When plans to start our RV fulltiming lifestyle in the summer of 2004 started looking more solid, we started a journal to record our "Countdown to the RV Fulltiming Lifestyle". Here, you can read about our preparations for the year prior to moving into the motorhome. This journal records various events starting 12 months before we "hit the road". The oldest entries are at the bottom.
These were written before we had a blog, so it was written as an article.
Quick jump to entries from:
2003: October November December
2004: January February March April May June July August September
Sept 9: Today is the first day of our new lifestyle! The house is completely empty, and we've signed it over to the new owners. We've been staying in the motorhome the past few nights, parked next to the house. We're moving the rig and will park in front of our daughter's house for the next couple days, then move to get our satellite Internet dish installed. Then off to spend a few days with some friends in their RV park, then we'll slowly head towards Albuquerque to volunteer with a chase crew at the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. After spending the Winter in the Arizona desert with Escapee Boomer friends, we'll slowly head towards our Summer jobs in New York state. It's taken 5 years of planning, but we've finally arrived to "full-timer's" status. This is the last entry in this "Countdown to RV Fulltiming Lifestyle" journal. You can follow our new adventures in our travel logs.
Sept 3: WOW! It's been an extremely busy, and tiring few days. We sold a few more furniture items, and moved the rest out today. We ended up taking a large U-Haul truck full to our daughter's (both of them) house. A large sectional went to charity, and our nice bedroom set is at the consignment shop. The house doesn't have any furniture left, except the formal living and dining set that the new owners bought. We've parked the motorhome next to the house and are living in it. (Hope the neighbors understand and don't complain). The next few days will be spent cleaning the house and doing a couple minor repairs. Connie cried some, seeing her prized furniture go out the door. And we've left our loving dog with our daughters. Actually, it is Cynthia's dog, but we are very attached to her. We would loved to have Gidget (the dog) with us on the road, but we didn't want the hassles of leaving her alone at times. Closing looks to be on schedule, in 4 days!
Aug 25: The 'moving sale' is finally completed. We sold about 50% of the stuff we had and made a few hundred bucks. We also recently sold Connie's car, some more house decor and a computer. But we still have three rooms of furniture we're worried about selling. We've started going through years of receipts we've kept. The paper shredder is working overtime! Connie also received an unexpected bonus from her 'old' job. She and the 'girls from work' are going out to dinner again tonight. Also having more dinners with our good neighbors. 2 weeks left, starting to come up fast!
Aug 19: We're now both unemployed, and are true empty nesters. Cynthia moved most of her stuff to her sister Leslie's house and announced last night that she was staying there now. We knew it was happening, but not that same night. In addition, Connie and I jumped in going through all the cabinets and closets. Although the kids claimed over 50% of our stuff, we still have a bunch left. We're having the dreaded moving sale in a few days. The house now looks like we're moving, with piles of junk in every room. 20 days until we're full-timers!
Aug 14: Connie's office threw her a going-away party last night. It was a lot of fun! We had so much fun, that a bunch of 'the girls" are going to have another get together this Tuesday and another one on Wednesday. But Larry's not invited this time. We've sold some more furniture and cleaned out a couple closets and the attic. We really don't have much junk stashed away. We're having our daughters go through almost the entire house tomorrow to claim what they want. Most of what they want, we'll separate into individual piles for them. Other than the furniture, what's not claimed and what we're not keeping will be up for sale next Saturday at a moving sale. After that, what's left will be donated. What furniture is left will probably go to a consignment shop. We also got our new Livingston, Texas mailing address. Slowly, we're making progress.
Aug 10: It still feels like we should be doing more. But we are slowly getting ready. Larry's been working on installing the solar electrical system on the RV, had the RV in the shop for a check up, and have had the cracked windshield replaced. Connie is feeling much better now that she's given her resignation at work. Her office is having a going-away party this Friday for her. Getting rid of the furniture seems to be our biggest problem. The buyer's of the house did buy some of our furniture, but we have a few more rooms full to sell. Connie is starting to advertise at work, and Larry will distribute flyers around the neighborhood. Although we're dreading it, we'll have an "Estate" (garage) sale in a couple weeks. Cindy's boyfriend says he'll buy our car in a couple weeks. He's getting a smoking deal from us! The attic is cleaned out, but the stuff needs to be separated. The garage stuff has already been separated. Cynthia is planning to start moving her stuff to her new "apartment" at her sister's house this weekend. Larry has made doctor and dental appointments to get new prescriptions and a check-up. We have new email addresses, and have sent for our new mailing address. We should know our new Texas address soon.
Aug 1: 5 weeks until we're officially full-timers! Everything still looks solid for the house closing. Repairs are done to the house, and it's time to get serious about getting rid of everything. Connie plans to give her 'two-week notice' at work in a few days. Either they'll say "leave now", or she'll be stuck there for another couple weeks. Of course, she's hoping for the immediate release. We've started purchasing the equipment to install our solar system on the motorhome. In the next couple weeks, we'll also have our final doctor and dentist check-ups here. We'll get new prescriptions, so we can use Tricare web/mail order to get the drugs. This week, I'll setup our new mail forwarding address with the Escapee's in Livingston, Texas. We're also scheduled to get the cracked windshield replaced tomorrow. I already established a new web hosting location, since we're loosing our previous ISP. I like this new hosting service.
It may sound funny, but we just got back from a week's vacation in the RV. It was real fun, especially knowing this will soon be our new home. We'll probably move into the rig in a month, which is a week before closing. This will allow us to clean out the remainder of our stuff from the bricks and sticks house.
Jul 22: Everything is still going smooth for this transition. We only had a few minor things to get fixed on the house inspection. The buyers are now locked into the deal, or they will loose their earnest deposit (hope not!). We've started ordering some items to improve the motorhome, and to get the cracked windshield replaced. Connie is working on the major task of sorting through her tons of cookbooks and magazines. I'm really surprised, because she's doing very good at limiting what she wants to keep.
I've received quotes for full-timer's vehicle insurance for South Dakota and for Texas. Why these two states, you ask? Even though we no longer will own a piece of land, we still need to claim someplace as a domicile. We can't "not" have a legal residence anywhere. But we can select where we want to be legally domiciled at. Looking at tax advantages, insurance cost, vehicle registrations and licensing, most full-time Rv'ers select either Texas (home of the Escapee's club) or South Dakota for their domicile. There's many other states people use, but these are the top two. By doing all of our licensing, insurance, banking, voting, etc in one location, we're demonstrating that is our selected domicile. We were seriously looking into South Dakota, mainly because Connie didn't want TX license plates. But I'm beginning to lean towards Texas. Precisely, we'll select Livingston, TX as our new domicile. This will also be our mailing address, as this is the home of the Escapee's RV club and their mail forwarding service. For us, these two states are about equal, financially speaking. No income tax, low vehicle registration fees, and vehicle insurance is about the same. Since we have military medical insurance (TriCare), medical insurance wasn't a factor for us. But I understand medical insurance is cheaper in SD. Two factors are making me lean towards TX now: 1) Location - I'd rather visit TX is Winter for Jury duty or a driver's license than SD, and 2) the political power of the Escapee's club is probably more prevalent in it's home state of Texas. We'll start getting our new domicile established in a couple weeks.
I can't speak highly enough of the Escapee's RV club. Unlike Good Sam's or FMCA, both good clubs, the Escapee's is primarily for full-time RV'ers. The services they provide and political fighting they do is all aimed for the benefit of the full-timer. And they're a bunch of real nice and friendly people, known for the hugs!
Jul 5: Exactly 7 days after the house was listed, we've accepted an offer for 99% of the asking price! The buyers asked for a 60 day escrow, so we'll be moving into our "wheel estate" by September 8th. The sale and buyers look pretty solid, so we're not expecting any problems. We've heard the house buyers are also interested in buying some of our furniture as well. It's finally time to start making firm plans to complete the transition from our "sticks and bricks" house to our "house on wheels".
Connie has been sweet-talking me into us making the Australia trip we had to cancel last year. I'm giving it serious thought, as I'll always know I "owe" us our 25th wedding anniversary trip. Before I got laid-off last year, we were planning a 14 day trip to Australia. We were going to rent a small RV and make a large circle of the Southeast corner of 'down under'. This time, since we'll be completely retired, perhaps we'll make it a 30 day trip, but still rent a RV.
Other than the Aussie vacation, we haven't made any other travel plans. A couple years ago, we were dreaming about places we could travel to. I asked Connie where she wanted to visit first, once we moved into the rig. She surprised me, and said "Niagra Falls". In the 25+ years I've known her, she's never mentioned wanting to visit the falls. I told her that would be our first destination, but it might take us awhile to get there. So we'll be heading to Niagra Falls to begin with. It'll probably take us a year to get there, by a very a indirect route.
Jun 24: Oh No! After over 5 years of planning to go full-time, it's all of a sudden hitting us in the head! The house is now for sale, with the realtor telling us it's a "seller's market". We've listed the house for much more than I thought possible. We'll see if it sells for near that price, or we'll lower the price some in a couple weeks. But a smaller house without a pool, almost the same floor plan as ours, sold for more money last week. We're happy that we may be starting with a bigger nest egg than we planned.
Now, I'm afraid (and excited) that everything is going to happen REAL FAST! We're a little worried about how to get rid of all our "stuff". Of course we'd like to sell it for a reasonable price. But how? Perhaps I will check into the 'Estate Sales" businesses that I've heard many full-timers say is the way to go.
Jun 18: It's exciting to finally be doing something to make this dream happen! We are spending the weekend going through closets in preparation for selling the house. We want it to look organized and presentable. We plan to contact a realtor early next week. There were a few moments when emotions came into play. It's a little hard giving up something we've dragged around the world for 25+ years, which has no value other than fond memories. Some 'stuff' is going to the kids immediately, some is definitely trash, some is for charity, and some is being placed in a pile to be sold later. If it doesn't sell, then it will be given away to family or charity.
Since so much will be given to charity this year, I purchased a program from Intuit called "It's Deductible" ($20). I love this program! It basically allows you to track your donations, but also assigns a "fair market value" to the item. I'm discovering it's more advantageous to donate most items for the tax savings than try to sell for pennies at a garage sale.
Jun 11: It looks like we'll be selling the house soon. Unfortunately, this isn't exactly the way we wanted to start our RV fulltime lifestyle. We're mentally ready, but finances aren't what we had hoped they would be when we started. Our savings has been eaten up over the past 10 months. But Larry can't seem to get a job commensurate to his old salary (which is needed to pay the bills), and Connie is EXTREMELY stressed out with her job. So we had a family meeting and have decided to sell the house and eliminate almost 2/3 of our monthly expenses. Leslie and Andy have invited Cynthia to move in with them. We feel a bit guilty having Cynthia move out from us, but she said she was going to move out soon anyway. She seems excited about starting her adult life. At least we know she'll be safe and watched out for while staying with family.
Since we've made the decision to sell the house and almost all belongings, we've got a lot to do. This decision wasn't unexpected. Luckily, Larry has been doing many minor repairs and painting. The house should be ready within the week. We now need to find a realtor and start getting rid of our "stuff". We're not emotionally attached to any of our "stuff". Our moving around every few years while in the USAF helped us keep "stuff" to a minimum. We don't have any family heirlooms, no antiques, and no large hobbies. Now we start the process of what to give to the kids, what to take with us, and how to sell the rest.
So after 5 years of planning and researching, our time has come to actually 'do it'! I'm sure we'll get past these financial difficulties, and will love our new lifestyle.
May 23: I'm personally disappointed to not have anything new to report. It's like we're stuck in this holding pattern of waiting. We haven't even had the chance to take the rig out for a weekend until recently. Larry's temporary job ends this week, so now what? If he doesn't find a job soon, he'll contact Southeast Publications again for some new assignments. Hopefully, he'll make some money on them.
Bill Joyce and Diane Melde, fellow Escapees and Boomers who we met in March, were back in town. They upgraded their gas 36' Dolphin RV for a beautiful Diesel 40' Newmar DutchStar. We met for dinner and lunch and a tour of their new home. It IS beautiful. Of course, they have a few bugs to work out of the new rig, but nothing serious. We had fun visiting with them again, and listening to their experiences after 1 year on the road, and of their future plans. We'll continue to stay in touch, and I'm sure we'll meet up again somewhere soon. Hopefully, we'll also be on the road!
Apr 21: Our oldest daughter, Leslie, is now married and on her honeymoon. It was a wonderful, romantic wedding. There's some pictures in our Photo Gallery, with the professional photos being posted later. We're real happy for her! Now we're adjusting to knowing she's not living with us anymore. Our youngest daughter, Cynthia, graduates from High School in 5 weeks. She still doesn't know her plans and probably won't until the time comes. She'll be taking some classes at a local Community College, but living plans aren't discussed much. The house will go up for sale soon afterwards.
Larry is working a 2 month contract job. At least savings won't have to be touched for a couple months. In addition to some minor home repairs and painting, he's also been selling and clearing out a few more items on EBay. Without a firm date to move into the motorhome, there's not much else that can done.
Mar 28: Still not much to talk about. Still not much luck in the job search. Larry does have a couple interviews next week, though. Also, Leslie's wedding is only a few weeks away. Once that passes, that will be a big milestone towards fulltiming. We're sorry to see her leave the nest, but are excited for her new life.
For the past year, I've been Emailing with Bill and Diana Joyce. They started fulltiming last year in the same year and model of motorhome that we have. They're also Escapee members and Boomers too. They were in town recently, and we had a chance to get together for an evening. It was fun meeting with them, which just fueled our desire to join them on the road as soon as possible. While we wait, Larry has still been working around the house, making minor improvements and repairs in preparation for the "big" house sale. We still can't set a date to leave fulltime, since we still don't know what Cindy's (youngest daughter) plans will be after her High School graduation in June. That's also coming up fast!
But one thing is for sure. We both are ready to hit the road as soon as possible. We know that goal is getting closer every week.
Feb 28: I wish I had more to report on, but not much has happened on our preparations. Larry has been looking hard for a regular job in his high-tech career field, but isn't having much luck. Our savings account has greatly been diminished. He's been spending much of his free time at home doing minor repairs and painting in the house. We're thinking about starting to sell the house around July and August. Leslie's wedding is only 6 weeks away! After the wedding, we think plans will start to get firmer and tasks moving in high gear.
Jan 26: During the first couple of weeks in January, I worked an RV Park in Salome, AZ. This was a "real life" experience selling advertising, as I was staying in the RV at the park (free). I also had to 80% redesign the park map. If this was a true example of a typical job, then this could work to support traveling fulltime in the RV. Over a two week period, I spent about 32 hours of actual selling (and traveling). However, I also spent another 32 hours doing paperwork and computer design. It's my choice for the computer design, but I think it makes selling some ads easier and should be clearer for the artist on the final ad designs. I ended up selling more advertisements than last year for this park and will make a fair commission. This was a RV park located in the middle of the desert, I think I would do good at a better RV park in a popular tourist area. However.... since I've been unemployed for almost 6 months, our savings is getting dangerously low. It's probably best that I seek a regular fulltime job until we go fulltime. We need a reliable and steady income to support the household bills. I'm not quitting with Southeast Publications; but I probably won't do another 'job' soon. I think this still has potential to generate enough income for us while traveling.
Dec 22: Hmmm.... Working as a contractor for Southeast Publications USA, Inc. isn't starting out too well. The first job was cancelled and I couldn't sell any advertisements for the second job. The third job started out promising, but soon fizzled - not selling enough ads. It's not easy selling the ads. I can visit 100 potential advertiser's and maybe only sell a couple ads. Financial concerns may force me to seek a traditional job until we can hit the road. My next job isn't near home, so I'll take the RV and stay at the RV park for a couple weeks while I sell ads. This will be a real life experience, as it's the same as if I was traveling. Let's hope I do well on that job.
Nov 12: We recently finished training with Southeast Publications and attended the company's Fall meeting in Florida. Now that we have an idea of how and what to do, we're ready to get started! I got my first assignment, which is renewing an area guide for a local RV dealer. Hope all goes well! We're real glad we attended the company meeting. We learned additional material and reinforced what we were just taught in training. But more importantly, we met over a hundred other sales associates. We learned how many of them work jobs and heard of their successes and failures. With time and some work, it sounds like we'll be able to meet our financial needs and goals.
Oct 21: Although Larry collects a small pension from his US Air Force retirement, we knew we would have to supplement our income to support fulltiming. We were considering working as independent contractors for "Southeast Publications USA, Inc" selling advertisements for their RV park guides and maps. The freedom of choosing when, where, and how often to work appealed to us. Depending on how successful we were, we hoped to work only 5-6 months a year. When Larry was laid-off in August 2003, he wasn't too anxious to look for another corporate job where he would still be un-happy. So he decided to get a head start with the contractor position with "Southeast Publications USA, Inc.". We applied, and were accepted to be independent contractors in September 2003. However, we have to wait until October 25th to begin training in California. In the meantime, we've received our training manual, which we've read a couple times. We'll also be attending the companies Fall meeting in Florida in a couple weeks. We're anxious to get started!
Since Larry had some leisure time while waiting, he decided to try making a few bucks selling 'stuff' on eBay. We needed to start getting rid of old 'stuff' laying around anyway. So far, he's doing pretty good. 'Stuff' we would have given away at garage sales is selling pretty good on eBay. Larry also took the time to digitize over 1000 35mm slides. We now have many of our photographs stored on CD-ROM, allowing us to sell the slide projector and slide trays.