Even though we have been on the road for over a year now, a week hasn’t gone by without someone asking us, “What do you do all day” or “Don’t you get bored?” The questions don’t bother us, but it’s interesting that the perception, even among some friends and family, is that we just sit in our “RV down by the river” like hobos watching life pass us by.
We understand that how we choose to live doesn’t conform to conventional societal norms. And we get that this lifestyle is not for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It certainly doesn’t mean that we have thrown in the towel in order to live a self-imposed life of misery. As a matter of fact, it’s just the opposite.
Some Things Never Change
In many ways RV life is no different than living in a house.
Repairs and Maintenance
Just like a house there are always things that need to be fixed because they are worn out or broken. If anything, there is more maintenance in an RV because we live in the equivalent of a rolling earthquake with something breaking nearly every time we move locations. Aside from our scheduled annual vehicle maintenance, we have done everything ourselves. In the past, if it wasn’t a quick fix we would call someone because we just didn’t have the time to deal with it.
I also don’t recall washing the exterior of my sticks n’ bricks house very often, but it’s a necessity to keep our RV in good shape.
We still have to do normal household tasks like laundry, vacuuming, mopping, window cleaning, grocery shopping and cooking meals. Despite some perceptions, we haven’t given up on life and still like to wear clean clothes and live in a clean home. And no, we are not using a washboard and clothesline. We actually have a washer and dryer and a central vacuum system in our RV. Fancy eh?
Then you have the financial side of things. We still have bills to pay and we have to manage our investments and cashflow. How we manage our finances is different because we don’t have any income, but we still have to make sure we are prepared to cover any expenses as we always have.
So how does living a life of mobile financial freedom differ from how we lived life before?
Let’s start with the operative word here, FREEDOM!
Sure we have those pesky chores, maintenance and financial obligations, but instead of spending precious downtime on weekends trying to get things done, we do them whenever we want to. They have to get done, but there’s no hurry because everyday is like a weekend now. In fact, being able to go places and experience new stuff on weekdays with no crowds has been one of the best things to come out of this lifestyle.
A huge difference for us is that our eating habits have changed drastically. When we were working, there was very little time to cook meals so we dined out a lot. Sometimes I would have three meals a day from restaurants and fast food joints. That was corporate life. I ate what was brought in for nonstop daily meetings or I squeezed in a quick bite to eat from a local place. When the weekends came, we would load up the RV refrigerator with beer and spend two days at the campground trying to empty it. That’s not a very healthy lifestyle and explains why I could never keep my weight under control.
Now that we are retired, Mrs. RVF has become quite the cook. It seems like every other day she is trying out a new recipe. She has come up with some really good ones and we now have an amazing rotation of delicious home cooked meals with more recipes being added every week.
Sure, we have our days where we splurge a little, **cough H.E.B tortillas cough**, but we try to stick to a relatively low carb diet otherwise. Most of what Mrs. RVF makes is very healthy as well as delicious.
Mrs. RVF has always been diligent about exercise and taking care of herself. The same cannot be said for me as I never had much free time and when I did I sure wasn’t going to use it to exercise or go to the doctor and get checked out. I still can’t bring myself to go to a gym and actually workout, but as you might have noticed from our social media, we are pretty active.
We try and go for hikes every week and we get out and do a lot of different activities. For the first time in decades, I’m actually maintaining a decent weight instead of living the yo-yo of ballooning up and dieting down. Sure there is always room for improvement, but we are able to live a healthier and more consistent lifestyle now.
An interesting part of living life on the road is how our personal care habits have changed. Gone are the days of salons and expensive haircuts. Well, not gone, but much less often. It’s not because we can’t afford it. It’s because there is really no longer a need for it. This wasn’t something we ever really thought about prior to traveling, but when you don’t have to keep up appearances for work and client meetings, then why spend the money?
When the day came where I really needed a haircut I thought about heading over to the local barber. Instead I asked Mrs. RVF to use my trimmer to lop some off the top and clean up the sides. I mean, the worst that can happen is I have to cut it all off or wear a hat. I’m not looking to impress anyone and I always wear a hat anyway so there was no real downside. So after some convincing she did it and did it well. It was quick, free and I felt refreshed. And as soon as my ear healed, I was all back to normal. JK
Now, Mrs. RVF will not allow me the same opportunity so there are times when we still go and get a professional cut. But those trips are much fewer now that I have an in-home barber.
Naturally once I let Mrs. RVF cut my hair she turned her attention to our dog and his mop. In the past we would spend about $150 every couple of months to get him groomed. With her new found confidence and a quick search, we purchased dog trimmers and a nail dremel for about $100. Now she cuts his hair and nails which saves us money and the stress of trying to find a groomer in every city.
When we were working, there was very little time for hobbies. Outside of vacations, we rarely had the opportunity to explore and see things or focus on a passion. It’s hard to enjoy stuff or get better at something when you are always feeling rushed or like you are on a schedule.
We enjoy going hiking, fishing, sightseeing, visiting museums and watching baseball games. Now we are able to do all of these things whenever we want. And because we are mobile, there is always something new and fresh to see at the next stop.
I also like to play guitar or at least attempt to. Before I would maybe pick it up one day a week and it was only on the weekend if we had time. Now I try to practice or play on an almost daily basis depending on our plans. Or if I’m sitting and watching a game, I pick it up and at least practice some things. I finally feel like I’m getting better, but I will have to leave that to the expert. You know who you are!
Not All Roses And Cupcakes
This lifestyle and being independent is everything we hoped it would be. However, we would be doing a disservice to our readers if we didn’t touch on some of the obstacles and frustrations we face too.
Because of the popularity of RV travel these days we are constantly planning and trying to make reservations. This might sound fun in general, but it can really get frustrating for a couple of reasons.
First, who wants to plan and schedule things a year or more in advance? We live this lifestyle to avoid that type of stuff. Unfortunately, booking early has become a necessary evil to make sure we always have a place to go. Researching possible places to visit can be exciting, but making sure our routing is going to flow from once place to another and booking spots kinda sucks.
Second, life happens and things change. A good example is that we were supposed to work-camp this fall, but our friends decided to sell their campground. With that sale not only did we lose our gig we also lost our free campsite for four months. That left us scrambling to find places to stay to fill that gap and most spots we liked were already booked. Now we have to pay four months of rent that we had planned to be free.
Even though you think you have it all covered something can change in an instant leaving us scrambling to find other options.
Yes, again. Having to plan and book campsites early can really throw a budget out of whack. Most campgrounds require some sort of deposit and there are even a few that require full payment upfront. Shelling out cash for something a year or more in advance doesn’t help the cashflow and it can be nerve-racking. We really need to pay attention to cancellation policies before we book. If we are not paying attention it can cost us a lot of money should circumstances change. Some campgrounds have absurd cancellation policies and will happily take a large portion or all of our deposit even if we cancel months early.
Once we both retired we had to figure out our healthcare situation. Because of our age the options were limited unless we wanted to pay some insane premiums for horrible coverage. We eventually signed up for a plan through the healthcare exchange in South Dakota for a reasonable price. But there are some caveats.
First, all routine visits and check-ups need to be done by our primary care physician in South Dakota. That kind of stinks. I guess we will be visiting South Dakota more often than we planned.
Second, about that primary care physician? Who is he/she? Kind of hard to meet someone and decide to go with them when we are always 2000 miles away. We had to do extensive research and hope we picked someone we will trust. Not an ideal situation.
The main reason we went with this coverage is that it will cover emergency services no matter where we are. To us that was most important while living a mobile lifestyle. The rest we will have to figure out on an as needed basis.
Maintenance And Service
We touched on maintenance earlier but let’s talk turkey here. When you are in a house and you have a leaking water hose in the laundry room you slide the washer out and replace the necessary part and slide it back in. Not so easy in an RV! The same repair for us requires taking apart the entire bathroom, including valances and framing, just to slide the washer or dryer out onto the toilet. From there we have to lift it and carry it out of the bathroom and set in down in our bedroom. Only then can we make the necessary repairs and the reverse the process to get everything back together. The good news? After having to do this four times I’m an expert at it now.
Not all maintenance jobs are horrible but they are much more difficult than they otherwise would be if we were in a house because of limited space. And they tend to happen more frequently because of the whole rolling earthquake analogy.
Servicing the RV is another challenge. We used the same shop for years and were well acquainted with the people there. We always felt like we were getting great service for an honest price. Now we have to research and ask for recommendations in order to find a reputable place to do the service. So far we feel like we have received good service at a good price, but it’s still stressful because it only takes one dud to make things go from bad to worse.
As we said this life isn’t for everyone and while it’s great most of the time, it can be challenging. If you are considering making the leap to RV life make sure you understand what you’re getting into before going all in.
Friends and family might question your sanity, but as you can see there is no shortage of things to do or things that need to be done. Sure we have our days of just relaxing and lounging by the pool, sipping an adult beverage or four, but there are other things that make life more enjoyable too and we try to take in as many experiences as we can wherever we go.
It’s been a great ride so far, but not one without challenges and setbacks. If you recall, we got wrecked just one month into our journey. The key is to be prepared for anything and keep a positive mindset even when you’re not having the best day. Despite the challenges it’s still better than being at work!
If you are considering the RV life or if you are pursuing F.I.R.E and have any questions, ask away in the comments below. We are happy to answer any questions or share our knowledge and experience with our readers.
See you on the road………………..
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One thought on “RV Life On FIRE”
A very well written post about RV life. My husband tells people, “I live in a trailer down by the river with no car and a motorcycle under the bed.” Of course, we are not always near a river.