August 14, 2016

August 14, 2016

Sunday, August 14

 

The New Mexico trip was a success.  All deliveries made with no problems. I used some of my downtime to get the website started.  It’s not pretty but its a beginning. Now the challenge is to make it a site worth visiting and get it full of content,  updated and try to grow it into a resource where others might learn from our successes and failures.

After flying back to Orlando late Friday night i went to work Saturday. Headed home this morning (Sunday) to spend the day off with the Boss.  We haven’t had a day of down time together in quite a while.  Morning coffee brought great conversation on our current situations.  So far so good, she and I are both very happy with all of our decisions to date.

Upcoming project priorities are:

  • Selling my Expedition (after I empty the last of the moving items out of it)
  • Reviewing our financial spreadsheets (to track where we are in relation to our timeline goals)
  • Consolidating our items in storage to make a final stack of things to keep.
  • Adding hangers / wall hooks to the RV interior to add convenience.
  • Finding seating solutions inside of the RV.

We decided seating would be the priority.  The boss informed me that she was not happy with the swivel chairs the RV came with. We agreed that being comfortable in 350 sq ft was a priority and that we should do some chair shopping.

We did a bit of searching online and found that the options were overwhelming.  We had good luck in the past with a local furniture store when shopping for our 1500 sq ft home so thought we might try there.  Our main concern was making one purchase, buying quality (that fit in the available space) to avoid having to replace the chairs in a year or 2 as a result of buying junk.

After a bit of looking around, we were steered to Lazy-boy chairs for several reasons.  Quality/durability, comfort,  price (holy SH@* recliners are expensive!) and fit to our space.  Because I am 6’4 and the boss is 5’2 we were each looking for a chair to fit our size.  We found one that suited us both.  The Lazy-boy Pinnacle recliner suits us both perfectly.  We learned that there are additional options (rockers, wall huggers and motorized) as well as different prices (each upgrade adds another $100).  After all was said and done we were looking at 2 chairs at $600 (after tax)  each.  OUCH, This is not in the budget!  A decision was made to head home and do a bit of research to find if there was a more cost effective option.

A bit of internet surfing revealed that our choice was a very popular one and the prices we had been quoted were actually on the low side.  On a whim, I checked craigslist.  While moving out of our house we sold a good bit of high-quality furniture for pennies on the dollar compared to what we had paid.  Maybe we could find similar deals.

We found em!  The exact chairs we were considering buying for $600 each were listed in “like new” condition for $85 each.  If they are as advertised, clean and in good condition, I will be picking them up tomorrow!   $1,030 less than buying them new (was not going to happen) and a problem solved.

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”

– John F. Kennedy

August 02 – 11, 2016

August 02 – 11, 2016

Tuesday, August 2

 

Its August already!

Worked a full shift yesterday until 8 this morning.  With the pace that we have been keeping it seemed like a day off despite being a bit busy.

Arrived home this morning to boxes and chaos.  The boss and I are both still working full time with both of us having goofy schedules. The boss informed me she was successful in putting away a couple of boxes yesterday but it resulted in a small pile of 90% empty containers in the living area with miscellaneous things still in need of a home.  We committed to one another to not just hide things but to place things where they made sense and provided the most utility.  The RV has a surprising amount of storage but figuring out where things should be remains a challenge.  We continue to eat this elephant a bite at a time.

After doing a bit more unpacking and organizing i switched my attention to getting the cable service we subscribed to into our RV.  –the back story— When the cable guy showed up to install the service he used the factory plug at the entrance of our place.  After getting everything in place he tested the service and found a huge drop in service speed with the wiring inside of the house.  He trouble shot the lines and deduced that the line in the RV must have a bad splice in it and was delivering poor service.  He tested his line directly to the cable router by running the cable through an open window and removing the screen.  It worked great.  End of installation.

I dug around under cabinets and found that the cable comes into the RV under our stove and then vanishes into a chase pipe.  I attempted to pull on the line to see if I might be able to run a replacement line but no luck.  My solution?  Come in through the floor of the RV at the preferred location for our router.  The idea of punching a hole in the floor seemed a bit out of place but I remembered that the floor is plywood over insulation resting/mounted on a steel frame.  Drill a hole, run the wire, seal the penetration…..finished.   It was actually that easy!  Then proceeded to do some wire management and it came out great.  We now have WIFI of our own and a router to pull Netflix from.

Hit the pool at the campground for a reward, made some new friends from Maryland who were excited to hear our story and wished us the best.  They are leaving the park tomorrow and returning in January.

Ther boss returned from work and we decide to make a road trip to IKEA to look for storage solutions and ideas on how we might best organize our cabinets.   After 2 hours in IKEA, we left with nothing but great ideas on what we could make ourselves!  WE spent $1.50 to get the boss an ice cream sunday!  I was pretty proud.  After selling everything it just seemed dumb to buy more STUFF!  WE decided to reserve purchases for items we identify as meeting a need and not simple wants or impulse buys.

We do NEED a vacuum cleaner.  Any suggestions on what to get?

August 6 – 11

 

Where to begin…

Even though we have succeeded in making the transition to full-time RV life I have yet to experience much of it.  Not complaining, just an observation.  All of our troubles are first world in nature.

Vacuum cleaner dilemma is solved.  The boss got her hands on a high dollar vacuum for $75 (used of course).  It will keep the RV clean and is a size that is manageable.

We made a decision to not purchase ANYTHING! Before determining that we had to have it to improve our quality of life.  Our goal is less stuff.  After getting rid of almost everything we owned (including 2 vacuum cleaners on their last legs) it seemed a bit odd to be making a purchase for the RV.

A buddy of mine was in a pinch and needed some time off at work so I worked a day for him (that is 24 hours, plus my 24 hours).

I got done with 48 hours at the fire station then received a phone call with an interesting opportunity.

A friend of a friend had a delivery of printed advertising pamphlets that needed to be delivered to New Mexico.  I had mentioned in the past that I would be interested in trying out one of these “runs” for him if the opportunity presented itself.  Well…. it was my turn.  Time to make some extra $$.

I rented a 22’ Penski truck and loaded up the pallets of pamphlets.  3 days on the road to get there and then 2 separate delivery days with down time in between.  It was a pretty neat experience.

The driving gave me a good bit of time to reflect on our our current life choices.  I remain content and excited about where we are and where we are headed!

Driving across ⅔ of the country also got me excited about our upcoming adventures.  Once I got past central Texas the landscape changed dramatically.  Its amazing what a  day’s drive can do to change the world around you.  Florida’s beaches are beautiful and I love the ocean but once you get inland, Florida is a pretty boring landscape (after living here for 19 years).

The central and western landscape was impressive.  Mountains, deserts, new plants and animals.  The building construction is different, the food is different, the people have a different “vibe” about them.

I have done a good bit of traveling on and off over the course of my life but typically with a purpose.  Gotta get from point A to point B to do this or see someone.  Driving across country with time to spare is different.  I’m excited to do it more with my home in tow!

Due to my self-imposed tight budget, I ate the majority of my food from a cooler I brought with me. I kept my entertainment free, taking walks and seeking out local hiking trails.  My “big day off” was a drive to White Sands National Monument.  This was a beautiful place and worth the extra driving to get there.

All in all a good trip and affirmation that great things lie ahead for the Boss and I.

I finished the trip by dropping off the rental truck, then took my first UBER ride (easy and cheap!) to the El Paso airport.  The plane ride home got me home on the 12th then back to work on the 13th.  Not too shabby.

I am a big fan of listening to podcasts while driving.  All this road time provided me with a good bit of podcast brain food.  My recent podcast addictions have been:

“Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History”  Blueprint for Armageddon

“Jocko Podcast” everything this man says is gold to me.  Extreme Ownership, leadership, discipline

“The Rich Dad Radio Show” Robert Kiyosaki and his book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” absolutely changed my financial future.  I like to listen to what he continues to say (even though my opinions sometimes differ)

An Honorable mention goes to “Biggerpockets” podcast.  This is a real estate investing podcast and forum that also changed my financial future.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”  

I like this quote and use it as a reminder that I need to keep myself surrounded by forward-thinking people with ambitions, dreams and goals.  Even more important I need to be around people who are taking action to make their goals a reality.  I use podcasts to be around these people.

As I traveled I secretly remained hopeful that the boss was getting the RV into a state of semi-organization.  I like that no committee was held to figure out where things are to go.  I’ll adapt to her decisions.

The next big step is to get HomeWithWheels.com up and running.  The URL is mine but there is a lot to be done to give it life.  I put in a good bit of work on it during my downtime on the trip. So far it has been a struggle.  I have tried and failed at website building in the past but intend to see this project through.  I am excited to create a journal to document our adventures, successes, and failures all in in one location to share with the kids, family and friends. It should serve as good comedy and should be a nice reminder of where we were and where we have gotten.  Stay tuned for more!

“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”

– Mark Twain

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

June 30, 2016

June 30, 2016

Thursday, June 30

 

The boss called me yesterday and let me know that she thinks she found us a place to park our new home.

Two days ago we drove the area and scouted RV parks central to our current jobs.  There are several options but several are pretty seedy.  We found 2 that we liked quite a bit in great locations.  Our favorite of all has a waiting list.  Fingers crossed that an opening comes up this summer or fall.

In the meantime, I’m going to check out my wife’s find.  She stated that she found an RV campground offering a “summer special” through September for $150 a month that includes water, sewer, and electricity! If this is accurate that will increase our saving over the next few months by over a thousand dollars.  Very exciting news.

An update on the RV.  The seller contacted me yesterday to let me know that we will sign all of the purchase paperwork and get our RV orientation on Friday.  As we don’t know anything about 5th wheel ownership it should be a very informative class.  Hopefully, the individual giving the training is patient!

We have informed both of the kids about our plan and let them know that mom and dad are moving into a 5th wheel.  Both of them were very supportive and excited for us.  I hope that our actions motivate them to live the best lives they can imagine.

I also spoke with my parents about the plan.  We had discussed the idea with them several months ago and they were a bit surprised at our intentions.  After telling them we were going to act on our ideas they are supportive as well.

Current issues to overcome:

  • We need to sell 95% of our belongings.  (including a few family collectibles, not sure exactly)
  • WE have a family heirloom clock that I need to find a home for —a call is due to my parents to figure out what will make them happy–
  • Decide on a place to park the new home
  • Find great renters
  • Figure out health insurance (the boss is tackling this one)

(Post Script)  We checked out the park with the discounted rates…..it’s a no-go.  Too many permanently parked campers there and the facilities were a bit grungy. There was no warm and fuzzy feeling about living there for any length of time.  Saving a few dollars at the expense of our safety and peace of mind is not part of our future plans. The search for a place to park continues……

“You’re in pretty good shape for the shape you are in.”

-Dr. Seuss

June 22 & 25

June 22 & 25

Wednesday, June 22

 

So the plot thickens….

Yesterday the Boss and I sat down to figure out some of our financial goals.  We figured out our emergency funds requirements and Set some goals for how much money we needed on hand to confidently hit the road.  We also figured out our expected monthly travel budget!   The numbers are estimates based on our current cost of living but I believe we are pretty accurate knowing our spending habits.

The big unknown is HEALTH INSURANCE…..this will be the next hurdle.

Today we spent the day driving central florida looking at RV’s.  WE started last night on craigslist and a few RV sales sites and there are sooo many options we set out to educate ourselves a bit.

We managed to decide on what we want and don’t want, approximate size to meet our needs and have an idea what we will need to spend.  There are lots of options, brands, and configurations.  Decisions need to be made.

Saturday, June 25

 

Sitting at home in the early afternoon today, engaged in the same conversation as usual (working out details of our escape)  the boss stated that if living in an RV for the last months here in Florida would shorten our time until freedom she was in.

We worked out the math and found that if we put a renter into our primary residence and moved into our camper we could increase our savings rate by $570 a month.  In 9 months that $5130 extra = over 2  months emergency fund once on the road!  It will require we find a place to park with utilities for $650 a month.

I was surprised as hell by her ambition and at the same time, a bit frightened that the reality of it happening was in front of me.

Looking around at RV’s (specifically 5th wheels) the other day we ran into a very impressive deal.  A used 31’ fifth wheel in like new condition for 5k under retail price.  It met all of our needs and the boss found it very comfortable. Long story short we agreed to return and take a look at it, arrived, made a lowball offer and THE DEALER ACCEPTED THE OFFER!

We now own a 5th wheel camper.  We don’t have a truck to pull it yet but we own a camper!

The dealer agreed to deliver it when we were ready so now we need a place to put it.

This week will be “find a place to put our new home” week.  More to come soon!

 

Post Script (written 7/17/2016)

 

While reading back through my journal I realized that this short paragraph stating we found an RV and then bought it sounds a bit rash.  (It was a bit rash) The longer version of the story is as follows:

The boss and I had no idea of what we were looking for in a camper/new home with wheels.  Our search started with local used RV lots.  We looked at:

  1. pop-ups and small tow-behinds (way too small and no bathrooms)  –I have to admit I liked the prices and the idea of towing behind a smaller vehicle!
  2. Small motor coaches (Class C).  Although they had bathrooms (sort of) the boss and I decided that the space was a bit too intimate.
  3. WE RULED OUT Class B and C coaches.  WE didn’t like the idea that if our vehicle broke down our house would be in the shop as well.  The prices of these units were a bit intimidating as well.
  4. Larger tow-behind campers were nice but the small roofs and low ground clearance were turn offs.  (I am 6’4”)
  5. WE DISCOVERED 5th-Wheels!

What drew us to fifth wheels was:  1)  Bang for the buck! (ignoring the price of the truck to pull it)  2)  The ceiling height!  What a spacious living space (if you can consider 300ft spacious) 3) The bathrooms and bedrooms would fit the needs of a large adult and his mate.

Once we discovered that we were shopping for a fifth wheel we focused our search.  The boss wanted comfort, storage and utility.  My focus was a bed that would fit me, a size that would be manageable to tow and park and a price tag that would allow us to purchase without debt!

We found it a bit too quickly as mentioned above.  Great price, met all of our needs and the deal was closed.

The purchase was as follows.  I called the salesman a day after showing us the rig asking him to explain why the price was $6000 under any price I could find online by any other seller.  His reply appeared honest (I am distrustful of salesmen) when he said they got a good deal on it through trade-in and they just wanted to move it off the lot.  He suggested that if I was interested I come in and make an offer.

Our intention was to remain debt-free through this process so we were hesitant to go back and make the offer on something we did not have the cash for.  We debated dipping into our cash reserve and making a low-ball offer and then financing the balance with the intent of paying in full before hitting the road.  That was our plan.

We arrived at the dealership and gave our “Out the door price”.  It was the sticker price as advertised but I required that be our final price after tax, title, license, and be sold to us with a warranty.  Our salesman took the offer into his manager’s office (the typical sales maneuver), then returned and congratulated us on the purchase of our new 5th wheel.  We in-house financed the balance for a ridiculously long  term with an insignificant monthly payment.
Its pretty frightening how simple it is to purchase an RV!

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson