Sunday, December 20, 2015

[Paul's blog post] The RV calculation

So, my wife Bev and I want to do something that may sound crazy to a bunch of you, but it may actually be the best way for us to live.

As many of you are aware, because of financial difficulties thanks in large part to some health issues of mine, and extenuating circumstances that I won't go into right now, we are about to lose our home. This is a dire situation to be sure since we currently have no place to go, and because no matter what, we have to keep our dogs (they are all registered Emotional Support Animals [ESA], for the record). We will, however, not be sad to leave this house because part of the reason for our financial situation, and no doubt my health issues, is due to this property. It needs too much upkeep and repair which I cannot do thanks to my back and knees, and it costs too much money because it is old and was not built well.

This was my mother’s house and she left it to me when she died. The mortgage was never in our names, Bev just kept paying it because the house had been quitclaim deeded to me. Then the mortgage company accelerated the loan, which means that unless we come up with the entire loan balance by the end of December 2015, we have to move. Bev has worked herself into a crater trying to keep up with the mortgage payments, along with the endless repairs and code upgrades that cropped up due to the age of this property. We have dumped a lot of money into this property that we will never see again.

The utilities have also been a factor in making things rougher. Those utilities were the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back, because there is a cottage on the property, and due to that we were charged commercial rates whether there was a renter in there or not. Most people do not have to pay three separate utility bills – plus a gargantuan commercial deposit – as part of their bills, but that’s another thing we’ve been saddled with over the years.

In addition, once both of the kids moved out of the house, Bev and I discovered that we barely ever saw most of the place. There are whole sections of this house that we just don't need. All those places do is collect junk. We use a small bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen, a small office and a tiny corner of the front room. Occasionally we use the laundry area, obviously, but even most of that space is superfluous to our needs. Still, we have to pay to heat the whole thing, and this place is, as I have mentioned, very drafty. All of the windows are old and warped, which doesn’t help. Overall, the place isn't put together well.

I guess the question becomes, “Why move from one place with a lot of space that we are never going to use, just to move into another place with space that we are never going to use?” Even renting a house or apartment for an extended period of time (over a year or more) would lead to us paying money into something that we wouldn't use most of. Add to that the fact that most rental properties, whether house or apartment, are not going to look kindly on us having four dogs, or would charge a pet deposit for each one and then possibly higher rent on top of that. For us, it has become clear that we need to find another, more cost-efficient way.

So, why not an RV?

We've been doing some digging, and there is a lot of information out there on how to live and travel in an RV for reasonable amounts monthly, even if we had an RV payment each month. Our cars are all paid for, so we have no car payments and no monthly credit card payments to make. This would actually be the best time for us to hit the road in an RV and switch our lifestyle, in fact. Our monthly costs would be much less than they would be otherwise, even with a monthly RV payment.

Now, I'm not dumb enough to think that it will be all sunshine and roses by choosing this path. There are still a lot of considerations to take into account. We would need to have a state of residence and a place to get our mail. We would need to make sure that we could get our medicine. We would need insurance on the RV. What belongings we are going to keep, but not take on the road with us, will need to be kept in storage. We will need to make sure we have a method of staying online so that Bev can work and we can communicate with everyone. We need to afford fuel, food, propane, and maintenance on the RV. There will be times when we may need to pay for a camping spot (although there are a lot of workkamp opportunities out there, and we can boondock some times). We will need food for the dogs. Even then, if we watch our money, it would be cheaper than living in a house or apartment, and we could keep our dogs with us without paying a huge amount of deposits or extra monthly fees added to our rent.

On the upside, if we don't like someplace that we end up, we can just leave. Also, we can travel, which is something that Bev and I both love to do but could never afford to do much of over the past ten years. We could see some of the places Bev has never been and that I haven't been to since I was a child. We could visit friends who live in other states. We could see the ocean again. We could see the badlands of Utah, Yellowstone, Upstate New York, and Maine. So many places that we've always wanted to see and just weren't able to. Or, we could end up stuck some place until we could get enough money together to move on, but that could be exciting too. We are more flexible than most of our friends, so I think that’s a definite plus. We would have to come back to Colorado Springs fairly regularly to get our mail and the like, but that would give us a chance to hang out with friends here. No need to worry about never seeing us again.

As far as how we would make a living, right now Bev is the only one who brings in any income (although I'm in the process of lining up possible work for the next few weeks), But if she gets enough article writing and editing jobs she can cover the cost fairly easily. I could do a nicely edited video blog about interesting and spooky, out of the way places that I could put up on YouTube and monetize (that's not a guaranty for making money, but it might,) plus I'm currently learning to code in PHP and Java Script, so I might be able to score some freelance work doing that. In addition, Bev has been after me to put up an Etsy shop that would sell prints of some of my artwork. Yes, Bev is the big breadwinner around here, but I have ways of bringing in money to help out.

Bev can work from anywhere that she can get a Wi-Fi signal, and a lot of the stuff that I do could be done in the same way, so that would work in our favor. Plus, as I said, there are workkamps where you do some sort of work at the campsite in return for your pad, electricity, water, and sewer. A lot of the more physical jobs I couldn't do, but I bet there would be something, even if it's walking around all night making sure that no one is up to no good.

The point is that an RV lifestyle for us is doable. It could end up being cheaper to live than a stick and brick house or apartment, plus, you know, the dogs. I guess what I'm saying is that we are committed to doing this. It's only a mater of time before we do. The truth? If I could buy an RV today and drive it off the lot, I would. It would really put my mind at ease knowing that Bev, the dogs, and I would have a roof over our heads after the first of the year. We also wouldn't have all this wasted, expensive space. It’s not just a dream of ours. It’s become our goal.


  1. I've thought about hitting the road and living on the road and I did just that for several years in a way. Not in an RV, but moving is moving. I know it's not a perfection solution, but you seem to have thought and planned it out fairly well and the road seems to agree with you. My biggest concern isn't my house, which is brand new and I'm the first person to live here, but my books. I would like to have more time to read and not have to work at all, but I will keep buying books and my income, sufficient for the house and utilities, is not sufficient for books and food. Okay, not enough for books. I can go without food for a long time; I've enough winter padding for a few decades of winter. Not so much for books.

    Fifteen years ago, it was the gypsy life for me and I loved it. Now, I still love the gypsy life, but am tied down (weighed down?) by books and not all books are available as ebooks -- more's the pity.

    1. I can understand that. Books are great and I love them, too; however, I'm currently in a 'I wanna be free to go and do and/or not do as I wish' mode. I don't want to be tied down to inanimate objects of any sort. If it comes down to it, I'll go and do as I like and pick up books along the way, read them, then donate them to libraries or give them to someone else. I got tired of being tied to a house or apartment and all the b.s. that went with either of them. :-)