As we arrived at the Jellystone Park in Burleson, TX, a massive LED sign first caught my attention, along with the tower of water slides flowing down into a child’s pirate paradise. It seemed to stretch on and on. “What is this place?!?”
Our Jellystone experience
Jeremy and I were recently hired to capture some video of the North Texas Jellystone’s “Camping Season Kick-Off.” But, in the most ironic of ways, the weather did not cooperate. It was wet, windy, and teetering on freezing — the kind of weather that says, very loudly to most: Don’t go camping.
Despite the weather and the lack of visitors, the fun atmosphere made me still want to be a pirate. I still wanted to play in this multi-world adventure land. And we did!
We captured our video shots as we could. Played in the arcade and counted our tickets for bouncy balls. Watched the kids dance with Yogi Bear and his crew. Laughed with families as they played organized Bingo games, solved riddles, and grew excitedly anxious in Giant Jenga. Although fewer than usual visitors due to the weather, campers came and went with thick coats, scarves and smiles on faces.
Top reasons we love Jellystone:
Multiple great overnight options. This project was shorter notice, so we didn’t have our rig with us. But, staying in one of the cabins made for a pleasant surprise. I didn’t know these park cabins could be so lux. Comfy and cozy resort style, out of the weather, and with a laughable amount of space for two people. I think we counted ten spaces for sleeping comfortably, along with a place to eat, watch TV, get some work done, and hang out on the porch (for those good weather days). Just like a home.
Plus, you also have the option of bringing an RV or a tent; making your little camping trip suit your family. We have found that Jellystone has made a point to figure out how to cater to each and every type of camper out there, which is unlike most large campgrounds we’ve visited in the past. And they also tend to have much more room to spread out!
It’s all-inclusive. Vacations are meant for relaxation and getting away from the everyday sights and sounds to which we have become so familiar. No matter the destination, a vacation is supposed to allow our minds to slow down and not worry so much about what we are doing from moment to moment. That’s why we really loved that we didn’t have to go anywhere besides the park to get what we needed, or to entertain ourselves.
It was like a little (or not really so little) all-inclusive resort. Whether you want to swim during the day and roast marshmallows over a fire at night, or watch your kids play a game of paintball, then head back to your RV to watch a movie, Jellystone offers many options for recreation – inside or outside.
It’s great that parents don’t have to load the family up in the car to find a place to eat or play. Most Jellystone Parks are fully prepared to offer an all-encompassing experience. Thinking about bringing more family, especially our two-year-old nephew, to the park was on our brains a lot. He’ll be the best little pirate! ARGH!!! Can’t wait.
Great staff. If we needed any other reason to choose Jellystone, it would have to be the staff. Not only do they intimately know the inner workings of the park where they work, they went out of their way to accommodate me and my husband as well as the other families visiting the park with us.
As we mentioned, we had some pretty poor weather during our visit. It just happened to be one of the coldest days of the year for the Dallas area. It was rainy, windy, and close to 30 degrees. None of those elements makes for a very fun-filled weekend adventure, but somehow the staff utilized their indoor facilities and planned activities for the kids, parents, and staff. The staff had no way of controlling the weather, but they took control of the situation and made it a good time for everyone.
Not all Jellystones are created equally, but they are all cared for in the same manner and under the same theme. The North Texas Jellystone is uniquely massive, I think, but they all have family fun in store to be sure.
Even though this isn’t the type of camping we usually go for (we like to rough it a bit), it’s a great way for families to get away together and experience something different, yet simple. And honestly, I think that’s pretty special. Plus, it makes for a gentle introduction into the world of camping. And if Jellystone Parks can create a passion for playing outside and facilitate building family bonds and traditions full of happy memories, then we’re all for it.
In the future when we’re planning a fun, easy weekend away from home, Jellystone will be at the top of our list. From the various accommodations, staff, and community feel, we’ll be excited to pack up and head to a Jellystone Parks.
(Note: Featured photo of Yogi used with permission from Joe Hendricks Photography).
One aspect of RV living I noticed pretty quickly is how easy it is to accumulate waste. Whether it’s the packaging from an Amazon order or excess food products from dinner, there are a lot of ways to create waste. So, here are a few strategies to limit waste while full-time RVing.
One of the most effective ways to limit waste while full-time RVing is to compost. Yes, this seems absurd. How do you compost in an RV? Well, I assure you it is much easier than you think.
Two months into RVing, I bought a 1.3-gallon composting bin. I couldn’t stand how much food waste I was throwing into the trashcan. So, when the bin arrived, I simply placed it under the sink. Whether you live in a home or an RV, a composting bin will fit pretty much everywhere.
How can I do this? The most difficult part of composting is the question of where to dump the compost once your bin is full. We have always been lucky enough to have friends or resources nearby that allowed us to dump our compost. If you have a hard time finding a location to compost, check out the resources in your local area for a facility near you.
What can be composted? Check out this link for 100 things that can be composted. I bet you’ll be surprised!
2. Limit the purchase of body products
We live in a time where there are 1,000+ types of shampoos, deodorants, soaps, lotions, etc. While some products may be useful to our daily regiments, limiting the amount we buy can help us reduce waste and save money.
When we moved into our RV, my husband and I started sharing most of our body products. Some people may find this unsatisfactory, and it was our choice, but it has saved us a lot of money.
We currently share shampoo, body soap and deodorant. This helps us to limit how much excess stuff we bring into our home, how much waste we produce once the products are finished, and the money it would cost to each have our own products.
3. Use your own stuff
Another effective way to limit waste while full-time RVing is to use your own products to the best of your ability.
This includes bringing a thermos for coffee at your favorite coffee house, using your own water bottle, and bringing your own bags whenever you buy items where you are given paper or plastic bags at checkout.
This is by far the easiest way to reduce waste as a full-timer. No more thin plastic bags overflowing out of your cabinet. No more plastic water bottles when you’re out and about. Using your own stuff not only helps you to limit waste in your personal life, but it reduces litter out in the world as well. It’s a win-win!
4. Reuse & recycle
There are lots of ways to reuse everyday items. Even things like boxes and bags have a few lives in them! For example, grocery bags are great for picking up after your dog at the park or as trash bags in the bathroom. And Amazon boxes can be used for storage or pet toys.
5. Try going paperless
This is a big step for most people. But when you live in an RV, you can’t afford to have important documents floating around the rig willy-nilly.
A few months before we set out on the road, we bought a small, portable scanner and scanned pretty much every picture and piece of paper we had. We filed away some of the important documents and pictures and tossed the rest.
Beyond freeing up physical space, having digital copies of important documents and pictures is a good idea anyway.
Because living in an RV limits the amount of space we have to store extra items in our homes, it makes sense to limit what comes in so we can help reduce what goes out.
Check out the resources available to you in your area. I bet it’s easier than you think to reduce waste in your RV!
When most people think of full-time RVing, they envision a rig rolling down the road with the countryside laid out in front of them. So, stationary RVing provides a new outlook on RVing many people aren’t as familiar with.
My husband and I knew from the beginning of our RVing adventure that we would be living in one place at a time. Our style of RVing would not include moving around every day or even every month. While we believe this to be a greater investment than renting a house or apartment, stationary RVing provides some limitations as well.
You own your home.
This was the most important aspect of living in an RV for us. We were tired of renting apartments and wanted the freedom of owning a home. Since we were living out of state temporarily, we didn’t want to have to move our stuff to Oregon just to move it back to Texas six months later. It made a lot of sense for us to buy an RV and live in it instead.
You can live minimally easily.
When you live in an RV, you have to live small. There is literally not enough space to move around if surrounded by stuff. So, we got rid of 90% of what we owned, left a few items in Texas, and took the rest with us. We have about 95% of what we own with us in the rig.
You have the chance to build better relationships with others in the park.
One of the more intriguing aspects of stationary RVing is the different kinds of relationships to be had. Not only do you have neighboring RVers, but everyone who works at the park (at least our park) lives at the park as well. So, you get to know the people who live nearby and work to make the park what it is.
This has been an especially unique experience for us and one that we did not anticipate. What’s interesting about RV neighbors is that, unlike living in an apartment complex, you see your neighbors on a daily basis. Therefore, you have more of an opportunity to get to know each other, which we’ve enjoyed.
You get to know your area better.
There is also an opportunity to get to know the place you live more deeply. When you stay somewhere for longer than one night, you have the chance to get to know your town.
We have not been as active in our small town as others, but we’ve watched whales practically from our backyard, walked the beach extensively, and even been to a surfing competition! These are not activities we could do from Austin, TX.
You have a small space to live your whole life in.
The downside of living minimally is the amount of space in which you live. At first, the space seemed rather large to us. It’s an RV. It’s going to be a smaller space than we are used to living in. However, being at home all the time like I am in our stationary RVing lifestyle, can make the space seem that much smaller.
You don’t get to move around as much (literally).
When I’m at home by myself, moving around in the rig isn’t such a chore, but when Jeremy comes home from his job as a park ranger, there isn’t much space to do anything but sit. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing if that’s all we wanted to do, but that’s usually not the case.
You’re stuck with certain types of weather and scenery.
We have spent the past six months in Oregon. On the coast, it rains a lot during the winter … a lot. We like rain, we like the ocean, but after a while it feels like a bunch of wet.
As stationary RVers with a job to finish, we haven’t had the option of taking a weekend trip or flying out somewhere for a day or two to see family or friends. We’re stuck with the Oregon coast and all that comes with it in the time we’re here.
As you can see, there are many pros and cons of stationary RV living. No matter if you’re consistently moving or not, there are many facets of RV life. What’s neat about RV life is it is much like the people who RV – unique.
Are you a full-time RVer who travels consistently, or do you tend to stay in one place for a long period of time? If you’re a stationary RVer, what are some things you’ve learned from your experience?
As we move into a new year, it is natural for us to think of all that we’d like to accomplish in the following months. Getting organized always seems to be at the top of everyone’s list. We want to feel at home in our spaces while always knowing where we placed our keys at any given time. And while it may seem like living in an RV would make getting organized a little easier, that’s not always the case.
In an RV, you are faced with the stuff you own on a daily basis. With another set of holidays behind us, it can be overwhelming to face the new and old possessions we find around us and it can be difficult to get back to normal.
To start us off right in the new year, I’d like to go over some tips for organizing your RV.
1. The one thing in, one thing out rule
After any occasion where we accumulate more stuff, it can feel like too much to handle.
The rule of one thing in, one thing out keeps the living space in your RV balanced. The anxiety of having more stuff than you know what to do with fades away because you’ve set a condition in place, a rule to live by.
When you get something new, you have the agency to decide if it’s something useful you want to keep or not. If you want to keep that item, you simply find another item you don’t find as useful and give that item away.
One thing in, one thing out presents a stipulation for all things that come in and go out of your rig. The control is placed in your hands not the stuff around you.
In my own life, I’ve taken this a step further by choosing not to buy new items for an entire year (except for items like toothbrushes, of course)! While taking on this kind of challenge in your own life isn’t necessary for an organized RV, it is a fun way to challenge your buying habits.
2. Like with like
One of the easiest ways to stay organized in your rig is to keep like items with other like items.
What’s neat about this technique is that it differs from person to person. Think of how a supermarket is set up: not all condiments are with the condiments, some of them are in the Asian or Hispanic foods sections because when you cook you’re more likely to use those items with the other items on the shelf. It’s the store’s way of organizing their inventory as well.
Similarly, when you make a point to place items you use with other items you tend to use for similar purposes, this will keep you from searching every nook and cranny of the RV to find the one item you’re looking for.
3. Frequency and location of use
One strategy I always recommend to clients is to decide how often you use certain items. From there, you can create a tiered system that will help you get and stay organized.
For example, in our kitchen, the utensils we use the most often are in a container next to the stove. We have three small drawers for other kitchen items. So, the first drawer houses our silverware, which we use often, tools for the house are in the second drawer, and the third holds other random kitchen utensils we don’t use as frequently.
Not everyone uses the same utensils or tools in the same way. Deciding how frequently you use certain items and where you use those items will help you determine the best home for those items.
4. No duplicates
This is a biggie for staying organized and this method can be applied to all aspects of what you own.
Not having duplicates means that you use one certain item for one certain task and use it until it cannot be used any longer.
When we moved out of our apartment last year and into our RV, I didn’t realize how many duplicates we had. Numerous plates, bowls, silverware, utensils, shoes, jackets… I mean every category of “thing” we had at least two of.
Since we’ve pared down, we have two big plates, two small plates, two small bowls, one spatula, one whisk… you get the point.
There are many more strategies and techniques for staying organized in your RV, but utilizing the above list will help you start to be and feel more organized at home.
The goal isn’t to have nothing, the goal is to have less of everything and eliminating the excess. Less stuff means more space, both physically and mentally. When we have less stuff and more space, there is literally more room for you to live and enjoy your life.
If you live in an RV, how have you organized your space? What would you recommend to those looking to pare down?
My job isn’t much different than a normal job, but then again everything can be normal if you give it enough time. I’m a seasonal park ranger at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area and live full time with my wife and two rambunctious cats in our middle-aged Winnebago Minnie, Melvin. I wake up each morning at 5:30a.m. Well, 5:50a.m. after two snoozes. I then squeeze along the gap between the wall and bed, brushing against both while trying not to wake Melanie. I dress and pour coffee in the half darkness, then give my goodbye kisses.
“Don’t forget your wallet–your keys–your phone,” she says. It changes everyday depending on the item I last forgot.
I have a commute. Yeah, it’s not all double rainbows. We, the park, reserve the three full hook-up sites for our volunteers. But the drive is a traffic-less cruise along the rough-cut Oregon coast. And I arrive before any other human.
I watch the moon set and the sun rise. I open the buildings and find the new water leaks. I climb the lighthouse and clean the one hundred and fourteen steps. Each step I take follows those taken by lighthouse keepers for almost a hundred and fifty years. I check the decks for weak spots. I wander the cobblestone beach in search of whatever may have washed ashore during the last high tide or winter storm.
“Good morning,” I say to the harbor seals in Quarry Cove, a deep set, carved out area with hundred-foot columnar basalt walls. The seals galumph along the rocks and follow me with their glassy black eyes. Rough-skinned newts meander along the wet roads.
Some mornings a whale or two will greet me with a nearby spout. Their slow pondering motions and easy exhalations both excite and relax me as I sip the coffee I poured back home. But like I said, it’s not all double rainbows.
When the idea to full-time RV surfaced as Melanie and I were getting to know each other, I was also simultaneously looking to continue my post-military service as a Park Ranger. Upon looking into the field, I realized that many of the positions were temporary, all around the country. It dawned on us that we could go anywhere for work in all of America’s most amazing places. RV living plus temporary park jobs, it seemed the perfect match. The hunt was on.
Landing the Dream Job
While finding the right RV is challenging enough (read more about that journey here), searching for a park job is a whole new learning curve. Forget your typical resume and traditional job search techniques; everything is done through the federal job hiring clearinghouse: USAJOBS.gov. And if you’re serious about landing your dream job at the parks, lots of things need to happen, but most importantly, check the site each day. No joke. The most sought after jobs tend to be up for only a few days and they are competitive. If you really want to be a park ranger, there are plenty of resources out there to guide you along the path. Being a veteran helps, a lot. But prior volunteer experience helps build on those lacking in experience.
Day-to-Day Park Life
Living as a park ranger while full-time RVing is not exactly the life that most may imagine. It’s not a constant adventure. It’s a slow adventure. It’s real life and real work. But take my perspective with the whole salt shaker; adventure is in the eye of the beholding wanderer. I see amazing things every day. They are mostly the same, but they are none-the-less breathtaking. And I have been hit with wind and rain so hard it just about knocked me off my feet, then later rocked me to sleep in the RV.
But the reality is, when I come home after my day to the RV park, I watch Netflix just like the rest of America. It’s just that my home is smaller and has wheels, which makes relocating as simple as driving to the next location – a logistical no-brainer. And like most Americans, I drive to and fro to work each day from my “house.” I still work forty hours a week. And even though there is plenty of amazing outdoor recreation in the area, we haven’t gotten out as much as we thought we would. That may be because we recently spent two months traveling in the United Kingdom, but it could also be our timing.
I’m sure that living full time in an RV and working as a Park Ranger varies from place to place and person to person. But on the Oregon Coast in winter, the nights are long and the rain seldom lets the sun out. Most evenings are spent indoors. Which is not terrible, since I spend most of my time outside during the day. And relaxing with Melanie or playing games online with my best bud back in Austin doesn’t require a thousand square feet of living space. But it’s no camping trip or vacation.
Like all adventures, there are new and unforeseen developments. We don’t know where we are going next, or what I will be doing. It’s pretty exciting, and a little scary.
I am an advocate for traveling and exploration, but I’ve also found that permanence has its perks. Not only in continuity, but in fiscal ways. As a temporary employee, I do not receive retirement, so I can’t tack on my park ranger service onto my military service unless I land a permanent position.
Now three months into this journey, I’ve been reminded: Adventure is a daily choice. I am a park ranger living in an RV in a place I had never been, doing and seeing things I had never expected. And even still, some days I feel I’m becoming stagnate and struggle to remember to enjoy the now rather than solely look forward to the next.
This is no new thing either. I felt this while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail and the Pennine Way; I spent months walking and living in the wilderness. Everything can become normal.
What do you want your normal to be?
It’s that time of year again. Present-buying season is upon us. Soon, questions like “What do you want?” will be circulating all around. As a kid, there is magic in those kinds of questions. As an adult, questions about new things or gifts can be burdensome.
As Americans, we like stuff and have plenty of it. We have so much stuff that we often have to pay for storage spaces to keep the stuff that doesn’t fit into our homes.
Living in an RV presents many obstacles that living in a larger home with more space does not, but there are small practical ways to avoid some of those obstacles.
When it comes to gift-giving holidays, it can be hard to say “no” to loving family and friends who simply want to bring a little extra light into our lives in the form of things. Either they assume we could use a particular item or they saw it, thought of us, and bought it for us. The problem is, a lot of those gifts don’t always find a use or space in a home that is 31-feet long.
Christmas is going to look different for us this year. Instead of buying and receiving gifts, we will be encouraging our friends and families to gift in other ways; that starts with us creating a “no gift policy” for the holidays.
Why create a no gift policy?
For starters, we don’t have the space. We made an effort to purposefully pare down our belongings and bring only what we would need on the road. Adding more stuff to our already tiny home isn’t practical.
Also, we don’t need anything else. Period. What we need we can get for ourselves when the need presents itself, but the days of I like this and I’m going to get it for the heck of it are pretty much over for us.
How we’ll present the idea to people in our lives
Soon, I’ll be sending out an email to our closest family and friends stating that we will “not be accepting physical things as gifts.”
Instead of telling them what we’d like to get, we will outline how they can give to someone or something else.
I don’t think this idea will come as a shock to most of the people in our lives; they know we live in an RV. However, I think it is respectful and important to outline in detail why we have made this decision.
Alternative gift options
A couple years ago, I encouraged my family to give monetary donations to Girl Up, a UN organization that gives to girls in other parts of the world and provides for their health and education.
To me, it made sense: give to those who need it. Why should I get something I don’t need when someone else can truly benefit from such a gift?
Now that I live in an RV, it not only makes sense to encourage family and friends to give elsewhere, but I have realized that the old way of giving gifts is part of the reason we keep acquiring more stuff as a society.
So, I will be making a list of organizations that fall in line with the values Jeremy and I have and suggest our friends and family consider giving to them instead of the two of us.
If you are in a similar living situation, you understand how difficult it can be around the holidays. How will my family feel? What if I offend them?
The concerns you have are legitimate. It’s fun to give and get gifts; it reminds us of being kids gathered around family. I’m not saying you have to throw out gifts altogether. Gifts come in many shapes and forms. But this year, maybe think a little harder about what could bring value into your life rather than settling for another kitchen knife set or another pair of shoes.
We couldn’t have completed the Pennine Way without the gear we asked for on our wedding registry.
If you are looking for other options, here are some ideas:
- Asking for monetary funds to invest in courses you’d like to take
- Requesting gift cards to places you know you will spend money (like grocery stores)
- Volunteering at the local food bank or soup kitchen together
- Donating to organizations like the Angel Tree, Operation Christmas Child, etc.
- Donating to foundations focused on scientific and medical research for illnesses that matter to you like, Depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.
- Donating to disaster relief organizations like the American Red Cross, Unicef, etc.
- Ask for an experience instead of a physical item, like a wine tasting, sky-diving, a massage, etc.
- Holding a potluck dinner with friends and/or family sans gifts with the focus on spending time together
- Ask for gear you need for an upcoming trip, like we did for our hike on the Pennine Way
Not all gift ideas are found at the mall, and the best part is that you can be as creative as you want to be when it comes to alternative gift ideas. Think outside the box!
Have you ever done this for the holidays? How did the people in your life respond?
Minimalism has become one of those terms thrown around like “love” or “hustle.” The more popular the term becomes, the less meaning it has attached to it.
A simple Google search of “minimalism” will show you pictures with a little bit of text, color, or imagery. But what is minimalism, really? What does it mean to live with less?
The Minimalists describe minimalism as,“…a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.”
For me, the biggest part of my life with less is asking questions. Mainly, Why? Why do I own these things? Or when it comes to our emotions or ways of thinking about the world, Why do I think or feel this way?
What it is and what it isn’t
I’m going to come out and say that living a minimalistic lifestyle cannot be defined as one way of living.
One possible definition comes from Marie Kondo, the author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Kondo teaches her readers about the Konmari Method, which is a particular lifestyle focused on whether or not the stuff we own brings us joy in our lives. Whether it’s an item or a person, Konmari is the idea that if you hold something in your hands and it does not “spark joy” it shouldn’t be in your life.
Joshua Becker expresses to his readers that Minimalism is simply living with less. Instead of de-cluttering, Becker encourages others to de-own their things: get rid of them for good.
However, one of the definitions of minimalism that is hard to digest paints the picture of a very small apartment with white walls, two books, and one bed on the floor.
While this isn’t a far-fetched example of what one person’s minimalistic lifestyle could encompass, this is not the kind of life others have to live to be considered minimalists.
Living with less
I use the phrases living with less and minimalism interchangeably. I find that living with less is indeed minimalism.
Two years ago, my soon-to-be husband and I watched a documentary about tiny homes. Fascinated by the idea of living in a small space with nothing but the world around us, Jeremy and I immediately struck up a conversation about what that could look like in our lives.
“I’ve always wanted to live in an RV,” he said. “We could do that, you know.” That one sentence set us on a trajectory to live our lives outside of the confines of the average newlywed couple.
After we got married and Jeremy finished his degree, we started going through all our belongings to decide what we really needed and what we could sell, throwing away or rehoming everything we didn’t.
Now, we are living in a 32-ft motorhome on the coast of Oregon. For us, living with less meant only keeping what could fit in our tiny rolling home and focusing on things that brought real meaning to our life.
No house. No mortgage. No storage unit.
To me, those things take away from the meaningful nature of what they are meant to be. A home is supposed to be a place of sanctuary. It shouldn’t take 30 years for someone to call it “mine.” Some people don’t mind having the responsibility, but for people like my husband and I that kind of thing is a burden.
We’re young, newly married and childless. We’re still getting to know each other. Having all that added fluff just doesn’t make sense for us.
My first recommendation
No matter what your conviction is about living with less, just know that it doesn’t have to look any one way.
One of the most beautiful aspects of a minimalistic lifestyle is that you can shape it however you like. Items other people need may not be items you need. The role stuff plays in our lives is solely based on the needs of the owner.
For anyone looking to live a life with less, whether it is in a tiny home, RV, or a house in the suburbs, it is important to make it your own.
There are countless outlets telling you how to look, feel, be, etc. How we choose to live is no different: someone will inevitably tell you, you should or shouldn’t do it.
No matter what this lifestyle looks like for you, it is important that it be your decision. Like I said, living with less is not easy, so if it isn’t your decision it will be an even harder transition for you.
My second recommendation
Along with making it your own, take baby steps.
Nothing worth pursuing is done overnight. It takes time and energy to put in the research needed to be sure it is a suitable lifestyle for you and anyone else you live with.
There are countless resources available if you are interested in pursuing a life with less. Whether you’re curious about this lifestyle or what living in a tiny home or RV can offer, you can find others who have gone through the same experiences.
Besides websites and individuals sharing their experiences, Facebook groups have become more popular as well. Like Google, no matter what you’re looking for you can probably find it on Facebook – and may even make some new friends while you’re at it.
Are you interested in a life with less? What does that look like for you?
It goes without saying that living in a space that is exponentially smaller than your average house may test your relationships.
The shower is tiny, the bathroom is tiny, and the bedroom is tiny. Besides your basic amenities and a small touch of your own personal flair, an RV offers a place to eat and sleep.
There are a few primary ways Jeremy and I have learned to practice more patience with each other (more so than when we lived in an apartment).
For starters, buying a rig, no matter the size, meant we could only take one of our two vehicles with us. Back home, Jeremy had a truck and I had a hatchback. Well, it didn’t make sense to bring the truck since it only drives two people, so that was an obvious decision. But on days when we both have a lot going on, being without a vehicle is more noticeable.
Jeremy’s work is half an hour away and I work from home so, of course, I had to be accommodating. Luckily, we live in an RV park close to our town’s center so that has been super convenient.
We both got in our own rhythm and learned to adapt to one another’s needs. Overall, the car thing was pretty easy to get over.
His side/her side
In an RV, all sides are everyone’s sides. In our apartment, Jeremy and I had our own sides of the sink and sides of the bed. We even had our own spots in the living room.
Now, we share the sink “equally” and the bed is oftentimes a free for all, especially when nature calls late at night. You learn to forgive one another pretty quickly for encroaching on each other’s space, but most of the time you realize you’re a couple and it is good to share anything and everything as needed.
Jeremy gets up at 5:30 AM every morning. Every. Morning.
At first, this was a shock to the system for both of us. 5:30?! The sun is not even awake yet, why do I have to be? It took some getting used to, but we’ve both adapted well and have a better sleep schedule because of it.
We go to bed at roughly the same time and wake up at roughly the same time (give an hour and a half for me, but who’s paying attention?).
Because I work from home, it makes the most sense for me to be the primary chore doer. Yes, that is now my official title.
I jest, but I really don’t mind. I enjoy getting the rig to where it needs to be. Vacuum, cat litter, dishes, laundry, organizing… whatever needs to be done, I make sure it happens.
This was not the case when we first started living in the rig. Jeremy would ask me to do something and I would nod my head and be on with my business (undiagnosed ADD or OCD, I haven’t decided). Well, after a couple days of me not paying enough attention to remember, we made an agreement that whenever he thought of things for me to do he’d make a list and put it on the dinette.
This small idea has worked out really well for us. Instead of feeling guilty for forgetting what he asks, I check the dinette each morning and am sure those tasks are completed when he gets home in the afternoon.
Since his day starts early and ends early, we’ve also adapted to eating dinner earlier. I’ve been busy working as of late so I started using an at-home delivery food service, which has worked wonders for us and our schedules.
You would think that over time a small space would make us feel encapsulated, claustrophobic. I’m here to tell you that, yes, at times it feels a bit small (middle-of-the-night potty breaks, anyone?). But our rig has become more like home every day. We’ve even talked about downsizing further!
It’s hard to believe that what was only a dream a year ago, is now our reality for an indefinite amount of time. There are trying days, but they normally don’t have anything to do with how big or small our rig is.
We’re still human whether we live in an apartment or an RV. Living as a couple is always about forgiveness, grace, and adaptation no matter where we call home.
The spring of 2016 proved interesting for my husband and I. Jeremy was down with pneumonia and I was on the brink of a work-induced anxiety attack. We made quite the pair.
One particular evening during this time, we sat down to watch a documentary about tiny homes. We started having conversations about the future – what it looked like, what we wanted to do.
But while the film played, something else started moving within us. We both felt it. Whether it was to be a tiny home or a tent, we wanted to live under our own rules wherever we pleased.
By the spring of 2017, we were married and moving into the next phase of our lives together. We had solidified plans to travel abroad for a couple months, we’d sold most of our things and left our apartment in Austin, TX, in the dust. But we had no idea where we were going to live once we were stateside again.
The Old Nag’s Head: The official start to the Pennine Way, Edale, UK.
It wasn’t until we joined a community of like-minded individuals at the RV Entrepreneur summit, pretty much on a whim, that we knew we were going to live in an RV. So after our two-month journey abroad, we started looking at RVs to buy.
Why a Class C?
During our research, we went back and forth about which type of RV we wanted.
“I think a trailer makes more sense. I don’t want to be stranded on the side of the road if our Class A, B or C breaks down. I don’t think I could handle that.”
This was a constant sentiment of ours while we debated the types. We loved the space a Class A offered, but we also liked the idea of better gas mileage and the ability to stop and make a sandwich like the Class C offered.
We talked about this for months.
It finally came down to what we were willing to spend. While a trailer safeguarded the chance of not being stranded, it also meant we’d have to sell both our cars and buy a truck to pull the trailer. Hm.
So our budget of $40,000 at the time went up to about $60,000 in an instant. Yikes. That was not the plan. The plan was to save money, and that option simply wasn’t going to cut it for us financially.
After talking more about our options once the trailer was out, we agreed on a Class C – which eventually led us to Melvin, a used 2001 Class C Winnebago Minnie.
Officially leaving Texas for Oregon.
Challenges of Buying Used
The key to buying a used RV is to find one that works well for you, has minimal damage, and doesn’t break the bank. This proved to be much more difficult than we imagined.
And while I can say we started looking for RVs after our trip, that’s not the whole truth. We started looking seriously at RVs to buy after the trip, but I looked a good six months before we left.
Six months. And nothing.
A couple rigs piqued our interest along the way, but nothing panned out. We were partly hoping to find our home before we left the states. That would have made it so much easier to travel without worrying about getting home just to find a home. But of course, we didn’t.
One of the RVs we looked at before we left was almost a done deal. We met the guy, looked around, took it for a test drive and thought it was good enough. As with most great Craigslist stories, the seller ended up being super shady about the whole thing. While we sat waiting in a Ross parking lot, he was making a sale to someone else he had spoken with the day before.
I know that sounds sad. Waiting in a Ross parking lot for a potential RV seller, but that’s where we were and that was part of this long journey. It wasn’t heartbreaking to leave without an RV that day. It was heartbreaking because we were tired and wanted to find our new home.
Shortly after returning from our trip, we found Melvin and are happy with our choice. Our main concern was simply, will this get us to where we need to go safely? And he could. However, we did have to compromise with our final purchase.
My dream pick was a Winnebago, so it felt like fate that Melvin magically appeared online one day. He only had two owners in the past, as far as the dealer knew, and he was kept under cover for most of the time, so his exterior paint was darn near perfect. He looked good.
We knew of some water damage in the over-the-cab and back part of the rig on the driver’s side, but he was in remarkable shape in other ways. The floors were not scuffed, the carpet was almost spotless, the cabinetry was in great shape, the generator ran well, four of the six tires were pretty new, and his slide worked flawlessly.
When it was time for repairs, were they all easy to complete? No. To be honest, we ended up hiring someone to repair the over-the-cab damage because we just didn’t have the time to do it ourselves.
It’s important to remember that while you save money, buying used means that you are also buying the rig’s “baggage.” Melvin will need work even after we’re seemingly finished working on him. He’s 16, so he gets a break, but I really can’t think of a better way to learn how to take care of our rig and learn new skills that we can use down the road.
Benefits to Buying Used
Gaining Financial Peace
Everyone has different motivations for living on the road full time, but saving money and paying off debt is one of our top priorities.
Jeremy served in the Air Force, so his education was paid for via the GI Bill. While we are extremely grateful we only have one education to pay for, we still have mine to pay off.
When we got married, my student loans stood at a conservative $16,000. I paid for the first two years out of pocket, but this number was still hard to swallow.
Newly married, it worried me. And we’ve already made a commitment to not have kids until it is paid off, so there is more at stake for us than having a little bit of debt.
Living in a consumer society, we desire to be fiscally responsible with what we are given and what we have in the future. And yes, this includes our children.
A used rig made the most sense for us, so we set a $30,000 budget. With that amount, we were able to buy our rig and tow dolly, paint the walls and other smaller elements, and repair aesthetic problems in the RV without going over budget.
Yes, we will be paying off my loans and the RV simultaneously for a little while, but when your rent is half of what you paid prior, that task doesn’t seem so insurmountable. Plus, in the end, we’ll own our home.
Figuring Out What We Want for the Future
As newlyweds, buying a home just to pay it off for many years to come did not sound appealing. Not only that, but we don’t like to stay still for too long. When you can’t stomach the idea of renting an apartment for an indefinite amount of time, you need another option.
We didn’t know what we wanted to do.
Living in an RV gives us the flexibility to visit other places of interest and decide where we could possibly end up. Renting apartments in every place we visit simply isn’t feasible for us. This way, we can take our home wherever we go.
Freedom to Make It Our Home
When you rent a home or apartment, there are normally rules against painting and personalizing the space. When you buy an RV, you have the freedom to make it look and feel how you want. And when you buy a used RV, there is less pressure to keep things as the factory made them.
Our used motorhome allows us the opportunity to paint, organize, and design our home as we please. He’s old enough to need a small makeover, but the design of the rig is so well done that most of what we’ve worked on is purely aesthetic.
Our new and improved bedroom.
So far, we’ve painted the walls, reupholstered the window valences and dinette, painted most of the handles, replaced the wood in the over cab, and put our personal items on the walls.
It did not take long for Melvin to feel like our home.
What my office space normally looks like, but notice the window and dinette seats!
Figuring Out Our Next Rig
We see the next few years in Melvin as an opportunity to shop around for what we want in our next rig.
That sounds counter intuitive, right? Well, we haven’t had any experience living in an RV, so we want to use this time as a learning platform for the future.
We ask ourselves questions like: Is this enough space for us? Is this too much space for us? Do our lives fit the design? Is it easy to park and move?
Everyone has different needs and ways of moving in their spaces, and an RV is no different, especially when it’s your home.