Social Media and #RVLifestyle

Social Media and #RVLifestyle

What role does social media play in the full-time RV lifestyle? Platforms for distraction and procrastination or tools to enrich our lives?   Choosing between the two I am inclined to go with time waster but I believe that Social Media has its pluses as well.

Traveling and camping to “experience the world”  vs social media putting you right in the virtual thick of things.  It has been my experience that there is more JUNK on social media than worthwhile content.  Marketing, gimmicks, clickbait garbage and straight advertising to your electronic device.  Even once I learned to filter a bit, there remains a steady stream of garbage slipping through.

On the other hand I have met great people, learned many things and been exposed to material I may have never run into as a result of skimming through the updates on my accounts.

Perfect demonstration/marketing/advertisement (Oh… the Irony!) of Social Media in use outdoors!

I use Facebook, Instagram, YouTube (a bit) and Twitter.  This is more than enough for me.  Actually it’s a bit too much but if managed well I seem to benefit a bit from each account.  My social media presence is pretty new.  I got “plugged in” to find out more about transitioning to a RV lifestyle.  Now I am looking for other people with shared interests and am also sharing our experiences with others.

My experiences and thoughts on the social media platforms we use:

facebook-logo-Facebook @homewithwheels:  It’s a great place to post an idea or question and receive outside opinion from a chosen community of people.  We all know folks love sharing their opinions!  Facebook seems good for learning new things and being made aware of new ideas, people, and places. https://www.facebook.com/homewithwheels/       

twitter-iconTwitter @home_withwheels :  I am relatively new to twitter but an finding it useful and interesting.  Where else can you “text / tweet” directly to a person would otherwise have no access to?  Even better you may actually receive a reply.  We are all fans of someone out there. Rockstars, celebrities, authors, educators, innovators, bloggers.  Busy people are often accessible on twitter. https://twitter.com/home_withwheels

instagram-iconInstagram:  Pictures are beautiful and this platform makes sharing them with friends and family very simple.  Following others on here is also a joy because the spammy junk is minimized.  Photos and comments.  It’s a simple and beautiful thing.   https://www.instagram.com/homewithwheels/

youtube-logoYouTube:  Where else can you watch a 90 year old skydive and then learn to replace the wheel bearings on a 74 Oldsmobile?  YouTube has got it all, from video blogs to “how to anything”. I have yet to understand YouTube as a community and consider it more of a library than anything else.  I am a big fan though. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0WVuojfejmDT9EyxLr0jig

Is the use of social media enriching or hindering our RV lifestyle?  Pros and cons:

 happyfacePRO:   Puts us in touch with others in a mobile community.  Its nice to have a dialogue or keep track of people living a similar life experience.  Our paths are all unique but we must share similar aspirations.  Pulling the plug on the house and 9-5 to live in a camper definitely falls outside the norm.  Other than rallies, campgrounds and fueling stations where else would we have access to one another in such numbers.

happyfacePRO:   Access to advice and information.  I have benefited greatly from the practical and emotional advice given on social media as we transitioned into our mobile lifestyle.  Insurance, selling our stuff, legalities, RV repair, how-to, storage, organization, cooking……  the list goes on.  People sharing success and failures and offering advice has prevented us from having to re-invent the wheel each step of the way.  We found the people or information through social media.

black-sad-face-iconCON:   Social media can be toxic.  Internet tough guys and hate mongers abound.  No need to elaborate. We have all run into these bitter keyboard malcontents.  

black-sad-face-iconCON:   Its often like watching TV and being stuck on commercials.  “Get rich today”, “pill to cure everything”, “hottest fashion”, “cheapest insurance”, “best buys on Amazon”, “new in theaters”………  i just want to see the latest updates on my friends road trip.  Social Media is free to use and advertising keeps the lights on.  I understand that.  Necessary evil i suppose but the ratio of content to advertising can sometimes be a bit overwhelming.

black-sad-face-iconCON:   Speaking for myself, social media can turn into a time vacuum.  I sit down to check the weather forecast, a video appears in the sidebar:  “3 tricks to ensure your RV roof never leaks” or “simple stretches to relieve shoulder pain”.  I don’t want my RV to leak!  My shoulder has been a bit tight lately!  It would be irresponsible of me not to take a minute out of my day to learn something new!  45 minutes later I am watching people catch tuna with baby rattles in the arctic ocean.  Yup … for me my social media accounts can be a terrible distraction if I let my guard down or get lazy.

I created a blog to document my thoughts and experiences before, during and after a huge lifestyle change. HomeWithWheels.com is my platform to chronicle my opinions and adventures. My website is also an attempt to create a tiny community of people who might see the world through similar colored glasses and communicate with them on a regular basis. Social media gives me the outlet to put my material in front of potentially interested people.  It is my hope that I can “get myself out there” in a a classy but effective way that does not further clutter news-feeds with more junk-mail.

In summary I think social media has its place in my #RVlifesytle. Used with restraint and tact I hope to meet new people and build relationships.   It makes the world a smaller place.  As important as it is for me to unplug and be mindful of the beautiful world around me it is important to have community.  When traveling and living mobile its nice to be able to access that community simply by finding a WiFi connection.

happyfaceI think I’ll be sticking with social media for a while.  Please, come find us there and say hello.

Safe travels all!

Considering Buying a Used RV?

Considering Buying a Used RV?

Considering buying a used RV?  If so please take a moment and learn from our mistakes.

 

We purchasing a used 2011 fifth wheel in July 2016, moved into it and became  full-timers.  It was and continues to be an interesting experience.

We spent a good deal of money on our fifth wheel with full assurances by the salesman that we were getting a great deal.  BUYER BEWARE!  (I know that “Buyer Beware” is common knowledge buy for us there was a good bit of emotion involved in this purchase.  This was a huge lifestyle change for us and we were very much caught up in the momentum of making things happen.)

Before I get into the sale story and lessons learned I will say that I accept full responsibility for the decisions made.  This is not intended to be a “salesmen are scum” or a “woe is me” article (although a bit of each might pop up).

The Purchase:

The boss and I were shopping around various dealers trying to figure out what we looking for in an RV.  We were not shopping to make a purchase, we were trying to learn what it was we wanted and needed.rv_dealership

We stopped at one of the larger dealers in our area “JUST TO LOOK AROUND”.  The salesman who greeted us came across as a pretty decent guy.  No pressure, very helpful and quick to answer questions.  After discussing our wants, needs and budget he suggested we look at a specific fifth wheel on his lot. Fast forward a few days and we bought it!  

WHY such a fast purchase?  We thought this unit was a home run; it was in like new condition, met all of our needs and was priced $6000 less that we could find the same unit or comparable units anywhere else online.  It seemed like exactly what we needed for a price we had budgeted for.  We were definitely caught up in the idea of making things happen.

Several times I asked the salesman why such a low price and his reply was something to the effect of “we got a good deal at trade-in and we are passing the deal on to you”.  What a great guy (sarcasm).  He was quick to point out several times that he was a member of the business owners family and that the business put customers first.! He said it without sounding like a salesman. My logic was that I was in the right place at the right time and “ran into a great deal”.  Was it meant to be?


Before going any further I must point out that we had zero camper experience and were pretty caught up in the moment with our recent decision to become full-time RVers. The salesman took full advantage of our ignorance and enthusiasm.  He got us hook, line and sinker.hooklinesinker

Fast Forward a few weeks….. We moved into the RV and became full-timers shortly after the purchase.

We discovered that the RV leaks and that the back wall of the RV was rotten from water damage (Details Here).  This never came up at any point in any sales conversation.  It never came up during the purchase when the service guy from the shop gave us our walk through and orientation.  It never came up when we pointed out a few minor issues that we identified in need of fixing before delivery (light bulbs, black tank level sensor, missing cover on an outlet).

I believe the dealership intentionally withheld the information to make the sale.  After reviewing a video I took of the RV on the day we purchased it I can now recognize significant delamination of the rear wall.  At the time I didn’t know what I was seeing and didn’t know to do a “tap test” to check.

The RV was purchased as-is with a 30-day warranty on appliances only.  Because of this fact, the leaky RV is now my problem and I don’t expect the dealership to help at all. I never wasted the time to contact the dealership to make them aware of the issue. I made the bad decision, time to take ownership of it. I’ll just focus on solving the problem.  

Am I mad….no.  Just a bit disappointed in my ignorance.  Live and learn!

oh-well

What’s the point?  I suppose the point is that you have a responsibility as a buyer to educate yourself and shop with caution.  Bring a friend with some RV experience to shop with you and inspect any used units. Take some time to learn about potential RV issues before going out to look at RV’s.  As a first time RV buyer, all of this may be challenging. You don’t know what you don’t know.

Here are a few suggestions of things to consider when shopping for a used RV.

RV SHOPPING CHECKLIST:

  • Check all exterior walls of the RV and perform a tap test looking for hollow spots or spongy exterior.
  • Look around the entire base of the RV for signs of water leaking from the frame (mildew, staining, rust, fungus)
  • Touch and inspect every seam inside the RV.  (ceiling to walls, walls to walls, floor to walls.)  Inside cabinets and closets.
  • Inspect bathroom.  Checking for moisture stains or any walls or floors that feel spongy to the tap or touch.
  • Have the seller turn on every light, tail lights, radio, TV, shower, sinks, toilets.  This will require them hooking to water supply and pressurizing the rig.
  • Turn on every appliance and ensure it is working.  Including the oven stove and oven.  Also, request that each appliance is demonstrated on propane and electric if so equipped.  Don’t take their word for it that they switched power sources.  Ask them to show you how they did it and know that it works in each configuration.
  • Exercise all of the windows and window dressings.  Blinds, blinds, emergency exits, windows, doors, hatches, locks, steps, antenna, AC, heater.
  • Inspect the roof for obvious damage, repairs, tears or holes.  It will be your responsibility after the purchase to ensure the seals are maintained (I recommend EternaBond RoofSeal Sealant) You just want to ensure that any existing problem has not been sealed over or hidden.
  • Plug in an electrical appliance to every plug in the RV.  Ensure that there are no issues with outlets or power supply.
  • Request that the RV be plugged into shore power and turn on all of the interior appliances at the same time and use hot water until you are sure that the water heater is on as well.  AC + Microwave + lights+TV + water heater element will trip your breaker every time.  This is just the way it is with our RV but It took us a while to figure out.  Better to know ahead of time.
  • Check plumbing under and around sinks, toilet and shower for signs of water leaks or damage.  Check exposed plumbing inside of any storage compartments for the same.
  • Inspect the tires and inspect for cracking and damage.  This might be an opportunity to sweeten the deal at a dealership.  Request new tires as a term of your purchase.
  • HERE is a very detailed checklist from another RV blogger that I found online (wish I had it at the time).  It has suggestions beyond what I mentioned above.

All in all, we are still pleased with our RV despite its hidden problems.  Replacing the water damage became an opportunity to learn a great deal about how my camper is built, sealed, insulated, held together, wired and finished.  I am much wiser for the experience.  

Repairing an RV is not terribly complicated because of the simplicity in how they are built.  Just think of a tree-house on a flatbed trailer frame.  That’s about it.  I’m grateful that I had the time and means to make the necessary repairs. The repairs were not terribly expensive but took a good bit of labor and hours to complete.

Good luck to you on your RV shopping adventures. Watch out for the distracting enthusiasm and excitement that comes with buying your first Home With Wheels. Take your time, seek wise counsel, and use caution when listening to those lovely salesmen!

We wish you the best!  Enjoy the adventure.

“Learn from the mistakes of others.  You can never live long enough to make them all yourself.”  – Groucho Marx

Reach out to us and say hello!

The internet is a big place, thank you for stopping by our little corner!  Please let us know what you think, share your comments, concerns and questions with us.  Its nice to know that people care!

Mediocre Life?

Mediocre Life?

How we decided to pull the trigger and move into an RV

This post is not a declaration that everyone need run away in a camper to live an extraordinary life.  This is simply an account of us waking up and realizing that the world is full of options.  

To not explore options and chase dreams seems a bit sad to me.

We are going to start exploring and chasing, Win or Lose.

First, the “back story”:

Life was/is good!  The boss (wife) and I are healthy and secure.  We had decent jobs, a comfortable home, a month of vacation each year and our finances were looking good.  Our 2 children were out to the house and doing well for themselves.  We were empty-nesters having conversations about vacations, hobbies and what to do next weekend.

I was a firefighter and the wife worked management for a large corporate business. We had captured our version of the “American Dream”.  Another 10 – 15 years of years of work and then retire comfortably.  Maybe travel a bit more and spoil grand-kids.  Our jobs were no longer fun but the pay was what we were trading our time for and the money took care of our needs and then some.

It was boring but it was working.  

Then came our visit to our daughter in Idaho:  (May 2015)

Our daughter had taken a job managing a horse stable at a fly-in ranch in the remote mountains of Idaho.  She is a young adventurous soul with a passion for horses getting paid to live in an amazing place.  When the opportunity presented itself to visit her we were all over it!

We flew out to Salt Lake city from Orlando, drove through amazing country to arrive in Salmon Idaho  (Didn’t see a single potato).  Idaho is a beautiful place!  From the town of Salmon we hopped on a single prop charter plane and flew into the mountains to visit our daughter.  There are no roads to get to this ranch. 

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After snow covered mountains, breathtaking scenery and flying through cloud banks, we landed on a grass strip on the edge of a river in a valley surrounded by mountains.  We spent 5 days there with our daughter and every moment was wonderful.

Having made friends with the managers at the ranch while we visited and telling them how impressed we were with the place they offered us JOBS!  I’m not talking Fortune 500 employment or pay, it was a modest but fair offer for seasonal employment in an amazing location.

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The wife and I considered it.  We wanted to say yes but our life was such that we had too many obligations and stuff to manage.  Besides, our retirement savings were not set up for us to take pay cuts and run away at this point in our lives.  After a day of deliberation, we had to decline the offer.

I was crushed to pass on such an amazing life experience and opportunity.  

We vowed that we would structure our lives in such a way to never have to pass on living a dream again.  But how?

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We analyzed our priorities and found that experiences, not “things” were what made us happy.  Both of us are in our 40’s and in good health but we are aware that doesn’t last forever.  If we are planning to live life chasing experiences It will probably be more fun to do it in strong healthy bodies rather than in our bodies 15 years from now.

We also recognized that we don’t want to HAVE to work until we die.  How can we build a nest egg or parachute to ensure we could live our later years with comfort and dignity?  The stock market scared us.  Small business is an option but not much of a sure thing. Our solution was to invest all of our cash savings and disposable income into rental real estate.

I had a friend who was very successful in business and invested in residential rental properties.  He introduced me to the key concepts and how it worked.  I read books, listened to podcasts and scoured the web for practical information.  Over the course of the next 12-months we purchased and renovated 3 properties and put renters into them.  It damn near killed us but we made it happen.  We wanted it that bad!

Our nest egg now consisted of 4 properties (3 rentals plus our home), a partial pension from my job (starting at age 55) and a 401K from 17 years at my wife’s job.   We had no consumer debt and our incomes far exceeded our monthly expenses.  Our options increased dramatically.

Exploring our options we asked…..how much is enough?  We were working jobs we no longer found fulfilling just to make more money. To what end?  Our parachute was in place.  Now it was time to do what we wanted!  

Then the crazy idea came.  What if we convert the house we live in to a rental and move into an RV?  WE could live locally for a while, get our bearings and then hit the road. We could stop and work seasonally to cover expenses and then move on to another adventure.  The boss said she wants to sell ice cream, I want to be a whitewater river guide.  Let’s do it!

And here we are.  We sold 98% of our possessions, rented out the house we built 18 years ago and raised our kids in, bought an RV and a truck to tow it.  Currently we are living in a campground and saving every penny we can to build a cash emergency fund for the road.

Our life now is simpler and significantly more interesting.  Our current big challenges are, figuring out the nuances of living in an RV and figuring out where we are going when we hook up our home on wheels and hit the road.

We intend to hit our savings goal in Early 2017.  

When that number is reached we will hook up and pull out of Florida.  The plan is to point the truck West.  I’m not yet sure of the destination but i’m looking forward to the journey.  We aren’t sure what will happen but we are certain that it will not be ordinary.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned for updates!  

Please let us know you thoughts in the comment section below!