the overwhelming opinion is that RV living is heaven on earth, but there is nothing as truth-telling as a personal experience. Now that I’ve had a few days to process our time, I came up with some pros and cons that will have to be considered.

Is RV living all it’s cracked up to be? We stayed in our RV parked on our property for a total of 8 days. The first 2-day trial run was cut short when the hot water heater went out. We made repairs and this time around definitely gave us a better idea of what it’s like to live in an RV. It is roughly 320 square feet compared to our home of 1576, so the RV is approximately one-fifth of the space we normally stretch out in. Wow!

Decision-making Process

After this stay, I received some revealing spiritual truth that had an impact on our decision-making process. It involves God’s timing and trusting Him. I will talk about that at the end.

Keeping It Real

In order to make this as realistic as possible while parked on our property, my goal was to treat our home as a grocery store; only going in for items I had forgotten. Therefore, each trial run starts with me carrying a boatload of stuff out to the RV. We don’t want a bunch of duplicate items to sell off later, so I’ve chosen to carry what we use back and forth between the home and the RV.

I love to cook; therefore, I begin with the kitchen.This includes appliances such as the coffee maker, Instant Pot, and toaster. I take utensils, seasonings, and keeping in mind the much smaller refrigerator and freezer space, I try to be very strategic in what I take. Finally, I lug out my heavy cast iron skillets because no serious chef would cook without them!

RV Pantry Space

The more I bring out, the more I realize the lack of storage space. Inside my home, I have a pantry stocked to the brim with duplicates of everything I use. During my younger adult life, there were seasons where money was scarce and days when I wasn’t sure how I’d feed my children. Once my financial situation improved, I started buying food staples in bulk such as sugar, flour, rice, and beans. I never want to run out of anything, so I have an extra of everything we use. If we empty a bottle of ketchup, no worries! There’s one in the pantry. I keep a 5-gallon bucket of sugar on top of a 5-gallon bucket of rice, and so on. Are you beginning to get a glimpse inside my head, I mean my pantry?

If the RV became our full-time home, my buying habits would change considerably. I would have to buy items in much smaller quantities. Instead of buying the largest bottle of ketchup, I would purchase the smaller version and so on. I must admit to a bit of anxiety thinking about not having extra food items on hand. What if an apocalypse happened or a recession caused a food shortage? What if my husband lost his job? What if North Korea dropped an EMP on us?

In case you don’t know this already, the what-ifs are life killers!

After the kitchen and food, comes clothes, computers, Bibles and devotionals, bathroom toiletries, phone chargers, and finally, pet supplies and our dog, Emma. Working through the afternoon, I get everything in place and end up sweating like nobody’s business because it’s 90 degrees outside! Exhausted, I look around at the cozy results and think, “Yeah, I could do this,” and I wait for Marshall to come home from work so he can admire my handiwork.

RV Living Pros and Cons

Every time we stay in it, we learn things we like and don’t like. I’ve outlined the pros and cons below.

Let’s start with the positive:

  • It’s cozy-looking when everything is put up. It doesn’t take long to clean up either.
  • Being free from a mortgage payment is very inviting. I kept thinking about the money we could save before retirement, or you know, before the job loss, apocalypse, recession, or EMP happens.
  • The 10-gallon hot water heater provides plenty of hot water, even when I wash my hair. The large skylight over the shower helps me not feel so claustrophobic inside the small space.
  • The convection/microwave oven doesn’t heat up the RV like the gas stove inside our home.
  • When we’re watching TV, I can actually reach Marshall and touch his arm. That’s nice!
  • The big picture windows allows views of the scenery, which will be nicer in the mountains than my yard.
  • The new washer and dryer work well. I was able to hang the clothes out on my handy-dandy clothes line that hooks onto the outside ladder and then fluff them in the dryer. I love saving money on the electric bill.

Now for the negatives:

  • The recliner chairs are not comfortable at all. We need to replace the seating for sure.
  • It gets a bit tiring climbing up and down the entry door steps, as they are steeper than our home’s front porch steps. Also, Emma has a hard time navigating them.
  • I felt totally discombobulated. I’d forget where I put things, so I was constantly opening cabinets and drawers looking for stuff.
  • In Texas heat, the air conditioner just wasn’t able to cool things down enough. Marshall wants to have it checked out.
  • The skylight over the shower makes me feel a bit vulnerable to God’s eyes or to peeping drones.

Peace vs. Anxiety

All of the negatives can be remedied or adjusted to, so the biggest issue wasn’t the cons. During this stay, I felt anxious the whole time. I never had peace that this was the right thing to do. After our stay, I went to prayer and asked God why I felt such anxiety. He assured me the RV was in His plan for us and He would provide whenever Marshall wasn’t able to work. However, He showed me how I was getting ahead of Him by trying to force the transition too early. If we were debt free, lived in the paid-for RV, then everything would be fine, right? That’s putting my trust in circumstances instead of God. A tornado could wipe out the RV. Circumstances can change at the drop of a hat, but God is always trustworthy. I realized what I was doing wrong. I told Him how sorry I was and peace flooded my heart. He blessed us with the RV, but I need to wait on His timing and His direction and stop trying to help Him.

Is RV living all it’s cracked up to be? For now, the jury is still out. One thing I know is that God’s ways are higher than ours and when His plan for the RV comes together, I won’t have all the anxiety. There will be peace in my heart knowing I’m in God’s will.

Until next time,

Blessings!

P.S. Read the beginning of our RV journey here.

A Great Reason To Appreciate Inconvenience

Inconvenient blessings from God

When something happens that annoys you, are you quick to grumble and complain? Here is a great reason to appreciate inconvenience in your life.

I am learning that sometimes, blessings come in inconvenient ways. When things seem to go awry, I almost immediately begin to gripe and wonder why this is happening to me. I recently learned that it could be God trying to bless us. Case in point is something that happened to us this week.

We ordered an RV washer/dryer set from Camping World. We had to pay $150 shipping for the washer because of its weight, but it was to be delivered directly to our door. The dryer was to come UPS ground to our door. Long story short…because our driveway is narrow and isn’t concrete, the semi would have to drop the washer at the gate for us to load and bring to the house or we could pick it up from their facility. Because of rainy weather, we chose to pick it up resulting in an hour+ round trip. Inconvenient, right? But then a few days later, the dryer shows up at the same freight line, so now we have to pick up the dryer, too.

I wrote the company explaining the issue. I figured we’d get a semi (no pun intended)-apology and “please try us again” letter, but they just wrote back with a very nice apology saying the $150 will be fully refunded. Even though the refund came because of our inconvenience, it brought our total cost down considerably. Blessing from God! Woohoo!

So, if you need a great way to appreciate inconvenience in your life, just stop and remember, don’t grumble and complain. It might be God trying to bless you.

Can We Handle Full-Time RV Living?

Trial Run #1 – Squeaky doors and midnight bathroom trips

As you may or may not know, my husband and I are planning for our retirement years. They are a lot closer than they were yesterday and quite honestly, it’s a bit scary to think about.

We’ve read about people who live in their RV full-time and felt this might be a great option for us. So the search began for just the right type and size of RV. In my previous post called RV Minimalist Wannabe, I wrote how we started out with a small 25′ pull behind, but quickly realized that size was better suited for short vacations. We turned our attention to fifth wheels and bingo…we discovered great layouts with much more living space and storage. We decided to search for a fifth wheel mainly because they are supposed to pull better and be more stable travelling. A salesman told us, “That’s why it’s called a fifth wheel. It actually becomes part of your truck instead of something being pulled behind your truck.” That made perfect sense to me.

Prayers continued for God to show us THE one and He did. We bought a 35′ fifth wheel from a couple who lived very close to us. They had never been on a vacation with it, but had only lived in it while they built their house and then used it on their property for guests. It was in pristine condition considering it was 12 years old.004

That purchase set us on another prayer journey. Since God showed us which one to buy, were we to sell our home and go full-time before retirement? This could be very beneficial because it would allow us to put our mortgage payment into savings for the time when we can’t work. We are one of thousands, maybe millions, who have no retirement account. That’s what I mean when I say thinking of retirement is scary.  And if God is telling us to sell, can we really handle full-time RV living?

These prayers began in November 2016 and as I’m writing, it is now May 2017. God has not given us any signs that we are to sell yet, so we just continue to make little changes to the RV that fits us better.

For example, it came with a very uncomfortable sleeper sofa and 2 recliners. The sofa had to weigh about a thousands pounds, so one day I mentioned to my husband that we should take it out and spread out the recliners.  Since there are just 2 of us, we don’t need all that seating. I left the house one day to run some errands and when I got back, Marshall had manhandled that sofa out of the RV. Sheesh! He thinks he’s superman and I guess he could be because that sofa is now out the narrow door, down 4 steps, and sitting in our garage.

We have spent the last few months just sitting inside trying to imagine living in it full time.  It doesn’t really help much when we can get up and walk back into our spacious home at anytime, so we decided we should see what it was actually like to live full time in this thing.

My husband’s work is such that he can’t take off right now, but we didn’t want to wait until he could, so we came up with a brilliant plan. We would attempt our trial run while it is sitting on our property right outside our front door. Now we have 3 acres, so it’s not like we’re parked in the front yard, but the house is close enough that we’ll have to be very diligent to act like it’s not there.

Yesterday, I stocked the RV with everything I could think of including our toiletries, food items, clothes for a week, and our dog’s things. I spent a good bit of time trying to figure out where to put Emma’s food and water bowls!

I brought in some of our small furnishings like an end table and my dining room chairs. They are so much lighter to move around than the standard RV chairs, plus, using some of our own things made it feel more homey. As I took a moment to catch my breath, I looked around and my heart smiled. Yeah, I might could get used to this.IMAG0517_1

So, after all my preparation and stocking up, our first overnight was quite the fiasco! I didn’t think to check the weather forecast and it dropped down into the 40’s. The RV came with a heat pump/AC unit, but the heat doesn’t seem to work very well. I think we will have to get it checked out because it kept cycling on and off every stinking minute…not kidding! Around 2 o’clock, my husband threw back the covers and got up to turn it off so we could get some sleep! That left us with no heat. In an RV, the temps will change very rapidly because it’s not insulated as well as a wood or brick home. My space heaters were put up and I didn’t think to store any extra blankets, so we shivered through the night and endured.

The next issue came from being in a strange environment at 3 o’clock in the morning when you have to take your nightly bathroom trek. In our layout, there is one step down into the bathroom area. When you’re half awake and can’t remember where you are, you tend to miss that step. When you finally stumble into the (excuse me for using this next word) toilet room, you discover how big your body is and how small they make those rooms. Close quarters doesn’t even begin to describe it. You’re trying so hard to be quiet, but elbows are hitting the walls, the toilet flushes like a jet engine, and the door hinges need some major oiling! Not to mention, the whole RV shakes when you walk. IMAG0515

Next, there was the increase of noise. I am a light sleeper, so I normally wear ear plugs when sleeping. But even without them in our regular home, I rarely notice cars going by or dogs barking. Our house is very well insulated. However, the RV has single pane windows and not near the insulation and of course, I had forgotten my ear plugs. I heard every car and loud truck passing by. Who knew our neighbors stayed out so late. I wondered if that loud truck might be criminals casing our home for a future burglary or was it just someone going to work on the night shift. The point being made here is I shouldn’t have been thinking about who was riding around all hours of the night. I should have been sleeping peacefully with a sweet smile on my face.

Last, but not least, I will add one more disturbance in the force. My husband gets up early for work and in an RV, you can forget about sleeping when someone is only inches away from your side of the bed taking a shower, brushing his teeth, and getting dressed. It’s amazing how loud a shirt can be sliding over someone’s head.

So, can we handle full-time RV living? The jury is still out. Last night definitely could have been better, but I’m not quite ready to give up yet. My husband and I have already been texting things we need to do before tonight, such as putting a foam pad on the bed and finding those space heaters. And you can bet, I’ll be looking for the WD-40 to oil that toilet room door.

Let me end this on a good note lest I scare someone completely away from purchasing an RV. There were some good moments. I managed to make homemade biscuits in the convection/microwave oven and successfully heat up a pasta dish from the night before. This morning, I took a long shower without running out of hot water. I slid open the window shades revealing the awakening warmth of the sun and my spirit began to lift. Sitting in my recliner drinking some deliciously warm coffee, I spent a few quiet moments with my Lord and last night’s frustrations slowly faded away.

Reminds me of a scripture out of Lamentations 3:23:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end,
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Yeah, I might could get used to this.

Until next time,

Blessings!

P.S. Go here for the first article in this journey.

RV Minimalist Wannabe

Preparing for Full-Time RV Living.

How big is your home? According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, the average size of a new single-family home in 2015 was 2,467 square feet. That is 61% bigger than people bought in 1975, which if I figured right would have made the homes 40 years ago a mere 963 square feet. Houses are definitely getting bigger. How does yours compare? We all want our own space. We need big backyards for our outdoor kitchens and today’s independent children must have their own rooms. Husbands escape into their man caves equipped with large-screen TVs and refrigerators, while the women just nest throughout the whole house.

If homes are getting bigger, then why is there a tiny house movement? Have you heard of this? It’s where a family of 2 or more move into what can only be described as an overgrown shoe box and somehow they manage not to kill each other. And then, there are the full-time RVers. These come in all age ranges and social spheres, but many are retirees, who sold their homes, moved themselves and 2 dogs into a home on wheels, and travel around the country. Nuts, right? Wrong! My husband and I have been researching this phenomenon and have discovered hundreds and hundreds of people who absolutely love this lifestyle.

Before our research, I always thought people who did such things were a bit touched in the head.  I mean, I can camp out with the best of them. I grew up going down to the Red River in North Texas many weekends and salivating as my parents cooked breakfast over an open fire. Nothing tastes better than potatoes fried up in an iron skillet and thrown down next to scrambled eggs and crispy bacon.  But after a few days, we packed up all the dirt we had accumulated and went back to our nice home and comfy beds.

So, how can I exuberantly choose to live in something smaller than most people’s garages? What will we do with everything? It took years to acquire this stuff and a lot of money to boot!  The furniture, kitchenware, bedding, tools, years and years’ worth of bank statements, and how in the world can I get rid of all my Christmas decorations? After all, little Johnny made this snowflake when he was only 2!

Ah, now we are getting to the crux of the matter. Stuff! We all have it. It fills every nook and cranny of our homes, garages, attics, workshops, and cars. Like us, you may even have a small RV sitting in the backyard being neglected until that once a year camping trip when you clean out all the lady bugs, load up with food, and drive to a crowded RV park, only to be kept awake by the neighbor’s yapping dog. 

This photo is a case in point. The first one we purchased in 2014 was a 1997 Coachmen 25-foot in all its glory pull-behind and we learned quickly how small it was when we went to pass each other. But we bought it purely for recreational purposes, you know, that yearly trip!

Retirement Planning

Then the day came when senior discounts kicked in and arthritic joints started acting up. We live in a cozy, smaller than most, cottage nestled in the country on 3 acres. Like many hard-working Americans, we don’t have a retirement plan, so the closer we got to retirement age, we started praying and asking God to help us develop a plan.  Even though retirement is still 2-3 years away, we have started taking the first steps and it’s time for our nooks and crannies to start downsizing. Let the fun begin!

This article is the first of many to come journaling our departure from being rich in stuff to learning how to live more simply. I will record for posterity my path through all the emotions and tears as well as the joys of becoming free, not only of debt, but of owning more things than we will ever need.  I invite you to come along and share this experience with me. If you have walked here already, I’d love to hear about your journey.

Before I leave you today, I’ll show you a photo of the first of many steps in our plan.  After much searching, we purchased our future home, a 2004 36-foot McKenzie Lakota 5th wheel equipped with 3 slides in pristine condition. I am already rearranging furniture, cabinets, and researching all the storage tips on Pinterest. Lord, help me!

Until next time,

Blessings!

P.S. Read the next RV journal entry here.