For those who may be interested in getting into fulltime RV living or those friends of ours who are still scratching their heads at our having done this, here is a status report:
With the press of a button and a whoosh of compressed air, Phannie's parking brake was released two years ago, and I drove her away for the last time from the custom-built house we no longer owned in Fort Worth. Almost everything we possessed was aboard this giant box-like vehicle that measures 40 ft. by 8 ft. in driving configuration.
The previous six months had been a blur. We had been frantically downsizing from a lifetime of accumulating things we found we didn't need or even want any longer. Even though we had downsized several years ago to the house we were now leaving, there were endless trips to charities and offloads to the kids of things they probably didn't want, either.
You see, we didn't know we were going to do this until late summer of 2015, six months before we pulled the trigger on January 23, 2016. We had just returned from a wonderful two-month trip to the Pacific Northwest in Phannie, and we found ourselves almost resenting the need to return and begin anew the endless house caretaking chores. After so much adventure and so much freedom, we couldn't stand the idea of being confined again within four walls; we felt, to a degree, that we were heading back to prison. We loved traveling in Phannie; we had everything we needed in a comfortable environment, and we just moved endlessly from one beautiful place to the next. Who wouldn't resent having to give that up?
And so we made the decision then and there. It would not be prison for us; it would be freedom. In the throes of uprooting that followed, some things were probably done a bit clumsily, but everything ultimately fell into place, and we recorded it all previously in this journal.
It helped that we had a frame of reference as to what it meant to become a fulltimer. We had become good friends with some other bloggers who went through the transition, and their journals provided valuable insight as to what we could expect. Since becoming fulltimers ourselves, we've met scores of other folks who have done the same thing, so we now have a sense of community that we thought we might be losing in Fort Worth. As it turned out, we didn't lose our longtime friends near our stick-and-brick home; we just don't see them as often, but we keep up with them on social media.
As it turns out, the success of someone's entering this lifestyle seems dependent upon three things: 1) psychology and temperament, 2) health and 3) financial wherewithal. To me, these are equally important. In terms of psychology and temperament, most people appear to have a need to stay in an environment that is familiar and routine, with a strong sense of belonging, either to family, church or community or all of these. And there's nothing wrong with that; in fact, these citizens can be thought of as the bedrock of our society. God bless those who make our communities stable and desirable places to live and raise our families. Others stay put because they gain satisfaction from owning things and accumulating stuff, or from having a place to grow a garden or to set up a workspace to tinker with things. And there's nothing wrong with that, either. God bless those folks, too; if too many of them take to the road, it will be even harder to find a spot to park our RVs. (We did the same thing for 35 years and wished we had had this epiphany much sooner.)
Another aspect of a psychology and temperament useful for fulltiming is the compatibility one has with one's mate. If a couple is not prepared to live in very close quarters on a 24/7 basis, fulltiming is probably not for them. There is not much of an opportunity for having one's own 'space' or a man cave or something like that. However, for those fortunate enough--like us--to really enjoy being with each other, then it can be a blissful arrangement.
Being healthy enough to travel on a long term basis is vital, of course. We have been remarkably healthy up to this point, but we are beginning to notice that age is slowly catching up to us, requiring more visits to health professionals and more medication than we would like. We can only hope that it will be a while yet, however, until we have to hang up the keys. There is so much yet to see. Do we have an exit plan? Not really; but we don't worry about that--or much of anything else nowadays, for that matter. We'll just figure it out when the time comes.
As far as finances go, we find we prepared pretty well for that, but it was not without some adjustment in my thinking before retirement. I figured that our post-retirement living expenses would be considerably less than when I was working. My research indicated otherwise, however. Most people, I learned, do not really change their lifestyle all that much upon retirement, so their living expenses generally remain about the same; I found that to be true in our case while we still owned the house after we retired. Fortunately, our constant employment over the decades helped us achieve income sources that did not require us to find work after retirement. However, I must acknowledge that selling the house and one of the cars has allowed a considerable reduction in our expenses. Going fulltime then, was indeed good for our finances. However, we know many folks who do fulltiming with modest financial resources, but they are probably much better at budgeting and economizing than we would be.
So, the obvious question would be--any regrets? The answer is--absolutely none; it has been an incredible two years that have flown by! Last summer our travels took us to 22 states, and we had a blast. All of our adventures were faithfully recorded herein, so we can go back and relive it whenever we like. And where will we go next? With the freedom we now have, the answer has to be--wherever we wish!
If you ask if there's anything we miss about living in a stick-and-brick house, it would have to be the church of which we have been longtime members. We often attend church on our travels, however, and we will find another home church when the time comes.
I really can't close without posting some photos from our travels over last summer, so here are just a few:
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life;
please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.
I had rather own little and see the world than to own the whole world and see little of it.