July 28 – 31, 2016

July 28 – 31, 2016

Thursday, July 28

 

Shame on me for neglecting my our journal.  It’s full speed ahead at this point. Here is a brief update of the past few days.

Monday (3 days ago):  Moving ahead with sorting through household items and consolidating.  A few items have are being picked up here and there from craigslist and local facebook garage sale sites.  Spent the evening laying a natural stone kitchen back splash with the friend who helped me find the truck.  It was the least ii could do to repay him for his time and effort!  -I have done a good bit of stone work in the past and fancy myself pretty good at it-  His kitchen looks amazing!

Tuesday (2 days ago):  prepared and delivered lease to our new tenant.  Her family will be moving in on the First (Monday).  I think we will be lucky to have her as a tenant. -started cleaning out 2 rooms that require some TLC to meet our standards as a rental. We purchased this house in need of some cosmetic repairs. The plan was to do it a room at a time over time.  The time is this week all of a sudden!  I can get it done.

Wednesday (yesterday): sanded and patched drywall, sprayed texture on 2 bedrooms, organized more items to sell/donate/keep.  Painted one of the freshly sprayed rooms.  Finished my buddies kitchen stonework in the evening.  Long day!!  Then came home late to find 2 families going through the house garage sale style, with the boss quoting prices….she is making things disappear and we are pocketing gas $$ at the same time.

There are a lot of emotions and realizations involved in selling all of you STUFF.  I hope to dive into that subject in the future.

Today:  Finished the painting, only trim remains)  packed up all of the exterior of the house, loaded the new truck with our first load of essentials for the RV.  Sold our dining room table and TV stand.  These 2 items have truly changed the look of the house and the general vibe of the home.  No turning back now!!

The boss and I made a trip to the RV to move items in.  We are packing so light that we didn’t put the slightest dent in our RV storage.  I believe that we realized how little you actually need to live comfortable. (we remain open-minded to discovering our wants -vs- our needs )  Came home to pack up a few more items, shower, quick meal, and here I sit.  It’s bed time!!

Friday, July 29

 

Spend the first night in the RV!  It was not a dramatic entrance into the RV park at 10:30 at night.  After a long day of retexturing drywall, painting and clearing the garage we stumbled into the RV to sleep. Tired but happy!

Saturday, July 30

 

Up early in the RV.  It was a great night’s sleep!

There were still items to unload from my truck into the belly storage.  No organized storage, just stashing it for now.

The task of separating our STUFF has proven a bit challenging.  3 piles :  what we keep ( treasures and keepsakes), what we move into the RV (the things we need), what we don’t want (don’t need /never needed). –Write about the realization of how much STUFF we have, and how excited other people were to buy it from us and add it to their STUFF-

GARAGE SALE!!  -tell about the coincidence of their being a well-advertised estate sale a few houses down and us benefiting from their advertising and signs-  – Mention our “Serendipitous/charmed life-

Recount the garage sale, $600.  Donation to a friends’ church lots of valuables, everything else to the goodwill drop-off.

The boss and I committed to being back at the RV at a reasonable hour to put our feet up and relax a bit.  Even watched a movie! (need to figure out how to hook the DVD/TV into the RV stereo system.

Slept wonderfully!!

Sunday, July 31

 

Slept in a bit this morning!  Up at 7:15 and having coffee in the RV for the first time (we forgot it yesterday and had to drive to a convenience store on the way out ).  The park is silent, the RV is a bit of a mess, but I am beside myself with excitement at the realization that we are making it happen.

Journal updates have taken a bit of a back seat to getting moved out /moved in and renting out the brick and mortar house.  The tenant moves in tomorrow.

Today’s plan of attack: get the last of our storage items consolidated and into a friend’s storage space, consolidate the last of the goodwill donations, make a run to the dumpster with the last of the garbage, clean bathrooms, floors, windows.  We will then be done!  My guesstimate is 5 hours of work.  WE shall see!

It’s 9:50 PM.   We conquered the day! (12 hours of hard work later)

The house is empty, the tenant is excited to move in tomorrow.  It came out looking great.  All said and done,  have made donations to a church, made $600 at a garage sale,  made 3 trips to donate at Goodwill and have narrowed down our possessions  to the contents of a 31’ fifth wheel and a pile 5x4 pile of boxes 3 feet tall (in storage at a friend’s warehouse and still in need of sifting through and consolidating).

The house is spick and span, all touch-upto painting is complete.  We made few mistakes and worked pretty efficiently.  The boss and I had a few near misses with our tempers but managed to take turns tolerating one another as we had little fits over trivial stuff.

Taking pictures of the house before we left I had a great feeling of pride over all that we had accomplished in the past few days and weeks:

  •         We made the insane decision to try full-time living in our 40’s
  •         We decided to live in a fifth wheel, then found one.
  •         WE decided to not mess around and commit to being out of our house by August 1.  WE pulled it off!
  •         O-yea, we bought a truck to pull the fifth wheel.

We are not overjoyed at the $35,000 of debt we accumulated in the process.  But we are committed to paying it all off in the next 6 months!  WE are prepaid for the next 6-months in our Campground and intend to keep our expenses at a bare minimum.

Full-time employment combined with rental income and a frugal lifestyle should get us there.  We accumulated $4000 selling all of our “Stuff” that we have accumulated over the years.  $31,000 to go!  More on our expenses and incomes in the future.

I am looking at going back to teaching EMT and Paramedic classes for additional income for the upcoming months until we hook up and pull out to head west.  It has been almost 6 years since I taught and I am looking forward to getting back to it.  It was something I enjoyed and found very fulfilling.

Well, that is the wrap-up of the last few chaos-filled days.  We did it!  It seems a bit surreal right now but I might just be too tired.

One last item of note.  We have been showering before coming home to the RV to sleep.  The Shower is in need of some additional caulking in our opinions to prevent water damage.  Since I am going to be on shift tomorrow for 24 hours and the boss will be home alone I believe she would appreciate hot water.  Only problem is I don’t know how to turn it on!

On the way into the campground, I stopped to say hello again to the campground hosts.  They are a  great couple and were a pleasure to meet when we first visited.  I swallowed my pride and asked for advice on creating hot water without blowing up our place because of ignorance.  They offered to follow me home and help me out.  It took all of  3 minutes for him to explain the system to me and how I had the option of electric or propane as my heating source.  He also told me that LP heats faster but electric is cheaper and suggested to quick heat the water with LP and then maintain it with electric once it was warm.  I love the community here.  I just me the folks and they are more than willing to lend a hand and provide guidance.  I am grateful for them, I still have lots to learn!

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions. “

-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

July 22 & 24, 2016

July 22 & 24, 2016

Friday, July 22

 

There never seems to be a dull moment as of late.

I remembered an old friend who is an auto mechanic and thought to give him a call for advice on finding a diesel truck.  I told him about my sticker shock and uncertainty about spending so much on a vehicle I knew nothing about.  He told me he would do a bit of searching and let me know if he found anything that I should take a look at.

My friend is a “Chevy guy” and owns a large diesel truck to pull his offshore boat.  He recommended that I shop for used diesel Chevy’s from 2006 and 2007.  He gave many reasons for these year trucks and informed me that if he was shopping today this is what he would be in search of.

An hour after our conversation wrapped up he gave me a call back and told me “I know you don’t want to buy a truck TODAY but I just found a deal that you should take a look at.”  On craigslist he had found a 2006 Chevy Silverado 3500 dually with 80K miles for $20,000.  This is much more truck than we intended to purchase but the price and mileage were consistent with what we were looking for.

The boss and I talked it through and decided to take a look at it yesterday evening.  The truck was purchased by the previous owner to tow an RV but they decided they were “not the camping type”.  It became a yard ornament and local grocery-getter for the father of the seller.  The truck blue books at $26,000.  The seller stated that he had been having a tough time selling at this price because in Florida people buying duallys are looking for 4wheel drive.

We might be buying this truck,  problem is we are broke!  We prepaid our RV parking spot to save some money, we put the majority of our cash into the deposit on the fifth wheel and we have not secured a renter for our current home.  Not to mention last month we finished renovating the last of rentals.  Our savings rate is such that we can have the money in 4 months but will the truck still be there?  Will another opportunity like this pop up?  Will the bank lend us some quick cash so we can lock down the deal.  Is it even a good idea?

Finding the truck so quickly is pretty consistent with our experience so far.  Make a decision to do something, start moving in that direction and the stars seem to line up for us.  The boss is going to stop by our credit union this afternoon and see if they will provide us with a short term loan.  We will see what happens.

Sunday, July 24

 

Long busy day.  Headed to bed but wanted to update the journal:

Had the mechanic friend ride out with me to take a look at the truck.  After looking it over and taking it for a drive he let us know that we would be getting a great truck at a great price and we should expect years of reliable service without the typical diesel truck price tag.  We are pretty excited that our search is over.

I dealt with the truck this morning and then came home to show a prospective tenant the house.  She is an awesome prospect and excited about the house.  Only hang up is that she is hoping to get into the house by August 1.  That’s 7 days away!!!  We told her we would make it happen!

So now it’s go-time.  Tomorrow is pick up the truck day.  Then tell the buyers of all of our furniture and bedding to come and get it!  There is a bit of TLC to be given to the house before it is rental ready but I should be able to knock it out in 2 days. Most of the TLC is minor repairs and some painting that we intended to do over time.  WE ARE OUT OF TIME!

So…we should be spending our first night in the RV this week.  Its really happening!!

July 19, 2016

July 19, 2016

Tuesday, July 19

 

Our travel home budget is taking a hit!  We are into our 5th wheel for $20,000 and after shopping for trucks have found that we might be spending as much as $40,000 for something almost new and $45-50 K for a base model diesel capable of pulling our home reliably.

I am not liking this for several reasons.  1)  It delays our hitting the road debt free.  2)  I’m not confident that spending this kind of money on depreciating liabilities is the best use of our money long term. I’m going to wrestle with this a bit more and look at the numbers on a spreadsheet and see what i come up with….more to follow

We went to a local truck dealership yesterday to figure out what diesel truck prices looked like.  The short story is that in our area of Florida (possible everywhere) diesel trucks are a hot item.  All the bells and whistles, fancy rims, nav systems …..on and on.  To get a base 2500 diesel 2wheel drive i will need to special order it and the best offer the dealer showed me was $45,000 before tax,title and license.

Our current financial state is such that this is not good news. A bit about our finances:

Our intent is to hit the road with $30,000 cash in savings for emergency funds and to support our rental properties when repairs are needed. This breaks down to $12,000 to cover 6 months of expenses on the road without income and the remaining $18000 in reserve to provide for a roof , AC system and appliances as needed.  Our intent is to lead a stress-free life and I am sure that this reserve will provide a substantial safety net allowing us to sleep better.

Our current rate of savings is $4100 a month.  This is our base JOB income and rental property income.  We hoped to increase this by $500 a month when we put tenants in our current home and transitioned into the RV but renting the house has proven tougher than the last.  There is also the option of increasing my income.  AT this point I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make our escape happen.  Just need to find an opportunity and jump on it.

On the rental front:  I had a great couple lined up as our new tenants.  Applications looked great and I had offered them the place for a two-year lease.  Unfortunately for me and good for them but they found a less expensive property that met their needs.  Now I’m back to screening applicants for our place.

So half of our stuff is sold, we have a fifth wheel but no truck, we are a bit cash poor for now and we are maintaining 2 residences for the time being (one of them has wheels).

The boss gave me some good advice today, she reminded me that the journey we are on is supposed to be a joyous and happy one.  I think i have lost sight of that in the midst of the hustle.  All of my “problems” are first-world in nature.  Life is good and I am thankful for where we are at today!

“A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart.”

-Jonathan Swift

July 17, 2016

July 17, 2016

Sunday, July 17

 

After much deliberation, I stumbled on the website name.  HOMEWITH WHEELS.com and locked it in for a 3-year commitment.  I hope to turn this journal into an online resource to other crazy people out there who might consider taking this plunge into the unknown of traveling independence.

Just to give credit where it is due, I was reading RV-DREAMS.com when I came up with the name.  If you have not visited this site please do.  It is a couple who hit the road full-time in 2005 and have documented pretty much every step along the way. (sounds familiar).  I stumbled onto them after starting this journal and find their early story very consistent with ours.  It is my hope to contact them and cross paths one day.

This weekend I interviewed several families for last rental property (current residence).  I am very happy with my options!  Many were even interested in a 2-year lease.  The house plan is looking good.

The boss has been busy selling furniture and household items on local facebook resale groups.  Although we got stood up for several buyer appointments we are still getting rid of a good bit of stuff.  The majority of the large household items are sold or paid for to be picked up at the end of the month.  The little stuff will be sorted through and we hope to sell it at one big YARD / ESTATE SALE.

There have been a few emotional moments going through our smaller keepsakes but other than that we have had the realization that all of the “things” that we measured our comfort and success with (our stuff) is simply that ….. It’s stuff

The fancy couch and TV that we took so much pride in is just used “stuff” when others are coming by to buy it.  The process of selling our household items has actually become pretty exciting as it is adding to our ‘escape plan” nest egg.

 

“Just read that 4,153,237 people got married last year, not to cause any trouble but shouldn’t that be an even number?”

Monday, July 11

Monday, July 11

Monday, July 11

 

We locked in our park space in Central Florida. Lake view, easy access to the center of the park where the pool and amenities are located.  The 10mph speed limit in the park should keep the traffic concerns to a minimum. We prepaid for the length of our stay and saved 5%!  When we showed up to close the deal there were additional folks in the office who called us by name and smiled when we said yes.  I find it unusual to be so quickly welcomed by strangers.  The people living this lifestyle appear are pretty amazing folks.  Smiles and welcomes everywhere!

We arranged to have our new home delivered on Saturday and it made it right on time!!  The delivery truck even received a golf cart escort to our spot.  Parking went well and the view from our new dining area is fantastic!  Water front (well a bit of water view).

The weekend host spend a good deal of time showing me the basics, leveling, tips for taking care of slides, power management, electrical hookup, water/sewer lines and tie down requirements (this is Florida in the summer and the afternoon storms can be nasty (not to mention the the threat of the occasional hurricane))  I was so grateful for his time and teaching in the 100deg + heat.

I took the Boss to see the home with wheels that afternoon but had left the keys in my truck.  We had to do an outside walk around.  She is equally excited about our “upgrade” in living conditions (I’m a lucky man).  Life is soon to become much more interesting.

Power was supposed to be connected today.  I haven’t received the call from the power company.  Because the spots are rented seasonally in 6-month blocks we are responsible for electric connection with local utilities.

On the OTHER Home Front.  We have buyers for our oversized sectional sofa and living room TV.  We have sold a bed and dresser set.  The recliner is spoken for and the entertainment cabinet has a new home.  A friend asked for first dibs on my garage and bought a few of my bigger ticket item tools. Still lots of stuff to go but it is liberating turning all of this STUFF into $$ that will assist us in our new lifestyle.

Renting our primary residence is going well.  We have identified several prospective tenant families and just need to narrow it down to one.  I am scheduling an open house to show the home to all of our perspectives this Saturday.  It should be a busy week.
Excited to spend our first night in the new home.  Life is good!!

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

-John F. Kennedy

Saturday, July 2

We own a 5th wheel and I filmed our first video. Yesterday was a fun day.  We Took ownership of our travel home and received a great walk-through from the RV tech.  He was patient with all of my questions and pointed out every detail on owning and maintaining a new RV.  I feel much better about moving in now.  It’s my opinion that an RV is a pretty simple piece of machinery.  Let’s see if my opinion remains the same after some time living in it!

In the afternoon after our RV closing and walk-through, we visited a few RV parks / campgrounds to find a place to park for our final months of regular employment.

I got a call this morning from the manager of a campground informing us that a spot we found was available if we want it.  WE WANT IT!

FOUND THE PLACE!!!  It’s actually a campground and not a trailer park!  The folks at the front desk were smiling when we walked in and we were chatting like best friends within minutes.  Great people, great place, great facilities.  The boss and I fell in love with it immediately and had our minds made up in minutes.

The desk greeting went as follows:  walked in and greeted with a smiling face and a welcome.  A minute or 2 were spent explaining the grounds and availability.  It was mentioned that we arrived at a great time because a lot with a view of a lake was expected to be opening that day or the next.  We briefly discussed length of stay and rates to make sure we stayed in budget.  We were then offered a golf cart tour of the place.

The park is beautiful, clean, well kept and the lots are much farther apart than any we had yet visited.  We were informed that the max length of stay was 6 months although the rules were in the process of changing due to new arrangements made with the city.  This 6-month only policy excited us!  We are going to be living amongst travelers!!  I realize that most are “snowbirds” spending the winter in Florida but I’m sure there are some adventure seekers and US travelers among them.  We have so much to learn…it would be nice to collect advice of others who have already learned the ropes.

Lots of activities, heated pool, clean facilities (laundry, clubhouse, library, pool tables, outdoor sport courts, large kitchen access, and more).  The place is under 10 miles from both of our places of business.  We are excited.

Next steps are 1)closing the deal and booking our spot 2)having the RV delivered and getting moved in!  3)getting moved out of our home and finding great renters to move in !!  Time to stop typing and list the house available for rent for August 1.  Nothing more interesting than working on a tight deadline!!!

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

-Jimmy Dean